Marching Into Our Lives: The March Issue

The March issue kicks off with a look by Jason Victor Serinus at the state of audio shows in 2017 and Auralic's innovative and affordable streaming Altair D/A processor takes pride of place on the March Stereophile's cover. However, loudspeakers dominate this issue's interior, with reviews of super stand-mounts from Aerial, Bowers & Wilkins, and Wharfedale and an intriguing, room-friendly tower from the Swedish Larsen company.
Sat, 02/11/2017

R. Stevie Moore & Jason Falkner: Make It Be

At first glance the pairing of R. Stevie Moore (right), the Nashville born/New Jersey-residing DIY legend who over the past several decades has released literally hundreds of cassettes—and, to be fair, some records he actually worked on—and Jason Falkner (left), the always brilliant, sometimes cranky, LA pop auteur behind Three O'Clock, Jellyfish and The Grays (with Jon Brion), a couple of great solo records, and contributions to records by Beck, Aimee Mann and AIR, seems fairly odd. But once you listen to Make It Be, these two triangular pegs actually fit into their own unique space that's neither round not square.
Fri, 02/10/2017

EAR Acute Classic CD player Sample 2 Auditioning

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

Art Dudley: "Finally, I listened to the CD layer of the SACD/CD It wasn't long before that familiar treble edge became apparent in the sounds of massed strings and brass instruments—and, sorry to say, Hahn's brilliantly played violin."

I've yet to hear the cd (pcm) layer sound good, on a dual layer SACD disc, also when being converted by a delta sigma converter even hybrids.

Cheers George

cgh's picture

Good of you guys to post the manufacturers comment.

Solarophile's picture

But why is it that there seems to be an over-representation in equipment failures with these uber expensive audio devices?

Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door. Sure, the jitter FFT doesn't look great. But that higher noise floor thanks to the tubes isn't exactly pretty either.

PAR's picture

" Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door."

I would guarantee that this unit left the factory after some impeccable QC. However in real life units sent for test are not always fresh from their maker, particularly where expensive gear is involved. Much of the latter is only made subject to a confirmed order as it is not viable for the (usually small) manufacturer to have lots of costly inventory hanging around hoping for a buyer.

The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffred from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I listen regularly to an earlier version of the Acute owned by a friend and IMO it sounds excellent , far better than many competitive players. I have even played it back to back with my dCS stack and , again, it mostly held its own insofar as subjective enjoyment is concerned.

I am confident that a retest of another sample will remove doubts. Of course it does have a valve output stage so that has to be taken account of for the measurements. That is just the nature of the beast and all of its betubed relations

John Atkinson's picture
PAR wrote:
The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This is increasingly the case. One amplifier we recently received for review had overlaid UPS labels identifying 2 other writers who had had the amp before us. As Stereophile is the only publication that measures the products it reviews, for an importer to send us a used and possibly broken sample is rolling the dice. As in this case, it wasn't worth them taking that risk.

As I say in this 2007 essay on our review policies, www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, "All products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers . . . are deemed to be for review. It is also assumed that they are representative of current production quality."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

This does not sit well for me, as a good Stereophile review is the No 1 review a manufacturer can get to open the retail flood gates.

Hell I would have been devastated (and broke) if Sam Tellig didn't give my product a great review, I hung on every word of the review more so than the birth of my son.
And before anyone says I gave him a freebee, NO! he had to buy one from me before he even did the review.

To send to Stereophile some thing that has been around the world without double /tripple checking it first and making sure it's even better than a retail one, means the manufacturer doesn't give a s**t about how the review turns out, to which I highly doubt.

Like I said it doesn't sit well for me, as I've seen so many times with a bad reviews, the manufacturers comments saying it was faulty we'll send another one. REALLY!!!!

Cheers George

Allen Fant's picture

Not surprised at all- AD.
I have been wanting to demo one of these spinners. Last year I sent an email request to Dan for a list of dealers/retailers. To date, I still have not received a reply?

mjazz's picture

I heard the player first at a local hifi show and it sounded pretty "digital". I then borrowed the player for a week and I had more or less the same experience like Art. It was not just right in the highs. It sounded like old digital.

A pity, because I thought I finally found a good follow up player for my Meridian 808i.2, but the meridian sounds in my ears so much more natural than the EAR (through an EAR 912 pre).

It would be a -bad- coincidence if the player I had at home was broken as well....

fortescue's picture

I had been looking forward to this review, especially given the kind words others have written about this CDP and about its predecessor. It's certainly been on my own audition list despite the fact I already own a fairly high-end Audio Note transport and DAC - I could really use the space apart from anything else!

The harsh review was a bit of a surprise, but the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken. Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

I would think you have been in the journalism game long enough to know that a petty exercise like this just makes you look a bit dumb, possibly even dumber than a manufacturer who wasn't organised enough to send you a fresh sample.

ChicagoJEO's picture

I have to disagree. When Stereophile receives a product, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that the reviewer gets a properly functioning unit. As a consumer, I don't have the test equipment (and well-trained ears) to tell when something is malfunctioning, if it happens at the relatively low level that was the case here. If Stereophile starts getting the manufacturer to buff up the unit to a higher level, I think that's a kind of collusion that would give the product a review indicating a quality level the average consumer is not likely to experience.
If the unit is exhibiting bad behavior that any consumer would be likely to recognize (bad artifacts, or simply not even functioning at all), then it's appropriate for them to return it to the manufacturer, as that's something the average consumer would also be likely to do.

John Atkinson's picture
fortescue wrote:
the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken.

Plain to you, perhaps. The high distortion I measured was within the manufacturer's specification, as was the high headphone output impedance. The poor performance of the digital section was no worse than that of some other products we have reviewed.

And while the maximum output level was higher than specified, we didn't think that in itself was reason to think the sample was broken, as it was identical in both channels. Yes, this may have been due to a manufacturing fault, but as I wrote in the essay linked to in an earlier posting, "It is assumed that [products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers] are representative of current production quality." If it turns out that a product is not representative, then we feel that the fact that neither the manufacturer nor the distributor has effective QA is a relevant fact.

fortescue wrote:
Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

The manufacturer and distributor were sent a proof of the review; the result was the "Manufacturer's Comment" you can read on this website and the promise to send another sample for a follow-up review. That followup appears in our March issue and will be appended to this web reprint next week.

fortescue wrote:
You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

You seem to think that our responsibility as reviewers is to present a manufacturer in the best possible light. You are wrong. We are critics, not consultants.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fortescue's picture

Well I guess we'll see ... I had been keen to audition this player having heard only the original Acute CD and thinking highly of it. I guess we'll soon find out whether I should bother or not.

Pages

EAR Acute Classic CD player Sample 2 Measurements

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
georgehifi's picture

Art Dudley: "Finally, I listened to the CD layer of the SACD/CD It wasn't long before that familiar treble edge became apparent in the sounds of massed strings and brass instruments—and, sorry to say, Hahn's brilliantly played violin."

I've yet to hear the cd (pcm) layer sound good, on a dual layer SACD disc, also when being converted by a delta sigma converter even hybrids.

Cheers George

cgh's picture

Good of you guys to post the manufacturers comment.

Solarophile's picture

But why is it that there seems to be an over-representation in equipment failures with these uber expensive audio devices?

Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door. Sure, the jitter FFT doesn't look great. But that higher noise floor thanks to the tubes isn't exactly pretty either.

PAR's picture

" Costing around $7k, you would think each unit would be of impeccable quality control and testing before leaving the door."

I would guarantee that this unit left the factory after some impeccable QC. However in real life units sent for test are not always fresh from their maker, particularly where expensive gear is involved. Much of the latter is only made subject to a confirmed order as it is not viable for the (usually small) manufacturer to have lots of costly inventory hanging around hoping for a buyer.

The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffred from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I listen regularly to an earlier version of the Acute owned by a friend and IMO it sounds excellent , far better than many competitive players. I have even played it back to back with my dCS stack and , again, it mostly held its own insofar as subjective enjoyment is concerned.

I am confident that a retest of another sample will remove doubts. Of course it does have a valve output stage so that has to be taken account of for the measurements. That is just the nature of the beast and all of its betubed relations

John Atkinson's picture
PAR wrote:
The result is that often the item under test is the only sample available in the given country. It will probably have been tramped around the country for demonstrations and may even have been lent out to customers known to the importer/dealer and considered a serious potential purchaser. So it most likely has suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This is increasingly the case. One amplifier we recently received for review had overlaid UPS labels identifying 2 other writers who had had the amp before us. As Stereophile is the only publication that measures the products it reviews, for an importer to send us a used and possibly broken sample is rolling the dice. As in this case, it wasn't worth them taking that risk.

As I say in this 2007 essay on our review policies, www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, "All products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers . . . are deemed to be for review. It is also assumed that they are representative of current production quality."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

georgehifi's picture

This does not sit well for me, as a good Stereophile review is the No 1 review a manufacturer can get to open the retail flood gates.

Hell I would have been devastated (and broke) if Sam Tellig didn't give my product a great review, I hung on every word of the review more so than the birth of my son.
And before anyone says I gave him a freebee, NO! he had to buy one from me before he even did the review.

To send to Stereophile some thing that has been around the world without double /tripple checking it first and making sure it's even better than a retail one, means the manufacturer doesn't give a s**t about how the review turns out, to which I highly doubt.

Like I said it doesn't sit well for me, as I've seen so many times with a bad reviews, the manufacturers comments saying it was faulty we'll send another one. REALLY!!!!

Cheers George

Allen Fant's picture

Not surprised at all- AD.
I have been wanting to demo one of these spinners. Last year I sent an email request to Dan for a list of dealers/retailers. To date, I still have not received a reply?

mjazz's picture

I heard the player first at a local hifi show and it sounded pretty "digital". I then borrowed the player for a week and I had more or less the same experience like Art. It was not just right in the highs. It sounded like old digital.

A pity, because I thought I finally found a good follow up player for my Meridian 808i.2, but the meridian sounds in my ears so much more natural than the EAR (through an EAR 912 pre).

It would be a -bad- coincidence if the player I had at home was broken as well....

fortescue's picture

I had been looking forward to this review, especially given the kind words others have written about this CDP and about its predecessor. It's certainly been on my own audition list despite the fact I already own a fairly high-end Audio Note transport and DAC - I could really use the space apart from anything else!

The harsh review was a bit of a surprise, but the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken. Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

I would think you have been in the journalism game long enough to know that a petty exercise like this just makes you look a bit dumb, possibly even dumber than a manufacturer who wasn't organised enough to send you a fresh sample.

ChicagoJEO's picture

I have to disagree. When Stereophile receives a product, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that the reviewer gets a properly functioning unit. As a consumer, I don't have the test equipment (and well-trained ears) to tell when something is malfunctioning, if it happens at the relatively low level that was the case here. If Stereophile starts getting the manufacturer to buff up the unit to a higher level, I think that's a kind of collusion that would give the product a review indicating a quality level the average consumer is not likely to experience.
If the unit is exhibiting bad behavior that any consumer would be likely to recognize (bad artifacts, or simply not even functioning at all), then it's appropriate for them to return it to the manufacturer, as that's something the average consumer would also be likely to do.

John Atkinson's picture
fortescue wrote:
the biggest surprise of all was the measurements section: looking at it, it's as plain as day that the unit you tested was broken.

Plain to you, perhaps. The high distortion I measured was within the manufacturer's specification, as was the high headphone output impedance. The poor performance of the digital section was no worse than that of some other products we have reviewed.

And while the maximum output level was higher than specified, we didn't think that in itself was reason to think the sample was broken, as it was identical in both channels. Yes, this may have been due to a manufacturing fault, but as I wrote in the essay linked to in an earlier posting, "It is assumed that [products sent to Stereophile and its reviewers] are representative of current production quality." If it turns out that a product is not representative, then we feel that the fact that neither the manufacturer nor the distributor has effective QA is a relevant fact.

fortescue wrote:
Surely it would have made sense to have had a conversation with the manufacturer BEFORE publishing?

The manufacturer and distributor were sent a proof of the review; the result was the "Manufacturer's Comment" you can read on this website and the promise to send another sample for a follow-up review. That followup appears in our March issue and will be appended to this web reprint next week.

fortescue wrote:
You might think it makes you look all grand and objective, but actually you let your readers down when you pull a stunt like this. If the player is genuinely a poor performer then giving the manufacturer a chance to supply another sample, then confirming your findings, is surely a more credible way forward than reviewing a clearly broken bit of kit?

You seem to think that our responsibility as reviewers is to present a manufacturer in the best possible light. You are wrong. We are critics, not consultants.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

fortescue's picture

Well I guess we'll see ... I had been keen to audition this player having heard only the original Acute CD and thinking highly of it. I guess we'll soon find out whether I should bother or not.

Pages

NAD 5425 CD player Measurements

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
Herb Reichert's picture

Cory Greenberg wrote 763 very good words BEFORE he even mentioned the NAD CD player . . . just saying! LOL

Anton's picture

I will take your word(s) for it!

;-D

I would love to see how a rediscovered new-in-box one of these would hold up for comparison nowadays.

dougspeterson's picture

His entertaining writing led to his editorship of Audio magazine last issues, then years as tech editor at NBC Today, last seen extolling the virtues of wet shaving. The trail goes cold. Corey where are you?

Allen Fant's picture

I was just about to ask the same- dougpeterson

I began my subscription to Stereophile in 1993 (still a subscriber to date) and really enjoyed Corey's writings as well. I am not clear why he left the Audio press and/or stopped writing?
Hopefully, he is still involved w/ Audio?

Pages

NAD 5425 CD player Aunt Silly Airy Gear

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
Herb Reichert's picture

Cory Greenberg wrote 763 very good words BEFORE he even mentioned the NAD CD player . . . just saying! LOL

Anton's picture

I will take your word(s) for it!

;-D

I would love to see how a rediscovered new-in-box one of these would hold up for comparison nowadays.

dougspeterson's picture

His entertaining writing led to his editorship of Audio magazine last issues, then years as tech editor at NBC Today, last seen extolling the virtues of wet shaving. The trail goes cold. Corey where are you?

Allen Fant's picture

I was just about to ask the same- dougpeterson

I began my subscription to Stereophile in 1993 (still a subscriber to date) and really enjoyed Corey's writings as well. I am not clear why he left the Audio press and/or stopped writing?
Hopefully, he is still involved w/ Audio?

Pages

NAD 5425 CD player Specifications

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
Herb Reichert's picture

Cory Greenberg wrote 763 very good words BEFORE he even mentioned the NAD CD player . . . just saying! LOL

Anton's picture

I will take your word(s) for it!

;-D

I would love to see how a rediscovered new-in-box one of these would hold up for comparison nowadays.

dougspeterson's picture

His entertaining writing led to his editorship of Audio magazine last issues, then years as tech editor at NBC Today, last seen extolling the virtues of wet shaving. The trail goes cold. Corey where are you?

Allen Fant's picture

I was just about to ask the same- dougpeterson

I began my subscription to Stereophile in 1993 (still a subscriber to date) and really enjoyed Corey's writings as well. I am not clear why he left the Audio press and/or stopped writing?
Hopefully, he is still involved w/ Audio?

Pages

Products of the Year 1993 Editor's Choice of 1993

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
smargo's picture

who cares about the products of the year in 1993?

Anton's picture

Your umbrage is an easily remedied first world problem.

Seeing that list makes me wonder just how far we've advanced in the intervening years.

5%?

Less?

cgh's picture

That was my thought too Anton. I think the visual appearance of the speaker is probably what did it. (The speaker of the year would be $6783 on an inflation adjusted basis today.)

Staxguy's picture

Not been in the hobby for long?

For me, seeing that photo was gorgeous. The Theil. The CEC. The SL-1 (still being made) by CAT. The CP-1 (Lexicon).

Just look at that Mark Levinson. I don't care much for the Linn LP, for many reasons, but reading about the Kimber PB+J and Sumiko's Blue Point Special brought at tear to my eye.

What especially caught my eye when reading was the price of the Symphonic Line RG-8 ($5000) - 1993.

Over at TAS, they're recommending the Symphonic Line based Odyssey Audio Khartago (and Stratos) amps by Klaus Bungee.

http://www.odysseyaudio.com/products-khartago-stereo.html

You can get Symphonic Line from him as well.

In the news, Symphonic Line (Germany) just came out with the Kraftwerk Reference Integrated Amplifier, which was covered by Wizard High End Audio Blog, no less.

http://wizard-highend.blogspot.ca/2017/02/symphonic-line-kraftwerk-refer...

The collector in me now wants all these 1993 products! :)

To explain the emotive or reading interest, take a footballer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993%E2%80%9394_Manchester_United_F.C._season

Down at the pub, you might just get into this same conversation but any hard core Manchester United fan, like the carpenter from Dublin who just came into my home, might look back to 1993 with the same sort of enthusiasm.

Are you or I going to be buying a belt-driven transport like the CEC? Likely, not. I've had just about enough of belt driven turntables, re: wow and flutter, and breaking $5000 MC cartridges installing a new belt (one was enough...), but my what a list of items.

Don't tell me that you wouldn't mind a Krell KSA-250 or 300?

For everyone else,

Look the Bryston 7B was in it's 7B-NRB-THX stage back then. Bryston just realeased their 7B 3 last week (well, it's review came out, anyway). Amazing!

smargo's picture

its funny how much we have a concept of someone - I have been in the hobby for 24 years - i still think products of the year from 1993 are a waste of time to read.

Id rather see a review of something or an article that applies to the hear and now!

cgh's picture

I unwittingly blew future income listening to Beveridge electrostatics and DQs before 1993... so no, not new to it all. My nostalgia is easily trumped by my interest in music.

Staxguy's picture

I was just trying to guess the reason underlying your comment, Smargo. No offense, intended. :)

Whether it be nostalgia, or a cetain love of architecture, certain products bring a smile to my face.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/stereophiles-products-1992#AvjFGV6k6E...

Take the cover of Stereophile's 1992 Recommended Componets: The Mark Levinson No. 30 DAC.

To me, it is a thing of beauty, that to my eye exceeds most Hi Fi products built today.

The CEC looks great to me too, or the ol' Threshold T2 Preamplifier of yore: certain things of beauty.

Certain products today get design right, to my taste.

The Lumin S1 Streamer
http://www.luminmusic.com/lumin-s1.html

Sort of a computer + DAC. :)

Now take a computer like the Cray 2 Supercomputer. You wouldn't likely want one today, but look at the design!

https://theinfomonkey.com/2015/06/15/moores-law-and-the-technologies-of-...

Pievetta Opera Only ($2M) sort of copies it or plays homage (not to cop a Sonus Faber)...

http://newatlas.com/pivetta-opera-only/29824/

;)

Certain products like that Theil (3.6) had something beautiful or at least interesting to it - like that curved baffle along with it's flat front and over-all slope to it.

Look at Thiel Loudspeakers today (not to be Thiel / Small):

https://www.thielaudio.com/

Their sort of interesting and decor friendly (in the same way the 3.6 was and is today if in good condition) and yet...

my mind's eye says they're just ...

http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/1208snell/#zveiuY7M9tTzr5rH.97

given that Snell is no longer in market, today.

I've never been one for history, but there was one graph (Adbusters, I believe) which showed the decline of Earth species, left to right (falling line) and the increase in consumer products (more brands of toothpaste, etc.), correspondingly...

and this immediately made me interested in the history of technology and it's evolution from sort of the British do-nothing in it's heyday Empire free-man perspective.

That's one side.

On the other, certain objects are just to my eye, intrinsically beautiful.

The Devialet Expert 1000 today may be the more competent product of the two, but to my eye the circuit board of the original D-Premier is much more lovely.

[off-topic content deleted by John Atkinson]

cgh's picture

Working on my PhD I recall executing massively parallel Fortran on Crays (and IBM SP3s) from the Unix shell to solve certain classes of partial differential equations. Even screwing up a password involved getting on the phone to the Sys Admin at Lawrence Livermore or Berkeley who didn't differentiate between me and the guy doing top-secret nuclear simulations. Today I (rather, the kids that work for me) run CUDA on GPU grids and write to a cloud. While I have a certain nostalgia for sitting in my basement waiting hours for QBasic programs on, at best, a 486 to produce fractal images (which I my iPhone could do in a second now), which is similar to my nostalgia for listening to really bizarre music at all hours on those ESLs, I have zero nostalgia for those old Crays.

dalethorn's picture

The old stuff makes me think, if I could go back to the 80's, I'd get a better amp for the DQ10's and a more suitable room as well. Then I could build better memories. The lessons of history are valuable things.

Anton's picture

It's not as if Stereophile just spent time writing an article that could have otherwise been written about 'something new.'

Perhaps other people think surround sound articles area waste of time, or vinyl, or CD players...

Hopefully, they won't now waste all that time writing up articles about gear from 1992 and can focus on 'new stuff!' ;-D

Chakenheimer's picture

Sorry to be off topic but lost your email. Do you intend to review The Co-Op lp?

Chakenheimer's picture

When may we expect posting?

readargos's picture

I agree those Thiel speakers have a certain visual appeal. I also liked the similar-looking Hales tower speakers from this era. I remember seeing the Hales at a dealer in Indianapolis for the first time, and found the appearance arresting. The aesthetics of the current Mark Levinson gear is a pale imitation of the chunky art decco glory of the stuff from the '90s.

Moreover, much of the gear remains relevant, and could be the basis of a good second system, or even first system. Replacing passive components that age, like capacitors and resistors, with more modern designs can keep older gear refreshed, and in many cases, sounding better than it did when it premiered.

The Levinson gear from this era was also heroically overbuilt, and like a number of other luxury class goods (I'm thinking of automobiles, in particular) continued to compete with newer designs for many years. If I recall correctly, JA was using the Mark Levinson Reference digital processor until it died on him a few years ago, and I believe some of Stereophile's other reviewers (LG?) are still using Levinson amps of this vintage. We have higher-specification DAC chips now, and higher-resolution digital, but the analog output stage and overall design and attention to detail have almost as much to do with ultimate sound quality, and long-term listening pleasure.

Pages

NAD 5425 CD player

One of my favorite parts of writing for Stereophile is reading all the heartfelt letters our readers take the time to write me. There's nothing I like better than to kick off my boots, stretch out on the futon-couch, and let the groovy love vibes just shine off the pages. Time doesn't always permit a reply, but for now...AS in MD: thanks! RP in CA: sure, why not? And SH in IN: I've tried that, but it chafed.
Sat, 02/01/1992

Products of the Year 1993 1993 Component of the Year

Thu, 02/09/2017

COMMENTS
smargo's picture

who cares about the products of the year in 1993?

Anton's picture

Your umbrage is an easily remedied first world problem.

Seeing that list makes me wonder just how far we've advanced in the intervening years.

5%?

Less?

cgh's picture

That was my thought too Anton. I think the visual appearance of the speaker is probably what did it. (The speaker of the year would be $6783 on an inflation adjusted basis today.)

Staxguy's picture

Not been in the hobby for long?

For me, seeing that photo was gorgeous. The Theil. The CEC. The SL-1 (still being made) by CAT. The CP-1 (Lexicon).

Just look at that Mark Levinson. I don't care much for the Linn LP, for many reasons, but reading about the Kimber PB+J and Sumiko's Blue Point Special brought at tear to my eye.

What especially caught my eye when reading was the price of the Symphonic Line RG-8 ($5000) - 1993.

Over at TAS, they're recommending the Symphonic Line based Odyssey Audio Khartago (and Stratos) amps by Klaus Bungee.

http://www.odysseyaudio.com/products-khartago-stereo.html

You can get Symphonic Line from him as well.

In the news, Symphonic Line (Germany) just came out with the Kraftwerk Reference Integrated Amplifier, which was covered by Wizard High End Audio Blog, no less.

http://wizard-highend.blogspot.ca/2017/02/symphonic-line-kraftwerk-refer...

The collector in me now wants all these 1993 products! :)

To explain the emotive or reading interest, take a footballer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993%E2%80%9394_Manchester_United_F.C._season

Down at the pub, you might just get into this same conversation but any hard core Manchester United fan, like the carpenter from Dublin who just came into my home, might look back to 1993 with the same sort of enthusiasm.

Are you or I going to be buying a belt-driven transport like the CEC? Likely, not. I've had just about enough of belt driven turntables, re: wow and flutter, and breaking $5000 MC cartridges installing a new belt (one was enough...), but my what a list of items.

Don't tell me that you wouldn't mind a Krell KSA-250 or 300?

For everyone else,

Look the Bryston 7B was in it's 7B-NRB-THX stage back then. Bryston just realeased their 7B 3 last week (well, it's review came out, anyway). Amazing!

smargo's picture

its funny how much we have a concept of someone - I have been in the hobby for 24 years - i still think products of the year from 1993 are a waste of time to read.

Id rather see a review of something or an article that applies to the hear and now!

cgh's picture

I unwittingly blew future income listening to Beveridge electrostatics and DQs before 1993... so no, not new to it all. My nostalgia is easily trumped by my interest in music.

Staxguy's picture

I was just trying to guess the reason underlying your comment, Smargo. No offense, intended. :)

Whether it be nostalgia, or a cetain love of architecture, certain products bring a smile to my face.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/stereophiles-products-1992#AvjFGV6k6E...

Take the cover of Stereophile's 1992 Recommended Componets: The Mark Levinson No. 30 DAC.

To me, it is a thing of beauty, that to my eye exceeds most Hi Fi products built today.

The CEC looks great to me too, or the ol' Threshold T2 Preamplifier of yore: certain things of beauty.

Certain products today get design right, to my taste.

The Lumin S1 Streamer
http://www.luminmusic.com/lumin-s1.html

Sort of a computer + DAC. :)

Now take a computer like the Cray 2 Supercomputer. You wouldn't likely want one today, but look at the design!

https://theinfomonkey.com/2015/06/15/moores-law-and-the-technologies-of-...

Pievetta Opera Only ($2M) sort of copies it or plays homage (not to cop a Sonus Faber)...

http://newatlas.com/pivetta-opera-only/29824/

;)

Certain products like that Theil (3.6) had something beautiful or at least interesting to it - like that curved baffle along with it's flat front and over-all slope to it.

Look at Thiel Loudspeakers today (not to be Thiel / Small):

https://www.thielaudio.com/

Their sort of interesting and decor friendly (in the same way the 3.6 was and is today if in good condition) and yet...

my mind's eye says they're just ...

http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/1208snell/#zveiuY7M9tTzr5rH.97

given that Snell is no longer in market, today.

I've never been one for history, but there was one graph (Adbusters, I believe) which showed the decline of Earth species, left to right (falling line) and the increase in consumer products (more brands of toothpaste, etc.), correspondingly...

and this immediately made me interested in the history of technology and it's evolution from sort of the British do-nothing in it's heyday Empire free-man perspective.

That's one side.

On the other, certain objects are just to my eye, intrinsically beautiful.

The Devialet Expert 1000 today may be the more competent product of the two, but to my eye the circuit board of the original D-Premier is much more lovely.

[off-topic content deleted by John Atkinson]

cgh's picture

Working on my PhD I recall executing massively parallel Fortran on Crays (and IBM SP3s) from the Unix shell to solve certain classes of partial differential equations. Even screwing up a password involved getting on the phone to the Sys Admin at Lawrence Livermore or Berkeley who didn't differentiate between me and the guy doing top-secret nuclear simulations. Today I (rather, the kids that work for me) run CUDA on GPU grids and write to a cloud. While I have a certain nostalgia for sitting in my basement waiting hours for QBasic programs on, at best, a 486 to produce fractal images (which I my iPhone could do in a second now), which is similar to my nostalgia for listening to really bizarre music at all hours on those ESLs, I have zero nostalgia for those old Crays.

dalethorn's picture

The old stuff makes me think, if I could go back to the 80's, I'd get a better amp for the DQ10's and a more suitable room as well. Then I could build better memories. The lessons of history are valuable things.

Anton's picture

It's not as if Stereophile just spent time writing an article that could have otherwise been written about 'something new.'

Perhaps other people think surround sound articles area waste of time, or vinyl, or CD players...

Hopefully, they won't now waste all that time writing up articles about gear from 1992 and can focus on 'new stuff!' ;-D

Chakenheimer's picture

Sorry to be off topic but lost your email. Do you intend to review The Co-Op lp?

Chakenheimer's picture

When may we expect posting?

readargos's picture

I agree those Thiel speakers have a certain visual appeal. I also liked the similar-looking Hales tower speakers from this era. I remember seeing the Hales at a dealer in Indianapolis for the first time, and found the appearance arresting. The aesthetics of the current Mark Levinson gear is a pale imitation of the chunky art decco glory of the stuff from the '90s.

Moreover, much of the gear remains relevant, and could be the basis of a good second system, or even first system. Replacing passive components that age, like capacitors and resistors, with more modern designs can keep older gear refreshed, and in many cases, sounding better than it did when it premiered.

The Levinson gear from this era was also heroically overbuilt, and like a number of other luxury class goods (I'm thinking of automobiles, in particular) continued to compete with newer designs for many years. If I recall correctly, JA was using the Mark Levinson Reference digital processor until it died on him a few years ago, and I believe some of Stereophile's other reviewers (LG?) are still using Levinson amps of this vintage. We have higher-specification DAC chips now, and higher-resolution digital, but the analog output stage and overall design and attention to detail have almost as much to do with ultimate sound quality, and long-term listening pleasure.

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