Stereophile April 2020

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.

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12 Issues

in this issue

4 min
hi-fi arcana i

THIS ISSUE: Every sin is the result of collaboration. —Seneca Some Stereophile readers will surely remember—some may even have in their collections—Christian Marclay’s 1985 vinyl release Record Without a Cover, surely one of the oddest records ever, right up there with the dying-rabbit record and the seven-inch single that’s tinted yellow by the band’s actual urine. I had filed away my memory of Record Without a Cover in a brain-slot adjacent to Gary Dahl’s pet rock and The Nothing Book, the wordless bestseller from 1974. But then I read an interview between Marclay and musician/scholar David Toop,1 published in a book I recommend: Arcana III: Musicians on Music (Hips Road, 2008). It’s part of the Arcana series, edited by John Zorn, which is now up to its eighth (VIIIth?) volume. Side A of…

5 min

TAKE HEED! Unless marked otherwise, all letters to the magazine and its writers are assumed to be for possible publication. Please include your name and physical address. We reserve the right to edit for length and content. What Rob said Robert Schryer’s My Back Pages nailed it: Our hobby is a selfish business—and yet! We do sit alone to most closely align our consciousnesses with the artistic intent of Miles or Joni or Grizzly Bear, but that regular practice leaves a longing for human connection within our collective pursuit of sound. That’s how I found the temerity to invite myself to the home of an uber-audiophile in Seattle while I was visiting family for the holidays. That’s why I reached out to a local guy I’d never met to say, “Hey, come over…

4 min
calendar of industry events

ATTENTION ALL AUDIO SOCIETIES: We have a page on the Stereophile website devoted to you: If you’d like to have your audio-society information posted on the site, email Chris Vogel at (Please note the new email address.) Please note that it is inappropriate for a retailer to promote a new product line in “Calendar” unless it is associated with a seminar or similar event. ARIZONA Wednesday, March 25: The Arizona Audio/Video Club will be hosting Charles Kirmuss, inventor of the Kirmuss Audio KA-RC-1 record cleaning system, at Faith Lutheran Church, 801 E Camelback Rd., Phoenix. Kirmuss will speak and demonstrate his system from 6:30–7:30pm. Tom Rothermel of Big Ear Stereo will take the stage at 7:30 to talk about optimizing and maintaining your turntable. For more information, visit the AZ…

9 min
industry update

SUBMISSIONS: Those promoting audio-related seminars, shows, and meetings should email the when, where, and who to at least eight weeks before the month of the event. The deadline for the July 2020 issue is April 20, 2020. US: NEW YORK, NY Jim Austin In his review, in the January 2020 Stereophile, of Remember Me, My Dear, by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, Jason Victor Serinus wrote, “John Potter often sounds covered and bottled up.” In fact, Potter left the ensemble in 2001 and so is not on the recording. We regret the error. US: LOS ANGELES, CA Jim Austin Is this the coolest name ever for a hi-fi company? Norway’s Ø Audio and High End by Oz—the US importer of Vitus Audio electronics—have announced a distribution agreement. Ø Audio was founded in 2017 by Sveinung…

13 min
the 30-year cartridge revolution continues

THIS ISSUE: Evidence of a continuing trend can be seen in cartridge refinements from Lyra, Grado, and Ortofon. We’re 30 years into a cartridge design revolution, particularly at the top end of the market, where manufacturers charge upward of $10,000 for their best efforts: prices that well-off consumers have amply proved they are willing to pay. There doesn’t seem to be an innovation end in sight. When you consider the fragility of phono cartridges—how easily they can be broken and how surely they wear out over time and must be replaced at great expense—you wonder why anyone would pay so much for them. At least until you’ve listened. Fortunately, some of these innovations eventually make their way to the more affordable end of the phono cartridge market. Here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown of the…

19 min
the thirteenth ls3/5a

THIS ISSUE: Art shares some recent gems from the Stereophile mail bag and tries yet another new BBC-licensed minimonitor. In my January 2020 Listening1 column, I wrote about a place where three things overlap: the joys (and benefits) of being a record collector, the natural tendency to grow and challenge ourselves as listeners, and the need to forgive ourselves for the shortcomings of our youth. The hook was the story of how I started out disliking the music of guitarist John Fahey (1939–2001) and ended up loving it. But it could just as easily have been about cooking or hiking or Jethro Tull or any of a number of other things. At the end of that bit, I invited readers to send in their own such stories, and I’m happy to say…