Tag Archives: dave mcnair

Al Schmitt, Legendary Engineer and Producer, Dies At 91 | The Occasional Podcast Interview

The sad news hit early Tuesday morning, music engineer and producer Al Schmitt had passed away at at 91. I got a chance to sit down with the music legend to chat about his legacy and upcoming book just a few years ago. I was recording interviews for Stereophile‘s Audiostream Podcast at the time, and Al was equal parts gracious and entertaining during the nearly three hours we spent together talking about his expansive, full life. His work in the music industry spans so many years, and he had so many fun and crazy stories to tell from his professional experience with the likes of Sam Cook, Todo, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney and more. 23 Grammys, to be exact. I’ve revisited the entire interview on this week’s Occasional Podcast to help give a small glimpse at the man who spent almost his entire life dedicated to making music sound better. The Occasional Podcast is making its way though Season 5 with this week’s revisit with Al Schmitt, but don’t miss our conversation from last week’s interview with Elac’s Andrew Jones, or even our interview audio legend Mike Moffat from the season opener. Also available for download is last season’s interviews [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Wilson Audio SabrinaX Loudspeakers | REVIEW

Most audiophiles know of the unwavering commitment to accuracy and groundbreaking industrial design baked into the DNA of every Wilson Audio product (website), and the new Wilson Audio SabrinaX loudspeakers are no exception. This was first evident in Dave Wilson’s original assault on the state of the art with his WAMM design circa 1981, and other loudspeaker systems followed over the years. Along with advancements in materials science and simple but visually striking industrial design aesthetics, each loudspeaker system has a unique raison d’etre rather than simply various scaled-down models at different price points. Words and photos by Dave McNair Dave Wilson practically devoted his life to designing a speaker that would precisely reproduce what his ears (and mics) heard on his extraordinary recordings. His recording approach was a simple, purist style used to record musicians playing in natural acoustic spaces. It might seem simple, but there is nothing easy about this kind of approach. So it naturally follows that faithfully reproducing the recording of that event in a home listening room was his ideal. Today, Daryl Wilson and the rest of the great crew at Wilson Audio have maintained those same ideals and goals while simultaneously refining, improving, and [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

ZYX Ultimate Airy X Cartridge | REVIEW

The first time I listened to the ZYX Ultimate Airy X cartridge it instantly reminded me of Scot Hull’s wife, Julia. I know that sounds strange, and even Scot’s probably thinking “WTF, Marc?” right about now, but hold on and let me finish. This won’t be creepy at all. When Scot Hull was ordained last year, Colleen and I traveled down to Frederick, MD to attend. Toward the beginning of the ceremony and services, Julia went to the front of a church and began to sing a hymn/spiritual and for one second, frozen in time, I thought to myself hey, what do I really know about Julia? I know she writes and has an interesting career—so does Scot, for that matter—and I’ve met her a few times. That’s about it. In other words, for that stretched-out moment I could only think of one thing: CAN JULIA SING? The answer, as Scot sometimes says, was “Oh. My. Lawd.” This wasn’t like oh, the boss’ wife has a pretty good voice. I should probably say something nice to her to get on his good side. No, this was “Excuse me, Julia? Hi, I’d like to buy one of your CDs!” It’s crazy [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Vertere Acoustics Mystic Moving Coil Cartridge and Phono-1 MKII Preamp | REVIEW

In my earlier review, I wrote about the Vertere MG-1/SG-1 turntable/tonearm combination. Here I’m going to pen about a few other offerings from Vetere (website), companion pieces I received with the ‘table and arm–the Vertere Acoustics Mystic moving-coil cartridge ($2,699) and Phono-1 MK II phono preamplifier ($1,395). First off, let me say that both these pieces were excellent performers. I was particularly impressed with the Phono-1, which I consider one of the best deals in high-end audio. The Vertere Acoustics Mystic cartridge was undoubtedly NOT an also-ran. Still, there are some excellent offerings around that price, so while exceptional, I think of cartridges as more system dependent. In other words, a Mystic could easily be the missing link in YOUR search for vinyl Nirvana. Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy That phrase may be true unless you’re an audiophile, and then it’s called The Hobby. I find comparing components is a lot of fun when I don’t have skin in the game. But if you’re a Libra with ADHD (raises hand), making comparisons to decide on a purchase can be a self-imposed torture chamber. Somebody, please tell me what to get! That’s where us reviewers come in – we’ll drive [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Lyle Workman, Uncommon Measures | The Vinyl Anachronist

It’s happened a couple of times so far, where I publish a Vinyl Anachronist music review and our own Dave McNair messages me and says “oh, I worked on that one.” I felt kind of bad about not mentioning him, but I don’t want anyone to think there’s a connection between Dave McNair Mastering and me getting something cool to review. But in the case of Lyle Workman and his new album, Uncommon Measures, it’s kind of a funny story about some really fascinating music and some unlikely personal connections. A few months ago, Dave asked for my honest opinion on an album he was working on–something new from composer and legendary session musician Lyle Workman. The first interesting connection: my best buddy growing up is now in the film industry, and he worked with Lyle Workman on Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I vaguely remember hearing a couple of stories about Workman, how he was such a nice guy and had plenty of great rock and roll stories (he’s toured with Beck, Sting, Todd Rundgren and one of my favorite humans, Frank Black). Before you know it, Dave’s telling me the same kind of stories, how he’s known Lyle for years [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Marten Oscar Trio Loudspeaker | REVIEW

  At Casa de McAudiophile, the impressive hit parade of floor standing speakers continues. This latest installment of chart-topping performers is the seductive sounding and beautiful Marten Oscar Trio from the Sweden (website). The Oscar Trios are not only the first speaker from Marten I’ve had the pleasure to hear; their ceramic composite drivers are also a first in my listening room. I found the sound of these speakers to have a uniquely classy quality: they are precise, clean and fast, but with a richness and ability to portray tonal complexity in recordings that is something more than just accurate. The Marten Oscar Trios bring an inviting quality to the music played through them. That stately and authoritative something puts them in quite a charming spot on my listenability/accuracy matrix. Brothers I seem to be receiving a preponderance of speaker systems from Scandinavian countries, Sweden in particular. Is it possible there is an informal World Class Nordic Speaker Designers club in Gothenburg? I wonder if the Marten team of Leif, Lars, and Jorgen Olofsson ever hang out in a sauna and talk speaker design with Mats Anderson of Qln? Well, even if the two companies don’t share ideas, the friendly [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Denafrips Pontus II DAC | REVIEW

I’ve been on a hot streak lately with getting components to review that have sounded excellent despite the current difficulties in hearing something beforehand. For a reviewer, it’s one of the many great things about hi-fi shows. So when our fearless PTA leader Scot Hull put out the word amongst the troops for who wanted to take a shot and review an affordably-priced DAC from the Chinese electronics firm Denafrips (website), I thought sure! Why not? And then something strange happened during my time with the most excellent Denafrips Pontus II DAC.  I started listening to a lot of music in digital form, not because I had to turn in a review on the DAC, no. I WANTED to listen to digital. Whuuut?To my way of thinking, DACs are the most stealthy of source components. There are no knobs to turn, no stylus to clean or arm to drop on a record, and a dearth of switches or buttons to press. Certainly no choice of regular bias or chrome tape–remember those? You might get a selection of anti-aliasing filters if you’re lucky. There is not much romance in Ye Olde DACs. They sit there quietly waiting to be asked out [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Marten Oscar Duo Loudspeakers | REVIEW

  The first time I heard the Marten Oscar Duo (website), right out of the box, one word came to mind. That word was fast. Dave McNair, currently reviewing the much larger Marten Oscar Trio, used the very same word to describe his first listen as well. I don’t use that adjective a lot when describing high-end audio products, perhaps because speed isn’t one of my main priorities when it comes to loudspeakers. Fast is a word that fans of big panel speakers use to describe ribbons and electrostatics and how the sound is so clean, with such responsive and life-like transient edges that it makes you jump. It’s a sound that constantly surprises you with its theatrics. I’m perfectly okay with the sound of the big panels. I’ve been impressed by a number of them. But have I reached the point in my audiophile life where I toss out generalizations such as “I’m more of a dynamic speaker kind of guy”? Let’s just say I’m settling into the late phases of my audiophilia and listening to high-quality two-way monitors is still something that excites me. I have plenty of reasons why, and none of them are “because little two-ways [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Audiovector R 6 Arreté Loudspeaker | REVIEW

“We Come From The Land Of The Ice And Snow…” Denmark may not be Iceland (or wherever Mr. Plant was wailing about in that song) but latitude-wise, it’s good enough for my literary purposes. Seriously, what is going on in those northern European (and Canadian) climes to produce such amazing speakers? With the Audiovector R 6 Arreté (website), these Danish loudspeaker veterans have produced yet another ultra-performer to add to the Legends of Scandinavian Speaker Craft. The Audiovector story begins with figurehead Ole Klifoth, who founded the company in 1979. Ole set out to make the kind of natural-sounding speaker for music lovers that he felt was missing in the marketplace, a speaker that he wanted to listen to. With the debut success of Audiovector’s first model, the Trapez, Ole’s ears and design concepts found an audience and the rest is history. Today, Ole’s son Mads Klifoth is the Audiovector CEO and carries on the tradition (with continued R&D input from the Old Man) while taking Ole’s original design objectives to new heights. As a Dad myself, this story warms my heart. So did listening to the Audiovector R 6 Arreté. Description Unless I am particularly fascinated by some aspect [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Stille Grender from 2L Recordings | The Vinyl Anachronist

Thought I’d get a jump on holiday music for 2021 with Stille Grender, the latest from 2L Recordings in Norway. If I had received it just a couple of weeks ago, it would have easily been my favorite Christmas recording of 2020. (Insert obligatory bah, humbug! here.) But for some reason, possibly an issue with customs or just the holiday shipping crush, Stille Grender arrived shortly after the New Year. Look at it this way–if you still have your Christmas decorations up while you’re reading this, it’s probably still okay to listen to it. Here’s another reason for me to listen to Stille Grender on January 5. (My new neighbors already had their doubts about me.) This is another beautiful and technically brilliant recording of a pianist (Tord Gustavson) accompanying a children’s choir (Det Norske Jentekor) as they sing Christmas carols. (This album even starts off with “Carol of the Bells.”) What’s not to like, right? Well, Stille Grender arrived at the same time as the Acora Acoustics SRB 2-way monitors with dedicated SRS stands. The flagship Acora Acoustics SRC-2s just received our rare Summit Award from reviewer Dave McNair–which was quickly seconded by NC neighbor Eric Franklin Shook. I’ve [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile