Stereophile November 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
glory days

I’ve got a music problem. Specifically, I’ve got a rock music problem. It’s a true cliché—that is, a cliché that happens to be true: Rock music, in almost all its forms, is young people’s music. It’s about new, fresh experiences—new love, new sex, consciousness sought or attained, rebellion, drugs—and when you’ve reached a certain age, those experiences don’t feel so fresh anymore. That’s a fact about which it’s hard not to feel some regret. You don’t have to share their sentiment to realize that there’s a reason Pete wrote, and Roger sang, “Hope I die before I get old.” Despite Pete and Roger’s proclamation, only the drummer died young. But many other musicians have also done it: Buddy Holly. Ritchie Valens. Jim Morrison. Janis Joplin. Bob Marley. Otis Redding. Lowell George.…

5 min

Tweaking the POÄNG After several recent mentions in your magazine of the IKEA POÄNG chair, the secret is out. My local audiophile consortium would like to share our recommendations. The chair’s minimalist architecture certainly gets out of the way of the music, and its size allows an unusually generous two or three people to share a sweet spot. Slightly rockable natural wood complements the “pace, rhythm, and timing” (PRaT) of either the recording or the listener (especially for solo headphone listening). Wide, flat armrests easily accommodate the four or five remotes required to control components in even a modest system, plus a cell phone. There was concern that the chair’s Scandinavian design would make it compatible only with European speakers, but our testing finds good response with a wide variety of speakers,…

2 min
calendar of industry events

ATTENTION ALL AUDIO SOCIETIES: We have a page on the Stereophile website devoted to you: If you’d like to have your audio-society information posted on the site, email Chris Vogel at (Please note the new email address.) Please note that it is inappropriate for a retailer to promote a new product line in “Calendar” unless it is associated with a seminar or similar event. Note: Due to the ongoing pandemic, Stereophile recommends confirming that events are still taking place. CALIFORNIA Saturday and Sunday, October 16–17: The Burning Amp Festival is back … but now it will be held online via Zoom. The scheduled presentations will go forward as planned, according to a recent press release. It’s an event for audio hobbyists and DIYers to connect, learn, and share their projects. For details…

11 min
industry update

US AND CANADA (AND WORLDWIDE) Julie Mullins The novel coronavirus variants aren’t through with us yet. Most audio shows—and many concerts, festivals, and other in-person events—have been canceled again this year. Recent casualties include AXPONA and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF)—the latter, perhaps, forever. AXPONA canceled its 2021 show, which had already been rescheduled from the spring to October, announcing that the next show will take place April 22–24, 2022. “Exhibitors and attendees travel to AXPONA from throughout the United States and from more than 40 other countries,” the AXPONA announcement read. “Over the last few weeks, citing concerns over personal health, the unpredictability of international travel restrictions and reinstated companywide travel bans, many community members have told us they are unwilling or unable to commit to AXPONA in October.” “Things were just…

14 min
the electrical cure

Rex Hungerford, Edward DeVito, and Craig Bradley rode into town last week and, together with Audioquest’s Garth Powell, solved all the electrical problems that have plagued my audio system for years. Garth Powell, a name familiar to many Stereophile readers, is Audio-Quest’s electricity guru and designer of the Niagara series of power conditioners; he is also responsible for the company’s line of AC and signal cables. Bradley is a local electrician and audio enthusiast who has done electrical work for me in the past, including replacing dedicated lines—one for the low-power signal components and another for the amplifiers—with a single line, hoping that might solve years of annoying ground hum and other noise issues. You’d think the ground potential would be almost nothing between two sets of adjacent AC jacks…

17 min
iron and light

In the household I grew up in, telling a lie was a death-penalty offense—worse than murder or leaving crumbs on the kitchen counter. So, believe me when I tell you that way more than a year ago, Musical Surroundings’ Garth Leerer sent me DS Audio’s lowest priced optical cartridge, the DS-E1 ($2750 with energizer/equalizer). He said, “You need to know about this.” Then every few months he would write and politely inquire how I was liking it. Each time I would write back saying, “I’m sorry Garth, I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll install it right after deadline.” That was a score of deadlines ago. When I saw Michael Fremer’s full DS-E1 review in Analog Corner #306, I was crestfallen: He beat me to it (again).1 Undeterred, I went ahead…