Stereophile's Products of 1997 Joint Analog Sources of 1997

Joint Analog Sources of 1997

VPI TNT Mk.3 turntable ($5000; flywheel adds $1000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.19 No.11, November 1997)
Magnum Dynalab MD 108 FM tuner ($5500; reviewed by Don A. Scott, Vol.20 No.5, May 1997)

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Immedia RPM2 tonearm ($2495; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.20 No.5, May 1997 Review)
Immedia RPM2 turntable ($4995; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.20 No.9, September 1997 Review)
Rega RB900 tonearm ($995; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.20 No.8, August 1997)
Rega Planar 3 turntable ($695; reviewed by Sam Tellig & Michael Fremer, Vol.7 No.1, January 1984; Vol.8 No.6, October 1985; & Vol.19 No.12, December 1996 Review)
Shure V15VxMR phono cartridge ($300; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.20 No.7, July 1997 Review)
van den Hul Frog phono cartridge ($2500; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.20 No.7, July 1997)
VPI JMW Memorial Tonearm ($2300; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.20 No.1, January 1997)

With all the attention the newer technologies garner, we find it reassuring that some people still care enough about LP and FM playback to produce products as refined as our joint winners in this category, the design of each of which is predicated on the concept of careful attention to all of the details.

Certainly the career of VPI's TNT has been predicated on the constant evolution of each component involved. Each time designer Harry Weisfeld has discovered a better material or technology, he has incorporated it into another iteration of this durable product—indeed, even as we congratulate him on the TNT Mk.III, he has introduced its successor, the TNT Mk.IV, which features air-bladder suspension. Several respondents found this one of the TNT's most endearing qualities—upgradeability scored big points with them.

But reliability and sound quality were the most frequently cited reasons for their choice of the TNT. "It gets the all-important midrange about as correct as I've heard from analog," said Michael Fremer in his review, a comment echoed by several other writers. That, plus stable image, deep soundstaging, and speed stability, were enough to make it one of the most notable products we covered in 1997.

Don Scott cited the Magnum Dynalab MD 108 as one of the five or six best products for FM reception ever built, and our voters agreed overwhelmingly. Soundstaging is stunningly lifelike, bass is tight and solid, textures are delicately rendered, and the transparency achieved by the best broadcast sources is astonishing. All of this is enhanced by the MD 108's absence of birdies and other intrusive noises. Of the nearly 10,000 FM stations and translators in the US, many offer spectacular sound; those listeners lucky enough to live within reception of the best should hear one through the MD 108. It just might amaze them that FM can sound this good.

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 :-) ......