As We See It

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Art Dudley  |  Sep 11, 2018  |  34 comments
"No one's buying music anymore: They're renting it."—John Atkinson, keynote speech, AXPONA 2018

Streaming music isn't new. US companies have been doing it since the 1920s, when it was discovered that multiplexing—the then-new practice of combining multiple signals over a single conductor—could be used to send live or recorded music over public power lines. The first of those companies was Muzak LLC.

File that away.

Robert Schryer  |  Aug 14, 2018  |  23 comments
The blowout happened as I climbed the stairs from the basement, where I'd just spent two hours listening to musi on my hi-fi. Standing rigidly in the archway, a wet sheen of hurt trembling in her eyes, my wife shouted: "You love your audio more than you love me!"

It erupted with such raw emotional force that I knew exactly what she meant, and that she was right: I spent more quality time with my audio than I did with her—or, for that matter, with either of my two homebound teenagers. It was nothing personal; my listening room is my private safe place, conceived and realized in my own image.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jul 12, 2018  |  67 comments
I remember the Tuesday night that music broke free of my hi-fi. The sound stirred my soul—everything was so right that I was tempted to call over my audiophile pals to earwitness its magnificence. But I didn't, fearing that sharing the sound might break the spell cast first by the Allman Brothers Band's At Fillmore East (2 LPs, Capricorn ST-CAP 712223 VSRP), then by Jimi Hendrix's Live at the Fillmore East (CD, MCA MCAD2 11931). By the time Hendrix got to "Machine Gun," I could almost smell the pot wafting up to the Fillmore's top balconies.
Jim Austin  |  Jun 12, 2018  |  66 comments
It's not surprising that many people, like me, love nice cameras and good stereo gear. In my worse moments, I attribute this to mere consumerism: We love expensive stuff and the thrill of buying something new, whether for reproducing music or creating visual images. In my better moments, it's clear to me that there's more than that to this common taste for audio and photography, and more to the hobby of so-called perfectionist audio.
Robert Schryer  |  May 18, 2018  |  27 comments
"No one thing turned more people into audiophiles than the '60s counterculture," said Bruno, arm flung over his cash register. "It opened up the doors of sonic perception. Even the great audio designers of the day were countercultural mavericks!"

Bruno is the lanky, braided-beard, thirtysomething owner of a small, well-stocked record shop in Montreal, and we stood facing each other on either side of a glass case filled with vinyl paraphernalia. Bruno has made the most of his limited space. Every foot of each wall supports a shelf crammed with music-related merchandise: rock and jazz memorabilia, album covers, refurbished turntables. There's even a rack in the back for music and audio magazines, including Stereophile.

Bill Leebens  |  Apr 20, 2018  |  42 comments
The Internet of Things, or IOT, is an extremely hackable network that connects everything from household appliances to cars. To me, it's the ultimate example of technology that, once created, just doesn't need us—and I fear that the more tasks that are routinely, magically performed for us puny humans at the touch of a button by "smart" devices, the less capable we become.
Jon Iverson  |  Mar 13, 2018  |  271 comments
Enough has been said by now about the technical details of how Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) works to fill several books. But the technical details are only part of the story, and probably not the most interesting part—and they're certainly not what provokes the extreme emotional responses of many to the format. So let's jump into the business and practical aspects of MQA to which so many audiophiles are reacting.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 15, 2018  |  23 comments
The 2018 audio show season is about to start and it's not just Stereophile's coverage of high-end audio shows—which has taken a leap forward with the inclusion of Jana Dagdagan's binaural videos—that's changing. The shows themselves are on the move.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 06, 2018  |  71 comments
An economy of information transmitted . . . what was encoded was only what was needed, nothing more. (footnote 1)

As I wrote in the January issue's "As We See It," Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), the encoding/decoding system developed by J. Robert (Bob) Stuart and Peter Craven, has been widely criticized, despite reports in this magazine and others that MQA-encoded files tend to sound better than the PCM originals from which they were derived. Also in last month's issue, Jim Austin investigated the time-domain performance of the MQA reconstruction filter and I examined some of the more general aspects, ending with: "Other criticisms of MQA involve its implications for the recording industry, for manufacturers of audio products, and for consumers. I will examine those in next month's 'As We See It.'"

John Atkinson  |  Dec 11, 2017  |  139 comments
"The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point."—Claude Shannon

Since its announcement at the end of 2014, Master Quality Authenticated, the MQA encoding/decoding system, has spawned outspoken criticism. Some of the more thoughtful negative reactions have come from engineers such as Dan Lavry, Bruno Putzeys, and Daniel Weiss. Others have been expressed by manufacturers of digital products: the late Charley Hansen at Ayre Acoustics, for example, along with Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat at Schiit Audio, John Siau at Benchmark Media Systems, and Jim Collinson at Linn Products. Some have been audio writers: Doug Schneider, at SoundStage!, and Paul Miller and Jim Lesurf, at Hi-Fi News. Most vociferous have been anonymous website posters. As Jim Austin remarks in his examination of MQA's decoding of impulse-response data elsewhere in this issue, "the nastiness online is unprecedented."

Robert Schryer  |  Nov 14, 2017  |  61 comments
"Why can't you stop being an audiophile?"

The question took me off-guard. It didn't come from one of the usual suspects—a hostile anti-audiophile, or a non-audiophile who simply can't fathom why we should care so much about something as nonessential as sound reproduction—but from Louis, a sharp dressed, goateed, middle-aged man who was known, among his audio repair shop's clientele, for not only his virtuosity as a classical solo violinist, but his expertise—some would say his preternatural ability—in setting up turntables to sound their very best.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 17, 2017  |  43 comments
How many times have I asked myself what the purpose of music is? And what music really is, and what exactly I am trying to convey. What feelings? What ideas? How can I explain something that I myself cannot fathom?—Gabriel Fauré, letter to his wife, August 31, 1903

In writing reviews for Stereophile, I face a challenge. Whether I'm evaluating an audio component, a recording, or a live performance, I'm confronted by the fact that, when all is said and done, no one fully understands why or how the sound of a particular component, composition, or artist can affect us as powerfully as so many of them do. How and why music and sound moves us remains, fundamentally, a mystery.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Sep 12, 2017  |  65 comments
Digital audio forever disrupted the way music is recorded, mixed, and mastered—and, to even greater extents, how music is distributed, sold, played, and consumed. Music unmolested by zeros and ones is now nearly extinct.

There's no going back, but what if, in 1983, the Compact Disc had bombed? What if music lovers worldwide had rejected the shiny new digital format because they thought LPs sounded so much better? And what if later attempts at digital formats with higher resolutions also shriveled and died, due to lack of interest by recording engineers and consumers? What if, to this day, music had remained blissfully all-analog?

Art Dudley  |  Aug 15, 2017  |  12 comments
I'm a thirty-year-old puppy doing what I'm told And I'm told there's no more coal for the older engines,"—Andy Partridge, "Train Running Low on Soul Coal"

"[We] know the truth of this: We would likely live happily ever after with a system from nearly 60 years ago. An idler-drive turntable, some Marantz electronics, and Quad ESL-57s can be very satisfying. The main improvements to be made are not necessarily in the area of musical enjoyment, but rather boring old reliability."

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 13, 2017  |  39 comments
For the longest time, I've found the label "hobby" inadequate to describe the audiophile goal of better sound reproduction. Yes, for some, the mechanics of the High End have become an end in themselves—a way to tinker and tweak, build and rebuild in classic hobby fashion. But for many others, specifically earbud listeners, folks with whole-house systems, and those who'd rather push a button on a remote and sit back or dance rather than roll tubes or tinker, the descriptor hobby falls woefully short.

Pages

X