For the tenth consecutive year, Stereophile writers and editors ferret out those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period and have wrapped them all up as The 2001 Products of the Year. The envelope please.
Audiophiles tend to be a fussy lot. But there are always a few sure-fire items that will put a smile on their faces without breaking the bank. We've got dozens of great ideas, guaranteed to suit every taste, available online (links are below) from our secure Web pages.
Every Consumer Electronics Show features unusual prototypes from engineers throughout the world. Some are laboratory curiosities that never develop into viable products, but others have great potential.
For any audio company to be successful, it needs to cover what my business school teachers used to call the "Four Ps": Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. In other words, success will follow if a company can slice up its resources to properly promote the right product at the right price and make it available in the right places.
HANK WILLIAMS: Timeless Lost Highway 088 170 239-2 (CD). 2001. Luke Lewis, Mary Martin, Bonnie Garner, prods.; Bob Brockman, Michael Hopkins, Mark Johnson, others, engs.; Hank Williams (no relation), mastering. AAD. TT: 43:19 Performance **** Sonics *****
The Manley Steelhead tube MM/MC phono preamplifier was first demonstrated at the 2001 Consumer Electronics Show. Nine months later, my long-promised review sample of Eveanna Manley's new baby was delivered. While Ms. Manley may have given birth to the audacious product, it was conceived by the company's chief hi-fi designer, Mitch Margolis.
WAGNER: The Ring of the Nibelung
Norman Bailey, Wotan, Wanderer; Derek Hammond-Stroud, Alberich; Alberto Remedios, Siegmund, Siegfried; Rita Hunter, Brünnhilde; Margaret Curphey, Sieglinde, Gutrune; Gregory Dempsey, Mime; Aage Haugland, Hagen; Norman Welsby, Gunther; Emile Belcourt, Loge; Clifford Grant, Fafner, Hunding; Katherine Pring, Fricka I, Waltraute II; Ann Howard, Fricka II; Anne Collins, Erda, First Norn; Valerie Masterson, Woglinde; Shelagh Squires, Wellgunde; Helen Attfield, Flosshilde; Gillian Knight, Second Norn; Anne Evans, Third Norn; Maurine London, Woodbird; others; Sadler's Wells (Siegfried) and English National Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Reginald Goodall
Chandos CHAN 3065 (16 CDs). 1974–78/2001. John Mordler, Ronald Kinloch Anderson, prods.; Robert Gooch, Stuart Eltham, engs. ADD. TT: 16:53:30
The Boulder 1012's is a line-level preamplifier and DAC in one box. Its design and build qualities are icons to elegant engineering know-how. No screws show on the rectangular box of large but not massive proportions, for example, which is all done up in matte aluminum and set off with a few highly polished stainless-steel buttons. The chassis construction uses tongue-and-groove techniques. The sides of the 1012 benefit from styling cues found on Boulder's newer amplifiers. As you can see from the photograph, the look is both elegant and hi-tech in a way very few other manufacturers manage.
Dolby Laboratories was demonstrating its new Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) consumer encoder, which the company says complements its professional AAC encoder, at this year's New York AES Convention. Dolby says it will license the encoder to enable "high-quality AAC encoding" for CD-rippers, hard disk–based jukebox products, Internet-based music distribution systems, portable players, and other digital audio products aimed at the consumer market.