Stereophile March 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.
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
when video rides shotgun

I was planning one of my occasional long drives, for music and photography. I had scheduled two nights in Nashville, so I asked around: Where should I go for live music after a dinner of Hattie B’s hot chicken? Art Dudley recommended the Station Inn, perhaps the world’s best venue for live bluegrass music. You can read about my experience there in the November 2019 Stereophile.1 The Station Inn has now added a streaming service.2 For $8.99/month or $99/year, you get between 10 and 20 live-streamed performances every month plus access to the archives. If you’re a bluegrass fan or merely bluegrass-curious, I encourage you to check it out. It’s not as good as being there, but it’s still good. During the pandemic, many live-music venues have started offering online performances of…

9 min

Goats Head Soup Tom Fine’s review of The Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup is not just dead wrong; it’s infuriating. This issue of Stereophile has been relegated to the recycle bin. Goats Head Soup was produced during the Stones’ most acclaimed period. The songwriting of Mick & Keef was at a zenith, which was astounding given Keef’s heavy use of hard drugs, which would make any mere mortal unable to craft or perform these gems. There are but a handful of Stones albums with Mick Taylor, whom rock fans adore, and this is a glorious moment: Billy Preston, with his enormous afro and distinct style on the clavinet, is present on “100 Years Ago”; the fine interplay of Keef harmonizing with Mick on this track is delightful. And let’s not forget Nicky…

20 min
industry update

UK: CAMBRIDGESHIRE, ENGLAND Jonathan Scull, John Atkinson, and Herb Reichert Dammit! Tim de Paravicini, the Baron1 as he was known, passed from this mortal coil on December 17, 2020. I loved the guy. His deep, steeped, sharp-elbowed engineering bona fides in matters of electronics, cars, planes, and life earned him plaudits from all over the world. Tim was as tall as a redwood tree, towering over friends and acquaintances at shows. He was also never short of an opinion. His social graces online, of which there were none, created a good deal of heat and frustration. If he thought you said something foolish, even if not totally up a tree, he’d come at you with multisyllabic, colorful language. I always pulled him up by his shorts when he acted that way in any…

15 min
“you’re old, you’re deaf, and you have a sh**ty room.”

I’m an audiophile and live in North America—seems like a perfect fit for the Facebook group Audiophiles-North America, right? Wrong! On my first visit, I noticed that a group member had asked for speaker cable suggestions. Another member posted a picture of a 100' spool of 16-gauge lamp cord costing $14, accompanied by the suggestion “This is all you need.” The implication: That’s all anyone needs, because cables are “snake oil.” I responded, “Do you think the people marketing this product considered inductance, capacitance, and resistance?” “You don’t even know what those are” came the reply. Soon after that came this from another group member: “You’re old, you’re deaf, and you have a shitty room.” This was my welcome to this Facebook group, composed, apparently—and here I’m talking about the loudest people in the…

15 min
the incredible beauty of sound

I am not a fan of that amp designer who promoted his products by pointing a condescending finger while scolding audiophiles, like errant children, for preferring their records to sound “pleasant” rather than “accurate.”1 He reminds me of my least favorite teacher, Professor Grausamkeit, who was just like that and said similar things. Every time I smarted back, “Accurate to what?” he’d whack me with a wooden yardstick. Grausamkeit would twist my ear painfully while scolding me but would never explain what “accurate” sounded like or why it didn’t sound pleasant. Best I could figure, he meant gray and stern, like him, or bland and flavorless like our school lunches. Professor G was constantly reminding us, “Pleasure-seeking is a congenital defect that defines the ignorant classes.” Because of G, I grew up to…

14 min
wilson audio specialties sabrinax

Many companies in high-end audio and elsewhere use a trickle-down approach to advance their products. The process begins with the development of a suite of new technologies, capabilities, components, or whatever the relevant entities might be. Typically, it’s a flagship product that functions as the impetus, target, and first deployment of the new technologies. Subsequently, the new technologies trickle down to other models, each one incorporating a subset appropriate to its price point. Looking at Wilson Audio’s products, it is natural to assume that they use a trickle-down approach, but that’s not really how it works. The majority of the development effort is focused from the start on things that will be used in all, or at least several, of their loudspeaker models. The reason it works, Daryl Wilson says, is…