It may be true that baby-boomers yearn to relive their childhoods, but how many aging wanted-to-be rock stars and music lovers still like to play with dolls? McFarlane Toys, which made its mark creating and marketing Spawn merchandise, is hoping quite a few.
As I write these words, it is exactly 15 years to the day since I left the English magazine Hi-Fi News (then Hi-Fi News & Record Review) to take the editorial helm of Stereophile. What has driven my editing of both magazines (and, Carol Baugh, p.10, I certainly do "edit" them) has been the view that the traditional model of a magazine—that it dispense and the readers receive wisdom—is fundamentally wrong. Instead, I strongly believe that a magazine's editors, writers, and readers are involved in an ongoing dialog about their shared enthusiasms. Stereophile's involvement in Shows stems from this belief, and it is in this light that its "Letters" column should be regarded as the heart of each issue.
Few topics will get audiophiles into an argument more readily than a discussion of the relative merits of tubed and solid-state equipment. A poll on the Stereophile website showed 53% of respondents choosing solid-state as their preferred amplifier design, while 38% indicated a preference for tubes—the remainder choosing "other," which presumably means digital amplifiers. (There has been no corresponding survey regarding preamplifier designs.) Opinions tend toward the dogmatic, with one respondent declaring "solid-state is more accurate," another stating unequivocally that "tubes sound closer to the real thing."
"Preaching to the converted," I sighed to myself as I read the manual for the Stax Omega II Earspeaker headphone system. I fondly recalled my headphone reference for all time—the Most Fabulous and Seductive Sennheiser Orpheus tubed electrostatics, which Thomas J. Norton reviewed for Stereophile in 1994. I recalled the Orpheus's heady, open, fast, and colorfully wideband sound, and clutched my palpitating heart.
Last week, Asahi Kasei Microsystems Semiconductor (AKM), which supplies audio ICs for professional and consumer products, announced its line of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) Digital-to-Analog converters capable of supporting both Super Audio CD (SACD) Direct-Stream Bigital and 24-bit/192kHz LPCM DVD-Audio formats.
Electronic equipment worth millions of dollars is damaged every year by lightning strikes and power outages caused by summer storms. These seasonal threats have been amplified by the possibility of rotating blackouts, as well as resulting recent policy changes by major utility companies.
As John Atkinson puts it, Meridian usually does things "their way," putting amps and DACs inside of speakers in an all-out attempt at "re-creating the original soundfield, no matter how many speakers and channels it takes to do it right." But as Atkinson finds, the Meridian 518 Digital Audio Processor might be the company's most perverse product: "The $1650 518 offers digital inputs and outputs only. It can digitally perform gain and source selection; it can change data with one digital word length to data with another; and it does all these things with 72-bit internal precision." So JA asks, "How does the 518 fit within a conventional high-end audio system?" Read along as he figures it all out.
In 1991, British loudspeaker manufacturer B&W celebrated its 25th birthday with the introduction of the John Bowers Silver Signature loudspeaker (see review). Not the largest or most expensive speaker on the company chart, the John Bowers Silver Signature, named after the company's late founder, still prompted John Atkinson to write that its performance was the best he'd heard for its modest size in his listening room.