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July 24: Goodbye to Classé?dr3
     Yes, the name of this venerable audio company once has an acute accent on the "e," because its name was a pun on "class A." Dave Reich's original amplifiers were all class A solid state amplifiers, and they sounded wonderful. UHF's original book,
The UHF Guide to Ultra High Fidelity, included a chapter by Reich explaining why and how class A was superior to class AB amplifier operation.
     The amplifier shown here is a DR3-VHC (very high current), one of the last he produced before the bean counters took over his company, dropped the class A designs, took the acute accent off the "e," and — to show their grace — took Dave Reich's initials off the model names.
     The next decades were a mixed bag. We reviewed a Classe CD player and found it unacceptable, which meant we were never again supplied a product for review. We do know some of the later Classe products were very good, and some were not. But...
     Classe was purchased by B&W, the British speaker maker, which was in turn bought by an Asian investor. The rumor has it that the Classe branch was a money loser. A counter rumor says that what is left of the company is moving to Boston, and will continue customer support. Stay tuned.


Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

July 7: Inside your cable

cableschema


     All right, so what is it?
     It's a schematic representation of a loudspeaker cable. If you think it's just a neutral wire conductor (which is what we wish it could be), look again. It is in fact a complex network of resistors, inductors and capacitors. In UHF No. 98, coming out shortly, Paul Bergman will tackle the physics behind audio cables. And also behind that much ignored part of the cable, the connector.
     We don't have to tell you that cables are a highly controversial part of high end audio. Do they make a difference, or do they merely make money for companies selling them? We think you'll find this article more than a little useful.
     Coming soon.


June 29: UHF's interactive featuresbrystonpage
     We will be completing issue No. 98 of UHF Magazine shortly. At the moment, we're in the fun part, designing interactive featiures into Maggie's electronic edition. Here, for example, is one of the pages from our review of the Bryston BDA-3 DAC. The titles of the music selections we used are in blue. You probably know what that means. Those are hyperlinks.
     Here's the way it will work. Each time a piece of music is mentioned, and it is colored in blue, you can click on it (with a mouse) or touch it with your finger (on a tablet), and a window will open in your browser. And you'll hear an excerpt from the musical piece.
     That isn't all.
     There are other links in our texts as well, connecting to relevant information on the Web. The page we link to can be from our own site, or it can be from Wikipedia, or it can be from the site of a manufacturer. All of this information is a mere click away.
     You expect this sort of interactivity on a Web page, but we have never had it before in our magazine. We think this kind of value-added information will make UHF more useful and interesting than ever.
     One of the other tests, by the way, is of a series of loudspeaker cables. However the review will be accompanied by a technical article (from Paul Bergman), explaining the physics of speaker cables, and especially of loudspeaker connectors. Do connectors matter to a cable? Well, do tires matter to a car?
     More information coming up. Lots more.

BY THE WAY: Although we are hard at work finishing up the issue, this is a long weekend (July 1st is Canada Day, and Canada's 150th anniversary). And so we have an extended version of our weekly
Flash Sale. It's on now.


May 12: Blank tape at the BoutiqueTapeandreel
     At the Montreal show in March, one exhibitor had brought an open-reel tape recorder, a Technics RS-1500. At AXPONA, the other day, there were (by our count) four of them. Long-ignored, open-reel analog tape is making a comeback. But where do you buy tape for these magnificent machines?
     One source, it turns out, is
our own Audiophile Boutique. We haave a good supply of factory-sealed bulk tape, on 2500-foot pancakes. We also have reels, aluminum and fibreglass.
     How much of it do we have? Actually, we're not sure (we haven't completed the inventory), and because we ourselves own several Technics machines, we're not selling it all.
     It's Canadian-made tape, from Pacific Magnetics, designed for normal bias.

BY THE WAY: Don't forget to drop by our weekend Flash Sale, starting today (Friday) at 3 pm.

May 5: TAVES moves to mid-Octobertaves2017
     
TAVES is, of course, the Toronto show. Originally in late September, it moved to late October (thus annoying exhibitors with children wanting to be out for Hallowe'en). And for the last two years it's been well away from Toronto, in Richmond Hill. The next edition will be back in Toronto. Sort of.
     As you can see, it will be at the Toronto Congress Centre, not to be confused with the Toronto Convention Centre, which is right downtown. Anyone who has spent time in Toronto traffic known that when you're on Dixon Road, you're a long way from the CN Tower.
     Is a "congress centre" a good place for a hi-fi show?
     Thing is, TAVES is much more than hi-fi, or even video. There will be a robotics section, and the ever-popular drones. You can expect other electronic products for the outdoors as well.
     In any case, we're reserving the dates, October 13 to 15, and we plan to be there.


Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

April 28: UHF 98 arrives soonCover98
     We've had a pause in our publishing schedule, not for the first time in our 35-year history. But we're getting the new issue put together. You can see the cover here. What's more, there are changes afoot that will make it easier for us to put out the magazine more regularly. We'll be telling about that shortly.
     The product on the cover, in front of the trees with their Spring buds, is the Bryston BDA-3, the new DAC from this famed Canadian manufacturer. The older BDA-2 is still in the catalogue, but the new unit is worth waiting for. In point of fact we bought one ourselves.
     There will be another Bryston product in our review lineup, the TF2. Years ago (back in the 80's), Bryston was selling the TF1, a step-up transformer for moving-coil cartridges. We still own one, which we use to match a Goldring Excel cartridge to the Copland tube preamplifier that is at the heart of our Alpha reference system. As analog seemed to be fading away, the TF1 was discontinued, though it lived on inside Bryston's own preamplifiers. But analog is back, obviously, and Bryston even makes turntables.
     We might add that making a step-up transformer is harder than it may seem, and in the intervening years, we've heard some duds (the Talisman and the YBA, notably). We're looking forward to hearing the TF2.
     Naturally, there will be far more content than just equipment reviews, because we think that's what makes UHF valuable. We'll be telling you about that too, and you'll soon be able to read the issue for yourself.
 



April 21: Record store daySam
     Did you know there was an I Care About You Day? Neither did we until last week. So why not a record store day?
     Well, it's tomorrow, the 22nd of April. It's a good day to visit your favorite record store, and perhaps walk away with some goodies.
     This photograph of a Sam the Record Man outlet is not an archive photo, by the way. It's the last Sam left standing, and it's in the Quinte Mall in Belleville, Ontario. There are plenty of CDs, movies, and vinyl, new and used. And even turntables. Independents like Sams, and 33 Tours in Montreal, are go-to places now that the HMV chain has finally expired. As it richly deserved to.
     (By the way, you do know that we have
a record store too, right?)
     And now some news about us.
     Next week we'll be posting the image of the cover of UHF No. 98. It's been a while, but it's coming, and we have some exciting news about its future as well. Naturally, we'll also be sending out renewal notices for subscribers coming up against deadline.

March 30th: Hi-res streaming?
     Most music sold today is in the form of electronic files, and nearly all of those files are compressed.
     Of course, compressed is a misnomer. You can “compress” a computer file, and then decompress it to recover the original. That's not what the music companies do. They use lossy compression (which we have been know to call lssy cmprssn), throwing away more than 80% of the information. So you're left with about 16% of what you would get from a CD, and that looks pretty poor by comparison with a high-definition file, 24/96 or even 24/192.
     The exception, of course, is Tidal a streaming service costing some $20 per month. Tidal offers 14-bit 44.1 kHz streaming, the same standard as the CD. Tidal's problem, however, is its relatively thin library, and the repeated rumors of its demise. But does Tidal have a big enough market share to influence its competitors?
     Perhaps. Both Spotify and Apple Music, the leaders in music streaming, use lossy compression, MP3 in the first case, AAC in the second. But tinkering with the innards of Spotify's app shows an option, not yet activated, to opt for high-resolution (16/44) streaming. The option would cost either $15 or $20 a month, compared to $10 for the compressed plan. Of course, a $15 plan would no doubt sound the death knell for Tidal.
     Will it happen? We shall see. If Spotify moves, expect Apple to join in. Our sources say that Apple has always insisted on receiving music files uncompressed, so that it could perform optimized compression itself. If that's so, it could outflank Spotify almost instantly.
     This might be a good time to shop for an Internet plan with unlimited bandwidth.

March 27th: Our Montreal Audio Fest blog is now completeBonaventurelobby
     How was the born-again Montreal Audio Fest? Verily, it was a hit, a palpable hit. The Friday crowd looked like a Saturday crowd. The Hotel Bonaventure, which had been in renovation last year, had never looked better. And there were more great rooms than we had heard for a long time.
If you've followed the show's dramatic turnaround, you'll know what has happened over the past half decade. The Salon, as it was then called, was run with good success by Sarah Tremblay and Michel Plante. Both went to work for other people, and sold the Salon to Britain's Chester Group. This is just our point of view, but those people give mismanagement a bad name. Just 10 days before opening day last year, they cancelled the Salon. Sarah and Michell stepped in, relaunched the Salon under a new structure and a new name, and made everyone smile.
     The emergency structure has now been made permanent. The Audio Fest is a non-profit organization with just one salaried employee, Sarah, It operates with the help of volunteers. Our own Kathe Lieber, for example, wrote the English version of the Audio Fest Web site.
     This was the 30th edition of the Montreal show, and we talked to people who believe that it may have been the very best one ever. All augurs well for the next edition, and the ones to follow.
     Our complete report will be in UHF Magazine No. 98, which is now in preparation. In the meantime,
our show blog is on line.
     As you know, we didn't cover CES in Las Vegas this year. The organizers seem more interested in such products as an Internet-connected hair brush (no, we're not joking) than in high-performance audio and the magic of high fidelity.

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