The December Issue . . .

. . . is here, with Outlaw's $799 "retro receiver" on its cover. "A conspicuously good-sounding audiophile product at a ridiculously low price," declared Herb Reichert. At the other end of the price spectrum, Michael Fremer reviews the most-expensive Grado cartridge yet, John Atkinson and Herb Reichert audition cost-no-object headphones from Audeze and HiFiMan, and Jason Victor Serinus reviews the Network Bridge from dCS.

And for the 27th year in a row, the December Stereophile includes our choices for "Product of the Year," with some surprises, some bargains, and something for every audiophile's taste and needs. This issue is hitting newsstands, mailboxes, and tablets this week. It's a keeper!

Glotz's picture

Was very touching and funny.

At the risk of exposing himself, Robert showed us a bit of his soul. I find that brave and endearing.

Very cool.

The only complaint I have is the Letters section. While I support rigorous debate, all of the letters sent in this month were written by people with little understanding of how the audio market progressed over the past 30 years, laying too much importance to digital audio.

Digital DID bring about massive change in the industry, but for analog devotees (and outside of digital recording process that I do find assisted recordings), it was in the area of CNC machining and precision manufacturing that bolstered the audio field. Digital, but not digital audio. We all listened to the first cd players, and they SUCKED. It took them 30 years, the same way it took the LP all those years... it was the ability for turntables, arms and carts to be manufactured in a more precise way in that the analog market benefited. I still firmly believe that analog technology would have been elevated over time, as peoples' wallets demanded more. I don't believe anyone every demanded digital outright.

Laziness was to blamed for poor LP production of the past, the same way it is today. Warped and off center records are the result of companies not caring, and they are everywhere today. Just from my last 5 LP purchases in the last 2 months, ALL of them were off center and warped, and that includes LP's pressed by QRP and other well-respected, normally QC-centric organizations.

Moreover, the 'Ad-supported services' that Mr. Von Lehmann speaks of almost NEVER see the pockets of musicians and bands that get their music streamed by services.

Lastly, the need for blind-testing is garbage. To what extent I always ask... How can one ABX test tell us anything of what one component will do in countless thousands of disparate systems that owners of hi-fi have? Not much, and only measurements and specs will tell me that a component will be compatible with my current system. Case in point- Shunyata Venom IC's... I found the speaker cables awesome, and in my system the IC's were not a fit in any way, acting more like a tone control in the wrong direction. Only in one's system do these guide-posts called reviews can assist us.

I digress, as usual. My biggest desire is for the staff to more comprehensively argue points against the letters' arguments when they need it. Yes, Jim did a solid job. But did Mr. Craig see the points he was making? I highly doubt that.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Your comment, albeit condensed, would make a good Letter to the Editor. Hint...

Glotz's picture

Sometimes it's hard to find the most succinct way.. Audio is a very convoluted area of technology!

Perhaps I will. Thanks for all of your great reviews.

tonykaz's picture

... a $12,000 phono Cartridge is the Lead-out Review.

The story shines a bright light on how OUTrageous Vinyl prices are nowadays.

Vinyl record prices are getting crazy, the hoarders are driving up the prices for the good stuff to scary high levels because they're being told that vinyl is a good investment, is it?

Vinyl playback gear is staggeringly pricy too. Vintage style Tonearm for $4,000. hmm, even has a bayonet mount head shell which I've always liked, being a cartridge collector.

The Analog Bargain today is the only $2,000 Phono pre-amp.

Well, we can build a nice 'Front end' from this group of $18,000 worth of stuff, not including a VPI player.

The $12,000 phono cartridge is said to be made using Swiss Watch making machines. I wonder if it's as intricate as a $5,000 Rolex Submariner?

Oh well, Analog is Fantasyland, something like those Super-hero movies that Hollywood is churning out, read all about living that dream, right here at Stereophile. I gave up when Koetsu Phono Carts. were retailing near $2,000.

Good Tube Gear is cheap by comparison, egads!

Tony in Michigan

Glotz's picture

Quality digital is a far better deal, and it is a fact that it takes much more money invested for an analog rig of similar quality. There is a lot that needs to be invested in to get analog's variables controlled to produce great sound.

Analog is still way more fun to use as an hobbyist, but I would be the last person to suggest to others that they get into analog as a means to enter into the hobby. It's just too expensive and requires way too many supporting accessories to justify it's investment (record cleaning, stylus cleaning, turntable set up, etc.)

corrective_unconscious's picture

"Quality digital is a far better deal, and it is a fact that it takes much more money invested for a digital rig of similar quality."

I think a word got switched somewhere. Maybe "an analog rig of similar quality" is what you meant.

Glotz's picture

Very right, my bad. I wish great analog was less expensive. I have a tendency to agree with TonyKaz above.

It is a labor of love, but yeesh, not a great value investing in all of the paraphernalia it requires for upkeep.