Robert Harley

Robert Harley  |  May 16, 2019  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1994  |  0 comments
Thomas R. Marshall's famous phrase, "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar," should be modified for the 1990s to be "What this world needs is a good $1500 preamplifier."

It's hard to find a good full-function preamp (ie, one that includes a phono stage) at a reasonable price these days. There are plenty of great preamps on the market, but they tend to be expensive or line-stage only—or expensive line stages. Moreover, many manufacturers are omitting phono stages altogether, on the assumption that people don't listen to LPs anymore.

Robert Harley, J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990  |  4 comments
In 1988, Bob Carver set out to design the best amplifier he possibly could, without regard for cost. It was more of an ego exercise than an attempt to build a product with wide commercial appeal. The result was the four-chassis, $17,500 Silver Seven.

Interestingly, Bob Carver chose vacuum tubes to realize his dream of building the ultimate power amplifier. The Silver Seven uses fourteen KT88 output tubes per channel, and puts out 375W into 8 ohms. Bob built three pairs of Silver Sevens, not expecting to sell many at the $17,500 asking price. When those sold quickly, another 10 pairs were manufactured. Now, demand is so great that Silver Sevens are built in groups of 30 pairs.

Robert Harley  |  Jul 10, 2018  |  First Published: May 01, 1995  |  11 comments
The men behind HDCD (L–R: Pflash Pflaumer, Michael Ritter, Keith Johnson

High Definition Compatible Digital® (HDCD®), the proprietary process for improving the sound of 16-bit digital audio, has finally arrived. More than a dozen digital processors using the technology are on the market, and the professional encoder used to master HDCD discs is following closely behind.

Robert Harley  |  Apr 12, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1993  |  2 comments
Whoever invented the adage "Good things come in small packages" wasn't into high-end audio. Most high-end products are huge and heavy, with massive power supplies, thick front panels, and battleship build quality. This dreadnought approach is justified if it directly affects the unit's sonic performance (as in the Mark Levinson No.31 transport, for example). In some products, however, the massive build can reflect a shotgun, overkill approach by the designer, or a mere fashion statement.
Robert Harley  |  Feb 06, 2018  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1995  |  24 comments
Someone interested in buying a digital/analog converter today must make tough choices. Not only are there several competing technologies to choose from—multi-bit, 1-bit, hybrid—but every converter also has its own musical signature. When someone buys a converter, they're locked in to both the technology and the sound.
Robert Harley, Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 15, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1990  |  0 comments
The DQ-12 is the latest loudspeaker from Dahlquist employing their "Phased Array" technology, first used in 1973. The company was formed that year by Jon Dahlquist and Saul Marantz to produce the DQ-10, a loudspeaker that enjoyed a long and successful life. When I sold hi-fi in a retail store in the late 1970s—we stocked Dahlquist speakers—the DQ-10 was among the more prominent audiophile speakers, prized for its imaging abilities.

In 1976, Carl Marchisotto joined the company, designing support products for the DQ-10 including a subwoofer, variable low-pass filter, and a passive crossover. Jon Dahlquist is no longer actively involved with the company; Carl has now assumed the engineering responsibilities at Dahlquist and is the designer of the latest group of Phased Array loudspeakers (footnote 1). This new line, introduced at the Winter 1990 CES in Las Vegas, encompasses three models: the $850/pair DQ-8, the DQ-12 reviewed here, and the $2000/pair flagship, the DQ-20i.

Robert Harley  |  Jun 09, 2016  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1991  |  1 comments
Back in 1970, one Julian Vereker decided to record some musician friends in his house in Salisbury, England. Using standard, off-the-shelf electronics and tape machines, he was startled at how dissimilar the recording was to the sound of live instruments. As a result, he started designing his own recording electronics, including a recording console, of which he sold several to local broadcast facilities.
Robert Harley  |  May 14, 2016  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1990  |  4 comments
The philosophy promoted by many mainstream stereo magazines (and thus often the belief of the general public) is that one should spend a minimum amount of one's hi-fi budget on electronics and front ends, and a maximum amount on loudspeakers. Since all electronics sound alike and it's the loudspeaker that really produces the sound, the highest overall performance is obtained by putting expensive loudspeakers at the end of a chain of inexpensive electronics. Cables? Don't waste your money.
Robert Harley  |  Apr 13, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1995  |  0 comments
Of all the products I've reviewed or auditioned, a select few jump out as "best buy" recommendations. Almost universally, such products are liked by a wide range of audiophiles, and seem to match well sonically to many systems. Moreover, these products all have outstanding value; they offer a higher level of musical performance than you'd expect from the price.
Robert Harley  |  Apr 05, 2016  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1992  |  2 comments
The night before I started to write this review, PBS began a five-part series on computers called "The Machine that Changed the World." The first episode described the development of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Accumulator), the first electronic computer. The ENIAC used 18,000 vacuum tubes, had over 500,000 solder joints, required a room 30' by 50', had to be physically reprogrammed with patch cords to perform different tasks, and packed less computing power than today's $4.99 pocket calculator.

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