Stereophile January 2019

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

4 min
if either of these amplifiers is right…

It was January 1986. Stereophile’s then publisher, Larry Archibald, and I were driving in his diesel’Benz sedan from Las Vegas to Santa Fe. We had shaken hands at the just-concluded Consumer Electronics Show on my replacing J. Gordon Holt as the magazine’s editor, and now, during the 750-mile drive, we mapped out the strategy to take what was then an “underground,” digest-format, somewhat irregularly published magazine to the position of dominance in audio publishing it still enjoys. As Larry and I discussed on that 13-hour drive from Nevada to New Mexico, we began publishing every month with our October 1987 issue. We had planned to change to the large format you hold in your hands in January 1993. However, we missed that target, not hitting it until 25 years ago, with…

10 min

What’s going on? Editor: First music editor Robert Baird is let go. Now, in John Atkinson’s review of the Constellation amplifier (October 2018, p.159), he says he uses a Justin Bieber song for reference. Pick me up off the floor. Please!! Even if he’s using it for the sound only, he still has to sit through that crap. Maybe I shouldn’t have just renewed my subscription. —Ron Monitto (disgusted 30-year subscriber) I blame Art Dudley Editor: I blame Art Dudley for my recent rediscovered appreciation of analog vinyl recordings. He kept beating that horse so long that I succumbed and bought a Rega turntable to listen to some of my old LPs again (after cleaning them). I was sort of amazed at what I was hearing. There is an immediacy, a musical presence, and very audible additional…

4 min
calendar of industry events

ATTENTION ALL AUDIO SOCIETIES: We have a page on the Stereophile website dedicated solely to you: If you’d like to have your audio-society information posted on the site, e-mail Chris Vogel at Please note that it is inappropriate for a retailer to promote a new product line in “Calendar” unless this is associated with a seminar or similar event. CALIFORNIA Saturday, January 12, 2–5pm: The Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society and the San Diego Music and Audio Guild will hold a special joint meeting at the Ultimate Ears production facility (3 Jenner Street, Suite 180, Irvine 92618). Sud Munshi, lab technician, will take you behind the scenes of how in-ear monitors are manufactured at Ultimate Ears. Each product is handcrafted, precision tuned, and custom tailored to fit the contours…

6 min
industry update

UK: LONDON Paul Messenger The third year of a show at the Hammersmith Novotel London West hotel saw its name change from Indulgence to Festival of Sound: The Music & Audio Show, to reflect a great increase in musical content. How successful this was depended on whom one talks to—some were very happy, while others complained of poor attendance. My attempts to unsubscribe from a persistent sequence of e-mails from organizer Vernon Hamblin in the run-up to the Festival were about as successful as you might expect from any government initiative. After explaining to Hamblin that I would be attending his show, I soon began receiving the e-mails in triplicate! I didn’t attend the music events or either weekend day, but attendance at the Festival’s hi-fi section was light on Friday, as it…

8 min
a tangential-tracking pivoted tonearm & new phono cartridges

How do you like your tangential-tracking tonearm: with a captured air bearing? If so, a stationary bearing and moving rail—or a moving bearing and stationary rail? A hovercraft-style air bearing? Trolley-wheel or servo-mechanical bearing? Or pivoted, with some kind of offset at the pivot or the headshell—or both? In today’s crowded market of analog playback, you can buy whatever type of tangential tracker you prefer, from Bergmann, Clearaudio, Kuzma, Reed, Schröder, Thales, and others. Or maybe you’re okay with a plain ol’ pivoted tonearm that describes an arc across the record’s playing surface. The possibilities here, too, are seemingly limitless. It’s a great time to go analog. I think I’ve covered these concerns in almost every review of a tangential tracker I’ve written in the past 30 years, and I’ve owned some…

6 min
ikeda 9gss moving-coil cartridge

We’ve (un)comfortably crossed the $10,000 threshold for phono cartridges. Cartridges with five-figure prices are available from Air-Tight, Grado Labs, Kuzma, Lyra, Ortofon, TechDAS, and van den Hul. Now joining them is Ikeda Sound Labs, with the new 24Kgold–plated 9Gss, to be produced in a limited edition of 200 units ($10,500). I reviewed Ikeda’s previous top model, the Kai ($8500), in my June 2015 column. The Kai produced a very low output of 0.19mV and, not surprisingly, had a very low internal impedance of 2.5 ohms, indicating very few coil-wire turns. Glued to its boron cantilever was a solid diamond MicroRidge line-contact stylus, probably sourced from Namiki. The Kai’s cantilever-stylus assembly was similar if not identical to what Lyra and others use in less costly cartridges. The Kai’s body was of alumite,…