News You Can Use: Volume 0

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Welcome to the first edition of News You Can Use!

Today’s newsletter is themed around SALES. It’s Labor Day in the USA, so it seems like everybody is having a sale. Today, we’ll highlight some of the best music-related sales and tips we’ve found around the net. First up, we’ll highlight some foundational improvements — after all, foundations are “our thing” — that you might be able to make to your system that won’t break the bank.

Foundational Tips

  • Roy Gregory’s latest tip about “IKEA’s (inadvertent) entry into the [hi-fi] market” is well worth a read. This might also be the highest cost:benefit upgrade your system has ever experienced.
  • Got a subwoofer with speaker level input? Using lamp cord to feed it? Well, it turns out that low-level signals really benefit from higher-quality cable! Case in point — we recently were asked to evaluate a set of speakers by a local manufacturer. Nice hardwoods, good build quality. The 2.1 small-room system is based on a diminutive 3″ full-range driver. The modest 8″ subwoofer has an integrated plate amp that features spring clip terminals for its speaker-level input. The terminals are so small, you can’t fit a standard 4mm banana inside them, but a set of these adapters does the job nicely (yes, we know, Radio Shack isn’t known for their audiophile selection, but they work “in a pinch”).

    When we replaced the 24awg bulk wire with Nordost White Lightning it really made our ears happy. Nichole Nordeman’s “To Know You” (from Live at the Door) really took on new life. Her voice (which is buttery, airy and oh-so rich) became more three-dimensional and life-like. The presentation of the concert hall captured in the live recording improved dramatically. Instruments seemed more rooted, authoritative and realistic… all by changing out a subwoofer cable!

Hi-res Market

  • periodically offers free DSD and DXD downloads, along with a free compilation that is useful for comparing different sample rates.
  • Fidelio (aka 2xHD) has recently released several new and re-mastered albums in DSD. While HDTracks usually offers some modest PCM versions, DSD is found at We’re enjoying these:
  • For the budget-conscious and the quality-obsessed alike, we have observed that is often cheaper than at the same resolutions and often offers higher resolutions (such as the DSD versions of several of Holly Cole’s albums). For example, compare Doug MacLeod’s “There’s a Time” in 24/176:

  • Of course, both sites are currently having a Labor Day sale:
    • HDtracks has a 10% off code: HDAUG25 that expires TODAY.
    • ProStudioMasters has a 10% off code that expires September 3rd.

Vinyl Market

  • Elusive Disc has lots of great Vinyl on sale now. They’re also having a site-wide 10% off sale + Free Shipping on orders over $99! (This discount stacks with current sale prices!)
  • Beatles‘ fans: The Beatles are coming (back to Mono)! New, pure analog transfers that Michael Fremer regards quite highly. Bound to sell out quickly.
  • Dire Straits fans: Universal’s latest Dire Straits collection is very good. They even restored the original album art. We would have liked to see a gatefold cover, but at the end of the day it’s the music that matters, and they’ve done a fabulous job.
  • Lorde fans: her Pure Heroine album sounds really good on vinyl. It was either derived from a different master than the digital version, or at least has far better dynamic range, and it really shows when listening to the two back to back.

CD Market

  • FIM’s DECCA: Supreme Stereophonic Legacy by Winston Ma is out. Not only is it a beautiful set and valuable for history of music buffs, the CDs are among the best sounding CDs we’ve ever heard.

In Conclusion

Thanks for joining us for Volume 0 of News You Can Use! See you next time, and Good listening!

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