J. Gordon Holt

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 13, 2020  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1988  |  9 comments
Tandberg of Norway has a rather ambiguous corporate image among audio perfectionists. Long considered to make some of the best tape-recording equipment around, the firm has never been seen as a leader in electronics, despite some bold—and reportedly good-sounding—forays into the realm of $2000 preamps and $3500 power amplifiers. Perhaps this is why, when Tandberg started making CD players, high-enders were uncertain how to respond.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 24, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 24, 1988  |  0 comments
When I attended the Audio Engineering Society convention in October 1987 (my first time in over eight years; full report in this issue), I was impressed by the incredible technology now available to composers of music. I was also dismayed, however, by the extent to which so-called purist audio, as well as "acoustical" music, have been consigned to oblivion by the pro audio community. It was clear, both from the exhibits and the many conversations on which I eavesdropped, that audio professionals are no longer concerned about fidelity, in the sense of trying to reproduce sounds accurately. A "real" sound has become to them merely raw material of no value except as something to be processed, manipulated, folded, bent, and spindled to produce any sonic effect except the original one. About a third of the products displayed at the 83rd AES convention were tools for doing that.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 10, 2006  |  First Published: Jan 10, 1988  |  0 comments
The Ortofon MC-2000 may just have been the most impractical cartridge to be unleashed upon the audio community for some years. With a high compliance (20cu) that made it ill-suited for most tonearms, it also had a preposterously low signal output of 50 microvolts, which gave new meaning to the terms hum and noise. Few MC preamps had enough gain to deliver adequate driving voltage to a system, and none of those that did had low enough noise to be usable with the 2000. If the problem wasn't hum, it was hiss; if hiss was acceptably low, there would be too much hum. At least Ortofon had the sense to be aware of the problem and to do something about it, in the form of their T-2000 step-up transformer, which is the only device I ever found that would allow the cartridge to be operated without a constant background of hum or hiss. Despite all this, I have used the MC-2000 as my reference cartridge for the last two years. Why? Because of all the cartridges I've tried, it is by far the most accurate.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 28, 1995  |  First Published: Dec 28, 1987  |  0 comments
There is something vaguely disturbing about the idea of an $8000 turntable and arm combination. That's more money than a lot of audiophiles have invested in records through the years. Total overkill! Or so it might seem. But the entire history of analog disc reproduction, from the first LP to the present, has been one of seemingly open-ended discoveries—of subtleties nobody ever imagined were frozen in those tiny grooves, of levels of quality no one ever guessed the medium was capable of. Yes, newer LPs are a lot better than the first ones, but that is only to be expected in any technologically advancing field. What is amazing about the LP is that, 40 years after its introduction, we are still finding out that all of them, from the first to the latest, are better than anyone could have imagined. An improved phono unit doesn't just make the latest release from Wilson Audio or Reference Recordings sound better, it does the same for every LP you own!
J. Gordon Holt, Various  |  Nov 29, 1995  |  First Published: Nov 29, 1987  |  0 comments
Following the introduction of their very expensive, tube/FET hybrid SP11 preamplifier, there were rumors that Audio Research was working on a hybrid tube/transistor preamplifier targeted to cost less than $2000. The rumors were confirmed when ARC showed a black-and-white photo of the SP9 at the 1987 Winter CES. Obviously, like all magazines, we were impatient to receive a review sample, but the first review of the SP9 actually appeared in the summer '87 issue of Peter Moncrieff's IAR Hotline. Peter's review was almost intemperately enthusiastic, comparing the SP9 positively with early samples of the SP11 and suggesting that its sound quality was considerably better than would be expected from its $1695 asking price. Naturally, we were anticipating good things when our review sample arrived in Santa Fe in late July.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 08, 2006  |  First Published: Oct 08, 1987  |  0 comments
Bill Firebaugh's first product, the outrageous-looking Well-Tempered (tone) Arm, established him as one of audio's most innovative designers. At the 1985 Winter CES, he showed a prototype companion product—the Well-Tempered Turntable—and was producing production units by January 1987. He discusses here the WTT's unusual design features. (Readers should note that, since we have not yet tested the new turntable, this interview is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of the product.)
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 26, 2010  |  First Published: Sep 26, 1987  |  0 comments
During my recent interview with the Sheffield Lab people in connection with their Moscow recording sessions (Vol.10 No.3), both Lincoln Mayorga and Doug Sax had some unkind things to say about the cost of recording an orchestra in the US. Their complaints are justified. It costs more to record in the US than anywhere else in the world, and these astronomical costs are detrimental both to symphonic music in the US and to the audiophile's pursuit of sonic perfection.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 03, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 03, 1987  |  1 comments
Klyne Audio Arts has an almost Zen-like approach to the design of its products. Like the best Japanese designs, Klyne's preamps are aesthetically pleasing in appearance, do exactly what they're supposed to, and their controls are not only where you would expect them to be, but have an almost sensually smooth action. Internal construction, too, is a work of art—the kind of design which, transferred to a tapestry, would grace the wall of any listening room. You have to see the insides of a Klyne preamp to appreciate how attractive-looking an audio component can be. But physical beauty is only one aspect of Stan Klyne's designs; of all the electronics manufacturers I know of, Klyne Audio Arts also makes products more adjustable than any others, so as to appeal to the needs of what I call compulsive tweaks.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 03, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 03, 1987  |  0 comments
This product is a pre-trol. What, you may well ask, is a "pre-trol?" Well, Threshold Corp. calls its FET-10 a preamplifier, but it isn't, really. In fact, it isn't an It at all; it's a Them. Only half of Them is a preamp, and you can buy each half separately. If that sounds a little confusing, maybe it's because some of the old, familiar language of audio is starting to lose its relevance.
J. Gordon Holt, Alvin Gold  |  Mar 02, 2010  |  First Published: Aug 02, 1987  |  0 comments
How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips move. How can you tell when a recording system is perfect? CBS tries to outlaw it.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 09, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  1 comments
Founded in the mid-1970s, Acoustat was the first manufacturer of full-range electrostatics literally forced to address what had long been a major weakness of such speakers: high-voltage breakdown, or "arcing." The original design was built and used in JP (Jeep) Harned's home, where the living-room french windows opened out onto a stream in the back yard. That, plus Florida's legendary humidity, conspired to produce summer days when moisture would trickle down every vertical surface in the house, including the speaker elements.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 17, 2012  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1987  |  1 comments
"Grand Integra" is the name Onkyo has given to its line of perfectionist-oriented audio products, and the M-508 is the cheaper of Onkyo's two Grand Integra power amplifiers. (The flagship model is the $4200 M-510, reviewed by Larry Greenhill in Vol.8 No.8, featuring "high current capability," and rated at 300W continuous per channel.)
J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 24, 2013  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1987  |  0 comments
Copland: Appalachian Spring (Suite), Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson, An Outdoor Overture (CD only)
Pacific Symphony Orchestra/Clark/Marni Nixon (soprano)
Reference Recordings LP RR-2 and CD RR-22CD. Tam Henderson, prod.; Keith Johnson, eng.

This is unquestionably one of the best recordings Reference Recordings has done. The sound of the LP is up-front and quite bright, giving the orchestra that peculiarly nasal quality I usually associate with small French orchestras. There is truly remarkable detail and naturalness here; I was about to write that the recording makes the orchestra sound very small and pinched in Appalachian Spring when I noticed on the record jacket that this is the "Original version for 13 instruments." Okay, so I know what it costs to hire musicians in the US, but I still prefer the version of this work scored for full, bombastic, overblown 108-piece symphony orchestra. The 13 instruments are superbly balanced, though—even the piano, which is usually (and wrongfully) relegated to behind the orchestra. About a half a block behind it.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 02, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1987  |  5 comments
The unsung sage who first observed that high-end audio is a solitary vice was probably not implying that audiophiles are antisocial; he was merely acknowledging the fact that a decent stereo stage is usually only audible from one place in the entire listening room—the so-called sweet spot. Stray from that spot, and the whole soundstage shifts to one side, spaciousness collapses, and images become vague and unstable. This is the antisocial aspect: only one member of a group can hear good stereo at any one time. (The gracious host at a listenfest will take a secondary seat, allowing his guests to take turns sitting in the sweet spot.)

Pages

X