Stereophile July 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
mqa again

THIS ISSUE: MQA surfaces. MQA has once again floated to the surface of the perfectionist-audio pond—not belly-up as some have hoped but forced there by relentless pursuit by anti-MQA predators posing as impartial jellyfish. In case you’ve been living amidst the seaweed at the bottom of the pond, MQA is a thing that’s done to digital audio data—sort of a codec that is said to reduce the “blurring” repeated digital conversions cause. For high-resolution audio, MQA compresses data into a much smaller file or stream while retaining, it is said, the sonic benefits of the original high-rez audio (and also of “deblurring”). MQA appears to be genuinely clever and legitimately new, implementing post-Shannon developments in sampling theory that have not previously been applied to digital audio.1 MQA is controversial, for good reasons. In…

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. The closing of Lyric Hi-Fi So sorry to read about the closing of Lyric Hi-Fi. It was one of the last of the great audio dens. There were so many in the NYC area back in the late ’70s. I never had the nerve to go in by myself; I thought everything they carried was beyond the economic reach of a college student, and that I’d be bounced out like Jay Jay French. I do remember going in with my dad. He eventually purchased a pair of KLH 5’s with real walnut cabinets to go…

14 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 October 2021 issue is July 20, 2021. US: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA Jim Austin Al Schmitt, whose career as a recording engineer spanned decades and generations of music, and who many justifiably call the most successful recording engineer ever, died April 26 at age 91. While still a child, Schmitt began working at his uncle’s New York studio, Harry Smith Recording, said to be the first independent recording studio on the East Coast. The studio’s clients included Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. At age 19, Schmitt began working at Apex Studios in Manhattan as an apprentice to Tom Dowd. In 1958, he moved to Los…

16 min
dynamic sounds associates “lab grade” phono iii preamplifier

THIS ISSUE: Mikey auditions a versatile, low-noise phono preamplifier from DSA, aka Dynamic Sounds Associates. First, a power update: The generator and transfer switch bypass plan has been solidified, the town permit has arrived, and the work will commence soon. I’m pretty sure what I’ve learned through this debacle will help other audiophiles improve both their power and their system’s sound. Now, on to this month’s column: Revisiting an updated product from a small company can be a rewarding experience. For startups in our competitive, niche marketplace, just remaining in business is a challenge. Many undercapitalized startups founded by well-meaning idealists/hobbyists disappear in just a few years if not faster. Stereophile’s willingness to review a product depends to some degree on a company’s track record and staying power, for good reason: We don’t want…

16 min
magneto analogue

THIS ISSUE: A heavy-metal phono stage with LCR EQ and two recent phono cartridge entries from Sumiko. KITSUNÉ HIFI LCR-1 MK5 PHONO STAGE In my world, the quiet ritual of choosing a record and placing it carefully on the platter is always followed by a sequence of three rough sounds. With the volume at listening level, I hear the bristle-by-bristle rasping of my stylus brush as it drags across the exposed tip of the cartridge cantilever. Next, as I dip the diamond in Onzow gel, I hear a little suction cup pop and feel the compliance of the cantilever’s rubber-tire suspension. Finally, my brain registers that sizzle sound as the stylus contacts the grooved surface. These sounds are tattooed on my brain. They “cue up” my consciousness, preparing it for attentive listening. I’ve been…

6 min
book review

THIS ISSUE: Recording legend Bill Schnee’s autobiography. CHAIRMAN AT THE BOARD: RECORDING THE SOUNDTRACK OF A GENERATION, by Bill Schnee. Backbeat Books, 2021. 219pp. $24.49, hardcover; $21.49, Kindle e-book. It was September 2012, and Sasha Matson and I were in Los Angeles to record the singers for his jazz opera, Cooperstown. We had already recorded the instrumental backing with engineer Mike Marciano at Brooklyn’s Systems Two studio, and the venue for the vocal tracking sessions was Bill Schnee’s studio in North Hollywood. I knew Bill’s name from his work recording Sheffield Lab’s legendary I’ve Got the Music in Me direct-to-disc LP1 in 1975 with Thelma Houston and his two Grammys for Steely Dan’s Aja and Gaucho. What I was not expecting when we entered his studio was the wall of gold and…