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Tim Lim
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Stereophile Components Classes

Hi there, this info is probably in the hard-copies though I can't remember it. I need to search my archives. I am not a regular subscriber just, an occasional buyer off the shelves. But I thought it would benefit readers alike if this information is made available on the site. What do all those components classes mean? How is a class C component different from a class B? Can't be the price points as readers will note there is no correlation in that respect.

Ariel Bitran
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Hiya Tim!

This information is best available in our print edition. Here's sort of an abbreivated version 

Class A: best attainable sound for components of its kind, w/o practical considerations; the least musical compromise

Class B: the next best thing to the very best sound reproduction; generally cost less than those in Class A, but still quite expensive

Class C: Somewhat lower-fi sound, but far more musically natural than average home-copmonent; high quality but affordable

Class D: Satisfying musical sound, but components are either significatnly lower fidelity than best available or exhibit major compromises in peroformance such as limited dynamic range; we still recommend this product ie its poossible to put together a musically satisfying system exclusively from Class D components

Class E: Entry Level

Tim Lim
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Thanks Ariel, for

Thanks Ariel, for enlightening us. I will look up my hardcopies of the mag when I get home. However, the distinction between Class B & C gets hazy as quite a number of Class C components cost much more than some Class B components. A moot point to consider buying Class C components.

Cheers,

mrvco
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Is price a consideration when

Is price a consideration when classifying components?  It seems like the classification would be strictly performance-based and independent of however the manufacturer chooses to price their product.

Ariel Bitran
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Price in RecComp

While compiling our upcoming 50th Anniversary Stereophile Collector's Edition Recommended Components, I found components tended to be in similar price brackets to the other components in each class, but you will find exceptions. For example, the modestly priced Bellari VP-129 phono preamp ($249) while listed was in Class B was surrounded by amps thousands of dollars more. Also, if a component is too expensive and doesn't sound good enough -- like an amp with a Class A price but Class C sound, this will keep it from being listed because it would be "too expensive for Class C".

If the price outclasses the component, this will prevent it from getting listed. If the component outclasses the price, mazel tov. Price is a consideration but not the final word.

mrvco
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Thanks, that makes sense.

Thanks, that makes sense.

dlb
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Class ratings...really?

The components list is just that..a list!  Great gear is not listed or may be under-rated.  Some Class A gear is marginal and or simply not worth it.  It's a recycled hodgepodge of available gear that may or may not be musical...to be taken with a grain of salt:)  Ex.  Totem Forest is Class C...what a joke!  

tmsorosk
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Class C

Yup , got to agree with dlb . The Forest did not deserve class C or even to be in the pages of Stereophile . Is there a class F ?

dlb
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As Bugs Bunny would say....

What a maroon!

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