Stereophile February 2019

Every month Stereophile magazine offers authoritative reviews, informed recommendations, helpful advice, and controversial opinions, all stemming from the revolutionary idea that audio components should be judged on how they reproduce music.

United States
AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
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12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
memories: best of, vol.1

It happened 30 years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday: My best friend’s brother’s friend showed me his record player—an AR turntable equipped with an SME Mk.III tonearm and a Shure V15 Type V-MR cartridge—and offered to sell it to me at a price that, until that moment, I would never have considered spending for a complete system. “It’s audiophile gear,” he said with a knowing smile. Audiophile? The word sounded exotic—and grown-up. It was love at first sight, even before I’d heard a single note played on this nonconformist record player—a product category, I would soon learn, that audiophiles tribally refer to as a source, another exotic term that immediately appealed to me. The fact that this wondrously pragmatic-looking source, assembled from audio components built by perfectionist…

5 min

What’s with megabuck speakers? Editor: I can comprehend why a speaker may cost $50,000, and even, vaguely, why someone might be willing to buy a pair. But what I fail to grasp is why nearly all of them… are so damn ugly! —Robert Rue Bolingbrook, IL Nothing is what I want Editor: I read Jon Iverson’s essay in the December issue, “Nothing Is What I Want,” while listening to a recording of the Guarneri Quartet playing Beethoven. In the context of the recording and a recent memory, I was baffled by Iverson’s argument.1 This past summer I heard a string quartet play Beethoven in a rural church not far from home, and I realized that what I want to hear from my system is not the live microphone feed but the live string quartet, sans any…

6 min
industry update

UK: WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE Paul Messenger Arriving at the De Vere Beaumont Estate, in Windsor, for my first visit to Hi-Fi News & Record Review magazine’s annual The Hi-Fi Show Live, was a somewhat intimidating experience. The show was easy enough to reach—it’s close to the westernmost section of London’s orbital beltway. Having turned in through the estate’s unprepossessing entrance, I encountered a vast, sprawling conference center occupying buildings that clearly predated the Victorian era. That at least ensured that the demonstration rooms would be solidly built and therefore sound decent, though finding them all, located as they were in half a dozen separate suites, each with as many rooms, proved a little trickier. Although in numbers of exhibitors and attendees Hi-Fi Show Live is significantly smaller than, say, Munich’s High End or Warsaw’s…

5 min
calendar of industry events

ATTENTION ALL AUDIO SOCIETIES: We have a page on the Stereophile website dedicated solely to you: If you’d like to have your audio-society information posted on the site, e-mail Chris Vogel at Please note that it is inappropriate for a retailer to promote a new product line in “Calendar” unless this is associated with a seminar or similar event. CALIFORNIA ❚ Sunday, February 17, 2–5pm: The Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society will hold its monthly meeting at Scott Walker Audio (1215 N. Tustin Avenue, Anaheim 92807). Scott Walker and his team will have five demonstration rooms showing the latest and greatest in high-value, high-end audio gear. The latest loudspeakers from Bowers & Wilkins (600 and 700 series), Elac, Magico (A3s), and Sonus Faber (Sonettos) will be playing. Also, as…

16 min
an iron plinth for technics sp10s new and old

Last May I got a text message from my vinyl-loving electrician: “Hey Michael, I’m listening to WFMU and a young 12-year-old analog genius is guest DJ-ing, Malachi Lui. He mentioned you, and talks about mastering and pressings—he’s incredible. I imagine he’s been in touch with you. Hope all is well, Craig.” Malachi hadn’t been in touch, but his comments were all over AnalogPlanet’s YouTube channel,1 and you’d never know they were from a 12-year-old. I responded to one, and shortly thereafter I heard from his mother, who said he really wanted to meet me, and that they’d drive over when it was convenient for me. We set up a day and time just before Independence Day. I readied my video camera, in case the encounter proved worthy of YouTube. If you haven’t…

15 min
an arm to hold on to

Peter J. Walker (1916–2003), founder of Quad Electroacoustics and designer of some of the most well-regarded products in the history of domestic audio, famously believed that a properly designed audio-frequency amplifier should have no sound of its own. As for suggestions that his Quad II amplifier (1953–1971) sounded better than most, Walker was unmoved: “We designed our valve amplifier, manufactured it, put it on the market and never actually listened to it.”1 I have an impression that some phonophiles feel the same way about tonearms: They want them to pivot and to move up and down without undue friction, and they don’t want them to rattle during use, howsoever slightly. But while most audiophiles acknowledge that phono cartridges all have a sound of their own, and almost as many folks regard…