It's Time for "Recommended Components"

The October issue is here, with revised and updated capsule reviews of 500 audio products that have been reviewed in the magazine, rated in six categories, from "E" for "Entry Level" to "A+" for those few products that are beyond criticism. Stereophile's "Recommended Components"—often copied but never equaled.

And "Recommended Components" doesn't replace the October issue's regular content: we review 3 American amplifiers—Bel Canto, First Watt, SAE—2 European loudspeakers—Crystal, Dynaudio—a state-of-the-art phono cartridge from Audio Technica; Focal's new super 'phones; and a super-DAC from T+A.

The October issue opens with an essay from Jason Victor Serinus asking why the music played at audio shows is so limited and closes with Robert Baird reminiscing about The Replacements, the band of Minneapolis misfits better known, perhaps, as the 'Mats.

Anton's picture

I guessed the SAE would go for under 5K.

Well, at least I am not off by a log factor!

Looking forward to Jason's take on music. I think a lot of demos are done trying to use familiar recordings rather than trying to challenge listeners. Vanilla is 'safer' than Cherries Garcia!

Kal Rubinson's picture

Familiar is more useful for assessment than novel or exciting or challenging regardless of the musical value.

mememe's picture

"Familiar is more useful for assessment" - but familiar to who? Shows are, at best. where prospective buyers can get a hint of what a component they are interested in might sound like in their home environments. Playing something they are familiar with would certainly help them in narrowing down prospective components. A brief snippet of a music file they may have brought with them to a show would certainly help narrow down their prospective list.

Anton's picture

I find it awesome that we are discussing Jason's As We See It 'before we see it!'

I agree with both sides: planned, frequently familiar music that many audiophiles know in advance to facilitate the evaluation of what they are hearing and for comparison value. Then, play requests so people who are familiar with other material can have the same opportunity. (Especially at a consumer driven show!)

I can't recall any recent examples of refusals to play requests - I think it's a very cool aspect of show listening.

Venere's picture

Regarding JVS's upcoming article about the music at audio shows...I suppose if I attended these shows for a living and went to several shows a year I would tire of hearing the same old "reference" recordings played over and over in many rooms, which I trust is Jason's perspective. On the other hand, if I were a consumer who went to the show in hopes of finding potential upgrade/new equipment that I might purchase (as I did at the recent Axpona show in Chicago)it's pretty useful to hear recordings that I am familiar with, and the odds are that those will often be the "standards". I was actually amazed and flummoxed by how many rooms were using recordings that I was not only unfamiliar with but were IMHO terrible demo material with either limited FR, no hall "acoustic" at all, no soundstaging, etc. There was a near total absence of classical music for example, which I often find very revealing of system quality. I would have thought that one of the useful skills for a show demo emcee would be picking fabulous SOUNDING recordings regardless of their musical merit. I understand the value of exposing the public to new and wonderful music (in the Panasonic room for example I heard Renee Fleming's Dark Hope CD, which I couldn't wait to get home and buy/listen to) but I would have welcomed more music that I was already familiar with. Is there ever a good reason to hear Holly Cole's Temptation for the 87th time? Yes, if you are trying to decide between Focals and Wilsons.

Anton's picture

One glaring error, but I get it, Jason!

Great call on Zu and DeVore! They both have great ears and great taste!

John Atkinson's picture
Depressed to realize long after this issue had shipped to the printer that we got the SAE amplifier's model number wrong on the cover. It should be 2HP-D not HP2-D. We all missed my initial error in the proofing. Our apologies to readers and SAE alike.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Kal Rubinson's picture

I just got back from CEDIA and had the experience of hearing the same track at three auditions on the same day. It certainly made the differences among the three quite clear.