Historical

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Martin Colloms  |  May 06, 2021  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  3 comments
With the furor over the launch of DAT (digital audio tape), it is worth remembering that commercial digital recorders have been with us for some time now: it is now nearly a decade since studio PCM converters were first successfully used for audio recording in conjunction with a VCR (which uses a helical spiral recording via a spinning drum to achieve the high writing speed).
J. Gordon Holt  |  Mar 08, 2021  |  First Published: May 01, 1966  |  10 comments
In the introduction to "Recommended Components" in the final issue in Volume One of what was then called The Stereophile, published in May 1966, founder J. Gordon Holt briefly described his Top-Rated Loudspeaker Systems.

Altec A-7
A highly efficient horn-loaded system for use in large to very large listening rooms (at least 15' from the listening area), or for very high-volume "Row-A" listening. Excellent woofer-tweeter blending, moderately deep (useful 45Hz limit in most rooms) and very taut, well-defined low end. Highs smooth and slightly soft, yielding most natural high-end quality at high listening levels. Middles smooth, rather forward, placing closely miked instruments somewhat in front of the system itself.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 12, 2021  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1968  |  9 comments
This review of one of the first solid-state preamplifiers was published in 1968. It includes some of JGH's first thoughts on the ongoing subject of "Accuracy vs. Musicality."

Preview, from July 1968 (Vol.2 No.6): Overall sound extremely good, but phono sounds slightly lacking in deep bass, despite impeccable measurements. Scratch filter judged very highly effective, but tone controls felt to be less than ideal be cause of excessively coarse action and marked tendency to affect midrange output. Spring-return Tape Monitor switch probably will not appeal to serious tapesters. This preamp is slated for a full report in the next issue.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 13, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1966  |  0 comments
One of the best pickups we've heard to date, the Grado A was introduced with some fanfare in the fall of 1964 (footnote 1) and then, for no apparent reason, was withdrawn just one year later. It is probably still available, though, either used or, discounted, as new stock at some dealers.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 11, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1964  |  9 comments
These are two of Electro-Voice's "middle-ground" speaker systems, filling the quality (and price) range between the huge Patrician 800 and the diminutive Coronet system.
Ben Duncan  |  Jun 12, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1995  |  70 comments
Testing the RF transmission of Kimber Kable, up to 3GHz, at Ben Duncan Research Labs, in 2008. The resulting proof of RF rejection was published on-line by Russ Andrews Accessories in England. (Photo: Naomi Swain).

Editor's Preface: In an article in the October 1995 issue of Stereophile, Professor Malcolm Omar Hawksford used Maxwell's Equations to develop a mathematical model describing the behavior of cables at audio frequencies. Among the predictions of this model were that for good conductors there exists an optimum size of wire for audio signal transmission, and that for a wire larger than this size an energy storage mechanism would exist. In his article Malcolm described a simple experiment, the results of which appeared to confirm his hypothesis.

Then serendipity struck. English engineer Ben Duncan, whose writings have occasionally appeared in Stereophile, sent me an article he had written for the pro-audio magazine Studio Sound. The results of a series of cable measurements he had performed seemed to confirm the Hawksford Hypothesis. We offer them here for your delight and delectation.—John Atkinson

John Atkinson  |  May 11, 2020  |  27 comments
At the end of April, Adrian Low, the proprietor of Toronto retailer Audio Excellence, asked if he could interview me. "I've been interviewing audio luminaries for some time," Adrian wrote, "partly because I am so interested in how they started, their experiences, and also to share these with fellow audio enthusiasts."

We connected with Skype and, in the two videos embedded below, Adrian and I, along with Jan and Vilip from Audio Excellence, talk about many things connected with my 52 years as an audiophile, my 43 years in audio magazine publishing, and my 33 years at the editorial helm of Stereophile.

John Atkinson  |  Feb 06, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1986  |  9 comments
The only one who knows this ounce of words is just a token
Is he who has a tongue to tell, but must remain unspoken.
—Moondog, 1968

The Lockheed 1011 sits dormant on the ground at Chicago's O'Hare airport. "We have a little light bulb problem here" drawls the pilot in the approved Right Stuff manner. "We don't know if it's the bulb or what, we'll let you know."

John Atkinson  |  Jan 20, 2020  |  20 comments
Even as digital/analog processors were becoming a hot product category in the early 1990s, audiophiles were also learning that timing uncertainties in the AES/EBU and S/PDIF serial datastreams—jitter—would compromise any improvement in sound quality offered by these DACs. Some companies therefore introduced products to reduce or eliminate jitter—in the November 1994 issue of Stereophile, Robert Harley reviewed three such products: the Audio Alchemy DTI Pro, the Digital Domain VSP, and the Sonic Frontiers UltrajitterBug. I still have Stereophile's review samples of the UltraJitterBug and VSP, along with two contemporary DACs: a PS Audio UltraLink and a Parts Connection Assemblage DAC-1.

As our reviews of these products were published before Paul Miller's and the late Julian Dunn's development of the "J-Test" diagnostic signal, I performed J-Test jitter measurements to bring that 1994 review into the 21st Century. You can see what I found here.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 05, 2019  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1976  |  13 comments
We mentioned in the last issue that we were becoming increasingly disturbed by "a certain manic quality that is creeping into this pursuit of sonic perfection." We were referring then to a manufacturer's announcement of the imminent availability of a speaker system weighing over 1000 lb per channel, but we could just as well have been speaking of this behemoth from Audio Research.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 03, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1973  |  15 comments
Ye Editor had his first exposure to a true omnidirectional speaker system 15 years ago, while he was employed as chief equipment tester for High Fidelity magazine. The speaker was a most unusual-looking device for its time, being roughly a foot square and standing 3 feet high, with a "cube" of grille cloth at the top like a cupola. Inside the cupola was an 8" woofer facing upwards. Directly above it was the weirdest-looking tweeter you ever saw.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 06, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1974  |  2 comments
We have still not received a pair of these for formal testing, which may be a good thing in view of our feelings these days about "updatings." (Our feelings about such are clarified in this issue's "As We See It.")
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 06, 2019  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1970  |  1 comments
The Revox A-77 has extremely good speed regulation, vanishingly low wow and flutter, very low noise, superb tape handling, and the smoothest, widest-range frequency response of any recorder we have ever tested.

The portable version, with built-in monitor amps and speakers, is very compact for a machine with 10½ reel capacity, and is easily carried by one person. Now that the later version is equipped with a flutter-filtering tension arm, our only criticism of the A-77 is its use of three-circuit jacks for the micro phone inputs instead of the XLR-type receptacles that are considered to be "standard" in the US for on-location audio recording.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 05, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1963  |  1 comments
An editorial note: We recently republished Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt's 1966 review of the Swiss Thorens TD-150AB turntable. This was the first high-end 'table I bought after leaving university and earning a wage. But as good as I felt the TD-150AB to be, with its belt drive and sprung suspension, it was sonically overshadowed both by Thorens's TD 124 turntable and by the English Garrard 301 turntable.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 03, 2019  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1967  |  10 comments
Back in the days of pre-stereo high fidelity, when a 6-gram phono pickup was considered to be "featherweight," the best universal-type tonearm we knew of was a bulky, very professional-looking device made by Gray Labs and designated the Model 108. One unusual thing about it was that, instead of using sleeve or cone-face bearings, it had a single up-ended needle—a so-called unipivot—for both the vertical and lateral modes of motion. The other unusual thing about it was that the pivot system was viscous-damped, and it was this, we suspect, that was largely responsible for the arm's ability to make any pickup sound somehow sweeter and cleaner than it did in any other arm.

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