On January 15 we took a deep dive into the initial construction phases of the Vitus Audio SIA-030 integrated amplifier ($46,200, all prices USD). In that article we looked at the transformer, the internal plate that the power-supply components are mounted on, the heatsinks and output stage, the input module, the rear plate (complete with input and output connectors), and the internal section of the faceplate. These individual modules are all tested on completion and their addition to the product follows a precise order to ensure that the final stages of manufacture can be accomplished efficiently.
It seems incredible that vinyl officially overtook the CD as the leading music-hardware format in the US for new releases in 2021. And vinyl accounted for one in four album sales in the UK, the highest proportion since 1990! Del Amitri’s fifth album, Some Other Sucker’s Parade, barely sold any copies on vinyl when it was released in June 1997; like most people, I purchased my copy on CD. The record has never been reissued on vinyl, so analog enthusiasts are now paying over $300 (all prices in USD) for a secondhand copy. This is no isolated example; a huge proportion of titles remain out of print, forcing enthusiasts to track down secondhand copies.
Jazz Is Dead Records JID015
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ***½
In 2017 Ali Shaheed Muhammad, formerly of A Tribe Called Quest, and composer/producer Adrian Younge launched a jazz concert series in Los Angeles, California. The series was titled Jazz Is Dead, and in 2020 they established a record label under the same name. Muhammad and Younge began recording music featuring jazz musicians, many of whose recordings had been sampled over the years on R&B and hip-hop tunes. In just three years, Jazz Is Dead has released 15 albums; an impressive accomplishment considering that Muhammad and Younge produce and play on all of them.
Do you remember your first system? Throughout our lives as audiophiles, there are certain key moments that define that particular sound we all chase in our heads.
In July 2022, I traveled with my family to Vicenza, Italy—home of Sonus Faber, the famous Italian loudspeaker maker. We were treated to a magnificent company tour, a delectable lunch and dinner, and great conversation with Livio Cucuzza—chief design officer for the McIntosh Group—and his staff. I recounted the highlights of that day in two articles published on SoundStage! Ultra: “Europe Tour 2022: Arriving in Vicenza and Visiting Sonus Faber” and “Europe Tour 2022: Sonus Faber Speaker Production and Design Lab.”
Audia Flight is an Italian electronics manufacturer whose products I’d seen at shows in the past but never had the chance to listen to for an extended period. So when the opportunity arose to review their flagship FLS10 integrated amplifier ($12,999, all prices in USD), I grabbed it with both hands. I’m a sucker for a high-powered integrated amplifier, and the big Audia Flight amp looked promising: lots of power, an optional phono stage ($1299), an optional DAC ($1999), and an RCA ($599) expansion board—all designed and built by hand in Italy. The fact that it ships in a crate rather than a cardboard box should be a welcome sign for the hi-fi-by-the-pound types among you.
Zappa Records / UMe ZR3848-1
Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****
In December 1971, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were appearing at London’s Rainbow Theatre when an audience member rushed onstage and pushed Zappa into the orchestra pit. Zappa suffered severe injuries, and was in a wheelchair for a year. He would not tour again until the fall of 1972, but recuperating from injuries was not something that would keep a driven, almost compulsive musician like Zappa down.
As I mentioned in my January 1 writeup here on SoundStage! Ultra, for several years I’ve been enamored with the idea of the super integrated amplifier. In that article, I listed the myriad models I’ve reviewed and mentioned that I’d soon be auditioning yet another super integrated amplifier in my Ultra Reference System. That product is the Vitus Audio SIA-030 integrated amplifier, which retails for $46,200 USD in its standard configuration (an optional DAC-streamer and/or phono stage can be added at additional cost).
I’m a late adopter of social media, having only recently conceded that it’s a must for brand building and networking. I joined LinkedIn back in August, and started posting to “the ’gram” (jeff_hifi) in November. For me, LinkedIn was the real eye-opener. One of my most striking discoveries was just how small the business side of high-end audio is. The number of people directly involved in the making, marketing, selling, and reviewing of audiophile gear is nowhere near the countless crowds involved in many other high-tech industries. Being involved in high-end audio is somewhat like living in a small town: you get to know just about everyone, at least on some level.
Audiophiles are typically divided when the subject of power conditioning comes up. On one hand, many audiophiles will tell you that power conditioning—or more accurately, the entire electrical chain associated with a stereo system, including the in-the-wall wiring and outlets—is the foundation of an audio system. The theory behind it is that if you don’t start with pristine power delivery, everything that comes after—meaning everything—will be compromised.
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