J. Gordon Holt

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J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 01, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1974  |  4 comments
The M15 Super is the first high-output pickup to come from Ortofon. Previous ones required either step-up transformers or a booster preamp, and it is only fairly recently that either kind of step-up device was available with high-enough quality to avoid a noticeable degradation of the sound. Early step-up transformers muddied the bass, and previously-available booster preamps added noise or hardness or both to the sound. Now that there are excellent transformers available from Ortofon and other sources, and at least one extraordinarily good booster preamp (the Mark Levinson, at an extraordinarily high price—$170), Ortofon's latest and best pickup doesn't require the use of either.
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 09, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1974  |  27 comments
The Shure V15-III is the latest of Shure's top-of-the-line "Super-track" pickups, earlier versions of which we scorned because of their dished-down response in the 6kHz range and their consequent "dead" sound. (We were unimpressed with Shure's suggestion that the pickup cable capacitance be increased to a total of around 300pF, since few audiophiles are equipped to measure either cable capacitance or frequency response).
J. Gordon Holt, John Wright  |  May 09, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1968  |  1 comments
The RS-212 is one of the most impressive-looking tonearms we've seen in many a moon. Our first reaction to it, in fact, was much the same as our reaction to the first big, professional Ampex tape recorder we ever saw: it reminded us of one of those precision-engineered and cleanly styled electronic devices you see in hospitals and industrial laboratories—devices which make no attempt to cater to the current fashion in interior decorating or depth-researched consumer preferences, but which are designed simply to do a job neatly and efficiently. This arm, in short, is practically guaranteed to impress your Magnavox-oriented friends with the quality of your phono system, no matter how oblivious they may be to its actual sound.
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 02, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1968  |  3 comments
This is one of Shure's new generation of pickups with "trackability" that grew out of research on the Type II V-15 pickup.

At first glance, the V-15-II and the M75E are physically identical. They're the same size, the same shape, and almost the same weight (the M75E weighs 0.8 grams less); and both of them have the same neat little hinged cover that flips down to protect the stylus when the pickup's not in use.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 13, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1969  |  5 comments
Everyone knows that a lot of serious music listeners—that is, those who listen to music instead of using it as a conversational background—have neither the space nor the money for a pair of typical floor-standing speakers, and must make do with bookshelf-type systems that are actually small enough to put in a bookshelf. But while the typical audio perfectionist will freely admit that there is a place in the audio sun for these dinky little speakers, he cannot really take them seriously, particularly when they're priced significantly under $100 each.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 12, 2017  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1970  |  11 comments
If we had been asked some time ago to describe our "dream amplifier," chances are we would have described the Crown DC-300. Designed originally as an industrial device, it was made available as an audio amplifier rather as an afterthought. But if that roundabout approach is necessary to produce an audio amplifier like this, so be it.
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  |  Jan 02, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1986  |  3 comments
The Danish Bang & Olufsen firm is the undisputed leader in audio when it comes to dramatic product styling and ease and versatility of use. Their designs have won more design awards than those of any other audio firm, and each new lineup of B&O models seems to offer even more control convenience than the last batch. Sonically, none of their components to date has been any better than "very good," and some have done significantly less well than that. In reviewing them, we have had to compare them with their pricewise competition among the brands we normally think of as "high-end," and B&O's components have not stood that comparison very well.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 20, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1964  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: The editorial leader for the seventh issue of what was then called The Stereophile, cover-dated April 1964, was the first to introduce a recurring theme to the magazine's first 20 years of publication: an apology to subscribers for being late.—John Atkinson

Those of you who have a mind for dates may have noticed that this issue of The Stereophile is very, very late. This, the seventh issue, was supposed to have been a Merry Christmas November–December issue, but as things worked out, it doesn't even deserve the title of January–February issue. So, we think a few words of explanation are in order.

J. Gordon Holt, John Atkinson  |  Dec 07, 2016  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1988  |  1 comments
888maggie.promo300.jpgNow there's a Magneplanar speaker to fill the price gap between the $2000 MGIIIa and the $1225 MGIIc. The '2.5/R is priced almost exactly midway between them, which explains the unusual model number.

Like all the other single-panel Magneplanars, these are attractive enough in appearance to be surprisingly unobtrusive in the room, despite their imposing 6' height. Apart from the wooden endcheeks, they are covered with fabric grille all the way around, which could be a cosmetic liability as well as an asset: Domestic cats love to climb up fabric stretched tightly over wood (as at the bases of these) and, given the opportunity, will have these speakers in shreds in no time. Magnepan recommends spray-on cat repellent; I have to tell them that some cats don't seem to mind its odor as much as most people do.

J. Gordon Holt, Edward T. Dell, Jr.  |  Nov 29, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1967  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: in the main, Stereophile has steered clear of DIY audio projects, leaving them to magazines like The Audio Amateur, which was published by the late Edward T. Dell. But one of the exceptions was this 1967 article on the "Brute," a tube amplifier design by none other than Ed Dell. Note that the DIY competition mentioned by Gordon Holt is long closed to entries.—John Atkinson

There's a platitude to the effect that the road to Hell is strewn with good intentions. Well, we don't see ourselves as headed for perdition, but we must admit that we are surveying a rather impressive-looking junk pile of good intentions at this point.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 09, 2016  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1964  |  2 comments
Like every sensible publication, The Stereophile keeps track of the questions raised by readers who write to us, so we can get some idea of what most of you would like to see in future issues of the magazine. To date, the list looks like this, in order of diminishing interest: transistor amps and preamps, loudspeakers, pickups, tape equipment, tuners and, way at the bottom of the list, recordings. We are devoting most of the August 1964 issue to a discussion of commercial recording practices.
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.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 04, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1970  |  6 comments
Thanks to two developments and a promise, the compact cassette has finally become, as they say, a force to be reckoned with.

Development one, perhaps the most significant factor in the changing picture, is the ready availability of B-type Dolby devices (which are single-band Dolbys, acting only on hiss frequencies). Advent makes two that can be used with any tape machine, cassette or otherwise, while Fisher, Advent, and Harman-Kardon (as of this moment) are producing cassette recorders with built-in Dolby-B. No doubt there will be others by the time this gets in print.

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