Now On Newsstands: Stereophile, Vol.34 No.1

The January 2011 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands—a whole new year, a whole new volume of your favorite hi-fi magazine! And we’re starting the year off right. In my opinion, this is the best-looking cover we’ve put together in a while. The layout is clean and well-balanced, the image is dynamic, and the colors are vibrant and attractive. Those colors largely stem from the cute, little Chordette Gem DAC. Graphic designer, Natalie Baca, borrowed the fuchsia of the Chord’s chassis for the cover’s border, and took the gold of the Chord’s output jacks for our logo and cover lines. Notice also that the Chord’s red-lit magnifying glass is echoed in the cover’s highlight bubbles—a nice touch.

Of course, this issue is especially exciting for me because it includes the first installment of our new monthly column, “The Entry Level.” Eventually, the column will focus on affordable products—I’m thinking stuff under $1000, and, in many circumstances, stuff much less expensive than $1000—but I also want to explore how and why we become audiophiles. Why is music important to us? Why is sound important to us? What are we achieving when we listen to music through the hi-fi? If we answer these questions, or at least entertain them, I think we will do as much, if not more, to attract new people to the hobby as we would by just evaluating affordable products. And, anyway, I find people and their passions far more interesting than gear. Don’t you?

With the first time around, I wanted to simply offer an introduction, set some expectations, and share a personal story. Five years ago, when we started my blog, “Elements of Our Enthusiasm,” I wrote, “If this relationship is going to work, I’m going to have to win your trust.” I believe trust is an essential component to any successful relationship, and I think it comes from hard work, dedication, consistency, and honesty. I have no problem with that. And, like the blog, I want the column to represent our relationship. “The Entry Level” is intended to be a conversation, a journey, and a listening party. With each column, I’ll invite you into my home so that we can listen to music.

I’ll also invite you to share your own stories. Human beings are storytellers, and our stories help to make us who we are. Our stories light our paths. Hi-fi is a rich, rewarding pastime, filled with stories of people who have deep passions and clear visions, and, like with any such pastime, its history should be cherished and respected. Many of you have experienced much more than I have. You’ve forgotten more hi-fi than I know. So, I want learn. I want to hear about why you love music and sound. So far, the responses to the first installment of “The Entry Level” have been overwhelmingly positive, and the stories have been fascinating. Thank you.

Our January 2011 issue is also special because it features our road trip to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, to check out its million-dollar music facility, the William Ralston Listening Library and Archive. Jonathan Scull and John Atkinson tore down I-95 in a fully tricked-out, 2011 Ford Edge Ltd. I tagged along for the first leg of the trip which took us down to the Princeton Record Exchange, where we caught up with Michael Lavorgna. It was an awesome day for me, a great week for John and Jonathan, and it all resulted in a wonderful article, featuring John’s photos and tech sidebar, Jonathan’s inimitable storytelling, and Jeff Wong’s outstanding illustration. We had a lot of fun putting it all together.

But the road trip isn’t the only great feature in this issue. Also in January, Robert Baird speaks with renowned guitarist, Marc Ribot! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ribot perform in small venues, and he’s always blown my mind, so it’s pretty cool that Robert had the opportunity to sit down with him in his kitchen to discuss his latest projects.

Want more cool stuff? January’s “Recording of the Month” is the Sun City Girls’ Funeral Mariachi, one of my favorite albums of 2010. Of course, we also review several exciting products, including the dCS Debussy, Esoteric D-07, and Chord Chordette Gem D/A processors, the Pass Labs INT-150 integrated amplifier and XA30.5 power amplifier, and the Ayre Acoustics DX-5 universal A/V engine.

In “Sam’s Space,” Sam Tellig falls madly in love with the LFD Mk.IV LE, the greatest integrated amplifier he’s ever heard. In “Analog Corner,” the always busy Mikey Fremer reviews the Avid Diva II SP turntable, Lyra Kleos moving-coil phono cartridge, and phono preamplifiers from Einstein, TDL, Simaudio, and Ray Samuels. In “Listening,” Art Dudley offers a history lesson and asks “Three Questions about Domestic Audio.” In “Music in the Round,” Kal Rubinson reports from the 2010 CEDIA Expo, and reviews the McIntosh MX150 A/V control center. Wondering about hi-fi shows for 2011? Jason Victor Serinus maps them out in “As We See It.” And, finally, in “Aural Robert,” Robert Baird enjoys new material from the rich Frank Sinatra catalog.

It all adds up to a beautiful beginning to Volume 34 of Stereophile. Tell us what you think in the Forum. Happy New Year.

joarfeve's picture

Congratulations Stephen for your new column...very interesting and "touching"... I have great expections on future issues...Your column will be a refreshing point of view in Stereophile magazine (like your blog in the web) and yes... I will listen to Pixies "Surfer Rosa" later today. :-)