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Cover 
A Home THX sound system might include 
these Boston Acoustics speakers, the Lexicon CP-3 
controller, and the Carver TFM-35x power 
amp. The TV set here is a 27-inch Toshiba 
CN-27C90. For details, see Tomlinson Holman’s 
special report beginning on page 54. 


Photograph by Roberto Brosan 


ШШ 
LETTERS ..... 
NEW PRODUCTS ..........13 
AUDIO Q&A .............18 
PERIPHERALS ...........22 
SIGNALS ...............26 
TECHNICAL TALK .........28 
POPULAR MUSIC .........90 
CLASSICAL MUSIC .......100 
TIMEDELAY............1196 


. 
. 
. 


COPYRIGHT © 1994 BY HACHETTE FILIPACCHI MAGA- 
ZINES, INC. All rights reserved. Stereo Review, April 1994, Vol- 
ume 59, Number 4. Stereo Review (ISSN 0039-1220) is published 
monthly by Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, Inc. at 1633 Broadway, 
New York, NY 10019; telephone (212) 767-6000. One-year sub- 
scription rate for the United States and its possessions, $15.94; 
Canada, $23.94 (includes 7% GST, GST registration number 
126018209, Canadian Sales Agreeement Number 99236); all other 
countries, 94; cash orders only, payable in U.S. currency. Sec- 
ond-class postage paid at New York, NY 10001, and at additional 
mailing offices. Authorized as second-class mail by the Post Office 
Department, Ottawa, Canada, and for payment of postage in cash. 
POSTMASTER / SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE: Please send 
change-of-address forms and all subscription correspondence to 
Stereo Review, P.O. Box 55627, Boulder, CO 80322-5627. Please 
allow at least eight weeks for the change of address to become ef- 
fective. Include both your old and your new address, enclosing, if 
possible, an address label from a recent issue. If you have a sub- 
scription problem, write to the above address or call (303) 447- 
9330. PERMISSIONS: Material in this publication may not be re- 
produced in any form without permission. Requests for permission 
should be directed to: The Editor, Stereo Review, 1633 Broadway, 
New York, NY 10019. BACK ISSUES are available. Write to 
Stereo Review-Back Issues, P.O. Box 7085, Brick, NJ 08723. En- 
close a check for the cover price of each issue you want plus $1.75 
each for shipping and handling. For telephone credit-card orders, 
call (908) 367-2900. EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS must be ac- 
companied by retum postage and will be handled with reasonable 
care, but the publisher assumes no responsibility for the retum or 
safety of unsolicited manuscripts, art, or photographs. 





PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. 





Stereo Review 


INCORPORATING HIGH FIDELITY ® 









Equipment Test Reports ...... | 
Denon AVR-800 A/V receiver, page 32 

Sherwood CDC-5030R CD changer, page 38 
Cerwin-Vega VS-100 loudspeaker system, page 44 
Panasonic 3DO Multiplayer, page 46 р? 


User's Report............... 
Boston Acoustics Home THX 
loudspeaker system • by David Ranada р 4 


Home THX ................. 
Lucasfilm's approach to 

bringing the theater experience 
home • by Tomlinson Holman 07 


Systems........... 
A/V underground 

* by Bob Ankosko 

Picture Perfect ..... iji 
A basic guide to better 

video * by David Ranada 11 


A Laserdisc Starter Set ....... 


Ten top discs to feed that new 
player * by Rad Bennett 0 1 


CES Showstoppers ........... 
Hot new products from the 1994 Winter 
Consumer Electronics Show • by Bob Ankosko 





ae on oul 


Has the twentieth century finally caught up 
with him? • by David Patrick Stearns 


Best Recordings 8l 
of the Month ............... 

A little soul-searching from Bonnie Raitt, 

a smart blast of pop from Redd Kross, a classic 
Mahler Fifth from Claudio Abbado, and 
refreshing Mendelssohn from Frederic Chiu 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 5 


i 


HOME THEATER 
GUIDE ON VIDEO 


Dolby Labs is offering a 48- 
minute video primer entitled 
Consumer Guide to Home 
Theatre. The VHS tape, which 
includes advice on setting up 
a multichannel system, can 
be ordered direct for $19.95, 
plus $2.50 for shipping and 
handling; call 1-800-241-4115. 


MOVIE MUSIC ON CD 
When the Recording Industry 
Association of America 
tallied sales figures for 1993, 
the soundtrack for The 
Bodyguard, containing six 
new songs by Whitney 
Houston, emerged as the top 
seller of the year with 10 
million copies. . . . The hit 
movie Philadelphia begins 
with Bruce Springsteen's 
Streets of Philadelphia and 
ends with Neil Young's 
closing theme, Philadelphia, 
which are the first songs 
these two artists have written 
and performed specifically 
for use in a film. Both are on 
Epic's release of music from 
the picture, which also 
includes performances by 
Peter Gabriel, Sade, the Spin 
Doctors, and others. A second 
Philadelphia album from 
Epic includes Howard Shore's 
orchestral score plus operatic 
arias sung by Maria Callas 
and Lucia Popp. ... A star 
has been placed in 
Hollywood's Walk of Fame 
for the French composer 
Maurice Jarre, whose Oscar 
credits include Lawrence of 
Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago 
(1965), and A Passage to 

India (1984). 


INSTANT GUITAR HERO 


Now you can jam along with 
your favorite songs using the 
Key ($400), a guitar-shaped 
synthesizer from Lonestar 
Technologies that lets you 
select which instrument— 
bass guitar, lead guitar, 
etc.—you want to "play" and 
then simply strum along. 
Specially encoded 
videotapes and CD's send 
data containing the melody 
and chords to the Key—all 


6 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


BY WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE 
AND BOB ANKOSKO 





“TARNISHED” CD'S TURN UP 
PDO Discs, a Philips-owned CD pressing plant in Blackburn, 
England, has announced that a "small number" of CD's it 


manufactured in the late Eighties are susceptible to 


tarnishing that may disrupt a CD player's ability to read 
them. The faulty discs, which have a reflective layer made of 
silver instead of the more common aluminum, tend to exhibit 
a dark bronze-like tint and bear the words "Made in the U.K. 


by PDO” near the spindle hole. 


PDO has set up a hotline in the U.K. (0800 387063) to help 
owners of suspect CD's pressed at that facility. Discs that are 
found to be defective will be replaced, and data from hotline 
calls will be used in research on the degradation process. 


According to PDO's Dave Wilson, there are no plans for a 
hotline in the U.S. “A small number of titles are affected, and 


within those titles a small number of discs," he said. He 
termed U.S. distribution of the flawed discs "unlikely" but 
didn't rule out the possibility that some may turn up here, 
noting that two calls from the U.S. were received during the 


hotline's first few weeks of operation. 


Wilson said PDO presses discs for a number of labels, 
including PolyGram. He declined to identify specific titles 
that may be affected but said the problem has turned up in 


both pop and classical releases. 


you have to provide is the 
rhythm. Atlantic Records is 
releasing several Key- 
encoded music videos, 
including Strange Brew 
featuring Eric Clapton. 


STIV LIVES 

Members of the Stiv Bators 
fan club will be happy to 
know that the 1981 film 
Polyester, in which Bators 
made his movie debut in the 
role of Bo-Bo Belsinger, has 


been released on laserdisc in 
the prestigious Criterion 
Collection. Starring Tab 
Hunter and Divine, Polyester 
was directed by the cult 
figure John Waters. To 
recreate in home video the 
Odorama effects of the 
theatrical presentation of 
Polyester, a scratch-and-sniff 
card containing ten 
fragrances keyed to 
significant plot events is 
enclosed with each disc. 


Bators, the lead singer of 
the punk band Dead Boys, 
made only one other movie, 
Tapeheads (1989), before his 
untimely death in a traffic 
accident in Paris in 1990. 
Tapeheads is available on 
VHS tape from Pacific Arts 
Video. 


SURROUND-ONLY CD’S 
FROM NEW LABEL 

Keith Olsen, the producer 
behind such pop acts as 
Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, 
and Heart, has launched the 
Kore Group label, which will 
specialize in music CD's 
recorded in Dolby Surround. 
The first release is a 16- 
minute disc of Emerson, Lake, 
and Palmer's new studio 
recording of their “Pictures at 
an Exhibition,” which is 
available direct for $6.99, 
plus $1.50 for shipping and 
handling. Call 1-800-241-4115 
to order. 


AUDIO BITS 

The annual High-End Hi-Fi 
Show sponsored by 
Stereophile magazine will be 
held April 29 through May 1 
at the Doral Resort and 
Country Club in Miami. Call 
505-982-2366 for details. ... 
Cerwin-Vega, the largest 
family-owned speaker 
company in America, is 
celebrating its fortieth 
anniversary. ... Collins USA, 
the maker of tube-type car 
subwoofers based in Costa 
Mesa, California, has 
introduced two "budget" 
powered subwoofers for 
home use. 


ECOLOGICALLY SOUND 
Hollywood Records has 
released the first album 
recorded and mixed entirely 
with solar energy, 
"Alternative NRG,” featuring 
such well-known performers 
as Annie Lennox, Sonic 
Youth, R.E.M, and U2. Even 
the wrapping and packaging 
have been declared 
ecologically correct. Sales 
benefit Greenpeace, a noted 
organization of 
environmental activists. 


N3TIV АУХЗІ АӨ NOU VaLISPTIE 


a 








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That's because Ы 


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S 
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Celestion’s Shield Series was created specifically to suit Home Theater 
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applications, both acoustically and aesthetically. They employ Celestion- 
designed, magnetically-shielded drivers, integrated into elegant cabinets P. 
using proprietary construction technologies. 

Compare each Celestion Shield model with any comparably CELESTION 
priced so-called Home Theater speaker. Immediately, you will realize... 


CIRCLE NO. 24 ON READER SERVICE CARD 




















































Stereo Review. 


Vice President, Editor in Chief 
LOUISE BOUNDAS 


Executive Editor 
MICHAEL RIGGS 


Art Director 
SUE LLEWELLYN 


Director, Hirsch-Houck Laboratories 
JULIAN HIRSCH 


Senior Editor Technical Editor 
BOB ANKOSKO DAVID RANADA 
Managing Editor 
DAVID STEIN 


Popular Music Editor Classical Music Editor 
STEVE SIMELS ROBERT RIPPS 


Associate Art Director 
MINDY OSWALD 


Associate Editor Assistant Editor 
MARYANN SALTSER JAE SEGARRA 


Editor at Large 
WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE 


Contributors: Robert Ackart, Chris Albertson, 
Rebecca Day, Richard Freed, José Garcia (Buyers’ 
Guides), Phyl Garland, Ron Givens, David Hall, 
Bryan Harrell (Tokyo), Roy Hemming, 
George Jellinek, Stoddard Lincoln, Ian Masters, 
Alanna Nash, Henry Pleasants (London), 

Ken Pohlmann, Parke Puterbaugh, Charles Rodrigues, 
Eric Salzman, Craig Stark, David Patrick Stearns 


Vice President, Group Publisher 
THOMAS Ph. WITSCHI 


Consumer Electronics Group Advertising 
VP/Associate Publisher 
Tony Catalano 
Regional VP/Ad Director, East Coast: 
Charles L. P. Watson, (212) 767-6038 
Regional Account Manager, East Coast: 
Christine B. Forhez, (212) 767-6025 
Regional VP/Ad Director, Midwest: 
Scott Constantine, (212) 767-6346 
Regional VP/Ad Director, West Coast: 
Robert Meth, (213) 954-4831 
Western Advertising Manager: 
Paula Mayeri, (213) 954-4830 
Sales Assistant: Nikki Parker 
National Record Label Sales Representatives: 
The Mitchell Advertising Group (MAG Inc.) 
Mitch Herskowitz, (212) 490-1715 
Steve Gross, (212) 490-1895 
Assistant to the Publisher: Aline J. Pulley 
Operations Manager: Sylvia Correa 
Advertising Coordinator: Linda Neuweiler 
Trade Show Coordinator: Barbara Aiken 
Sales Assistant: Yvonne Telesford 
Classified Advertising: (800) 445-6066 
Production Manager: Vicki L. Feinmel 
Production Director: Patti Burns 
Business Manager: Christine Z. Maillet 
General Manager: Greg Roperti 


HIEM Stereo Review is published 
рен by Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, Inc. 
Chairman: Daniel Filipacchi 
President, CEO, and COO: David J. Pecker 
Executive VP and Editorial Director: Jean-Louis Ginibre 


Senior VP, Global Advertising: Paul DuCharme 
Senior VP, Director of Corporate Sales: Nicholas Matarazzo - 





VP, Chief Financial Officer: Paul DeBenedictis _ 
УР, General Counsel: Catherine Flickinger 
VE Manicuring шов Araba Raman 
УР, E 


» Марал i ў 
VP, Hachette Filipacchi Multimedia: Mario Cooper 


ez 








LETTER 


Cable/VCR Compatibility 


n January’s “3 Hi-Fi VCR’s,” Edward 
Foster mentioned that some cable sys- 
tems scramble everything they transmit, re- 
quiring the use of an external decoder for 
descrambling and channel selection, but he 
said that this may end soon thanks to a re- 
cently proposed FCC ruling to insure cable- 
box/VCR compatibility. Do the provisions 
of the proposed ruling mean that if and 
when it is passed I will be able to do away 
with my cable box and select all the chan- 
nels I am paying for with the tuners in my 
TV and VCR? When will this happen, and 
will it apply to all cable systems? 
GEORGE L. FECHTER 
Moncks Corner, SC 


We're not certain exactly when the cable- 
compatibility issue will finally be put to rest, 
though it does now appear that it will be 
forced to some resolution. It is very likely 
that whatever solution is adopted will be ef- 
fective only for new TV sets and VCR's de- 
signed specifically to take advantage of it. 


Sinatra's "Duets" 


ardon me, but has Steve Simels listened 

to Frank Sinatra's “Duets” album? Be- 
fore I listened, I too had serious doubts 
about The Voice, believing like Mr. Simels 
that Sinatra was "simply years past it," and I 
was also disturbed because his celebrity vo- 
cal partners were dubbed in after the original 
recording sessions. My doubts vanished, 
however, the first time I listened to “Duets,” 
and my appreciation has increased with fur- 
ther listening. Mr. Simels has every right to 
dislike it, but his description of it as an “un 
holy mess” in his cruel and inept tirade in 
the February issue makes me angry. His 
bombastic writing is the real “unholy mess.” 

That the vocal collaborators were not in 
the studio at the same time as Sinatra turns 
out to be irrelevant. Mr. Simels’s statement 
that they were “. .. more or less reduced to 
filling in the blanks Sinatra deigned to leave 
for them" is erroneous. In fact, with mini- 
mal exceptions, Sinatra recorded each song 
in its entirety with a live orchestra, and the 
celebrity vocalists were free to add their own 
contributions where they desired. When Bar- 
bra Streisand recorded the line, “You make 
me blush, Francis," Sinatra responded by 
rerecording a line to say, “I have got a crush, 
my Barbra, on you." 

It seems to me that Mr. Simels must have 
imagined how the album was going to sound 
and then heard it with a totally closed mind. 
He then proceeded to “review” it with all of 
the maturity and eloquence of an average 
high-schooler. KENNETT W. SAARI 

Spring Lake Heights, NJ 


8 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





he worst record Frank Sinatra ever made 

is better than any garbage that passes as 
music today. When will these smart-aleck 
"reviewers" learn there is something be- 
sides the current muck? When anything de- 
cent comes along, they can't wait to trash it. 
EARL JENKINS 

Covington, KY 


feel compelled to respond to Steve Sim- 
els's ignoble review of Frank Sinatra's 
“Duets.” Is Mr. Simels aware that “Duets” 
is on its way to becoming Mr. Sinatra's 
best-selling recording? Davip Е. LYNCH 
Upper Darby, PA 


wr is Steve Simels’s problem? His 

comments about Frank Sinatra’s “Du- 
ets” defy comprehension. 

Harry L. LICHTENBAUM 

Wethersfield, CT 


Looking for Stereo AM 


aniel Kumin’s “Getting It All Togeth- 
er” (February) included a paragraph 
about AM radio, and he mentioned that “a 
few home receivers can now decode” stereo 
AM broadcasts. I have not been able to lo- 
cate any such receiver, only a couple of very 
expensive separate tuners. I was informed 
by one manufacturer that there are at least 
five different broadcast specifications for 
stereo AM (one of which, I presume, is 
called AMAX), and that even if I could find 
a receiver with stereo-AM capability, it 
would not necessarily be able to decode the 
stereo signals broadcast by my local AM 
station, WQEW. I called WQEW, and even 
they were unable to help me. Can you? 
JACK BENVENT 
Ridgewood, NJ 


The article should have said “tuners” rather 
than “receivers.” Although there were initi- 
ally a number of broadcast standards for 
stereo AM, by far the most widely used one 
—and the only one for which you will find 
receiving equipment—is the Motorola C- 
QUAM system. AMAX is an enhanced per- 
formance standard for AM broadcasting and 
reception, not a stereo-transmission scheme. 


| generally enjoy your magazine very much, 
but I believe the music review section is 
weakened by its limited format. Since you 
have only one reviewer per item, obviously 
the tone of any review depends heavily on 
one critic’s musical taste and background, or 
even his mood. Okay, I can live with that. In 
the January issue, Ron Givens’s review of 
Heart’s “Desire Walks On” was, at best, 


Even Orson Welles 





A new reason to be afraid of the da brings the drama of home theater to your fingertips. 
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home theater GTP-600 tuner/preamplifier. At Adcom’s Channel Stereo surround, let you create a variety of cus- 
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produce surround ments. 
sound. It creates effects These features cou- 
that are out of this ple ideally with the 
world. GTP-600's advanced, 
The award-winning programmable remote 
GTP-600 and an Adcom which lets you com- 
power amplifier give mand up to eight addi- 
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anything you’ ve ever heard in a movie theater. control. 
Award-winning technology takes Surround yourself now at your Adcom dealer. 
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Providing switching for up to four video sources authorized Adcom dealer today. But be careful, you might 
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details you can hear 


11 Elkins Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816 U.S.A. (908) 390-1130. Distributed in Canada by PRO ACOUSTICS INC. Montréal, Québec (514) 344-1226 


CIRCLE NO. 1 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


well off base. Okay, I could have lived with 

that—I knew his opinion was not even close 

to reality. But in your February issue, you 

listed it among the ten worst pop albums of 
1993. That was unacceptable. 

ROBERT J. CALABRO 

Yonkers, NY 


hose idea was it to put Meat Loaf’s 

“Bat Out of Hell П” in the ten worst 
albums of the year? I think it’s one of the 
greatest ever. It surely doesn’t deserve to be 
on anyone’s ten-worst list. GREG CRUCE 
Fredonia, KY 


hile you techno-weenies have been 
measuring waveforms and counting 
watts, the rest of the world has been using 
the equipment you review to listen to mu- 
sic. Your inclusion of U2’s “Zooropa” in 
your “Disgraceland: The 10 Worst Pop Al- 
bums of 1993” illustrates the depths of your 
ignorance. STEVEN MARTIN 
Boston, MA 


Speaker Sound and Location 


ulian Hirsch wrote in his February test 

report on the RDL Acoustics F-1 and FS- 
1 speakers that they had essentially the same 
“truly excellent” performance when each 
was placed as recommended, but that he 
heard differences in their sound. (Although 
otherwise identical, the F-1 is optimized for 





placement near a wall, the FS-1 for place- 
ment on a floor away from the walls.) 

Mr. Hirsch is correct, and this difference 
was to be expected. Although their different 
designs enabled each speaker to inject 
smooth power into the room at their differ- 
ent locations, a speaker cannot control how 
the room distributes that power. The fact 
that their locations were different meant 
that the room resonance modes were excit- 
ed differently, and therefore that the spec- 
tral balance produced would not be the 
same at a given listener location. An even 
greater difference in sound would occur if 
identical speakers were placed at these dif- 
ferent locations, because their power outputs 
would then be different also. ROY ALLISON 

RDL Acoustics Inc. 
Bellingham, MA 


he reason for conflicting results using 
two baluns wired back-to-back for hum 
reduction (February “Letters”) is that there 
are two different ways these little devices 
are wired. One type will still have a com- 
mon ground if a pair is wired back-to-back 
and will not work for hum isolation. There 
are many brands and models of balun, and 
the only reliable way I know of to tell which 
is which is with an ohmmeter or continuity 
tester. Том FORD 
Campbell, CA 





ow can I obtain the MAGIC box from 
Mondial Designs described in Peter 
Mitchell’s “Getting the Hum Out” (Novem- 
ber 1993)? I live in San Diego, and it seems 
impossible to find it here. DAVID ZAHIRI 
Encinitas, CA 


You can write to Mondial Designs at 2 Elm 
St., Ardsley, NY 10502. 


ur February review of the DGX Digital 

Deconvolution Audio System misstat- 
ed its price. The correct price is $1,995 for 
systems with loudspeakers finished in medi- 
um-oak woodgrain vinyl, $2,195 for sys- 
tems finished in rosewood veneer. 

Our March review of the Yamaha CX-2 
A/V preamplifier erroneously described its 
loudness compensation, which works by at- 
tenuating the midrange and, to a lesser ex- 
tent, the treble. Also, the back-panel control 
connection for Yamaha MX-1 and MX-2 
power amplifiers actually turns these ampli- 
fiers оп and off. We regret these errors. О 


We welcome your letters. Please address 
correspondence to Editor, Stereo Review, 
1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. 
You should include your address and 
telephone number for verification. Letters 
may be edited for clarity and length. 





SHOCKINGLY DEEP BASS. Add our SUB-712 powered subwoofer to your 
system and you'll be struck by the impact of its low end. Call 1-800-878-TIME. 


10 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


CIRCLE NO. 14 ON READER SERVICE CARD 





The best system for the 
videophile is now the 
only choice for the 
audiophile. Kinergetics 
Research introduces the 
High Performance тати 
Home Theatre™ к> 

(HPHT) system. 





Products that unite all of the 
features, flexibility and 
superb performance that 
both have been 

demanding. 


For the videophile, 
convienent remote control 


audio/video switching 

and built-in surround 

analyzer set up. 
THX? and Dolby® 





For the audiophile, 

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conversion, pure 

class “A” circuitry, and our 
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Canceling Circuitry. 


Visit a Kinergetics 
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you and experience 
HPHT. 


Pro-Logic theatre 
effects so real that 
the upgradeable DSP 
technology on which 
they are based is 
destined to become 
the industry 
standard. 





KSP-2 Surround/Stereo Processor 





KSP-3 Source/Switching Processor 





KBA-280 140 W/Ch Pure Class “A” Power Amplifier 





у) KINERGETICS 
RESEARCH 


4260 Charter Street, Vernon, CA 90058-2596 
213/582-9349 * Fax: 213/582-9434 


Dolby Pro-Logic is a trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation. 
THX is a registered trademark of Lucas Arts Entertainment Company. 
CIRCLE NO. 45 ON READER SERVICE CARD 








A little voice tells you to buy NHT. 


Gun shots and screeching tires don't tell a story, story, from spoken word to subtle sound effect. And 
they're just the punctuation. Movies are mostly dialog. when the script calls for a nuclear blast, you'll think 
So before you buy your home theater speakers, audition you're sitting at ground zero. МНТ home theater — you 
МНТ. Our critically acclaimed systems deliver the whole really should hear what people are saying. 





USE YOUR HERI. 


Now Hear This, Inc., 535 Getty Court, Bldg. A, Benicia, CA 94510 
For the МНТ dealer nearest you: (U.S.) call 1-800-NHT-9993; (Canada) Artech Electronics Ltd., (514) 631-6448 


CIRCLE NO. 53 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


NEN 


AUDIO CONTROL 
Audio Control's C-101 Series III 
equalizer/analyzer combines a 
pink-noise generator, a real-time 
spectrum analyzer with 
adjustable resolution and an 
outboard calibrated microphone, 
and a ten-band stereo graphic 
equalizer in one standard-width 


are spaced one octave apart, 
starting at 32 Hz, and grouped in 
stereo pairs. The unit has a 
selectable infrasonic filter and 
carries a five-year warranty. 
Price: $459. Audio Control, Dept. 
SR, 22410 70th Ave. W., 
Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043. 


= фое HOBO IX 





component. Equalizer controls * Circle 120 on reader service card 
SENNHEISER 
The heart of Sennheiser's IS 450 rechargeable NiCd batteries, 
wireless headphone system which are said to provide up to 


is an AC-powered infrared 8 hours of continuous listening 
transmitter/emitter designed to per charge. Price: $249. 
saturate a 375-square-foot room. Sennheiser, Dept. SR, P.O. Box 
The headset has a volume 987, Old Lyme, CT 06371. 
control and is powered by two © Circle 121 on reader service card 





B&W LOUDSPEAKERS 


Part of B&W’s 2000 Series of 
audio/video speakers, the Model 
2000 IFS center-channel speaker 
combines two magnetically 
shielded 5-inch woofers and a 1- 


used, one above and the other 
below the screen, to center the 
sound vertically as well as 
horizontally. Frequency response 


is given as 95 Hz to 20 kHz +3 dB. 


inch tweeter in a 17%-inch-wide Price: $199. B&W Loudspeakers, 


vented enclosure designed for Dept. SR, P.O. Box 8, North 
placement on a TV set (as shown) Reading, MA 01864-0008. 
or below it. A pair can be also * Circle 122 on reader service card 





PARADIGM 
Paradigm's Mk3 Performance Low-frequency limits are 
Series includes four speakers: given as 32, 34, 32, and 28 Hz, 
from left, the 334-inch-tall respectively, all within +2 dB. 
Model 5seMk3 ($529 a pair), the Finish options are oak or black- 
3454-inch-tall 7seMk3 ($629 a ash vinyl veneer. Distributed by 
pair), the 37-inch-tall 9seMk3 AudioStream, Dept. SR, P.0. Box 
($729 a pair), and the 4312-inch- 2410, Niagara Falls, NY 14302. 
tall 11seMk3 ($1,049 a pair). * Circle 123 on reader service card 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 13 





NEW 


NORDOST > 

Nordost’s 12-gauge-equivalent 
Super Flatline cable is designed 
for biwired speaker systems. 
Thinner than a dime so it can be 
laid under a rug or carpet and 
said to be extremely durable, it 
features sixteen Teflon- 
encapsulated copper conductors. 
Price: $20 per meter. Nordost, 
Dept. SR, 58 Pearl St., 
Framingham, MA 01701. 

* Circle 124 on reader service card 


v ALPINE 

Alpine’s Model 5960 six-disc car 
CD changer, measuring only 10 x 
2% x 6 inches, can be installed 
under a seat or in the glove box of 
many vehicles. Its new tray-type 
magazine and sliding play 
mechanism reduce disc-change 


ALLISON ACOUSTICS » 
The home-theater-oriented NL 
Series from Allison Acoustics 
includes, from left, the NL 654 
two-way surround speaker 
($280), the NL 5400 subwoofer 
($460), and the NL 1440 two-way 
front-channel speaker ($330). The 
13'2-inch-tall NL 654 uses a 6- 
inch woofer and has a low- 
frequency limit of 58 Hz. 
Measuring 19 x 21% x 19 inches, 


14 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





time to 8 seconds. An Alpine CD 
controller or head unit with 
changer controls is required for 
operation. Price: $420. Alpine, 
Dept. SR, 19145 Gramercy PI., 
Torrance, CA 90501. 

Circle 126 on reader service card 





the NL 5400 has a 12-inch driver 
and is rated down to 28 Hz. The 
18%2-inch-tall NL 1440 features 
an 8-inch woofer and is rated 
down to 41 Hz. All are 
magnetically shielded, finished 
in black lacquer, and covered by 
full five-year warranties. Allison 
Acoustics, Dept. SR, 478 Stanford 
Ave., Danville, KY 40422. 

Circle 128 on reader service card 


PROGRESSIVE > 
DESIGN 

Progressive Design offers five 
Roll-Up CD Towers: clockwise 


from left, the 69-inch-tall RUCD- 
220 ($200) and RUCD-110 ($120), 


the 44-inch-tall RUCD-132 


($130) and RUCD-066 ($80), and 


the 29-inch-tall RUCD-088 
($100). Progressive Design, 
Dept. SR, 310 County Line Rd., 
Bensenville, IL 60106. 

* Circle 125 on reader service card 


A MEDIA VISION 

The deluxe version of Media 
Vision's Memphis multimedia 
upgrade system for desktop 
computers features two 
detachable Bose speakers, each 
of which houses a 272-іпсһ 
wide-range driver and an 
amplifier/equalizer. The system 








includes a double-speed 
CD-ROM drive with preamplifier, 
an interface card, connecting 
cables, and two CD-ROM's. 
Price: $1,299. Media Vision, 
Dept. SR, 47300 Bayside 
Parkway, Fremont, CA 94538. 


* Circle 127 on reader service card 

















into an audio extra large. 


You've never heard anything like this. dynamic range (both exceed 90 decibels). As a re- 






With Sensurround" Home Theater you won’tjust sult, you'll feel violent explosions as well as violin 






be surrounded by sound, you'll be solos. On that note, Sensurround 






enveloped, involved, and like never speakers are well-suited to music. 








before, entertained. Cerwin- So you don’t need separate 


Vega originally designed speakers for audio and video. 






Sensurround (with MCA?) to What you will need is an AV 












bring deep bass into movie receiver with Dolby Pro Logic 


Im 
ti 


9934 
dads 





houses. Now we can bring it and a fairly large screen TV. 


{Winner Of The 1992 Design And Engineering Award} 


into your house. Our 5-piece speak- Not to mention, a tub of Orville 


"UT"- 


er system for direct-view televisions ^ Redenbacher s anda ticket booth. 





(pictured here) and 7-piece system for projection Cerwin-Vega Sensurround. It makes big screen tele- 


TVs give you extremely high sensitivity and wide vision, positively huge. ЖЕН 
CIRCLE NO. 23 ON READER SERVICE CARD 
©1993 Cerwin-Vega, Inc. For our free color catalog, please write to us at Cerwin-Vega, 555 East Easy Street, Simi Valley, California 93065, or call 805-584-9332. 








DENON 

The CDC-815 CD player is built 
around Denon’s Super Linear D/A 
conversion circuitry, which is 
designed to eliminate zero-cross 
distortion and improve linearity 
at low levels. For those who like 
to sing along with CD’s, the 
player has a digital pitch control 


that’s adjustable in 0.1-percent 
increments over a range of +12 





STILLWATER DESIGNS 
Stillwater’s Kicker Substation car 
subwoofers include the KSR120 
(left, $429) and KSR100 ($379), 
featuring a 12- or 10-inch driver 
in ported cabinets 31 or 25 inches 
long. The KSR120’s bandwidth is 
given as 36 to 129 Hz and power 


16 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


ALTEC LANSING 
Altec Lansing’s Model 120 
speaker is designed for surround- 
channel use in a home theater 
system. Its quasi-dipole driver 
configuration mates a 5‘2-inch 
woofer with two side-firing 3-inch 
drivers in an 1112-inch-tall 
cabinet finished in black vinyl. 
Frequency response is given as 
100 Hz to 7 kHz +3 dB. Price: 
$250 a pair. Altec Lansing, 
Dept. SR, Р.0. Box 277, 
Milford, PA 18337-0277. 


* Circle 129 on reader service card 


percent. Other features include 

a twenty-track program memory, 
a headphone jack with a 
separate level control, a coaxial 
digital output, and a remote 
control. Signal-to-noise ratio is 
given as 107 dB. Price: $300. 
Denon, Dept. SR, 222 New Road, 
Parsippany, NJ 07054. 


* Circle 131 on reader service card 


handling as 200 watts, the 


KSR100's as 39 to 130 Hz and 250 


watts. Both models come with 
mounting hardware. Stillwater 
Designs, Dept. SR, P.O. Box 459, 
Stillwater, OK 74076. 

* Circle 133 on reader service card 





COAST 

Coast's LP-size CD Album ($25) 
has a cushioned-vinyl cover and 
holds forty-eight CD's and their 
liner notes in soft-plastic sleeves. 
The twelve-page binder-type 
album can be expanded using six- 


PERREAUX 
Among the components New 
Zealand's Perreaux is banking on 
to re-establish itself in the U.S. 
are the EP3 preamplifier (top, 
$845), with six inputs and a 
phono section, and the E110 


power amplifier ($1,095), rated to 


page refill packs ($9.95) that 
hold twenty-four discs with liner 
notes. Coast Manufacturing, 
Dept. SR, 200 Corporate Blvd. S., 
Yonkers, NY 10701. 


* Circle 130 on reader service card 





deliver 100 watts per channel into 
8 ohms, or 160 watts into 4 ohms, 
with 0.003 percent distortion at 1 
kHz. Perreaux Technologies 
America, Dept. SR, P.0. Box 248, 
Buffalo, NY 14225-0248. 


* Circle 132 on reader service card 










































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Cusine For Miles) What You Are 
'erve) 01200 (Atlantic) 01599 
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HER ау HER 
(EMI) 01244 "y Trisha Yearwood: The BMG MUSIC SERVICE 
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н Jody Watley: Intimacy 
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Prince: The Hits 1 
(WB/Paisley Park) 
02228 + 


Prince: The Hits 2 
(WB/Paisley Park) 
72325 + 





Van Morrison: Alan Jackson: A Lot 


Reba McEntire: Moondance About Livin’ (And A 
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4884 'olume Elvis Presley: The ista) 74074 

е (МСА) 25466 Number Ond Hits Steely Dan: Gold 

Dave in (RCA) 72190 (MCA) 74339 

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Air Supply: Greatest Collection 

Hits (Arista) 34424 (MCA) 40015 





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Greatest Hits, Vol.1 — The Greatest Hits 
(Arista) 72863 (Reprise) 80232 
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(Island) 34501 (Geffen) 35469 + (Nonesuch) 00110 (London) 01705 Pops (Philips) 15319 et hee The John Lennon Cuckoo's Nest 
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Red (Jive) 34692 сб Рауан Апа (London) 35078 73680 (Reprise) 83232 
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Color Me Bade: Time Start with Д. FREE Compact Discs now First, 
Reprise) 54459 th 1 choose 4 FREE CDs from this ad. Then buy just 1 СО 
En Vogue: Buy only at the regular Club price at the regular Club price and you'll get 3 more choices 
Fu within a year FREE! That's a total of 8 for the price of 1 (plus 
(East West) 61717 more CDs of your choice, shipping and handling for each selection). You have a 
Guys And Dolls/New Then get FREE full year to buy your 1 selection, currently priced at 
осо Singles 45's Yes: Classic Yes Broadway Cast $14.98 and up. It's that easy! 
nder (A&M) 35208 — (Atlantic) 50248 (RCA Victor) 61964 E j i 
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Woman (Elektra) Here More Mente Ашы Ар сасе Ie added to сай aolac 10 days. If you're not completely satisfied, you may 
35417 (Reprise) 53190 (Elektra) 63300 Ipping тр оли S ю 68/71 SeyeCtION. return them at our expense without further obligation. 
Melissa Etheridge: Emmylou Harris: Chi : Greatest Complete Club details will arrive with your 
Yes | Am Cowgit’s s Prayer Hits 1982-1989 introductory selections. 
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=a шл шың ыз зз жыл тыз клы € START SAVING! MAIL THIS POSTAGE-PAID CARD TODA -——— 


Please accept my membership in the BMG Music Service and send my 4 FREE CDs as [| 


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1 eens 2 COUNTRY : 3 nun mx 4 POPAO ROCK retum it at our expense. 
е г ieorge Strai rosmi оп John j 
Frank Sinatra Reba McEntire ZZ Top Sting Sab oe Ch percer ү ata 
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From day one, Luciano Pavarotti Pat Metheny Iron Maiden Tevin Campbell And the savings don't stop there! 
you're entitled to Itzhak Periman Spyro Gyra Anthrax Boyz 11 Men ‘Sales and 
Mr. discounts on your favorite music keep getting better 
buy a CD at half the longer you remain a member. But it's up to you. 
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Service. Photocopies of this reply card are acceptable. MAIL TO: BMG Music 8 
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P.O. Box 91300 
Indianapolis, IN 46291-0300 


* Parental Advisory—Contains explicit lyrics and/or artwork. 
*t 2-CD set; counts as 2 selections. 


Dog and hom are trademarks of General Electric Company, USA. 
The PAK Loge je a radar of BMG МАК ORC olla 
used in the advertisement. the property of arious trademark 
owners. BMG Music Service, í 6550 E. 30th St., "Indianapolis IN 
46219-1194 

© 1994 BMG Direct 








SAMSUNG 
Samsung’s VR8903 four-head 
VHS Hi-Fi VCR supports the VCR 
Plus recording system, which lets 
you record selected TV shows 
automatically by keying in codes 
given in many newspaper TV 
listings and in TV Guide. Other 





BANG & OLUFSEN 
The AV 7000, an add-on surround 
processor/amplifier for B&O 
audio systems, features a Dolby 
Pro Logic decoder, a 60-watt 
center-channel amp, and a code 
converter that enables B&O 


SOUND DYNAMICS 
The R-616 tower speaker from 
Sound Dynamics is a two-way 
vented system with a pair of 6%- 
inch woofers and a 1-inch metal- 
dome tweeter. Frequency 
response is given as 34 Hz to 22 
kHz +3 dB, sensitivity as 87 dB, 
and maximum power handling as 
150 watts. The cabinet measures 
8% x 35% x 14 inches and is 
finished in black-ash vinyl veneer 
with a black grille. Biamp/biwire 
terminals are included. Price: 
$550 a pair. Sound Dynamics, 
Dept. SR, 3641 McNicoll Ave., 
Scarborough, Ontario M1X 1G5. 


* Circle 134 on reader service card 


features include on-screen 
menus, jog and shuttle editing 
controls, and a remote control. 
Price: $600. Samsung, Dept. SR, 
105 Challenger Rd., Ridgefield 
Park, NJ 07660. 


* Circle 136 on reader service card 


remote equipment to operate 
major-brand video components. 
Price: $1,995. Bang & Olufsen, 
Dept. SR, 1150 Feehanville Dr., 
Mount Prospect, IL 60056. 

* Circle 137 on reader service card 








TEAC 
Teac's R-550 is a two-head 
autoreverse cassette deck 
featuring a center-mounted 
transport, Dolby HX Pro 
headroom-extension circuitry, 
Dolby B and C noise reduction, a 
record-mute mode that can 
automatically insert pauses 
between selections, program 





MB QUART 

Part of MB Quart's Nautic Series, 
the 61-inch QM 160.19 coaxial 
speaker is engineered to 
withstand temperature extremes, 
humidity, and salt-water spray, 
making it ideal for use on a boat 
or in an off-road vehicle. It 


search, and a CD Sync mode 
for recording from a compatible 
CD player. The deck can be 
operated using Teac’s unified 
remote control (not included). 
Price: $289. Teac America, 
Dept. SR, 7733 Telegraph Rd., 
Montebello, CA 90640. 


* Circle 135 on reader service card 


features a plastic frame, 

a stainless-steel grille, and 

a watertight crossover module. 
Price: $309 a pair. MB Quart, 
Dept. SR, 25 Walpole Park S., 
Walpole, MA 02081. 

* Circle 138 on reader service card 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 17 





BY 


Power Connections 


I'm very satisfied with my surround- 
sound receiver, but I want to add more 
power by attaching an external amplifi- 
er. I'm confused by the labeling of the con- 
nections on the receiver's back panel. For 
the main channels there are two pairs of 
jacks marked "pre-out" and "power in"; 
for the center channel there is just one pair 
of jacks, labeled the same way. How do I 
use all of these to do what I want? 
HISHAM MOHAMMAD 
Kalamazoo, MI 


Receivers and integrated amplifiers, 

whether two-channel or multichannel 

A/N models, consist of a front section 
containing the input selector, tape-monitor 
switches, tone controls, and the like and a 
power (or “main”) amplifier that produces 
enough output to drive speakers. The con- 
trol section is the preamplifier, and it oper- 
ates at what is usually called “line level,” 
which matches the input requirements of the 
power-amplifier stage. 

Often the preamp signal is simply fed in- 
ternally to the power amplifier, but more and 
more models route the signal through a se- 
ries of rear-panel jacks (usually labeled “pre- 
out" and “main-in”) that are strapped togeth- 
er, frequently by U-shaped metal plugs, 
called jumpers, that simply connect the out- 
put and input jacks together, but sometimes 
using more elaborate plastic-encased plugs. 
When these jumpers are removed, you can 
insert another component, such as an equal- 
izer, between preamplifier and power ampli- 
fier by connecting the pre-out jacks to the 
external device's inputs and connecting its 
outputs back to the main-in jacks (or, in your 
case, the “power-in” jacks). 

Alternatively, if you want to leave the in- 
ternal power amplifiers idle and use external 
amplification, you can feed the pre-out sig- 
nal to the external power unit and leave the 
main-in jacks empty. The same is true for 
the center channel except that, being mono, 
it has only one of each type of jack. 


Schoo-Schoo CD’s 


Since my CD player was repaired, I have 
begun to hear a very annoying sound 
with several discs. In the play mode, I 
can hear the disc spinning with a cyclic 
“schoo, schoo, schoo ...” sound. I can some- 
times get rid of it by pressing on the side or 
top of the player. It slows down and fades 
away as higher-numbered tracks are played. 
What could be causing the problem? Could 
it be causing damage to my CD's? 
MICHAEL THELANDER 
APO 09056, Germany 


18 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 








IAN G. MASTERS 


You shouldn't be able to hear a disc ro- 

tating in your player. It sounds to me as 

if the CD is rubbing against something 
inside the player, so I would take it back to 
whoever “repaired” it and get the problem 
corrected. CD's can vary slightly in thick- 
ness, which is why only some of your discs 
make the noise; the service people probably 
tried your player with a thinner disc that 
had no problem. But if the rubbing is on the 
label side, it might eventually remove 
enough of the surface to let air in, which 
will oxidize the aluminum layer, possibly 
rendering the CD unplayable in the future. 
If the problem is on the playing side, it 
might create areas rough enough to disrupt 
the signal itself and cause skipping. 


I was recently in a home that had music 
coming from the ceilings. It sounded 
quite good and seemed to come from all 
over the room. Is there any real advantage 
to this sort of system over conventional loud- 
speakers, and is the fidelity good enough to 
consider such a setup? LEONARD SHEDLER 
Folsom, CA 


Mounting speakers flush with room sur- 

faces can be an attractive alternative to 

big boxes sitting out in the room. While 
some of the speakers designed for in-wall 
use are very good indeed, and these should 
work fine in a ceiling, avoid the typical ceil- 
ing speaker hidden behind one of those 
round metal grilles full of small holes that 
look like they would be good for draining 
cauliflower. As you noticed, however, it's 
very difficult to achieve proper imaging 
with ceiling-mounted speakers. That's why 
the sound seemed to come from every- 
where. If you're mainly interested in back- 
ground music, that may be okay, but it's al- 
most never adequate for critical listening. 


I recently added a turntable to my sys- 
tem and have a graphic equalizer 1 
would like to use with it. The rest of my 
sources are fine without doctoring. Is there 
any way to route the output from my phono 
cartridge through the equalizer without af- 
fecting the other signals? STEVE COLBURN 
Largo, FL 


One way would be to use an external 
phono preamplifier rather than the one 
built into your receiver (or integrated 
amp or separate full-function preamp). The 
signal would go from the cartridge to the 
external preamp to the equalizer to a line- 





Definitive Technology" 


Authorized Dealers 


AK- Hoitt's: Fairbankse Pyramid: Anchorage. 

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Sound: Hyannis 

MD- Audio Buys: Annapolis, Gaithersburg, Laurel, Rockville, 
Waldorf* Cumberland Elec.: Cumberland» Gramophone: Batt., 
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Mi- Pecar's: Detroit, Troy» Classical Jazz: Hollands Front Row 
AN: Flinte Future Sound: Ypsilantie Court St. Listening 
Room: Midland, Saginaw. 

MN- Audio Designs: Winona» Audio Perfection: Minneapolis. 
MO- Independence AN: Independence» Sd. Central: St Louis. 
NC- Audio Video Systems: Charlottes Stereo Sound: 
Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Winston Salem» Audio Lab: 
Wilmington» Audio Video World: Rocky Mt.» Tri City Elect.: 
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NE- Custom Electronics: Omaha, Lincoln. 

NH- Cookin’: Nashua, Manchester, Newington, Salem, 5. 
Nashua 

NJ- Hal's Stereo: Trentone Sound Waves: Northfield» Sas- 
safras: Cherry Hille Woodbridge Stereo: W. Caldwell, W. 
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NM- West Coast Sound: Abuquerque, Santa Fe. 

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ere Hart Electronics: Blakely, Kingstone Listening Post: Pitts- 
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Puerto Rico- Precision Audio: Rio Piedras. 

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Definitive Technology? 





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CIRCLE NO. 15 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


The Ultimate Home Theater 
Combine the BP8s,10s, or 20s 
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See dealer list on facing page (410) 363-7148 


For details 
see the current issue 
of CAR and DRIVER 
or ROAD & TRACK 
at your newsstand 
now. 


No purchase necessary. 


Stereo Review. 


PR E is: E МТ 5 


THE BASIC 
REPERTORY 
ON COMPACT 
DISC 


А CRITICAL DISCOGRAPHY 
NEW 1994 EDITION 


Ni oted critic Richard Freed has 
chosen the best available CD 
recordings of the most often performed 
music in the classical orchestral 
repertory. Hundreds of recordings of 
symphonic works from Bach to 
Wagner! 


T° receive your copy of this useful 
pamphlet, send a self-addressed 
business-size (#10) envelope, stamped 
with 52¢ postage, and a check or money 
order for $3 payable to Stereo Review 
(no cash, please), to The Basic 
Repertory, Stereo Review, 1633 
Broadway, New York, NY 10019. 
Orders from outside the United States 
must be accompanied by a self- 
addressed envelope and $4 (payable in 
U.S. funds). 








level input on your receiver. Alternatively, 
you could insert the equalizer in a tape- 
monitor loop and use your receiver’s phono 
preamp. When listening to LP's, you'd have 
to switch to the phono input and switch the 
equalizer into the circuit, not all that onerous 
a task, but you could listen to them without 
EQ if you wanted to. 


Double-Duty Amplifier 


My Dolby Pro Logic decoder provides a 
single center-channel line output and a 
single subwoofer output as well. Could I 
use an ordinary stereo amplifier to drive a 
center speaker and a subwoofer? Would it 
provide adequate channel separation? 
JOE MORGAN 
Kuwait City 


power to drive the subwoofer without 

distress, you should have no problem. 
Channel separation should be much more 
than enough. 


Д As long as the amplifier has enough 


TV Speakers as 
Center Channel 


I would like to use the speakers in my 
television monitor for the center-chan- 
nel signal when watching movies, but I 
have tried every connection I could think of 
between my AIV receiver and TV monitor 
and still can't make it work. Is what I want 
to do possible? JOEL STALEY 
Schererville, IN 


monitor’s antenna terminals there should 

be no problem making the connection. 
Connect the output of your VCR to the TV’s 
video line inputs and the line-level center- 
channel output of your receiver to the corre- 
sponding audio input (or inputs) on the tele- 
vision. If the receiver doesn’t provide line 
outputs, you can often simply use the cen- 
ter-channel amplifier output itself. Run a 
length of speaker wire from the center-chan- 
nel terminal on the receiver to the back of 
the TV and splice it to a short piece of cable 
with an RCA plug at the end. If you can 
switch your TV to mono operation, do so; if 
not, add a second RCA-terminated cable in 
parallel. 

With the center-channel amplifier level 
fully off, plug this arrangement into the 
set’s audio inputs. Using the test signals 
provided by your receiver, gradually bring 
up the level of the center channel to match 
that of the other channels. You may have to 
juggle receiver-vs.-television levels to mini- 
mize distortion and noise, and it may be ad- 
visable to “pad down” the center-channel 
output using a simple volume control to pre- 
vent overload of the television’s inputs. 

Such an arrangement should work, elec- 
trically at least, but remember that it is im- 
portant for the tonal balance of the center- 
channel speaker to match that of the main 
speakers as closely as possible so that 
sounds don’t change character as they move 
about the soundstage. That may be difficult 
to achieve using your TV set’s speakers. 


Д As long as you аге not feeding your 


20 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 








You may also find that they run into distor- 
tion much more readily than your main 
speakers. In short, you would almost cer- 
tainly be better off getting a good separate 
center-channel speaker that is well matched 
to your front left and right speakers. 


My Pro Logic receiver's surround-chan- 
nel level control provides 36 dB of atten- 
uation, but only 6 dB of boost. At +6 dB 
I can just barely hear the surround speak- 
ers even with the front speakers off. None of 
the service people I have talked to know 
why so little range is offered, but I know it's 
not enough for proper surround sound. Is 
there any way I can increase the rear level? 
CALVIN B. HASKELL 
Eliot, ME 


The level controls for the surround and 

center channels built into Pro Logic de- 

coders are there to enable the extra chan- 
nels to be balanced with the main front pair, 
and that’s usually a fairly minor adjustment. 
In your case, it sounds as if there’s a sub- 
stantial mismatch, which might be caused 
by using very sensitive speakers in the front 
and unusually insensitive ones in the rear. If 
your main speakers were capable of, say, 96 
dB output from a 1-watt input (very sensi- 
tive), and your surround speakers could put 
out only 84 dB (quite insensitive), the 12- 
dB difference would be impossible to equal- 
ize with your receiver’s level controls. Even 
so, the difference would probably not be as 
dramatic as you describe, so I suspect you 
have an equipment fault or a wiring prob- 
lem. But before you head to the service 
shop, try balancing the levels again using 
the receiver’s built-in test signal. If that 
works, you probably have nothing to worry 
about. Output from the surround speakers is 
often low much of the time when playing 
actual program material. 


I have noticed that there are tiny pin- 
holes visible in some of my older CD's, 
but not in more recent CD's. Is what I'm 
seeing some sort of CD deterioration that 
happens with time? Should I start replacing 
my older discs? DONALD WILLIAMS 
Campbellsville, KY 


in a disc's reflective layer, were more 

common in the early days of the CD, 
but they still occur from time to time. They 
don't represent wear or deterioration of your 
discs, however, and are usually small 
enough to be dealt with easily by a player's 
error-correction system. So unless some of 
your older discs are audibly flawed, you can 
put your wallet away. 


Д Pinholes, or tiny manufacturing flaws 


If you have a question about audio, 
send it to Q&A, Stereo Review, 

1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. 
Sorry, only questions chosen 

for publication can be answered. 


At Under $300, 

Definitive DR7/s 

are Absolutely 
Incredible! 


“itis the best sounding speaker that I have heard 
in my home selling at anywhere near its price.” 


Two of the world’s most 
extraordinary speakers! 
Julian Hirsch of Stereo Review 
raved that the DR7 Bookshelf is 
simply “remarkable” and 
“usually outperformed 
speakers priced as much as two 
or three times higher.” Peter 
Moncrieff of JAR concurred that 
the DR7 Tower is absolutely 
“incredible.” 

Priced under $249 ea. (DR7 
Bookshelf Monitor) and $299 ea. 
(DR7 Studio Tower), these 
extraordinary handcrafted 
loudspeakers have breathtaking 
three-dimensional imaging, 
dynamic lifelike clarity, natural 
musicality, astounding bass, and 
elegantly sleek designer styling 
which make them simply the 
best value in the history of hi fi. 


DR7 Bookshelf 
$249 са. 


DR7 Tower 
$299 ea. 





CIRCLE NO. 15 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


-Julian Hirsch, Stereo Review 


How does Definitive do it? 
Advanced technology and superb 
components, like cast basket driv- 
ers, transmission line bass tuning, 
low diffraction monocoque cabin- 
ets and Linkwitz-Riley crossovers, 
all help. But most importantly, we 
hear very well and we care. 


Perfect for home theater. 
Our HT7 System combines DR7s with 
our precisely timbre-matched C1 jr 
center channel ($199) and BP1 
bipolar surround speakers ($175 
ea.) for a sonically stunning home 
theater which sounds clearly 
superior to competitors' systems 
selling for substantially more. 


Definitive Technology” 


11105 Valley Heights Drive * Baltimore, MD 21117 
See dealer list on page 18 (410) 363-7148 


ШШШ 


PRODUCTS AND TRENDS 
THAT GO BEYOND 


MAINSTREAM AUDIO/VIDEO 


Recording оп a Home Computer ar savio «лка» 


ost owners of sound cards 

for IBM-type computers use 

them for computer-game 

sound effects or music repro- 

duction. But if you want to 

go one step further than that, 
you might consider using a sound 
card for recording and editing audio 
signals. 

Practically any sound card provides 
that capability, either through soft- 
ware bundled with it or a third-party 
program. Normally, you feed the ana- 
log signal you want to record to the 
card. The audio signal is converted to 
digital format by the card’s internal 


analog-to-digital converters (ADC’s), 
and the digital data are “recorded” by 
storing them on the computer’s hard 
drive as sound files (*.WAV files in 
Windows). For playback, these sound 
files are fed through the sound card’s 
digital-to-analog converters (DAC’s). 

A 16-bit sound card can produce 
files that are numerically equivalent 
to the data the same input signal 
would have produced had it been fed, 
say, to a DAT recorder. A good sound 
card can thus bestow on your comput- 
er high-quality audio recording capa- 
bilities: very flat frequency response, 
no wow or flutter, inaudible distor- 


22 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 








A recording edit in progress using EdDitor Plus. 





tion, and a dynamic range near or 
equal to that of a CD. 

Not only that, but a good wave- 
form-editing program can give you 
sound-manipulation capabilities that 
are unheard of with old-fashioned ra- 
zor-blade/splicing-block open-reel 
tape editing, impossible with cassette- 
tape formats, and only distantly ap- 
proached, for now, by the editing fea- 
tures of MD. 

Those capabilities were so attrac- 
tive that I started looking for a sound 
card that allowed not only hard-disk 
editing but also direct digital-audio 
input and output using the standard 
consumer-format digital 
interface (SPDIF). Why 
is digital I/O important? 
So that I can edit live 
recordings made on a 
DAT machine and save 
the edited files on an- 
other DAT, all without 
additional cycling be- 
tween the analog and 
digital “domains.” Digi- 
tal output also allows 
me to generate, using 
very simple programs 
written in Basic or C, 
highly specialized, digi- 
tally “pure” test-signal 
files that can be digital- 
ly transferred to DAT or recordable 
CD (CD-R) for equipment testing. 

My search for IBM-compatible 
sound cards with digital I/O has pro- 
duced only one candidate, but it is an 
outstanding one: the CardD Plus 
($795), which has SPDIF capability 
only when used in combination with 
the companion I/O CardD ($295), 
both from Digital Audio Labs (14505 
21st Ave. N., Suite 202, Plymouth, 
MN 55447). The company also offers 
three sound-editing programs, ranging 
from Fast Eddie at $199 to the EdDi- 
tor Plus at $349, and it is bringing out 
an SPDIF card without ADC’s or 











РАС, the $495 Digital Only CardD, 
for pure-digital operations. 

To use the CardD and EdDitor Plus, 
you must have a rather powerful 
IBM-type setup: at least a 386/33 or 
486/33 processor, 4 megabytes of 
RAM, a 200-megabyte IDE or SCSI 
hard drive, a mouse, and Windows 
3.1. The CardD doesn't have audio- 
synthesis capabilities, so for MIDI 
work you also need an MPU-401- 
compatible card. There are a few oth- 
er hardware-compatibility considera- 
tions involving SCSI hard-drive 
controllers that may or may not be 
relevant to your computer (check with 
Digital Audio Labs). And since just 1 
minute of 16-bit stereo recording pro- 
duces a huge sound file (around 11 
megabytes), the larger your comput- 
er's hard disk, the merrier. 

With this equipment, you can per- 
form the following operations: 

* Cut-and-paste editing, for inserting 
or deleting specific sound segments 
with millisecond accuracy. 

e Variable crossfading between edited 
segments for very smooth “splices.” 

* Post-recording fading and other spe- 
cial effects, including reversal (play- 
ing a segment backwards), all-digital 
tone control, variable-speed playback, 
and mixing of sound files. 

• Tape-like “scubbing” (EdDitor Plus 
only) to find a precise edit point. 

All of these operations are greatly 
simplified by the mouse-controlled 
on-screen display (see the photo of an 
EdDitor P/us screen at left). 

I've put these sound tools to good 
use already by making test signals and 
editing live DAT recordings and demo 
tapes. The system's digital output (co- 
axial only) feeds without any trouble 
to CD-R, MD, DCC, and DAT record- 
ers. I highly recommend the CardD 
system to avid amateur recordists. It 
will enable you to produce profes- 
sional-sounding results with unusual 
speed and ease. a 


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Optimum surround sound 
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The use of BP2s results in a 
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Visit your nearest Definitive 
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Log On, 
Beethoven 


he ways in which we receive in- 
formation range from the mod- 
ern to the antiquated. For exam- 
ple, I can log onto the Internet, 
that great global web of comput- 
er networks, and for the price of 
a local phone call browse through an 
electronic library in Sydney, collect- 
ing text, sound, and video files. On 
the other hand, I ride my bicycle to 
the corner market to buy a Gutenber- 
gian copy (usually smudged and wrin- 
kled) of the Miami Herald. Clearly 
recognizing that the former way of 
disseminating and retrieving informa- 
tion has advantages over the latter, 
companies big and small are racing to 
build their section of the Information 
Superhighway and preparing goods 
and services to be transported over it. 

Construction of the superhighway 
is proceeding faster than anyone had 
imagined. Piece by piece, the road is 
beginning to take shape. Bell Atlantic 
and TCI plan to invest $15 billion in 
the superhighway, and Pacific Telesis 
has earmarked $16 billion. The num- 
ber of electronic-mail (e-mail) users is 
projected to climb to 31 million next 
year, up from 11.7 million in 1992. 
The interactive-TV industry, worth a 
mere $681 million in 1991, is expect- 
ed to snowball to $1.65 billion by 
next year, thanks to the recent legis- 
lative approval of VDT (video dial 
tone), which permits regional phone 
companies to deliver TV and video 
services over telephone lines. 

Sony has formed a new company, 
Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., 
and hopes to sell one million video 
games in its first year—but that ven- 
ture will be a tiny fraction of the size 
of the publicly traded video-game gi- 
ants Sega and Nintendo. Among the 
many superhighway ventures, AT&T 
has purchased a stake in Sierra Net- 
work, the developers of a cyberspace 
theme park in which subscribers will 


26 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





NAL 


BY KEN C. POHLMANN 


be able to play video games over the 
telephone network. Commenting on 
the investment, David Neylon, direc- 
tor of new business development for 
AT&T’s consumer products division, 
said, “Entertainment is the Trojan 
horse that will lead people to the vir- 
tual community.” 

If that is true, it’s easy to see why 
companies are scrambling to create 
video-on-demand and game-based in- 
teractive services. On the other hand, 
it’s hard to figure out why so few 
builders of the superhighway have 
shown an interest in music. Could it 
be that passive music listening is des- 
tined to be lost in the entertainment 
traffic of the future? Or are the com- 
panies that control the flow of music 
simply too timid? When IBM and 
Blockbuster announced last year that 
they were exploring the possibility of 
storing music in a central database 
and making CD’s in Blockbuster 





superhighway shown a _ 
specific interest — 


n music? - 


CU 
A R 


stores while customers waited, the ini- 
tial reaction of the recording industry 
was one of derision. Since then, sev- 
eral major record companies have 
warmed to the idea, but only after ex- 
posing their fear of the new. If they 
think in-store music-on-demand is 
radical, then in-home music-on-de- 
mand, in which a customer would 
download an album directly into his 
home computer or CD recorder, must 
be inconceivable to them. 

And yet, in the near future, when 
everything from games to groceries 
will be accessible from home termi- 
nals, the best hope for the survival of 
the music industry will be equal ac- 








cessibility. Surveys show that 40 per- 
cent of the people who enter a record 
store leave empty-handed because 
they can’t find what they want; huge 
music databases would overcome 
stocking problems. And the cost of 
electronically transmitting music 
would be dramatically less than the 
current shipping charges of about $3 
per CD. What would happen to all the 
CD pressing plants? Easy—they 
could make recordable CD’s. And re- 
tail record stores? They would be- 
come music databases. 

In the 1970’s, Disney sued Sony for 
selling video recorders, and movie 
studios verbally fire-bombed the first 
videocassette rental shops. Today, it’s 
not uncommon for the revenue from 
the sale and rental of prerecorded 
videocassettes to boost a motion pic- 
ture’s total income by 50 percent or 
more. Today, wealthier and wiser, stu- 
dios are clamoring to create video-on- 
demand. Similarly, record companies 
must realize that by logging on to the 
superhighway they’ll be able to com- 
pete for people’s future entertainment 
dollars more successfully—and in- 
crease their profitability. 

Frankly, I’m perplexed. Why does 
it seem that the telecommunications 
giants are overlooking music as new 
ventures are formed? Are they afraid 
to rock the boat of a prosperous in- 
dustry? Do they fail to recognize the 
potential of tapping into new delivery 
systems, and the danger of not doing 
so? Right now there should be vigor- 
ous debate on a timetable for the com- 
pletion of an on-demand music-deliv- 
ery system, standards committees 
should be hammering out technical 
details, and consumer groups of music 
lovers should be watching over the 
proceedings to insure that fidelity is 
not compromised. But no. Some cable 
radio systems, some vague plans. No 
headlines. Other entertainment indus- 
tries are racing forward, while the 
music industry sits still. 

Is it possible? Could it happen? 
Like a deer frozen in the headlights of 
an onrushing truck, could the music 
industry wind up as roadkill along the 
Information Superhighway? п 


THE WAY THESE GUYS AIRE TALKING, 
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an affordable product that 
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Speaker Tests 


loudspeaker differs fundamen- 

tally from the electronic com- 

ponents of an audio system in 

at least one important respect: 

A single electrical input signal 

produces an infinite number of 
different acoustic outputs. 

In the case of an amplifier, tuner, 
tape deck, or CD player, an input sig- 
nal produces a corresponding (and, in 
general, unambiguously measurable) 
output signal, differing in some de- 
gree from the input in respect to level, 
distortion, and noise. If the compo- 
nent is well designed, the aberrations 
it creates are minor and not audibly 
significant. The point to remember is 
that, for better or worse, each member 
of a listening group hears the same 
signal coming from a system’s elec- 
tronic components. 

Loudspeakers are a uniquely differ- 
ent matter. In any group of people lis- 
tening to a loudspeaker, no two of 
them are hearing exactly the same 
signal! Why does this situation exist? 
Basically, because every sound source 
(speaker, in this case) radiates its out- 
put in many directions, usually in 
varying degrees. The frequency re- 
sponse measured at any direction 
from the source will almost always be 
different from the response at any oth- 
er direction. This condition exists 
even for measurements made in an 
anechoic. (echo-free) environment, 
and it is exacerbated in a normal lis- 
tening room by the numerous reflec- 
tions from walls, floor, and ceiling 
that combine with the direct radiation 
to produce a waveform very different 
from the original signal. 

So how do we measure speaker per- 
formance? There is no universal test- 
ing standard for loudspeakers. There 
are accepted conventions for certain 
very basic measurements (impedance 
and sensitivity, for example), but all 
attempts to standardize frequency-re- 
sponse measurement, probably the 
most important measurement with re- 
gard to sound quality, have come to 


28 STEREOREVIEW APRIL 1994 





AIK 


BY JULIAN HIRSCH 


naught. The reason is simple: If the 
“frequency response” of a speaker is 
different in every direction, and if 
each manufacturer has his own idea of 
the optimum directional characteris- 
tics for his products (since these char- 
acteristics can have a profound effect 
on the final sound), how can one ex- 
pect any manufacturer to agree to a 
measurement method that might dis- 
criminate against his speakers and fa- 
vor competitive designs? 

There are also very different 
philosophies among speaker designers 
regarding the comparative importance 
of the sound traveling directly from 
the speaker to the listener’s ears and 
the reverberant “room sound” that is 
reflected a number of times from the 
walls, floor, and ceiling before being 
heard. Both direct and reflected sound 
make a significant contribution to the 


In any group of 
people listening to a 
loudspeaker, — 





overall sound quality, but they are 
measured by different methods that 
often produce very different results. 
When I started reviewing audio 
equipment more than thirty years ago, 
I realized that in many cases I would 
have to devise and refine my own 
techniques, however imperfect. My 
measurement “ear” is a Bruel & Kjaer 
4133 microphone, whose frequency 
response is almost ruler-flat through 
the audio range and well beyond. Our 
room-response measurement is made 
in a 15 x 20 x 8-foot room, carpeted 
and with good (slightly dead) acoustics. 
The speakers are normally placed at 
the front of the room, several feet 
from the side walls and a couple of 





feet from the wall behind them, facing 
forward. The microphone is located 
about 12 feet in front of the speakers, 
on the axis of the left speaker. The 
speakers are driven (one at a time) by 
a Carver Mono Block professional 
amplifier that can deliver many hun- 
dreds of watts into any speaker load. 
The signal source for the room 
measurement is a UREI response 
plotter, which generates a sweeping 
sine-wave signal with a one-third-oc- 
tave warble that helps to minimize the 
influence of standing waves created 
by room resonances. We measure the 
response of each speaker separately 
but plot both on the same coordinates. 
The purpose of this measurement is 
to assess the speaker’s overall output 
in a real room. Our room’s high-fre- 
quency absorption effects have been 
calibrated by means of a pair of modi- 
fied AR-LST speakers (a classic of 
yesteryear) whose power response 
into a 2x solid angle (180 degrees) 
was measured for us by Acoustic Re- 
search. Knowing the true power re- 
sponse of these speakers in open air 
and their response in our room 
(placed the same way as most of the 
speakers we test), we are able to cor- 
rect for the losses between 10 and 20 
KHz that result from room absorption. 
We have found that the warble-tone 
room measurement of a pair of speak- 
ers yields response curves that typi- 
cally vary from +5 to +8 dB at middle 
and high frequencies (much more at 
low frequencies, where this method 
becomes unreliable). By averaging 
the two curves and applying the high- 
frequency correction we obtain a 
composite curve that experience has 
shown to be a reasonable representa- 
tion of how the speakers can perform 
at middle and high frequencies in a 
more or less typical listening room. 
Notice that I say “can,” not “will,” but 
my experience has been that the in- 
herent characteristics of a speaker's 
power response and sound do appear 
in this curve and that it usually corre- 
lates quite well with the speaker's 
general sound quality in actual use. 
Next month I will continue with the 
other tests we make on speakers. о 












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The Critics Love Ensemble 
And Ensemble II. 
What’ The Difference, Anyway? 


Cambridge SoundWorks changed 
the audio world when we began 
direct-marketing Ensemble* by Henry 
Kloss. Ensemble is a revolutionary 
dual-subwoofer/satellite speaker 
System offering all-out performance, 
without cluttering up your room with 
huge speaker cabinets. Available only 
factory-direct from Cambridge 


The Same 
Satellite Speakers. 

When you listen to either Ensem- 
ble system, almost 9096 of the music 
you hear is being reproduced by the 
satellite speakers. Both Ensemble 
and Ensemble II use satellite speak- 
ers that are virtually identical* 












SoundWorks, with no expensive The real difference is in the subwoofer. ED Es ЕЕ ане 
middle-men, Ensemble is priced at hun- ev h iu 
dreds less than it would have sold forin ^ ers. We believe Ensemble Il is a better ny К гува, em е 
stores. Audio magazine says Ensemble system than its best-known competitor. igh performance tweeter anga 
б ; ; n. wg Woofer. Stereo Review said, “The Ensemble 
may be the best value in the world: And because we sell it factory-direct, it's flies delivered h h 
half the price. Stereo Review said “Ensem- Sételites delivered a smoother output than 
And Then There Were Two. еп performs so far beyond its price and mue acoustic << 
Now Cambridge SoundWorks has size that it can be compared only with suspension, Ё 
introduced Ensemble П, а more affordable much larger speakers at substantially wei 
version of Ensemble using only one cabi- _ higher prices.” We agree with the writer s li 
net to hold both subwoofer drivers. who said, “It's hard to imagine going Cavity acts as. —— 
Ensemble П has joined Ensemble inthe ^ wrong with Ensemble.” The question is, acoustic band-pass м, 
ranks of the country's best-selling speak- which Ensemble system is right for you? Л" 2 


4s 


ч 
m 


“Ensemble may be the. . 
best value in the world.” 
; Audio 


CAMBRI 
DG 
SOUND ORE 





many larger and more expensive speakers.” 
Small (8%"x5%"x4") and unobtru- 
sive, they'll fit into the decor of any room. 


built into every cabinet for maximum 
wiring flexibility. Robust construction is 
used throughout, featuring solid MDF 





They're i ene in ааа cabinets and solid metal grilles. 

gunmetal grey Nextel, or primed so you The Same 

anpaiminemaw у actor. Direct Savings. 

| ' 1 WD Cambridge SoundWorks products are 

: * available oy factory-direct. By eliminat- 
ing the middle-men, мете able to sell 


Ensemble and Ensemble II for hundreds 
less than if they were sold in stores. 


The Same 30-Day Total 

Satisfaction Guarantee. 
Choosing a loudspeaker after a brief 
listen at a dealer's showroom is like decid- 

ing on a car after one quick trip around 
the block. So we make it possible to audi- 
tion our speakers the right way— 


Ensemble satellite speakers are available primed for 
painting, so they can match your decor exactly. 


The Same Overall Sound. 

In many rooms, Ensemble II sounds 
virtually the same as Ensemble, especially 
when Ensemble's two subwoofers are 
placed right next to each other. The real 
difference between the two systems is 
that Ensemble, with its two ultra-compact 
subwoofers (12" x21" x44"), gives you 
ultimate placement flexibility. 


The Same Attention To Detail. 
Ensemble and Ensemble П are con- 
structed with the very best materials and 
no-compromise workmanship. Their 
subwoofers use heavy-duty woofers in 
true acoustic suspension enclosures. The 
satellites are genuine two-way systems 
with very high quality speaker compo- 
nents. Individual crossover networks are 





Stereo systems featuring Ensemble and Ensemble П 
speakers with Pioneer or Philips electronics start at 
only $799, including CD player. Dolby Surround 
Sound systems start at only $999. 


in your own home. You get to listen for 
hours without a salesman hovering near- 
by. If within 30 days you're not happy, 
return your speaker system for a full re- 


CAMBRIDGE 
SOUNDWORKS 


"Ensemble II performs so far 
beyond its price and size that it 
can be compared only with 
much larger speakers at 
substantially higher prices." 


Stereo Review 










fund. We even reimburse original UPS 
ground shipping charges in the continental 
United States. 





Every Ensemble and Ensemble II comes complete 
with 100' of speaker wire, a wire cutter/stripper 
and our Guide To Surround Sound. 


The Real Difference: The 
Ultimate Placement Flexibility 
Of Dual Subwoofers. 

Placement of bass and high-frequency 
speakers in a room—and how those 
speakers interact with the acoustics of the 
room—has more influence on the overall 
sound quality of a stereo system than just 
about anything. As an alternative to 
spending hundreds (or thousands) of 
dollars on this or that “latest” amplifier 
or CD player design, you should invest 
some of your time experimenting with 
various speaker positioning schemes. 
Ensembles two ultra-slim (44 ") sub- 
woofers give you more placement flexibil- 
ity than any speaker system we know of 
(including Ensemble П), and is most likely 
to provide the performance you want 
in the real world... .in-your room. 


How To Order. 

The dual-subwoofer Ensemble system 
is available in two versions. With hand- 
some black-laminate subwoofers for $599. 
Or with black vinyl-clad subwoofers for 
$499. Ensemble Il is priced at $399. For 
more information or to order call our 
audio experts, 24 hours a day, 365 days 
a year. We'll send you our 64 page color 
catalog with stereo and surround sound 
components and systems from Cambridge 
SoundWorks, Pioneer, Philips, Denon and 
others. Because we sell factory-direct, 
eliminating expensive middle-men, you 
can save hundreds of dollars. 


For A Free Catalog, Call 


1800-FOR-HIFI 


We Know How © Make Loudspeakers. 


CAMBRIDGE 
SOUNDWORKS 





| 








Denon AVA-800 Audio/Video Receiver 


JULIAN HIRSCH 


enon describes the new AVR- 

800 as a more affordable ver- 

sion of its higher-end audio/ 

video receivers. The AVR-800 

is a five-channel surround- 

sound receiver with three 60- 
watt amplifiers (for front left, right, 
and center speakers) and two 15-watt 
amplifiers for surround speakers. Its 
AM/FM tuner section has sixteen sta- 
tion presets. 

Several surround modes are provid- 
ed, including Dolby Pro Logic (with 
provision for a phantom-center mode 
when no center speaker is available). 
With a center speaker, there is a 
choice of Normal operation, which re- 
stricts the feed to the center to fre- 
quencies above 100 Hz (lower fre- 
quencies are shunted to the main left 
and right speakers), or Wideband op- 
eration if the center speaker has good 
bass response. The Dolby 3 Stereo 
three-channel mode is also provided 
(labeled Dolby 3CH) for use if there 
is a center speaker but no surround 
speakers. In that case, the surround- 
channel signal is folded into the left 
and right front outputs. 


32 STEREOREVIEW APRIL 1994 





HIRSCH-HOUCK LABORATORIES 


The AVR-800 also has circuits for 
enhancing the ambience of conven- 
tional stereo programs, with a sur- 
round-channel delay adjustable from 
0 to 33 milliseconds (ms) in 1.5-ms 
steps (in Dolby Pro Logic mode, the 
delay range is 15 to 30 ms). The en- 
hancement modes, designated Hall 
and Studio, differ essentially in the 
way the surround-channel signals are 
derived. In Hall mode, the sum of the 
left and right stereo channels is de- 
layed; in Studio mode the difference 
between them is used. 

There are audio inputs for phono, 
CD, an audio tape deck, a videodisc 
player or satellite receiver, and a 
VCR. There are also audio outputs for 


DIMENSIONS 
17V INCHES WIDE, 56 INCHES HIGH, 
1274 INCHES DEEP 


PRICE 
$500 


MANUFACTURER 
DENON, DEPT. SR, 222 New ROAD, 
PARSIPPANY, NJ 07054 





the VCR and audio tape deck, plus 
tape-monitoring facilities for the au- 
dio deck. Standard composite-video 
input and output jacks are provided 
for the VCR, as well as an output for 
a video monitor. 

The AVR-800's front panel is not as 
formidable as those of many other 
A/V receivers we have seen and used. 
Most of its functions are operated by 
buttons in a single row below the dis- 
play window. The logically grouped 
and clearly identified buttons include 
the controls associated with the tuner 
presets and several controls related to 
the surround modes. 

Larger buttons on either side of the 
display window are used for tuning 
and input selection. A small Video 
button near the bottom of the panel 
sets up the connections for TV/FM 
simulcasts. The Panel button steps the 
display through the receiver's many 
adjustable settings (such as the level 
in each channel, delay times, etc.). An 
Output button silences all speaker 
outputs for headphone listening. The 
remaining front-panel features include 
the power button, headphone jack, 
volume knob, and three smaller knobs 
for bass, treble, and balance. 

The display manages to be com- 
plete and informative without being 
confusing or overwhelming. When 
the tuner is selected, the band and fre- 


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She's been called the best singer in jazz 
today. Now Shirley Horn pays her respects 
to another great with Light Out Of Darkness 
—a stirring tribute to Ray Charles. Her vocal 
presence, emotional depth and mastery 
of nuance, all applied to Ray’s musical 
masterpieces, make an ideal combination. 






Sh irley "Horn. 





—Light Out 
Of Darkness (Verve) 


Shirley Horn—Here's To 
Life (Verve) 439°190 


Russell Malone—Biack 
Butterfly (Columbia) 
467-647 


Stanley Turrentine— 
If | Could (Musicmasters) 
467°027 


Stan Kenton—Kenton In 
Hi-Fi (Blue Note) 466.433 
Oscar Peterson Trio— 
Trio Plus One (Clark Доп) 
(Verve) 4660425 
Mulli 
California Concerts, 
Volume 2 (Blue Note) 


Hubert Laws—Cryi 

Song (CTI) 9 367 

Nnenna Freelon— 

Heritage (Columbia) 
462051 


Bob nter The 
Spirit (Stretch Records) 
461°772 





Chick Corea Elektric 
Band li—Paint The World 
(GRP) 467969 


New York Voices— 
What's Inside (GRP) 
460°907 


Dave Brubeck—Trio 
Brubeck (Musicmasters 
Jazz) 4602 


Milt Jackson—Reverence 
(Reprise/ Qwest) 460«238 
Kim Pensyl—Eyes Of 

Wonder (GRP) — 460«113 


Cariton—Ri Че 
бее, (GRP) 467*324 


Get сашты) 457-431 


© 1994, The Columbia House Company 


David Benoit—Letter To 
Evan (GRP) 450*288 
onn тореп Мота 
аќиге'ѕ Son (Mercui 
450-685 


Arturo Sandoval— 
Dreams Come True (GRP) 
458*331 


Diane Schuur—Love 
Songs (GRP) 458*323 
Jeff Lorber-Worth Wait- 
ing For (Verve) — 458299 
Acoustic Alchemy—The 
New Edge (GRP) 457481 
Michael Franks— 
Dragonfly Summer 
(Reprise; 457028 
Tower Of Power—T.O.P. 
(Epic) 456*616 
Steve Laury—Keeping 
The Faith (Denon) 456*277 
Joe Henderson—So 
Near, So Far (Verve) 


Nelson Rangell—Truest 
Heart (GRP) 4559477 


Nancy Wilson—Nancy 
Wilson/Cannonball Adde: 
(Capitol) 455¢29! 
John Scofield—What We 
Do (Blue Note) — 454*942 


Lou Rawis—Portrait Of 
The Blues (Manhattan) 


Abbey Lincoln—Devil's 
Got Your Tongue (Verve) l 
454-900 


Yellowjackets—Like A 
River (GRP) 454.165 


Kirk Whalum—Cache 
(Columbia) 


Wynton Marsalis—Citi 
Movement (Columbia) 
453*910/393*91 





George Howard—When 
Summer Comes (GRP) 
4655534 


Natalie Cole—Take A 


Look (Elektra) ^ 4609741 


"This is the place where the biggest names 


in jazz come together. 


From the soaring classics of John 
Coltrane to the virtuoso stylings of Chick 
Corea, only Columbia House has the 
expertise and heritage to bring you face to 
face with today's greatest artists. 

Look to Columbia House-where the 


jazz is. 


Nat King Cole—Hit That 
Jive, Jack (MCA) 466441 
Dinah Washington—First 
e: The Dinan m 
lashington Sto 'erve) 
ue d пете) 2 


Benny Goodman-Best Of 
Big Bands (Columbia/ 
Legacy) 460675 


Ella Fitzgerald—The Best 
Of The Songbooks 
(Verve) 468.231 
Miles Davis—Kind Of Blue 
(Columbia Jazz 
Masterpieces) 353¢045 
Dizzy Gillespie—The 
Champ (Savoy Jazz) 
456210 
The Modern Jazz Quartet 
(Savoy Jazz) 456*202 
Stan Getz—Opus De De Bop 
(Savoy Jazz) 
Charlie еи E 
Genius Of Charlie Parker 
(Savoy Jazz) 456*160 
Best Of Count Basie 
(Roulette Jazz) 435•990 
Compact Jazz 
(Verve) 434456 
The Best Of Chet Baker 
(Capitol/Pacific Jazz) 


Erroll Garner—Body And 


Soul (Cl Jazz 
Masterpieces) _ 4275955 


Best Of Dexter Gordon 
(Blue Note) 409«243 


Ray Charles & Betty 

Carter (DCC Compact 

Classics) 3! 

The Divine Sarah 

Vaughan—The Columbia 

Years 1949-53 (Columbia) 
374«280/394*288 


Louis Armstron 
A Wonderful Wo 


What 
id (MCA) 
368*852 


[end Holiday—From The 
Freie Decca Masters 
354«985 


J 
Coltrane (Atlantic)412*114 


Duke Ellington—Ellington 
At Newport (CL Jazz 


Masterpieces) 354662 


Dave Brubeck Quartet— 
Time Out (Columbia Jazz 


Masterpieces) 353060 
The Thelonious Monk 
Quartet—Discovery At 
The Five Spot (Blue 

Note) 45! 
Glenn Miller Orchestra — 
In The Digital Mood 
(GRP) 347492 


——Dreams 
Beyond Control (ane) 
467°951 


Spyro ала Ure 
ishes (GRP) 

Jimmy Scott—All The 
Way ( ire) 450-734 


Dr. John—Goin' Back To 
New Orleans (Wamer 


Bros.) 450°718 


Maceo Parker—Life On 
Planet Groove өүө) 


Alex Bugnon—This Time 
Around (Epic) 449°751 
Lincoln Center Jazz 


Orchestra—Portraits By 
Ellington (Columbia) hes 
181 


George Duke—Snapshot 
(WamerBros. 448.670 
The Brecker Brothers— 
Retum Of The Brecker 
Brothers (GRP) — 448*191 
Art Pon oe ens To 
The Point Newer. 

Forecast) 


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Spyro Gyra applies their trademark energy 
to a new array of musical styles. From reggae 
to samba, new age to symphonic, Dreams 
Beyond Control explodes with-out-of-control 
passion for music that pushes Spyro Gyra to a 
rg new level of achievement. 

















“Jelly’s Last Jam"— 
Original Cast erry) 
447°748 
Quincy Jones—This Is 
How | Feel About Jazz 
(GRP) 444*018 
Joe Williams—Ballad And 
Blues Master (Verve) 
442.970 


Najee—Just An Illusion 
(ЕМ!) 4420251 


Fattburger—The Best Of 
Fattburger (Manhattan) 
440-842 


GRP All-Star Big Вапа 
GRP) 440*503 


Wynton Marsalis 
Septet—Blue Interlude 
(Columbia) 439-463 


Al Jarreau—Heaven And 
Earth (Reprise) 439-240 
Bob James & Earl Klugh 


—Cool (Wamer Bros.) 
439°232 
Miles Davis—Doo-Bop 
(Wamer Bros.) 439224 
David Sanborn—Upfront 
(Elektra) 438994 
Horace Silver Quartet — 
It's Got To Be Жы] 
(Columbia) 709 


Dave Сгиѕіп—Нота; 
To Duke (GRP) 71 


МО РО$ТАСЕ 
NECESSARY 


IF MAILED 
IN THE 
UNITED STATES 








A Harvard pre-med Phi Beta Kappa grad- 
uate. Jazz Times’ Best New Artist of 1992. 
Down Веаї #1 Tenor Sax. But Redman has 
more than an impressive resume. He has 
Wish, made with other jazz superstars, an 
eclectic, inventive work that is suffused by a 
cohesive musical theme. It’s the sort of thing 
only a young genius like 
Redman can do. 














Joshua Redman—Wish 
(Wamer Bros.)  466*664 





Fourplay refuses to rest on their laurels, 
they continue to create some of the most 
original new music ever heard, all with 
consummate craftmanship and stellar 
vocalists, reaching new peaks of artistry 
and innovation. Between the Sheets will keep 
the music world wide 
awake. 











Fourplay (James, Rit- 
enour, East & Mason) 
—Between The Sheets 
(Warmer Bros.) 464.578 





COLUMBIA HOUSE, 1400 М. Fruitri 





Dave Grusin—Homa 

To Duke (GRP) 71 

Pat Metheny Group—The 

Road To You (Geffen) 
465*526 


Branford Marsalis— 
Bloomington (Columbia) 


te Mays—Fictiona! 
(Geffen) 45! 1 
Eric Marienthal—One 
Touch (GRP) 

Billy Taylor—Dr. T 
(G FP) 459.917 


Mark Whitfield (Warner 
Bros.) 458*752 


Michel Petrucciani— 
Promenade With Duke 
(Blue Note) 458125 
Incognito—Tribes, Vibes 
& Scribes (Talkin 
Loud/Verve) 454*918 
Bobby Lyle—Secret 
Island (Atlantic Jazz) 
451*393 
Joshua Redman— 
(Warmer Bros.) 458.778 


John McLaughlin—Que 
Alegria (Verve) 4389473 
Bobby McFerrin & Chick 
Corea—Play (Blue Note) 
434381 


Preservation Hall Jazz 
Band—Live! (Sony 
Master.) 434-043 
Shakatak—Open Your 
Eyes (Verve) 430413 
Harry Connick, Jr.— Blue 


Light, Red Light 
(Columbia) 429191 





Dave Koz—Lucky Man 
(Capitol) 461°848 
Fourplay (James, Rit- 


enour, East & Mason) 
(Warmer Bros.) 428•334 





Joe Sample—invitation 
(Warner Bros.) 

Jean Luc Ponty—No 
Absolute Time 

(Atlantic) 464*297 





Miles Davis & Quincy 
Jones—Live At Montreux 
(Warmer Bros.) 463554 


Branford Marsalis—The 

Beautyful Ones Are Not 

Yet Born (Columbia) 
42807: 


Natalie Cole— 
Unforgettable (Elektra) 
422279 


The Crusaders—Healing 
The Wounds (GRP) 
419«952 


Best Of Earl Klugh 

(Blue Note) 419.655 
Best Of Herbie Hancock 
(Blue Note) 419408 


Dianne Reeves—l 
Remember (Blue Note) 
418*756 


The Best Of Art Blakey & 
The Jazz Messengers— 
The Blue NoteYears (Blue 
Note) 416*016 


Miles Davis—Birth Of The 


Lee Ritenour—Wes 
Bound (GRP) 456756 
Nina Simone—A Single 
Woman (Elektra) 


The Rippingtons—Live In 
LA. Hacc а 463.471 


PLUS A CHANCE TO GET ONE MORE 


FREE! 


Kenny G—Breathless 
(Arista) 448*142 
J Defrancesco—Live 
At The Five Spot 
(Columbia) 4619251 
тоса Thielemans- Tho 
rasil Project (Private 
Music) 461.954 


POP HITS 


Michael Bolton—The One 
Thing (Columbia) 470-005 
Neil Diamond—Up On 
The Roof—Songs From 
The Brill Building 
(Columbia 466*516 
Mariah Carey—Music Box 
(Columbia) 4659435 
The Cranberries— 
Everyone Else Is Doing 

It, So Why Can't We? 
(Island) 465*559 
ABBA—Gold-Greatest 
Hits (Polydor) 458.406 
Cypress Hill—Black 
Sunday (Ruffhouse/ 


Columbia) & 463*596 
Toni Braxton 

(LaFace) 464.362 
Anthology Of Grover 
Washington, Jr. 

(Elektra) 338632 
The Best Of The 


Manhattan Transfer 
(Atlantic) 312«009 


Billy Joek®—River Of 
Dreams (Columbia) 
463*695 


Nirvana—in Utero (DGC) 
467*159 


Barbra Streisand—Back 
To Broadway (Columbia) 
461-988 


“Sleepless In Seattle” 
—Orig. Sndtrk. (Epic 
Soundtrax) 4! 
Aerosmith—Get A Grip 
(Geffen) 458°075 
“The Bodyguard"— 
Original Soundtrack 
(Arista) 448*159 
Blind Melon 

(Capitol) 447995 


Joe Henderson—inner 


Urge (Blue Note) 466«458 
Jay McShann—Blues 
From Kansas City (Decca 
Jazz/GRP) 466417 





Cool (Capitol) 


Take 6—So Much 2 Sa 
(Reprise) 


Benson (СТ!) 


Kenny G Live (Arista) 
401°505 


Charles Mingus—Shoes 


Of The Fisherman's Wife 
(С! Jazz Masterpieces) 
377: 


Bela Fleck & The 
Flecktones—Three Flew 
Over The Cuckoo's Nest 
(Wamer Bros.) 


Holly Cole Trio—Don't 


Smoke In Bed (Manhattan) 
466°888 


[Contains explicit lyrics which may be 
Objectionable to some members. 


P.O. Box 1129, Terre Haute, Indiana 47811-1129 


Please accept my membership application under the terms outlined in this 
advertisement. Send 8 Compact Discs and bill me only 1¢, plus shipping and 
handling. | agree to buy six selections, at regular Club prices, in the next three 
years—and may cancel membership anytime after doing so. 

cal 





My main ти 


interest is(check one): (But ! may always choose from any category) 





О Jazz О Soft Воск (Alternative O Sounds O Вар 
Branford Marsalis, Michael Bolton, The Cure, Neil Diamond, Ц. Cool J, 
Yellowjackets Mariah Carey Dinosaur Jr Barbra Streisand Cypress 
C] Heavy Metal Г) R&B/Soul D Listening C) Hard Rock Cj Dance 

, Luther Vandross, Frank Sinatra, Van Halen, E 
Ozzy Osbourne Boyz Il Men Ray Conniff En Vogue 
О Country: Reba McEntire, George Strait О Classical: V. Horowitz, К. Battle 
C Mr. 
a er Print First Name Initial Last Name Age 
Address. Apt. — — 
City. 
State — Zip 
Do you have a VCR? (04) О Yes О Мо At CNo 


Have you ever bought anything by mail in the 


es O 
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Note: we reserve the right to reject any application or cancel any membership. These offers not available in APO, 
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Applicable sales tax added to all orders. 


alternative offer. 





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Selections with two numbers contain 2 CDs and count as 2 —so write in both numbers. 


dge Ave. 





[8] also send опе more CD 


now, for which | will be billed [| 


$6.95, plus shipping and 
handling. 


4149425 


4134310 
The Best Of Nash 246 





Fs 


George Benson—Love 
Remembers (Warner 
Bros.) 439-265 





Stani 
River 


Clarke—East 
rive (Epic) 449°777 





I idvantag House. 
By choosing any 8 CDs for only a penny (plus 
shipping and handling), you become a member 
of the Columbia House Jazz Club. Once you're 
enrolled, you agree to buy just 6 more CDs at 
regular Club prices (currently $12.98 to $16.98 
plus shipping/handling) within the next three 
years. You may cancel your membership at any 
time after doing so. 


ses of jazz at Colum 


‹ з sazine: As а member we'll keep 
you current with the best jazz by sending you the 
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of 19 convenient opportunities to select your favor- 
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1 Buy Only W hat You Want: If you choose the 

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s Of 





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1 andtake advantage of our money-saving Bonus 

Plan. It lets you get a single CD for as little as $3.99 

і (ога ange cassette free) for each CD you buy at 

! regular Club price. For selection, convenience and 
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l So get in the groove. Sign up now. 


КОТЛЫ Where the jaz is 


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1 





| 


quency are shown in large characters. 
Additional information (tuning mode, 
stereo or mono reception, preset chan- 
nel number, and so on) appears as re- 
quired. With other sources, the display 
shows large letters identifying the 
source and surround mode (if any). 

The AVR-800’s rear apron contains 
a vertical row of audio input jacks, a 
separate group of video jacks, and 
connectors for the supplied AM loop 
antenna and either a 75-ohm or a 300- 
ohm FM antenna. There are outputs 
for the front left and right, center, and 
surround speakers and two AC conve- 
nience outlets, one of them switched. 
All of the speaker and antenna con- 
nectors are insulated spring clips that 
accept only wire ends. That precludes 
the use of banana plugs or coaxial F- 
connectors except through a matching 
transformer or adaptor. 








Although the AVR-800 has rela- 
tively modest power ratings, it is a 
full-size, solidly built, and reasonably 
heavy receiver. As a result, it ran 
cooler than most A/V receivers we 
have tested, its top cover becoming 
only slightly warm after extensive 
high-power testing. 

Denon rates the center and surround 


ES Game a OS AE De ы Еч БЫ] СЕ 
MEASUREMENTS 


AMPLIFIER SECTION 
For main front channels only, except as noted. 
Output at clipping (1 kHz) 
main, 8 ohms .... 
main, 4 ohms.. -62 watts 
center, 8 ohms. .95 watts 
Clipping headroom (re rated output) 


....86.5 watts 






S'ohmss: а earner te 1.6 dB 
Dynamic power 

Siohms ааа 100 watts 
AX OWS а Aa hore sees 136 watts 








8 ohms. sb 
Distortion at rated power .. .0. 
Sensitivity (for 1 watt output into 8 ohms) 
..30 mV 
..0.5 mV 


phono.. 
Phono-input overload 
(1-kHz-equivalent levels) 





RIAA phono-equalization error 
2D,Hz.to 20 KHz... ВРЕ +1 dB 


` alternate-channel .. 


Frequency response (tone controls 
centered) ................. 20 Hz to 20 kHz +1 dB 


TUNER SECTION 
For FM only except frequency response. 
50-dB quieting sensitivity 





ЮКЕ аА е 72 dB 
Distortion (THD+N at 65 dBf—see text) 

mono... --. 0.50% 
stereo .. .2.25% 






AM rejection ...................................... 73 dB 


Selectivity 






adjacent-channel .. 
Pilot-carrier leakage 
19-kHz ... 





FM.. 
AM .... 


..20 Hz to 15 kHz +1.1, -0.2 dB 
40 Hz to 2.7 kHz +0.9,-5 dB 











power amplifiers for use with speakers 
of 8-ohm or higher impedance, the 
main channels for impedances as low 
as 6 ohms. The power specifications 
proved conservative, but the receiver 
is clearly not suited to driving 4-ohm 
speakers at high average levels, since 
the clipping-level output into 4 ohms 
was about 25 percent less than into 8 
ohms. The short-term (dynamic) pow- 
er into either 8 or 4 ohms was more 
than adequate, however. 

The amplifier section's frequency 
response rose about 1.5 dB in the up- 
per bass and lower midrange, with its 
maximum at 200 Hz. In surround op- 
eration, this characteristic affected 
only the left and right front channels. 
It was apparently an effect of the 
tone-control circuit, which also had 
some other peculiar characteristics. In 
particular, the first half of either tone- 
control knob's rotation, in either di- 
rection, had only a slight effect on fre- 
quency response (less than a 2-dB 
change), with almost all of the con- 
trol's boost or cut occurring in the 
second half of the rotation. 

The FM tuner section had generally 
good performance, about the same as 
most current receivers (including 
some priced well above the AVR- 
800), and its capture ratio and AM re- 
jection were distinctly better than av- 
erage. It was not possible to obtain 
meaningful total harmonic distortion 
plus noise (THD+N) readings from 
the tuner section in stereo because of 
the high level of 19-kHz stereo pilot 
carrier in the audio output. Our read- 
ings consisted largely of this leakage 
signal component, which is inaudible 
in itself but could cause problems dur- 
ing taping off the air if the recorder's 
input lacks an effective multiplex fil- 
ter. The AM tuner's response was typ- 
ical—meaning poor. 

The Denon AVR-800 comes with a 
system remote control usable with a 
number of Denon CD players and 
tape decks. The remote duplicates all 
the receiver's essential controls, in- 
cluding the power switch, and adds a 
mute button and a test-tone button to 
help balance speaker levels in a sur- 
round system. A pair of Personal 
Memory buttons enables users to 
store and recall two different sets of 
surround-mode and input-source set- 


33 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


i 


tings. The remote also provides sepa- 
rate level adjustments for the center 
and surround channels, which are best 
set from the listening position. 

We used the Denon AVR-800 in a 
basic four-speaker surround system, 
with the phantom-center mode, for lis- 
tening to CD’s and FM broadcasts. Af- 
ter a brief familiarization period we 
found its somewhat unconventional 
control setup (especially for input se- 
lection) easy and natural to use. FM 
programs sounded very good, and to 





the ear the tuner’s sensitivity rivaled 
that of some we have used that mea- 
sured better. The Hall and Studio 
modes provided good spatial enhance- 
ment, with slightly but not signifi- 
cantly different sound characters. 

The instruction manual for the 
AVR-800 was quite complete though 
not always easy to interpret. Very few 
(if any) products as complex as an 
A/V receiver can be used effectively 
without a thorough study of their in- 
structions and some hands-on practice, 





and the AVR-800 is no exception. De- 
spite its relatively simple appearance, 
it is a full-featured component. 
Although the AVR-800 is a rela- 
tively low-price five-channel A/V re- 
ceiver, neither quality nor significant 
features have been sacrificed. You 
may find more bells and whistles as 
well as more power at higher prices, 
but this receiver delivers the essential 
performance required for home the- 
ater and ambience-enhanced music 
listening at quite a reasonable cost. о 


| was surprised by this receiver’s 
plainly unflat response when its tone 
controls were in their detented (thus 
presumably “flat”) positions. The same 
response bulge occurred in two 
different samples of the AVR-800, 
suggesting either a deliberate design 
choice or a parts-value mixup. 
Fortunately, I found, the AVR-800's 


response can be adjusted to near-perfect 


. flatness by turning both the treble and 

_ the bass controls up to the second 
“dot.” I did all my surround-sound 
measurements and listening tests with 
the tone controls at these settings. 

Once corrected in this fashion, the 

receiver's Dolby Pro Logic response 
was admirably flat, especially for the 


_ main and center channels, which started 


to roll off only at the very highest 
frequencies (above 15 kHz). And the 
surround channel didn't roll off in the 
bass as much as usual. In another 
unusual twist, the Hall and Studio 
music-enhancement modes retain 

. Dolby B noise-reduction processing on 
the surround outputs, in addition to the 
7-kHz high-frequency rolloff applied in 
Dolby Pro Logic decoding, possibly 
dulling these signals unnecessarily. 

. . All the other measurements of Dolby 
Surround performance were pretty 
much par for the course, neither 
exceptionally good nor bad. I should 
mention, however, that the spectrum of 
the receiver's output noise was ` 
admirably clean. There was no 
contamination by power-line hum or 
buzz, something that seems to be 
occurring with distressing frequency in 
audio products today. 


34 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


SECOND OPINION 
Denon AVR-800 A/V Receiver 


The 2-dB steps provided for 
balancing the center and surround 


_ speakers were a bit too coarse for ultra- 


critical surround setup. I could find no 
settings that would enable all of the 
AVR-800’s channels to put out 


SURROUND 
PERFORMANCE 


Measurements are for Dolby Pro Logic only. 











Frequency response 

left, right НА x 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0, –0.8 dB 
сепіег...... .20 Hz to 20 kHz +0, 0.4 dB 
surround 20 Hz to 7.3 kHz, +0, -3 dB 
A-weighted noise 

left;right . 2..0... АЛОИ? -76.0 dB 
Surround. С. ЕЕЕ АК —73.04В 
Distortion (1 kHz, THD+N) 


АА tee. 0.030% 





Surround decoder input-overload 
levels (at 1 kHz) 
ЛЕСОВ АЕ +19.7 dB 


Surround-channel noise-reduction 
calibration error 


at 1 kHz... 

(RGM KHz sobs АЕ 
Channel separation (100 Hz to 7 kHz) 

left output, right driven ...................... >53 dB 
left output, center driven... .>24 dB 







center output, surround driven... 
surround output, left driven ... 
left output, surround driven ... 
surround output, center driven... 
center output, left driven..................... 243 dB 








precisely 1 watt simultaneously; there 
was always a discrepancy of 0.5 dB or 
more. And in listening tests, I never felt 
that I was getting the best possible level 
match using the built-in tone generator. 
Nonetheless, the AVR-800 did all that I 
asked it to do sonically, including steer 
Dolby Surround signals properly, with 
no noise or distortion penalty. 

There was little difference between 
the Hall and Studio modes with music 
except in the bass, which sometimes 
sounded better with one setting or the 
other, depending on the music. Both 
provided an improved sense of 
spaciousness, more effectively with 
recordings that already had substantial 
amounts of hall sound in the mix (like 
most classical music). You might want 
to lower the surround-speaker level 
slightly from its ideal Dolby settings 
when you use these modes. Neither 
enhancement mode adds anything else 
to the signal beyond the adjustable 
delay, but at this price it's better to have 
a couple of mild-mannered 
enhancements than a multitude of 
useless and exaggerated special effects. 

Although the remote's buttons are of 
monotonously regular size and layout, 
except for the power switch they are 
logically grouped and fairly well 
labeled. The front-panel controls were 
almost as easy to use, and the 
fluorescent display is a model of 
across-the-room legibility. 

With its operational simplicity and 
fine sonic performance, the Denon 
AVR-800 is clearly a good receiver for 
someone who wants to get a start in 
home theater. —David Ranada 


TFM-35x 





The purity of separates. From the passion of Carver. 


The Carver name evokes an almost mystical 
following among serious music lovers. 

And justly so. Carver power amplifiers have 
generated critical acclaim year after year, 
model after model, with one – the TFM-35 - 
universally acknowledged as “one of the best 
audio amplifier values in the world." Upgraded 
to the TFM-35x, with high fidelity enhance- 
ments so advanced, it also exceeded the strict 
specifications of THX* home theater. 

One look, one listen, will confirm Carver's 
passion for aural perfection. Gold plated 
input jacks, 5-way binding posts, dual analog 
meters. Expansive headroom that faithfully - 


no, stunningly - reproduces the dynamic: 


peaks of digital music and movie soundtracks. 


Witness the superiority of Carver separates: 
Flawless sound, low distortion, instant and 
authoritative response to octave fluctuations in 
the center channel. Note the abundance of 
power: At 360 watts per channel @ 4 ohms 
(triple that of a top receiver), merely one of 
the most powerful audio amplifiers available 
for both music and home theater. 

With the infinite flexibility to accommodate 
system upgrades for years to come. 

Yet, this is but a preview. For a feature 
length brochure, contact Carver today. 


Powerful * Musical * Accurate 


CARVER CORPORATION, P.O. BOX 1237 LYNNWOOD, WA 98036 * (206) 7751202 
© 1994 Carver Corporation 
Distributed in Canada by Evolution Audio, Oakville, Ontario (416) 847-8888 
THX is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm LTD. all rights reserved 


CIRCLE NO. 29 ON READER SERVICE CARD 








In The Mid ‘70s We 
Now Weve Created 


The people who work at Cambridge ^ systems factory-direct, 
SoundWorks - including our cofounder with no expen- 
Henry Kloss (who also founded AR, sive middlemen, 
КІН and Advent) - have been involved уои can save 
with the concept of home theater from hundreds of 
the beginning. In 1969 (years before dollars. We 





VCRs and cable TV), Henry Kloss believe the 

founded Advent, the company that products on these 

introduced the first home theater audio/ pages represent the 

video systems - complete with big- country's best values in high 

screen TVs and digital surround sound. ^ performance home theater Our Surround Speakers 


We have had an ongoing relationship ^^ components. Audio critics, and thou- 
with the people at Dolby Laboratories, ^ sands of satisfied customers, agree. 
creators of Dolby Surround Sound, since Stereo Review said “Cambridge 

Henry Kloss introduced the first SoundWorks manufactures loudspeak- 
consumer products with Dolby noise ers that provide exceptional sound 
reduction over 20 years ago. And now quality at affordable prices." Audio { 
at Cambridge suggested that we “may have the best ae stand, below) a TV monitor. 
SoundWorks value in the world.” i 

we believe Surround Speakers 


Cambridge SoundWorks makes two 
"dipole radiator" surround sound 
speakers. Dolby Laboratories recom- 
mends dipole radiator speakers for use 
as surround speakers. The Surround has 
a very high power handling capacity 
and is often selected for “high end" 
surround sound systems. Audio, 
Our Center Channel Speakers describing a system that included The 
Surround said "In many ways the 
surround sensation was every bit as 
Cambridge SoundWorks manufactures ^^ good as far more expensive installa- 
three speakers for use as center channel tions." $399 pr. The smaller 7he 
speakers in Dolby Pro Logic home Surround II is arguably the country's 
theater systems. All three are mag- — best value in a dipole radiator speaker. 
netically shielded so they can be $249 pr. 
placed near a TV or computer 
monitor. Model Ten-A is a 
small, affordable two- 
way speaker. 
$75. Center 
Channel is 
identical to a 


Cambridge SoundWorks Ensemble 
satellite. (but with magnetic shielding). 
$149. Center Channel Plus uses an 
ultra-low, ultra-wide design that is ideal 
for placement above (or, with optional 












we have set a new price-to-performance Center Channel Speakers 
standard for home theater components. 

Because we sell carefully matched 
and tested home theater speaker 


Our EXO-1 Electronic Crossover 





Created Home Theater. 
A New Way ТО Buy lt. 


Powered Subwoofers 


The original Powered Subwoofer by 
Cambridge SoundWorks consists of a 
heavy-duty 12" woofer housed in an 


acoustic suspension cabinet with a 140- 


watt amplifier and a built-in electronic 
crossover. Stereo Review said it pro- 
vides “deep powerful bass...31.5 Hz 
bass output was obtainable at a room- 
shaking level... they open the way to 
having a ‘killer’ system for an afford- 


uses the same woofer driver and 
cabinet, but does not include the 
amplifier or crossover. It can only be 
used in conjunction with the Powered 
Subwoofer. $299. The new Powered 
Subwoofer II uses a 120-watt amplifier 
with an 8" woofer. $399. 

Our EXO-1 electronic crossover can 
be used with either of our powered 
subwoofer systems, or with powered 
subwoofers made by other companies. 
Its high pass filters keep strong, low 
bass signals out of the main stereo 
speakers, and directs them to the 
powered subwoofer. $299. 


able price.” $599. Our Slave Subwoofer 


Our Powered Subwoofers 



















SS 


Home 
Theater 


center channel, 
surround and main 





Speaker 
Systems 
We have assembled a 
number of home 
theater speaker sys- 
tems that consist of 


Our most popular Home Theater 
Speaker System. 





stereo speakers. The combination we 
show here is our best seller. It includes 
our critically acclaimed Ensemble 
subwoofer satellite speaker system 
(with dual subwoofers), our Center 
Channel Plus and а pair of our best 
surround speakers, The Surround. You 
could spend hundreds more than its 
$1,117 price without improving 
performance. 

For information on other home 
theater speaker systems - or on any of 
the products we make and sell - call 
1-800-FOR-HIFI for your free color 
catalog. Thanks. 


For A Free Catalog, Call 


1-800-FOR-HIFI 


We Know How 
To Make Loudspeakers 





SOUNDWORKS 


154 California Street, Suite 102AP, Newton, MA 02158 
1-800-367-4434 Fax: 617-332-9229 
_ Canada: 1-800-525-4434 
Outside U.S. or Canada: 617-332-5936 
© 1994 Cambridge SoundWorks. REnsemble is a registered trademark of 
Cambridge SoundWorks, Inc. KLH is a trademark of KLH, Inc. AR and 
Advent are trademarks of Intemational Jensen Inc. 


CIRCLE NO. 6 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


B Sherwvod 


Sherwood С0С-5030А CD Changer 


JULIAN HIRSCH 


he Sherwood CDC-5030R is a 

five-disc carousel-type CD chang- 

er. Though as compact as many 

single-disc players, it provides a 

full complement of operating and 

programming features. Its disc 
tray emerges from the upper portion 
of the front panel at a touch on the 
adjacent open/close button. Above the 
tray is a row of small buttons for se- 
lecting the disc to be played. Four of 
the five disc wells are accessible at 
any time to load or unload a disc with- 
out disturbing playback of the fifth 
disc, which is in the playing position 
at the rear of the tray. 

At the left end of the lower portion 
of the panel are the pushbutton power 
switch and a slide switch for setting 
up unattended operation of the player 
with an external power-line timer. At 
the right end of the panel are a stereo 
headphone jack and its adjacent vol- 
ume knob. 

The display window is below the 
disc tray, at the middle of the panel. In 
addition to the track-number indica- 
tion, it shows the elapsed time on the 
current track and can be switched to 
show the remaining time on that track 


38 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





HIRSCH-HOUCK LABORATORIES 


or on the disc. A “music calendar” 
shows the numbers of the remaining 
(unplayed) tracks on the current disc 
or in a programmed sequence. Five 
small circles along the bottom of the 
display show the numbers of the disc 
positions occupied by CD’s. Words 
appear as required to show the status 
of such special features as repeat or 
random play of one or all discs. 
Despite its relatively simple, un- 
cluttered front panel, the CDC-5030R 
has all the usual programming fea- 
tures as well as a few others not found 
on most CD players. In normal (un- 
programmed) operation, it plays all 
loaded discs automatically in their nu- 
merical sequence, but it also enables 
quick direct access to any track of any 


DIMENSIONS 
171 INCHES WIDE, 5 INCHES HIGH, 
15 INCHES DEEP, 


PRICE 
$275 


MANUFACTURER 
SHERWOOD, Dept. SR, 14830 ALONDRA BLVD., 
La MiRADA, CA 90638 








disc. There are large buttons for play/ 
pause and for stepping through the 
tracks on the current disc in either di- 
rection (with fast scanning when the 
button is held in for a couple of sec- 
onds). Other modes include repeat of 
a track, a disc, or all the discs in the 
tray. The random mode plays tracks 
or discs in random order, and intro- 
scan plays the first 10 seconds of each 
track on a selected disc or on every 
loaded disc. 

The CDC-5030R can be programmed 
to play as many as thirty-two selec- 
tions from any or all of the five discs 
in any desired sequence. A handy 
variation of this feature enables the 
user to delete as many as thirty-two 
selections from the playback se- 
quence. A front-panel button reviews 
the programmed sequence. And to fa- 
cilitate taping, the CDC-5030R can 
select tracks (up to a limit of thirty- 
two) that will fit best onto each side 
of a standard cassette. 

The CDC-5030R has been designed 
to communicate with compatible 
Sherwood equipment through the 
Digi-Link jacks on its rear apron that 
can be connected to a Sherwood Digi- 
Link receiver or amplifier, which then 
controls the CD changer. And with a 


Sherwood Digi-Link cassette deck, it ; 


is possible to start recording from the 
CDC-5030R by pressing a single but- 
ton. The back panel contains only the 


ОМП `d MOOT :O1OHd 


New Hom 
9 Cambridge SoundWorks. 








We are pleased to announce three new response (primarily supp plied white 
products designed by our co-founder, below 30 Hz) that is inet, or you 
Henry Kloss (founder of AR, KLH and sacrificed for the sake of can paint 
Advent). Like all Cambridge Sound- efficiency in all but the them. The 
Works products, they are high perfor- costliest of speakers. Outdoor is a 
mance components, well made, and Powered Subwoofer II true high 
finel ү finished. They are backed byour adds an extra “punch” £ fidei loud- 
ay Total Satisfaction to music and speaker, with 
GM Because we to movie wide-range, 


1 
soundtracks that is felt, as 
well as heard. $399. 


The Outdoor 
The natural, accurate tonal 


sell factory-direct, with no 
expensive middlemen, 
you can save hundreds 
of dollars. 


accurate sound. $279 pr. E standing 
version). $329 pr. (In-wall version.) 


Powered Ensemble 


Powered This is the most recent addition to our 
Subwoofer II. T popular series of Ensemble subwoofer- 
The Powered Subwoofer II outdoors: on the patio, by the satellite speakers. It consists of a pair of 


consists of a heavy-duty our ultra-compact Ambiance two-way 


8" woofer in an acoustic 
suspension cabinet that 
also encloses a 120-watt 
amplifier and a variable, 
low- i filter. You can add it to any 
speaker system for the ultra-low-bass 


pool, even on boats. 

The Outdoor is a compact, 
weather-resistant speaker 
available in two versions: one 
free standing and one 

designed for in-wall mounting. 
Both versions can be used with their 














The Country's Largest 
Factory-Direct Stereo Company. 








speakers, and our critically acclaimed 
Powered Subwoofer system (with 12" 
woofer, 140-watt amplifier and built-in 
electronic crossover). Powered Ensemble 
retains the smooth, natural tonal balance 
of our other Ensemble systems, but 
delivers deeper and more powerful bass 
response. Overall power handling and 


MANUFACTURER 


Cambridge SoundWorks products are designed 
by our co-founder, Henry Kloss, who created 

the dominant speakers of the ‘50s (AR), ‘60s 
(KLH) and ‘70s [Күш He is a member of 

the Audio Hall of Fame 


Try any of our products i п home for 30 
days. If you aren't satisfied, return your 


purchase í for a full refund. All our $ nee are 
acked by a five - year parts and la 

warranty. When you buy from Cambridge 
SoundWorks, there's no risk. 





By selling factory-direct to the public through 
our catalog, we eliminate huge distribution 
expenses. Don't be fooled by our reasonable 
prices. You too can conquer the fear of payin; 
too little. Our products are very well designe 
and made. 


Our knowledgeable audio experts (not clerks) 
are on call for advice, hook-up information, 
or orders, 8AM-midnight mi every day, 
including Sundays and holidays. 

Call 1-800-FOR-HIFI for your TREE color 
catalog at any time. 


sound output capability is greater than in 
any other speaker system we offer. 
$999. (Speaker stands shown are 
optional.) 


For A Free Catalog, Call 


1-800-FOR-HIFI 


We Know How 
To Make Loudspeakers 


CAMBRIDGE 
SOUNDWORKS 


154 California Street, Suite 102AP, Newton, MA 02158 
1-800-367-4434 Fax: 617-332-9229 
Canada: 1-800-525-4434 
Outside U.S. or Canada: 617-332-5936 
© 1994 Cambridge SoundWorks. ® Ensemble is a registered бүр of 
Cambridge SoundWorks, Inc. KLH is a trademark of KLH, Inc. AR and 


Advent are trademarks of Intemational Jensen Inc. Cambridge SoundWorks 
is not affiliated with KLH, Advent or AR. 


105 
Irem 


CIRCLE NO. 6 ON READER SERVICE CARD 








sr 


AVOID 
a INCREASE 
b PRICE 


FREE 


Audio Catalog 


Our 64-page catalog is loaded with 20р 
and music systems from Cambridge SoundWorks, 
Pioneer, Philips, Denon, Sony and others. 
Because you buy factory-direct, with no expen- 
sive middle-men, you can save hundreds of 
dollars. For example, a Dolby Surround system 
with Ensemble П speakers, rear speakers, Philips 
Dolby Surround receiver, CD player and system 
remote is less than $1,000. Call today and find out 
why Audio magazine said we "may have the best 
value in the world." 

* Call toll-free for factory-direct savings. 

* Save hundreds on components and systems 
from Cambridge SoundWorks, Pioneer, 
Philips, Denon, Sony and more. 

* Audio experts will answer your questions 
before arid after you ore SAM-midnight, 
365 days a year-even hol 

. үчүн зн эуе КИШИН 
Cambridge SoundWorks products. 


The Model A A- 
Transportable 
Component 
System 










pro M 


We Know How To Make Loudspeakers. 


CAMBRIDGE 


TAT T Tg La 
SOUNDWORKS 
154 California St. Suite 102AP, Newton, MA 02158 
1-800-367-4434 Fax: 617-332-9229 


Canada: 1-800-525-4434 Outside U.S. or Canada: 617-332-5936 
© 1992 Cambridge SoundWorks. 





CIRCLE NO. 6 ON READER SERVICE CARD 





it? 


analog audio output jacks and a pair 
of Digi-Link jacks. 

The changer comes with a wireless 
remote control that duplicates most of 
its front-panel controls and provides 
at least two that are not on the player 
itself: an A-B repeat mode and direct 
access to index markers on a CD (if 
there are any). It also has up/down 
volume buttons that are functional for 
some other Sherwood CD players but 
not the CDC-5030R. 

The CDC-5030R’s performance 
was typical of current CD players in 
most respects, which is to say it was 
generally very good. The player was 
fairly sensitive to impacts, such as 
moderate finger tapping on its top or 
sides, which caused momentary mis- 
tracking. The volume through the 
headphone jack was excellent. 

Overall operation of the changer 
was straightforward, thanks to its very 
explicit instruction manual, which 
takes you step by step through each of 
its operating modes. Although its pro- 
gramming procedures are not like 
those of most other CD players we 
have used and can be confusing at 
first, a careful study of the instruc- 
tions and some hands-on practice will 
pay rich dividends in your enjoyment 
of the CDC-5030R’s many operating 
features. It is a very practical, if some- 
what unconventional, CD changer 
that delivers good performance and 
overall value at a modest price. о 


ИА 


аа. 











MEASUREMENTS 


Maximum output level............ 1.87 volts 


Frequency response ............................ 
ow CS MAE 20 Hz to 20 kHz «0.3, -0.04 dB 









LOO Hz 5965... Er Eo tas 120 dB 
1 kHz...... ...100 dB 
20 kHz.... 75 dB 
Signal-to-noise ratio (A-wtd.) 98 dB 
Dynamic range ........................... 95 dB 
Distortion (THD+N) 

1 kHz (-75 dB to -10 dB) ............ 0.002896 
КН (0 dB) m 

0 dB (20 Hz to 6 kHz) 

O'dB/(2DKH2).-.—..... err 0.4596 


Linearity error (-60 to —90 dB ........ «1 dB 
Maximum interchannel phase 


Defect tracking (Pierre Verany #2 test 
disc) ... 
Impact resistance (top and sides) 
Slewing time ....................... 2.5 seconds 
Disc-change time ........ 9.5 to 10.5 seconds 







“I got a load of imitation-rock outdoor speakers. Where do I dump 'em?" 


40 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


ARCHITECTURAL 


COPYRIGHT © PARADIGM/BAVAN 





MONITOR 
SERIES 


SOUND & Vision CRMC'S 
CHOICE AWARD WINNER, 


Sound&Vision 





CONSUMERS DIGEST 
Best Buy AWARD 





AMS-200 (left), AMS-300 (right) 


hy lower your expectations when it comes to in-wall 

speakers? It can be more than just a matter of convenience. 

Especially with PARADIGM in-wall speakers. Now you can get 
outstanding musical performance "from the wall". 


What does it take to build the finest in-wall speaker? Quite simply, better 
design execution and better materials. 


So, rather than flimsy plastic parts, we use a rigid aluminum diecasting 
that combines the main chassis, mid/bass driver chassis and tweeter 
faceplate into a single ultra-rigid unit. Instead of inadequate mounting 








See Reader Service Page 





hardware made of plastic parts, metal clips etc., we use an ultra-rigid 
diecast-aluminum full-perimeter mounting flange. Add PARADIGM's 
renowned driver technology and seamless dividing networks, and the 
performance results are truly amazing! Articulate and transparent, these 
speakers simply reveal more of the musical and spacial reality of the live 
event. 


Even more astonishing is the price! You not only get the finest in-wall, but 
you also get to spend less. In fact, for the price of conventional in-wall 
speakers, you can own the best... PARADIGM ARCHITECTURAL MONITOR SERIES 


speakers. 


For more information on the AMS as well as other fine PARADIGM 


it your nearest AUTHORIZED PARADIGM DEALER, or write: 


AUuDIOSTREAM, MPO Box 2410, Niagara Falls, NY 14302 
In Canada: PARADIGM, 101 Hanlan Rd., Woodbridge, ON L4L 3P5 





Cinema DSP blurs the line between wat 


С July Yamaha Yamaha Cinema DSP gives dialogue more definition. Music, more 
mema 1А . . . . E 
sphanton dimension. And sound effects, far greater realism, more graphic detail 


Abie z ml and superior placement. This breakthrough in realism is no small feat. 

illy replicate 5 ^ 2 9 228 . 

‘the experience It's accomplished by multiplying the effects of Digital Sound Field 
deed и * Processing and Dolby Pro Logic? 

Speaker movie 2 $ cathe ° , . 

theaters. It Digital Sound Field Processing is Yamaha's unique technology that 
sounds soral electronically recreates some of the finest performance spaces in the world. 
you'll swear you n A Я А 

hear sounds While Dolby Pro Logic places sound around the room, matching the 

7 be ; еи ' dialogue and sound effects with the action on the screen. 


45) Phantom Speakers speakers. Together, these two technologies allow Yamaha to offer a complete line 


Dialogue 
Musi Music; 
Pets mmm tects 


©1994 Yamaha Electronics Corporation, USA. Cinema DSP is a trademark of Yamaha Electronics Corporation, Dolby Pro Logic is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation. 








ching a movie and actually being in one. 


of home theater components that outperform other comparatively priced products on the market. 

After reading this ad, if you get the feeling that watching a movie with Cinema DSP makes a world 
of difference, you're absolutely right. 

But dont just take our word for it. Hear it for yourself. Stop by your local Yamaha dealer for a 
demonstration today. It's one demo that's bound to change the way you look at 
movies forever. Or at least for a very, very long time. For the dealer nearest you, YAMAHA 
call 1-800-4YAMAHA. 


Yamaha Electronics Corporation, USA. PO. Box 6660, Buena Park, CA 90622. 








Cerwin-Vega VS-100 Loudspeaker System 


JULIAN HIRSCH 


erwin-Vega says it designed its 

VS loudspeakers to provide a 

high ratio of performance to 

price, including an exceptional 

dynamic-range capability. The 

moderately priced VS-100, next 
to the smallest of the four models in 
the series, is a three-way floor-stand- 
ing system with a 10-inch cast-alu- 
minum-frame woofer in a ported en- 
closure, crossing over at 650 Hz to a 
4-inch cone midrange driver. The sec- 
ond crossover, to a 1-inch dome tweet- 
er, is at 6 KHz. The tweeter is protect- 
ed against damage from excessive 
signal levels by a self-resetting PTC 
(positive temperature coefficient) re- 
sistor. Cerwin-Vega speakers have a 
reputation for high sensitivity and the 
ability to generate large amounts of 
acoustic energy, especially in the bass 
region. The VS-100 continues that 
tradition, with a rated sensitivity of 95 
dB sound-pressure level (SPL) at 1 


44 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





HIRSCH-HOUCK LABORATORIES 


meter with an input of 2.83 volts and 
a frequency range of 37 Hz to 20 kHz. 

The speaker's front panel, normally 
covered by a removable black cloth 
grille, is finished to match the rest of 
the cabinet. With the grille off, the 
woofer cone's red rubber surround 
contrasts distinctively with the panel 
and the other drivers, which are pro- 
tected against physical damage by in- 


DIMENSIONS 
127% INCHES WIDE, 27'4 INCHES HIGH, 
11% INCHES DEEP 


FINISH 
SIMULATED-WALNUT VINYL 


PRICE 
$310 EACH 


MANUFACTURER 
CERWIN-VEGA, DEPT. SR, 555 E. Easy ST., 
Simi VALLEY, CA 93065 





dividual grilles. The woofer port is at 
the bottom of the rear panel, below a 
pair of recessed five-way binding-post 
input terminals that will accept single 
or dual banana plugs or almost any 
other type of cable or connector that 
might be used. 

The measured average room re- 
sponse of the pair of VS-100 speakers 
was quite flat through the midrange 
and high frequencies—within +2.5 dB 
from 400 Hz to 20 kHz, except for a 
slight peak at about 15 kHz, presum- 
ably due to the tweeter resonance. 
Cerwin-Vega says the small on-axis 
peak is intentional, to yield flat re- 
sponse at typical listening positions, 
about 30 degrees off the forward axis 
of each speaker. 

The close-miked woofer output, in- 
cluding the contribution of the port 
(principally below 70 Hz), varied only 
+2.5 dB from 30 to 500 Hz. Our best 
approximation of the splice between it 
and the room response resulted in a 
composite frequency response of +2.5 
dB from 400 Hz to 20 kHz (except for 
the tweeter peak at 15 kHz) and a 
slightly elevated output between 40 
and 250 Hz. It’s important to realize 
that the lower portion of that response 
(as with the composite response curves 
we develop for all tested speakers) is 
heavily dependent on room dimen- 
sions and speaker placement. Never- 
theless, it conformed quite well with 
what we heard from the VS-100 (and 
also contributed to a noticeable but 
not particularly objectionable heavi- 
ness on male voices). 

Quasi-anechoic MLS frequency-re- 
sponse measurements produced some- 
what more ragged plots than we are 
accustomed to seeing, though such 
things tend to be exaggerated by the 
expanded amplitude scale we use to 
reveal small details. The on-axis re- 
sponse was +5 dB from 300 Hz to 13 
kHz, with an additional 4-dB peak at 
15 kHz, which conforms quite closely 
to test data supplied by Cerwin-Vega 
on our samples of the VS-100. 

Measured 45 degrees off-axis, the 
response fell off by about 4 to 5 dB 
between 2 and 6 kHz, which is in the 
region covered by the midrange driver. 
From 6 to 11 kHz the off-axis response 
was flat again. The tweeter became 
progressively more directive at higher 


{ 
3 
i 


frequencies, with the off-axis output 
down by about 10 dB at 20 kHz. 

The system impedance, nominally 
6 ohms, varied from a minimum of 
4.1 ohms at 140 Hz to a maximum of 
18 ohms at 70 Hz. Over most of the 
audio range it was at least 8 ohms. 

The VS-100’s measured sensitivity 
was even higher than rated. We mea- 
sured a 96-dB sound-pressure level at 
1 meter on the tweeter axis with a 
2.83-volt input of pink noise. That is 
one of the highest sensitivities we 
have measured from a home speaker. 
In practical terms, it means that an 
amplifier that can drive an average 
speaker (with its 89- or 90-dB sensi- 
tivity) to a comfortably loud level will 
be able to produce an uncomfortably 
loud output from the VS-100. Alter- 
natively, with a 25-watt amplifier, the 
VS-100 will deliver the kind of punch 
that for most speakers would require 
at least 100 watts. 

In pulse power tests, the VS-100 
was able to absorb single-cycle tone 
bursts at very high powers without 
damage. Even at 100 Hz, where most 
woofer cones can easily be driven to 
the limits of their travel by any ampli- 
fier that can deliver several hundred 
watts (and often at much lower power 
levels), the VS-100 took a pulse of 














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1,320 watts into its 5-ohm impedance 
without damage (though with a dis- 
tinctly hard sound) before our ampli- 
fier clipped. 

The VS-100’s distortion, measured 
with a 1.42-volt input (the voltage re- 
quired for a 90-dB SPL output) was 
between 0.6 and 1.5 percent through- 
out most of the woofer’s rated fre- 
quency range, from 650 Hz down to 
50 Hz. It rose at lower frequencies, to 
a maximum of 8 percent at 38 Hz. 

Listening tests confirmed the VS- 
100's distinctive characteristics. For 
example, in A/B comparisons be- 
tween it and some competitive speak- 
ers, the VS-100 was unmistakably 
louder, owing to its higher sensitivity. 
Louder can easily be mistaken for bet- 
ter, which is why level matching is so 
critical in such comparisons, but the 
VS-100 did in fact sound very good, 
with a bass extension and punch un- 
usual for a speaker of its price (and 
size). It reproduced a 31.5-Hz tone 
from a test CD cleanly and powerful- 
ly, with hardly any audible distortion. 
As I mentioned previously, the speak- 
er can exaggerate the “chestiness” in 
some male voices, but on the whole it 
is a fine performer, especially for 
those who prefer to listen to their mu- 
sic at close to its natural volume. о 












Car Titres, D 


ICHFIELD 


ur 
PS, All AL Low LU] Prices. 


Remember when shopping for a 
stereo was fun? So do we. Get 
our catalog and get excited again! 
> Hundreds of components 

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> Packed with buying tips 

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> Computers and video, too 


> It's free! Call now. You'll be 
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Address 





City 





State Zip 


CRUTCHFIELD” 


П Crutchfield Park, Dept. SR, Charlottesville, VA 229061 


1 
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Panasonic FZ-1 REAL 300 
Interactive Multiplayer 


KEN С. 


POHLMANN 


n corporate board rooms across 

America and the world the hottest 

topic is interactive multimedia. In 

the same way that a doctrine of 

Manifest Destiny expanded the 

United States to the Pacific in the 
19th century, industrialists now be- 
lieve that multimedia is inevitably the 
promised land awaiting them in the 
21st century. This excitement is ap- 
parent in the mergers of cable compa- 
nies that can bring interactivity into 
some homes, telephone companies 
that have access to virtually every 
home, and software companies. Per- 
haps no collaboration has been as 
prominent as 3DO Company, a part- 
nership of Matsushita (the world’s 
largest consumer-electronics manu- 
facturer, parent of Panasonic and 
Technics), AT&T (one of the world’s 
leading communications companies), 
Time Warner (a $12 billion software 
giant and the second largest cable 
provider in the U.S.), MCA (a mo- 


46 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





HAMMER LABORATORIES 


tion-picture and music conglomerate 
owned by Matsushita), and Electronic 
Arts (a leading interactive-entertain- 
ment software company), all working 
together to bring interactive media 
and programming to consumers. 

At its launch, 3DO was a company 
without products, revenues, or profits. 
Its aim was to design the hardware 
and operating systems for interactive 
multimedia products. In an unusual 
twist, 3DO Company’s business plan 
prohibits it from manufacturing its 


DIMENSIONS 
11% inches wide, 3/5 inches high, 
10% inches deep 


PRICE 
$699 


MANUFACTURER 
PANASONIC COMPANY, DEPT: SR, ONE PANASONIC 
Way, Secaucus, NJ 07094 





own hardware or publishing its own 
software. Instead, it will license its in- 
ventions to software providers for a 
royalty and to hardware manufactur- 
ers at no charge. The company's goal, 
with the support of its partners, is to 
produce an interactive multimedia 
system that is as ubiquitous as the 
VHS VCR. 

The first fruit of this enterprise is 
the Panasonic FZ-1 REAL Interactive 
Multiplayer. One glance at this inau- 
gural product and you'll know its de- 
signers wanted it to be regarded as 
something very different from a con- 
ventional CD player. On the front of 
the plastic chassis is a disc drawer 
flanked by power and open/close but- 
tons with corresponding red and green 
LED status panels. A nine-pin socket 
is used to connect the supplied control 
pad and will also connect future con- 
trollers such as keyboards, mice, and 
so forth. 

The back of the player has compos- 
ite- and S-video, left and right audio, 
and RF output jacks, plus a slide 
switch for selecting Channel 3 or 4 at 
the RF output. The back panel also has 
a thirty-pin socket—a high-speed in- 
put/output (I/O) expansion port for fu- 
ture peripherals such as personal com- 
puters, CD-ROM drives, cable boxes, 
modems, memory-card storage, video 
cameras and VCR's for home video 
editing, and MIDI instruments. 

The right side of the player has a 
sixty-eight-pin socket concealed un- 
der a plastic panel; this is a high-speed 
A/V ЏО port that will support a future 
FMV (full-motion video) adaptor car- 
tridge. The cartridge will contain a 
hardware-based MPEG-1 decoding 
system that will enable users to play 
Video CD’s containing as much as 74 
minutes of digital video and stereo 
digital audio with quality comparable 
to that of VHS tape. On the left side 
of the player is the exhaust for an in- 
ternal cooling fan. 

The controller supplied with the 
FZ-1 will be more familiar to video- 
game enthusiasts than to audiophiles. 
It is a hard-wired remote that connects 
to the front of the FZ-1 with a 10-foot 


cable. One side holds a directional ; 


pad that provides up/down and left/ 
right control; the other side has three 
buttons labeled A, B, and C. The 


омпл `d HOOF :O1OH4 


The all-weather Boston* 
Voyager thrives in the 
toughest environments 
(including the critic’s 
listening room). 

When it comes to the ruggedness 
necessary for indoor/outdoor use, 
most loudspeakers are about as 
helpless as a kitten up a tree. 

But not the Voyager speaker 


from Boston Acoustics. It brings 


impressive sound to your living 





One Voyager owner told us his speak- 
ers were A-OK after being thrown 
several hundred feet by hurricane Andrew 
(oh, it was attached to its owner's porch 
at the time). 


room, patio or your Swan-53 
custom-built sloop. In fact, 
Stereo Review says that Voyager 
“sounds better than many 
highly regarded home speakers.” 
Not an easy feat. Here's how 
we did it. First, the housing of 
the Voyager is made of Lexan 
resin—the same stuff used to 
make bulletproof glass. So 
Voyager is tough enough to 
withstand anything this side of 
a small meteor shower. In front, 
the Voyager's grille is a highly 
resilient grade of stainless steel. 


So are its mounting bracket, 





Its ability to put the kibosh on 
corrosion makes Voyager perfect for 
marine use. Plus, we're reasonably 
sure it can withstand most great 
white shark attacks. 


e 


hardware and screws. Its cone 
and tweeter dome are made 

of moisture-, heat- and cold- 
resistant copolymer. Even the 
speaker terminals are plated 
with 14K gold—a material that 
resists corrosion, and looks 
pretty darn snappy, too. Finally, 
to ensure that moisture on the 
outside of the Voyager stays 
there, we use specially designed 
gaskets to create a watertight 


seal. As a result, the Voyager 


ager Speaker. 


уеп Plays Misty. 





The Voyager is not only a rugged 
individualist. It’s also part of a family, 
including Runabout I and Runabout 1 
speakers. 


actually floats. And there’s more; 


the Voyager is part of a family 
of indoor/outdoor speakers, 
including the Runabout™ | and 
Runabout II. Both Runabouts 
feature the resiliency of a tough 


polypropylene enclosure, plus 


Get a copy of Number, the cool music magazine from Boston Acoustics. Circle reader service number 9. 





corrosion-resistant grilles, brack- 
ets and hardware. More impor- 
tantly, they feature the Boston 
Sound—a sound that is tight, 
clean and smooth. But don’t 
take our word for it. Check out 
the entire line of indoor/outdoor 
speakers at your local Boston 
dealer. But, please, bring your 


own Johnny Mathis records. 


Acoustics 
Just what’s important 


Ju 


functions of these controls depend on 
the software of the disc that is loaded. 
In the middle of the controller are two 
small buttons for stop and play/pause, 
but because their functions can be 
changed under software control, they 
are also generically labeled X and P. 
Two buttons on the front of the con- 
troller are called shift keys; again, 
their function is software-controlled. 
The front of the controller also sports 
a nine-pin socket for connecting other 
controllers: Specifically, this port can 
accommodate as many as eight daisy- 
chained control devices. The rear of 
the controller has a headphone jack 
and a thumbwheel volume control. 

As you've probably realized by 
now, the FZ-1 is actually a computer 
in disguise. Although the system uses 
a very respectable 12.5-MHz, 32-bit 
RISC (reduced-instruction-set com- 
puter) central processor, it is charac- 
teristic of the 3DO architecture to take 
much of the performance burden off 
the CPU and distribute it among oth- 
er, more specialized chips. Thus, the 
FZ-1 contains two proprietary graph- 
ics-animation processors able to ren- 
der as many as 64 million pixels per 
second, with a theoretical maximum 
of 16 million different colors and 640 
x 480-pixel resolution. There is also a 
proprietary audio DSP chip, a video 
processor, twenty-four DMA (direct 
memory access) channels, a memory- 
management unit, 3 megabytes of 
RAM, 1 megabyte of ROM, 32 kilo- 
bytes of static RAM with battery 
back-up, and a multitasking operating 
system. Every player contains a soft- 
ware-based video decompression sys- 
tem called CinePak to play back full- 
screen, full-color video at 30 frames 
per second, with quality suitable for 
cartoons and the like. As required by 
the 3DO standard, the FZ-1 employs a 
CD drive with a data-transfer rate of 
300 kilobytes per second, twice that 
of conventional audio-only CD play- 
ers. (Such drives are often called 300- 
speed drives.) Overall, the FZ-1’s 
technology is similar to that used in 
most other recently introduced video- 
game systems—Commodore's Amiga 
CD 32, for example, uses a 32-bit 
processor and a double-speed drive. 

To ease the chore of interconnec- 
tion, the FZ-1 comes with a variety of 


48 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





MEASUREMENTS 
Maximum output level ............... 1.6 volts 






Channel separation 

LkHz........ А л. 50.7 dB 
20 КНЕ Мс: 48.7 dB 
Signal-to-noise (A-wtd.) .. 83.1 dB 
Dynamic range (A-wtd.) ............. 92.5 dB 
Distortion (THD+N at 1 kHz) 

at O dB... EU RE 0.019% 





at -20 dB 
Linearity error (at -90 dB) 
Interchannel phase error (20 kHz)....0.7* 
Defect tracking (Pierre Verany #2 test 

disc): ЖЕЙ ЫР otio S et eet 1,500 um 





cables and adaptors. You'll find adap- 
tors for phono jack to F-type video 
jack and F-type video jack to coaxial 
video jack, plus six phono cables for 
connecting audio or video. The player 
also comes with a sampler CD and the 
Crash 'N Burn road-race CD. My re- 
view unit was packed with two addi- 
tional titles, Shelly Duvall's It's a 
Bird's Life and Meatloaf's “Bat Out of 
Hell II: Back into Hell," a music CD 
—all in all, an interesting assortment. 
Lab tests of the FZ-1’s audio per- 
formance confirmed that it is more of 
a video-game machine than a high- 
end music playback device. Frequen- 
cy response rolled off to —1.2 dB at 20 





Gathering a variety of different 
types of CD's, I turned on the FZ-1 as 
well as my television and audio sys- 
tem. When playing music CD's, the 
FZ-1’s controller provides all the ba- 
sic transport controls, and the televi- 
sion screen displays a menu for oper- 
ating other functions, such as mono or 
stereo playback selection, disc repeat, 
random track playback, and track-se- 
quence programming. Moreover, 
these settings are automatically saved 
in memory and recalled whenever the 
corresponding disc is played. Other 
video displays show track number and 
elapsed time, as well as bar graphs for 
left- and right-channel audio levels. 
Unfortunately, because the FZ-1 has 
no numerical displays of its own, you 
must have the TV on to see which 
track you are cueing or playing. 

Interestingly, the player's music- 
playback firmware offers three differ- 
ent abstract video displays that gener- 
ate shapes and colors according to the 
music being played. I found one of 
the displays (similar to a "Color 
Echo" program on the sampler disc) 
to be quite interesting. Passing on the 
Meatloaf, I settled back with a new 
recording of Philip Glass's Itaipu and 
was transfixed by the abstract sights 
and sounds. Scriabin, a great propo- 
nent of chromaticism, would have 
loved this. CD sound quality was rea- 
sonable but not award-winning. 

I also played “A Home Video Al- 
bum,” a music disc with CD+G 


The ЗОО FZ-1 is actually a computer in disguise, with — 


a 32-bit CPU, two graphics processors, and more. 


kHz, signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) was 
an anemic 83 dB, and the linearity er- 
ror of the digital-to-analog (D/A) con- 
verter was an uncomfortably large 
—7.1 dB at -90 dB. Mechanically, the 
FZ-1 was plagued by very slow track 
access—you must press the track but- 
ton very slowly and deliberately to 
move the transport from one track to 
the next—and the fast-forward and re- 
verse functions operated at a snail’s 
pace, barely moving the laser across 
the disc. 





graphics. The FZ-1 correctly handled 
both the conventional music data and 
the still graphic images embedded in 
the subcode stream, drawing a new 
color cartoon image every 15 seconds 
or so. Although CD+G has not pros- 
pered in the country, the CD+G com- 
patibility of such systems as 3DO and 
CD-I might finally kindle some inter- 
est in this format. The FZ-1 also cor- 
rectly played a Photo CD (which can 
store as many as a hundred digitized 
images of standard photographs), dis- 


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changed music. 
We're making 





sure he doesnt anth 
do it as often. 











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The new MB-4s plays 7CDs 

while the MusicBank Organizer : 
stores their cases. NE 29 






Place seven of Ray's CDs іп the Nakamichi MusicBank™ System and you'll 
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it? 


playing high-quality pictures on the 
television screen. The controller en- 
ables you to control Photo CD opera- 
tions such as image select, pan direc- 
tion, pan speed, rotate, mirror, and 
zoom. For the record, the FZ-1 does 
not support CD-EG (CD Extended 
Graphics) discs, nor does it play CD-I 
discs, Sega CD, or other CD-ROM 
formats. 

I next turned my attention to the 
heart of the matter—3DO discs. The 
multimedia industry is already well 
established with floppy- and CD- 
ROM-based computer games and pro- 
grams, CD-based video games, and 
laserdisc-based arcade games. Com- 
panies often develop a program or 
game for multiple platforms; in par- 
ticular, since the early 1980's, there 
has been a lot of porting of arcade 
games to CD-ROM for home use. Na- 
turally, 3DO has followed this trend, 
and many of the initial 3DO titles are 
new versions of existing titles. For ex- 
ample, 3DO titles such as Crash ’N 
Burn, Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, Lem- 
mings, The 7th Guest, Battle Chess, 
Out of This World, John Madden 
Football, Mad Dog McCree, The In- 
credible Machine, and The San Diego 
Zoo Presents ... The Animals are al- 
ready classics on other platforms. 

Crash 'N Burn from Crystal Dy- 
namics, a road-kill combat racing ti- 
tle, comes with the FZ-1 player. This 
fantasy game lets you pick a driver, 
combat car, and racing track and com- 
pete against five other taunting, jeer- 
ing, bullying drivers in a race to the 
death, launching and suffering attacks 
from laser guns, missiles, flame throw- 
ers, hellfire rotoguns, road mines, and 
plasma cannons—in other words, it is 
much like driving in Manhattan. The 
3DO version provides all the classic 
features, along with small-screen, 
low-frame-rate animated movies of 
the competing drivers. The control 
pad enables you to steer your car 
along the track, select and launch 
weapons, change driving perspectives, 
and so on. Sound and video quality are 
similar to that of CD-I titles. Speech, 
music, and sound effects are very 
convincing and generally free of noise 
and distortion. The video signal is 
clean, and color is quite good, but 
limited resolution is apparent through- 


. 50 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 








out—not especially bad, just about 
average. 

The sampler disc that accompanies 
the FZ-1 contains several brief inter- 
active programs, a program to help 
familiarize the user with the system, 
and advertisements for upcoming 3DO 
titles. The programs help you learn 
the system and show off some of its 
capabilities. For example, there are 
Batman and Hanna Barbera cartoons 
that employ the built-in CinePak soft- 
ware-based video decompression sys- 
tem. The very limited action in the 
Batman cartoon enabled the system to 
perform well, with relatively few arti- 
facts, but the somewhat livelier action 
in the Hanna Barbera cartoon ap- 
peared to stress the decompression 
system, leading to very distracting 
"blocking" effects on stationary areas 
of color. As with any recording, how- 
ever, the quality also depends on the 
care taken in bringing the program to 
the final medium—in other words, 
any artifacts are not necessarily the 
fault of the FZ-1. 

I also tried out It’s a Bird's Life 
from Sanctuary Woods Multimedia 
Corporation ($54.95). It is a sixty- 
page interactive children's storybook 
based on a CD-ROM title originally 
developed for Macintosh and IBM 
personal computers. The 3DO version 
is enhanced with extra games and a 
more flexible user interface. Using a 
series of cartoon stills and video over- 
lays and effects, the disc tells a story 
involving Shelley Duvall and her 
"zany" pet birds. Again, the sound 
and video quality was similar to that 
of CD-I titles, with occasionally dis- 
tracting video artifacts. 

All three 3DO discs required long 
waits for program loading. For exam- 
ple, Crash 'N Burn takes 35 seconds 





for its initial load and 20 seconds more 
to start a race. The sampler takes 25 
seconds for its initial load and 50 sec- 
onds to load the cartoon menu. During 
these waits the screen simply goes 
black, sometimes abruptly cutting off 
an existing image. In contrast, a first- 
generation Philips CD-I player pro- 
vided much faster loads, smoother 
fade-in and fade-out, and generally 
more polished operation. I was also 
unimpressed with the content of the 
3DO discs: I consider it a bad sign 
that, to me at least, the most interest- 
ing aspect of the system was the color 
display it could show on TV while 
playing music CD's. 

On the other hand, with only three 
titles to judge from, it is difficult to 
draw even a preliminary conclusion 
about the FZ-1 or the 3DO format in 
general. If these titles are the best that 
can be done, then the system definite- 
ly falls short of its considerable hype. 
Quality levels are about the same as 
for existing multimedia platforms, 
disc access times are long, and pro- 
duction values are merely almost as 
good as for CD-I. It is very possible, 
however, that these limitations are in 
the software and not inherent in the 
system itself. With dozens of 3DO ti- 
tles in the pipeline, only time will tell. 

I hope software companies will do 
more than simply port existing pro- 
grams to the 3DO format. To survive 
in the intensely competitive multime- 
dia CD market, with many incompati- 
ble systems available, a newcomer 
needs to do better than that. What the 
multimedia industry as a whole still 
needs is an individual of breathtaking 
creative vision. In the same way that 
Richard Wagner transformed opera 
and D. W. Griffith created modern 
cinema, a genius must seize upon ex- 
isting multimedia CD systems and 
turn this technology into art. 

Meanwhile, the corporate giants 
who control 3DO are pushing rapidly 
ahead. The FZ-1 lets you play games, 
look at photos, and listen to music. It 
will soon be accessorized to enable 
you to watch movies. The next gener- 
ation of 3DO products, due later this 
year, will bring electronic shopping 
and other interactive communications. 
Clearly, The 3DO story is not yet ful- 
ly written. o 


You need the right 
tone of voice to say 
Home Theater 


In a movie theater, the speaker you never see is the 
center channel. That’s because it’s located directly 
behind the screen, so dialogue sounds as if it’s coming 
directly from the actor’s mouths. Although movie 
screens have tiny holes in them to allow the soundtrack 
to pass into the theater, the screen material absorbs so 
much high frequency information that filmmakers are 
forced to boost the treble content of the soundtrack. 
Unfortunately, when a film is transferred to videotape 
or laserdisc, this high frequency boost remains, resulting 
in dialogue that is unnaturally harsh and much too “up 
front” for home theater. While most speaker manufac- 
turers design their center channel systems to be 
acoustically flat—a noble goal, they completely ignore 
the question of overly bright dialogue reproduction. 


To overcome this problem, Atlantic Technology's 
Model 153 C Center Channel Speaker gently rolls off 
the high frequencies for smooth reproduction of 







ШШ TULERUNT " 
Н |! 


center channel dialogue information. When designing 
the 153 C, our R&D team spent countless hours 
listening to a wide variety of film and television sound- 
tracks. These tests allowed us to perfectly tune the 
Model 153 C for extended listening, without the brittle, 
misdirected and harsh sound often associated with 
center channel loudspeakers. The result is rich, natural 
sounding vocal reproduction. Simply put, the right tone 
of voice. 


At Atlantic Technology, we specialize in home theater. 
We listen to our customers and to movies with equal 
excitement, then deliver components that are as much 
about value as they are about performance. That's why 
Video Magazine said "In its price range, Atlantic Technology 
is currently very hard—if not impossible—to beat." 

Call 617-762-6300 and refer to Dept. A for more 
information and the name of your nearest Atlantic 
Technology dealer. 


tlantic 


TECHNOLOGY 


343 Vanderbilt Ave. Dept. A 
Norwood, MA 02062 
CIRCLE NO. 5 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


“Deserve’ s got nothin’ to do with it.” 
If you can name the movie the above quote is from, the character who said it, and the actor who played the role, you can 
be entered in a drawing to win our Center Channel Speaker. Send your answers on a postcard to Atlantic Technology, 
Contest Dept., 343 Vanderbilt Ave, Norwood MA 02062. Contest ends 3/31/94 








Boston Acoustics Home THX 
Loudspeaker System 


DAVID RANADA 


oston Acoustics is among the 

most recent manufacturers to in- 

troduce a line of Home THX 

loudspeakers. As is typical of 

Home THX speaker systems, a 

full Boston Acoustics setup is 
made up of seven pieces: three con- 
trolled-directivity front-channel loud- 
speakers, two quasi-dipolar surround 
speakers, and two subwoofers han- 
dling the range from 80 Hz down, all 
certified to meet the strict specifica- 
tions of Lucasfilm Home THX. The 
price, however, is not typical—$2,400 
for all seven speakers, a new low for a 
complete Home THX speaker system. 
(With the new Home THX receivers 
becoming available, it will soon be 
possible to put together a top-to-bot- 
tom Home THX audio system for less 
than $4,000.) 

Boston’s front speaker is the 555x 
($300 each). Like most other Home 
THX front-speaker designs, it uses 
two tweeters (here, 1-inch domes) and 
two woofers (5'%4-inch copolymer 
cones) in a symmetrical vertical array. 
This arrangement is common because 


52 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





TECHNICAL EDITOR 


it is one of the easiest ways to obtain 
restricted (the manual says *focused") 
vertical dispersion over the frequency 
span specified by Lucasfilm. 

Boston Acoustics gives the 555x's 
sensitivity as 90 dB sound-pressure 
level (SPL) with a 1-watt input. Cross- 
over frequency is 3 kHz, and recom- 
mended amplifier power is 15 to 150 
watts. A 555x measures 114 inches 
wide, 18/4 inches high, and 7% inch- 
es deep. It is finished in a black-ash 
vinyl veneer. Like all Home THX front 
speakers, the 555x has a deliberate 
low-frequency rolloff below 80 Hz, as 
it is intended to be used with one or 
two subwoofers. 

Available in white as well as the 
black-ash finish, the 575x surround 
speakers ($500 a pair) are quite com- 
pact (7% x 11% x 4% inches) and rel- 
atively lightweight (8 pounds). Each 
contains a single 5%4-inch copolymer 
woofer crossed over at 350 Hz to a 
pair of 2!4-іпсћ cone tweeters operat- 
ing in a quasi-dipole configuration to 
radiate sound primarily along the lis- 
tening-room walls. The 575x’s rated 





sensitivity is 85 dB SPL; recommend- 
ed amplifier power is 15 to 150 watts. 

The design of the 595x subwoofer 
($500 each) is, in contrast, very sim- 
ple: a single 12-inch driver in an 
acoustic-suspension (sealed-box) en- 
closure. That box is relatively large 
(17% x 18'4 x 18% inches) and heavy 
(53 pounds) and comes only in the 
black-ash finish. It has four rubber 
feet, so moving it around a carpeted 
floor is easier if it’s turned on its side. 
Rated sensitivity is 85 dB SPL; recom- 
mended amplifier power is 100 to 250 
watts, reflecting the amount of energy 
needed to reproduce action-movie 
soundtracks at theater-like levels. 

To meet the stringent Home THX 
output-level requirements, Boston 
Acoustics recommends that two 595x 
subs be used in rooms with volumes 
greater than 3,000 cubic feet. You 
don’t need a separate amplifier chan- 
nel for each sub, however, since two 
can be hooked up in parallel to any 
output that can drive a 4-ohm load 
(rated impedance for all of these 
speakers is 8 ohms each). But driving 
each subwoofer from a separate am- 
plifier channel. may make it easier to 
obtain flat low-frequency response if 
the gains for the two channels are in- 
dependently adjustable, especially if 
you place the subs asymmetrically in 
the room (more on that later). 

Connections to all the speakers are 
via gold-plated multiway binding 
posts that can take dual banana plugs, 
stripped wires, connecting pins, or 
spade lugs. Although the fit is tight, 
you can get your fingers around the 
posts to tighten them securely, an ad- 
vantage over the cramped connectors 
on some other Home THX speakers. 
The grille panels are removable. 

The well-written, full-color system 
manual goes into detail about speaker 
hookup and placement. As I found, 
following its recommendations saves 
a great deal of experimentation. For 
example, after hauling the subwoofers 
all around the STEREO REVIEW listen- 
ing room, measuring the results at dif- 
ferent positions with pink noise, a cal- 
ibrated microphone, and a multi- 
kilobuck spectrum analyzer, I ended 
up getting the flattest response by 
putting one of them precisely where 
the manual recommends, in a corner, 
and the other one along a side wall. 
Such an asymmetrical subwoofer ar- 
rangement usually promotes smooth- 
er-sounding low-frequency response 
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Philips 00091 C 


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Tilson Thomas conducts this 
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los 35365 


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USER’S REPORT 


other strong argument for using two 
subwoofers. 

Also take seriously the company’s 
recommendations as to the height of 
the front speakers. At the very least, 
place the left and right front speakers 
with the centers of their grilles as 
close to the listener’s seated ear level 
as possible. Slightly below or above 
ear level is okay, too, as long as the 
speakers are tilted to aim directly at 
the listener. Boston Acoustics recom- 
mends using stands between 24 and 
30 inches high. I heard a slight, but 
noticeable, improvement in frequency 
balance as the amount of tilt necessary 
was reduced (that is, as the speakers 
were brought closer to the correct 
height), an effect that is probably at- 
tributable to the change in the vertical 
angle at which the speaker’s direct 
sound arrived at my head. 

The ideal for any center-channel 
speaker is to place it behind an acous- 
tically transparent front-projection 
video screen, but most of us have to 
make do with something considerably 
less exotic. That means the center 
speaker will probably end up either 
above or below the picture tube of a 
direct-view set. Since the Boston 
Acoustics 555x is meant to be used 
vertically (the radiation pattern will be 
wrong if it is placed sideways), the 
company recommends placing the 
center-channel speaker below the TV 
screen, on a stand 6 to 18 inches tall, 
and tilting it to face the center of the 
listening area. The surrounds are best 
placed directly to the sides of the 
main listening positions and up on a 
wall (or on the ceiling, if necessary) 5 
to 9 feet above the floor. 

These speaker-placement recom- 
mendations might sound a bit restric- 





tive, but they are no more so than 
those for any other Home THX speak- 
er systems. Boston Acoustics has sim- 
ply seen fit to make the guidelines for 
good performance explicit in its man- 
ual. Indeed, the manuals for all speak- 
ers, THX-certified or not, should give 
such specific advice to help users get 
the best possible results. 

The sound I ultimately got out of 
the Boston Acoustics Home THX 
speakers was outstanding. They could 
play extremely loud, with my ears 
showing signs of distress before the 
speakers did. When the speakers were 
placed properly, their imaging, play- 
ing either soundtracks or music, was 
pinpoint accurate (depending, natural- 
ly, on the program material). Overall 
tonal balance was very neutral and 
mercilessly revealing of deficiencies 
in recordings of such critical sounds 
as voices, brass, and massed strings. 
Low bass remained clean even when 
loud, as in such demanding material 
as pipe-organ music or the submarine 
“flybys” in The Hunt for Red October. 
And, as I’ve noticed with other Home 
THX speakers, when playing music 
recorded in a natural acoustical setting 
(most classical music, for example), 
the Boston Acoustics speakers bene- 
fited noticeably from judicious use of 
a good digital ambience-enhancement 
system. 

It all adds up to an excellent-sound- 
ing multichannel speaker system, suit- 
able for high-quality reproduction of 
both soundtracks and music. The ap- 
peal of the Boston Acoustics Home 
THX speakers is only enhanced by 
their pricing, which, at least for now, is 
very much at the low end of the THX 
scale. For what they are and do, these 
speakers are genuine bargains. o 





STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 53 








Stereo Review 


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STEREO REVIEW 


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JOM 


Lucasfilm "s HoME THX is a set of techniques and hardware performance 
and compatibility standards that we have put together at Lu- 
casfilm to address the long-standing problem of translating 
the intentions of movie and music producers into the home 

approach listening environment. To explain this, I often liken my job 
to that of a museum curator in charge of lighting paintings. 

z = For a Van Gogh I would choose warm light representing the 

to bringing Mediterranean sky under which he painted, but if the paint- 

ing were a Rembrandt, a cooler light representing Northern 

European skies would be more appropriate. The point is to 

the theater get the display to match the conditions that the artist used so 

that we can see his work as he did. 

Such matching is difficult to achieve for most music 

experience recordings. The precise conditions under which the recording 

was mixed are seldom known; even if the monitor loud- 

speakers are credited in the album notes, you still don’t know 

h ome the acoustic conditions. Film sound | the only consistent iol 

ception. In film sound there are precise standards that, practi- 

cally speaking, all studios adhere to: They all listen under 

nearly identical conditions. One reason for this uniformity is 

that all candidates 

for the Academy 

Award for Sound 

are judged in a single theater, with not even the volume 

changed from one film to the next, which acts as a great stan- 
dardizing force in the motion-picture industry. 

Today it is possible to make the soundtrack on a video re- 
lease of a film audibly identical to the original masters. So 
for the best releases, the medium does not stand in the way 
of getting the sound in the home as close as possible to the 
original experience. It is in the rest of the sound system that 


the problems reside. Correcting the film sound, made under 


МУСО O14390% A8 OLOHd 


theater conditions, to match home listening conditions is one 


Tomlinson Holman is corporate technical director for Lucasfilm and 
originator of both the theater and home THX programs. He is also on the 
faculty of USC, where he teaches courses in film sound. 











Some components of a 
typical Home THX system: 
above, a Lexicon CP-3 
controller ($2,995) and a 
Carver TFM-35x 250-watt- 
per-channel power 
amplifier ($800); on the 
walls, a pair of Boston 
Acoustics 575x surround 
speakers ($500 a pair); on 
top of the TV set, a Boston 
Acoustics 555x front 
speaker ($300), beneath it 
а 595x subwoofer ($500). 
The TV set is a 27-inch 
Toshiba CN-27C90. 








Altec Lansing’s Home THX lineup consists of the three-way AHT2100 surround 
speakers (top, $900 a pair), which can be mounted in or on a wall, the AHT2200 front speakers 
(right, $300 each), and the AHT2300 powered subwoofer ($1,200). 





The Fosgate Model Three A audio/video preamplifier ($2,799) uses proprietary 
analog and digital circuitry to deliver Dolby Pro Logic decoding and Home THX processing as 
well as additional surround modes for soundtrack and music playback. 


Snell's basic Home THX 
system: On pedestals in the 
foreground are two 

SUR-500 surround speakers 
($899 each). Behind them, 

also on pedestals, are three 
LCR-500 front-channel speakers 
($899 each), and to the right 
are two SUB-550 subwoofers 
($549 each). 


56 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





of the most important goals of Home 
THX. The techniques we have devel- 
oped to achieve that goal are embod- 
ied in Home THX certified audio 
components. 


Re-Equalization 

The first idea about how to "scale" 
the film-sound experience for the 
home came to me some years ago by 
pure happenstance. I had been anx- 
iously awaiting the laserdisc release 
of Indiana Jones and the Temple of 
Doom, as I had worked on the picture 
and heard it many times in the dub- 
bing theater where we mixed the 
soundtrack. How would the home 
video experience shape up? What I 
found when playing the disc over my 
home system, which I had worked on 
for years and thought sounded pretty 
good, was that the film sounded too 
bright. Foley effects—the low-level 
sounds, such as footsteps and the 
rustling of clothes, that make a movie 
seem real—were exaggerated. Sibi- 
lance and hard-sounding vowels in 
the dialogue were also overprominent. 

So I took the laserdisc to the dub- 
bing stage and performed a level- 
matched A/B comparison between it 
and the original film master. To my 
surprise, they were indistinguishable! 
That was quite a find, because it 
meant film sound could be delivered 
on a wide scale exactly as it sounded 
when made. 


ut what was wrong with 

my home music system? 

The answer turned out to 

be that mixes balanced to 
film standards to sound right in the 
large acoustical environment of a the- 
ater will sound too bright when repro- 
duced in the confines of a home lis- 
tening room; a frequency-response 
correction is needed to get good re- 
sults from program material mixed in 
one type of environment when play- 
ing it back in the other. The name 
we've given this process is re-equal- 
ization, because the program material 
was once equalized for one environ- 
ment and is now being re-equalized 
for playback in another. (Equalization 
is used in all recordings, either explic- 
itly by way of an equalizer or implic- 
itly by the choice of microphones and 
their placement relative to instru- 
ments.) Fortunately, with everyone 
listening to essentially the same moni- 
tor and room response from one stu- 
dio to another, there is a real standard 
in film sound, so we know better what 


we’re dealing with than we do with, 
say, CD’s. That means accurate re- 
equalization is possible, provided the 
soundtrack is transferred accurately 
when the video release is mastered. 


Souping Up the Surround 

The idea for the second Home THX 
enhancement emerged from careful 
listening to the sound in a dubbing 
theater. The surround speakers always 
seemed to sound brighter than the 
three front screen channels (left, cen- 
ter, and right), even though they were 
adjusted technically to the same stan- 
dard. As sounds panned from screen 
to surrounds, they got quite noticeably 
brighter. Through experiments I found 
two causes for this effect. One was the 
use of a multiple-loudspeaker array 
for the surround channel. The mixing 
of the outputs of the many surround 
speakers reproducing the same signal 
causes a timbre difference between 
their collective sound and that of the 
single speakers assigned to each screen 
channel. All those speakers are neces- 
sary for coverage in a theater, but not 
in a home, so this aspect of the prob- 
lem is easily fixed by using just two 
surround loudspeakers, which most 
people already do. 

But that alone is not enough. The 
other reason for the relative bright- 
ness of the surrounds was the frequen- 
cy-response difference perceived be- 
tween sound originating in front and 
from the sides. With less “shadow- 
ing,” or obstruction, of the sound field 
by a listener’s head, the side-arriving 
sound is brighter. It is possible to 
equalize this effect away, so that the 
outputs of the front and surround 
speakers have the same timbre. We 
call this process timbre matching. 

The third Home THX enhancement 
also emerged from trying to answer 
questions that arose in listening. With 
a dubbing stage or home theater set 
up for perfect balance between the left 
and right surround speakers, and sit- 
ting precisely on the center line, you 
get a kind of middle-of-the-head ef- 
fect from surround sound, like listen- 
ing with headphones. Moving off the 
center line causes the sound to jump 
quickly to the closer loudspeaker. 
Neither of these conditions is right for 
surround sound, which should be 
smoothly enveloping. I therefore de- 
vised a method to take the single 
mono surround channel provided by 
Dolby Surround and turn it into two 
channels through a process called de- 
correlation, which eliminates this ef- 


HOME THX AND 
DOLBY PRO LOGIC 


The Dolby Laboratories technologies 
known as Dolby Surround (Dolby Stereo in 
theaters) and Dolby Pro Logic are based on 
the use of an amplitude-phase matrix to 
encode four channels’ worth of audio into two 
tracks on two-channel stereo media and to 
decode them back into four channels in the 
home. Professionals call this a 4-2-4 matrix. 
When we began work on Home THX in 1986, 
there were many methods to decode matrix 
recordings in the home. Our strong 
preference was to use the same decoding we 
use in production to monitor Dolby Stereo 
mixdowns, and that is, for all practical 
purposes, Dolby Pro Logic. This follows from 
our basic philosophy, that home playback of a 
movie can and should be made to sound like 
it originally did to its producers. So Home 
THX systems inevitably use Dolby Pro Logic 
decoding as the foundation on which 
everything else depends. 

The latest development in film sound is to 
provide not just two channels on the medium, 
for decoding into four with Pro Logic (Home 
THX controllers decorrelate the surround 
outputs and extract the low bass for a 
subwoofer, creating a total of six loudspeaker 
channels), but to deliver six discrete digital 


fect. It makes the output from the sur- 
round channel sound truly surrounding. 


ircuitry for these three pro- 

cesses — re-equalization, 

timbre matching, and de- 

correlation—applied to 
the outputs of a Dolby Pro Logic de- 
coder along with a subwoofer cross- 
over and some required switching (in- 
cluding an unprocessed two-channel 
stereo mode) constitute what we call a 
THX controller. All the processes are 
invoked in the THX Cinema mode, 
although some of the controllers en- 
able you to turn specific features on 
or off at will. 


Home THX Loudspeakers 
Not all of the Home THX enhance- 
ments are electronic. We also specify 
certain characteristics for Home THX 
loudspeakers that are designed to im- 
prove performance in a home theater 
system. For the front left, center, and 


channels, eliminating the Pro Logic 
decoding. This is a major step in something 
that might be called “spatial clarity,” a step 
we believe is definitely the future of audio. 
Often called 5.1-channel sound, because the 
sixth is a limited-bandwidth dedicated 
subwoofer channel, it is already available in 
many theaters. It will come to the home in 
1995 on laserdisc, later in high-definition 
television (HDTV) broadcasts and perhaps 
other media, as well. 

Dolby’s contribution to this process is a 
low-bit-rate perceptual-coding scheme called 
AC-3. Low-bit-rate coding is what makes 
discrete multichannel audio practical, 
because if linear PCM digital coding were 
used, as on CD’s, it would require far too 
much space on the available media. AC-3 is 
the basis for the 5.1-channel Dolby Stereo 
Digital theater system and the companion 
Dolby Surround Digital system that will be 
incorporated in laserdiscs and HDTV. Home 
THX audio systems are prepared for discrete 
multichannel sound because the loudspeaker 
and amplifier layout is the one they already 
use, but new laserdisc players, television 
receivers, VCR’s, and decoders will be 
necessary to take advantage of it. 


right loudspeakers, the main require- 
ment we make that is unusual in any 
respect is that their directivity be con- 
trolled in a particular way. Although 
“wide dispersion” is generally felt to 
be a good thing, how much is enough 
and in what directions are legitimate 
questions. Surely the first purpose of 
wide dispersion is to cover the listen- 
ers uniformly with direct sound, but 
what are the benefits beyond that? It 
is thought that wide dispersion, in- 
creasing the number and density of 
reflections from room surfaces, may 
add to the sense of envelopment for 
two-channel listening. For this pur- 
pose, side-wall reflections are prefer- 
able because they tend to make the 
sound more spacious, whereas the 
first ceiling and floor reflections tend 
to make the sound more monaural, 
as has been found in concert-hall 
acoustics. 

On the other hand, specific reflec- 
tions are also known to color the di- 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 57 


The components of the 
Technics SC-TH200 Home 
THX system ($8,500): At 
front, from left, are the 
remote control, the 
SH-TX200 controller, 

and the SE-TX200 six- 
channel power amplifier (70 
watts per channel). In back 
are the SB-TW200 
subwoofer, the SB-TF200 
front speaker, and the SB- 
TS200 surround speaker. 





The latest manifestation of THX technology 
is in the THX laserdisc program, in which we 
follow the production chain through from the 
original film element to the finished 
laserdisc. By tracking quality along all stages 
of the process (with the assistance of a 
special composite test signal we developed), 
we can assure that the finished discs 
represent the film better than is possible on 
any other video medium widely available to 
consumers. The program covers both picture 
and sound quality, and since THX laserdiscs 


58 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





M&K’s MX-5000THX 
powered subwoofer 
($2,195), far left, is built 
around two 12-inch 
drivers in a push-pull 
configuration for low 
distortion. To its right is 
the M&K S-5000THX front 
speaker ($950). Not 
shown is the company’s 
SS-500THX 

surround speaker 
($1,450 a pair). 


adhere to production standards all along the 
way, we can make them more 
interchangeable (no need to alter the volume 
from disc to disc, for example). They play 
perfectly well on all systems, whether the 
systems are all THX, partially THX, or not 
THX at all. 

Released titles include The Abyss Special 
Edition, Hoffa, the Star Wars Trilogy, T2 
Special Edition, and The Ultimate 02. Among 
those in preparation are The Sound of Music, 
Oklahoma!, and South Pacific. 


rect sound by changing its timbre, 
adding to the direct sound at some 
frequencies, subtracting at others. 
These additions and cancellations re- 
sult from the changing phase relation- 
ships between the direct sound and 
the reflected sound with changes in 
frequency. Reflected sound inevitably 
travels a longer path to the listener 
than direct sound does, and if that dif- 
ference corresponds to one complete 
cycle of a wave, the two sounds will 
be in phase and reinforce each other, 
whereas if the path-length differences 
add up to half the wavelength, the two 
sounds will be out of phase and at 
least partially cancel each other. (The 
cancellation is only partial because 
the reflected sound is almost certainly 
weaker than the direct sound.) Thus, 
our ability to “hear through to the 
source”—hear the timbre of musical 
instruments correctly, for example—is 
enhanced if we can keep at least some 
of the reflections small. 

In Home THX we minimize unde- 
sirable reflections by deliberately 
shaping the dispersion of the front 
loudspeakers like an ellipse, wide in 
the horizontal direction but narrower 
vertically, thus reducing the effects of 
ceiling and floor reflections. By deliv- 
ering a larger proportion of direct 
sound than reflected energy, we pro- 
mote localization of on-screen sound 
and speech intelligibility. Actually, 
this sort of directivity turns out not to 
be unusual among high-end loud- 
speakers, many of which have had 
limited vertical dispersion for years, 
probably to accrue the same benefits 
we have found. Also, in multichannel 
systems we are not so very concerned 
that the front loudspeakers deliver all 
of the required tradeoff between lo- 
calization, on the one hand, and en- 
velopment, on the other, since that is 
one of the greatest compromises of 
two-channel stereo, and the surround 
loudspeakers can also provide envel- 
opment (more handily, in fact, than 
can front loudspeakers). 


or the surround loudspeakers 
the goal is to create an en- 
veloping sound field capable 
of reproducing spacious re- 
verberation and ambience while still 
handling more obvious, specific sur- 
round effects. A really good surround 
system will probably go unnoticed 
most of the time; the biggest problem 
that I see with surrounds in both the- 
aters and homes is a tendency to ex- 
aggerate them. The correct level of 


surround will immerse an audience in 
a sound field without drawing atten- 
tion to itself except when the program 
requires a strong, pointed surround ef- 
fect, which does not happen very of- 
ten. The power of such subliminal, 
ambient surround can readily be 
demonstrated by picking a passage 
with enveloping surround, reproduced 
at the correct level, and turning the 
surround speakers off in the middle: 
The sound will collapse dramatically 
into the screen. 


irectionally speaking, the 

surround loudspeakers 

should produce surround 

sound—that is, sound that 
originates all around you, without any 
particular preferred direction. A vari- 
ety of loudspeaker that will achieve 
this aim is the dipolar type, but orient- 
ed in an unusual way, with the main 
lobes radiating forward and back and 
the null of its radiation pointed at the 
listener. Thus, what we hear is not the 
direct field of the loudspeaker but 
rather its radiation at all angles re- 
flected by the room, adding greatly to 
the spatial sensation. 

To enable both conveniently sized 
loudspeakers and strong deep-bass re- 
production, Home THX systems nor- 
mally incorporate one or more sub- 
woofers. Most of them, in fact, re- 
quire subwoofers for adequate perfor- 
mance at the lowest frequencies. Our 
principal concerns for the subwoofer 
are that it have the right frequency re- 


The Mcintosh MX-130 

AN tuner/preamplifier 
($3,600) has a built-in Dolby 
Pro Logic decoder and six 
output channels. It is also 
available without the 

tuner section as the C-39 
preamplifier ($3,000). Either 
can be upgraded with a $425 
Home THX processing card. 


B&W's Home THX 

Home Cinema System 
comprises three FCM-8 Front 
Cinema Monitors ($1,000 
each), two SCM-8 Surround 
Cinema Monitors ($1,500 a 
pair), and two PCS-8 
subwoofers ($1,250 each). 
The subs are designed to fit 
gracefully under the front 
speakers if desired. 


why the subwoofer's output capacity 
is so important, and if it can handle 
movies, it can handle all practical mu- 
sical sources. 


Matchmaking 


The last major issue that we address 
in the Home THX program is making 





sponse to integrate well into rooms 
and that it have adequate output capa- 
bility to handle film soundtracks. Let 
me suggest the following progression: 
Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Termina- 
tor 2. What we see (or hear, really) is 
a widening of the frequency and dy- 
namic ranges, increasing spatial ef- 
fects, and a downward movement of 
the frequency range in which the 
acoustic energy is greatest. That is 








sure that all the components of a sys- 
tem work properly together. Tradi- 
tionally, audio consumers have been 
left to fend pretty much for them- 
selves with regard to such matters as 
amplifier gain, speaker impedance 
and sensitivity, power requirements, 
and so forth, which can vary quite sig- 


Kenwood's Home THX 
electronics—the KC-X1 A/V 
tuner/preamplifier (left, $999) 
and the KM-X1 six-channel 
power amplifier (below, 

100 watts per channel, 
$899)—can be connected 
together with a single cable 
to simplify installation. 





STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 59 





Hafler’s Home 

THX-certified stereo power 
amplifier, the 9300THX 
(shown above in a rack of 
four, $1,250 each), is rated at 
150 watts per channel. 

KEF's Home THX loudspeakers 
(right) are the AV1 powered 
subwoofer ($3,500), the AV3 
front loudspeaker ($800 
each), and the AV2 surround 
speaker ($1,500 a pair). 


Recently a new category of Home THX 
component became available—THX cables. 
We established Home THX cable 
specifications for a couple of reasons. One 
was to promote the use of a multiconductor 
cable and connector for multichannel audio 
hookups. Some Home THX controllers and 
power amplifiers now enable you to plug six 
channels together at once instead of making 
six separate connections, provided you have 


the necessary Home THX interconnect cable. 


Second, we wanted to be certain that the 
impedances of the cables, especially 


60 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


A legitimate question people have raised 
is whether Home THX systems are good for 
music as well as film sound. Insofar as the 
re-equalization, timbre-matching, and 
decorrelation processes are concerned, 
these are all switched out for two-channel 
music playback because re-equalization is 
relevant only to film sound and the others 
only to surround sound. We require Home 
THX controllers to have a two-channel stereo 
mode in which the left and right source 
channels are unprocessed except for 
extracting the low bass to send to the 
subwoofer channel. So there is no issue with 
the electronics in two-channel stereo. 

Our loudspeaker standards require 
good performance in all the usual respects— 
flat frequency response, low distortion, 





loudspeaker cables, were well suited to their 
tasks. We had seen examples of systems 
using, for example, very low-resistance cable 
(such as auto-battery cable) in which the 
cable’s high inductance more than 
overwhelmed the low resistance, causing 
audible frequency-response errors. So, for 
example, THX loudspeaker cable must 
conform to strict resistance, inductance, and 
capacitance specifications and come with 
information on the maximum lengths that can 
be used without exceeding a very small 
response error at the speaker terminals. 


and so forth—so there is really no debate 
about the suitability of the left and right 
loudspeakers on this basis. What concerns 
some people is the very thing that makes 
these speakers distinctive—their vertical 
directivity. Although the front speakers have 
quite wide dispersion horizontally, their 
vertical directivity is controlled to reduce 
ceiling and floor reflections and to deliver 
a greater percentage of direct sound 

to the listener. Reduction of ceiling and 
floor reflections permits better localization, 
speech intelligibility, and, believe it or not, 
depth in two-channel stereo recordings, 

so we feel this approach is beneficial 

to music reproduction as well as to 
playback of movie soundtracks and will 
serve well for both purposes. 


nificantly over the range of available 
equipment. People often achieve good 
results despite this relative anarchy, 
but sometimes at the cost of having to 
change some component choices to 
get ideal matches. We have therefore 
developed a set of standards for Home 
THX products that address every in- 
terface in the system, to assure, for 
example, that every Home THX am- 
plifier on the market will work prop- 
erly with every Home THX loud- 
speaker. 


hat does not mean Home 

THX components can be 

used only in a complete 

Home THX audio system. A 
Home THX controller can be used to 
good effect with conventional loud- 
speakers, for example, or non-THX 
amplifiers, just as Home THX speak- 
ers and amplifiers might be used in a 
conventional surround-sound or two- 
channel music system. What we have 
tried to do, however, is to assure by 
means of the electronic and loud- 
speaker developments discussed here, 
together with stringent interface and 
quality standards, that a system con- 
sisting of controllers, loudspeakers, 
amplifiers, equalizers, and cables 
bearing the Home THX logo will en- 
able listeners to hear movie sound- 
tracks at home as nearly as possible 
the way the artists who created them 
intended. a 








As virtually every speaker manufacturer 
rushes to deliver “home theater” speak- 
ers to the marketplace, M&K amasses 
nearly twenty years of experience in the 
field—dating back to Hollywood screen- 
ing-room installations in the 1970s. 
M&K engineers have 
spent well 
overa 
decade 
А) \ а studying 
` 7 the varied 
- aspects of 
surround 
sound—including encod- 
ing and decoding; soundtrack recording; 
and the differences between reproducing 
sound in theaters and in homes. 

M&K speakers excel in the reproduc- 
tion of all source material. Accuracy, low 
coloration, pinpoint imaging, wide 
dynamic range, and deep-bass repro- 
duction are all critical for music as well 
as film soundtracks. M&K Satellites and 
Subwoofers have been acclaimed for 
these attributes since the ‘70s. 

And this is why M&K knows that any 
speaker that claims to be optimized for 
either music or film sound, one at the 
expense of the other, will never repro- 
duce either one properly. 


M&K Home Theater Systems 


Conventional speakers make the 
music and effects on film sound- 
tracks compressed and dull. But 
M&K's exciting dynamics and 
“quick” transients give you precise 
3-D imaging and a lifelike presence. 

M&K Satellites are timbre- 
matched, using virtually identical 
speaker drivers, crossovers, and fre- 
quency response, for a seamless 360° 
surround-sound performance. With 
an all-M&K home theater system, 
voices and effects do not change char- 





acter when their sound moves from left 

to right or front to back in your room. 
Even if you are just adding an M&K 

subwoofer, front/center, or surround 





Speaker to your present system, M&K's 
unique timbre controls allow you to 
"fine-tune" the sound of your new M&K 
Speakers to achieve the closest possi- 


ж 
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жт B 
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7 Е 


CIRCLE NO. 46 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


qim ` 
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ble timbre-match with your existing 
speakers—even if they are not M&Ks. 


M&K Center Channel Speakers 


Beware of inexpensive “center chan- 
nel” speakers. In Pro-Logic, the center 
channel speaker is driven the 
hardest, and often 
reproduces ” 
as much S 
sound as the 
left and right 
speakers 
combined. 

Each one of M&K's 
six individually-available Satellites 
has exceptional dynamic range and high 
output to meet and exceed the tremen- 
dous demands of the center channel. 





M&K Powered Subwoofers 


Legendary for their massive output, 
exceptional detail, and articulation, 
M&K's thirteen internally-powered Sub- 
woofers set the industry's standards for 
high-performance deep bass. 

M&K's innovative Push-Pull Dual 
Driver subwoofers deliver a major 
improvement by virtually eliminating 

even-order harmonic distortion, and 

doubling efficiency (same as doubling 
amplifier power) with four times the 
output of single driver subwoofers. 
Whether you choose our state-of- 
the-art Home THX® Audio speaker 
system, an add-on set of surround 
speakers, or anything in between, 
no other speakers will give you the 
exciting performance, sound quality, 
flexibility and compatibility of M&K's 
home theater component speakers. 


7 4 MILLER & KREISEL 
ООМО СОКРОКАТЮМ 
10391 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232 


(310) 204-2854 • Fax: (310) 202-8782 
THX is a registered trademark of LucasArts Entertainment Co. 





AN Underground 


on Woznock digs loud music. “Whether 

I’m listening to a CD or watching a 

Garth Brooks concert video, it just does- 

n’t sound right to me unless the volume 

is halfway up and the walls are shaking,” 
says the thirty-two-year-old resident of South 
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, an old mining 
town on the banks of the Susquehanna River. 
Trouble is, his evenings of unbridled self- 
indulgence came to a screeching halt seven 
years ago when he and his wife Susan started 
a family. Cranking it up past the baby’s 7 
p.m. bedtime quickly became a no-no. 

Not about to surrender his most treasured 
pastime, Woznock, who is employed as an op- 
erations manager for a local distribution com- 
pany, decided to go for broke and convert his 
cellar into a media room. “I thought it would 
be easier to contain the sound there, so I hired 
a contractor to dig out the basement and put 
in a concrete floor.” The ex- 
cavation work alone cost 
$8,000 because they had to 
dig down nearly 3 feet to al- 
low for a 7-foot, 3-inch ceil- 
ing in the spacious 25 x 14- 
foot room. 

“My wife and I and a 
friend did all the rest of the 
work—from framing to fin- 
ishing,” says Woznock, not- 
ing that it set him back an 
additional $5,000. “We ran 
dedicated lines for the power 
amps and used two layers of 
sheetrock.” When the room was complete— 
an intensive three-week project—Woznock 
moved his stack of audio and video compo- 
nents from the living room to the cellar. 

An avid fan of country music and classic 
rock, from BTO to Aerosmith, Woznock likes 
having plenty of A/V sources. His current ar- 
senal includes a dusty Technics SL-D3 turn- 
table with a Shure M24H cartridge (used for 
the occasional foray into nostalgialand), a Na- 
kamichi CR-2A cassette deck, a Nakamichi 
CDPlayer2, which has an internal six-disc ma- 
gazine and a single-disc drawer, a Sony MDP- 
333 combination laserdisc/CD player, and a 
Fisher FVH-5550 hi-fi VCR. 

Although the combi-player is mostly for 
video, Woznock also uses it for a DJ setup at 
parties every now and then. But the Nak 
changer is his favorite component. *When 
you look at it, it doesn't look like a changer," 
he explains. "I like to play games with my 





62 STEREOREVIEW APRIL 1994 


friends—you know, pull out a CD and then 
the thing starts playing." 

The next stop along the signal path is a 
Yamaha DSP-E300 surround-processor/amp, 
which is looped through an Adcom GFP- 
555II preamp. The Yamaha sports a Dolby 
Pro Logic decoder, eleven movie and music 
modes, and a five-channel power section rat- 
ed to deliver 15 watts per channel. 

Primary power is furnished by two 200- 
watt Adcom GFA-5551II stereo amplifiers and 
a 75-watt Sansui B-1000 stereo amp. Operat- 
ing in bridged mode, each Adcom feeds up to 
600 watts to a power-hungry Infinity 9 Kappa 
Reference Standard tower speaker. The San- 
sui feeds surround signals to a pair of Realis- 
tic 8-inch full-range drivers mounted in the 
room’s back wall. 

Finally, Woznock uses the Yamaha’s resi- 
dent amps to drive a Polk Audio Mini Moni- 
tor for the center channel and a pair of wall- 
mounted Polk Monitor 4’s deployed as “front 
surround” speakers above the Kappas. 

The Infinity Kappas are Woznock’s latest 
acquisition. He had not been particularly dis- 
satisfied with his previous speakers, but when 
he happened to hear the Kappas, “I was blown 
away by their smooth natural sound.” 

Except for the 50-inch Hitachi SOUX7L 
rear-projection TV, Woznock’s A/V gear is 
housed in a homemade oak and pine cabinet. 
All wiring is Monster Cable. 

Woznock likes to think of his $11,000 sys- 
tem ($24,000 if you include room construc- 
tion) as both a home theater and an audio sys- 
tem. But it’s the theater mode that impresses 
friends the most. “People are amazed when I 
turn on Top Gun. It’s exhilarating. We find 
ourselves waiting for movies to come out on 
video instead of going to the theaters. And 
my kids—seven-year-old Robert and four- 
year-old Ronnie Jr.—love it. They like watch- 
ing concerts in surround as well as their own 
tapes. It’s well worth the investment.” 

Like most A/V devotees, Woznock is al- 
ready into his next upgrade. An Infinity Kap- 
pa Center Channel speaker to match his main 
Kappas and a companion Adcom GFA-535II 
amp to power it are on layaway. Also on his 
list is a new pair of surround speakers, an 
S-VHS video recorder, and perhaps a sub- 
woofer. Oh, and what about those loud, late- 
night movie and music sessions? “It’s great,” 
Woznock says with a chuckle. “You can bare- 
ly hear the system up on the third floor." 

—Bob Ankosko 


55040 A3143039 АЯ SOIOH4 


63 





APRIL 1994 





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ince its inception, a 

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Most of us regularly accept ence 
from our TV sets and video monitors 
that is really distortion. After all, 
that's how TV is supposed to look, 
right? No way. If it looks wrong it 
is wrong: When video reproduction 

~ makes real-world images (as opposed 
о special effects) look unnatural, it is 
often the fault of the monitor. What we 
want is high-fidelity video to go along 
our high-fidelity audio—the most 





al video monitors provide, and 

s article will discuss several: com- 

on faults of home TV's and monitors 

ndard as the reference. 

all the attention. paid to it, 

n (picture detail) seldom 
оао in modern sets, 





- accurate possible representation of - 
the original i image. That’s what profes- 





mance characteristic around (except 
possibly for the low-light, or “lux,” 
ratings of camcorders). Almost all the 
sets Гуе seen lately of moderate size 
(20-inch) and up have had more than 


enough resolution capability, when 


correctly adjusted, to do justice to the 
most demanding of common video 
program material: live network sports- 


casts and laserdiscs. By. "correctly: 


adjusted," I mean with the contrast 
control turned down from its normally 
too-high factory setting and with the 


sharpness control dialed halfway upat - 
most— some sets are better with it all... 


the way down. (Turning down the 
contrast to reasonable levels will also 
extend the useful life of your picture 


~ tube.) So I'm going to ignore resolu- 
tion for now. On to more fruitful areas. 


Simple and Obvious Errors 
One of the most common errors that 

passes as normal is. for the apparent 

sizes of objects to increase with in- 


вухо SINNGQ AB OIOHÓ | 


TV sets vary 
enormously in 
picture quality. 
Here’s how to 
separate the 
great from the 
good and the 
good from the 
merely mediocre. 


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creases in the overall picture bright- 
ness, as if the camera lens were zoom- 
ing in and out slightly according to the 
amount of light in the scene. This 
misbehavior, called breathing or bal- 
looning, is very common in direct- 
view (nonprojection) monitors. 

Breathing is normally not very 
prominent. But with letterboxed mov- 
ies, which have black bands framing 
the image at the top and the bottom of 
the screen, the picture height will of- 
ten vary obviously (see Figure 1)— 
something that certainly doesn’t hap- 
pen during film projection. Sometimes 
the effect is so severe that the picture 
almost bounces, especially when there 
are sudden, dramatic changes in the 
brightness. 

Breathing is exacerbated by exces- 
sive brightness. and contrast settings 
and becomes more difficult to control 
as screen size increases. Since breath- 
ing varies widely in severity among 
consumer sets, it is definitely some- 
thing you should pay attention to when 
shopping. As with many of the other 
faults covered here, once you know 
what to look for you'll be seeing it 
practically everywhere. 

Cross-color is what happens when 
the black-and-white portion of a video 
signal is misinterpreted as color. Then 
you get such effects as a colored moiré 
pattern on finely striped clothing. Ex- 
cept in such instances, this problem is 
not very conspicuous. It can originate 
at any number of steps along the video 
chain besides the monitor, even at the 
camera, and once it occurs no monitor 
processing can entirely remove it. 

Cross-luminance, where the color 
portion of the video signal is misinter- 
preted as black-and-white informa- 
tion, is far more common and is re- 
sponsible for the ubiquitous “dot 
crawl." Extremely annoying once you 
know what to look for, dot crawl is a 
regular pattern of fine dots moving 
upwards or along high-contrast edges. 
Monitors vary widely in their ability to 
minimize dot crawl. Only very few 
consumer sets reduce it to near invisi- 
bility; some are so bad that even low- 
contrast, broad expanses of color are 
somewhat stippled. Signals entering a 
monitor through its S-video (Y/C) con- 
nector are supposed to be immune 
from cross-color and cross-luminance 
effects, provided that such signal self- 
contamination hasn't already occured 
further back in the signal chain. 

Picture tilt is actually more common 
than you'd think it would be, since it 
is simply a tilting of the TV tube's 
supposedly horizontal electron-beam 
paths relative to the set's outer cabi- 


68  STEREOREVIEW APRIL 1994 





| 


Figure 1. Video monitor “breathing” 
expands the picture according to 
changes in the image brightness. 


net. The cause is improper (sloppy) 
alignment of the tube or its deflection 
coils. Tilting is easily spotted on the 
computer graphics displayed during 
news and sports telecasts, which often 
contain long horizontal lines near the 
top or bottom of the picture. 

Overscan is what happens when the 
edges of a video image fall outside the 
visible portion of the picture tube. 
When comparing monitors, notice 
how each one handles the edges of the 
image: Some will show more of the 
scene than others. Too much overscan 
can lead to such things as captions and 
subtitles being cut off at the bottom. 
Excessive overscan is far less a prob- 
lem now than it was several years ago 
because recent TV circuitry is better 
at maintaining the correct picture size 
as a set ages. 


A Question of Color 


TV manufacturers have paid both 
too much and too little attention to the 
color performance of their products. 
Various types of electronic processing 
to keep the reds red and the greens 
green have received most of the atten- 
tion. In the meantime, however, color 
accuracy has suffered: The picture 
may look good (plausible), but it may 
not be accurate (true to the colors of 
the original image). There are techni- 
cal standards for the color perfor- 
mance of video monitors that if ad- 
hered to would bring higher-fidelity 
color reproduction. Some of these 
standards have been in place since the 


beginning of color TV, and yet no 
consumer set at any price meets them. 

But some monitors may still deliver 
better color than others. If you want to 
go after high-fidelity video—so that 
the image you are seeing is closer to 
what careful producers intend—there 
are some steps you can take short of 
buying yourself a multikilobuck 19- 
inch studio monitor. 

First, turn off, if you can, all con- 
trols in your set that are intended to 
maintain color “accuracy” automati- 
cally. More often than not such con- 
trols make most colors less accurate in 
order to keep flesh tones somewhat 
true (or at least close to what people 
expect to see). You can usually 
achieve better results with careful 
manual adjustment. 

Deep, pure reds (like the reds you 
see in Christmas decorations) and 
deep, pure greens are very difficult for 
consumer monitors to reproduce. The 
reds usually come out slightly orange 
and the greens slightly yellowish. Dif- 
ferences among sets in red/green re- 
production are most easily seen with 
two sets side by side displaying a 
color-bar test signal (see "Don't 
Touch That Dial!" on the facing page). 
But if you concentrate on these colors 
when watching normal program mate- 
rial you may catch glimpses of set-to- 
set differences as a deep red or green 
comes into the picture. The bright 
turquoise (cyan) of shallow Caribbean 
waters is also difficult to reproduce, 
which is why it looks so much more 
vibrant when you see it for real. 

Color temperature has recently be- 
come a much-discussed issue in moni- 
tor performance. Color temperature 
defines the precise "shade" of white a 
monitor produces when directed by a 
video signal to generate white. In a 
contradictory-sounding use of termin- 
ology, a high color temperature gives a 
"cool" bluish cast to all the colors in a 
picture, whereas a low color tempera- 
ture imparts a "warm," or red/orange, 
bias (nowadays most sets are run at 
much higher color temperatures than 
the NTSC standard of 6,500 degrees 
Kelvin). Large differences in color 
temperature are readily visible when 
switching between them on those 
high-end monitors that provide color- 
temperature selection. But the eye 
quickly—within seconds—adjusts to 
such differences, so correct monitor 
color temperature is really a concern 
only to true hi-fi video fanatics. 


Warped Spaces 


Geometric distortions encompass a 
wide range of problems, all of which 


$ 
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Sony gives you not only the basic building blocks for home 
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—_— а -— 
Home 1 What kind of VCR do you own? 2 What size is your main TV? 

Entertainment п MONO Ш 20" OR SMALLER 

Start to a HiFi Stereo toa n 

Profile. OA HE rd 

"Take a moment to answer these E HIFI STEREO Ш 25" OR LARGER 
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W A PROJECTION TV 
Youfe in great shape, go to question 3. 









CN Ca 
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aa) es) Gaara Ca 


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пн IN A DIFFERENT ROOM THAN THE consist of: entertainment се is: 
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question 4. one 
нрава e e Coser rag oo Dolby P Logi ici 7 
то QUESTION 5. A/ taco and ong one род Tr ie Saleen nh youd 
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Seeing, And Hearing, Is Believing. 





Nothing we tell you can adequately describe the Sony Home Entertainment experience. 
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61993 Electronics Inc. Reproduction in whole or in without written permission is prohibited. All rights reserved. E3, Entertainment to a Higher Power, 
ушн ELE ECC лалы AUR OLIM D ое ирон M rli reserved Сопу ES, Entertainment а Higher Powe 


DON’T TOUCH THAT DIA 


Whenever you encounter the color-bar 
test pattern shown at right, you have an 
excellent opportunity to perform some 
critical adjustments of your TV set or 
video monitor. You'll sometimes find 
color bars appended to prerecorded 
videodiscs or videocassettes, but they 
are most commonly found over-the-air 
or on cable at the beginning or end of a 
station's programming for the day. 

As the diagram shows, the color 
portions-of the color-bar test signal 
comprise the three primary TV colors 
(red, green, and blue) and three pairs of 
those primaries (yellow = green + red, 
cyan = green + blue, magenta = red 
+ blue). If you look at those regions of 
a TV screen with a magnifying glass, 
you'll see (or should see) precisely these 
color-dot combinations activated. The 
two shades of white (100 percent and 75 
percent—here shown as a light gray) are 
made up of red, green, and blue 
phosphors all turned on equally. 

With just the two upper color portions 
of the color-bar signal, you could adjust 
your set for proper color reproduction. 
There are two problems, however. 
First, some sets cannot be adjusted for 
proper color-bar reproduction no matter 
what you do with their controls. I'd 
never buy or recommend a set that 
couldn't even do color bars right, 
regardless of what else it did well. 

The second problem is that you need 
a very deep blue filter through which to 
view the color bars while adjusting the 
tint (hue) and color (saturation) 
controls. That filter is very dark and 
very blue because it must filter out 
entirely the contributions made by the 
red and green phosphors. Should you 
come across such a filter (known by the 
photographic name of Wratten 47B), the 
procedure is pretty straightforward: 
Repeatedly adjust the tint and color 
controls until every surviving color bar 
(only four will be visible through the 
filter) is of equal brightness, not only 
with the others but throughout its own 
height, including the small segment at its 
bottom. (A suitable filter is supplied 
with Reference Recordings' very useful 
REF-01 test and setup laserdisc, "A 
Video Standard.") 

Even without such a filter, a color-bar 
pattern can still be useful for adjusting 
contrast and brightness (which should 
be adjusted before adjusting the color 
controls anyway), but only if the color 





control on your set can be turned all the 
way off to get a true black-and-white 
picture. With the color off, the large 
uppermost portions of the color bars 
should form a steady left-to-right 
progression from white to dark gray. 
The long horizontal black bar at the 
middle of the bottom of the test pattern 
should be noticeably darker than the 
dark gray (formerly blue) bar at the 
upper right. Repeatedly adjust the 
brightness and contrast—the controls 
interact somewhat—until you get an 
upper-bar gray scale with seven distinct 
shades of gray. 

Alternatively, or as a cross-check, the 
rightmost of the small, dark vertical bars 
near the bottom right of the screen 
should just barely be visible, and the 
two small bars beside it should both be 
the same shade of black, so that they 
look like a single wider bar. This 
method, using the small, dark bars, has 
the advantage of working at any setting 
of the color control. 

After adjustment, remember that you 
have just calibrated your set to 
compensate for the characteristics of the 
source originating the color bars. You 
and the station are at the mercy of the 
various program providers when it 
comes to actual color performance. The 
classic musical South Pacific is 
pretinted, for example, and never looks 
quite right. 

You might occasionally encounter 
other test patterns, but, though they can 
be useful, they usually aren't on long 
enough for a home viewer to draw any 
conclusions or make any adjustments. It 
is possible to record them, though only 
one of those described below will be 


The color-bars test 
signal can be used 
to properly adjust 
the color, tint, 
brightness, and 
contrast controls of 
a video monitor. 


relatively intact after recording on a 
typical VHS VCR. 

© Resolution wedge. Triangular 
wedges of black and white stripes aimed 
toward the center of the screen. This is 
the primary test pattern for eyeball 
evaluation of picture resolution. Look 
for where the individual vertical stripes 
of a vertical wedge merge into a gray 
mass, and then locate the nearest 
calibration number, which usually gives 
the number of lines of horizontal 
resolution (sometimes divided by ten). 
This pattern is rarely found on 
prerecorded videocassettes, possibly 
because the measured results would be 
so bad (about 200 lines for standard 
VHS versus 330 lines for broadcast TV 
and more for laserdisc). 

ө Circle. Resolution wedges are 
usually part of a composite test pattern 
that includes one large circle in the 
center of the screen and four smaller 
circles at the corners. In this test 
pattern, anything that looks like a circle 
should actually be a circle. The circles 
should look neither squeezed from the 
sides nor squashed from the top and 
bottom. If the overall picture size is 
perfectly adjusted, the largest central 
circle should just meet the top and 
bottom edges of the screen. The 
roundness of the circles in this test 
pattern will survive recording ona VCR 
of almost any quality. 

* Multiburst. This pattern looks like 
half a dozen vertical columns of black 
and white stripes that start wide on the 
left side and decrease in size to the 
right. They can be used to gauge 
resolution, but only roughly without 
the aid of test instruments. —D.R. 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


Figure 2. Barrel distortion (top) and 
pincushion distortion (bottom) are 
common with large-screen monitors. 


can be thought of as warping the pic- 
ture, making lines that should be paral- 
lel across the face of the tube nonpar- 
allel. Two of the most common are 
known by the names given to them by 
photographers: barrel distortion and 
pincushion distortion. The effects they 
would produce on a square grid are 
shown, exaggerated, in Figure 2. Al- 
though both types of distortion can 
occur with either direct-view or pro- 
jection screens, barrel distortion 
seems to be more common on the 
former and pincushion distortion on 
the latter. 

Unless you use a grid test pattern, 
like the one commonly used to check 
convergence (see below), it is hard to 
detect subtle barrel or pincushion dis- 
tortion. Look for warpage of regular 
grids as the camera pans across them: 
building facades and windows, for ex- 
ample, or computer-generated graph- 
ics. Keep in mind that video-camera 
lenses can cause these types of distor- 
tions, too, so if you think you see bar- 
rel or pincushion distortion during one 
program, look for it on another for 
confirmation. 

Convergence error is a geometric 
distortion that has been a bugaboo of 
projection sets from their invention, 
but it also afflicts direct-view sets. Its 


70 STEREOREVIEW APRIL 1994 


Large-screen viewing, whether on a 
standard NTSC set or a widescreen monitor 
with a 16:9 aspect ratio, introduces its own 
set of problems. For example, rear- 
projection sets all have specially 
constructed screens designed to throw as 
much light as possible directly forward. So 
the first thing to look for, especially if you 
expect ever to have more than one person 
watch your projection set at a time, is how 
the picture brightness falls off as you move 
to the sides of the viewing area. Note not 
only the overall decrease in brightness, but 
whether some portions of the screen grow 
dark faster than others. 

Even from straight on, most projection 
sets also exhibit a falloff of picture 
brightness toward the corners. You should 
try to steer clear of sets that display more 
of this effect, even if it means choosing one 
with somewhat lower overall brightness. 
You can compensate for the latter by 
darkening your viewing room, but there's 
nothing you can do about the “vignetting.” 
Darkening the room will also make the 
picture look better for several other 
reasons, and it is good practice for all 
video viewing, projection or not. You'll 
never see a brightly lit TV control room. 

Digital picture processing is making its 
way into large-screen direct-view and 
projection sets, even if only in the guise of 
picture-in-picture (PIP) and freeze-frame 
features. Such digital manipulation is the 


results are not so much a bending of 
lines as the kind of effects you'd get if 
the various color layers in a photo- 
graphic negative or a printed color 
page got slightly out of alignment with 
each other: slight blurring and color 
fringes. 

Although a white-grid test pattern 
shows convergence errors most clear- 
ly, you can perform a quick-and-dirty 
test for convergence error by looking 
at video "snow," either from a blank 
(never recorded) portion of videotape 
or, preferably, from tuning to an emp- 
ty channel. The random dots of snow 
should look the same at the corners of 
the picture as they do at the center 
(some corners may be better than oth- 





bread and butter of widescreen and IDTV 
(improved-definition TV) sets and the 
absolute core of the upcoming broadcast 
HDTV (high-definition TV) system. Digitally 
processed video can vary considerably in 
quality, depending on the techniques and 
circuitry used, and it is not uncommon to 
see artifacts of the processing in current 
products that use it. It's therefore a good 
idea to be familiar with the most obvious 
side effects. : 

* Large, slowly varying areas of color 
can sometimes develop a contour-map 
effect when there are not enough 
digitization steps to encode a smoothly 
varying video signal. What was once a 
large expanse of color gets replaced by 
several smaller expanses of color with 
distinct borders between them. 

© Inadequate motion processing can 
cause, on the one hand, blurring and 
smearing of fast-moving objects, and, on 
the other, a jumpy effect with very slowly 
moving objects. 

© Improper, but possibly deliberate, 
Stretching of the original picture to conform 
itto the proportions of a 16:9 screen can 
make it seem like the whole world has 
gotten squashed, or that the gravity control 
has suddenly been turned up. 

While you may not be able to use these 
tidbits for a couple of years, you are now 
the first on your block to know some 
selection criteria for an HDTV set. —D.R. 


ers). At the corners, the dots, which 
should be pure white or gray, may 
have slight color fringes indicating 
convergence error. They may also ap- 
pear fuzzier and less "crisp," indicat- 
ing slight misfocusing of the electron 
beams. Look for screens exhibiting 
the smallest errors of these types. 
These are only a few of the many 
possible things to watch for when eval- 
uating monitor quality. But if you can 
find a set with excellent performance 
in all of these characteristics, consider 
yourself lucky on two counts. You've 
found the monitor to which the world 
should beat a path, and you have 
trained yourself to be a super-critical 
viewer. o 


А LASERDISC 
STARTER SET 


f you have or are putting together a 

home theater system, it’s not hard to 
come up with reasons to include a 
laserdisc player. Top on the list certain- 
ly would be the outstanding picture 
and sound available from laserdisc— 
often better than: broadcast (especially 
in audio quality) and far superior to 
VHS. Many laserdisc releases are 
widescreen, or “letterbox,” versions, to 


preserve the original framing and com- 


10 TOP DISCS 
ТО FEED THAT 
NEW PLAYER 


position of modern widescreen films. 
(When broadcast or transferred to vid- 
eocassette, widescreen movies are al- 
most invariably cropped to fit the nar- 
row confines of the television screen.) 
Some discs include interesting supple- 
mentary materials, and occasionally 
the movie itself is a special version re- 
edited by the director specifically for 
laserdisc to include scenes omitted 
from the theatrical release. And since 
all current laserdisc players also play 
CD’s, you won’t need a separate unit 
for that purpose. If you were going to 
buy a new CD player anyway, you can 
get the video capability as well without 
spending a great deal more money. 


BY R A D 


Let’s assume that you’ve taken the 
plunge and are ready to start your own 
laserdisc library. Laserdiscs are readily 
available over the counter in big cities 
(sometimes for rental as well as sale) 
and from many reputable mail-order 
firms. There are now so many good 
discs, however, that you might at first 
find yourself a little perplexed about 
where to begin. 

With that in mind, I’ve put together 
a list of ten discs that I think 
would make a great “starter 
set.” There’s nothing sacred 
about this list—I've even pro- 
vided an alternative one on 
page 73, and it would not be 
hard to come up with others equally 
compelling. The tough part really was 
keeping the list down to just ten titles. 
The ones that made the cut are discs 
I consider to have exceptional video 
resolution and balance, excellent 
sound, and programming that will 
remain interesting on subsequent 
viewing. These are all discs that well 
exemplify "the laser experience." If 
somebody put one of them on after 
dinner, I’d make no excuse to leave, 
for they can be enjoyed over and over. 
So even though a few of the discs I've 
chosen represent hefty initial invest- 
ments, all of them represent good val- 
ue for the dollar in the long run. 


B EN NE TT 





A ТЕА Б ER DP Sec 


THE ABYSS: SPECIAL EDITION (1993) 
Color; three discs, six sides (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 
and 5 CLV, Nos. 4 and 6 CAV); digital ste- 
reo, surround; chapter stops; extensive sup- 
plements, including the documentary Un- 
der Pressure: The Making of The Abyss. 
171 minutes (feature). Rated PG-13. FOX 
VIDEO 1988-80 $99.95. 


he first release in the THX laser- 

disc program and possibly the 
best disc set in the entire catalog. For 
starters, director James Cameron com- 
pletely re-edited his movie, turning 
what had been a suspenseful but con- 
fusing effort into a masterpiece. Then, 
in addition to the expected letterbox 
version, he supervised a “pan-and- 
scan” transfer, which is the one I’m 
recommending. The video image is as- 
tonishing in its immediacy and intima- 
cy. Even more noticeable is the sound, 
without a doubt the best movie sound 
on laser and the best use of surround 
in the catalog. The audio mix is in- 
credibly complicated, subtle, and ef- 
fective: You feel transported into the 
various underwater locales. The letter- 
box edition is also excellent, but, as 
Cameron points out in an essay in- 
cluded with this boxed set, his pan- 
and-scan full-frame version is better 
for entertainment. 


THE ADVENTURES OF BARON 
MUNCHAUSEN (1989) 

Color; three discs, six sides (CAV); digital 
stereo, surround; chapter stops; letterbox 
(1.65:1 aspect ratio); extensive supple- 
ments. 126 minutes (feature). Rated PG. 
CRITERION 144 $124.95. 


riterion has made its reputation 

with deluxe editions that present 
more than just the movies. Many in- 
clude the original directors discussing 
their work on the secondary analog 
audio tracks as well as outtakes, still- 
frame archives, and more. The best of 
these editions is Baron Munchausen, a 
charming fantasy adventure unfairly 
maligned by critics and unfathomably 
ignored by the public when first re- 
leased. The Criterion director-ap- 
proved transfer is razor-sharp and 
clean and at close to the correct aspect 
ratio; the Dolby Surround soundtrack, 
on the digital tracks, has excellent dy- 
namic and frequency range. Director 
Terry Gilliam discusses the movie on 
the analog tracks throughout, and the 
supplemental section tells you every- 
thing you could want to know about 
this adventure in filmmaking. 


72 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


LASERDISC LINGO 


Aspect ratio. The ratio of image width 
to image height. For example, a standard 
TV screen has a 1.33:1 (4 x 3) aspect ratio, 
which matches the old Academy standard 
for motion pictures. Modern widescreen 
movies typically have aspect ratios of 
about 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. HDTV screens will 
have a 1.78:1 (16x9) aspect ratio. 


CAV. Constant angular velocity, 
laserdisc's “standard-play” format, 
offering still-frame and slow motion on 
any player but limited to about 30 minutes 
of playing time per side. 


CLV. Constant linear velocity, laserdisc's 
extended-play format, offering 60 minutes 
per side but requiring players with digital 
field memories for special effects. 


Chapter stops. Searchable reference 
points for specific material, similar to 
track markers on a CD. 


Letterbox (LBX). A method for 
displaying a widescreen film in its proper 
aspect ratio on a TV screen. Letterboxing 
results in black bands at the top and 
bottom of the screen. 


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991) 

Color; two discs, four sides (CAV); digital 
stereo, surround; chapter stops; supple- 
mental promo and documentary; closed- 
captioned; letterbox (1.57:1 aspect ratio). 
84 minutes (feature), plus 26 minutes 
(supplement). Rated G. WALT DISNEY 
1325 CS $49.95. 


nimation and laser go together 
like ham and eggs. Laser repro- 
duces crisply all the sharp lines and 
nuances of good animation, not to 
mention the often brilliant colors. 
Most of Disney's animated features 
are worth investigating, but this fairy- 
tale-as-animated-Broadway-show is 
the best departure point. A magical 





S ILA ТЕЗА 


ӘСЕ 





and moving film, it has superior video 
quality and a knockout soundtrack. 
Robby Benson’s Beast voice is a par- 
ticular delight, stereo separation is ex- 
ceptional, and there are some pleasing 
rumblings for your subwoofer as well 
as some very effective surround ef- 
fects. Unlike the less expensive pan- 
and-scan CLV edition, this CAV re- 
lease preserves the original theatrical 
framing and is worth the extra cost. 


JAWS (1975) 

Color; two discs, three sides (Nos. 1 and 2 
CLV, No. 3 CAV); digital mono; chapter 
stops; closed-captioned; letterbox (2.25:1 
aspect ratio). 120 minutes. Rated PG. 
MCA UNIVERSAL 41086 $39.95. 


O: of the great emotional-roller- 
coaster thrill films of all time, as 
Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and 
Robert Shaw race to capture a great 
white shark that has been taking lunch 
breaks at Amity Island. The laser 
transfer is crisp and clean, with well- 
balanced color and excellent detail in 
spite of a fairly severe letterbox, neces- 
sary to preserve the film’s theatrical as- 
pect ratio. (Laser’s resolution allows 
this—it would be unwatchable on 
videocassette.) Another laser feature is 
a bit of rethinking and editing by direc- 
tor Steven Spielberg, making this disc 
his latest, final version of his greatest 
action film. 


LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) 

Color; two discs, four sides (CLV); digital 
stereo, surround; chapter stops; closed- 
captioned; letterbox (2.1:1 aspect ratio). 
216 minutes. Not rated. COLUMBIA 
TRISTAR 79626 $49.95. 


E: laserdisc collection should 
contain one of the big epics, and 
this is the very best. The movie is a 
justified legend, the reconstruction 
masterly, the transfer extraordinarily 
sharp. The sound is quite good, too—a 
very successful transfer from the origi- 
nal multichannel magnetic tracks of 
the 70mm release to the current Dolby 
Surround system. If you think sur- 
round sound is something new, take a 
listen to what was accomplished thir- 
ty-two years ago for this movie. The 
reconstructed print exists in several 
versions. Columbia Tristar's seems the 
best and is certainly one of the great 
bargains in the laserdisc catalog. One 
of the other editions has more supple- 
mentary material, but not enough to 
offset the cost savings this set offers. 


Ae ДА БЕЛ Ө еМ С 


THE LOST WORLD (1925) 

B&W with color tints; one disc, two sides 
(No. 1 CLV, No. 2 CAV); newly com- 
posed stereo digital soundtrack; chapter 
stops; extensive supplements including 
original trailer, promotional film, excerpts 
from earlier Willis O’Brien films, and a 
large still-frame archive. Approximately 
65 minutes (feature). Not rated. LUMIVI- 
SION LVD 9109 $49.95. 


hink of it as an ancestor of Juras- 

sic Park. One of the real bargains 
in the laserdisc catalog, this disc really 
gives you a chance to play with your 
player’s special features. Two different 
versions of the soundtrack are provid- 
ed, and the trailers and shorts are im- 
mense fun. But where laser really 
comes into play is during the still- 
frames. Much of this classic movie 
has been lost forever, but photos sur- 
vive for the missing parts. On laser, it 
is possible to watch the movie through 
once, then skip to the archive while 
the motion-picture sections are fresh 
in your mind and step through the 
stills of the missing sections. The 
movie itself, merged with the newly 
composed score, doesn’t seem dated at 
all. It’s an amazing achievement. 


SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941) 

B&W; one disc, two sides (CLV); analog 
mono; chapter stops; theatrical trailer. 91 
minutes. Not rated. MCA UNIVERSAL 
40551 $34.95. 


lack and white on laserdisc? You 

betcha. A really good B&W mov- 
ie can be very sharp, and a good laser 
transfer puts back the thrill that is 
robbed from these films when they are 
presented in scratchy, damaged, low- 
contrast prints interrupted by commer- 
cials every 10 minutes. It’s like strip- 
ping the paint off a mundane work of 
art and finding an original Rembrandt. 
And almost no film is more worthy of 
this “laser rediscovery experience” 
than Preston Sturges’s hilarious, poig- 
nant look at the unfortunate of Ameri- 
ca through the eyes of a well-meaning 
filmmaker who wants to correct situa- 
tions he doesn’t yet understand. Uni- 
versal’s laserdisc release, crisp and 
clean, has great contrast and good 
sound for the era. All that and Veroni- 
ca Lake, too. 


PUCCINI: TOSCA (1992) 

Catherine Malfitano, Placido Domingo, 
Ruggero Raimondi; RAI Chorus and Or- 
chestra, Zubin Mehta conducting. Color; 


ALTERNATE TAKES 


In case you get through the first ten 
discs in a hurry or can’t find some of 
them (or don’t want some of them), I 
rank the following right behind those 
in my main list: 

CASABLANCA. CLV edition. 
CRITERION 73A $49.95. 


CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE 
THIRD KIND. Letterbox CAV edition. 
CRITERION 125 $124.95. 


EL MARIACHI. Letterbox edition. 
COLUMBIA TRISTAR 53616 $49.95. 


THE FALL OF THE ROMAN 
EMPIRE. Letterbox edition. IMAGE 
ENTERTAINMENT ID2130PF $59.95. 


GONE WITH THE WIND: SOTH 
ANNIVERSARY EDITION. CLV. 
MGM/UA ML101678 $49.95. 


THE MIGHTY DUCKS. WALT 
DISNEY 1585AS $39.99. 


PATTON. Letterbox edition. FOX 
VIDEO 1005-85 $69.95. 


PEYTON PLACE. Letterbox edition. 
FOX VIDEO 1855-85 $69.95. 


THE QUIET MAN: 40TH 
ANNIVERSARY EDITION. 
REPUBLIC LV23361 $59.95. 


RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. 
Letterbox edition. PARAMOUNT LV- 
1376-WS $24.95. 


one disc, two sides (CLV); digital stereo; 
chapter stops; subtitled. 115 minutes. 
TELDEC 4509-90212-6 $44.95. 


he film versions of operas and 

ballets on laserdisc offer better 
camera work and more variety in sets 
than recordings of the stage versions 
—in short, all the benefits of a mov- 
ie—but have always presented one big 
drawback: lip-synching of the sound- 
track. Even when the same performers 
are used, you can almost always tell 
that they aren’t singing at the same 
time they’re acting. The acoustics of 
the audio tracks are also likely to be at 
odds with the visuals on the screen. 
For this Tosca, however, the engineers 
found a way to plant tiny microphones 
in the performers’ hair and set up au- 
dio and video links from the filming 
sites to a recording studio. That en- 
abled them to have the singers actually 
singing and acting at the real locations 
Puccini specified while the chorus and 


Savi IER 


ӨЕ 


orchestra performed in a studio blocks 
away. The result is opera/drama on a 
level not previously experienced. The 
dynamic cast proves worthy, and the 
video transfer, except for some diffi- 
culty with the orange/red hues in Act 
II, is state-of-the-art. The “sets” are op- 
ulent, the costumes luxurious. A siz- 
zling performance for all time. Bravo! 


20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA 
(1954) 

Color; two discs, four sides (Nos. 1, 2, and 
4 CLV, No. 3 CAV); digital stereo, sur- 
round; chapter stops; extensive supple- 
ments; closed-captioned; letterbox (2.35:1 
aspect ratio). 127 minutes (feature). Rated 
G. WALT DISNEY 1587 CS $59.95. 


ules Verne’s classic adventure, of- 

fered especially for laserdisc fans 
in Disney’s Exclusive Archive Collec- 
tion. Presented in its original theatrical 
aspect ratio, the picture is admirably 
crisp and exceptionally clean, with gor- 
geous color. The original multichannel 
magnetic soundtracks have been most 
successfully remixed to Dolby Sur- 
round. The sound effects bring the bat- 
tle with the giant squid right into the 
room! There’s a wealth of extra mater- 
ial, live action and still-frame, includ- 
ing some animated sequences deleted 
from the final film. A whale of a tale! 


THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939): 

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION 

Sepia and color; one disc, two sides 
(CLV); digital mono; chapter stops; 
closed-captioned; supplements. 101 min- 
utes (feature), plus 18 minutes (supple- 
ments). MGM/UA 101656 $34.95. 


he yellow brick road has never 

been as colorful on video as it is 
in this carefully prepared anniversary 
edition of a family classic that seems 
destined to live forever. The opening 
is sepia and white, as in the original 
film, and once Dorothy leaves Kansas 
and opens that door to Oz the color is 
eye-popping. Several deleted num- 
bers, a theatrical-reissue trailer, and 
scenes from the 1939 Academy Awards 
are icing on a colorful cake. There have 
been other disc releases of this film, 
including MGM/UA’s recent CAV 
“Ultimate Oz” THX edition, but this 
one seems to constitute the greatest 
value for the dollar. a 


Rad Bennett is editor and publisher of 
The Laser Disc Gazette, a review 
newsletter for laserdiscs and CD's. 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 73 


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p ierre Boulez has truly shaken up 
music in the twentieth century. 
In the 1950's, he was so militant about 
his modernist aesthetics as a compos- 
er that he condemned any approach 
that didn't agree—and generally got 
away with it. In the 1970's, while he 
was simultaneously chief conductor 
of the New York Philharmonic and 
the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he 
dragged both New York and London 
—kicking and screaming—into the 
world of real twentieth-century music. 
In Bayreuth, with stage director Pa- 
trice Chereau, he unveiled one of the 


most controversial—and, later, one of 


Has the 20th 
century 


finally caught 
up with Pierre 
Boulez? 


the most imitated—Ring cycles in 
Wagnerian history. More recently, 
Boulez—a co-founder of the Paris- 
based, electronic-music think tank, In- 
stitut de Recherche et de Coordination 
Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM)—be- 
came one of the first major composers 
to make extensive use of computer- 
generated sounds. But as he looks 
back on it all, he claims he never real- 
ly asked to do all these things. The 
world asked him. 

“I was never in a rush in my life. 
Things came to me. I have no agent. 
Nothing. I was always much more 
pushed than I pushed myself,” Boulez 
told me one winter day in Chicago 
during his annual four-week residency 
with the Chicago Symphony Orches- 
tra, which has become one of his main 
recording orchestras. “I’ve always 
had quite a lot of luck, I must say. 
When Hans Rosbaud was too sick to 





BY DAVID 





PATRICK STEARNS 


STEREO REVIEW 


APRIL 1994 





conduct at the festival at Donauesch- 
ingen, I was asked and I said, ‘Why 
not?’ I was engaged by the Concert- 
gebouw, the BBC orchestra, invited to 
Cleveland and then, as a consequence, 
to New York, and so on. I never lifted 
even a small finger.” 
nd maybe he should have. Though 
Boulez maintains a gracious, wit- 
ty manner even when tossing out 
some heated rhetoric, I sensed re- 
grets about his New York Phil- 
harmonic years, when he was a 
specialist in a job that demanded a 
generalist. But because he was never 
on a mission of his own making, Bou- 
lez has never been one to grow disil- 
lusioned. 

“I know you have setbacks, that 
you are not accepted or are considered 
too demanding. I’m realistic and an 
optimist, always, but maybe I was too 
much of a Robespierre. When you 
talk to the press when you’re younger, 
you don’t see the difference between 
words that are spoken and words that 
are printed. There were times when I 
said something in humor, and when 
they were printed they were very 
explosive. When you’re young, you 
don’t look at the consequences. Now, 
I make explosive declarations only 
when it’s necessary.” In fact, he 
couldn’t even be goaded into repeat- 
ing the nasty remarks he made only a 
few years ago about minimalists. 

At sixty-eight, the increasingly 
craggy but amiable-looking Boulez is 
now widely respected as a composer 
and positively beloved as a conductor. 


78 STEREOREVIEW APRIL 1994 


“The French 
are known for 
fashion апа 
gastronomy, 
but Debussy 
is much more 
-= . | don’t 
want to 
prettify 


Debussy.” 


Deutsche Grammophon offered him a 
long-term contract to rerecord his en- 
tire repertoire of Debussy, Ravel, Bar- 
tok, Stravinsky, Webern, and Messi- 
aen. One of his rare forays into the 
opera house, a production of De- 
bussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande with the 
German theater director Peter Stein, is 
coming out on videodisc. And while 
his Columbia/CBS recordings from a 
quarter-century ago (many reissued 
by Sony) were with such excellent or- 
chestras as the Philharmonia, he 
seems to have graduated to a more el- 
evated international league that in- 
cludes the Vienna Philharmonic, with 
which he’ll record Mahler’s Sympho- 
ny No. 6. Even a few years ago that 
would have been unthinkable: Bou- 
lez’s ultra-clear style would certainly 
have been at odds with the dark-hued 
sound and poetically blurred lines of 
the Vienna Philharmonic. But the or- 
chestra’s first encounter with Boulez, 
at the 1992 Salzburg Festival, was a 
major success. 

“I didn't ask them to change their 
sound. I worked with their sound," he 
said. “It would be stupid to go against 
an orchestra's traditions and habits. 
First, I hear what they're doing. I see 
what they produce naturally, and then 
we reach an agreement between what 
they produce and how you want the 
work to be. You try to expand the pos- 
sibilities, [show them] territories they 
haven’t explored before. It was a very 
convincing encounter. I was told, ‘Oh, 
yes, you must be careful with them,’ 
but they told me later they were grate- 


ful to play with me because they 
learned something. I find that the 
highest compliment.” 

Boulez’s return to the international 
conducting scene comes after years of 
being cloistered in IRCAM, which 
had been conceived in part as a way 
of bringing the long-estranged com- 
poser back to his native France. Like 
most innovative Frenchmen, this en- 
fant terrible had a highly ambivalent 
relationship with his native public and 
tended to gravitate toward Germany, 
first conducting orchestras there in the 
late 1950’s and still retaining a resi- 
dence in Baden-Baden. Indeed, his 
relationship with the French in the 
1950’s was so bad, he admitted, that 
anything he was subjected to subse- 
quently seemed like an improvement. 
I mentioned that Philip Glass had had 
to put up with audiences throwing 
eggs. Did anything like that ever hap- 
pen to him? He stopped to think: 
“Eggs? No!” 

As Boulez rose to international 
prominence, he cut a severe profile. 
Even when he didn’t use overheated 
rhetoric, he seemed to make enemies 
without trying. He believes so strong- 
ly in independence that for a long 
time he lived without servants and 
personal assistants. If he has had ro- 
mantic attachments, he’s been ex- 
tremely discreet about them. He be- 
came breathtakingly efficient, sched- 
uling appointments for odd times, like 
9:10 a.m., to maximize the use of his 
time. He ignored jet lag. He simply 
got off an airplane, reset his watch, 
and went on. Some have compared 
him to a monk. Boulez found that idea 
amusing: “I’d never stay in a mon- 
astery more than one day. You don’t 
find great intellectuals coming out of 
monasteries.” 

ut when Boulez left New York af- 
ter his six-year tenure with the 
Philharmonic (1971-1977), he 
might as well have entered a 
monastery. Though he remained 
visible in Europe, particularly at 
Bayreuth, most of his innovations at 
the New York Philharmonic vanished 
without a trace during the Zubin 
Mehta era. Or so it seemed. By the 
time Boulez returned in 1986 for a 
guest-conducting engagement and 
concerts with his handpicked, Paris- 
based Ensemble InterContemporain, 


he was greeted like a returning hero in ‹ 


many quarters. At first he refused to 
believe that New York, and the U.S. 
in general, had become much more re- 
ceptive places for contemporary mu- 


sic. But these days Esa-Pekka Salonen 
in Los Angeles and Leonard Slatkin 
in Saint Louis program perhaps as 
many new works with their own or- 
chestras as Boulez did during his New 
York days—and without a fight. 
“When I played the Messaien piece Et 
Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum 
in 1970 or 1971, people were leaving 
the hall in a rage. They were offend- 
ed—I don't know by what,” he re- 
called. *But now audiences listen to it 
without any problem. I think it's sim- 
ply a question of time." 

Boulez doesn't miss being a revolu- 
tionary. *Some of the things I wrote 
twenty and twenty-five years ago con- 
tain ideas that are still shaking up the 
times and still aren't quite accepted. 
But there's a promise of their being 
accepted." 

e still has a vision of turning the 
symphony orchestra into a sort of 
collective that would divide itself 
into different, smaller groups to 
play everything from early to 
modern music. But could he be 
tempted to transform any orchestra in 
that way? “Not any more," he said. “It 
would take too much of my time." 

He would rather re-establish rela- 
tionships with old friends such as the 
Cleveland Orchestra, and he has be- 
gun regular visits to the Los Angeles 
Philharmonic and Chicago Sympho- 
ny, with some occasional stopoffs in 
Boston. The excesses of his younger 
years seem forgotten, and it's not dif- 
ficult to see why. In a decade that has 
seen the deaths of Leonard Bernstein 
and Herbert von Karajan as well as 
the failure of numerous younger con- 
ductors to fulfill their early promise, 
Boulez's stature has grown. He 
doesn't buy the old Toscaninian party 
line about following the letter of the 
score, and in unguarded moments ad- 
mits that he believes “distortions” of a 
musical score are what make a perfor- 
mance interesting. And his profound- 
ly analytical mind allows him to make 
the most complex modern music com- 
prehensible to the orchestra and audi- 
ence alike. 

“When you rehearse, you take simi- 
lar places in a work side by side, even 
though they appear far apart,” he ex- 
plained. “You give a lesson in compo- 
sition without saying a word, and you 
learn to do that with economy. You 
also know when certain things will 
fall into place naturally, and which 
things will never fall into place.” 

Some say Boulez has a sort of mu- 
sical X-ray vision, even with music 


MAE ИПА 
Mit | Ihh И 
BARTOK: 

Cantata Profana; The Wooden 
Prince. 


Chicago Symphony. DEUTSCHE 
GRAMMOPHON 435 863. 


DEBUSSY: 

Images; Printemps; Prelude to 
the Afternoon of a Faun. 
Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE 
GRAMMOPHON 435 766. 


SCHOENBERG: 
Pelléas and Mélisande; 
Variations for Orchest 
Chicago Symphony. ERATO 


STRAVINSKY: 

The Firebird; Fireworks; Four 
Etudes. 

Chicago Symphony. DEUTSCHE 
GRAMMOPHON 


STRAVINSKY: 

The Rite of Spring; Petrushka. 
Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE 
GRAMMOPHON 435 769. 


ШШ 
ШЕ 


BERG: 

Lulu Suite for Soprano and 
Orchestra; Lyric Suite. 
Norman: New York Philharmonic. 
SONY SMK 45838. 


BOULEZ: 

Rituel; Eclat; Multiples. 
Ensemble InterContemporain. 
SONY SMK 45839. 


DEBUSSY: 

La Mer; Jeux; Prelude to the 
Afternoon of a Faun. 

New Philharmonia Orchestra. CBS 
MYK 37261. 


RAVEL: 

Orchestral Works. 

Cleveland Orchestra, New York 
Philharmonic. SONY SM3K 45842 
(three CD's). 





that has the most sensuous surfaces. 
High Fidelity magazine once pro- 
claimed him, “The Man Who Saved 
Debussy from Hollywood.” Boulez 
doesn’t dispute it: “The French are 
known for fashion and gastronomy, 
but Debussy is much more than fash- 
ion and gastronomy. It has depth, a 


kind of force and power you can’t ne- 
glect. I don’t want to prettify De- 
bussy. It’s open to that because of its 
sensuousness, because the sounds are 
pleasant. But if you’re only pleasant, 
that’s not very interesting. Ravel, too, 
was brilliant on the surface, but 
there’s a terrible depth of loneliness in 
his music, and if you don’t bring it 
out, you miss a very important part.” 

Composition doesn’t appear to 
come easy to Boulez, even though 
he’s been free of the directorship of 
IRCAM since 1991. After canceling 
the première of his “. . . explosante/ 
fixe ...” several times, he finished it 
only weeks before its Carnegie Hall 
performance last fall, and perhaps 
only because he had knee surgery and 
was confined to his desk. Jessye Nor- 
man has been waiting nearly a decade 
for a song cycle from him. Daniel 
Barenboim is waiting for him to fin- 
ish another projected eight move- 
ments of Notations. He also has an 
opera commission that he doesn't talk 
about much. In fact, when reminded 
of his deadlines, he momentarily loses 
his composure, rolls his eyes, and 
sighs. 

ne reason he has such a hard time 

getting around to new works is 

because he's often preoccupied 

with revising his old works. His 

masterpiece, Pli Selon Pli, was 

recently refinished—again—and 
he'll unveil the latest version in 1995. 
Most of the time, the revisions are a 
result of his greater knowledge of or- 
chestration since the original compo- 
sition, not new thoughts about the ac- 
tual substance of the piece. In fact, 
Boulez appears to have a great deal 
invested in the idea that he is still pur- 
suing the same goals he has had from 
a very early age, albeit with a more 
diplomatic manner and a far more re- 
fined technique. He also claims that 
his interpretations of other com- 
posers' works haven't changed funda- 
mentally, though he admits he's not 
the best person to judge this since he 
never compares his earlier and later 
recordings. 

“This is horrible, but I am not al- 
ways able to recognize my own re- 
cordings when I hear them on the ra- 
dio—though I know very well when 
it’s not my recording," he laughed. “I 
don't want to be influenced by my 
older recordings. I don't want to be 
disturbed by the fact that I'm older. 
Or think that I must be different from 
before. You must be natural with 
yourself. Every morning." o 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 79 


RDL 


ACOUSTICS 
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DESIGNED 
LOUDSPEAKERS 


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“Both of these systems [the RDL F-1 and FS-1 speakers] are truly excellent, with a smoothness of 
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“One of [RDLs] principals, Edgar Villchur . . . was responsible for such seminal developments as 
the acoustic-suspension loudspeaker and the dome tweeter . . . Roy Allison was responsible for the 
design of a number of now legendary speakers, including the AR-3a and the AR-LST.” 


from THE BAS SPEAKER 
THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOSTON AUDIO SOCIETY (David R. Moran) 


“All [RDL speakers] use Allison's unsurpassed, strangely unimitated convex tweeter . . . its ultrawide 
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fromthe LosAngelesReader (Laurence Vittes) 


“RDL Acoustics’ new line of speakers can bring an orchestra into your living room . . . [The FS-1’s 
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fromthe Chicago Tribune (Rich Warren) 


“Roy Allison . . . designed each speaker model for a specific placement . . . We placed the F-1 three 
inches from the back wall and played music with plenty of bass. It played naturally without boom 
or exaggerated bass. It sounded clear, crisp and tonally well balanced . . . In contrast, the FS-1 [is] 
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“Most companies cheaply finish speakers in the F1/FS1 $549 per pair price range. RDL 
extravagantly finishes the speakers in a rich lacquered real cherry veneer.” 


The RDL F-1 speaker, one of five 
models priced from $198 to $549 a pair. 





Exclusive Designs by Roy Allison 


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gs. 

NHT showed its first speaker to of- 
fer a switchable radiation pattern, one 
for home theater and one for music. 
Dubbed the VT-1a, it's expected to 
sell for about $750. In addition to its 
System 350, a compact A/V speaker 
combo that’s awaiting THX certifica- 
tion, Atlantic Technology unveiled the 
Model 253 C ($269), a center-channel 
speaker featuring two “timbre adjust- 
ment” controls, one for matching it to 
front speakers, the other for TV-top 
tonal compensation. Infinity intro- 
duced the $10,000 Epsilon, a stately 
59-inch-tall reference monitor featur- 
ing a monopole planar design and 
rosewood cabinetry. Definitive Tech- 
nology showed its first sub/sat system, 
the $1,049 BP 2001, which teams two 
ВРІ bipolar satellites with the new 
185-watt PowerField 15 subwoofer. 


Ж ‘al ж 
ТОР NEW 
PRODUCTS 
FROM THE 
1994 WINTER 
‘CONSUMER 


ELECTRONICS 


SHOW > 


Шла plans to sell a 3DO multi- 
player this fall that will let people in 
different locations play games with 
each other while talking on the phone. 


‘Goldstar announced that it expects 


to have a $399 CD-I player on store 
shelves in June. Prototype Video CD 
players were shown by Technics, 
Samsung, and Goldstar. 

In car stereo, McIntosh plunged 
into the market with a full line, in- 
cluding three fan-cooled amplifiers 
that employ the company’s Power- 
Guard anticlipping circuitry. Blau- 
punkt Velocity amplifiers impressed 
showgoers with their user-adjustable 
noise-muting circuits. 

Now, turn the page and check out 
some stars of the Las Vegas show. 

—Bob Ankosko 








SHOWSTOPPERS 


Okay, at $30,000 Snell's 
THX-approved Music and 
Cinema Reference system is 
certainly not cheap—but it is 
state-of-the-art. It includes two 
5-foot-tall Reference Towers 
with nine-driver arrays, the 
23-inch-wide Reference 2800 
LCR center-channel speaker, two 
7-foot-tall SUR 2800 dipolar 
surround speakers, and a pair 
of 45-inch-tall SUB 1800 
subwoofers, each of which uses 
a custom-designed 18-inch 
driver to achieve earth-shaking 
response down to 17 Hz. All 
cabinetry is wood veneer. 





A milestone in power-amplifier 
technology, Carver’s Lightstar 
Reference amplifier ($3,000) is 
designed to eliminate the 
problems associated with 
driving reactive speaker loads. 
Instead of fighting the electrical 
peculiarities presented by 
speakers, it recycles reactive 
energy to keep its output strong 
and clean. Rated to deliver 300 
watts per channel into 8 ohms, it 
will be available in May. 


82 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





Pioneer's PD-F100 100-disc 

CD changer ($715) is the least 
expensive jumbo changer you 
can buy. Its four-drawer 
front-loading design is 
extremely practical, and it's not 
a space hog (dimensions are 
16% x 7 x 13% inches). Each 
drawer holds up to twenty-five 
CD's, and discs can be grouped 
into three categories, such as 
jazz, classical, and rock. 








Arguably the most technically 
advanced autosound system on 
the planet, Pioneer's Optical 
Digital Reference system 
($2,400 and up) offers a choice 
of fifteen components, 
including a pair of integrated 
amplifiers featuring fiber-optic 
inputs and a DSP section 

that performs parametric EQ, 
crossover, and time-alignment 
functions. The system can be 
controlled by an in-dash 

CD or cassette controller/tuner 
(CD version shown with 
supplied remote control). 



































Looking more like an 
intergalactic blender than a car 
subwoofer, Phoenix Gold’s 

MDU 10 Cyclone ($750) seeks to 
overcome the performance 
limitations of conventional cone 
subwoofers by using a DC 

motor and a “rotary radiator” to 
move air. Due to hit stores in 
June, the Cyclone is rated to 
play down to 20 Hz and to handle 
600 watts of continuous power. 


Promising 150 channels with 
excellent sound and picture 
quality, the nation’s first digital 
direct-broadcast satellite system 
should be operational in some 
parts of the country in a few 
weeks. To tune in, you'll need 
RCA's DSS package ($699)—an 
18-inch satellite dish, a 
decoder/receiver, and a universal 
remote control. Users can sign 
up for programming packages 
from Direct TV and USSB. 





In order to reproduce the bass 
that sometimes shows up in the 
surround channel of movie 
soundtracks—something many 
surround speakers are designed 
not to do—Energy's RVSS 
speaker ($550 a pair) functions 
as a dipole radiator only above 
500 Hz. Below that point, its 
front and back drivers operate in 
phase to preserve bass output. 
The 10-inch-tall speaker is 
finished in black ash. 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 83 


Aside from being fairly compact 
and lightweight (32 pounds), 
Sharp’s fourth-generation XV- 
$80U LCD video projector 
($11,500) reaches new heights in 
LCD picture quality. Designed to 
be placed on a table or mounted 
on the ceiling, it can deliver 560 
lines of horizontal resolution, has 
a built-in line doubler and 
speaker (for portable use), and is 
able to project images measuring 
from 25 to 200 inches diagonally. 
A wireless remote is included. 





Proceed's elegant PAV 
preamplifier ($4,195) features a 
refreshingly intuitive control 
* panel, THX-enhanced Dolby Pro 
Logic processing, a Stereo 
Surround mode for music, six 
audio and four A/V inputs, a 
learning remote control, and 
three outputs, one of which can 5552—09) 
feed a secondary zone. 





Audio Alchemy's DAC-in- 

the-Box ($200) is an 

inexpensive outboard digital-to- 

DAC-in-the-Box analog converter featuring d 
18-bit resolution and 95 dB of 

dynamic range. It can replace 

the D/A circuits of any CD player, 

laserdisc player, or other 

digital source component that x 


has a digital output. 





Perhaps the ultimate 
embodiment of the MiniDisc 
format's portability, Sony's MDX- 
400 car MD changer ($1,300) is a 
standard-size in-dash component 
that accepts a four-disc cartridge. 
The loading slot is cleverly 
concealed behind the detachable 
faceplate. Features include an 
easy-to-read twelve-character 
display of disc and song titles, a 
hideaway AM/FM tuner (not 
shown), and a joystick-like 
remote control. ACE qe 


84 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 * 








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PHOTO: MARISSA ROTH/LGI PHOTO 


OF 
THE 


Bonnie Raitt: Digging Up the Truth 


nybody expecting a reprise of 

“Nick of Time” or “Luck of the 

Draw” from Bonnie Raitt will be 

surprised by “Longing in Their 

Hearts,” which finds her in an 

overall more reflective mood. The 
new album’s opener, Tom Snow and Jim- 
my Scott’s Love Sneakin’ Up on You, 
works the snaky R&B groove that Raitt 
has mined so successfully her entire ca- 
reer, and so does her own Feeling of 
Falling, which mixes a scene of sex on 
the hood of a car with the more serious 
subject of substance abuse. But most of 
the record addresses romantic and psy- 
chological yearning in carefully crafted 
ballads set to the tempo of tears. 

From Richard Thompson’s sad, gor- 
geous Dimming of the Day to her own 
Circle Dance, which seems at once a bit- 
tersweet love song to her father and a 
one-sided analysis of an often rocky ro- 
mantic relationship, Raitt aims at uncov- 
ering long-buried emotional truths here. 
This album may be closer to the bone 
than her last two, then, and it is largely 
more interesting lyrically than musically 
despite producer Don Was’s frequent use 
of such ear-catching instruments as mu- 
tant oud and Celtic bass drum, and de- 
spite guest appearances by Levon Helm, 
David Crosby, Richard Thompson, Ben- 
mont Tench, and harmonica legend Char- 
lie Musselwhite. 

In most of the songs, Raitt seems less 
pop star than spiritual searcher. In that 
context, her burning slide guitar func- 
tions as more than exquisite instrumental 
texture—it’s practically a metaphor for 
the sound of a heart cracking open, possi- 
bly beyond repair. “Longing in Their 
Hearts” may not pack the big pop mega- 
hits of “Nick of Time” and “Luck of the 
Draw,” but it sounds as if Raitt’s punch- 
ing a more important clock these days. 

Alanna Nash 


BONNIE RAITT 

Longing in Their Hearts 

Love Sneakin’ Up on You; Longing in Their 
Hearts; You; Cool, Clear Water; Circle Dance; 
I Sho Do; Dimming of the Day; Feeling of 
Falling; Steal Your Heart Away; Storm 
Warning; Hell to Pay; Shadow of Doubt 
CAPITOL 81427 (55 min) 








Frederic Chiu s 
Refreshing 
Mendelssohn 


ome new recordings are especial- 
ly welcome for getting us interested 
in music we hadn’t known well (or 
at all), and some for reviving our 
interest in works we have perhaps 
known all too well. Frederic Chiu 
does a bit of both on his enticing new 
Harmonia Mundi CD of Mendelssohn’s 








STEREO REVIEW’S 
CRITICS CHOOSE 
THE OUTSTANDING 
CURRENT RELEASES 


piano works, making the strongest of 
cases for the three seldom-heard sonatas 
and a remarkably refreshing one for the 
familiar Rondo Capriccioso in E Major. 
All of these are early works, even 
though the Second and Third Sonatas are 
labeled Opp. 105 and 106. Mendelssohn 
composed the Third Sonata, actually the 
latest of the four pieces here, at the age 
of eighteen, by which time he already 
had the masterly String Octet and the 
Midsummer Night's Dream overture be- 
hind him. He did not himself assign Op. 
106 to his Third Sonata—the same num- 
ber Beethoven gave his so-called “Ham- 
merklavier” Sonata—but he did write the 
work in the same key (B-flat Major) and 
opened it with a clear enough reference 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 87 


OF 
THE 


to the famous opening of the Beethoven 
work. Whether a conscious memorial 
gesture or not (it was composed in the 
year of Beethoven’s death), it also con- 
tains some less obvious echoes of other 
Beethoven works. There are similar cita- 
tions and echoes in the Sonata in E Ma- 
jor, Ор. 6, composed the previous year. 
The Sonata in G Minor, Op. 105, the 
work of a brilliant twelve-year-old, lacks 
references to: Beethoven but is quite at 
home with the later pieces on this disc. 

Mendelssohn's biographer Philip Rad- 
cliffe felt that the Rondo Capriccioso, 
composed in 1824 at the age of fifteen, 
was his *most individual work" up to 
that time. It has been, along with some of 
the Songs Without Words, among the 
most favored of his solo pieces—and no 
wonder, for it has that deliciously "elfin" 
quality that was to inform so many of the 
greatest works of his maturity. 

I cannot imagine more effective advo- 
cacy for any of these works. Chiu makes 
his enthusiasm for them clear in his notes 
for the CD, and it is brilliantly evident in 
his absolutely wonderful playing, which, 
like the music itself, is instinctively ele- 
gant, charged with exhilarating vitality 
and at the same time unfailingly tasteful. 
This is the way to play this music, and 
the warm-textured realism achieved by 
the engineering team is surely the way to 


record a piano. Richard Freed 
MENDELSSOHN: 

Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-3; Rondo 
Capriccioso 

Frederic Chiu 


HARMONIA MUNDI 907117 (67 min) 





The 
pianist 

Frederic 
Chiu 





Redd Kross: Air 
Guitar Music That's 
Not for Airheads 


emember the early Seventies? 
When the New York Dolls, Sparks, 
Mott the Hoople, and a few others 
proved that rock-with-brains and 
entertainment weren’t mutually ex- 
clusive concepts? Well, here in the 
Nineties Redd Kross is the standard- 
bearer for that heady (if lately unfash- 
ionable) buzz. Led by Pat and Jeffrey 
McDonald (brothers who have been 
recording under various guises since 
1980 and are still only in their mid-twen- 
ties), Redd Kross is bratty Beatles, Led 
Zeppelin with a marshmallow-creme 
center, a group of power-poppers with a 
metal plate in their heads. Their new al- 
bum, “Phaseshifter,” is pure ambrosia— 
the guitars crunch, the tunes kick, and 
you find yourself wanting to hum and 
mosh at the same time. 
Guitarist Jeffrey McDonald uncannily 
evokes early John Lennon when he opens 
his mouth to sing, especially on the exhil- 








arating Lady in the Front Row, a raver 
about a starstruck fan that wouldn’t have 
been out of place on “Beatles '65." And 
“Phaseshifter” is composed of many such 
moments: Dumb Angel, a steady-rolling 
tune that bops along to a Zombies-style 
electric piano; Huge Wonder, with its su- 
perb musique-concrete intro and simmer- 
ing riffs; Visionary, a power-tooled slab 
of neo-psychedelia that could have come 
from a late-Sixties biker-flick soundtrack. 
These guys have learned their lessons 
well and applied them with the kind of 
wit and diligence that puts most of their 
contemporaries to shame. Above all, 
they’re aware of the rock continuum and 
their place in it. Maybe they’re just too 
clever for the charts in the Beavis and 
Butt-Head era, but in my opinion “Phase- 
shifter” is the smartest blast of affection- 
ately derivative pop whimsicality since 
XTC masqueraded as the Dukes of 

Stratosphear. And it rocks like crazy. 
Parke Puterbaugh 


REDD KROSS 

Phaseshifter 

Jimmy's Fantasy; Lady in the Front Row; 
Monolith; Crazy World; Dumb Angel; Huge 
Wonder; Visionary; Pay for Love; Lady Evans; 
Only a Girl; Saragon; After School Special 
THIS WAY UP/MERCURY 

314 518 167 (44 min) 


| 
| 
| 


MARCO САЅЕШ FERRARA MUSICA/DG- 





OF 
THE 


A Classic 
Mahler Fifth 


verall, the most satisfying perfor- 

mance of the Mahler Fifth Sym- 

phony yet to come my way is 

Claudio Abbado’s new one with 

the Berlin Philharmonic. He does a 

near-miraculous job of integrating 
every aspect of this huge work: the dra- 
matic, the lyrical, the coloristic, and, 
above all, the polyphonic that dominates 
the complex outer movements. 

The opening trumpet summons us to 
the funeral march in awesomely imperi- 
ous fashion, and thereby sets the tone for 
all that follows. The drama in the music 
is given the fullest possible expression 
short of a lapse into hysteria. Abbado’s 
command of internal detail is breathtak- 
ing, yet details are not allowed to obscure 
the musical texture as a whole. His ap- 
proach is more Classical than Late-Ro- 
mantic, yet it never seems excessively 
analytical. 

Nowhere is Abbado’s conception of 


Conductor Claudio Abbado 





NOW ON CD 


TW. 


POPULAR 


*THE BLUES WORLD OF LITTLE 
WALTER. DELMARK 648. Fifties 
recordings by the blues harp master (pre-dating 
his Chess hits and featuring Muddy Waters on 
guitar), collected together for the first time. 


*THE KINGBEES: 1&2. 
SCHOOLKIDS 1505. Pioneering neo- 
rockabilly albums from a seminal L.A. band, 
originally released on RSO in 1980 and 1981. 


*MODERN JAZZ QUARTET: Blues 
at Carnegie Hall. MOBILE FIDELITY 596. 
Audiophile gold-disc pressing of the MJQ's 
legendary 1966 Carnegie Hall concert, 
engineered by the legendary Tom Dowd. 


*THE NEW LOST CITY RAMBLERS: 
Volume Il, 1963-1973, Out Standing 
in Their Field. 

SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS 40040. Twenty- 
seven tracks by the premier traditionalist 
bluegrass act of the Sixties folk movement. 


CLASSICAL 


*GOULD: Fall River Legend, Suite; 
Interplay; Latin-American 
Symphonette; Declaration Suite. 

RCA 61651. Morton Gould and his Orchestra 


the work more apparent than in his han- 
dling of the famous adagietto, the next to 
last movement. In recent years its basic 
tempo has been a subject for controversy, 
with Bruno Walter's recordings at the 
fast end of the spectrum, Leonard Bern- 
stein's at the slow end. Abbado takes a 
middle course, and it works beautifully, 
especially given the warmth of the Berlin 
Philharmonic strings. I've never heard 
the opening bars emerge so impercepti- 
bly from the very brief pause following 
the fantastical and kaleidescopically var- 
ied 17-minute scherzo that is the sym- 
phony's centerpiece. 





in the suite from his ballet Fall River Legend 
and two other works recorded in 1960, and. 
Howard Mitchell with the National Symphony 
in a 1957 recording of excerpts from 

Gould's “symphonic narrative" of America's 
Declaration of Independence. 


*ROSTROPOVICH LIVE. 
Rostropovich, Rozhdestvensky. 

RUSSIAN DISC 11 104. Concert recordings 
in the Great Hall of the Moscow 
Conservatory in 1964 of the great cellist 

in his prime playing the Elgar concerto and 
works by Milhaud and Respighi. Gennadi 
Rozhdestvensky conducts. 


*SPANISH ORCHESTRAL + 
FAVORITES. Arbós. VAI AUDIO 1046. | ы 
Enrique Fernández Arbós, conductor of 2 
the Madrid Symphony from 1904 until the 
Civil War in 1936, is heard with his orchestra 
in these authoritative 1920’s recordings of 
pieces by Falla, Granados, Turina, 

Albéniz, and others. 


“WAGNER: Die Walküre, Act Ill. 
Varnay, Rysanek, S. Bjérling; Karajan. 

EMI 64704. Astrid Varnay (Brunnhilde) and 
Leonie Rysanek (Sieglinde) are joined by 
Sigurd Bjórling as Wotan in this stirring 1951 
Bayreuth performance conducted by 

a newcomer named Herbert von Karajan. 


As live recordings go, this one stands 
up to the competition in fine style and 
certainly conveys the excitement of the 
occasion. While I am less than partial to 
the inclusion of applause in such record- 
ings, I was carried along with the Berlin 
audience after the heady exhilaration of 
the symphony’s final pages. Indeed, I am 
still applauding. David Hall 


MAHLER: 

Symphony No. 5 

Berlin Philharmonic, Abbado 
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 
437 789 (69 min) 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 89 


LAR M 





PAT ALGER 
Seeds 


SUGAR HILL 1041 (44 min) 
Performance: For your quiet moments 
Recording: 

inger/songwriter Pat Alger is best 

known for writing a passel of hits for 
Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea, and Trisha 
Yearwood, all of whom join him for back- 
ground harmonies on “Seeds,” his second 
solo album of the Nineties. As he reprises 
several of the songs others made famous, 
Alger bears more stylistic comparisons to 
the low-key Don Williams, for whom he’s 
also written, than the bombastic Brooks, 
framing his songs in mostly acoustic, cof- 
feehouse arrangements with little razzle- 
dazzle in either the backing instruments or 
voices. Much of Alger’s work features a 
soft-sell spiritual context, posing questions 
about why we’re here and offering philo- 
sophical advice on how to better navigate 
life’s storms. At the least, the more familiar 
material demonstrates how a songwriter 
hears a tune before another performer takes 
it to a larger audience, puffing it up or par- 
ing it down along the way. A.N. 


JEFF BUCKLEY 
Live at Sin-é 
COLUMBIA 77296 (27 min) 
Performance: Astonishing 
Recording: Good 
Н: a prime example of someone 
who’s singing solely because the spirit 
moves him. This is not the kind of music 
that makes bank accounts fatter; it’s an 
artistry that’s indulged (occasionally) by re- 
cord companies and devoured by a faithful 
few who have fallen under its spell. So it 
was with the late Tim Buckley; so it will be 
with Jeff Buckley (his son). Jeff’s main in- 
strument is his voice, which swoops, soars, 
pounces cat-like, feints, and dodges, ex- 
tending syllables into a wordless wilderness 
of pure expression. He seems a little earthi- 
er than his father, with a touch more blues 


90 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





to complement his extemporaneous jazz- 
folk wanderings. Imagine a cross between 
dad and Robert Plant—it’s not as improba- 
ble as it sounds. Buckley accompanies him- 
self on minimalist electric guitar, punctuat- 
ing his soliloquies with jagged chords and 
flinty rhythms as he scats himself into 
trances. Two songs on this debut EP are 
originals (Mojo Pin and Eternal Life), and 
two are covers, including a 10-minute take- 
off on Van Morrison’s The Way Young 
Lovers Do. Buckley demonstrates consider- 
able conviction and bristling originality in 
this captivatingly raw live set. A full-length 
album is forthcoming. Stay tuned. PP. 


SHAWN CAMP 
REPRISE 45450 (33 min) 
Performance: Hit bound 
Recording: Very good 

ewcomer Shawn Camp doesn’t have 
the requisite country music name— 
“Shawn” doesn’t exactly sound down-home, 
and “Camp” raises folky expectations—but 


TOMMY IN 7 MINUTES! 


eports of the death of analog vinyl 

continue to be greatly exaggerat- 
ed. Case in point: the just-released 
old-fashioned vinyl 45 “Tommy in Sev- 
en Minutes." Talk about truth in adver- 
tising—here twelve underground New 
York City bands reduce Pete Town- 
shend's ubiquitous rock opera to its 
breathless essentials (sorry, no Pin- 
ball Wizard), and a more glorious rack- 
et we've rarely heard. Pick hits: Iron 
Prostate's pummeling of /'m Free, the 
Lunachicks' rewrite of Acid Queen as 
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Queen. Hilar- 
ious and brilliant. [$4 postpaid, from 
Vital Music Records, P.O. Box 20247, 
New York, NY 10028-0052.] S.S. 


Т VITAL MUSIC RECORDS presents 











NEW RECORDINGS REVIEWED 
BY CHRIS ALBERTSON, 

FRANCIS DAVIS, PHYL GARLAND, 
RON GIVENS, ROY HEMMING, 
ALANNA NASH, 

PARKE PUTERBAUGH, AND 
STEVE SIMELS 





that’s about the only thing out of sync here. 
For starters, the Arkansas native paid his 
dues playing guitar in the touring bands of 
Alan Jackson and Trisha Yearwood. And he 
looks like a first cousin to John Anderson 
with a similar way of wrapping an ornery 
baritone around his Southern words and a 
pleasingly twisted sense of humor. But 
Camp’s repertoire reaches farther than An- 
derson’s—he veers from country-rock to 
honky-tonk to bluegrass to boogie—and he 
co-writes the bulk of his material. At times, 
he integrates a kind of Sixties pop tuneful- 
ness into his songs of romantic tension 
(Confessin’ My Love) and laments of ago- 
nized love (Bound to Cry). But he never 
sacrifices his honest hillbilly sound. 

Even though his style harks back to other 
tried-and-true performers (the infectious A 
Little Bit of Love sports a Buck Owens cho- 
tus), Camp displays a true gift for inven- 
tiveness, both melodically and instrumen- 
tally, in his guitar, fiddle, and dobro 
touches. And he had the good taste to hire 
James Burton on electric guitar and to stack 
his backing choir with Shelby Lynne, Ali- 
son Krauss, and Jim Lauderdale. This debut 
is so sparkling that it’s impossible to listen 
to it and not break into a spontaneous grin. 
Bottom line: Make room for a star. AN. 


CROWDED HOUSE 
Together Alone 
CAPITOL 27048 (52 min) 
Performance: Strong 
Recording: Superb 
E the beginning, Crowded House seemed 
a light, melodious group of Aussie pop- 
pranksters who’d descended on Los Ange- 
les to have a little fun. That perception 
earned them a following with their first al- 
bum (and the hit Don’t Dream It's Over), 
but they've since proven considerably more 
serious-minded, with each successive al- 
bum plumbing the darker side of romance 
and things that go bump in the night. In the 
world of singer, guitarist, and chief song- 


writer Neil Finn, love is an existential 
wilderness whose daunting vastness con- 
jures astronomical metaphors in songs like 
Distant Sun, Private Universe, and Nails in 
My Feet, with the line, “I look into space / 
There is no connection / A million points of 
light and a conversation I can’t face”). But 
strange and wonderful things can still hap- 
pen in this imperfect world, and Nails in 
My Feet moves from wariness to surrender 
to rhapsody as the singer opens the doors of 
his heart to another. 

Musically, the album is wonderfully rich 
and full, incorporating a troupe of log 
drummers, a Maori choir, and a brass band 
into the lush, bracing popscape. For the 
sheer exhilaration of hearing a well-crafted 
tune, it’s hard to beat Pineapple Head, with 
its gorgeous, clarion twelve-string hook; 
Kare Kare, a beguilingly mystical song 
with Byrds-like harmonies; and Walking On 
the Spot, whose sweetly haunting melan- 
choly recalls R.E.M.’s “Automatic for the 
People.” There’s a case to be made for ge- 
netics, based on the overall excellence and 
similarity between this latest Crowded 
House disc and “Before & After,” the re- 
cent album by Tim Finn (Neil’s brother). 
Both albums are, to my thinking, well-nigh 
indispensable. РР; 


LEMONHEADS 
Come On Feel the Lemonheads 
ATLANTIC 82537 (54 min) 
Performance: Pop with feeling 
Recording: Appropriately low-fi 

van Dando, guitarist, singer, and song- 

writer for Boston’s Lemonheads, under- 
stands the basic premise of power-pop, the 
way it combines the dynamics of rock with 
pop’s melodious and often playful transmu- 
tation of feelings-into-music. It’s an unbeat- 
able combination when it works, and in the 
hands of Dando and the Lemonheads, it 
works superbly. 

Dando tips his hand about what makes it 
all tick in Dawn Can't Decide, an off-the- 
cuff set of lyrics about a none-too-special 
day-in-the-life: “Feels good to be Jesse on 
the inside today / 'cause a G minor morning 
was a D minor dawning and you strike the 
right chord in me." If you have to ask, 
“huh?” you're missing the point. It's all 
about feeling—pure, unretouched, and cast 
into music with a casual alchemy. Dando's 
guitar playing—filled with pretty chords 
and folkish strumming—and conversational 
midrange voice evoke wistful Eighties Brit 
acts like early Aztec Camera and Haircut 
One Hundred, and late-Sixties obscurity 
Orpheus. 

“Come On Feel the Lemonheads” dwells 
in the realm of feeling. There's The Great 
Big No (rejection), /nto Your Arms (escape 
from loneliness), Style (rage and inner con- 
flict), Rest Assured (desire), Favorite T 
(post-breakup melancholy), and the crown 
jewel in this collection, /t’s About Time. 
The words are scrambled but the feelings 
are palpable, radiant, and don't really de- 
mand elaboration. As modern society gets 
progressively more disconnected from it- 
self, such rare gems of introspection de- 
serve to be treasured all the more. PP. 





A Soul and Country Summit 


ountry music, it’s sometimes said, 

is hillbilly soul. But as conservative 
country radio programmers encourage 
cookie-cutter artists and tame, if not 
bland performances, mainstream 
country music has in recent decades 
lost much of its angst. And one won- 
ders—have Nashville’s reigning super- 
stars lost their soul? 

The elegant answer comes in 
“Rhythm, Country & Blues,” MCA’s of- 
ten astonishing pairing of country and 
R&B royalty in eleven duets of country, 
rock, and soul standards. In perfor- 
mances coaxed from them by producer 
Don Was (and one by Tony Brown), the 
country stars not only rise to the occa- 
sion but, with few exceptions, do a bet- 
ter job fleshing out the soul songs 
than the soul performers do with the 
country tunes. 

Despite the occasional flat effort 
(the Chet Atkins/Allen Toussaint col- 
laboration on Southern Nights never 
catches fire and the Natalie Cole/Reba 
McEntire rendition of Since I Fell for 
You is overly histrionic), the collection 
impresses with its overall quality and 
standout performances. Part of the 
magic lies in the matching of perform- 
ers. The raspy-voiced pair Little 
Richard and Tanya Tucker turn the Ed- 
die Cochran rave-up She’s Something 
Else into more than just nostalgia, just 
as the equally full-tilt Patti LaBelle and 
Travis Tritt pack real power into When 
Something Is Wrong with My Baby. 

Yet the most moving moments come 
from the most surprising combina- 
tions: Al Green and Lyle Lovett turn 
Willie Nelson’s Ain't It Funny How Time 
Slips Away into the dark ramblings of a 


WILLIE NELSON 
Moonlight Becomes You 
JUSTICE 1601 (47 min) 
Performance: Stardust memories? 
Recording: Okay 

S Jae like Stardust . . . Moonlight Be- 
comes You," the press release reads, 
praying hard that buyers will remember 
their affection for the 1977 album of Tin 
Pan Alley favorites that sold four million 
copies, introduced Willie Nelson to a pop 
audience, and showed the country-music 
fans they liked some of those old love 
songs after all. But instead of "Son of Star- 

dust,” this is more like “Nephew . .. .” 
“Moonlight Becomes You” is an obvi- 
ously low-budget collection of standards 
(Sentimental Journey, You Always Hurt the 
One You Love) and more contemporary 





man on the edge, and Sam Moore and 
Conway Twitty reprise all of Brook 
Benton's sophisticated eloquence on 
Rainy Night in Georgia. The album’s 
showstopper, however, is George 
Jones and B.B. King’s reworking of 
Clarence Carter’s 1970 hit Patches, a 
rural lad’s call to manhood from the 
lips of his dying father. Producer Was 
does nothing to lift the song from its 
inherent melodrama—in fact, he en- 
hances it with overblown majestic 
background voices and strings. But . 
Jones’s clenched-teeth voice of the fa- 





ther, and King’s urgent, cathartic read- 
ing of the boy’s recollections, turns 
this into a truly transcendent perfor- 
mance. More than any other song here, 
Patches cuts through the differences 
in the cultures of blacks and whites to 
find the core of shared experience. 
Soul, it seems, whether black or white, 
urban or rural, knows no true domain 
but the heart. Alanna Nash 


RHYTHM, COUNTRY & BLUES 
MCA 10965 (49 min) 


songs (You Just Can't Play a Sad Song ona 
Banjo) that do their best to please, but end 
up being less grabby than "Stardust." The 
album is a mammoth change from Nelson's 
last record, the stunning “Across the Bor- 
derline," with a return to a stripped-down 
rhythm section (lead and rhythm guitars, 
bass, drums, fiddle, and piano) and Texas- 
accented arrangements featuring guitarist 
Freddy Powers and fiddler Johnny Gimble. 
That said, it's also most enjoyable, Nelson 
sounding so laid back he might have 
recorded the whole thing prostrate on a 
mattress. If "Borderline" was gritty modern 
realism, *Moonlight" is hearts and flowers 
and nostalgia. After all these years, it seems 
Nelson is still a complete romantic. Of 
course, he'd have to be, considering the 
way these songs work out; nearly every 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 91 


love affair alluded to on the album ends in 
failure. Apparently moonlight doesn’t just 
become her—it also continues to raise hope 
in the heart of country’s staunchest rene- 
gade. A.N. 


MARK O'CONNOR 
Heroes 
WARNER BROS. 45257 (66 min) 
Performance: Smorgasbord 
Recording: Very good 
ark O'Connor, Nashville's session 
fiddler extraordinaire, has expanded 
into solo records the past few years, with 
notable results. This new album, a collec- 





tion of genre-crossing, improvisational vio- 
lin duets with his childhood heroes Charlie 
Daniels, Pinchas Zukerman, Vassar 
Clements, and Jean-Luc Ponty, is largely a 
delight. O'Connor, a wonderfully versatile 
musician, knows how to play in each of his 
idols' styles and still retain his own voice— 
no small accomplishment. As for the pro- 
gram, standouts include the twin-fiddle 
jazz-rock fusion of New Country, with 
Jean-Luc Ponty, the Texas swing standard 
Fiddlin’ Around, with Johnny Gimble, a 
goosebumpy-good House of the Rising 
Sun, with Vassar Clements, and an almost 
classical rendition of PBS's Civil War an- 





43 








э 9: a M C A 





Mark O'Connor: fiddling around 


them, Ashokan Farewell, with Pinchas Zuk- 
erman. O'Connor, who defers to his guests 
and uses their choice of backing musicians, 
is less successful pairing up with L. 
Shankar for some country-meets-Indian 
music. And his romp with jazz violinist 
Stephane Grappelli turns tedious only for 
the material (This Can't Be Love/Ain't Mis- 
behavin'). As for his duet with the ham- 
fisted guitarist Charlie Daniels—well, let's 
just say you won't have any trouble telling 
them apart. A.N. 


RAMONES 
Acid Eaters 
RADIOACTIVE/MCA 10913 (31 min) 
Performance: Bummer 
Recording: Okay 

"AS Eaters" is such a bad trip that if 

the Ramones were Merry Pranksters, 
Ken Kesey would have kicked 'em off the 
bus. The album fails to achieve psychedelic 
liftoff for a number of reasons. For starters, 
the song selection is vapid and obvious, be- 
traying what seems to be a limited knowl- 
edge of the acid/garage/psych-punk genre. 
Really, now—what are mainstream rockers 
like Have You Ever Seen the Rain and Surf 
City doing here? Where are the Thirteenth 
Floor Elevators, Sonics, and Remains cov- 
ers that would have so much better suited 
the group's pedigree? The band Ramones- 
izes everything in their punk steamroller 
style, which does little to bring out hidden 
facets in songs like Somebody to Love and 
My Back Pages. Finally, Joey Ramone 
rather slavishly mimics the phrasing of the 
originals, which renders their version of the 
Seeds’ Can't Seem to Make You Mine, for 
example, utterly redundant. The only song 
that seems tailor-made for the Ramones’ 
combustible minimalism is Love's 7 and 7 
Is. The rest is a kind of unintentional 
Cheech & Chong burlesque of the Sixties— 
without punchlines. P.P. 


‘SOUS YINYVM/LLO1 dbi 


RANCH ROMANCE 
Flip City 
SUGAR HILL 3813 (48 min) 
Performance: Art house chic 
Recording: Good 

eattle-based Ranch Romance—four 

wild-and-crazy women and their 
earnest-minded straight man—plays an in- 
ventive twist of western-swing-meets-jazz 
that earns points for effort, if not always ex- 
ecution. With songwriter/guitarist/singer Jo 
Miller (“cowgirl diva" in the press release) 
holding the reins, the group excels at instru- 
mental, structural, and style-switching sur- 
prises—languid accordion solos feeding 
into energetic bluegrass-fiddle romps—and 
at times off-kilter lyrical jaunts. Wheatfield 
Annie, for instance, which blends strains of 
jazz, rock, New Orleans, and Cajun music, 
sounds like a mini-biography of k.d. lang— 
Annie’s an outrageous eccentric who keeps 
her small town abuzz (“Get out of the 
wheatfield Annie / You been going against 
the grain”). And Yes, Yes, Yes delivers a 
caustically funny look at love and marriage. 
Some of this sounds like contrived zani- 
ness, and some of it peters out musically. 
But there’s enough spice to Ranch Ro- 
mance’s shtick that k.d. lang herself invited 
them to open for her on tour. “Flip City” 
will keep your head spinning and your toe 
tapping—on the ranch, in the trailer park, 
or in suburban condos coast-to-coast. A.N. 





TONY RICE 
Plays and Sings Bluegrass 
ROUNDER 0253 (41 min) 
Performance: Classic bluegrass 
Recording: Good 

опу Rice has long been one of bluegrass 

music’s most influential pickers, his dis- 
tinctive guitar runs, soulful flat-picking so- 
los, and progressive chording techniques 
setting him apart from his early days with 
J. D. Crowe and the New South. This al- 
bum, the first since 1977 to carry Rice’s 
name only, finds him recasting the blue- 
grass classics of the Fifties and Sixties to 
excellent effect—only Bob Dylan’s Girl 
from the North Country, with its souped-up 
tempo, suffers from a 'grassy adaptation. 
Rice's sidemen—his old friends Vassar 
Clements on fiddle and Jerry Douglas on 
dobro—are first-rate. But Rice, who deliv- 
ers his less-than-commanding vocals with 
all the verve of a 100-watt light bulb, is 
also capable of a more emotionally moving 
album of contemporary material à /a his 
1984 release “Cold on the Shoulder.” Until 
he's ready to plow that earth again, this is a 





fine way to get reacquainted with the music 
of Hylo Brown, Bill Monroe, Flatt and 
Scruggs, and the Country Gentlemen. No 
extra charge for the hot licks. A.N. 


TEENAGE FANCLUB 
Thirteen 
DGC 24533 (70 min) 
Performance: Too long 
Recording: Good 

«agahirteen" is a gilded lily of a record. The 
musical equivalent of a run-on sen- 
tence, it just goes on and on, a numbing 
movie-length CD that ought to have been 
edited down to LP size. Part of the problem 





with Teenage Fanclub is that they remain 
overly derivative—they've got Big Star 
written all over them (even the title of the 
disc is that of a Big Star song). But they 
haven't yet learned how to say their piece 
with that band's taut economy, and as musi- 
cians they're still a little wet behind the 
ears. Of course, great musicianship has nev- 
er guaranteed good music, but Teenage Fan- 
club has yet to devise an approach that is so 
totally theirs that the question of how well 
they play becomes moot. 

At best, the album is a pleasant distrac- 
tion, its even surface brokem by the occa- 
sional standout track: the George-Harrison- 





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by-way-of-Badfinger slide-guitar heartbreak 
of The Cabbage; the cushiony, ethereal 
Fear of Flying; the welcome dance instru- 
mental Get Funky, however ironically in- 
tended; and the precariously slow, Neil 
Young and Crazy Horse-style ode to the 
late Gene Clark. In addition to the thirteen 
listed tracks, there’s an acoustic set tagged 
onto the end, the highlight of which is a 
version of Phil Ochs’s Chords of Fame. As 
with everything they do, however, it shows 
terrific taste in influences but not much in 
the way of originality. On the other hand, 
better a well-meaning Big Star clone than, 
say, Stone Temple Pilots. PP. 


Collections 


RIG ROCK TRUCKSTOP 
DIESEL ONLY/FRUIT OF THE TUNE 999 


(60 min) 
Performance: For the hippest truckers 
Recording: Good enough for jukeboxes 


resh on the tire marks of last year’s “Rig 

Rock Jukebox,” this second collection 
of experimental country, country-rock, and 
country-blues-punk-jazz brings back many 
of the acts that made the first batch so irre- 
sistible, namely the World Famous Blue 
Jays, Angel Dean & the Zephyrs, Courtney 
& Western, and the Five Chinese Brothers. 
Most of these bands frequent New York 
clubs rather than Nashville or L.A. water- 
ing holes, so they have no Old Guard to 
please, no lyric or instrumental formula to 
follow, and no toes they can’t step on (wit- 
ness Will Rigby’s hilarious Ricky Skaggs 
Tonight, in which he has his evil way with 
the holier-than-thou picker/singer to Jew’s 
Harp accompaniment). 

Not everybody here is ready for prime 
time exposure—not even in the front cab of 
an eighteen-wheeler or in a roadside juke- 
box—but several of these acts could charm 
the Fruehauf logo from its rearside home: 
Angel Dean is a truck-stop angel if there 
ever was one, the Wheelers & Dealers turn 
out tongue-in-cheek cheatin’ songs to die 
for (Out of the Frying Pan [Into Desire]), 
and the World Famous Blue Jays amply 
prove why they deserve their name. If your 
taste in country runs along the lines of, 
“She smells as good as the inside of a new 
Corvette,” these twenty tracks should more 
than race your motor. AN. 


Teenage Fanclub: wet behind the ears? 





Ва-Па-Воот, 
Ba: Da-Bing! | 


|t last! 
| Although 
Bing Crosby 
ranks with 
Sinatra and 
Presley among. 
the most influ- 
ential Атегі- 
‘can male pop | 
singers of the 
past century, 
fits in baat жагын леч on 
CD—until now. MCA's four-disc "Bing 
Crosby: His Legendary Years 1931- 
1957" collects 101 tracks that provide 
a fascinating history of mainstream 4 
American pop music from the Thirties _ 
to the mid Fifties. Of course, extensive 3 
as it is, this handsomely-boxed set in- _ 
cludes only a fraction of the Crosby — 
recordings in the vaults, but it’s an ex- - 
4 
1 
А 














i Ua au qu лола 


das Gata ТҮ ao 


Connee Boswell, Judy Garland, Louis - 
Armstrong—and it offers. 

the crème de la crème. Will Fried- 
wald's perceptively analytical and un- _ 
gushy notes are supplemented by a i 
first-rate discography. Let's hope MCA 
matches this with a Volume Two—and - ) 
maybe even Three and Four. R.H. 


THE WORLD IS A WONDERFUL 
PLACE: THE SONGS OF RICHARD 
THOMPSON 
GREEN LINNET 3086 (75 min) 
Performance: Hearty 
Recording: Good 
Cc by homage-minded singers 

performing the works of a singular cult 
artist are always risky ventures. The danger 
is that the cover performers will deliver a 
note-for-note rendition, which makes the lis- 
tener wonder why they bothered. 

The songs of Richard Thompson fare 








better than most in this circumstance, in 
part because the majority of artists in- 
volved—who hail from both Britain and 
America—largely avoid that pitfall. There’s 
some deadly dull stuff here, as the singers 
select from Thompson’s entire catalog, no 
matter how old. But there are also some 
highly spirited—and spiritual—perfor- 
mances, particularly Christine Collister's 
version of How Will I Ever Be Simple 
Again, Ian Kearey and Ivor Cutler's Wheely 
Down, Victoria Williams's Reckless Kind, 
and Sally Barker's / Misunderstood. Give 
Men and Volts credit for picking Love Is 
Bad for Business, which in this case of 
well-placed idolatry shouldn't be. A.N. 


ug 


KENNY BARRON 
Other Places 
VERVE 699 (67 min) 
Performance: Robust 
Recording: Very good 
ps Keny Barron's approach to jazz 
is always a delight. There are no tin- 
kles, no well-worn clusters—just straight- 
ahead jazz that swings with imagination. 
On his latest release, “Other Places," Bar- 
ron leads a formidable sextet that has saxo- 
phonist Ralph Moore and vibist Bobby 
Hutcherson up front, with bassist Rufus 
Reid and percussionists Victor Lewis and 
Mino Cinelu laying down the foundation. 
It's a combination that works very well 
throughout. Highlights include a lovely, in- 
trospective duet with Hutcherson and a 
wonderful reading of / Should Care, for 
which Mr. Barron's sole accompanist is 
bassist Reid. A terrific album. C. 


RODNEY KENDRICK 
The Secrets of Rodney Kendrick 
VERVE 582 (60 min) 
Performance: On target 
Recording: Very good 

he notes alone are worth the price of 

Rodney Kendrick's debut album, but 
that's because they are in hilarious, badly 
translated English. Fortunately, the music is 
quite another matter. Kendrick's early key- 
board experience was mostly with pop 
groups, but four years spent studying with 
Barry Harris, a lot of gigging around in 
New York, and a stint with Abbey Lincoln 
clearly prepared him for the complexities of 
jazz. Here he leads a fine group of musi- 
cians through a program that is as varied in 
mood as it is in tempo. Trumpeters Roy 
Hargrove and Graham Haynes (drummer 
Roy's son, who actually plays the cornet) 
are unpredictable sparks that light up more 
than one track, Kenny Garrett's alto is slith- 
ery and articulate, and Houston Person's 
tenor is particularly expressive on the bal- 
lads Sharon and Down Here Below. Bassist 
Tarus Mateen is appropriately chameleonic 
in this diverse mix, and Kendrick gives a 
series of impressive performances. I don't 
know what the cryptic title alludes to, but if 
Rodney Kendrick has secrets, one of them 
is obviously talent. CA. 


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26 ON READER SERVICE CARD 





POPULAR MUSIC 


ABBEY LINCOLN 
When There Is Love 
VERVE 96972 (64 min) 
Performance: Exquisite 
Recording: Very good 
aving followed Abbey Lincoln’s career 
for about thirty-five years, I am de- 
lighted to see that she is finally getting the 
recognition that has always been due her. (I 
still think that her considerable acting talent 
is being neglected, but at least she’s record- 
ing again.) Her latest effort, following last 
year’s “Devil’s Got Your Tongue,” is a mar- 
velously intimate collaboration with pianist 
Hank Jones, a delightful 64-minute set that 
is largely devoted to love songs. As Ms. 
Lincoln notes, the choice of material delib- 





erately contrasts with some of her previous 
albums, which tended to reflect a somber 
outlook on life. 

There are not many genuine jazz singers 
on the scene today, so, with screaming 
wannabes and listless imitators captivating 
an increasingly indiscriminate audience, 
Abbey Lincoln becomes even more valu- 
able to the music. As for Hank Jones—well, 
they don’t come any better. This is a perfect 
match, and another triumph for an artist 
who deserves all her recent accolades. C.A. 


STANLEY TURRENTINE 
If 1 Could 
MUSICMASTERS JAZZ 65103 (55 min) 
Performance: Robust 
Recording: Very good 

ike so many vigorous tenors, Stanley 

Turrentine soaked his reeds in R&B be- 
fore making the jazz scene. He played with 
Ray Charles and Earl Bostic in the early 
Fifties, entered the Sixties with Max Roach, 
and enjoyed considerable success during 
the decade as he teamed up with his wife, 
organist Shirley Scott. In recent years, Tur- 
rentine has continued to demonstrate his 
solid grasp of bop and his ability to lean in 
a number of related directions. His new al- 
bum, “If I Could,” clearly proves that he 
can do just about anything the occasion 
calls for. For openers, he bops merrily 
along with Hubert Laws, Ron Carter, 
Roland Hanna, and Grady Tate. Then Don 
Sebesky and a string section place him in a 
more romantic context, where he also 
thrives. Hard-core jazz people may still 
frown on strings, but Turrentine’s work on 
I Remember Bill, Maybe September, and 
the title tune cries out for a whole album 
with a string section. CA. 


98 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





QUICK 
FIXES 


AUSTIN LOUNGE LIZARDS 

Paint Me on Velvet 

FLYING FISH 70618 (36 min) 

Here’s a band that should appeal to the 
slightly wicked in us all, whether you ap- 
preciate bluegrass, country, swing, or re- 
worked versions of Purple People Eater. 
The Austin Lounge Lizards prove their 
tongues are just as quick and flickery as 
their namesakes’. Who could resist a 
comic take on Baby Jessica, twisting the 
night away at the bottom of the well in 
Midland, Texas? Or the right-on senti- 
ments of anyone who secretly plots to Put 
the Oak Ridge Boys in the Slammer? A.N. 


JIM CENTORINO 

Ivory—A Tribute to the 

Endangered Species 

WORLD DISC CDM 30 (53 min) 
Composer/trumpeter/keyboardist Jim 
Centorino mixes animal calls and other 
sounds of nature with his music to create 
a dozen impressionistic pictures of the en- 
vironments of wolves, whales, waterfowl, 
and other endangered creatures. The dra- 
matic title track and the beautiful Song of 
the Albatross raise this above the level of 
merely pleasant light classical or New 
Age music. William Livingstone 


EURYTHMICS 

Live 1983-1989 

ARISTA 17704 (two CD’s, 100 min) 

The most annoying hit machine of the 
Eighties weighs in with a collection of 
live stuff as spontaneous, charming, and 
meaningful as this year’s Super Bowl 
half-time show. Lead singer Annie 
Lennox, as usual, sounds unattractively 
insecure in her masculinity. S.S. 


FEVER—THE BEST OF LITTLE 
WILLIE JOHN 

RHINO 71511 (57 min) 

Twenty long out-of-print tracks by the 
Fifties R&B singer who most clearly an- 
ticipated Sixties soul, including Leave My 
Kitten Alone (beloved of John Lennon) 
and the original hit version of Fever. A 
revelation. S.S. 


THE LEGENDARY 

$Y KLOPPS BLUES BAND 

Walter Ego 

GUITAR RECORDINGS 99303 (43 min) 
Venerable blues standards performed, in 
not always flattering high-tech fashion, by 
a sort-of-supergroup including former 
members of Journey and the Tubes. I 
don't want to give away the identity of 
the band's pseudononymous lead singer, 
but here's a hint: his initials are Steve 
Miller. S.S. 


BILL MORRISSEY 

Night Train 

PHILO 1154 (36 min) 

The testosterone-heavy voice of New 
England folkie Bill Morrissey is nothing 
short of compelling, even when his songs 
bland out. And the surprise of this latest 
album is that too many of the tunes do ex- 
actly that. The only songs here that stick 
are Birches, a deftly drawn portrait of a 
still-hopeful wife and a dried-up husband, 
and the very funny Letter from Heaven, in 
which Abe Lincoln finally gets to see the 
end of the play and James Dean takes re- 
medial driving lessons. AN. 


NKOTB 

Face the Music 

COLUMBIA 52969 (67 min) 

The ploy: former teen idols New Kids on 
the Block initialize their old name, much 
as a certain fried chicken chain did a few 
years earlier. The result: they still don't 
sing as well as the Colonel. S.S. 


HARRY SHEARER 

It Must Have Been Something | Said 
RHINO 71217 (78 min) 

Satirist Shearer (still perhaps best known 
for his role in This Is Spinal Tap) has been 
a Public Radio fixture since 1983, and 
this savagely funny album collects some 
of his most trenchant on-air bits. Instant 
classic: an interview with the only Ameri- 
can transsexual held hostage during th 
Gulf War. S.S. 


VOICES OF 

FORGOTTEN WORLDS 

Traditional Music of 

Indigenous People 

ELLIPSIS ARTS 3250 (two CD's, 116 min) 
This package (a book is included) is an 
excellent introduction to the music of ex- 
otic cultures. A smorgasbord of musical 
tidbits from such peoples as the Ainu of 


Japan, Australian aborigines, Tuvans and 


Tibetans of Central Asia, and Native 
Americans, it's like a tantalizing travel 
folder hinting at the pleasures of multicul- 
turalism. WL. 





WEBB WILDER AND THE 
BEATNECKS 

It Came From Nashville 

WATERMELON 1018 (51 min) 

Wilder's brand of neo-country geek rock 
was ahead of its time when this 1985 al- 
bum (here fleshed out with bonus tracks) 
was originally released, and in the age of 
Garth Brooks it still is. Pick hit: a great 
live cover of Steve Earle's anti-handgun 
parable The Devil's Right Hand. S.S. 


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J.S. BACH 
Partitas, Bwv 825-830 
CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET 














BACH: Partitas (BWV 825-830) 
Christophe Rousset (harpsichord) 
L'OISEAU-LYRE 440 217 
(two CD’s, 154 min) 
Performance: Breaks the mold 
Recording: Vivid 

trong musical personalities aren’t usual- 

ly attracted to the harpsichord, but Chris- 
tophe Rousset plays the Bach partitas with 
the sort of individuality that changes the 
way people think about music. For instance, 
the harpsichord sound favored today is in- 
creasingly creamy and focused; Rousset's 
restored French Baroque instrument is less 
well-mannered, and the effect is as bracing 
as it is beautiful. He plays with even greater 
deliberation than Gustav Leonhardt, he lin- 
gers over harmonic resolutions, and, in gen- 
eral, he takes a highly flexible approach to 
tempos—quite a refreshing change from the 
sewing-machine rhythms still common 
among early-music specialists. The orna- 
ments and other fine details of the music nev- 
er seem grafted on but emerge as integral 
parts of the whole. 

Rousset makes some of the livelier move- 
ments dance, but that consideration seems 
clearly secondary to the expression of the 
moment. His playing has the sort of clarity 
and detail that Glenn Gould’s had at his 
best, though without most of Gould’s an- 
noying idiosyncracies. Unless you have 
ironclad ideas about how this music should 
go, don’t miss this CD. D.P.S. 


BRITTEN: Sinfonia da Requiem; Four 
Sea Interludes and Passacaglia; The 
Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra 
PURCELL (arr. Britten): Chacony 
London Philharmonic, Slatkin 
RCA VICTOR 61226 (68 min) 
Performance: Mostly excellent 
Recording: Resplendent 
Slatkin comes through with a 

powerful account of the youthful and 
impassioned three-movement Sinfonia da 


100 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





ALM 


Requiem that Britten dedicated to the mem- 
ory of his parents. Many traits of the later 
Britten reveal themselves in it, but the work 
stands handsomely on its own as a musical 
achievement. Slatkin secures playing of sur- 
passing brilliance (the “Dies Irae” middle 
movement) and warmth (the “Lachrymosa” 
finale) from his London orchestra. The 
strings are richly lambent in the beautifully 
realized Purcell Chacony, and The Young 
Person’s Guide to the Orchestra—illustra- 
tive variations on a tune from Purcell’s Ab- 
delazar—is given one of the most brilliant 
and gorgeously recorded performances that 
I have heard. I particularly like the way 
Slatkin keeps the Purcell theme surging for- 
ward in the introduction rather than allow- 
ing it to bog down in pomposity. 

My one reservation has to do with Slat- 


arolyn Blackwell is known in op- 

eratic circles primarily for her 
spirited interpretations of light-sopra- 
no roles. When the Metropolitan Opera 
suddenly canceled the contract of 
Kathleen Battle in February, for exam- 
ple, Blackwell was asked to sing the ti- 
tle role in all of the performances this 
season of Donizetti’s The Daughter of 
the Regiment. 

Blackwell’s musical interests are 
not limited to opera, however, and 
RCA Victor has signed her to a long- 
term contract. Her first solo album, 
“Strange Hurt,” released in February, 
contains songs of Maury Yeston or- 
chestrated by Jonathan Tunick and 
Ricky lan Gordon’s setting of poems 
by Langston Hughes. 








NEW RECORDINGS 
REVIEWED BY 

ROBERT ACKART, 
RICHARD FREED, DAVID 
HALL, GEORGE JELLINEK, 
ERIC SALZMAN, AND 
DAVID PATRICK STEARNS 


kin’s very deliberate reading of the first two 
of the Sea Interludes and of the Passacaglia 
from Peter Grimes. His approach works, 
however, in the “Moonlight” interlude, where 
the extended pauses add an extra degree of 
poignancy, and the “Storm” episode is in- 
teresting for the way he concentrates on 
opening up the musical texture, thus avoid- 
ing the clotted effect in the low end of the 
orchestral spectrum found in many other 
recordings. The slow tempo of the Passa- 
caglia, though, deprives this remarkable 
music of some of its relentless savagery. 
Taken as a whole, however, this is a splen- 
did CD. D.H. 


DOHNANYI: Serenade for String Trio 
KODALY: Serenade for Two Violins 
and Viola 
BARTOK: Sonata for Two Pianos 
and Percussion 
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center 
DELOS 3151 (67 min) 
Performance: Excellent 
Recording: Very good 
F its debut on the Delos label, the 

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Cen- 
ter has come up with a handsomely varied 
program featuring the between-the-wars 
“Big Three” of Hungarian music. Ernst von 
Dohnanyi (1877-1960) is the senior partner, 
and his C Major Serenade (1902) has for 
many years been a deservedly popular vehi- 
cle for string trio. With a touch of Brahms 
here and a tincture of Hungarian folk music 
there, its five movements feature unerringly 
effective writing for the three instruments, 
both solo and in combination. 

The early output of Zoltan Kodaly 
(1882-1967) is highlighted by the lovely 
three-movement Serenade from 1919-1920, 
which instead of the standard violin, viola, 
and cello uses a pair of violins and a viola. 
There is no mistaking the Magyar content 
of the music, but what is most striking is 
the composer’s masterly command of col- 
oration, most notably in the violin-viola 
dialogue that dominates the central move- 
ment. The Dohnanyi serenade features vio- 
linist Joseph Silverstein, violist Paul Neu- 
bauer, and cellist Gary Hoffman, and in the 
Kodaly violinist Ani Kavafian partners Sil- 
verstein and Neubauer is again the violist. 
The performances are first-rate and beauti- 
fully recorded. 

The real “meat” of the program is Bela 
Bartok’s ingenious masterpiece from 1937, 
the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. 
Even today it makes challenging and exhil- 
arating listening—tough-minded in the 
opening movement, uncannily atmospheric 


E 


9 


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PHOTO: JACK VAN ANTWERP/SCHUMAN ASSOC. 


The Cleveland Orchestra at Т) 





The Cleveland Orchestra's current music 
director, Christoph von Dohnanyi 


he Cleveland Orchestra, founded in 
M 1918, turned seventy-five last year, 
and in celebration of that anniversary 
has brought out a set of ten compact 
discs containing performances conduct- 
ed by all of its music directors, from the 
founding one, Nikolai Sokoloff, to to- 
day's Christoph von Dohnanyi. Of the 
twenty-five performances in the set, 
spanning the years 1928-1992, only five 
come from commercial recordings; all 
the others are from concerts the orches- 
tra has given in Cleveland and on tour. 
George Szell gets the lion's share of 
the set, four discs covering his entire 


in the slow movement, and full of fun in the 
finale, with a touch of magic in the bene- 
dictory final chords of the fadeout coda. 
The intimate acoustic surround of the Delos 
recording, with every line precisely in 
place, conveys the essence of Bartok's spe- 
cial brand of polyphony. The performance 
is again first-rate, and the programming of 
the CD makes it a winner. D.H. 


FITKIN: Hook; Mesh; Stub; Cud 
Ensemble Bash; Icebreaker; 
Delta Saxophone Quartet; John Harle Band 
ARGO 440 216 (41 min) 
Performance: Exciting 
Recording: Jumps 

his is a very exciting and hip record. 

Graham Fitkin, a young (thirty-not-even- 
something) British composer, has his own 
quite engaging version of what used to be 
thought of as American minimalism: witty 
and easy on the outside, tough as steel un- 
derneath. It's all done with a catchy, insis- 
tent pop/jazz sound doled out in highly 
rhythmic blocks and layers. Fitkin is, among 
other things, a brilliant orchestrator—as is 
most obvious in the somewhat more tradi- 
tional Cud (essentially a quirky big-band 
jazz piece) but also evident in the other, 
more original and personal pieces, re- 
strained as they are in form and instrumen- 





twenty-four-year tenure (1946-1970). In 
addition to the expected Mozart, Schu- 
mann, Wagner, and Strauss, there are 
works by Ravel, Prokofiev, and Mahler 
as well as two Sibelius symphonies—the 
seldom heard No. 3, from early in Szell's 
first season, and No. 2, from his very 
last concert, given in Tokyo two months 
before his death. 

Sokoloff, a fine conductor too little re- 
membered now, presided over the first 
fifteen seasons, during which the or- 
chestra began recording (for Brunswick) 
and built its own home, Severance Hall. 
His 1928 recording of Rachmaninoff's 
Second Symphony was the first made of 
the work. His famous successor Artur 
Rodzinski, whose ten years established 
the orchestra as a major national entity, 
is represented by his first recording for 
Columbia, Rimsky-Korsakov's Schehera- 
zade from 1939, and his memorable 1941 
account of Shostakovich's First Sym- 
phony. The late Erich Leinsdorf, only 
thirty-one when he succeeded Rodzin- 
Ski, receives a lovely memorial in the 
form of his own suite of preludes and in- 
terludes from Debussy's Pelléas et Méli- 
sande, introduced in his final season 
and a collector's item on LP for years. 

Pierre Boulez served as musical ad- 
viser for the two seasons between 
Szell's death and the arrival of Lorin 


tation. Other consistent features here are the 
quality of the playing—mostly by the en- 
sembles for which the music was written— 
and of the recording. The level of excite- 
ment is remarkably sustained; the music 
jumps. E.S. 


HENZE: Symphony No. 7; 
Barcarola per Grande Orchestra 
City of Birmingham Symphony, Rattle 
EMI 54762 (60 min) 
Performance: Bone-rattling 
Recording: Exciting 
ans Werner Henze has been through 
more stylistic changes than Madonna, 
but his musical language seems to be stabi- 
lizing into something that can be vaguely 
described as neo-Hindemith—full of motor 
rhythms and metallic, brass-dominated so- 
norities, and, particularly in the Seventh 
Symphony, using the tonality-based forms 
of the past without a tonality-based lan- 
guage. In fact, much of Henze's Seventh, 
which he admits was somewhat inspired by 
Beethoven's, seems like a Classical/Roman- 
tic symphony that's been put through a trash 
compactor and come out completely flat- 
tened. Much of it gives the impression of 
being harmonically static, the first move- 
ment sounding like the Die Walkiire prelude 
with the contours smoothed out. 





Maazel. His material here includes Pro- 
kofiev's Scythian Suite, works by Stra- 
vinsky and Messiaen, and his Columbia 
recording of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloé 
Suite No. 2. Maazel conducts Jacob 
Druckman's Windows, one of only two 
American works in the set, and is heard 
also in a slightly cut Tchaikovsky Man- 
fred. Dohnanyi conducts the other Amer- 
ican work, Carl Ruggles's Sun-treader, 
as well as Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly 
Sins (with Anja Silja), Mahler's Rückert 
lieder (with José van Dam), a fragment 
of a symphony Schubert sketched in his 
last year, Beethoven's Grosse Fuge, and 
a knockout performance of Brahms's G 
Minor Piano Quartet in Schoenberg's or- 
chestral setting. 

The sound quality, given the dates 
and sources, is understandably variable, 
but there is much to treasure here, and 
the documentation includes articles about 
each of the conductors published during 
the years they led the orchestra. R.F. 


CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA 

75th Anniversary Commemorative Set 
Ten CD's, available only from the orchestra, 
for $180 plus shipping ($16 to U.S. and 
Canadian addresses, $30 to Europe). Order 
from Cleveland Orchestra, Severance Hall, 
Cleveland, OH 44106; telephone, 216-231- 
1111 or (toll-free) 1-800-686-1141. 


However unattractive that may sound, the 
Seventh contains some of the more inviting 
music Henze has written and may be his 
greatest symphony yet. The second move- 
ment makes a particularly remarkable jour- 
ney with its rarefied string effects, richly 
scored horn sextet in the middle, and many 
other lovely textures along the way. The fi- 
nal movement is downright sumptuous— 
the free use of dissonance suggests Henze 
may be picking up where Mahler's unfin- 
ished Tenth Symphony left off. The disc 
filler, the Barcarola, is more searching and 
discursive. Frankly, I don't get it. But it's so 
flamboyantly scored that ГЇЇ happily listen 
to it again and again until I do. D.PS. 


MENDELSSOHN: 

A Midsummer Night's Dream (excerpts); 
The First Walpurgis Night 
Soloists; Chorus; Chamber Orchestra of 
Europe, Harnoncourt 
TELDEC 74882 (78 min) 
Performance: Scintillating 
Recording: First-rate 

ot the least of the many virtues of this 
CD is the programming, which pairs 
two quite different treatments of fantastical 
subject matter. The usual recorded excerpts 
from the Midsummer Night's Dream music 
are the overture, scherzo, intermezzo, noc- 


STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 101 











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turne, and Wedding March. Conductor Nik- 
olaus Harnoncourt and his forces, including 
the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and the fifty 
young players of the Chamber Orchestra of 
Europe, flesh things out in this near-flawless 
live recording by adding the fairy chorus 
"You spotted snakes" and its spoken intro- 
duction, the orchestral Clowns' Dance, and 
the finale, including the lines for Oberon, Ti- 
tania, and Puck. It all adds up to a very satis- 
fying listening experience in which the spo- 
ken parts (in German) are beautifully blended 
and perfectly balanced with the music. 

As for the music itself, the famous over- 
ture, played with a truly light touch, over- 
flows with spontaneity and vigor, the inter- 
mezzo goes with mercurial swiftness and 
passion, and the scherzo is precise and ele- 
gant instead of a mere virtuoso showpiece. 
The nocturne may lack a certain languor, but 
the Wedding March, for a change, seems 
spirited rather than pompous. 

Like the Midsummer Night's Dream mu- 
sic, Mendelssohn's setting of Goethe's po- 
em The First Walpurgis Night began life in 
the composer's youth and reached its final 
form years later. There are lovely choruses, 
some nice solo passages for tenor Uwe Heil- 
mann, contralto Birgit Remmert, bass René 
Pape, and baritone Thomas Hampson, and a 
highly amusing central episode in which the 
pagan revelers frighten away their Christian 
oppressors. Soloists, chorus, and orchestra 
perform with spirit and refinement in both 
works, enhanced by airy and well-balanced 
sonics. Highly recommended! D.H. 


PART: Te Deum; Silouans Song; 
Magnificat; Berlin Mass 
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; 
Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Kaljuste 
ECM 1505 (64 min) 
Performance: Ethereal 
Recording: Atmospheric 
rvo Part writes atmospheric works that 
conjure up images of medieval church- 
es and devout pilgrims praying for the de- 
liverance of their souls—even in the Te De- 
um and Magnificat, which usually elicit a 
more joyful response from composers. Giv- 
en ECM's churchy recording acoustic, this 
CD amounts to a highly reactionary musical 
statement, a severe and determined departure 
from the hectic, urban late twentieth century. 





Consisting mainly of recently composed 
choral works, the program explores a nar- 
row palette of austere harmonies, somber 
colors, and spare, modal scales. Predictabil- 
ity sets in, and I began to wonder how much 
substance lies behind the atmospheric ef- 
fects. Particularly in the Berlin Mass, Párt's 
extremely generalized approach toward set- 
ting the texts is comparable to the medieval 
style—when music was considered only a 
vehicle for the words rather than the words 
being occasions for musical expression. All 
that is not to say this disc isn't enjoyable, 
only that its joys are rather limited. D.PS. 


ROSSINI: La Cenerentola 
Bartoli, Dara, Matteuzzi, Corbelli, others; 
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Comunale di 
Bologna, Chailly 
LONDON 436 902 (two CD's, 148 min) 
Performance: Ingratiating 
Recording: Clear, bright 

a Cenerentola (Cinderella) may lack the 

tight dramatic construction and the inci- 
sive three-dimensional characterizations of 
The Barber of Seville, Rossini's most cele- 
brated comic opera, and yet I am immediate- 
ly and inevitably enchanted by the music, 
which is full of melodic ingenuity, orchestral 
luminosity, and irresistible zest and good hu- 
mor. This London recording offers those 
qualities in abundance. 

The orchestra plays with spirit under Ric- 
cardo Chailly, and the cast is strong. Cecilia 
Bartoli's clear, limpid, easily produced, and 
finely focused voice meets every challenge 
of range and florid ornamentation that the ti- 
tle role presents. At the same time, she cre- 
ates a believable character—warm, gracious, 
winning. William Matteuzzi's Ramiro is puz- 
zling; at times meltingly smooth and with 
pure floated high tones, in other passages 
harsh with the effort of meeting the compos- 
er's demands for very long leaps to very 
high notes. On the other hand, the Dandini 
of Alessandro Corbelli is polished, fluid in 
the coloratura sections, and full of theatrical 
bounce. Don Magnifico is not an appealing 
character, but he has the three longest arias 
of the opera. Enzo Dara, however, makes 
him as attractive as possible and makes as- 
tute use of his gruff but flexible voice. The 
waspish sisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, are 
sung with verve by Fernanda Costa and 





Cedille Records' founder and producer, 
James Ginsburg (son of the Supreme 
Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), is 
well aware that "for the past twenty 
years the Labéque sisters of France 
have been synonymous with duo-piano 

. ." Undaunted, he has put his label at 
the service of a relatively unknown pair 
of sisters from Geneva (Geneva, Illinois, 
that is) named Georgia and Louise Man- 
gos. Their recording debut is also the 
first-ever recording of four of Liszt's 
transcriptions of his symphonic poems 
(see review in “Quick Fixes," page 106). 


104 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 





3TII332/N33dIVH A3UONV 


Gloria Banditelli, respectively, and Michele 
Pertusi’s Alidoro is warm-voiced and com- 
passionate. К.А. 


В. STRAUSS: Violin Concerto; Oboe 
Concerto; Duett-Concertino for Clarinet 
and Bassoon 
Belkin; Hunt; D. Ashkenazy; Walker; Berlin 
Radio Symphony, Ashkenazy 
LONDON 436 415 (76 min) 
Performance: Very good 
Recording: Pleasantly roomy 
Ro Strauss very early; Richard Strauss 

very late—the combination adds up to 
interesting and pleasing listening. The Violin 
Concerto, a product of the composer’s sev- 
enteenth year, doesn’t exhibit the full stylis- 
tic imprint of his maturity, but it is very ef- 
fectively written on a surprisingly large 
scale. There are touches of Bruch in the 
opening movement and a dash of Mendels- 
sohn in the central andante. Only in the mer- 
curial finale do we get a hint of the creator 
of Don Juan. Curiously, Strauss provided no 
cadenzas, and violinist Boris Belkin doesn’t 
either. He does, however, deliver a ringingly 
brilliant account of the solo part. Vladimir 
Ashkenazy has his Berlin players well in 
hand, and the Jesus-Christus-Kirche pro- 
vides a handsome acoustic surround. 

With the 1945 Oboe Concerto, one of the 
prizes of the aging composer’s creative Indi- 
an summer, we are on more intimate ground. 
Oboist Gordon Hunt has a rather broadish 
tone for my taste, but the performance as a 
whole is very pleasant. 

My favorite piece here is the Duett-Con- 
certino, the composer’s last instrumental 
work, in which solo clarinet and bassoon are 
accompanied by string orchestra and harp. 
Along with lyrical nostalgia there is an am- 
ple touch of subtle humor, especially in the 
dialogue episodes of the opening move- 
ment. The performers, clarinetist Dimitri 
Ashkenazy and bassoonist Kim Hunt, give 
an excellent account of themselves and of 
the delectable music. D.H. 


STRAVINSKY: The Firebird; Fireworks; 
Four Etudes for Orchestra 
Chicago Symphony, Boulez 
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 437 850 
(60 min) 
Performance: Clarifying 
Recording: Gorgeous 

S. many of Deutsche Grammophon's re- 

cordings of Russian music in the last 
several years have been as valuable for 
Richard Taruskin's authoritative annotation 
as for the performances themselves. For Pi- 
erre Boulez's remake of the complete Fire- 
bird ballet, Taruskin is once again excep- 
tionally thorough, clarifying or correcting 
various details in the work's background. 
Clarification, of course, is what Boulez him- 
self has always offered in abundance; if his 
Chicago Firebird is a tad less gutsy here 
and there than his earlier CBS/Sony re- 
cording with the New York Philharmonic, it 
is more telling in the poetic-evocative sec- 
tions, and surely more appealing overall for 
the downright gorgeous sound, which sets 
off both the voluptuousness and the clarity 
of the performance to full advantage with- 
out compromising either of those qualities. 


The brief Fireworks scherzo seems more 
like an X-ray here than a pyrotechnic dis- 
play, but the Four Etudes for Orchestra—no 
mere makeweights—are absolute knock- 
outs, individually and collectively. КЕ. 


Soloists; Chorus; Berlin Philharmonic, Solti 
LONDON 440 650 (two CD’s, 122 min) 


WwW 


many accomplishments, it is surprising that 
Georg Solti would tackle this opera again 


VERDI: Falstaff 


Performance: Very good 
Recording: Very good 
ith an outstanding 1963 Falstaff (also 
on London) ranking high among his 














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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5; 
Egmont, Overture and Incidental Music 
New York Philharmonic, Masur 

TELDEC 77313 (75 min) 

The first, third, and last movements of this 
performance of the Beethoven Fifth are sin- 
ewy and alive with all the requisite tension, 
and in the slow-movement variations Kurt 
Masur elicits unusually refined playing 
from the winds and a heartwarming glow 
from the strings. The overture and nine vo- 
cal and instrumental numbers written for 
Goethe’s Egmont, played beautifully by 
the orchestra and performed with drama 
and pathos by soprano Sylvia McNair and 
narrator Will Quadflieg, amount to a real 
bonus. Highly recommended. D.H. 


BIZET: Symphony in C Major 
HAYDN: Symphony No. 1 


PROKOFIEV: “Classical” Symphony 
(Symphony No. 1) 

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Wolff 
TELDEC 77309 (55 min) 

Hugh Wolff has the measure of all these 
works in most respects. His pacing is near- 


ideal, as is his balancing of the respective 
orchestral voices. If the readings are a little 
short in terms of charm—well, better to 
fall short on charm than make a misguided 
attempt to manufacture it. And it's always 
a joy to hear orchestral playing on this lev- 
el, especially when it is so handsomely re- 


corded. К.Е. 
LISZT: Тһе Symphonic Poems 

for Two Pianos, Volume | 

Georgia and Louise Mangos (duo-pianists) 
CEDILLE 90000 014 (67 min) 


In their debut recording the Mangos sisters 
make a good case for Liszt’s two-piano 
transcriptions of his tone poems. They have 
all the power these knuckle-busting pieces 
require (the four here include Tasso and 
Les Préludes), as well as subtlety and deli- 
cacy when needed. I look forward to Vol- 
ume II of these world-premiére recordings. 

William Livingstone 


MOZART: Serenade in D Major 
(“Posthorn”); Divertimento in D Major; 
Two Marches 

Berlin Philharmonic, Abbado 

SONY 53277 (77 min) 

Claudio Abbado’s robust live performance 
of the so-called “Posthorn” Serenade, 
flanked by similarly spirited ones of the 
marches presumably intended to introduce 


and follow it, has vivacity and charm aplen- 
ty. The same large-scale approach suits the 
Divertimento, К. 251, a little less well, tend- 
ing to override its essential chamber-music 
character, but the performance does sparkle, 
and it makes an already well-filled disc 
even more attractive. К.Е. 





MARKUS KLINKO 

French Harp Chamber Music 

EMI 54884 (71 min) 

Markus Klinko’s highly ingratiating pro- 
gram includes Ravel’s /ntroduction and Al- 
legro and other works, Debussy’s Dances 
Sacrée et Profane and Sonata for Flute, Vi- 
ola, and Harp, and pieces by Satie, Ibert, 
and Fauré. He has a beautiful tone and a 
remarkable range of articulation, but the 
other players—colleagues from the Bas- 
tille Opera Orchestra in Paris—don’t sound 
as if they’ve lived with the music terribly 
long. D.PS. 





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PHOTO: DON HUNSTEIN/SONY CLASSICAL 


after thirty years. Does he succeed in top- 
ping his earlier effort? Well, yes and no. 

In the earlier set, the conductor was not 
the best thing about the recording. Now, sur- 
rounded by his Salzburg Festival cast in a 
Berlin venue, he is. His pacing is vital but 
not excessively driven—the old Solti vehe- 
mence is gone. The overall approach is un- 
questionably modeled on Toscanini’s classic 
RCA reading. In 1963 Solti was marginally 
faster than his model; now he is marginally 
slower, and just about ideal. Every episode is 
treated to the right mood and pacing, the en- 
sembles are virtuosically controlled, and the 
divided vocal nonet (Act I, Scene 2) sparkles 
like a Mendelssohn scherzo. The orchestral 
playing is superb. 

Except for one instance of miscasting, the 
singers form an excellent ensemble. José 
van Dam may not possess the dark timbre 
and “fat” tone considered ideal for the old 
knight, but he savors Boito’s text and pro- 
jects it with clarity and gusto, observing 
many nuances that make his portrayal en- 
tertaining and endearingly human. He is 
happily paired both with Marjana Lipov- 
sek’s ripe and humorous Mistress Quickly 
and with Paolo Coni’s lively and neatly vo- 
calized Ford. The disappointment is Lu- 
ciana Serra’s Alice. Her tone is soubrettish, 
occasionally strident, and at times lacks bo- 
dy and expansiveness. The Nannetta (Eliza- 
beth Norberg-Schulz) and Meg Page (Susan 
Graham) are good, and Luca Canonici of- 
fers a stylish Fenton when his slender tone 
is not swallowed up in the ensembles. The 
Bardolph-Pistola-Cajus trio excels in the 
comedic scenes. 

This is a live recording, but applause in- 
trudes only at the beginning and end. Digital 
technology aside, I do not find the overall 
sound superior to that of the earlier set. In 
fact, a more forward placement of the voic- 
es would have been desirable. The perfor- 
mance, however, is a triumph for Solti—and 
for Van Dam as well. G.J. 


VIVALDI: Le Quattro Stagioni 
Biondi; L’Europa Galante 
OPUS 111 OPS 56-9120 (54 min) 
Performance: Italian flair 
Recording: Fresh 
Fs Biondi, a violinist and the founder/ 
leader of the ensemble L’Europa Ga- 
lante, apparently wants to get as close as 
possible to Vivaldi’s sound and spirit. It is 
not just a question of period instruments but 
also of a certain flair. He reminds us that 
Vivaldi was /talian—a priest perhaps, but 
also an opera man, a stylish figure in a styl- 
ish age, and a composer whose music was 
in demand all over fashionable Europe. 

The performances use an early manu- 
script version of The Seasons once owned 
by a Roman cardinal and now in, of all 
places, Manchester, England. There are two 
add-ons, including the strange “Conch- 
Shell” Concerto (apparently intended to im- 
itate the sound of a horn made out of a sea- 
shell) and a concerto that was dedicated to 
the Emperor Charles VI. The theatricality 
of the playing meshes perfectly with ele- 
gant musicianship; intensity and good hu- 
mor support an unerring sense of style. The 
effect is like a well-restored painting by 





Caravaggio or Tiepolo; the freshness of the 
colors, the dramatic contrasts of the compo- 
sition, the very Italian bravura, and the uni- 
versality of the appeal suddenly leap out 
across the centuries. ES. 


Collection 


HOMAGE TO COUPERIN 
Pavlina Dokovska (piano) 
ARCADIA 2000 (69 min) 
Performance: Knowing 

Recording: Good 

T: idea of packaging Ravel’s memorial 

gestures in (more or less) the style of 
Couperin, Le Tombeau de Couperin, with 
some of Couperin’s own keyboard pieces 
may not be quite without precedent, but it’s 
still an intriguing one, and the Bulgarian pi- 
anist Pavlina Dokovska shows a sympathet- 
ic feeling for both composers. Whether in- 
tentionally or not, a certain narrowness of 
dynamic range in her playing, which tends 
to make her performance of Le Tombeau 
less striking than some others, suits the 
Couperin pieces well without suggesting an 
attempt to imitate the harpsichord. Among 
the fourteen Couperin selections are several 
of the best-known individual numbers in his 
various sequences, or “orders,” of clavier 
pieces—Les Petits Moulins à Vent, Les Bar- 
ricades Misterieuses, Soeur Monique, and 
others. Only the very last one, Désordre, et 
Déroute de Toute la Troupe, seems a bit out 
of place without its companion pieces. 

There are some minor glitches in the la- 
beling, but comprehensive notes by Eric 
Salzman fill in the gaps. The sound is que 
good, too. R.F. 


CASALS & CO. 


Sony Classical is commemorating the 
legendary Spanish cellist and conduc- 
tor Pablo Casals with eleven new re- 
leases, mainly of recordings never be- 
fore available on CD. Casals is joined 
by the pianists Rudolf Serkin and Eu- 
gene Istomin, the violinist Isaac Stern, 
and other virtuosos in chamber music, 
concertos, and symphonies by Bach, 
Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schu- 
mann, and Brahms. All the CD's have 
been remastered with Sony's Super 
Bit Mapping technology. 





STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 107 








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ME DELAY 


WiFi/Stereo Review 





бги Ham. 
| to Write а. Fugue 


ea) 






[ 
Ы 
[o 


30 Years Ago 


In his editorial in the April 1964 
issue, Furman Hebb alerted 
readers to a detachable 
paperbase 33/4-rpm record of 
Glenn Gould's So You Want to 
Write a Fugue. “This is not only 
the first time a music magazine 
has included a recording in its 
pages," Hebb noted, “but one 
of the few times any magazine 
has done so.” 


New products this month 
included the Hartley 
Concertmaster multiple-driver 
speaker system, with an 18- 
inch woofer for bass response 





Hartley Concertmaster, 1964 


down to 16 cps (Hz), and the 
Н.Н. Scott 370B stereo tuner 
with “magic-eye” tuning 
indicator ($159.95). In test 
reports, Julian Hirsch 
evaluated the Sony TC-500 
portable four-track tape 
recorder (“It does as good a 


116 STEREO REVIEW APRIL 1994 


job as any recorder I have 
used”) and the EMI 319 
speaker, described as 
“basically a good reproducer.” 


Fighting words? A favorable 
December review of the 
Swingle Singers’ “Bach’s 
Greatest Hits” prompted an 
angry letter from Jim Clark 

of Anniston, Alabama. 
“Anyone who would 
intentionally jazz up Bach,” he 
wrote, “is either impossibly 
ignorant or insane!” 





| Years Ago 


Hey, it works for Madonna: In 
an interview with Joel Vance, 
folk-guitar virtuoso Leo 
Kottke remarked, “I love 
gimmicks—I think they're the 
heart and soul of music.” 


In Best of the Month, George 
Jellinek was impressed with 
Carlos Kleiber’s conducting of 
anew Deutsche Grammophon 
recording of Carl Maria von 
Weber’s Der Freischiitz (“His 
reading is nothing short of 
revelatory”), and Joel Vance 
was taken with Doug Sahm’s 
“Texas Tornado” (“a 
remarkably successful 
blending of the Tex-Mex 
sound with New York jazz 
horns”). Elsewhere in the 
review sections, Noel Coppage 
applauded John Prine’s “Sweet 
Revenge" (“His best yet— 
tough, funny, and nicely 












Thorens 
TD-160C, 1974 


paced"). Steve Simels upped 
the superlative level in 
discussing “The Wild, the 
Innocent, and the E Street 
Shuffle” by Bruce Springsteen 
(“[Не] impresses me more and 
more as the major American 
figure of the decade"). Eric 
Salzman hyperventilated over 
a Columbia disc of music by 
George Crumb (“Ah, bitter 
mystery of life!"). And Peter 
Reilly, faced with the latest by 
Tony Orlando and Dawn, 
observed, “If you're over the 
age of eight, this record will 
surely drive you nuts." 


New products this month 
included the Biggston BSD- 
200 cassette deck with Dolby 
B, the Technics SA-8000X 
four-channel receiver with an 
Acoustic Field Dimension 
control system, and the 
Norman Laboratories Triton 
speaker, said to be able to 
handle any amplifier designed 
"for reasonable home use." In 
test reports, Julian Hirsch 
examined the Thorens TD- 
160C record player (“Only a 
few expensive electronic-drive 
turntables have lower rumble”) 
and the Dynaco AF-6 stereo 
tuner kit (“Even a novice kit 
builder should have no trouble 
assembling it”). 


Next! In Audio Q&A, a reader 
asked, “Please tell me whether 
it is okay to use the chromium- 
dioxide switch on a cassette 
deck for low-noise/high- 


Doug Sahm, 1974 








output, super-dynamic, or 
extra-dynamic tapes.” The 
pithy reply: “Try it and see 
what happens.” 


10 Years Ago 


New products this month 
included the VKT550 VCR 
from RCA with (then new) 
VHS Hi-Fi, Ace Audio’s 
5000-SF electronic crossover 
for use with a subwoofer, the 
Genesis 20 two-way speaker 
with a vented particleboard 
enclosure, and “Stop Digital 
Madness” T-shirts from 
Sheffield Lab. In test reports, 
Julian Hirsch checked out the 
130-watt-per-channel Carver 
receiver (“Anyone who is not 
prejudiced against receivers as 


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чеси стон 
ate 





a class could hardly do 
better"), the Czech-made NAD 
5120 turntable (“То our 
knowledge the first hi-fi 
product from that country to 
be marketed in the U.S."), and 
the ADS L1290 speaker 
system (“This is one speaker 
that really is ‘digital ready’ "). 


Lorena Bobbitt, where are you? 
Reviewing “Muscle Motion," 
a beefcake workout video by 
Men of Chippendales, Louis 
Meredith declared, “I haven't 
had so much fun with my TV 
set since Celebrity Challenge 
of the Species starring Morris 
the Cat, Seattle Slew, and 
Richard Simmons." 

—Steve Simels 





Pur US ON THE STAND AND WE'LL TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH. 


Ask any other company what they’re 
doing about loudspeaker distortion and 
they’ll take the fifth. But we object. 

That’s why Velodyne’s 
engineered the new DF-661, 
a remarkable loudspeaker 
that reduces distortion by a 
factor of ten. 





Designed from So what’s reproduced is 
the ground up, Velodyne's 


DF-661 drivers eliminate purely music, with all the 


many of the sources 
of unwanted distortion. 


integrity and beauty the 
artists intended you to hear. 

Check out the evidence. Audition a pair 
today. Call 800-VELODYNE for the 


location of a convenient Velodyne dealer. 


Velodyne 


1070 Commercial St., Suite 101 San Jose, CA 95112 (408) 436-7270 
CIRCLE NO. 41 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


"Definitives 
Subwoofers 
Deliver 
Ultimate Bass 
Performance!” 


The extraordinary new PowerField" 1500 features 
a 250-watt amp, fully adjustable electronic crossover 
and massive 15-inch driver for only $995. 


down below 15 Hz, yet retains total 
musical accuracy. 


Perfect for Your System 

To ensure optimum performance, the 
PF 1500 has high and low level inputs 
and outputs plus adjustable high 
pass, low pass, volume and phase 
controls to allow perfect blending 
with any system and ultimate bass 
response in any room. 

Before you buy new speakers, you 
owe it to yourself to visit a Definitive 
dealer and experience the sonic supe- 
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winning loudspeakers. 


Definitive Technology” 


“A Show Stopper” 
— Stereo Review 


When Definitive set out to build 
the world’s finest sounding sub- 
woofers, our goal was to achieve 
the perfect synergy of powerful 
earth-shaking bass (for home the- 
ater) combined with a refined and 
expressive musicality. 

First we developed our propri- 
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ensures superior high power coupling 
and unexcelled transient detail. Next 
we engineered the PF 1500's beauti- 
ful rock solid monocoque cabinet 
which houses our high current 250- 
watt RMS amplifier, fully adjustable 
electronic crossover and massive 





The PowerField 1500 ($995) has been honored by winning 
Sound & Vision's highly coveted 1994 Critic's Choice Award. 


15" cast-basket driver. The result is 
unsurpassed bass which thunders 


CIRCLE NO. 15 ON READER SERVICE CARD 


11105 Valley Heights Drive * Baltimore, MD 21117 
See our dealer list on page 18 (410) 363-7148