J. Gordon Holt

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J. Gordon Holt, Various  |  Apr 11, 2008  |  First Published: Oct 11, 1991  |  0 comments
To high-end audiophiles, the Boulder 500 amplifier and its less expensive derivative, the 500AE (Audiophile Edition), would not seem to be "high-end" designs. They are designed around op-amps (felt by many to be generally poor-sounding), they have scads of negative feedback (which is perhaps why op-amps sound bad), and they have only a moderately hefty power supply. Why, then, is Stereophile publishing a review of an op-amp–based power amplifier? Read on...
J. Gordon Holt  |  Mar 19, 1991  |  0 comments
In the real world, "knowledge is power" means that if I know more about something than you do, I am better able than you to control it or use it to my own advantage. This is no less true in high-end audio, where a gut-level understanding of how a component works can free its owner from the constraints and frequent inaccuracies of instruction manuals, folklore, advertisements, and the nugatory, nullifidian nonsense in the mainstream audio press assuring you that most of what you know damn well you are hearing is really only a figment of your imagination.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 01, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1991  |  0 comments
Manley is not a new company; it's the last name of the president and chief designer of VTL, David Manley, whose Model 300 has been my reference standard power amp for the past two years. In fact, Manley is not even a new brand name; it's the name of VTL's "deluxe" line of electronics, built (ostensibly) to industrial standards of ruggedness and reliability.

It's customary to think of "the tube sound" as being warm, rich, weak through the deep bass, fat through the midbass, forward through the midrange, bright through the middle highs, and soft at the extreme top, with superb rendition of depth and spaciousness. The "solid-state sound," by contrast, is generally thought to be cool, detailed, and pristine, with powerful deep bass, controlled midbass, rather reticent (laid-back) midrange and mid-highs, and a somewhat crisp high end, with variable (roulette-style) reproduction of depth and spatiality.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 14, 1990  |  0 comments
While the LP-vs-CD debate continues unabated among high-end audiophiles, the rest of the world has already closed the book on the venerable LP. All but a few specialized classical record companies (footnote 1)(and some weird magazines) have ceased releasing new LPs, few record stores sell them any more, and consumers who wouldn't be caught dead owning something that wasn't trendy have long ago dumped their LP collections for cents on the pound.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 29, 1990  |  0 comments
When sociologists tell us America is a highly mobile society, they don't just mean we do lot of driving. What they mean is, we do a lot of moving. The good old three-generation family homestead, immortalized in nostalgia TV and literature, is a thing of the past. According to census information, almost 20% of America's population changes its address every year. Of course, it's usually a different 20% every year, but pulling up roots and moving---to a bigger house, a better neighborhood or a nicer city, not to mention a place where your employer decides to transfer you---is almost as commonplace across the US of A as marriage, divorce, and unbridled greed.
Robert Harley, J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990  |  6 comments
In 1988, Bob Carver set out to design the best amplifier he possibly could, without regard for cost. It was more of an ego exercise than an attempt to build a product with wide commercial appeal. The result was the four-chassis, $17,500 Silver Seven.

Interestingly, Bob Carver chose vacuum tubes to realize his dream of building the ultimate power amplifier. The Silver Seven uses fourteen KT88 output tubes per channel, and puts out 375W into 8 ohms. Bob built three pairs of Silver Sevens, not expecting to sell many at the $17,500 asking price. When those sold quickly, another 10 pairs were manufactured. Now, demand is so great that Silver Sevens are built in groups of 30 pairs.

J. Gordon Holt  |  May 28, 2010  |  First Published: Dec 28, 1989  |  0 comments
Sonic Booms
Steam Locomotives, Jet Fighter Aircraft, Military Exercise (with live ammunition), WWII Aircraft, Comic Relief I & II, West Mountain Inn, Diesel Train, Steam Train with Rain & Thunder
Bainbridge BCD6276 (CD only). Produced & mixed by Brad S. Miller. DDD. TT: 58:00
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 30, 2010  |  First Published: Sep 30, 1989  |  1 comments
Denon Anechoic Orchestral Recordings
Music and Test Signals for Evaluation of Room Acoustics
Mashahiko Enkoji, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra
Denon CD PG-6006 (CD only). Katsuhiro Tsubonou, Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, dirs.; Norio Okada, Katsuhiro Miura, engs. DDD. TT: 58:42
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 13, 2007  |  First Published: May 01, 1989  |  0 comments
Last October, in Vol.11 No.10, Stereophile's Founder and Chief Tester J. Gordon Holt stated, in his acerbic editorial "The Acoustical Standard," that, in his opinion, only recordings for which there is an original acoustic reference—ie, typically those of classical music—should be used to evaluate hi-fi components. And that in the absence of a consensus over such a policy, high-end component manufacturers were losing their way over what does and does not represent good sound quality.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 01, 2011  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1989  |  1 comments
It is often said that anyone with a recorder and a couple of microphones can record an orchestra. It's true, assuming you can get permission to do it (another story entirely). But that statement fails to address an important question: "How well?"

The rudiments of any skill can be learned from books. Practice can develop a fair level of competence. Beyond competence, however, the student is governed by his genes and/or family environment, depending on which theory of human potential you subscribe to. Whatever the reason, some practitioners of both disciplines never seem able to transcend mere competence, while others go on to become legends in their own times. John Eargle, chief recording engineer for Delos Records and producer of this fascinating recording, may or may not qualify as a legend, but he is obviously 'way past "a fair level of competence."

J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 28, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1988  |  7 comments
Two of the most cherished terms in the lexicon of high end are "no holds barred" and "cost no object." These are usually applied, together, to the most expensive version of something currently on the market. But is either term really appropriate for an audio product? The answer is a flat, unequivocal No. No consumer product has ever conformed to the real meaning of those terms, and it is unlikely that one ever will.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 02, 2008  |  First Published: Nov 02, 1988  |  1 comments
Whenever an audio high-ender thinks about tubes, he usually thinks about Audio Research. This is only natural, because Audio Research Corporation was almost single-handedly responsible for saving tubes from oblivion in the early '70s when everyone else switched to solid-state. But ARC was soon joined in its heroic endeavor by an upstart company called Conrad-Johnson, which entered the fray in 1977 with its PV-1 preamp, priced at an affordable (even then) $500.
John Atkinson, J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 25, 1988  |  5 comments
From time to time in this column, I have alluded to what appears to be a loss of direction in high-end audio. It's not that the state of the audio art has stopped advancing; the technology is improving in many ways, as is obvious every time we listen to a new preamplifier or cartridge or loudspeaker that has better this, that, or the other thing than anything which has come before. The problem is that these improvements don't really seem to be getting us anywhere. And I believe the reason for this is that the audio community no longer agrees about where audio is supposed to be going in the first place.
J. Gordon Holt, Various  |  Oct 20, 1995  |  First Published: Oct 20, 1988  |  0 comments
Not only does the venerable vacuum tube refuse to lie down and die, as everyone predicted when audio went solid-state; it continues to deliver better performance than anyone had imagined it could. Only a few years ago, we could characterize "the tube sound" as being sweet but soft at the high end, rich but loose in the midbass, deficient in deep bass, and bright and forward, usually with excellent reproduction of depth. Since then, we've seen the introduction of what might almost be called a new generation of tube amplifiers, which rival solid-state units in those areas where tubes used to have weaknesses, but have given up little of the tube's sonic strengths.
Larry Archibald, J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 31, 2005  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1988  |  0 comments
In 1966, two avid audiophile/music lovers—a nuclear physicist named Arnold Nudell and an airline pilot named Cary Christie—labored over weekends and evenings for 18 months in Nudell's garage to put together the world's first hybrid electrostatic/dynamic loudspeaker system. It cost them $5000 for materials, launched a company (New Technology Enterprises), and helped contribute to the popular myth that all of the really important audiophile manufacturers got started in somebody's basement or garage (footnote 1). The system was marketed as the Servo-Statik I, for the princely sum of $1795. (At the time, the most expensive loudspeaker listed in Stereo Review's "Stereo/Hi-Fi Directory" was JBL's "Metregon," at $1230.)

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