Historical

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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 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
Peter van Willenswaard, John Atkinson, Peter W. Mitchell  |  Jun 28, 2016  |  First Published: May 01, 1989  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: One-bit DAC chips in the 21st century, where the anlog output signal is reconstructed from a very high-rate stream of pulses, are ubiquitous. But a quarter-century ago, those chips were only just beginning to stream from the chip foundries. In this feature, we aggregate Stereophile's 1989 coverage of the then-new technology, starting with Peter van Willenswaard on the basics.—John Atkinson.

1989 may well become the year of the D/A converter (DAC). CD-player manufacturers have, almost without exception, launched research projects focusing on this problem area of digital audio; many of these projects are already a year old. This is, however, by no means the only imperfection keeping us away from the high-quality sound we have come to suspect is possible with digital audio media, and maybe not even the most important.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 12, 2016  |  First Published: May 01, 1966  |  0 comments
Editor's Note from 1974: As you can read in the following "As We See It," the last issue of Vol.1 No.12 (cover dated "Spring 1966") was perhaps not as "strong" as it might have been. If we had been doing things according to Proper Business Practice, we should have held back our best articles and our gutsiest reports until that issue, as a high-powered incentive for our subscribers to renew their subs. We didn't. There were better articles and a greater variety of topics covered in earlier issues, but Issue 12 was significant in that it set the pattern of topic emphasis, and the balance of reports versus other editorial material, that was to continue more or less unchanged for the next 7 years.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 16, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1962  |  5 comments
When the Record Industry Association of America adopted its standard disc playback equalization curve in 1954, hi-fi enthusiasts heaved a sigh of relief and bade fond farewell to years of confusion, doubt and virtual pandemonium. Before the RIAA curve there were six "standard" curves in use, and since nobody seemed to know who was using what, getting flat response from a disc was often more a matter of luck than anything else. The adoption of the RIAA standard playback curve heralded an end to all this.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 21, 2016  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  18 comments
Considering the amount of careful research, cautious theorizing and wild speculation that have been lavished on the amplifier power question, we should expect to be considerably closer to the answer in 1962 than we were five years ago. This does not seem to be the case.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 08, 2015  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1974  |  5 comments
Some years ago, we attended a hi-fi show in New York City where one of the exhibitors was RCA Victor. Their presence there would have been forgotten were it not for the fact that their exhibit, featuring their own discs played on their own line of phonographs, was producing some of the filthiest sound at the entire show. And that, in the proverbial nutshell, is why you never see reports in Stereophile on equipment made by RCA, Philco or General Electric.
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 28, 2015  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1976  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: In Stereophile's second decade of publication, things were starting to unravel, with long gaps between each issue. There were just seven issues published between January 1974 and January 1978. The late Harry Pearson has gone on record that he founded The Absolute Sound in 1973 part because he was tired of waiting for the next issue of Stereophile to reach his mailbox. In this "As We See It" essay from the "Surface Noise" issue in August 1976, founder J. Gordon Holt owns up to it appearing 8 months late!
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 13, 2015  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1986  |  0 comments
Meridian's MCD CD player was perhaps the first audiophile-quality player to be introduced in the high-end market. I met with Bob Stuart of Meridian at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January, 1986 (footnote 1). My first question was about the name of the company he runs with industrial designer Alan Boothroyd:

J. Gordon Holt: Meridian in England is called Boothroyd Stuart, right?

Bob Stuart: Yes, the company is called Boothroyd Stuart, Limited, and the trademark is Meridian.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 05, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1981  |  4 comments
Editor's Note: On the 52nd anniversary of Stereophile's founding in 1962 by J. Gordon Holt, we are publishing this mea culpa "As We See it" essay from 1981, in which he explains why Vol.4 No.10 was almost six months late in mailing to subscribers. Gordon had relocated from the Philadephia suburbs to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1978, and as he had explained in the April 1978 issue, the move had not gone well. "Much of the equipment necessary for testing got damaged or destroyed in transit," he wrote, adding that "What had promised to be a superb listening room turned out to have some sticky acoustical idiosyncrasies."
Larry Archibald  |  Sep 10, 2014  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1983  |  3 comments
No, we made no typos in the specifications sidebar. The weight of the Wilson Audio Modular Monitor (WAMM) speaker system is enough to make you consult a structural engineer before dropping it on your living room floor—fragile, 300-year old New England frame houses are probably out. And the recent price increase from $32,000 to $35,000 is enough by itself to buy a pair of Quad ESL-63s—which is not a bad speaker system. The WAMM represents an all-out assault on both the state of the art in speaker systems and on the limits to which wealthy audiophiles will go in order to have the best.

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