LATEST ADDITIONS

Anne E. Johnson  |  Jul 17, 2020  |  4 comments
Alice Phoebe Lou: Live at Funkhaus Berlin
Alice Phoebe Lou, no catalog number. Auditioned as 24/44.1 FLAC stream, also available for download at Qobuz and streaming at 16/44.1 on Tidal. Vinyl can be purchased at merchbar.com. 2020. Alice Phoebe Lou, prod.; Paul Scheffler, Noah Georgeson, Zino Mikorey, engs.
Performance ****½
Sonics ***½

Nothing about Alice Phoebe Lou's musical career reflects industry norms. She maintains complete control over every aspect of her work, from creation to release. The result is always original and fascinating. Lou is at her best when she has an audience to connect with; this live performance is an ideal introduction to her powerful voice and courageous message.

Tom Gibbs  |  Jul 16, 2020  |  76 comments
Volti Audio's room at the 2020 Florida Audio Expo showcased the company's newest offering, the $20k/pair Rival Special Edition hybrid horn loudspeaker. With a custom cabinet and exotic Bubinga wood veneer, it easily counted among the best-looking loudspeakers I saw at the show. I also found the Rival SE's sound, powered by Border Patrol amplification, intoxicating. I placed it near the top of my shortlist for Best Sound at Show.
Jim Austin  |  Jul 15, 2020  |  231 comments
After completing a PhD in electrical engineering at Imperial College London, Floyd E. Toole joined Canada's National Research Council (NRC), where he would stay for more than 26 years doing audio-related research. He continued his research at Harman International after leaving the NRC in 1991. When Toole left Harman in 2007 (footnote 1), Harman kept the work up under NRC alum Sean Olive—which fact surely has much to do with the excellence of their current loudspeaker lineup.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 14, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2020  |  22 comments
The two biggest sonic jolts I've experienced involving phono preamps were from two very different ones: the Petr Mares's Connoisseur 2.0 and Boulder's 2008, which was reviewed in the July 2002 Stereophile. The first was hand-built, single-ended, housed in a wooden case, limited to 100 units, and, when I got to hear it in the mid-1990s, cost around $6000, or about $10,000 in today's dollars. The other was a feature-laden, double-chassis monument to flexibility and surface-mount high technology. It featured beautifully finished, flush-mounted mirrored buttons your fingers just wanted to press.
John Atkinson, Wes Phillips  |  Jul 10, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1996  |  30 comments
This is the fifth year Stereophile has named a select few components as "Products of the Year." By doing so, we intend to give recognition to those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 09, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1995  |  0 comments
Ah, yes, headphones again. The market for super–high-end headphones must be small, but manufacturers nevertheless keep introducing new designs. At least two manufacturers—Stax and Sennheiser—seem to have carved out a big chunk of this market for themselves, and are currently slugging it out with their respective takes on the best that electrostatic headphones have to offer.
John Atkinson  |  Jul 08, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1996  |  3 comments
If I've read it once in mainstream audio magazines, I've read it a hundred times: "The most important component in a system is the loudspeaker, because it is the loudspeaker that makes the sound." Putting aside the obvious illogic of this statement—that without other components in the playback chain, even the perfect loudspeaker can't make a sound—my experience is that it just is not so. Yes, it is true that changing from one loudspeaker to another makes the greatest overt changes in a system's sound.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 07, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1995  |  6 comments
Most audiophiles are aware of the modification and add-on aftermarket. A few have learned the hard way that modifier competence varies from primitive magic and sales hype to real engineering skill. Some modifiers are serious audiophiles who are also good technicians; others are scam artists whose only goal is to make a quick buck on the latest fad. If you have only a rudimentary understanding of electronics, you may not be able to make a distinction. Even the most jaded and battle-hardened among us can still be hooked and reeled in by a slick sales presentation.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jul 06, 2020  |  25 comments
Capital Audiofest has canceled its 2020 show, previously scheduled for October 30 through November 1, and announced dates for 2021.
Robert Harley  |  Jul 03, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1995  |  3 comments
Spectral is a bit of an enigma in the high-end audio world. Although nearly 20 years old and one of the founders of the American high-end audio industry, Spectral isn't a name that comes quickly to mind when considering the best of the best in high-end.

Spectral's low profile is of their own choosing. They advertise very little, their products are demonstrated in a small number of stores, they almost never send products to magazines for review, and they are very quiet about their accomplishments.

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