May, 2020





Strata escapes 

PS Audio’s long-awaited integrated amplifier, Strata, is officially out in the world and into the hands of a cadre of beta testers. It’s been a long time coming and a ton of work to get Strata ready for them.

Strata is an all-in-one amplifier, preamplifier, DAC, and music streamer in one sweet chassis. All you need to do is connect a good pair of speakers and you’re in sonic heaven. 

Our community of beta testers have been having a field day with Strata, helping us iron out a few bugs but mostly just enjoying its performance as the perfect all-in-one product.

“Sonic impressions. I’ve only listened to classical music and solo guitar jazz.
Wonderful sound. The dynamic attacks on strings, horns, and percussion are better then my Ayre equipment. Inner lines in the music are clear and differentiated. The box is very musical. Only bad thing is it makes me turn up the volume.”

“BUT THE SOUND !!! The sound is razor sharp. Power well beyond my needs (never thought I ever say that about anything) And the soundstage… Now my speakers (Klipsch Forte III’s) just seem to sit on either side of my bookcase lifeless while all the sound is clearly coming from my bookcase. Different books even.”

“I then hooked up the Strata with the same speakers using the same cables. I played the same music. I was overwhelmed by the clarity of each instrument and vocal. There was a lot more bass coming through the speakers. (I did not use the subwoofer during the setup). I just kept playing music to hear more and more. It was like I was hearing these recordings for the first time.”

“At the end of the song, a voice behind me said “Oh, Wow!” My wife had walked into the back of the room and was listening as well. We proceeded to discuss what was different. Krall’s voice, already unique, was even more present and nuanced, the piano balanced and expressive. She was a convert right there.”

Stratas will be available for purchase in July and we may make them available for preorder in June. Stay tuned for details.

Quartet

In 1896, operatic composer Giuseppe Verdi built Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, a home for retired opera singers who had fallen on hard times. This generous gift to the singers who had spent their lives singing Verdi’s music at opera houses like Milan’s La Scala served as the backstory for the play Quartet by Ronald Harwood, which ran in London’s West End from September 1999 until January 2000.

In 2012, actor Dustin Hoffman along with screenwriter Harwood produced a terrific film of the same name, Quartet, starring Maggie Smith in the lead role. The film opened to great reviews and Smith received a Golden Globe award for best actress for her performance.

In these odd times of stay at home and watch a movie at night, I can most highly recommend Quartet as a wonderful, meaningful, music-filled comedy that will leave you feeling good.

It’s available now on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Special Correspondents

Well, as long as we’re making movie suggestions for these odd times, might as well include one of our favorites, Special Correspondents.

Special Correspondents is a 2016 British-Canadian-American satirical comedy film written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais. The film is a remake of the 2009 French comedy Envoyés très spéciaux, and stars Gervais, Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga, Kelly Macdonald, Kevin Pollak, Benjamin Bratt, America Ferrera and Raúl Castillo. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 22 April 2016 and was released worldwide by Netflix on 29 April 2016.

Terri and I are very particular about the films we watch at home. We don’t like violence, we don’t want to be frightened, and they have to have a happy ending. Pretty much wusses that, after running out of Disney’eque films, have collected a small handful of acceptable films that don’t give us nightmares or leaves us feeling weird.

I’ll share them with you in the next few newsletters. If you have some you think would be worth it, email me your suggestions.



Copper Magazine

This issue’s cover: Prince (1958 – 2016). One of the greatest rock songwriters, performers, producers, guitar players and flat-out musical icons ever. Has anyone equaled him since he burst upon the scene? His 2007 Super Bowl XLI performance remains, in the eyes of many, untouchable.

In this issue: Professor Larry Schenbeck offers the second installment of his multichannel recordings Hall of Fame. WL Woodward has fond memories of John Prine. Rich Isaacs provides an in-depth look at Italian progressive rock band Le Orme. Dan Schwartz tells us what it was like to record with Rosanne Cash. J.I. Agnew restores a vintage Presto record cutting lathe. Ken Sander goes pond hopping with punk rock band the Stranglers.

Rudy Radelic tells more tales of being an audio forum moderator. Anne E. Johnson of gives us more than one reason to read about Tracy Chapman and Henry Purcell. I remember audio industry luminary Victor Goldstein and examine the work of Die Mensch-Maschine, Kraftwerk. John Seetoo gives us a behind the scenes look at the art of organ restoration. We conclude the issue with ears in the cloudsArt appreciation and going back to Green River.

Copper is cost-free, ad-free, and committed to great articles without an attitude.

Sign up for COPPER



Why Some People Love Music – and Others Don’t

When we listen to pleasurable music, the “pleasure chemical” dopamine is released in the striatum, a key part of the brain’s reward system.

Importantly, music activates the striatum just like other rewarding stimuli, such as food and sex. During anticipation of the peak – or “hotspot” as music psychologist John Sloboda calls it – in the music, dopamine is released in the dorsal (or upper) striatum.

During the peak, when we experience chills and other signs that our body’s autonomic nervous system – responsible for regulating involuntary body functions – is being aroused, dopamine is released in the nearby ventral striatum.

So what’s going on in the brains of people that don’t get a kick out of music?

The authors of this article offer a neurobiological explanation. While many types of pleasurable stimuli activate the same broad reward circuit in the brain, there are some differences depending on the type of stimulus. It is possible that the pattern of brain regions specifically activated by music pleasure, including the connection from auditory regions which perceive music to the reward centres, are slightly different in these individuals than in other people.

Read the article