Stereophile May 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
roon 1.8

I bought my first streaming DAC in 2016, even though I wasn’t yet convinced about streaming. Streaming audio was a great idea, but how would I get the music data from wherever it lives to my DAC’s Ethernet port? I was already a Roon user, but Roon and my DAC—a PS Audio Direct-Stream—weren’t yet talking to each other. The experiences offered by the various control apps I tried were unsatisfying. I had a vision of how things ought to work, but the world didn’t conform. Not yet. I built up an Intel NUC and loaded it with ROCK—the Roon-Optimized Core Kit—and Roon. Soon, after some upgrades, Roon and my DAC were talking to each other, and I was up and streaming. I assembled my first network-attached storage (NAS) device, with 10TB of…

5 min

‘Thank you’ from a mastering master I’m writing to thank Stereophile Editor Jim Austin for believing in Thomas Conrad’s idea to write the feature article, Afterlife of a Jazz Label (March 2021), about Reservoir Music, its founder Mark Feldman, and the small group of us who recorded and mastered its albums. Thank you, also, to Tom Conrad for writing the engaging musical story of how Reservoir came to exist. I believe you got it all: the commitment and honesty of producer Mark Feldman and the technical and creative spirit we engineers brought to each project. Allan Tucker Monterrey, Mexico Allan Tucker has recorded, mastered, and remastered more than 3500 albums, from Louis Armstrong to John Zorn. Realistic and faithful I usually do not turn to your fine publication for humor, but Michael Fremer’s Analog Corner in your…

20 min
industry update

US: SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS, AND WORLDWIDE Jason Victor Serinus Due to concerns over COVID-19 transmission, two U.S. audio shows have revised their dates for 2021. AXPONA has shifted (again) from August 27–29 to October 29–31, and the small New York Audio Show has moved from June 25–26 to December 3–4 in New York City. AXPONA’s announcement was distributed March 3 to the “AXPONA Community” by Event Director Liz Miller Smith and VP Sales Mark Freed. Reached by phone and email, Miller Smith told Stereophile, “When offered these dates, we had to make a very quick decision and we chose the option that did not overlap with any other audio shows.” Exhibiting companies, the announcement read, do not need to take any action. The date change makes for an astoundingly tight lineup: six shows in three…

17 min
sme goes down-market

“I got some Audio-Technica ATLP120X turntables in the other day, which had been back ordered for maybe 6 or 7 months, so I called to see if they had more. I was told there were 17,700 of that model on back order,” a dealer I know told me recently in an email. That number surprised even this diehard vinyl advocate. The $279 direct-drive AT-LP120X looks somewhat like a Technics SL-1200; it could almost be a knockoff. For a few hundred dollars, it includes a tonearm that won’t ruin your records, a built-in phono preamp, and an AT-VM95E cartridge—an upgrade from the AT-95SE, which is already stupidly good for not much money.1 The AT-LP120X offers decent performance and even has a built-in A/D converter and a USB output. If you want one,…

16 min
the venus tube

I would now be a prosperous gentleman had I been a clever fellow during the 1980s and held on to some of those Western Electric 300B vacuum tubes I used to buy for nothing and toss around casually. Unfortunately, I have no talent for acquisition or hoarding. I remember once driving down to North Carolina with my Eddie Electric business partner, Ryoichi Kimura. We were going to an old farm hidden at the end of a long gravel road. The guy who owned the place employed teams of teenage boys in white vans to travel the country gathering Altec and Western Electric gear from abandoned small-town movie theatres. As we navigated the farm’s rutted lane, I heard gunshots. I spotted a group of shirtless boys with trucker hats and pistols. One…

4 min
book review

I never met Audio Research Corporation founder William Zane Johnson, who died in 2011. But when he founded his now-legendary company in 1970, I and my ragged troupe of Dynaco modifiers were in the trenches, fighting the sand-warrior hordes during the first transistor onslaught. Our battle was almost lost when that shiny new warrior appeared on the north ridge. He, too, brandished a modified Stereo 70. He hailed from Minnesota, a land of extreme cold, walleye fishing, and northern lights. His company’s flag displayed a glowing vacuum tube, under which the words “High Definition” were inscribed. I felt certain he was fighting a lost cause—that we all were. I was wrong—and here we are today, celebrating William “Bill” Johnson’s achievements and the 50th anniversary of his company with a super-deluxe LP-sized hardcover…