Boston Concert Reviews


The friendly and knowledgable current staff at Fidelis, which includes Bill Henk, Jansen Young and Dwight DiMartino, (with Walter Swanbon at the helm), continues to keep this audio dealership a vital place to come for a listen and check out the latest in audio gear for all budgets. One of the great things about this dealership is its environment: always relaxed, filled with information at your fingertips from the staff and nonintrusive to getting to the music and listening to the gear that these guys recommend – without any sales pressure. Conversations go from what vinyl has just come into the store for sale to what concert one of the staff members recently attended. On my recent visit, I was treated to a relaxed listening session involving the latest Wilson Audio loudspeaker, the Alexx ( driven by VAC Reference preamplifier and amplifiers ( in Fidelis’ reference listening room. The sound was delectable and I urge readers to get a chance to visit Fidelis just for this opportunity to hear this combination in action. The system delivered a huge and layered soundstage (on recordings that provided it) with the full heft of a layered orchestra (or the intimacy of a singer like Odetta sitting in front of you) in startling image and natural dimensions. The artistry of each player, from the intensity of Keith Richards’ grit and guitar fire to the joyous vocal flourishes from Cecile McLorin Savant, were captured with great presence and tactile detail. The system also captured the acoustic spaces of different recordings with a vitality and presence that I have rarely heard before, from the intimate confines of the Preservation Jazz Hall to the spaciousness of the Orchestra Hall in Minnesota (on the Reference Recording of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances).

On the other side of the budget spectrum, I also had fun listening to some of the latest headphone gear at Fidelis as well as the latest incarnation of a favorite loudspeaker of mine from Harbeth (, their Super HL5, again driven here with VAC gear and new cabling from Tellurium Q ( The tactile feel of Doug Macleod’s dynamic strums on his acoustic blues guitar and the “heavy air” created from Phil Lesh’s bass guitar (on some Grateful Dead rambles) were ensnared by the new Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeaker in great soulful doses that invited you in to hear all the intimacy and drama of this music.

A trip to Fidelis brings all of these new riches to the ears and a chance to learn more about the latest in what is happening to bring us closer to the music we love. Fidelis continues to be a special place to audition new gear and a vital resource in this region for everything audiophile.

New York Audio Show

Quote From Steve Guttenberg of CNET at the New York Audio Show. “Some of the very best sonyc-show-singer-600_0und at the show came from the Harbeth 40.2 speakers and VAC electronics in the Sound by Singer room. I reviewed the 40.2s late last year, but the sound was even better at the show than it was in my system! These speakers are so natural and highly refined it’s actually hard to focus on the sound, I was too busy enjoying the music.”

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016

We teamed up with VAC and simply had an awesome system this year. We coupled our Harbeth 40.2 Reference Monitors with a pair of VAC iQ 200 Amps and a VAC Master Line Stage. The sources were Analog from the amazing Acoustic Signature Ascona Turntable and the Digital from the Aurender N100H coupled to the new Zero-Uno DAC. The best sound we’ve ever had!

Come and see the setup at the NYC show Nov 4th-6th Salon C.






XPONA 2016

XPONA Chicago was nothing short of amazing with attendance especially Saturday! A bigger room will absolutley be on the agenda for next years we can keep all the great listeners!

I’m sure people would have stayed much longer but it was wall to wall in there most of the day. The word got out that we may have the best sounding room at the show! Well us and Doug’s room with the $100k Tidal loudspeakers. Here’s the secret to working with BBC monitors, just like in a studio pull them out into room listen near field and magic happens! The new reference Harbeth 40.2 is a classic BBC monitor with no equal, and set up this way the speaker delivers incredible depth and transparency with defined instrumentation throughout the soundstage.

We had the Acoustic Signature Thunder turntable and Vinnie Rossi’s new LIO with the DHT tubes set up and the results were the best we’ve had at any show!

The Vinnie Rossi / Harbeth room was the best sounding of the ones I attended. The new Vinni Rossie amplifier paired witimage.phph the Harbeth Monitor 40.1 system had an extraordinary sound because it sounded so ordinary- like ordinary music and vocals- not at all like an amplifier and a pair of speakers. You hear about speakers “disappearing” and many claim to. But I swear to God I was sitting four feet from a pair of toe’d in large boxy monitors and I could not tell if they were actually playing. There were absolutely no sonic queues- low frequency, midrange or treble- that I heard coming from either speakers. It is as if they were silent and an invisible combo was playing directly behind them. All of the sound came from a stage about four feet behind the front of the speakers. The sound was natural- no colorations or distortions of any kind.

For me, the “natural” speaker sound is in, and the others that followed today just sounded like speakers. Come and hear and see these monitors at one of our dealers or contact us here at Fidelis!

Harbeth at Steinway & Sons

Posted on February 7, 2016 by John Marks

(Photo of Eric Feidner at Steinway & Sons’ NYC Global headquarters by and courtesy of Wes Bender Studios.

I derive immense pleasure from setting people up with (relatively) affordable stereo systems that work as systems, and are not just a bunch of random components selected from “Best-Of” lists. An early effort in that line was the series of columns I wrote for The Absolute Sound magazine entitled “A Stereo for Mr. Stevens.” Mr. Stevens being Wallace Stevens, because music and sound were such important parts of his poetry. I had no evidence that Wallace Stevens (who died in 1955) was an early adopter of hi-fi; but, I wasn’t about to let that stop me.
As the test track for the Stereo for Mr. Stevens, I chose the opening of the first movement of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. Specifically, from the Robert Shaw/Atlanta CD from Telarc. Because of its thrilling bass extension. That Telarc recording has withstood the test of time. However, if I had to choose only one interpretation as my Desert Island recording (as patchy as the sound is), it would be Sergiu Celibidache, Cologne 1957 (mono CD from Myto). That is the only recording I have ever heard that makes obvious Brahms’ conscious debt to Heinrich Schütz.

Obviously, for a work with full orchestra, pipe organ, and chorus, you need loudspeakers that are nearly full-range, an amplifier that is capable of driving them, and a reputable source. The Stereo for Mr. Stevens ended up consisting of Shahinian Acoustics’ Obelisk loudspeakers (now offered in a v.2), powered by Plinius’ 8150 integrated amplifier, fed by Enlightened Audio Designs’ Ultradisc CD player. Which was all fine and good in its day; but that was 18 years ago. Fast forward to today.

I was thrilled when Eric Feidner (Steinway & Sons’ SVP for Music, Technology and Media; and, Executive Producer of Steinway & Sons Recordings), asked me to specify desktop/computer-audio systems for him, and for Mike Sweeney, Steinway’s President.

Horses for courses, this was a challenge different from A Stereo for Mr. Stevens.

Because these were to be “desktop” systems with the loudspeakers within arm’s reach (rather than across the room), in specifying the systems I aimed to “bite off less, but chew as carefully” compared to before. It was obvious to me that the most “natural” loudspeaker to meet this need would be a descendant of the BBC’s 1970s “outside broadcast” monitor speaker, the LS3/5A. The LS3/5A was designed primarily as a monitor for use in vans set up as mobile recording or broadcast studios. So, the LS3/5A is, in some sense, the progenitor of all desktop loudspeakers.

For my take on the history of the LS3/5A, click here.

Having had experience with a few LS3/5A descendants, I had absolute confidence in Harbeth UK’s “evolutionary” tribute, the Harbeth P3ESR. Harbeth’s P3ESR is a not a reproduction or a continuation of a mid-1970s design. Instead, it is a fresh take, using modern technology, but in the spirit of “listenability and musicality first.”

The P3ESR’s sound is engaging, naturally coherent, and very fatigue-free.

The P3ESR is about 12 inches tall and 7 x 8 inches wide and deep. I love that the P3ESR is still made in the UK, and I love that the cabinetry is real wood. Eric’s pair is in Rosewood. Other available veneers include cherry, black ash, and eucalyptus.

United States MSRPs are $2095 for cherry, $2195 for rosewood, and $2295 for eucalyptus or black ash.



Harbeth’s P3ESR is expensive, compared to most loudspeakers its size. However, I am absolutely certain that here we have a case of, buying something once, and buying it really right.

The New Harbeth 40.2 at RMAF

Harbeth 40.2 RMAFIts not often I get to read a show review that offers us in depth coverage but this one has such a nice summary of our new flagship BBC Monitor!

Chris Martens of Hi-Fi+ Wrote


RMAF 2015 marked the US debut of Harbeth’s new flagship loudspeaker: namely, the 40.2 Monitor ($14,990), which was being driven by a Vinnie Rossi LIO preamp/ phono stage and Stereo VR120 power amplifier.

My thoughts upon encountering the 40.2 were, succinctly, these:

They’re beautiful; the art of fine British woodworking is alive and well at Harbeth.
They’re big—really big; when you see them in photographs, the 40.2s don’t seem nearly as large as they do when you actually see them in person. This is the sort of monitor that you can use in a mid-size room, but that I think could and would very easily fill much larger spaces with sound.
They sound like classic BBC monitors that A) have gone off to finishing school for added sophistication and refinement, B) have gone off to graduate school to attain higher levels of mastery than other speakers of their ilk, and C) have been working out with a world-class rugby team so as to add muscle, agility, and all-round sonic athleticism.
My one-word take on the 40.2 would be this: Wow.

The Newest Harbeth

vinnie RMAF 2015

The New Harbeth 40.2 at the Rocky MountainAudio Fest! We just returned from the U.S. debut of the finest monitor Harbeth has ever produced. The amazing Harbeth 40.2 in striking Tiger Ebony finish was out for a stroll in Denver this past weekend and the results are nothing short stunning. The retooled reference monitor offered us a glimpse of sonic bliss asit opened up over the weekend. The world famous Harbeth midrange tonally perfect with a new precision crossover and snap tight bass made for a pace not commonly known for in BBC monitors.

This is the third speaker in the line that Alan Shaw has retooled with a new precision crossover which has produced remarkable results on the Monitor 30.1, Super HL5 plus and now the Monitor 40.2. The previous two have catapulted to the top of their class winning TAS Golden Ear Awards and Stereophile most recommended list. This promises to be a great year for this new Harbeth. This is a reference level speaker in the $15k range with precise Bass a ravishing Midrange and bespoke tweeter in the tradition of the finest BBC monitors. This just happens to be the best ever period! Owning a pair of these will bring a lifetime of musical enjoyment to your home.

We are now accepting preorders, so you can have yours built. Contact us at Fidelis or one of our fine dealers in your area for more information.

Remember Music for Life

Almanac: Frank Lloyd Wright on the imagination of Beethoven


August 14, 2015 By Terry Teachout

INK BOTTLE“In Beethoven’s music I sense the master mind, fully conscious of the qualities of heartful soaring imagination that are god-like in a man. The striving for entity, oneness in diversity, depth in design, repose in the final expression of the whole—all these are there in common pattern between architect and musician. So I am going to a delightful, inspiring school when I listen to Beethoven’s music—music not ‘classic’—soul language never to be classified. Because of soul-depth and breath of emotional range, Beethoven’s music is in itself the greatest proof I know of divine harmony alived in the human spirit. As trees and flowering things under the changing lights of a beclouded sun pervade the all out of doors, so Beethoven pervades the universe of the soul.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, An Autobiography

The Harbeth Super HL-5 Plus is awarded a coveted Golden Ear Award for 2015


2015 GEC LOGO GOLD FINALWe are very excited to learn that the Harbeth Super HL5 plus loudspeaker is to be honored with a Golden Ear Award. Since the redesign we have been so fortunate to be recognized at every venue and in every reviewers ear, this speaker has taken its place in the classic BBC design as one of the finest ever! Now the work of Alan Shaw and the Harbeth team have been so deservedly recognized with another Golden Ear Award.

It’s a golden tribute for Harbeth’s Super HL5plus loudspeaker as The Absolute Sound magazine awards the hand-crafted British model a coveted Golden Ear Award in its latest issue (Sept 2015). Golden Ear logo

This is the fourth time in designer Alan Shaw’s career that Harbeth has been rewarded with the audio industry’s prestigious award for audio excellence.

The magazine’s Paul Seydor is busy reviewing the loudspeaker for the next issue. “The Super HL5plus has won a succession of international awards since it was released last year,” says Harbeth’s Trevor Butler [see story below]. “To collect a fourth Golden Ear for the Harbeth Monitoring Series is truly awesome.”

The news comes as awards flood in for the Super HL5plus loudspeaker which is only a few months into its production. The model is being honoured by audio writers around the world as award after award is bestowed on the model, from America to Russia and Japan to Germany, as it delghts and entertains.

Harbeth HL5
Harbeth HL5

Rega P5



Rega P5 New $1299

Used $700

Rega P5 Turntable taken in trade. New Retail $1299. Uses the Rega RB 700 tonearm which retailed for $700 separately and was one step down from Rega’s top RB1000. Typical Rega reliability and performance.

From the Stereophile review by Art Dudley who listens primarily to vinyl and knows more than most of the wonders of vinyl playback and is among the very best writers in the world of audio journalism:


The new RB700 uses the same aluminum-alloy armtube as its forebears, although this one is painted silver instead of black. Other details have been refined, as well: The lateral bearing carrier has been redesigned, allowing more precise bearing adjustment and a surer, more rigid connection between the bearings and the rest of the arm. Also, an even-higher-spec bearing is used in the RB700. The three-point stainless-steel mount is carried over from the top-of-the-line RB1000 arm, for a more reliably tight connection to the plinth. And the bias mechanism, in which a small magnet tugs at a metal tang extended from the lateral bearing race, has been refined for a more consistent and precise antiskating force. The only difference between the arms supplied with the two new Rega record players is that the more expensive P7 gets an RB700 with the above-mentioned tungsten counterweight, while the humbler P5 gets an arm with the less exotic stainless-steel type.

The Rega P5 is built around the same style of plinth developed for the P9: a low-mass “skeleton” CNC-machined from a fibrous wood composite, then sandwiched under high compression between thin sheets of satin-black phenolic. A threaded brass bearing well, nicely machined on the inside and fitted with a steel ball bearing, bolts to the plinth with a single nut. The 0.3″ steel bearing axle, ground flat at one end to mate with the ball bearing, is pressed into a 4″-diameter molded hub‚Äîa part that will look familiar to anyone who’s owned a Planar 2 or 3 of any vintage, as will the 11.6″-diameter glass platter.


I began my own musical relaxation with the stock P5, and found it did a fine job of sorting out notes and beats and presenting them as a realistic continuum. Rock music virtually always sounds good on a Rega‚Äîbut it’s worth noting how well the P5 played classical, too. Bruno Walter’s thoughtful performance of Brahms’ Symphony 4 (a Classic Records reissue of Columbia MS 6113) held my attention throughout, with good note definition and believable flow. My fully tricked-out Linn LP12 was more dramatic, and imbued such things as the plucked basses in theAndantewith greater color and texture, but the Rega wasn’t so terribly far behind‚Äîand was, in fact, shockingly good for roughly a third of the price.

The P5 also did well with Zubin Mehta’s Bruckner Ninth (Decca Jubilee JB 108), an unusual record that combines a subtle performance with a recorded sound that’s unambiguouslybig. Again, the best thing I can say is that the Rega allowed the music to hold my attention from start to finish‚Äîa talent that escapes so much “high-end” gear I could cry.

A very different sort of Bruckner performance‚ÄîClaudio Abbado’s brisk and well-controlled First, in a superb-sounding Decca/London release (CS 6706)‚Äîalso found a good home on the P5’s platter, where it was both pacey and timbrally very rich, all delivered with a huge sense of drama and no strain whatsoever.

The P5 also remained unfazed by surface noise. One rainy afternoon I dug out my worn copy of the odd samplerThe Reiner Sound, by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony (RCA LSC-2183), and noted with appreciation that the Rega rivaled my Linn’s ability to sail through Ravel’sPavane pour une infante d√©funte‚Äîwhich is, counterintuitively, a perversely mediocre recording of a good, emotional performance‚Äîwithout exaggerating the disc’s many ticks and pops.

But given a clean and superior-sounding record, such as Miles Davis’Young Man with a Horn(a Japanese reissue of Blue Note LP 5013), the Rega P5 rose to the occasion with a satisfying mix of everything that’s important in music replay: the sort of emotional and intellectual involvement that comes only when a hi-fi component gets the musical essentials down right, plus such niceties as realistic impact from Kenny Clarke’s drums, and good texture and color throughout‚Äîespecially Gil Coggins’ piano, which was commendably resonant and clear (try the opening bars of “How Deep Is the Ocean”).

It didn’t take many LP sides to convince me of the P5’s musical competence, and a brief comparison with my own P3 revealed the former to be more explicitly detailed and‚Äîsurprise!‚Äîsignificantly better at putting across soundfield depth and image placement (on stereo records, that is: lateral imaging on monophonic records remains the province of the Thomas De Quinceys of the audio press). Still, the introduction of the optional TT PSU power supply was a remarkable thing, in more ways than one: It very obviously helped the Rega decode the subtle timbral shifts throughout guitarist Tony Rice’s introduction to “Home from the Forest” (Manzanita, Rounder 0092). And it gave all music a bit more momentum, and took the stereo depth and image placement further still. Music playback was, overall, more convincing with the TT PSU in place‚Äîa real no-brainer for the extra $345.

I noticed, however, that if I left the TT PSU set for 45rpm andthenswitched on the P5, the platter had a hard time coming up to speed‚Äîand usually needed some digital coaxing (digitalas inmy fingertip). Apparently, the small belt and subplatter prefer to have motor torque sneak up on them rather than rush them all at once. It was a shortcoming to which I simply resigned myself‚Äîaided by the pleasure of easy access to my collection of XTC’s brilliant 12″ singles without the unspeakable torment of having to get on my knees and pull off the platter.

By now it was clear: The P5 is an unambiguously fine, musical LP player, considered on its own and in comparison with its less expensive sibling‚Äîand it does nothing but add luster to Rega’s already well-deserved reputation for value.

IMG_0136 IMG_0135 IMG_0134 IMG_0133

Harbeth Super HL 5 Plus Rave Reviews Continue

This past month we received two glowing reviews for the Harbeth Super HL 5 Plus from Art Dudley of Stereophile and Steve Guttenberg of CNET. We are so pleased with all the wonderful feed back we’ve received from dealers, end users and audio show attendees. It’s been truly remarkable!



In Stereophile Art Dudley wrote:

With both of the amplifiers I used, and in both of my rooms‚Äîbut especially in the larger‚Äîthe Harbeth Super HL5plus sounded conspicuously, even startlingly, clear. It wasn’t the sort of clarity that comes from a tipped-up treble or an absence of bass‚Äîneither of which the Harbeth had‚Äîand the speaker’s presentation, although a little more forward than those of most other British boxes of my experience, wasn’t excessively so. Instead, the Super HL5plus simply emanated a greater amount of sonic detail and musical information, especially in terms of pitch and timing, than I hear from most speakers, and did so with ease, beauty, and an utter lack of artifice or strain.

And for a loudspeaker of sufficient but not generous efficiency, the Harbeth had surprisingly good tactile qualities, in which sense it brought to mind‚Äîand exceeded‚Äîthe ostensibly similar Stirling Broadcast LS3/6. As I listened to “Cortez the Killer,” from Neil Young’s Zuma (LP, Reprise MS 2242), it was Ralph Molina’s snare drum that first caught my attention: spatially set back from the front of the stage, but very impactful and present and crisp, if not as forceful as through my Altec horns. The tone of Young’s electric guitar also struck me as just right‚Äîthe perfect combination of electric snarl and rich sustain‚Äîand his voice was texturally realistic and, again, present.”

In CNET Steve Guttenberg Noted:

“The Super HL5Plus was designed for consumers, not pros, but there’s more than a little pro monitor in its DNA. Every recording’s unique sonic qualities were laid bare, but I never felt the sound was analytical to the point of making average recordings too harsh or abrasive. Center image focus was unusually precise, bass was full, richly appointed, and definition was never less than surefooted.

The Super HL5Plus’ midrange truth makes you realize just how rare that is, most box speakers contain and constrain the sound of voices, guitars, horns, flutes, etc. Spend some time with the Super HL5Plus or any Harbeth speaker to hear what you’ve been missing.”

At the Newport Audio Show Herb Reichert reported:

“I have not been to all the rooms (yet) but the Harbeth HL5plus loudspeakers ($6695/pair) powered by the new Vinnie Rossi LIO integrated amp ($3400) would be my early pick for the best sound of Newport 2015. This Rossi-Harbeth combination did all the things I need a hifi to do: Big, liquid, extremely colorful sound. Space, detail, and fantastic imaging. Best of all it played music with an uncanny ease.”

I reached sonic results I never thought possible in my living room

I met Walter Swanbon 15 years ago as I considered moving from a Mid-Fi music system into the glorious realm and far more musical world of Hi-Fi. I was a customer with just enough information to hurt myself but Walter and his staff patently guided me until I had reached sonic results I never thought possible in my living room. My visits to Fidelis Audio are frequent as I feel like I’m visiting a friend’s house. My wife and I think so much of Walter and his staff that they were invited to our wedding. Never any pressure always eager to help with in home demos and personal visits to help with setup makes my buying decisions easy and painless.

Bill Taranovich, Concord, NH

Improve your listening experience and stop by their showroom.

I have been a customer of Fidelis since ’08 when I came in to simply upgrade my CD-based system. In the ensuing years I have gone through several system modifications, from CD to computer and streaming audio and most recently I have ventured into the world of vinyl.

I have found the staff knowledgable, they understand the nuances of component matching, always very helpful and I never felt any pressure, actually quite the opposite. I would encourage anyone who is interested in improving their listening experience to stop by their showroom. The more I listen to my new system, the more impressed I become.

Preston Reed