40 years of Stereophile: The Hot 100 Products Page 2
Stereophile review: Spring 1971 (Vol.2 No.12). The late Henry Kloss had the Midas touch: whatever his fancy alighted on turned into sonic gold. In the case of the Advent Loudspeaker, he designed America's first true high-end dynamic sealed-box loudspeaker. And given that everyone was convinced that good speakers needed to use three drive-units, Henry made do with two. He designed the Advent armed with microphone, voltmeter, oscilloscope, and signal generator, but without—the entire generation of speaker engineers who graduated since the early 1980s will be astonished to learn—a computer. Henry made do with talent and ingenuity.
: Supex SD900 MC phono cartridge
Stereophile review: Winter 1973 (Vol.3 No.7). Designed by Japan's Yoshiaki Sugano, the Supex reintroduced the sonic benefits of the moving-coil cartridge to an audio world dominated by but dissatisfied with moving-magnet designs.
: Acoustic Energy AE1 loudspeaker
First Stereophile review: September 1988 (Vol.11 No.9; also Vol.15 No.7). Designer Phil Jones may have fed the LS3/5A concept steroids, but the AE1 makes the list because it spearheaded the resurgence of the metal-cone woofer, which acts as a pure piston in its passband. (But outside the passband...)
: Acoustat 2+2 electrostatic loudspeaker
Stereophile review: February 1984 (Vol.7 No.2). Between the demise of the KLH 9 and the introduction of the MartinLogan CLS, the Acoustats held high the flag of American electrostatics.
: Jeff Rowland Design Group Concentra integrated amplifier
(No Stereophile review.) Jeff Rowland's products demonstrate that great-sounding audio can involve more than a utilitarian design ethic. I wanted to include one of the JRDG components; John Marks chose the Concentra.
: Vendetta Research SCP-2 phono preamplifier
First Stereophile review: June 1988 (Vol.11 No.6; also Vol.15 Nos.1 & 11, Vol.16 No.9, Vol.17 No.3). Still one of the quietest phono preamplifiers ever designed, this gem from designer John Curl featured hand-matched FETs. Long out of production, this classic still pops up occasionally on eBay.
: Audio Alchemy Digital Transmission Interface
First Stereophile review: May 1993 (Vol.16 No.5; also Vol.16 No.11, Vol.17 No.7). Given that Barry Blesser's encyclopedic primer on digital audio in the October 1978 issue of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society had described the problems due to word-clock jitter, it was a puzzle that it took another 12 years for the audio establishment to acknowledge its existence and to start to address the problem. The DTI was one solution, and a pretty inexpensive one at that. But the one thing we reviewers were never quite sure we could say in public back then, given the record industry's paranoia over digital taping, was that one reason the DTI lowered jitter, thus improving the sound, was that it stripped from the digital datastream the subcode—which included the SCMS copy-prevention flag.
: Janis W-1 subwoofer
(No Stereophile review.) For years the coffee-table-esque Janis had the tiny high-end subwoofer market to itself. Then along came Velodyne and all the other major low-bass players. But John Marovkis and Janis were there first.
: MBL 101d omnidirectional loudspeaker
(No Stereophile review.) Critics dubbed this innovative German design the "accordion from Mars," but Jürgen Reiss's bending-mode Radialstrahler drive-units were the first to successfully address the challenge of producing a laterally omnidirectional radiation pattern.
: PSB Alpha loudspeaker
First Stereophile review: July 1992 (Vol.15 No.7; also Vol.17 No.1, Vol.23 No.4, Vol.25 No.5). Canadian Paul Barton has designed bigger speakers and he has designed better speakers, but none of those has offered so much sound for so little money as the Alpha in all its guises—or, with more than 50,000 sold, has benefited so many people.
: Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe PC soundcard
Stereophile review: September 2000 (Vol.23 No.9). The first component to enable a computer to be used as a true high-end source component.
: Thorens TD124 turntable
Stereophile review: January 1963 (Vol.1 No.3). The first European answer to the AR turntable, the TD124 spawned a dynasty of excellent 'tables that, like the AR, were let down by their tonearms. The more basic TD150, mounted with an SME arm, was about as good as you could get for LP playback before Ivor Tiefenbrun reinvented the belt-drive/suspended-subchassis concept in the 1970s as the Linn Sondek LP12.
: Quicksilver MX-190 monoblock power amplifier
First Stereophile review: June 1984 (Vol.7 No.3; also Vol.8 Nos.2 & 4). "This amplifier, in an underground way, helped lead the resurgence of tube gear in the dark days of the early 1980s," says Sam Tellig. Many, if not most, of the units sold are said to be still in use (although owners may have had to convert from the original 8417 output tube to the EL34).
: Dynavector Karat DV-17D MC phono cartridge
First Stereophile review: October 1982 (Vol.5 No.8; also Vol.6 No.1, Vol.7 No.8, Vol.8 No.1, Vol.10 No.5). With its short, rigid diamond cantilever, the late Dr. Tominari's masterpiece produced an astonishingly transparent view into the recorded soundstage while making almost impossible demands of the rest of the playback system. But when the planets aligned...