Stereophile May 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.

United States
AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
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12 Issues

in this issue

4 min
…and i feel fine.

The High End 2020 show, scheduled to take place in Munich in mid-May, was canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus. The California Audio Show, which usually takes place in late July, is also off, although the reason for its cancelation isn’t clear. And as we’ve just learned earlier today, AXPONA, the biggest audio show in the Western Hemisphere, has been postponed from its original dates (around the time this issue hits mailboxes and newsstands) to the second weekend of August. The reason, of course, is concern about the spread of COVID-19. The AXPONA organizers have the peace of mind that comes from being in good company. Events are being canceled all over the world: scientific meetings, home shows—even SXSW, the giant music, tech, film, and culture festival that takes place each…

9 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. Huh? I’ve been reading Stereophile for a long time, and I think I’m fairly well read. But from gears and pulleys, to editors and teachers, bearing grease and naive readers, just what the hell was Art Dudley’s “Simple Machines” article about? —Cliff KingstonScottsdale, AZ Post-punk postulations Dear Phil Brett: It is certainly difficult to criticize your choices (When Britain Went Postal, Vol.43, No.3), particularly since you included The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds, which has been one of my five favorite rock albums for 40 years. (If only Steven Wilson would work his magic on it and Faith, which might…

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, April 29, 6:30–8:30pm: The Arizona Audio/Video Club will host a DIY Meeting/Information Session at the Burton Barr Central Library’s 4th Floor Lecture Room, 1221 N. Central Ave. We will be setting up lots of DIY projects and modifications, which will be played through various speakers, both homebrew and name brands. Please RSVP to the event so we can plan accordingly. For more information, please contact…

14 min
industry update

US: CHICAGO Jason Victor Serinus AXPONA, the largest audio expo in the Western Hemisphere, has been postponed from April 17–19 to August 7–9. In a statement released to exhibitors on March 9, shortly before 4pm EDT, Joel Davis, founder and CEO of AXPONA sponsor JDEvents, wrote that the move was precipitated “out of concern for the health and safety of all participants due to the growing coronavirus situation. This decision was made following an outpouring of feedback from the AXPONA community over the last 72 hours … We rescheduled out of an abundance of caution during this unpredictable time … We will contact all exhibitors and attendees directly later this week as we work through the details of the move.” “Our decision was based on input from hundreds of customers, including conversations, emails and…

14 min
van den hul’s the grail se+ phono preamp and saec’s we-4700 tonearm

The catastrophic February 6 fire at the factory where Apollo Masters produced LP-mastering lacquers—flat aluminum discs covered with nitrocellulose lacquer—will be old news by the time this column gets to you, but the repercussions of the loss will be ongoing for at least the next year and probably beyond. Japanese firm MDC, the world’s only remaining lacquer manufacturer, is a small company that before the fire had been operating at capacity and turning down customers. Fortunately, prominent mastering engineers Kevin Gray and Bernie Grundman had switched to MDC well before the fire, and their supply of lacquers will continue undiminished. (In particular, Gray’s switch to MDC means that popular reissues like Blue Note’s Tone Poet series will continue unaffected by the loss.) The immediate losers will be smaller indie labels and…

13 min
luxury you can (almost, sort of) afford

It may come as no surprise that the two Recommended Components issues we publish every year, in April and October, are Stereophile’s most popular. Both go hand-in-hand with increases in single-copy sales and subscription requests, and it’s worth noting that equipment and record suppliers line up to get their ads into those issues. I’m glad our Recommended Components issues make people happy, because they’re a pig-faced, needle-toothed, Bosch-ian hell of a miserable job to produce. As I write this, it’s one day after the April 2020 Stereophile went to the printers, and I scarcely know my own name. Jim Austin and I work even longer hours than usual during January and July—the months when we’re writing and editing product blurbs, tabulating ratings, chasing down updated information from manufacturers,1 putting all the…