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  • "Hmm, nobody likes jazz that much… Even the guy playing it had to take drugs." - Bart Simpson

    (Photo Credit: the vinyl review)


    Enjoy Burning Man dust-free in the comfort of your home! No Ticket required!! Includes fully functional burn barrel. BONUS: FIVE RAVERS & LARRY’S GOLF CART!

    "We were sad when we got no tickets this year, so we decided to create a mini-burn out of Legos! Then it got out of hand.” - Creators @simonpearcelive and @maryelisechavez on Music Festival Junkies.

    Is that Luke Skywalker in the DJ booth?

    (Photo Credit: Flickr)


    Leben CS-250 Power Amplifier

    A new old addition to our setups, the Leben CS-250 tube amplifier swaps places with a Jolida FX10 integrated amp, still powering Martin Logan Electromotion EM-R in-walls. 

    That bass. Here we’ve found a tube amp that isn’t afraid to Rock, so long as your speakers can run with eight watts on each side. It’s deep, quick, and responsive, even if it’s 20% less powerful than the Jolida FX10 it replaces.

    Except these are not the right numbers.

    The CS-250 weight more than twice the Jolida and sounds like it. Never mind that it retailed for five times more than the Chinese FX10. However, the Leben isn’t a Chinese amp.

    Made in Japan as a limited production, Leben engineered the CS-250 for an ‘American’ sound, with its Hammond transformers and quad of 6K6GT vacuum tubes across stage front — a tube more likely to be seen inside vintage guitar amps.

    It’s the tube Leo (Fender) chose for the Fender Reverb Tank.” Says Fender, the Reverb is an amp that was “a staple of virtually every surf performance and recording since the early ’60s; blues and experimental players love it too.” Dick Dale’s Misirlou from the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction is probably the best known example of surf guitar.

    One characteristic of the 6K6 tube that’s also evident in the mastering of surf guitar is that the harder its driven, the brighter and smoother the audio becomes, so with the right glass, the effect draws you in as the music gets louder. Circuits with 6K6 tubes are all over but getting it right is less common. Televisions from the 50s often have them in their audio sections.

    In our own Leben, we settled on stock Phillips 12AT7 tubes and after-market old stock Ken-Rad (Kentucky Radio Corp.) 6K6GT specials. Fascinating, isn’t it, how the Japanese and the Bluegrass State can both be known for its whiskey and its vacuum tubes. Kanpai, listeners.

    Manufacturer: Leben Hi-Fi Stereo Company (

    Price: $3195 in 2002

    Notes: The CS-250 has a built-in attenuator on the lower left (volume control) and enough gain to be ran as a single input integrated amplifier. For performance, adding a matching preamplifier is an improvement, but not as important as the rest of the system.

    Its sibling amp, the CS-200p, is officially pictured with four brass rings around the base of its power tubes. According to the US distributor, these rings were never included or available for the 200p or the 250. Pity as they look great and there’s a source for them somewhere on the Web. Strictly for the hifi shows, we presume. That’s one way to tease a niche audience.

    Visit Life After CD on Flickr for higher-resolution photos.

    "High-end audio is the tail of the dog that is the consumer audio business. We have little leverage in determining where the technology is going, even though we undoubtedly know more about it than the average buyer.

    "On the other hand, after the mainstream has determined where it’s going (or thinks it’s going), the high-end business must accept that, and try to optimize it for those of us who care deeply about getting the best sound."

    — Kalman Rubinson, for Stereophile magazine. To most people, superior, if arcane, file formats won’t win the day without support by a catalogue of music that appeals to most people. “Sony is a major supporter of the effort… to coordinate the hi-def download business.”

    (Photo Credit: Stereophile; ‘Sony HAP-Z1ES high-resolution file player.’)


    Hall of Fame rocker Neil Youngout promoting a new way of experiencing music with pono, his Kickstarter-funded venture, wants us to know what he really thinks about music streaming services. On Engadget:

    "We’re not competing with streaming services. I view streaming services as radio," Young continues. "The quality is so poor that I’m not impressed, and I’m not moved by it. They just fill the air and I’d rather hear the birds singing than some very low-grade digital reconstitution."

    (Young) went on to compare those options to going to an art gallery and looking at xeroxes or copies of xeroxes. As Young sees it, these content libraries are best when used as tools for discovery, but not for really hearing and feeling a song

    PonoPlayer, his portable music player, ships in October. PonoMusic, its companion high-resolution music store, comes soon after.

    We haven’t gotten our hands and ears on either, although your bet is as good as ours that it supports Pono, not Spotify, Rdio, Nokia MixRadio, iTunes Radio, Xbox Music Pass, Google Play Music, Sony Music Unlimited….

    Michell Gyrodec mk1Acoustat Monitor ThreeDenon TU-950Threshold STASIS-1Threshold FET-One

    A look at Steve Jobs’ audio system in 1982

    Photographer Diana Walker’s candid of Steve Jobs and his audio system in 1982 “embodied everything he held dear in high-end industrial design: clean lines, quality materials and workmanship, outstanding performance–price be damned,” according to Wired’s Rene Chun, who pieced together his long-lost audio system.

    Surprised he’s the first to do it? It’s the substance bulletin boards are made of, although no one’s advanced the discussion past the point of speculation, until now.

    Only two of the manufacturers in his system are still in business and surprise, one of them is the maker of his turntable, JA Michell Engineering. The Michell of today’s GyroDec SE begins at $2495 and that’s the bring your own tonearm price. Michell’s Technoarm retail for $1195.

    There are two things to know about the GyroDec: 1) Stanley Kubrick selected an early iteration of it for A Clockwork Orange because he thought it looked like the future in 1971. (It still does.) 2) John Michell, the guy who designed this elegant piece of machinery, was a sci-fi visionary. He built the scale model Discovery spaceship for 2001: A Space Odyssey and C-3PO’s robotic eyes.

    “For the curious, if you were to put together this same stereo rig today by picking up the components on the used market, it would cost about $8,200,” said Chun. Don’t expect to find them in prime condition, though. At their age, they’d also need to be refurbished by a technician.

    (Photo Credit: Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images. “Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982.”)

    "There's no such thing as digital." -

    Audiostream: It's common for people to envision and represent a digital signal as a series of 1s and 0s. As such, there's really no room for error, at least according to this binary theory. Is a digital signal simply a series of 1s and 0s?
    Charlie Hansen, Ayre Acoustics: Unfortunately not. The "1"s and "0"s are just abstractions that are easy to think about. But in the real world, something real needs to represent those two abstract states. In modern digital electronics, we have almost universally chosen a voltage above a specific level (that varies from one "family" of electronic parts to another) to represent a "1" and a voltage below a different specific level (that again can vary) to represent a "0".
    In the real world, those two voltages are not the same, so there is a "grey" zone between the "black" of the "0" and the "white" of the "1". Also, it takes time for the signal to change levels, and the time required to do so can depend on dozens (or even thousands) of other external factors.
    All of this can be boiled down to a simple phrase. "All of the problems with digital are analog problems."
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