Premiere Design

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Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 01, 2009  |  7 comments

So-called digital or Class D power amps are often maligned as incapable of matching the performance of high-end analog amps. This has certainly been true of many designs, but <A href="">NAD</A> is out to change that perception with its new M2, a 2-channel digital power amp in the company's flagship Masters Series.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 30, 2009  |  3 comments

The history of recorded music is a long and storied one that is worth preserving for future generations. Unfortunately, the earliest examples of the recording arts are difficult if not impossible to hear anymore. Many wax cylinders and shellac discs are crumbling in archives, unable to be played because any physical contact with a stylus would cause irreparable damage. Even those that can be played often suffer from lots of surface noise and scratches that cause clicks and pops. And many are broken, making even the most careful stylus-based playback impossible.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 24, 2009  |  9 comments

In these days of outsourced manufacturing, it's refreshing to find a company that builds its own products right here in the USA. Of course, it helps if those products are high-end, high-cost items with no expectation of high-volume sales. Take, for example, <A href="">Rockport Technologies</A> in Rockport, Maine, whose speakers are hand-built for an exclusive clientele rather than the mass market in a facility that looks more like a house than a factory.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 20, 2009  |  7 comments

When you think about the components of any audio system, things like speakers, power amps, and source devices undoubtedly come to mind. You might even consider the room as a component. But what about the seat in which you sit to enjoy the music? Most chairs are not designed specifically for that particular endeavor, leaving you with a pain in the neck and/or back after extended periods, and some actually interfere with perceiving the best possible sound. To overcome the limitations of this "forgotten component," a Swedish company called <A href="">Klutz Design</A> has developed the Ballerina Sweetspot, a prototype chair that is optimized for just one thing&#151;listening.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 15, 2009  |  First Published: Nov 16, 2009  |  11 comments

<A href="">B&W</A> makes some of the best-sounding speakers in the world, so when the company set its sights on the iPod market, something special was sure to surface. First introduced in 2007, the Zeppelin melds exquisite design and sound quality into a stunning, single-piece iPod dock/audio system that seems to define the state of the art in this burgeoning field.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 12, 2009  |  1 comments

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Danish speaker maker <A href="">Dynaudio</A> released a special-edition model called the Sapphire in 2007. Limited to 1000 pairs worldwide, the final 30 will be wrapped in an exclusive gloss-blue piano-lacquer finish.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 08, 2009  |  5 comments

I had not heard of Swedish speaker maker <A href="">Perfect8 Technologies</A> until reader Joe G. posted a comment in my blog about <A href="">Hario's glass speakers</A>. Like Hario, Perfect8 uses glass as a primary building material, but not in the driver diaphragms as Hario does. Instead, the cabinets and some support structures are made of glass, creating elegant sculptures that are said to sound as good as they look.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 08, 2009  |  8 comments

Recently, I posted an <A href="">entry in the Ultimate Tech blog</A> about a new type of tweeter called the Leading Edge Transducer (LET). In that article, I made some statements to which reader Noah Katz, a structural engineer and, presumably, an audiophile, took exception. At first, I was going to ignore him because he refused to engage in a dialog about it. But, being me, I couldn't resist digging deeper to uncover the truth. After all, one of my guiding principles as a technical journalist is to get the facts straight, and if I don't&#151;which, as a human, is inevitable once in a while&#151;I feel compelled to correct my mistakes.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Nov 02, 2009  |  First Published: Nov 03, 2009  |  2 comments

What do you get if you cross Japanese audio acumen with daring Italian design? The Squeezophone 360, that's what. Born out of a collaboration between <A href="">Kenwood Design</A> and <A href="">Claudio Colucci Design</A>, this concept speaker cuts a dashing figure as it pumps sound all around the room.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Oct 29, 2009  |  33 comments

Audiophiles know the name Mark Levinson well. After his eponymous first enterprise was purchased by Harman International&#151;which means he can no longer use his own name on audio products&#151;Levinson went on to found several other highly regarded audio companies, including Cello and Red Rose Music. Now, in a story exclusive to <I>UAV</I>, the audio designer, recording engineer, and professional musician is launching his latest venture from his adopted home country of Switzerland, calling it <A href="">Daniel Hertz, S.A.</A>&#151;"Daniel" after his father and "Hertz" after his mother's great-uncle Heinrich Hertz, whose name is now used as the universal unit of measurement of frequency.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Oct 26, 2009  |  3 comments

The materials used to make speaker diaphragms are well established&#151;polypropylene, paper, Kevlar, aluminum, titanium, beryllium, silk, and even diamond, to name a few. So I was surprised to find a speaker system with diaphragms made of glass. Developed over nearly four years by a Japanese glass company called <A href="">Hario</A> (Japanese for "king of glass"), the Harion system is certainly intriguing, though the English-language website linked here has nothing about it, and the company did not supply much info, even after repeated requests.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Oct 23, 2009  |  27 comments

Transducers&#151;devices that convert one form of energy into another&#151;are among the most mature technologies in the audio world. The most common musical transducers are microphones, which convert the mechanical energy of acoustic sound waves into electrical signals, and speakers, which do exactly the opposite. Both have been around for a century or so, and despite a few innovations and variations, they haven't changed much in all that time.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Oct 23, 2009  |  2 comments

Live music is quite different from the visual arts. For example, every time a musician plays a given song, it is unique, with inevitable variations from one performance to the next. As Joni Mitchell once noted, no one ever asked Van Gogh to paint <I>The Starry Night</I> again. But many musicians are expected to play certain songs at every concert, and these songs sound different every time. On the other hand, recorded music is more like a painting&#151;once it's in the can, it sounds exactly the same every time it's played.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Oct 22, 2009  |  1 comments

I normally consider LP turntables to be squarely in <I>Stereophile</I>'s bailiwick, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to profile these gorgeous vinyl spinners from <A href="">Audiowood</A>. The wood foundation of each one is handcrafted and unique, though designs such as the Barky pictured above can be replicated with relative ease since it's based on a slice from a log.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Oct 19, 2009  |  14 comments

As I was looking for products to profile in this blog, I came across something astonishing&#151;a tube-based monoblock power amp that costs $350,000/pair! Hand-built by Japanese boutique maker <A href="">Wavac Audio Lab</A>, the SH-833 isn't new&#151;it was <A href="">reviewed in Stereophile</A> in 2004&#151;but when I saw that price tag, I knew I had to include it here.