Historical

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Jay Clawson, Chuck Zeilig  |  Mar 07, 2019  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1986  |  39 comments
Publisher's note: The following article, from the early days of Compact Disc, is presented with no claim for absoluteness. (In fact, just as we go to press in the spring of 1986, we received a manuscript from Philip Greenspun, Product Review Editor of Computer Music Journal (Cambridge, MA), who had precisely the opposite result when comparing CD to analog versions of the same recording, though it was unclear that his test procedures were as thorough as in the tests by these authors.) The tests described are neither single- nor double-blind, and the author's decision to forego conversation while listening to the same products does not by any means guarantee lack of mutual influence—especially because their musical tastes are so well known to each other. Moreover, repeating the test with different phono equipment, a different CD player, and a different replica of the master tape would likely yield somewhat different results.

Nevertheless, I think the basic conclusion is sound: good CD reproduction is remarkably close to a fairly good version of master tape sound; there's a good chance that it's more accurate than what you'll get from the average cartridge, tonearm, and turntable.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 07, 2019  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1985  |  8 comments
The main inherent advantage of the full-range electrostatic loud speaker system is that it allows a single diaphragm to embody the conflicting attributes needed for optimal performance at both extremes of the audio range. Its thin-membrane diaphragm can be made exceedingly light, for superb transient response and extended HF response, yet it can be about as large in area as desired, for extended LF response.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 05, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995  |  20 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.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 05, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995  |  0 comments
Editor's Note: 24 years ago, in January 1995, we published the first issue of Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, a sister publication intended to appeal to the the growing number of home-theater enthusiasts. Stereophile's founder, the late J. Gordon Holt, had gotten early into the idea of accompanying movies with high-quality sound, and when I first visited his New Mexico home in January 1986, his system included an Advent NTSC-format video projector.
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 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.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 03, 2018  |  First Published: May 01, 1981  |  40 comments
The author demonstrating stereo microphone techniques at an English audio show in 1981.

For most people the terms hi-fi and stereo are synonymous, and yet it is clear that there is still a great deal of confusion over what the word "stereo" actually means. There isn't even a consensus of opinion amongst producers of records, designers of hi-fi equipment, audio critics and music lovers as to the purpose of stereo, and considering that the arguments show no sign of diminishing in intensity, it is instructive to realise that 1981 sees both the 100th anniversary of Clement Ader's first stereo experiments and the 50th anniversary of Alan Blumlein's classic patent on stereo.

Dick Olsher, J. Gordon Holt, Martin Colloms  |  Jun 07, 2018  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1986  |  0 comments
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) loudspeaker projects are quite common in the UK, where details about several excellent designs, including a recent one by Martin Colloms, have been published for public domain consumption. Stateside, the situation is rather grim, where only an occasional subwoofer project (always popular) makes it into the commercial magazines.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 05, 2017  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1980  |  21 comments
The problem confronting the magazine reviewer when organising the necessary listening tests to accompany/reinforce the measured behavior of a device under test is complex. There has never been a problem with the measurement aspect; as long as someone has access to the same test gear—and full knowledge of the test conditions—then he should be able to replicate the critic's findings exactly (assuming an infinitely narrow spread of behaviour from sample to sample—a rasher assumption with some manufacturers' equipment than of others). However, when it comes to determining reliably the audible (or inaudible?) effects on music program by an amplifier/cartridge/loudspeaker etc. then the going gets tough.
Dick Olsher  |  Oct 10, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  0 comments
High fidelity took a giant step forward in 1956 with Peter Walker's introduction of the Quad ESL. Walker's research efforts had been motivated by his firm belief in the superiority of the electrostatic dipole over the box loudspeaker, but actually to take the economic plunge and market such a speaker was surely an act of bravery. After all, those were the pre-stereo, pre-audiophile days of the mid '50s, and the public's tastes and expectations were relatively unsophisticated. The average front end was abominable by today's standards, so that making definitive assessments of loudspeaker quality was a difficult task at best.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 03, 2017  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  3 comments
Stereophile's founder, J. Gordon Holt, photographed toward the end of his life by Steven Stone.

Editor's Note: The forthcoming August 2017 issue of Stereophile is No.451, but 55 years ago this summer, J. Gordon Holt was putting together the first issue of what initially was to be called The Stereophile. Here is Gordon's editorial leader from that issue, published in November 1962.

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.

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.

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.
Peter W. Mitchell, Barry Fox, Peter van Willenswaard  |  Jul 05, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1991  |  2 comments
Editor's Note: In the 21st Century, lossy audio data compression, in the form of MP3 and AAC files, Dolby Digital and DTS-encoded soundtracks, and YouTube and Spotify streaming, is ubiquitous. But audiophiles were first exposed to the subject a quarter-century ago, when Philips launched its ill-fated DCC cassette format. What follows is Stereophile's complete coverage on both DCC and its PASC lossy-compression encoding from our April 1991 issue.—John Atkinson

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