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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.

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United States
AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
associated equipment

Analog sources Kuzma Stabi R turntable & Kuzma 4Point 11” tonearm; Koetsu Rosewood MC phono cartridge. Thorens TD 124, Jelco TS-350S 9” tonearm, Denon DL 103 MC cartridge. Digital sources Asus laptop running Roon and Tidal, Wyred 4 Sound μLink, Denafrips Ares II DAC, Tascam CD-200iL CD player. Integrated amplifier Parasound Halo Hint 6. Loudspeakers Golden Ear BRX, Klipsch Forte III, Spendor BC-1. Cables Interconnect (RCA): Triode Wire Labs Spirit II, Shindo Laboratory. Digital: AudioQuest Forest. Speaker: AudioQuest Robin Hood. AC: manufacturers’ own. Accessories Kuzma Plastis 65 isolation platform, IsoTek EVO3 Aquarius line conditioner, Salamander five-tier rack; IKEA Aptitlig bamboo chopping boards (under preamp, turntable, power amps); mahogany blocks (2" × 2" × 0.5") under boards; 3"-thick studio-treatment damping foam on ceilings and walls. Listening room 12' L × 10' W × 12' H, system set…

18 min
esoteric grandioso c1x

Even as I was admiring some of the handsomest audio gear I’d ever set eyes on, my thoughts kept returning to equipment of a very different sort. Flash back maybe 40 years to my one-bedroom apartment on Elgin Park in San Francisco during the period when I was whistling for my supper and performing Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” in the Emmy-nominated Peanuts cartoon, “She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown.” Cue the constant din of an elevated four-lane freeway, since demolished as a blight on humankind, which I tried to pretend was the sound of water in the accompaniment to one of Schubert’s many “water and fish” songs. Enter a reporter from the College of Marin newspaper, poised to write a preview of my forthcoming performance at his school. As he set…

14 min
industry update

SUBMISSIONS: Those promoting audio-related seminars, shows, and meetings should email the when, where, and who to stletters@stereophile.com 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
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…

4 min
more cowbell

THIS ISSUE: A MoFi One Step reissue of the second Blood, Sweat & Tears album. Blood, Sweat & Tears began as Al Kooper’s dream of a rock band with horns. By the time he realized the concept—on the band’s 1968 debut, Child Is Father to the Man—it had become much more: an engaging hybrid of New York soul, Greenwich Village folk, and innovative jazz arrangements. With producer John Simon at the helm, Child was a virtual definition of the possibilities inherent in the heady musical experimentation of the late 1960s. Kooper’s writing and arranging for that record (including the monumental “I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” later a hit for Donny Hathaway) is one of the high points of his storied career. The record was justifiably praised as the…

1 min
what does mahler think?

I thought it would be illuminating to listen to a Mahler symphony—I chose No.7—but with a different recording, orchestra, and venue for each movement, to show the kinds of distinctions the M1SE MDx is capable of facilitating. To level the aural playing field, I made sure that all the recordings were streaming at 24/96 resolution, via Qobuz. Here are some of my listening notes, both plusses and minuses. Mvt.I “Langsam.” Kubelik/Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. (Deutsche Grammophon, 1989; appears in Mahler: 10 Symphonies): Sounds compressed and overly dry. Little of the sense of space that benefits this music. Top and bottom ends are missing in action. A fine performance, though. Mvt.II “Nachtmusic.” Haitinck/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. (Decca, 2019, appears in Mahler: The Symphonies & Song Cycles): Now we’re talking! Lovely, very wide soundstage. Fine…