Historical

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J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 13, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1964  |  1 comments
Joan Baez In Concert, Part 2
Joan Baez, vocals, guitar
Vanguard VTC-1679 (tape), VSD-2123 (LP). Maynard Solomon, prod., Reice Hamel, eng. TT: 48:00.

Well, we finally got ourselves equipped to review 4-track open-reel tapes, via a slightly modified Ampex F-44. All the tapes we have auditioned had noticeably higher hiss than the average stereo disc, but this was not loud enough to be distracting except when the tapes were reproduced at very high levels. Even then, we found the smooth, even hiss to be less objectionable than the ticks and pops from some discs played at the same level.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  2 comments
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch, conductor
RCA Victor LSC-2608 (LP). TT: 48:40

It is easy to forget that the hi-fi movements—the "March to the Scaffold" and the "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath"—comprise barely a third of the music in the Symphonie fantastique, yet when we listen to most of the available versions of this, we can understand why the first three movements are usually passed up by the record listener. Two are slow and brooding, one is a wispy sort of waltz, and all three require a certain combination of flowing gentleness and grotesquerie that few orchestras and fewer conductors can carry off. It is in these first three movements where most readings of Berlioz' best-known work fall flat. Either they are too sweetly pastoral or too episodic and choppy, or they degenerate into unreliered dullness.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 06, 2019  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1970  |  1 comments
The Revox A-77 has extremely good speed regulation, vanishingly low wow and flutter, very low noise, superb tape handling, and the smoothest, widest-range frequency response of any recorder we have ever tested.

The portable version, with built-in monitor amps and speakers, is very compact for a machine with 10½ reel capacity, and is easily carried by one person. Now that the later version is equipped with a flutter-filtering tension arm, our only criticism of the A-77 is its use of three-circuit jacks for the micro phone inputs instead of the XLR-type receptacles that are considered to be "standard" in the US for on-location audio recording.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 06, 2016  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1968  |  4 comments
The Swiss-made G-36 recorder had earned an enviable reputation among perfectionists during the few years that it has been available in the US, and our inability to test one (because of a backlog of other components for testing) became increasingly frustrating to us with each glowing report we heard from subscribers who owned them. Now that we have finally obtained one through the courtesy of ELPA (footnote 1), we can see what all the shouting was about, but we also have some reservations about it.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 30, 2000  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1972  |  2 comments
Alicia Holt, aged 18 months, devours her father's magazine

After much searching of soul and of bank account, we have reached an earth-shattering decision. The Stereophile is going to start taking ads.

J. Gordon Holt, Larry Greenhill, Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 30, 2006  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1978  |  0 comments
One of the less-glamorous speaker systems around today, these have more to offer the critical listener in terms of satisfaction than do most of the more-exotic designs.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 12, 1985  |  0 comments
A number of recent letters have accused us of snobbishness and elitism because we devote so much space to reports about components that "common folk" can't afford. We are "snobbish" because we seem to look down on anything less perfect than a Wilson WAMM speaker system or an Audio Research SP-10 preamplifier. And we are "elitist" because we seem to show little interest in any components which fall short of state of the art. Far from being chastened by these letters, I am proud, to declare that they are right on target.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 23, 1995  |  First Published: Jan 23, 1983  |  0 comments
Our long-awaited laser-audio disc player (usually called the CD, for "Compact Disc") finally arrived, along with a real bonanza of software: two discs—a Polygram classical sampler of material from Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and Philips, and a Japanese CBS recording of Bruckner's 4th Symphony, with Kubelik.
Anthony H. Cordesman, Various  |  Mar 11, 1998  |  First Published: Feb 11, 1984  |  0 comments
High-quality, low-cost loudspeaker systems are not an everyday blessing. The Rogers LS3/5a has survived for more than a decade precisely because so few US manufacturers sought musical accuracy as distinguished from high output and powerful bass. The economics of loudspeaker manufacture also don't lend themselves to economy. The cost of woodwork is driving the price of speakers up almost as fast as the cost of sheet-metal work is escalating the price of electronics.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 03, 1985  |  0 comments
The title of this month's column is the legend Sheffield Labs emblazoned on a T-shirt a couple of years ago, to promote their jaundiced view of digital audio. Since then, even Sheffield's reactionary perfectionists softpedalled their anti-digital crusade, perhaps because of the number of CDs they've been selling! Their personnel no longer wear those T-shirts at CES, which is unfortunate. Although most people in the audio field no longer see digital audio as madness, digital denouncing is still very much with us.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 08, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1966  |  31 comments
One of the most firmly-established audio platitudes is the one which says "The specs don't tell the whole story." One reason for this, of course, is the fact that most manufacturers, preferring to sell their products on the basis of emotional appeals in ads rather than on hard, cold performance claims, do not attempt to make their specs tell the whole story.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 05, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995  |  22 comments
It's a tense moment during a suspense thriller. A cannibalistic serial killer has escaped from a maximum-security detention unit and eluded capture for long enough to work up a healthy appetite. Two small children are playing hide-and-seek in an overgrown lot behind their home.
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 29, 1997  |  First Published: May 29, 1988  |  0 comments
During the late 1950s, when high fidelity exploded into a multimillion-dollar industry, product advertisements bragged about bringing the orchestra into your living room. Apparently, no one realized what an absurd concept it was, but there are still many people today who believe that's what audio is all about. It isn't. There is no way a real orchestra could fit into the average living room, and if it could, we would not want to be around when it played. Sound levels of 115dB are just too loud for most sane people, and that's what a full orchestral fortissimo can produce in a small room.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 19, 2016  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1968  |  5 comments
How do you rate as an audio expert? Test yourself on these 25 questions.

All of the following are multiple-choice questions, dealing with things that every audio hobbyist should know, either before or after completing the test. Most of them are easy, but take your time in answering and don't jump to conclusions. Some of the questions are quite tricky, and wrong answers will be subtracted from your final score, so read them and the possible answers carefully before committing yourself. Don't guess if you aren't fairly sure.

Lew Brown, John Koval  |  Nov 09, 2016  |  First Published: May 01, 1966  |  10 comments
Note: As our coverage of the 2016 New York Audio Show has just been posted, I thought it would be interesting to post our report from the 1965 show, in particular to see which brands are still around 50 years later.John Atkinson

The 1965 New York hi-fi show was, to these observers, most notable for the marked increase in the number of exhibits which featured good—ie, classical—music for demonstration purposes. In the past, only about a half dozen of the exhibitors played any thing of musical worth, the rest of them evidently figuring they could make more noise with wild brass-and-percussion "demo" records.

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