Features

Interview: Who is Perry Pecker and why does he want to take over the (audio) world?

Hemp Acoustics has been around for a few (couple) years, and yet many have never seen, let alone heard a Hemp Acoustics driver. Why is that? Why is it that in a seemingly expanding universe of loudspeaker manufacturers and driver companies this name keeps on coming up? And yet, virtually no one has heard them? (many people have I would say a few thousand people just so you should know we aren’t an enigma) In an attempt to provide our readers with a little insight and to help answer some of the questions that inquiring minds wanna know, I’ve decided to interview Perry Pecker (Hemp’s vice president). In the best W5 style (both regarding the interview style and as a tip of the hat to CTV’s long running new magazine program), here goes. read more…

Interview with Nicholas Chua of Promitheus Audio

HFR-What is your background?

NC-My background is actually engineering, mechatronics to be exact. Mechatronics is where the synergy of different disciplines of engineering converges to create simpler, more economical, and versatile systems. I currently lecture in an ex-Motorola semiconductor company On-Semiconductor in the areas of electronics for their in-house program. read more…

Joe Pass: Reluctant Guitar Hero

Joe Pass: Reluctant Guitar Hero

Joseph Anthony Passalaqua was born in 1929 at New Brunswick, NJ to an Italian-American working class family. He showed musical promise at an early age, so his father pushed him very hard to practice for as much as 6 hours a day and all day on weekends and holidays, as he saw his son’s talents as an opportunity to escape the poverty of this industrial New Jersey city. Jpe’s skills grew and grew, so by his early teens, he was performing regularly at Sons of Italy and Knights of Columbus gatherings, as well as weddings and other social events in his community. In his mid-teens, he quit school and got jobs as guitarist with a number of bands including Tony Pastor’s big band. As he got older and began working on the road, he unfortunately acquired a number of bad habits, as did many traveling professional musicians of the time, the worst of which was an addiction to heroin. read more…

Interview: Dave Fabrikant of Ascend Acoustics

Interview: Dave Fabrikant of Ascend Acoustics

HFR – How/when did you first get into audio as a hobby? What was your first audio system?

Dave Fabrikant I think I was about 8 years old. I was fascinated with my grandfather’s audio system, can’t use the term “stereo” as it was a monaural system. The single loudspeaker, I believe it was a Fisher, was the size of a refrigerator. A few years later (I think I was 10) I blew up one of my father’s loudspeakers and I convinced him that I could fix it and make it sound better. That was not as easy as I thought it was going to be 😉 read more…

The Jazz File: My Grammy Picks

The Jazz File: My Grammy Picks

Some of you are probably thinking, “Why would a self-respecting jazz writer give a rat’s rear about the Grammy Awards?” Well, I never really have before. Not sure exactly what changed my mind this year…maybe it was the pressure to write something before my deadline for this month’s issue, maybe it was guilt over not having a proper “best CDs of 2006” column…this way I can let the Grammy people come up with a list for me, and all I have to do is make comments. Either way, I found that this year’s nominees, at least for jazz, are largely not as bad as I expected, and there’s even some real gems in there. read more…

Interview: David Solomon, Signal Path International, Makers of Era Speakers

Interview: David Solomon, Signal Path International, Makers of Era Speakers

HFR – How has the audio distribution market changed in the last 20 years?

I assume you’re asking about retail, so I’ll just address a few changes. One of the most significant changes in retail is the proliferation of more “non-specialty” outlets, while upscale audio specialty retail shops are on the decline. Audio is a sideline to most national chains, so expert advice is a lost art with most of the big box movers. As a result, many consumers are buying equipment that falls short of their needs. If there’s a lost opportunity in this business, it’s the fact that most consumers don’t realize that if they went into a specialty store, they could spend about the same money and get much better equipment. read more…

The Inside Game: A Look at VMPS Audio

The Inside Game: A Look at VMPS Audio

I recently acquired a used pair of VMPS Tower II SE speakers to use as my home theater fronts. The moment I heard these speakers, I realized this was the best sounding system I had ever assembled by a very wide margin (more on that later). There’s absolutely no reason to upgrade my speaker for a long time because, in my price range, this is perhaps as good as it gets.

Because of this speaker purchase, I decided to learn more about VMPS Audio and speak briefly with its founder – Brian Cheney. read more…

The Jazz File

December is here, the holiday season…a time for wanton acts of kindness, endless shopping, and (of course) every music critics’ “top 10 best releases of the year” list. Sorry to disappoint, but frankly I don’t pay enough attention to new releases to even list ten total, let alone ten that I could vouch with any certainly that are the best of the year.

That said, I have been listening to some new music of late, so I’ve got something of a list for you. All of this month’s selections were, in fact, released this year, and have provided me with a good bit of stimulating listening. These would work equally well as gifts for your music-loving friends as gifts for yourself, and if you hurry, you can probably still find them at your local soon-to-be-doomed Tower Records for 40% off. Enjoy. read more…

Getting Beyond The Upgrade-itis

The gateway towards sonic nirvana can be as simple as a few upgrades for some, and as difficult as a multitude of system alterations for others. Some people like bringing home various electronics just for the thrill of experiencing what they are about while others are caught in a quandary of system rolling trying to find “that” sound. If you are one of those caught in the circle, there is hope! Here are some things to think about: read more…

Interview with Robert Gaboury of Atelier Audio

Interview with Robert Gaboury of Atelier Audio

HFR – What are the difficulties associated with using full range drivers?

RG – A full range driver is a balancing act between extreme low mass (low inertia) for high frequencies and sufficient mass to getthe cone large and stiff enough to produce lower frequencies (by moving a larger amount of air) without break-up. It is up to the designer to design an enclosure that will raise bass level to hopefully match the rising high frequency output.

HFR – How does the bass augmentation board affect the output of the rear horn? read more…

The Jazz File: William Parker, Part 2: A Three and a Four…

The Jazz File: William Parker, Part 2: A Three and a Four…

Bob’s Pink Cadillac

Bob’s Pink Cadillac, credited to the “William Parker Clarinet Trio”, features sidemen not normally associated with Parker’s music: drummer Walter Perkins (who passed away in 2004), best known for his recordings in the ‘60s with Ahmad Jamal, Gene Ammons, Carmen McRae, Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus and others; and Perry Robinson, who has striven his entire 40+ year-long career to bring the clarinet into wider acceptance in avantgarde jazz circles. According to the liner notes, Parker has played with both of these gentlemen in live settings periodically over the past 20 years or so, but this is the first recording they’ve made together. read more…

The Jazz File: Trying Something New

The Jazz File: Trying Something New

Frequent readers of this column (and there may be 3 or 4 of you out there by now) have probably noticed something missing from my reviews: coverage of new releases. Not that I have any problem with new records, it’s just that there’s so much great material out there that was recorded before 2006 I haven’t felt any urgency to filter through more recent catalogs in search of the gems.

Sometimes life has a way of hitting you on the side of the head, and this September did that to me, with two albums hitting store shelves that were simply begging for my (and consequently, your) attention. If you were looking forward to the second part of my series on William Parker (and there may be 1 or 2 of you out there) have no fear! We’ll get back to Parker in November.

read more…

Interview with Brady B. of Audioengine USA

Interview with Brady B. of Audioengine USA

HFR – What was the genesis of Audioengine?

BB– Our idea behind Audioengine was to create a line of great sounding powered speakers that offer an easy way to interface with all the digital music and video players being released. There are some well designed digital audio players but not many “real” powered speaker systems in the same category to support these products. We wanted to replace bulky AV receivers and provide the best sound possible, but without all the setup hassles. Our original goal was to just ride the iPod wave, but A5’s work great with so many other products that we couldn’t ignore such as the Airport Express and Squeezebox, as examples. read more…

The Jazz File: William Parker, Part 1: A One and a Two…

The Jazz File: William Parker, Part 1: A One and a Two…

William Parker is one of the strongest personalities in avant-garde jazz today, both musically and otherwise. Having spent the ‘80s as bass player in Cecil Taylor’s groups, in the early ‘90s he settled down in New York, where he catalyzed the Improvisers Collective: a group of some of the Lower East Side’s most adventurous musicians. Parker has recorded with nearly all its members in various settings, and the Collective later spawned the Vision Festival, now in its 11th year, and one of the largest jazz festivals in the world that operates without major corporate funding.

Parker has led far too many dates to do a comprehensive list of his recordings, and too many of those are great to compile any kind of a “best of”. I’m taking this month and next to dig into four albums: a solo and a duet performance this month, a trio and a quartet in October. read more…

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