Oppo Digital's UDP-203 4K Ultra -- They're On Top Again

April 2017

Everyone who pays regular attention to the world of audio and video equipment knows the name Oppo Digital, Inc. Here at SoundStage!, we’ve been fans since 2006, when Roger Kanno and I reviewed their first two DVD players, the DV-970HD ($149 USD) and the OPDV971H ($199). Both players became instant Reviewers’ Choice winners. Since then, Oppo has released a string of impressive silver-disc players that have resided at or near the top of critics’ lists of recommendations.

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The Prism Sound Callia and Why Consumer Audiophiles Should Buy Professional Gear

February 2017

For the past 20 years, I’ve been preaching that buyers of audio gear in the mid- to upper price levels should spend some of their shopping time appraising the professional marketplace. In the beginning, I had to recommend jury-rigged systems with huge audio interfaces that had multiple microphone preamps, various digital inputs and outputs, and inputs/outputs that most audiophiles have never used. (Got any balanced TRS 1/4” cables in your storage box?)

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ATC SCM19 V2 Loudspeakers

October 2016

Does the name Billy Woodman ring a bell? Although he may not have been involved in any of the audio components you use at home, it’s very likely that Woodman designed some of the gear used in recording the music you listen to. All over the world, many of the finest musicians and audio engineers make their most crucial judgments of their work by listening to it through monitors made by ATC, the company Woodman founded in 1974. Beck, Kate Bush, Coldplay, Mark Knopfler, Diana Krall, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Jack White -- all have depended on ATC monitors to get an accurate idea of what’s really on their master recordings. If you’ve ever enjoyed records engineered and/or produced by T Bone Burnett, Bob Ludwig, Mark Ronson, or Doug Sax, or in the studios of Electric Lady or Telarc, or Sony’s massive SACD remastering facilities, you owe some of that pleasure to Woodman’s stunning speaker designs. Even at Abbey Road Studios, right next to the Bowers & Wilkins monitors you always see advertised, you also see ATCs.

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Sonos: I'm a Convert

June 2016

Whenever I start getting snobby, the only one who loses is me. You’d think I’d learn. After all, it happens with enough regularity that I ought to be able to recognize the warning signs.

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Bruno Putzeys Navigates Toward the State of the Art

April 2016

In my last column, I wrote about the wonderful Channel Islands E•200S two-channel amplifier. But what really got me excited was Bruno Putzeys, the Belgian designer of the Hypex UcD module used in the E•200S. Putzeys has been in the audio world for several years. He started at Philips, where he worked extensively in labs, experimenting with input stages, power types, and supplies. Unfortunately, as soon as he came up with a great design, he was confronted with a multinational conglomerate’s tendency to do nothing when presented with a new idea.

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Chasing Bruno Putzeys Down the Rabbit Hole of Audio and Discovering the Channel Islands Audio E•200S Stereo Amplifier

February 2016

“Hey, Wes, I want you to look up the new Bruno Putzeys speaker. Giant killer.”

Thus spake Jeff Fritz, Commanding Officer of our enterprise. We’d been e-mailing about another speaker, and this recommendation came as a pleasant surprise. Jeff’s ears regularly experience the best, most expensive loudspeakers made, so when he uses even mild hyperbole, my ears prick up. I looked up Putzeys and the speakers and found only Grimm Audio’s LS1 speaker with LS1s subwoofer. It was obviously a great speaker, but too rich for my blood at $39,895 USD per pair.

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A Christmas Goodie List (with Thoughtful Notes)

December 2015

Dear ________,

With Christmas fast approaching, I was worried that you might be concerned about what to get for me. I mean, I really loved that John Varvatos shearling coat you gave me last year. But I know how difficult it is to run over to Nordstrom and do all that shopping, and when I found this article, I thought it was a nice coincidence.

The items below are recommended by Wes Marshall, my all-time favorite writer, so I know I’d love any of them. That suite of Oppo items is particularly interesting, but I’d be happy with any of these recommendations -- or all of them! Thanks, and I hope this helps save you some time.

___________ (your name here)

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Seeing the Stage: Eclipse's TD508MK3 Loudspeakers

October 2015

After spending a couple of quality months with Eclipse’s TD510ZMK2 speakers ($5990 USD per pair), I couldn’t help thinking how great they might work as desktop speakers. After all, they sounded best when aimed directly at my ears, to avoid the dreaded single-driver beaming, and few activities make it easer to maintain that type of position better than staring at a computer monitor. But there was one big problem. Despite their svelte, sexy looks, the TD510ZMK2s were just too big for a domestic desk.

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September 2015

Remember that romance? You thought you were deliriously happy -- until the next one came along and opened your eyes to how great love really could be. It’s easy enough to let lassitude and time combine to make you think things are better than they are. But sometimes you don’t realize how bad you have it until you’re rescued by something new and different.

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Francis Albert Sinatra: A Centennial Worth Celebrating

May 2015

December 12 of this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Francis Albert Sinatra, one of the 20th century’s most outstanding artists. During his life he was a multiple threat who rode the crests of amazing waves of popularity -- as a live entertainer, a recording artist of popular music, and a film actor, producer, and even director. Sinatra’s presence in the culture was ubiquitous -- it would probably be impossible to find anyone in North America who didn’t know of the man and his work.

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