Stereophile April 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.
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12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
a lifelong passion

This gig has many perks—but the best one without a doubt is the cool, interesting people I get to “meet.” I should explain the quotation marks. Since starting this job, in April 2019, I haven’t gotten out much. Even before the pandemic, I was too busy to do much of anything except edit the magazine. So, many of the interesting people I’ve “met,” I’ve still never seen in person. One of those is John Swenson, who has written music reviews for Stereophile since his first contribution, a 1996 review of REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi. In 1999, he wrote our Recording of the Month review of Taj Mahal’s Kulanjan. Two months later, he wrote Recording of the Month again, splitting his attention between an MFSL Gold CD of Who’s Next and The…

7 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. A ‘thank you’ from Art’s family It has been almost a year since we lost our Bunny—our Old Art Dudley (yes, that really is what he called himself!)—and we wanted to mark that with a sincere, heartfelt thank you to the audio community. You have all been incredibly kind and supportive through a remarkably shitty time. (Can we use that word, Jim? ’Cuz the thesaurus had nothing more apt.) We miss him dearly every day—we know his readers do too—but we are also grateful for the gifts he left us, foremost among them connecting with friends,…

20 min
industry update

US: GIG HARBOR, WASHINGTON Jason Victor Serinus Listening, an extraordinary video tribute to the late writer Art Dudley’s taste, vision, and devotion to music, premiers this month on Stereophile’s YouTube channel. The video follows the unusual path of Art’s beloved Altec Lansing Flamenco loudspeakers from their home in Upstate New York to their current residence, the listening room of deaf audiophile Bob Lichtenberg in Port Orchard, Washington. Lichtenberg, 64, who serves as senior court program analyst for the Washington Supreme Court Interpreter Commission, began to lose his hearing at age 5. By 8, he was completely deaf. Today, he’s a confirmed audiophile with a huge LP collection and a dedicated listening room that holds several systems. He began listening to music by mapping musical vibrations emanating from a small bookshelf speaker held to…

14 min
waiting for a bypass

My heart did not attack me. My arteries aren’t clogged. I’m awaiting an electrical bypass to save my audio system’s life. As I reported last month, my audio system started choking on the house juice immediately upon power up after an emergency power generator was installed in my house. The system isn’t running on generator power, but the generator’s installation required installing some other hardware in the AC signal path: a switch that automatically transfers the house’s power system to the generator when the power goes out. It’s that new hardware that seems to be causing the problem. Before the generator was installed, the sound had been better—more intense and emotionally elevating—than any that I’ve heard in the almost 22 years I’ve been in this room. I’d leave the room late every…

17 min
hana umami red, plus nova iii and bigger ben

At the end of Gramophone Dreams #46, I was lost in the pristine beauty of Decware’s 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier driving the De-Vore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 speakers. That was an extremely enjoyable system, and I was hoping to keep it intact for another month. My plan was simply to morph into my long-postponed opus on tube rolling using the Zen Triode as well as Ampsandsound’s Bigger Ben headphone and loudspeaker amp. Both are single-ended triode, no-feedback designs and therefore perfectly suited for tube-swapping comparisons. Then, on December 17, at 6:37a.m., I was on the bed meditating, in the lotus position, when it hit me: I can’t do tube rolling yet. I must first cover Hana’s new flagship moving coil cartridge, the Umami Red, while it is still new news. Ten minutes…

380 min
recommended rc2021 components

Every product listed here has been formally reviewed in Stereophile. Everything on the list, regardless of rating, is genuinely recommendable. Within each category, products are listed by class; within each class, they’re in alphabetical order, followed by their price, a short synopsis, and a note indicating the issues of Stereophile in which the review and any subsequent followup reports appeared. “Vol.44 No.2" indicates our February 2021 issue, for example. Stereophile’s Recommended Components list is concerned mainly with products available in the US through the usual hi-fi retail outlets, although products sold online also qualify. Companies that sell only through dealers must have well-established dealer networks. Companies that sell only online must demonstrate the capacity for satisfactory customer support, preferably domestic. A no-risk at-home audition is preferred. We recommend you read our Recommended Components…