Stereophile's Products of 1997 Digital Source of 1997

Digital Source of 1997

dCS Elgar D/A processor ($12,000; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.20 No.7, July 1997 Review)

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
California Audio Labs CL-10 multidisc CD changer ($1975; reviewed by Robert Harley, Vol.19 No.11, November 1997)
Mark Levinson No.36S D/A processor ($6495; reviewed by Thomas J. Norton, Vol.20 No.1, January 1997 Review)
Mark Levinson No.37 CD transport ($3995; reviewed by Thomas J. Norton, Vol.20 No.1, January 1997 Review)
Naim CD2 CD player ($4150; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.20 No.2, February 1997)
Rega Planet CD player ($795; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.20 No.6, June 1997 Review)
Sony CDP-XA7ES CD player ($3000; reviewed by Thomas J. Norton, Vol.19 No.11, November 1996; Vol.20 Nos.1 & 7, January & July 1997 Review)
Wadia Digimaster 2000 D/A processor (No longer available; reviewed by Arnis Balgalvis & Robert Harley, Vol.13 No.1, January 1990; Vol.14 Nos.6 & 10, June & October 1991; & Vol.19 No.12, December 1996 Review)

Things change rapidly in the world of digital audio, but the Elgar stands poised to escort us into the next era of digital processing: the brave new world of 24-bit data sampled at 96kHz. Oversampling, decimation, low-pass filtering—not to omit volume control and balance—are all achieved via DSP and Programmable Gate Array chips, while dCS's proprietary "Ring DAC" gives it true resolution of close to 19 bits. There may still be controversy over the desirability of 96/24, but our writers overwhelmingly preferred it to the existing 16-bit, 44.1kHz standard when both were auditioned through this processor. For WP and JA, though, the most telling demonstration was with pianist Hyperion Knight—after playing him one of the 96kHz master tapes of Stereophile's Rhapsody on the Elgar, recorded with a 24-bit word length, we played the same tape at 44.1kHz, dithered and noise-shaped to a 16-bit word length. The look on HK's face said it all: Given a choice, who'd settle for this?

Our writers overwhelmingly agreed. No product so overwhelmingly dominated its category as this one—more than half of the total votes cast for "Digital Source of 1997" went to the Elgar. For making a significant advance in a field that never stands still, dCS deserves the highest praise we can confer: It's not simply the "Digital Source of 1997," but the "Product of the Year" as well.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Editors' choice 1997, B&W DM302 speakers, $250/pair :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Now in 2020, we can get Elac Debut DB52 for $260/pair :-) ......

tonykaz's picture

He was kinda "Tyll the Great" to me.

Someone said they saw him at a Nomad Event in Arizona.

He gets to follow his dream.

I know another fella that ended his career to sail a Contessa 26 around the world.

I get to live in Paradise and support Political progressives.

I miss Tyll but I'm happy for him.

I didn't realize his little Amp made such a nice impression on Stereophile.

I'm hoping that we get to read more Tyll, one day.

Tony in Venice

Presence's picture

There are a few select reviews for me that over the decades have stood out as thrilling to read... The Genesis II.5 by RH, the Dunlavy SC VI by SS and the MC review of the Krell FPB600. I must have read them each ten X. I traded in my ML 333 for the FPB 600. Great products/great writing!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

What loudspeakers were/are you using with FPB 600? ....... Just curious :-) ........

Presence's picture

At the time, the Dunlavy SC V.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Do you still have FPB 600 now? ...... If so, what speakers are you using them with? :-) ......

Presence's picture

Krell Evolution One Monoblocks / Dunlavy SC VI with TC Sounds 15" replacing the stock 15" Eminence woofers due to flooding.

Since I know you are well versed in the equipment, I thought I'd add a few pearls from experience with the Krells...

MC in his FPB 600 review mentions the AC voltage being modulated by the amplifier from the demands of the music...
Adding regulation in the amp I suspect modulates the AC line voltage even further which likely adds even more harmonics going to the rest of the equipment - perhaps most detrimentally to the source components. After reading the AC Wiring whitepaper by Vince Galbo, I found it easy to convert my Krell Theater Amp fed by 60' of 10AWG to 240V. The sense of ease of the music delivery was readily apparent. The Evolution Ones were already fed by 240V so I took on replacing the two dedicated 60' feeds of 10AWG with 6AWG. Once again, the gains in ease of delivery were readily apparent. From the hip, I'd say a 25% improvement in soundstage expansion, space and ease. Was this an effect of lower wire impedance minimizing the music-modulated line harmonics and to what degree does the amp re-ingest those harmonics [as Galbo suggests] or to what degree are these harmonics passed on the the rest of the components [or is it a combination of both]? But there is at least positive correlation between lower wire gauge to the current-hungry Krell amps and sound quality in the context of my system. For what it's worth...

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Krell Evolution One mono blocks cost some big bucks ...... Are you a Rap musician? ...... Just kidding :-) .......

Of course, there are more expensive amplifiers available now :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The new improved power supply in your listening room, should be able to supply enough power to the D'Agostino Relentless mono-blocks ....... See, Hi-Fi News review :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

One more thing ...... Steve Jobs re-joined Apple in 1997 ....... How many of us bought Apple stock in 1997? :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Amazon went public in 1997 ...... If someone invested $10,000 in Amazon in 1997, that money would be worth $12 million as of May 2020 :-) ......