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The first stop for the M3 listening sessions was in two-channel mode in the main room paired with the Audiospace Reference preamp  and Bel Canto 200.4 amplifier using the Audiospace CPP8A as primary source. The bottom end was filled out with the Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer through the X-30 crossover set at 125Hz. Cabling employed were combinations of the Audio Art SE series, Signal Silver Reference and JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2.

The second round of listening was done in the home theater room, a decidedly less formal setup geared toward multi-channel entertainment. The object in this room is serious fun, emphasis on fun. The normal speakers occupying the environment are a blend of Definitive Tech center, custom-built polypropylene/cloth dome mains and polypropylene/ribbon surrounds whose strengths are detail and spatial definition with sufficient dynamic response to keep the presentation involving.

Amplification was courtesy of a Pioneer Elite SC-25 receiver which recently replaced my veteran Yamaha DSP A1 for purely connectivity advantages. Sources were a Sony Playstation 3 and Toshiba HD-2 HD DVD player and video monitoring via a Benq W-9000 projector. Cabling in the arrangement was generic 12-gauge OFC copper to the rear channels and a combination of the same cable used internally in the walls for the front runs with the addition of the JPS labs Ultraconductor 2 from the wall connectors to the speakers. Bass was handled by a Paradigm  PW-2200 subwoofer. Bass management was via the Pioneer’s  MACACC microphone calibration as well as some custom settings. Since the JB speakers are aimed at multi-channel use, the source material covered a broader range than usual. I pulled out a small sampling to see how they'd enjoy the exercise.

CDs: "Han AR Fodd" from Hush! The Angels are Singing ]FIM CD001 1997] was just one cut from a CD of uniformly great choral pieces. FIM’s Winston Ma remastered a Swedish Proprius two-microphone recording capturing all the audiophile goodies of image, soundstage and air wrapped around ravishing vocals. 

"Black and White" from The Hot Club of San Francisco: Yerba Buena Bounce [Reference Recordings RR-109] has an astonishing level of passionate dynamic life unleashed. Bounce indeed for toe-tapping fun that communicates the emotional fire of the performers with Reference Recording’s fine work at capturing real instruments and performers in a well rendered space. Categorized as Gypsy Jazz.

SACDs for multi-channel audio: "Trio Elegiaque: Rachmaninov from Super Test SACD [IsoMikeAUD079] is a powerful and intimate recording of the Amelia Piano Trio which balances the amazing scale and range of the piano against the delicacy and quiet sensitive nuance of the rest of the trio.

"Stjernelause Dogn" from The Perfect Sound 2009 [AV Show HK Audio Technique]. This is a track from the Kari Bremmes Live recording on a sampler demo from the Hong Kong 2009 AV Show and an icy-clean recording of a good performance with emotional inflections and a convincing representation of a live venue.

"Re-entry and Splashdown" from Apollo 13 from the DTS CD The Big Picture [Digital DTS Surround Telarc CD-80437-DTS 1997]. This is a rare DTS recording from the infancy of multi-channel music. The piece by James Horner is an enveloping piece of majesty with Telarc’s trademark subterranean bass and solid synthesizer weight matched against the delicacy of the orchestra.

DVDs: "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" from the Pink Floyd CD Pulse [Columbia Music Video CMV07464541719] is a strong opening number from a classic rock group that has thrilled generations of listeners. When we talk pop, it’s often flavor of the moment. When we talk Floyd we talk a lifetime. Stunning guitar work, powerful vocals, huge stage and a light show that defined the term. Higher bit-rate 5.1 remastering of an analog master does justice to the sheer power of the experience.

"My Only Love" from Roxy Music Live at the Apollo [Warner Music Vision 2 45214]. The unique style of Roxy Music and lead singer Bryan Ferry explore both soft romanticism and biting lyrics. Roxy Music embodies the evolution of sultry cabaret music that touched head and heart. Here is an example of their softer side aimed squarely at the heart. Ferry’s stylized vocals, brilliant backup singers and a reunion band comprised of the best of the best fuses together with an intense joy and passion captured wonderfully on sound and screen.

Mirrormask [Sony Pictures 02505 2005] is a refreshing departure from the standard action and explosions that abound in current fantasy fare. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s more introspective material is a visual feast that gives a darker perspective to former Henson material like Labyrinth.  Delicate and intelligent, it sits on a sonic foundation of light jazz, clean dialogue and intricately detailed effects that require resolution to differentiate position and bring it all to life. 

BluRay: Master and Commander The Far Side of the World [20th Century Fox 2243554 2007] is the gold standard of difficult soundtracks. This BluRay has awe-inspiring dynamic range that challenges a system’s resolution and dynamic threshold to do justice to both a whisper and a cannon blast.  Placement information and effects are seamless and stunning. Soothing baroque music amidst the hell of war.

James Cameron’s Avatar [20th Century Fox 2265614 2010] can be described in one word for its sonic approach - lush. Effects and music are deep, detailed and enveloping. The system’s task here is to keep the sound field cohesive and the location of the action specific; plus you have a James Horner score leading the way.

Enchanted [Walt Disney 55681 2008]. If Baz Lurman proved the musical had life and relevance to a modern audience, Disney’s Enchanted showed that it could also gain new ground with live family-oriented fairy tale romance. Strong performances augmented by a mix of traditional animation and state of the art CGI are matched with a quality audio track that breathes life into the light fare.  Delicate sweet orchestra, dimensional vocals, generous ambient information and thundering effects.

Games: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 [PS3Sony Computer Entertainment BLUS 3077 2009]. Here is a stellar example of the interactive military gaming experience. Grueling first person tactical modern warfare is brought to life by almost photo-realistic visuals and engrossing audible detail. Listen carefully to what’s happening around you or the next moment may be your last.

God of War 3 [PS3 Sony Computer Entertainment BCUS98111F] is a traditional single-person role playing game that boasts high-resolution graphics and an enveloping sound field.