Historical

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John Atkinson  |  Jan 20, 2020  |  17 comments
Even as digital/analog processors were becoming a hot product category in the early 1990s, audiophiles were also learning that timing uncertainties in the AES/EBU and S/PDIF serial datastreams—jitter—would compromise any improvement in sound quality offered by these DACs. Some companies therefore introduced products to reduce or eliminate jitter—in the November 1994 issue of Stereophile, Robert Harley reviewed three such products: the Audio Alchemy DTI Pro, the Digital Domain VSP, and the Sonic Frontiers UltrajitterBug. I still have Stereophile's review samples of the UltraJitterBug and VSP, along with two contemporary DACs: a PS Audio UltraLink and a Parts Connection Assemblage DAC-1.

As our reviews of these products were published before Paul Miller's and the late Julian Dunn's development of the "J-Test" diagnostic signal, I performed J-Test jitter measurements to bring that 1994 review into the 21st Century. You can see what I found here.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 05, 2019  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1976  |  13 comments
We mentioned in the last issue that we were becoming increasingly disturbed by "a certain manic quality that is creeping into this pursuit of sonic perfection." We were referring then to a manufacturer's announcement of the imminent availability of a speaker system weighing over 1000 lb per channel, but we could just as well have been speaking of this behemoth from Audio Research.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 03, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1973  |  15 comments
Ye Editor had his first exposure to a true omnidirectional speaker system 15 years ago, while he was employed as chief equipment tester for High Fidelity magazine. The speaker was a most unusual-looking device for its time, being roughly a foot square and standing 3 feet high, with a "cube" of grille cloth at the top like a cupola. Inside the cupola was an 8" woofer facing upwards. Directly above it was the weirdest-looking tweeter you ever saw.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 06, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1974  |  2 comments
We have still not received a pair of these for formal testing, which may be a good thing in view of our feelings these days about "updatings." (Our feelings about such are clarified in this issue's "As We See It.")
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  |  Sep 05, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1963  |  2 comments
An editorial note: We recently republished Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt's 1966 review of the Swiss Thorens TD-150AB turntable. This was the first high-end 'table I bought after leaving university and earning a wage. But as good as I felt the TD-150AB to be, with its belt drive and sprung suspension, it was sonically overshadowed both by Thorens's TD 124 turntable and by the English Garrard 301 turntable.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 03, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1967  |  10 comments
Back in the days of pre-stereo high fidelity, when a 6-gram phono pickup was considered to be "featherweight," the best universal-type tonearm we knew of was a bulky, very professional-looking device made by Gray Labs and designated the Model 108. One unusual thing about it was that, instead of using sleeve or cone-face bearings, it had a single up-ended needle—a so-called unipivot—for both the vertical and lateral modes of motion. The other unusual thing about it was that the pivot system was viscous-damped, and it was this, we suspect, that was largely responsible for the arm's ability to make any pickup sound somehow sweeter and cleaner than it did in any other arm.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 08, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1966  |  30 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  |  Aug 08, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1967  |  12 comments
It is not at all unusual these days to find manufacturers producing "matched" speakers and amplifiers that are designed specifically for one another. But it is very unusual to find this being done by an amplifier manufacturer who doesn't make loudspeakers. The Futterman H3-A is one of these rarities—an amplifier designed primarily to complement one of the best, and one of the hardest-to-drive loudspeakers on the market: the KLH Model Nine.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 06, 2019  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1963  |  8 comments
We tested two samples of the ADC-1 phono cartridge, both of which were taken from a dealer's stock. One was a demonstrator that had been in use for some months. The other was brand new, right off the shelf. Both were tested in an Empire 98 tonearm and in a Gray 108-C tonearm with its damping lightly adjusted, but results with both cartridges were for all intents and purposes identical in both arms.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 11, 2019  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1966  |  17 comments
This is an integrated arm-and-turntable unit using single-belt drive from a stepped motor pulley to an inside platter (under the main one), and having a three-point suspension similar to that in the AR turntable for isolation from acoustic feedback and floorborne vibrations. Speed change is accomplished by a two-pronged "fork" which, actuated by the speed selector knob, throws the belt from one step of the motor pulley to the other. The motor is a special synchronous type that is actually two motors in a single case. Their speed is determined by the frequency of the AC supply, so there is no speed adjustment.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 09, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  1 comments
Editor's Note: This is the very first equipment report that was written by J. Gordon Holt for Stereophile, then called The Stereophile. The venerable JGH appended the following warning: The writer of this report was employed by Weathers Industries during the time when the product in question was undergoing development, so in view of this past association, and the doubt it may cast upon the writer's impartiality, this report probably should not be published, even though the writer left Weathers Industries over a year ago and is not bound by any obligations thereto.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 09, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1966  |  5 comments
One by one, the major amplifier manufacturers have acceded to the pressures of the marketplace and introduced "solid-state" models, whether or not these happened to sound as good as their previous tube-type units. Dynaco was one of the last of the hold outs, preferring, according to their advertisements, to wait until they could produce a solid-state unit that was at least as good as their best tube types. Now, they've taken the plunge at last, with their Stereo 120.
Irving M. Fried  |  Jun 06, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1962  |  16 comments
Ever since the first electrical loudspeaker—a glorified headphone with a horn on it—was outmoded by the balanced-armature cone speaker, paper has been the standard diaphragm material for speakers reproducing low frequencies. The Rice-Kellogg moving-coil transducer replaced the balanced-armature driving system in 1925, but the paper cone remained. And although many improvements have since been made, were no more major changes in loudspeaker design for over 30 years!
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 30, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1963  |  12 comments
The 880P is a moving-magnet stereo cartridge for use in transcription arms and the few high-quality record changers now available, such as the Garrard Model A and the Lesa units. It has standard ½" mounting centers, and the pickup requires the 47k ohm termination provided by most preamplifiers. The 8mV output, too, is about ideal for nearly all preamps.

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