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Stereophile Sep 2017


2nd Edition

Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 Mk.II power amplifier
I have always been fascinated by audio power amplifiers. I even tried building about a hundred of them. My best friend in high school, Bill Brier, taught me the basics of soldering, wire management, and reading schematics. He loaned me his Dynaco Stereo 70, and gave me a hot-running, 20W, class-A transistor amp that he'd built on his mother's kitchen table.

PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player universal transport
The first time I heard a CD player in my own system was in 1983, the first year of the format's introduction in the West. CD players were generally hard to come by, but I had a friend who worked for Sony, and he came over with his new toy: Sony's next-to-top-of-the-line CD player.

Murray Head's Nigel Lived 2-Disc 45 RPM Set Sweepstakes
Register to win a copy of Murray Head's Nigel Lived 2-Disc 45 RPM Set from Intervention Records (retail value $38) we are giving away.

Sounds & Clouds: Like Everything and Nothing Else
How to describe music that is so personal, so deeply reflective and rooted in Buddhist contemplation that only listening to the music itself, without distraction, will suffice? Such is the conundrum that, hopefully, will lead you from this page to Channel Classics' hybrid SACD, Sounds & Clouds: Works by Hosokawa & Vivaldi.

KEF Reference 5 loudspeaker
Of all the speakers I have most enjoyed in recent years, two were from British manufacturer KEF: the LS50 Anniversary Model ($1500/pair), which I reviewed in December 2012; and the Blade Two ($25,000/pair), which I reviewed in June 2015.

Rega Research Brio integrated amplifier
"Looking back, my life's passions have mostly been sensual: food, females, fast cars, music, wine, sailing and skiing. My motivations, activities and work have stemmed from the need to fuel these passions rather than enjoyment of the process." Who said this? John Atkinson? Art Dudley? Dr. Dre?

VPI Prime Scout turntable
We got our wish. Phonograph ownership is once again depicted as commonplace, even hip, in popular films, TV shows, and ads for other products. Turntables and LP jackets show up in photos in Elle Decor and Vanity Fair.

Recommended Components: Fall 2017 Edition
Components listed here have been formally reviewed in Stereophile and have been found to be among the best available in each of four or five quality classes. Whether a component is listed in Class A or Class E, we highly recommend its purchase.

IsoAcoustics Gaia loudspeaker isolation feet
IsoAcoustics Inc. has its head office in Ontario (footnote 1) and its manufacturing facilities in China, and is headed by Dave Morrison, who for 20 years has been involved in designing radio and television studios for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The IsoAcoustics products are the result of this experience.

Life is Fine: Paul Kelly Goes Electric
It's a debate as old as those fateful moments when Bob Dylan first plugged in and went electric: are you the kind of listener who prefers singer songwriters to perform and record acoustically? Do drums and electrical current automatically add a taint? Must singer songwriters always be alone?

1st Edition

What If Digital Had Never Happened?
Digital audio forever disrupted the way music is recorded, mixed, and mastered--and, to even greater extents, how music is distributed, sold, played, and consumed. Music unmolested by zeros and ones is now nearly extinct.

Recording of October 2017: Never the Same Way Once: Live at the Boarding House May 1974
The late Owsley "Bear" Stanley spent his life raising consciousness. Whether it was mixing up jars of LSD, building his famous Wall of Sound PA system for the Grateful Dead, or supervising the creation of an incredible library of live recordings, Bear Stanley was after a certain purity, a higher level of quality, epiphanies.

Schmidt's Symphonic Splendor in Hi-Rez
Semyon Bychkov and the Vienna Philharmonic's splendid recording of Franz Schmidt's Symphony No.2, recently released by Sony in CD and hi-rez formats, is dazzling in its pastoral splendor.

Matthew Sweet
Other than an occasional widening of his pop lens--from simple four-piece, hollow-bodied, guitar-driven power pop to something grander, closer to the orchestral pop ambitions of Brian Wilson and The Beatles,--Matthew Sweet, ever the pop auteur, has stayed true to the vision of his 1991 breakthrough, Girlfriend.

Thiel CS1 loudspeaker
Kentucky manufacturer Thiel has acquired a reputation for the coherence of sound presented by its range of distinctive, sloping-baffle, floor-standing loudspeakers. Designer Jim Thiel gives a high priority to linearity of phase response; as a result, he chooses to use phase-linear, first-order crossovers in his designs, the target response being the combination of electrical and mechanical filtering.

T.H.E. Show Anaheim Postponed to 2018
What was to have been the first Southern California-based T.H.E. Show organized without input from its late co-founder, Richard Beers, who died in 2016, has been postponed until 2018.

KEF's Jack Oclee-Brown Talks Loudspeakers
Last May, Jack Oclee-Brown, KEF's Head of Acoustics, visited John Atkinson's listening room to drop off and set up the KEF Reference 5 loudspeakers ($19,000/pair).

A Vocal Lover's Dream: Schwarzkopf on 78s
Warner's 5-CD box set, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: The Complete 78 rpm Recordings 1946-1952 is a vocal lover's dream.

Music in the Round #86: Playback Designs & AudioQuest
It's time to fulfill my promise to write about Playback Designs' Sonoma Syrah music server and Sonoma Merlot DAC. It all began when I asked Playback's founder and CEO, engineer Andreas Koch, when he plans to produce a multichannel digital-to-analog converter--a question I've put to so many other manufacturers.

Listen to Them, Children of the Night
Long ago, I stopped associating Act II of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake with dancing. Now, every time I hear it, I immediately flash on broken battlements, a black cape, and Bela Lugosi's unmistakable Hungarian accent: "Listen to them--cheelllldreennn of dee night. What muuuusic they make!"

Nelson Pass: Circuit Topology and the End of Science
Nelson Pass is a consummate engineer, but he got his start in physics, earning a bachelor's degree from UC Davis. As he worked on his degree, he was already an audio designer, focusing on loudspeakers--great training for a designer of audio amplifiers.

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