Stereophile November 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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AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
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12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
you, too, can listen like a pro!

I’ve written before in this space that to me the most wondrous aspect of our avocation (apart from the music) is the way it exists at the intersection of logic and emotion, of science and art. The equipment we use is made by engineers applying scientific principles, yet its goal is to deliver sensual pleasure. Both viewpoints are valid. A few engineers embody both approaches. MBL’s Jürgen Reis recently told Stereophile that he starts by optimizing a design objectively—getting the technical part right. Then he voices by ear. Alta Audio’s Michael Levy recently told me that he refuses to use a certain technique that would make his speakers measure better because it would make them sound less like live music. Thus do art and science interact within the audio industry’s design…

7 min

The Land That Time Forgot I got a chill down my spine seeing Chuck Prophet’s name had appeared in Record Reviews with his new release The Land That Time Forgot. Thank you, John Swenson! It simply came so unexpectedly. I have subscribed for 25 years. So, there I was in my listening chair listening to music when I patiently glossed past Norah Jones, Jason Isbell, some 88-year-old accordion player who piqued my interest, and then—whoa Nellie!—there’s Chuck getting attention in Stereophile! For those not familiar, Chuck is a staple of many of this country’s finest NPR stations including my favorite, WFPK out of Louisville. He has logged more hours in run-down Ford Econolines than any artist of his talent deserves. See him live! You will very likely become a fan. He has…

2 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. CALIFORNIA Saturday, October 10, 1–3pm: The San Francisco Audiophile Society is excited to host David Solomon, “Chief Hi-Res Music Evangelist” for Qobuz. Sign up to hear what David has to say about making streaming an option for audiophiles. We’ll be meeting with David virtually via Zoom. For more information, please contact the San Francisco Audiophile Society at or consult our website, Saturday, October 24,…

15 min
industry update

US: MAPLE GROVE, MN Julie Mullins If audiophiles were asked to rank companies that define US-made hi-fi, Audio Research would rank high. This year, the Maple Grove, Minnesota, company is commemorating its 50th anniversary by releasing a 220-page book, Making the Music Glow, covering its first 50 years of history—and also by going independent. Making the Music Glow was written by audio reviewer Ken Kessler, who wrote the McIntosh book For the Love of Music, published in 2006, and, in 2003, Quad: The Closest Approach. Glow contains interviews, product profiles, and—presumably, since we haven’t yet received our copy—coffee-table–worthy photos. The book will retail for $150 at Audio Research dealers and online at Two thousand copies are being printed. Now the real news: The company will start its second half-century under independent ownership: TWS Enterprises,…

14 min
accessorize your ride!

In place of my usual Wilson Alexxes, a pair of small (though very fine) two-way speakers has been in my system this past month: the Marten Oscar Duos I review elsewhere in this issue. Without my usual reference speakers in the system, I didn’t feel comfortable covering anything that affects sound quality for this column, so, with the exception of one item—the first—this column covers accessories that don’t require sonic evaluation. ISOACOUSTICS GAIA-TITAN CRONOS I can write about the IsoAcoustics Gaia-Titan Cronos loudspeaker footers because I did the evaluation before swapping out the big Wilsons for the Duos and then listened again once the Alexxes were back in the system, to reassure myself about what I’d heard. At the Expert Imaging and Sound Association’s (EISA) 2019 convention in Antwerp, Belgium, IsoAcoustics put on…

14 min
valley of the sun

The 1980s was a decade when I needed three jobs to support my wife, infant daughter, and octogenarian dad. My primary job was to make and sell art, and I’m sure you know how that can go. Between exhibitions, I was forced to do construction work and to find, repair, and resell old tube amplifiers. What I remember most from that period was how much I loved Phil Rizzuto and Yankee baseball on AM radio and how often I burned myself on the soldering iron. Except for each brand’s unique wiring layout, chassis construction, and finish, the tube amps I repaired were mostly boring. Circuit-wise and sonics-wise, they were quite similar to each other and generally unremarkable. After fixing and auditioning scores of these crusty boxes, I realized that the better-sounding ones,…