If speakers were cars, the Infinity IRS Beta and B&W 801 Matrix would represent the luxury end of the mass market, with perhaps the Celestion SL700, Quad ESL-63, and MartinLogan Sequel II analogous to rather hairy, temperamental sports carsthe Porsche 911, for example. But most people don't buy Porsches, or even Lincoln Town Cars; they buy Hyundai Excels and Ford Escorts. In the same way, when the car is garaged for the night, they don't sit down in front of IRS Betas; in all likelihood they listen to their records with a compact two-way design. If competently designed, a small two-way can give a great deal of musical satisfaction, and, to take a current hobbyhorse of mine out for a trot, if a designer can't produce an at least competent two-way loudspeaker, he or she has no business trying to design larger, more ambitious modelsthere's nowhere to hide your lack of talent if all you have to play with is a tweeter, a woofer, a rectangular enclosure, and a handful of crossover components.
Thursday, December 1, 69pm: Audioville (4340 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, Quebec, Canada) will host a Digital Music Seminar featuring the new AudioQuest NightOwl headphones (above); Saturday December 3, from 15pm will be a special day at Fidelis High End Audio (460 Amherst Street, Nashua, NH 03063); while also on Saturday, December 3, with the door opening at 4pm, JS Audio (4919 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814) is holding a Holiday Open House.
Editor's Note: in the main, Stereophile has steered clear of DIY audio projects, leaving them to magazines like The Audio Amateur, which was published by the late Edward T. Dell. But one of the exceptions was this 1967 article on the "Brute," a tube amplifier design by none other than Ed Dell. Note that the DIY competition mentioned by Gordon Holt is long closed to entries.John Atkinson
There's a platitude to the effect that the road to Hell is strewn with good intentions. Well, we don't see ourselves as headed for perdition, but we must admit that we are surveying a rather impressive-looking junk pile of good intentions at this point.
My passion for listening to music through headphones is fueled by the enhanced sense of intimacy and extra feeling of connectedness I experience in rediscovering recordings I already love. You know the old audiophile cliché: It's like hearing my record collection for the first time. High-quality headphones provide a sharper-than-box-speaker lens that lets me experience lyrics, melodies, and instrumental textures more close-up and magnified.
For the past eight months, my headphone of choice at Stereophile's New York office has been a pair of AudioQuest Nighthawks. That's eight hours a day, five days a week, for approximately 32 weeks. Not eternity, but we've spent a good chunk of quality time together. The overall setup is comprised of an Apple MacBook Pro (usually streaming Tidal, Spotify, or Amarra for Tidal), an AudioQuest Jitterbug, an AudioQuest DragonFly Red, and said NightHawks. I suppose it's safe to say that my ears tend to jibe well with AudioQuest products.