Michael Fremer

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Michael Fremer  |  May 07, 2006  |  0 comments
What makes a phono cartridge worth $3500 or $4000? Pride of ownership? Snob appeal? Sound? Tracking ability? Exotic materials? Styling? Labor cost for skilled artisans? Special ether? Cool wooden box? All of the above?
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 14, 2006  |  0 comments
Part New Jersey diner, part Wurlitzer jukebox, with a snakelike tonearm that at certain angles looks vaguely lewd, this boxy, man-sized creation from Australia seems to have been built around its distinctive looks rather than for any functional purpose. Combine that with its sky-high price—itself almost obscene—and the result is apparently the sort of product that envious, cynical, self-loathing audiophiles love to hate, and reviewers love to write about.
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 24, 2005  |  0 comments
Like the $29,000 Boulder 2008 phono preamplifier, the new Whest PhonoStage.20 with its MsU.20 power supply costs as much as a car. Fortunately for you, that car happens to be my first new Saab, which cost exactly $2737 back in 1972. The solid-state Whest costs $2595, so it's a few hundred dollars cheaper. But at only a tenth the cost, it comes closer to the Boulder 2008's performance than it has any right to. That it's good enough to be mentioned in the same paragraph should tell you something about how good I think it is. Nor did it come to me hyped by the manufacturer—it took me by surprise from the minute I first heard it. I began my listening right away, before reading anything about the circuit design.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 06, 2005  |  0 comments
If compact discs are so damned dynamic and vinyl is so dynamically limited, why do they sound just the opposite? Why do LPs sound so "live," so explosive, so "there," and CDs so dead? Even the best CDs usually sink to second-rate when you switch to their vinyl versions. I've heard it, you've heard it. Only those in deep denial, those who refuse to listen, don't. They'd rather read the published specs and consider the actual listening some kind of mass delusion among Luddite LP fans.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 04, 2005  |  0 comments
"My original goal was simply to design a better turntable than the Linn because at that time in the UK, Ivor Tiefenbrun was the man—he was the patron saint and all that. And all the hi-fi mags were full of Linns. He did for turntables, in a way, what Mark Levinson (the man) did for amplifiers."
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 10, 2005  |  0 comments
Michael Fremer wrote about the EAR 834P Deluxe in August 2003 (Vol.26 No.8):

I've been meaning to review this Tim de Paravicini design for years. Finally, egged on by readers, here goes.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 01, 2005  |  0 comments

You won't find Roy Halee's name on many great sounding records. Not because the veteran recording engineer hasn't made them, but because Columbia Records' policy for many years was to not credit the engineer on the jacket. So, aside from the few that do credit him, the others require you to know who they are. That's one reason I tracked Roy down through Sterling Sound's Greg Calbi who has mastered many of Halee's recent projects. But more importantly, as with Bill Porter, I just wanted to sit down face to face with someone who has consistently provided us with great sound, and find out why and how he managed to do it, when so many others failed.

Some of Halee's recording credits are well known:all of Simon and Garfunkel's records, the best sounding Byrds albums (Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart of the Rodeo), and of course, Paul Simon's two fascinating and extremely successful projects (both commercially and artistically) Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2005  |  0 comments
MF: Sonically, the 3 CD set (issued by Columbia in 1991) is a real disappointment.

RH:  Yea, well hey! It's fourth and fifth generation tapes! They lose tapes now. They had a foolproof filing system at one time. I don't know what happened. Anyway, here come these things in the studio, what am I supposed to do with this stuff? So my first reaction is send it back! I call CBS. I say “Hey, give me a break! Let's get the originals. I'll remix it. I'll  do anything. Anything you want! I don't care. It's history, I want to do it right.

Michael Fremer  |  May 15, 2005  |  0 comments
The $3000 moving-coil (MC) PhD, available from Chad Kassem's Acoustic Sounds operation, is a monumental achievement that, for me, sets new standards for the cleanness and transparency possible in a phono preamp—and I've had a lot of experience with phono preamps.

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