Stereophile Recommended Components 2020 Edition

marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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Hmmm. No Soulution gear. Come to think of it, I haven't seen any Soulution ads in Stereophile either. I think 1 + 1 still equals 2 so kind of makes me want to revisit the math.
 
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tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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Hmmm. No Soulution gear. Come to think of it, I haven't seen any Soulution ads in Stereophile either. I think 1 + 1 still equals 2 so kind of makes me want to revisit the math.

I don't recall seeing any reviews for Soulution components in Stereophile. They won't recommend gear they have not reviewed. Pretty sure you can find Soulution on one of the TAS lists.
 
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Kal Rubinson

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May 5, 2010
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www.stereophile.com
Hmmm. No Soulution gear.
Only reviewed products are eligible. Afaik, no Soulution product has been reviewed in recent years and products reviewed most recently (2016?) would have been aged off the list unless a reviewer continued to use it.
Come to think of it, I haven't seen any Soulution ads in Stereophile either. I think 1 + 1 still equals 2 so kind of makes me want to revisit the math.
The math clearly indicates a lack of correlation but that will not deter those who choose to believe otherwise.
 
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caesar

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May 31, 2010
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Hmmm. No Soulution gear. Come to think of it, I haven't seen any Soulution ads in Stereophile either. I think 1 + 1 still equals 2 so kind of makes me want to revisit the math.

I have an alternate theory on Soulution and Stereophile. A while back, Fremer, who is a Wilson loving reviewer, found Soulution too sterile for his taste. And majority of Stereophile reviewers are Wilson lovers. Wilsons measure well , are the predominant taste, and also the luxury symbol of most people in the high end. Nothing wrong with that - a very fine product who like box speakers. And Stereophile is amplifying this big time. It's cultural legacy of John Atkinson.

TAS guys, on the other hand, are Magico lovers, and have preferred to Soulution amps. One reason for this is that Soulution has huge bass, and Magico speakers because of their sealed design synergize well with Soulution. Magico, however, has been less successful with amps like Constellation, that are more subdued in the bass department. Constellation, however, has been very impressive with Wilsons, which already have prodigious bass.

So speaker synergies, desire of influencing the audiophiles, and patterns of taste/ preference determine and drive this. Patterns of taste, of course, do not come about individually. For the audio journalists elites, it's a matter of ego and pride to influence the masses, so they hype up the stuff while playing the authority figure. Many of these reviewers are an embarrassment.

Only the most dedicated and desirous audiophile would have the large Soulution monoblocks shipped to their house to actually hear for themselves. And repeat for other top amps, tweaking their backs and breaking their toes in the process of switching amps, to determine the best for them. Trusting the reviewers, the forums, and their dealers doesn't get the best for their preference. Mis-aligned incentives, social proof influence technique and authority influence techniques on bright display - a potent combination that drives success and failure in the audiophile arena.

As far as lists go, the Stereophile list, although very biased, is very valuable for those who pursue a rational approach to the audio decision making. It presents a nice sample to start culling the products to research and listen to. But itshould not be the only list used who want the best for themselves. Many of these "BEST lists" should be used to determine the units one should listen to so one can get at true diversity of excellent products out there for the optimal decision.

Finally, as far as Soulution goes, never was a fan of it. But it sounds KILLER with the latest generation of hard to drive Sonus Fabers. The best I have ever heard Sonus Fiber sound. New found respect for Soulution!
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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As a former owner of SF Strads and Guarneris, i remember many fellow Strad owners liked Soulution a LOT with their Strads.
 

marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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I have an alternate theory on Soulution and Stereophile. A while back, Fremer, who is a Wilson loving reviewer, found Soulution too sterile for his taste. And majority of Stereophile reviewers are Wilson lovers. Wilsons measure well , are the predominant taste, and also the luxury symbol of most people in the high end. Nothing wrong with that - a very fine product who like box speakers. And Stereophile is amplifying this big time. It's cultural legacy of John Atkinson.

TAS guys, on the other hand, are Magico lovers, and have preferred to Soulution amps. One reason for this is that Soulution has huge bass, and Magico speakers because of their sealed design synergize well with Soulution. Magico, however, has been less successful with amps like Constellation, that are more subdued in the bass department. Constellation, however, has been very impressive with Wilsons, which already have prodigious bass.

So speaker synergies, desire of influencing the audiophiles, and patterns of taste/ preference determine and drive this. Patterns of taste, of course, do not come about individually. For the audio journalists elites, it's a matter of ego and pride to influence the masses, so they hype up the stuff while playing the authority figure. Many of these reviewers are an embarrassment.

Only the most dedicated and desirous audiophile would have the large Soulution monoblocks shipped to their house to actually hear for themselves. And repeat for other top amps, tweaking their backs and breaking their toes in the process of switching amps, to determine the best for them. Trusting the reviewers, the forums, and their dealers doesn't get the best for their preference. Mis-aligned incentives, social proof influence technique and authority influence techniques on bright display - a potent combination that drives success and failure in the audiophile arena.

As far as lists go, the Stereophile list, although very biased, is very valuable for those who pursue a rational approach to the audio decision making. It presents a nice sample to start culling the products to research and listen to. But itshould not be the only list used who want the best for themselves. Many of these "BEST lists" should be used to determine the units one should listen to so one can get at true diversity of excellent products out there for the optimal decision.

Finally, as far as Soulution goes, never was a fan of it. But it sounds KILLER with the latest generation of hard to drive Sonus Fabers. The best I have ever heard Sonus Fiber sound. New found respect for Soulution!


Interesting and thoughtful observations. I think part of the dichotomy about Soulution gear is attributable to the fact that the first generation of gear (i.e. 700 mono/710 stereo) that was reviewed initially by many including Fremer, Valin and others is very different sonically than the current generation (701 mono/711 stereo/511 mono or stereo). The originals were indeed somewhat sterile and frankly, did not appeal to me at all. The latest generation is however very different and quite attractive sonically, at least to me. In general the approach Soulution takes is a very different one than most other current SOA amp designs. For the past few decades or so, it has been very fashionable to design amplifiers with no global or local feedback. In other words, an "open loop" design that was popularized 30+ years ago by Matti Otala (of Harmon Kardon fame) among others. And there have certainly been many outstanding open loop designs from a wide variety of manufacturers. The Soulution engineers however, do something at one time considered anathema, which is to use a limited amount of negative feedback. Why? The reason they cite is simple- lower distortion. There are only a few things that everyone agrees effect the sound of amplification such as power, bandwidth, signal to noise, etc., but first and perhaps foremost among those is distortion. Designers agree that lower distortion is better than higher distortion The latter is unfortunately one of the engineering trade-offs in open loop amplifier designs versus a design that uses some negative feedback such as Soulution. The question is, which sounds better? For that there is no easy or right answer. It's the obvious classic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry audio question. I eschewed the Soulutions for many years because of my bias against any amplifier that employed feedback. That is, until I finally heard the latest generation of Soulution gear. What the Soulutions do for me is provide reproduction that is one step closer to palpable reality than many other designs, and I attribute this to the fact that their distortion products are unequivocally and measurably lower than many comparable designs. It is the sense of the reality that lower distortion delivers that is their "secret" (which is not so secret). Although it is a SS design, their pre-amp and amp battery have excellent spatial dimensionality. But when coupled to tube front ends (Zanden 1200 MkIII phono and Lampi GG2), those combos make for an overall presentation that has that elusive combination of spatial magic, tonal definition and absolute power that leaves me wanting for nothing more.
 
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caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
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Interesting and thoughtful observations. I think part of the dichotomy about Soulution gear is attributable to the fact that the first generation of gear (i.e. 700 mono/710 stereo) that was reviewed initially by many including Fremer, Valin and others is very different sonically than the current generation (701 mono/711 stereo/511 mono or stereo). The originals were indeed somewhat sterile and frankly, did not appeal to me at all. The latest generation is however very different and quite attractive sonically, at least to me. In general the approach Soulution takes is a very different one than most other current SOA amp designs. For the past few decades or so, it has been very fashionable to design amplifiers with no global or local feedback. In other words, an "open loop" design that was popularized 30+ years ago by Matti Otala (of Harmon Kardon fame) among others. And there have certainly been many outstanding open loop designs from a wide variety of manufacturers. The Soulution engineers however, do something at one time considered anathema, which is to use a limited amount of negative feedback. Why? The reason they cite is simple- lower distortion. There are only a few things that everyone agrees effect the sound of amplification such as power, bandwidth, signal to noise, etc., but first and perhaps foremost among those is distortion. Designers agree that lower distortion is better than higher distortion The latter is unfortunately one of the engineering trade-offs in open loop amplifier designs versus a design that uses some negative feedback such as Soulution. The question is, which sounds better? For that there is no easy or right answer. It's the obvious classic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry audio question. I eschewed the Soulutions for many years because of my bias against any amplifier that employed feedback. That is, until I finally heard the latest generation of Soulution gear. What the Soulutions do for me is provide reproduction that is one step closer to palpable reality than many other designs, and I attribute this to the fact that their distortion products are unequivocally and measurably lower than many comparable designs. It is the sense of the reality that lower distortion delivers that is their "secret" (which is not so secret). For a SS design, their pre-amp and amp battery have excellent spatial dimensionality but when coupled to tube front ends (Zanden 1200 MkIII phono and Lampi GG2), those combos make for an overall presentation that has that elusive combination of spatial magic, tonal definition and absolute power that leaves me wanting for nothing more.

Marty,
Great stuff. Excellent post. Congrats on not following the herd and on finding musical bliss.
 

GSOphile

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Sep 4, 2017
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Although early model Constellation amps, especially at the high end, were criticized for their lack of bass, this has not been the case with later amps at the low end (and perhaps later high end interations I have not heard). My dealer has an Inspiration Stereo/Pictor Pre driving Magicos where the sound is very balanced, not lacking bass, and, IMO, very competitive with a D'Agostino Progression Stereo/Pre at approximately 2X the price.
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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I have an alternate theory on Soulution and Stereophile. A while back, Fremer, who is a Wilson loving reviewer, found Soulution too sterile for his taste. And majority of Stereophile reviewers are Wilson lovers. Wilsons measure well , are the predominant taste, and also the luxury symbol of most people in the high end. Nothing wrong with that - a very fine product who like box speakers. And Stereophile is amplifying this big time. It's cultural legacy of John Atkinson.

JA wasn't too kind to the Wilson Alexx and critical of the Watt/Puppy "hump" for years, but keep up with your conspiracy theories.
 
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caesar

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Whatever.:rolleyes:
How many Stereophile reviewers use Wilsons as references? A good number, with fremer being most influential one. Another reviewer just bought thee new watt puppy. Sirinius reviews amplifiers onLy with wilson, screwing over amplifier brands like audionet and bricasti that don’t synergize well with Wilson. Sirinious also tested the organic sounding Aqua Fina DAC in the context of only a Wilson / dCS system and ripped it shreds, without mentioning the analytical tendencies of dCS. Reality is what reality is.
 
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caesar

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May 31, 2010
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JA wasn't too kind to the Wilson Alexx and critical of the Watt/Puppy "hump" for years, but keep up with your conspiracy theories.
I don’t read all of his stuff as I have no interest in what he reviews or products I have no interest in purchasing. But he did say the deeply flawed Wilson Alexia was his desert island speaker. And as I mentioned , all of the guys who have learned that Wilson taste and fell in line...
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,738
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Manila, Philippines
Although early model Constellation amps, especially at the high end, were criticized for their lack of bass, this has not been the case with later amps at the low end (and perhaps later high end interations I have not heard). My dealer has an Inspiration Stereo/Pictor Pre driving Magicos where the sound is very balanced, not lacking bass, and, IMO, very competitive with a D'Agostino Progression Stereo/Pre at approximately 2X the price.

Taurus Monos on Magico M3s are excellent. Yes Constellation has definitely added heft these days.
 

andromedaaudio

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Ceasar , why bother so much .
Let the magazines write what they want , who cares .
You pick / read/buy what you want .
I ve never heard people complain much about a boat or car magazin
 
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Kal Rubinson

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May 5, 2010
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I don’t read all of his stuff as I have no interest in what he reviews or products I have no interest in purchasing.
Then why are you obsessed with your pointless theories?
 
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caesar

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May 31, 2010
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Ceasar , why bother you so much .
Let the magazines write what they want , who cares .
You pick / read/buy what you want .
I ve never heard people complain much about a boat or car magazin

I have passion for the hobby. I buy a lot of gear, so I stumble on a lot of drek in my search.

The successful products in this hobby are the product of influence techniques, not objective criteria, as I mentioned before. So many excellent products get drowned out.

Also, there is very little diversity at places like Stereophile and TAS. (I don't mean superficial diversity, but deep diversity of tastes and preferences that actually makes people's lives better.) The US tastes lean toward sterile neutrality vs. emotional expressiveness and aliveness of music. When was the last time a horn got reviewed in the US? Valin reviewed Avantgardes 5 years ago, or something like that. (ART Dudley may have reviewed something that no ones or ever heard. But how is that helpful?) Most of the stuff these guys have selected as the best has a very intellectual sound.

But once in a while one finds gems, and I try...

The garbage and the shenanigans needs to be called out because sunlight is the best disinfectant and for others searching - to save them time, money, and aggravation.
 

andromedaaudio

VIP/Donor
Jan 23, 2011
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Well , stereophile is one of the best out there .
At Least JA takes the time and effort to measure all the gear .
Besides the listening which is off course a personal thing .
For a lot of people its monthly entertainment nothing wrong with that
 

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