Now On Newsstands: Stereophile, Vol.33 No.12

The December 2010 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands. On the cover you’ll see the Ayre DX-5 “Universal A/V Engine.” This thing slices, it dices, it juliennes, and even Mikey likes it. Really: The DX-5 plays Blu-ray, DVD-V, DVD-A, SACD, CD, CD-R, and every other combination of “C,” “D,” and “V” you can think of, and, with its front-panel USB input, it becomes a music sever, too. While Mikey was frustrated with the DX-5’s lack of S/PDIF input, which prohibited him from partnering the DX-5 with his Sooloos music sever, Ayre contends that S/PDIF is a compromised technology, one that inherently adds jitter to the signal. And Ayre is nothing if not anti-jitter.

Additionally, in his “Measurements” sidebar, John Atkinson found that the DX-5 offered state-of-the-art performance, despite being based on an inexpensive Oppo chassis. Unlike some high-priced offerings, the Ayre DX-5 is no mutton in wolf’s clothing.

In a recent Vote!, readers told us they wanted to see more reviews of high-quality computer audio products. In our December 2010 issue, we bring that wish to life with reviews of the Peachtree iDecco D/A integrated amplifier, Halide Design USB-S/PDIF Bridge, and HRT Music Streamer II and II+ USB D/A processors.

Other products reviewed include the NHT Classic Absolute Tower loudspeaker, Ultimate Ears 18 Pro in-ear headphones, Etymotic Research Custom-Fit earmolds, and Sutherland Engineering Timeline.

Meanwhile, in “Letters,” readers respond passionately to recent As We See It editorials: “Building Quality,” by me, and “Why Music Matters Most,” by Michael Lavorgna. In “Sam’s Space,” Sam Tellig takes us to Turkey (just in time for Thanksgiving) and enjoys new entry-level pieces from Music Hall, the a15.2 integrated amplifier and cd15.2 CD player. In “Analog Corner,” Mikey Fremer is impressed by the Esoteric E-03 phono preamplifier, and recommends phono accessories from Orb and Soundsmith’s EZ-Mount cartridge screws. In “Listening,” Art Dudley spends quality time with AC power cords and conditioners from Shunyata Research. And, finally, in “The Fifth Element,” John Marks sums up his recent “Mystic Chords of Memory” write-in competition, and is gobsmacked by Ayre’s Irrational But Efficacious! System Enhancement CD. Fun stuff.

December’s “Recording of the Month” is the Posies Blood/Candy, and the band is also highlighted in an interview with Robert Baird. In his “Aural Robert” column, Robert looks forward to Bruce Springsteen’s new box set, The Promise, which casts a bright light on the great album, Darkness on the Edge of Town. We also have reviews of new albums from Belle and Sebastian, Stereolab, and Jason Moran.

The December 2010 issue includes all of this, plus our annual “Products of the Year” feature, in which our writers and editors choose their favorite components of the year. In this year’s competition, we added to the usual bunch two new categories: “Headphone Component" and “Computer Audio Component.” The worlds of computer audio and headphone listening are so exciting and alive that we felt they deserved the special attention. Want to know who won?

Please head to your local newsstand and pick up the December 2010 issue of Stereophile.