Stereophile January 2021

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.
$10.71(Incl. tax)
$13.40(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
“truthiness” in hi-fi

Stereophile has discussed the pandemic occasionally because of its relevance to our industry and our listening lives. But for the most part, I’ve steered the magazine away from politics and current events, and I will continue to do so. In this essay, though, I will engage, glancingly, not with politics or current events but with an idea that’s drawn from them. I’m doing it to make a point about audio. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since Stephen Colbert—then of The Colbert Report (pronounced in the French style)—coined the word “truthiness” to describe statements that feel true without actually being true. Colbert, in his right-wing media-figure guise, told viewers that truth “comes from the gut” and not, for example, from books. He ended the segment with a promise…

8 min

Wired Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That is a famous tenet of physics. I have seen many claims by hi-fi wire makers and even reviewers that seem to me to be indeed extraordinary. We’re told that a few feet of power wire tightens bass or opens highs—this despite there being many feet of ordinary wire to which they connect. Similarly, we hear that connectors or speaker wires make huge differences in soundstage, and so on. Yet, typically, there are no measurements, let alone extraordinary physical evidence offered. One rejoinder put forward is that the soundstage can’t be measured. True, but that is not the point. Rather, the point is that these substantial effects must leave some physical differences. Further, if these physical differences can be correlated with the audible improvements, then engineers…

4 min
industry update

US: VISTA, CALIFORNIA For some of us, the acquisition of a historic British loudspeaker manufacturer by a younger US company was a little shocking, and yet Sound United’s acquisition of Bowers & Wilkins didn’t come as a surprise. Sound United had already announced a signed letter of intent months ago, in June 2020. Preliminary discussions were underway, and a deal was in the works. In October 2020, Sound United purchased Bowers & Wilkins in its entirety, including its licensing and partnership arrangements. Further details of the agreement were not disclosed. A couple of weeks after the announcement of the acquisition, I spoke with Kevin Duffy, CEO of Sound United and DEI Holdings, and with Sound United Communications Manager Paul Wilkie, on a video call. I spoke with James Krakowski, executive vice president of…

3 min
japan: nobeoka city

In an echo of the recent Apollo/Transco lacquer-factory fire that has limited the availability of that key component of vinyl-record production, a fire in a factory that makes DAC chips and other microchips is expected to impact the production of digital audio components from a significant number of audio manufacturers. According to Clive Young of Pro-Sound, the fire at the AKM—Asahi Kasei Microsystems—plant in the southern Japanese city of Nobeoka, which began on October 20 and took 82 hours to quench, knocked out production for at least six months. As a result, some companies are facing the possibility of shortages of essential parts. The list of pro-audio and hi-fi companies that utilize AKM chips is long. It includes Solid State Logic, TASCAM, miniDSP, Merging Technologies, Cary, Esoteric, Hegel, ATC, Bryston, Rotel, Métronome,…

6 min
on the interwebs

Of late, Stereophile has written a lot about vibration-isolating footers under loudspeakers. I have been listening to the Magico M-Pods (under the Magico M2 loudspeaker, which won our Loudspeaker of the Year Award for 2020, and which I’ll review, in follow-up fashion, in an upcoming issue of this magazine). Following an impressive demo at a 2019 audio show, I also tried IsoAcoustic footers under the Revel Ultima Salon2 loudspeakers.1 Michael Fremer tried them under his Wilson Alexxes.2 We both reported positive results. The idea of isolating loudspeaker vibrations from floors is controversial. Many (perhaps most) designers believe that dynamic loudspeakers in particular—those with significant moving mass in their cones—should be rigidly connected to the floor as is typically done with spikes. A rigid connection of the speaker to the floor reduces…

1 min
uk: swavesy, cambridgeshire

John Giolas, former head of marketing at Utah-based loudspeaker manufacturer Wilson Audio, has been appointed vice president of marketing at UK-based digital audio pioneer Digital Conversion Systems (dCS). Operating out of the US in close partnership with John Quick, general manager of dCS Americas, Giolas will further develop dCS ’s marketing strategy, create customer programs, and support sales and marketing efforts worldwide. For the man formerly responsible for marketing, photography, and video at Wilson, the new position seems an ideal fit. That Wilson and dCS often appear together in dealer showrooms and at audio shows suggests the transition ultimately may prove of mutual benefit. “ I ’ m honored and excited to join dCS, a company that I ’ ve long held in the highest esteem,” Giolas stated in an internal announcement…