2012 Recommended Components Headphones

Headphones & Headphone Accessories

Editor’s Note: We strongly recommend those interested in headphone listening visit our new sister website, www.InnerFidelity.com, which is edited by Tyll Hertsens.

A

Antelope Zodiac Bundle: $4495
Price includes Voltikus PSU. See “Digital Processors.” (Vol.34 No.10 Read Review Online)

Audio-Technica ATH-AD900: $299.95 $$$
The ATH-AD900 has the same basic look and design as the less expensive ATH-AD700, but offer significantly better build quality. They had a nuanced, natural sound, with outstanding low-level detail and exquisite tonality, said ST. The best ‘phones he’s heard for the money, but they made casual listening almost impossible. “Unless you’re a boom-boom bass freak and a total philistine, get a pair,” he said, adding that “the bass is superbly defined, however, making many other headphones sound bloated and overblown.” (Vol.34 No.6)

Benchmark Media Systems DAC1: $995 $$$
DAC1 USB: $1295 ✩
DAC1 PRE: $1595
DAC1 HDR: $1895
Two headphone jacks but only digital inputs rather than analog. See “Digital Processors.” (Vol.26 No.7, Vol.27 No.5, Vol.31 Nos.1, 7, & 10, Vol.32 No.3, Vol.33 Nos.6 &11 Read Review Online, Vol.34 No.6 Read Review Online)

Etymotic Research ER-4S: $299 ✩
Compared to Etymotic’s newer hf2/hf5, the ER-4S sounded “a tad less bright, while also extracting the slightest bit more microdynamic detail,” said WP. His long-term reference in-ear monitors. (Vol.18 No.7, Vol.33 No.8 Read Review Online)

Grace m903: $1995
Headphone amplifier with an onboard DAC handling sampling rates up to 192kHz. See “Digital Processors.” (Vol.34 No.12 Read Review Online)

JH Audio JH16 Pro: $1149 (plus custom earmold fee)
Designed by Jerry Harvey (ex–Ultimate Ears), the top-of-the-line JH Audio in-ear monitor uses eight precision-balanced armatures (two dual-armature woofers, one dual-armature midrange, and one dual-armature tweeter) and a three-way crossover. It delivered clean transient attacks, a smooth midrange, big-hearted bass, and a detailed soundstage, said JA. The JH16 Pro exhibited excellent overall performance when driven directly by JA’s iPod Classic, but offered more low-bass energy and greater articulation when driven by the Ray Samuels Emmeline The Tomahawk headphone amplifier. Price includes plastic Otterbox carrying case, felt drawstring bag, and cleaning tool. (Vol.34 No.8 Read Review Online)

Musical Fidelity M1HPA: $799
The M1HPA headphone amplifier replaces Musical Fidelity’s X-CanV8, and has a built-in power supply, a single pair of RCA analog inputs, and a USB DAC, which ST considers “just fine for Internet Radio and podcasts.” Though it had a somewhat austere, dry overall presentation, the HPA sounded “exquisitely and addictively detailed,” with “grab-ass bass and astonishing purity of tone,” said ST. “Makes an excellent line stage. Consider using this with your computer to drive—and I mean drive—a pair of powered loudspeakers.” Sam’s reference. (Vol.34 No.3)

Sennheiser HD 800: $1499.95
Sennheiser’s attack on the state of the headphone art uses a 56mm ring-radiator transducer, the largest dynamic driver currently in use in any headphone. The HD800’s large earpieces are made from a combination of absorbing composites and functional metal accents, and though the ‘phones’ weight is 11.5 oz without cable, its clever damping and padding made it comfortable for extended listening. The HD800’s Y-cable harness uses braided, Kevlar-reinforced OFC copper wire; the cable is terminated with a very substantial 1⁄4" phono plug at one end, and two proprietary Sennheiser connectors at the earpieces. WP: “I was stunned by the Sennheisers’ ability to project scale, to reveal dynamic nuance, to present timbre with realism.” (Vol.32 No.7 Read Review Online)

Sennheiser HD 650: $499.95 ✩
The HD 650s are an evolution of Sennheiser’s very successful HD 600 open-back dynamic headphones, claimed to provide superior results due to hand-selected parts with closer tolerances and the use of a specially developed acoustic silk for the driver diaphragms. Compared to the Grado SR325i, the Sennheisers sounded richer but slightly darker. JM found that their very effective seal created a resonant cavity that produced “bass that is both quite deep and a trifle indistinct.” JA’s new reference cans. (Vol.28 No.6, Vol.31 No.9 Read Review Online)

Sennheiser HD 600: $399.95 ✩
WP, KR, and ST were unanimous in calling these the best dynamic headphones they’ve ever heard. “The only ones with which I have ever been physically or sonically comfortable,” says KR. “Sennheiser has kept all of the qualities that made the HD 580 among the best of its breed, and in several areas has even managed to better it impressively,” according to WP. Says ST, “The magic of the HD 600s is their midrange—a purity of tone, especially when driven by tubes, that is quite special.” Astonishingly transparent when driven in balanced mode by a HeadRoom BlockHead, found J-10 in July 2002. (Vol.21 No.2 Read Review Online)

Smyth Research Realiser A8 system: $3760
Based on the Smyth Virtual Surround algorithm, the Realiser A8 subjects an audio signal to a DSP simulation of the hearing mechanisms needed for full spatial perception and then reproduces that signal through headphones, allowing users to effectively take the sounds of up to 64 different listening rooms wherever they go. The package includes the Realiser A8 processor box and power supply, the RC-1 remote control, a TU-1 Head Tracker, a TR-1 Head Tracker Reference, two HTM-1 miniature in-ear microphones, and a set of Stax SRS-2050 II headphones. The Realiser A8 provided the same balance and soundstaging as KR’s main system, and allowed him to hear subtle differences between his Manhattan and Connecticut systems. “For the first time in my life, headphone listening was not only convincing but enjoyable,” Kal marveled, adding “Class A all the way. Not only does the Realizer sound transparent as a headphone amplifier, it transforms headphone listening both in stereo and in multichannel.” (Vol.33 No.11 Read Review Online)

Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom in-ear monitors: $1350 (plus custom earmold fee)
The 18 Pro is a three-way, in-ear, custom-mold design with six balanced armatures: two each for the bass, midrange, and treble, the latter allowing the 18 Pro to have the most extended top end of any UE model. It combined clean, airy highs with a smooth, detailed midrange and deep, well-defined bass. “Its ability to play low frequencies at high levels with minimal distortion is unmatched by other in-ear ‘phones, and the clarity and smoothness of its midrange is Class A,” said JA. Its mid-treble might sound a little laid-back with headphone amplifiers having a high output impedance, however. Price includes personalized aluminum carrying case and cleaning tool, but does not include the custom earmold fee; optional Ambiance feature allows some leakage of exterior sounds and adds $50. (Vol.33 No.12 Read Review Online)

Ultimate Ears 11 Pro Custom in-ear monitors: $1150 ✩ (plus custom earmold fee)
The lightweight, in-ear 11s have four balanced-armature transducers and a passive, three-way crossover. The rated sensitivity is 119dB/W/m, the specified impedance 18 ohms at 1kHz. The 11’s size and 26dB reduction in environmental noise made them WP’s favorite traveling headphones. Compared to Ultimate Ears’ 10s, the 11s offered greater bass extension and a warmer, more natural midrange. For optimal performance, the 11s should be used with a headphone amp optimized for driving lower impedances, advised JA. Price does not include custom earmold fee. (Vol.31 No.5 Read Review Online)

B

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700: $159.95 ✩
The ATH-AD700s have a honeycomb aluminum casing, a magnesium frame, and 53mm neodymium drivers. Two wing-flaps self-adjust to the listener’s head to sit there “firmly, but ever so lightly,” making them “among the most comfortable headphones” in ST’s experience. While they couldn’t match the bass authority or detail retrieval of the more expensive AKG K 701s, the Audio-Technicas had impressive openness, air, and ambience, and a “silky smooth” midrange. “Simply amazing headphones,” concluded Sam. The ATH-AD700s were too large for travel, and could benefit from a dedicated headphone amp, he felt. (Vol.31 No.6)

CEntrance DACport: $399.95 $$$
Built in the US, the bus-powered DACport is a small, well-finished, tubular device 4.5" long, with a 1⁄4" stereo headphone jack and a USB port. Although the USB interface operates in adaptive isochronous mode, CEntrance employs their proprietary, two-stage JitterGuard clock-management system. The DACport’s D/A section will decode 24-bit data at sample rates up to 96kHz, and its direct-coupled output stage is claimed to run in class-A. Setup was simple; no driver is required, and the DACport is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. Though it lacked the bass extension and control of the Benchmark DAC1, the DACport offered a clean, grain-free sound, with airy highs and natural transients. “A great-sounding product at a great price,” exclaimed JA. (Vol.33 Nos.6 & 10 Read Review Online)

Little Dot Mk.III: $199 $$$
Made in China, this little headphone amp measures 6.9" W by 4.8" H by 10.6" D and weighs just 6.6 lbs. The casework is beautifully finished, and high-quality parts, including an ALPS-16 volume pot and WIMA capacitors, are used throughout. Two GE5654 driver tubes and two 6N6PI tubes come as standard, but tube rolling is encouraged. The amp has a single headphone jack on its front panel and two high-quality RCA jacks at the rear. Used with headphones or as a line stage, the Little Dot Mk.III provided a rich, warm, spacious sound with ripe bass, a glorious midrange, and unaggressive treble, said ST. Needed about 100 hours of break-in to sound its best. (Vol.33 No.5)

Music Hall ph25.2: $399
Made by Shanling in China, the Music Hall ph25.2 measures 8.5" W by 3.75" H by 13.5" D and weighs about 7 lbs. It provides two headphone outputs, a pair of analog outs, and two sets of analog inputs, selectable by a front-panel switch. Miniature 6N1B tubes, that look like Christmas tree lights, are partnered with a pair of Texas Instruments TPA6120 op-amps; build quality is high throughout. Compared to the Little Dot Mk.III, the Music Hall had an open, airy sound with tighter, more authoritative bass, a less prominent midrange, and sweetly extended treble, said ST. (Vol.33 No.5)

Phiaton Moderna MS 400: $249 ✩
The beautiful Moderna MS 400s are crafted from black carbon fiber and clad in Ferrari Rosso Corso crimson leather. Their circumaural, closed-back design, adjustable headband, folding earcups, and carrying case make them attractive for travel use. Though the Phiatons lacked “a touch of sparkle,” they offered “a superbly tight low end” and had an “extremely musical” overall sound, said WP. Their high sensitivity should make them compatible with iPods, determined JA. (Vol.32 No.1 Read Review Online)

Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline The Predator: $475 ✩
Measuring just 2" W by 0.8" H by 2.9" D, the hand-built Predator headphone amplifier is available in six bold colors, and has a mil-spec printed circuit board and Vishay resistors. A front-panel switch toggles between the line and USB inputs, and there’s a three-position gain switch on the rear panel. The Predator’s tiny lithium-ion battery can be charged more than 500 times, a single charge lasting for about seven days of playing eight hours a day. Though it lacked the dynamics, bass authority, and low-level detail of the Musical Fidelity X-CANV8, the Predator’s size, versatility, and convenience made it “amazing,” said Sam. (Vol.31 No.9)

Ultimate Ears 5 Pro Custom: $600 ✩ (plus custom earmold fee)
These lightweight, sound-isolating, in-ear headphones feature dual balanced armatures, a passive crossover, and 1⁄8" stereo mini-jack. Their use of custom-fitted earpieces make it important to have a mold correctly crafted for each of your ears. Insertion and removal of the earpieces was initially problematic, but soon became second nature. They offered excellent isolation from external sounds, were easily comfortable for long listening sessions, and combined a smooth midrange and mellow highs with addictive, larger-than-life bass. “Highly recommended,” concluded JA: “Borderline Class A.” Soft material option adds $50; metal carrying case adds $20. (Vol.27 No.12 Read Review Online)

C

Audio-Technica ATH-M50s: $199
The ATH-M50s is a rugged, closed-back headphone design with articulated earcup yokes that allow the earcups to be levered up into the nicely padded headband. Though not in the same class as the much more expensive Sennheiser HD-800 or Denon 7000, the ATH-M50s was “very listenable.” JM bought a pair. “These ‘phones are basically accurate enough, nonfatiguing, and with a tilt toward warmth, a very solid if somewhat emphasized bass, and a midrange neutrality not always found in the lower links of the headphone food chain.” (Vol.33 No.2 Read Review Online)

Etymotic Research hf2: $159
Etymotic Research hf5: $149
Dynamic, diffuse-field–response, in-ear headphones with integral microphone for use with Apple’s iPhone (hf2) or without (hf5). Each model has a single balanced-armature driver, a nominal impedance of 16 ohms, and uses user-replaceable filters to achieve its final response curve. A carrying case, two replacement filters, a filter-replacement tool, and an assortment of eartips are included. The hf2/hf5 provided fine ambience retrieval and reproduced voices and instruments with impressive weight and impact. “I have heard no other in-ear headphones that remotely approach the cost of the hf2 or hf5 while offering better performance,” said WP. (Vol.33 No.8 Read Review Online)

Grado SR60i: $79 ✩ $$$
The original SR60 offered a rather dark-toned balance, with a full bass and excellent resolution of detail. A more forward midrange, however. Uncomfortable. Upgrades from the original SR60 include a new driver and improved cables. While maintaining the original’s freedom from obvious colorations and resonances, the SR60i went a bit deeper in the bass and had a slightly more vivid midrange for a more involving overall sound. “The SR60i is modestly better than the original, and remains one of audio’s great bargains,” said Jim Austin. (Vol.17 Nos.6 & 10 Read Review Online, original, Vol.33 No.4 Read Review Online)

Koss PortaPro Stereophones: $49.99 $$$
These small, open-backed, collapsible headphones come with a lifetime guarantee and delivered “rich, full, ear-filling sound,” said ST. Surprisingly sweet sound and better bass than you might expect. (Vol.34 No.4)

Musical Fidelity V-CAN Mk.II: $199
This is essentially the same component as the original V-CAN (reviewed in Vol.32 No.5), but in a much nicer-looking case of brushed aluminum. ST heard little difference between the Mk.II and the earlier model. Adding the Pangea P-100 power supply resulted in a sound that was cleaner, more dynamic, more sweetly extended, and less electronic. “This is a headphone amp for those who do not want to get silly with thousand dollar cans and the like,” sez Sam, who has one on his nightstand. High Class C. (Vol.35 No.2)

Westone 3: $349
The Westone 3 is a three-driver in-ear monitor with a rated sensitivity of 107dB and a specified impedance of 30 ohms. The package includes a removable inline volume control, a leather pouch, an earwax lasso, and 10 different pairs of eartips. The sound was “pristine and spacious, with very good separation between instruments, plenty of air, well-placed in-head images, and an in-head soundstage that was bigger than my head,” said Jim Austin. Though the 3 had “the kind of weight you might expect from a top-end circumaural,” Jim noted “a substantial midbass hump” that obscured the sound of some music. (Vol.32 No.9 Read Review Online)

D

Howard Leight Sync Stereo Earmuff: $36 $$$
These passive noise-isolating headphones held their own against JM’s reference Audio-Technica ATH-M50s and provided good isolation against outside noise. “Neat!” (Vol.34 No.12 Read Review Online)

No Class Distinction

Etymotic Research Custom-Fit earmolds: $100/pair
Through the nationwide network of audiologists in its Custom-Fit program, Etymotic Research produces custom eartips for its headphones for a cost of about $100/pair. Custom-Fit earmolds are made of soft silicone, can be formed to fit all Etymotic models, and improve on the stock Etymotic eartips’ reduction of ambient noise. WP: “With the Custom-Fit earmolds, the bass is better, the midrange is clearer, and the highs are crisper-but most important, they’re comfortable.” Once the master molds are made, additional pairs of earmolds are available at a discount. (Vol.33 No.12 Read Review Online)

HeadRoom/Cardas headphone cable modifications for Sennheiser HD 650: starting at $185, cable modifications for AKG-701: starting at $250
Four-conductor Cardas cable replaces the stock cable and is terminated with a hefty Cardas plug designed to reduce crosstalk. The AKG cable is hardwired directly to the drivers, eliminating at least two solder joints; the Sennheiser cables are hardwired to custom-built, tight-grip Sennheiser connectors. While the HeadRoom-modified AKGs “sounded warmer and punchier, with extra detail throughout,” the Sennheisers benefited from increased clarity and top-end sparkle, moaned WP. (Vol.31 No.11, Vol.32 No.7 Read Review Online)

Westone UM56 custom earmolds: $126/pair made of vinyl; $154/pair made of silicone ✩
Westone’s earmolds are made from silicone material impressions taken by an audiologist. When Jim Austin used the UM56s with his Shure E4s, he noted strong bass response and excellent sound isolation. A positive, secure fit requires an open-jaw ear impression. Initial moldings, formed from a relaxed-jaw impression, resulted in poor isolation and a loose fit. “Highly recommended—but open wide,” said Jim. (Vol.30 No.5 Read Review Online)

K

Sony MDR-7506, Denon AH-D7000 headphones.

Deletions

Musical Fidelity V-CAN, Phiaton PS 200 discontinued; Vincent Audio KHV-1, Cayin HA-1A not auditioned in too long a time.

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COMMENTS
Martin Osborne's picture

I understand that this is part of 'what you do', but thanks for bringing this altogther in one place - a lot of work has gone into it and I for one appreciate it. 

 

 

JItterjaber's picture

Making your product recommendations available to the digital generation will certainly help more people see your publication.  Thanks for trying to keep current!

www.hifiqc.com

Ajani's picture

This is a really good move! I know a lot of online users have been hoping and waiting for the recommended components to be released on the website. 

smittyman's picture

I've always appreciated how much content Stereophile makes available on this site.  I also always figured that Recommended Components was something that was held off the website to give us some incentive to purchase the magazine in either paper or on line form so I was really pleased to see this added.

soulful.terrain's picture

 

 This is great!  Thanks to all the staff for putting this valuable info together for us neophytes like myself. ;-)

Timbo in Oz's picture

One of the problems of the 'buy it yourself' approach to audio a Magazine is stuck with is that the path of modifying upgrading used gear gets short shrift, let alone doing it yourself. Those parts of the high-end are off the radar here.

This partciularly applies to FM antennas. The best results from FM stereo can only result from pointing a directional antenna with gain at the desired station. One sure way to get such results is an external directional antenna up high. This ensures that the FM front end will be in (i) full limiting and (ii) that there is minimal multi-path on the signal.

Few indoor antennas are really good at either (i) or (ii), unless your lucky and close to a desired staion or two. Just one type is capable of doing both, but you can't buy one. This best indoor FM antenna is the wire rhombic with sides approaching 3 metres long (or exceeding). The gain is high because each element equals the desired wavelength and becasue it is also a highly directional antenna. The cost in money is very low, 14 to 20 meters of twin ribbon, some resistors and a balun to feed coax to your radio.

When made from 300 ohm twin ribbon (the same stuff used for T folded dipole antennas) it will have twice the already high gain. Don't worry you are most unlikely to overalaod your FM front-end.

You can hide it on a suitable room's ceiling or under a large rug. A suitable room is the largest one which has a long diagonal pointing in the right direction - ie at most of your desired stations. Note also that the acceptance angle of a rhombic can be adjusted in and out a couple of ways, see the article referenced below.

The article about them and how to make one was published in the now defunct magazine 'Audio' and is available at the Audio Asylum's FAQ section, near the bottom of the listings.

If you can drive a good tuner into full limiting with a strong low multipath signal and have even one station that broadcasts live acoustic simply miked concerts, you have a true high-end source.

Tim Bailey

 

 

 

JohnnyR's picture

Cable reccomendations without a single measurement, just "oh it sounds just dandy" approach. How lame.This is useless.

Glotz's picture

This subjective review resource has around for decades, in print form.  You are the 4,895,235th 'listener' that thinks he knows more than these guys...

Bwahahahahahhaahhaahahhah!  Yeah, really.

Tim Lim's picture

Dear Stereophile,

This report is indeed welcome but may I ask how are the different classes differentiated? What are the criteria for any model to be included in their respective class? I don't see this guide anywhere.

Regards,

Tim

earlnightshade's picture

Total new guy here, but a quick question about the rating of the Peachtree Dac it.  To confirm I'm understanding correctly, is it considered so poor quality it gets a letter grade of "K"?  As in not even worthy of an "F"?

 

Thanks

smittyman's picture

They haven't reviewed it yet.  It is not several grades below an F

nleksan's picture

Okay, so sound quality is as subjective as the music itself, I get that.

But seriously, you include the ATH-M50's and ATH-AD700's (good headphones, don't get me wrong), but not the SR225/SR325 from Grado?  What about the absolutely SUBLIME RS1i or its little-brother the RS2i?  The PS1000's?

I own all of the above, and for studio work I favor the RS1i's above anything else, especially Sennheiser, as monitors don't have to be PAINFULLY Flat to listen to, they just have to be accurate to the source while able to replicate other sources, which the RS1i's/RS2i's/PS1000's do with aplomb!  The dynamic design and solid-mahogany cups make the music sound much more "alive", and the editing/mixing sessions sound identical to the recording sessions; this is in contrast to many others that neuter the sound to the point that it just goes flat.

I realize I am here spouting off my opinion, but as I am pretty sure that's like 87% at least of the job description for being an "audiophile", so I'm okay with it ;)

I just hate to see TRULY deserving headphones get passed over because they don't have the same "prestige" as Bowers&Wilkins or the like, nor the brand recognition of Sennheiser (who are, by the way, on track to becoming the BOSE of the headphone world.... I'll give them 5 years).  I challenge anyone to spend ~20hrs with a pair of Grado SR325's (NOT the SR325i's, but the original Mahogany ones), the RS1i's/RS2i's, the PS1000's, or even the SR225's (again, NOT the SR225i's), a strong headphone amp (everyone has their favorites, but I find that these do best with a good amount of overhead), and the best source material you can get, ideally a very high-end system with DVD-Audio quality sound or better (don't even think about any kind of lossy compression, because you WILL hear every "off" sound).  Heck, I get fantastic results with simply plugging any of the aforementioned 'cans directly into the headphone port on my HT|Omega Claro Halo XT sound card in my very high end workstation/overclocking rig (who says you can't mix business and pleasure??)...
I will admit that every pair of Grado's that I've owned has needed some break-in time, with as little as 40 hours for some SR80i's to ~120hrs for the SR225/SR325 cans to really shine (RS1i's = 75-80hrs, RS2i's = 70-75hrs, PS1000's = 90hrs), but I do my "break-in" a bit differently than most: I set up everything through my computer, including DAC/amp/etc running off an M-Audio card, and I have a specific playlist I use for breaking them in that consists of 125-175x ~3:30 to ~11:15 long Audio Tracks (full, uncompressed recordings and masters; the 125 songs take up about 3.7GB of space! yes, about 30MB per track, at 192Khz/48bit "RAW") of varying types/genres set in "loop" for the first playthrough and then "looping random" after that, and the volume automatically adjusts based on elapsed time.  For those who wonder, I use: Sigur Ros, Pink Floyd, OK GO, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Florence & the Machine, Grateful Dead, Incubus, Jay-Z, Jose Gonzalez, Pete Yorn, (recently added) Trent Reznor & Karen O's "Immigrant Song" cover from Girl w Dragon Tattoo, K'Naan, Manfred Mann, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Metallica ("One"), Norman Greenbaum, Neil Young, Rolling Stones, Scala ("Blower's Daughter"), Shwayze, Sufjan Stevens, RUSH, Tegan&Sara, Tom Petty, The Roots, Them Crooked Vultures, and a bunch more; as you can see, it's a mix of male and female vocalists, every instrument under the sun, all types of music, and so forth (quite eclectic).  BUT IT WORKS!
I PROMISE YOU that if you properly break-in any pair of Grado's, they will become one of your favorite listening headphones, if not your number one.  Having tried everything from the bird-poop-looking iPod iEarbuds (kill me please) to most of the consumer-level stuff (Sony MDR's are Amazing for the price, Beats by Dre are absolute junk and I've left stuff in the porcelain chamber with more musicality than that overpriced BS), to headphones that cost more than many peoples' cars and proclaim to be "hand-assembled by a team of naked supermodels over the course of 123 days with all work done only under a half-crescent moon while Mars and Jupiter align, emparting magical sonic characteristics into the hand-carved African rare wood covers and plated with Rhinocerous poop, well known for its excellent bass enhancement"... Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not THAT much.  YET I KEEP COMING BACK TO THE GRADO'S!!!

JadenKrosis's picture

This product recieved rave reviews in Stereophile. It scored well in comparisons and has even become JA`s go to device for USB audio playback.

Without going into too much detail of Micheal Lavorgnas` review I`m quite sure I`m safe to say he liked it very much also. 

Is it possible this product was overlooked amid all the shock and awe created by the Dragonfly?  (not that there`d be anything wrong with that, I want one too!!!)

John Atkinson's picture

Quote:
Is it possible this product was overlooked amid all the shock and awe created by the Dragonfly?

The Halide was reviewed in August 2012, after this "Recommended Components" was prepared. It will be included in the next update, due in April.

The Halide was also included in the Collector's Edition of Recommended Components, available from newsstands and form the shop on this site: http://ssl.blueearth.net/primedia/home.php

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JadenKrosis's picture

Thank you John and I look forwards to reading that April issue.

bmilwee's picture

In your October 2011 issue, the VPI classic 3 gets an A rating, but here it seems to have been demoted to a B.   Tthe Rega RP3 is class B here, but in the anniversary edition it gets a C rating.  Which is correct?

John Atkinson's picture

Yes, sometimes as the result of further experience of the product or of competitive products, sometimes because the initial rating is provisional, for a product that is reviewed in the same issue as the updated list. But whenever a rating has changed, it is the most recent rating that reflects our current opinion of the product.

In the case of the VPI Classic 3, it has been reinstated in Class A in the listing that will appear in the April 2013 issue.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

shp's picture

I have been a binge reader of stereophile ever since high school when my first job was in a high end stereo shop (Threshold amps, KEF 104.2's).  

My brother is an architect and my colleague an electrical engineer.  They both deride the idea that giant audiophile cables make a difference noting that the wire that delivers electricity to the house and through the walls is only this big.

Not having the budget to try an assortment of (sometimes very expensive) cables I've kept mine pretty modest.  But I will concede they can sound different.  

But I am a little confused that Stereophile has ratings for digital data connects without any measurements. 

Digital cables either deliver bit-perfect data streams or they don't. And their accuracy should be reported even if Stereophile also wants to report the sonic affect of any digital distortion.

If I spent a lot of money on a music server, DAC, amplification and speakers, the last thing I want is the cable altering the bits. 

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