Stereophile's 2021 products of the year

  And wow! Schiit Audio 20w Class-A Aegir stereo poweramp made it into the A rating.
Cheers George
Just repeating another year. The Schiit Aegir already received Stereophile Recommended A rating in 2020. An interesting exercise is to compare the prices of all the A rated power amplifiers.
They must like writing those checks, as much as stereophile loves cashing them. 
wow... i will have a dozen with my morning coffee!!!  :)

i am sure all 250,000 of those aegir owners out there are feeling their amps sound much better knowing this! 🤣🤣
George, this is where your link takes me:

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What I like about the stereophile recommendations is that they've compared basically all the gear in the whole world to find the best. *sarcasm*
Does any take Stereophile’s recommendation seriously?
Absolutely. Being on the list or not matters to Stereophile readers and it can make or break a product's success.
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Absolutely. Being on the list or not matters to Stereophile readers and it can make or break a product’s success.
Hence the Checks.

Kinda like making the Hollywood A-List in terms of acting credibility

George, this is where your link takes me:

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One of our moderators or admins have removed this discussion.

This is the new one as I ball’s up the date and put in 2012 instead of 2021, they couldn’t change it, only remove the whole thread.
There’s another wrong link link to this in the Class-A amp thread of inna thread also. I’ll fix that now

Cheers George.
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Just wondering if any of the nay sayers/Haters ever heard or owned the Aegir amp(s) ?
I have, and they were very good.. especially when you factor in their price..  
I think the comments here are directed at the Stereophile list not the Schiit Aegir.

So what do the Stereophile haters read to learn about new products?

Just curious.


People actually do take these ratings seriously. I sold a amp yesterday in 10 minutes after advertising it. The guy who bought it mentioned the Stereophile list in our phone conversation. It was not the only reason but did somewhat help me sell the amp.
To jwaller50’s comment - What publications do we trust - I for one do use The Absolute Sound - their review of Magnapan Speakers let me to sticking with this brand for multiple years.

My system has never sounded better with my upgrade to the Maggie 1.7i. I also used them to convince myself that The Swarm subwoofer system by AudioKensis was worth the money. I now have them in my second system - great bass extension at a nominal investment.

TAS is my key reference for multiple components in my home that are an excellent value for the monies I invest in this hobby!

Enjoy the music.
let’s get serious, and real, here

the publications/reviews business is just that... a business - whether it is old style print (now with online versions), youtube reviewers, or online only pubs like dagogo, 6moons, part time audiophile, etc etc and numerous others, coming and going in time

there is no doubt the famous ones, leveraging illustrious histories, like stereophile and tas, are important info sources, with their ’best of’ compendiums, especially for those who are new to the hobby

we who have been at this for a good while, seen inside the industry, advise newbies to realize that while these businesses do have some ethical standards, they all first and foremost worship at the alter of the dollar, and so the key is to understand how each ’gets their bread buttered’... some are straight ad revenues in exchange for reviews (and thus, inclusion on their recommended lists), others get industry accommodations on discount or free gear (’permanent loans’), invites to shows (pre covid) etc etc etc...

stereophile (not the aegir, you fools) gets the bad rap as it is the most callously commercial in its approach -- advertise to their minimums, get written up, advertise a lot, your reviews gets better and more plentiful, you get ’promoted’ in the ’recommended’ list... let your advertising commitment reduce or lapse, you get your past recommended status canceled (deleted due to ’too long since reviewed’)... like anything else in life with commercial motives - just need to know the game, then what you see happening makes perfect sense - remember, you are the customer, er target, er prey...

this is not to say that the pubs. their reviews and lists are worthless... they are not, they do have some limited value... but what they exclude, what they don’t test, what they choose to test and how bloviated their commentary is... it is for their benefit (and the manufacturers) as much, if not more, than for you the readers’
Well they list KEF LS-50s as class A and have no listing for Magnepan 30.7s. In my house the LS-50s are in the garage where they belong. 
Remember the days of yore when The Absolute Sound did not accept any ads? Say what you will about HP, I looked forward to his reviews every 6 or 7 months. 
Sad to see so much hate on the site coming from consumers who think that the first qualifier into their world is price paid! Would bet most the posters here when introducing company to their system don’t just play a track and let people listen while remaining silent unless asked a question. Then first question is what kind of amp do you have? Answer would be a glossed over name quickly followed with how much the have paid for it. I laugh at people who pay 100k for a speaker cable. Yes you must have fu money to just throw away, and I will give you the fact that it sounds better than my $100 cable but can rest assured it does not sound 1000 times better. I am not saying Schiit is the best best all end all of audio but they allows for average people to dip a toe in the water of high end audio. In the end is it not about the enjoyment of the music?!
It's not possibly to listen to everything yourself. It's not possible for anyone to compare everything. Why would anyone assume a list is meant to be comprehensive? It may be far from perfect, but it can still be a good place to start. There are lists of everything from cars to whisky to Michelin starred restaurants that are equally subjective as anything Stereophile puts out. Are you just going to take advice from any yahoo on the internet instead?

If I am starting my research from nothing then reading a list compiled from reviewed items is a place to start. Some of them may not be described as anything close to what I want. Some of them are beyond my means. In looking further into others I may find a trail to something that really interests me and, more importantly, suits me. There is nothing wrong with reading a map or using a navigation app, but you still need to watch where you going.
Stereophile ONLY rates the products they have reviewed, unlike TAS which will give a product they heard at a show but didn’t review a rating as well.  I find Stereophile much more honest than TAS. I do have subscriptions to both and have been a subscriber since 1990.   I do not trust Robert Harley or Jonathan Valin, as anything Uber expensive gets a good write up.  

Harry Pearson is probably shouting from his grave for the way the magazine is run now.  TAS has nice ads and that for me is the best audio porn out there.   I take everything written in both magazines with a grain of salt, but in TAS case, more than one grain. 
I like Stereophile's bench testing. While I don't put much faith in the rankings, etc., I do like having a source for tech data on various products. I don't buy measurements, of course, but I do like to see them.
I don't put too much faith in them either. One of the first crazy expensive systems I ever heard belonged to this guy who was into "deals". His whole system was a Who's Who of Stereophile Class A picks. All bought used on the basis of being "the best". 

Have you ever seen one of those gags where they swap things around and you're expecting one thing and shocked to get something completely different? I gave him my CD and when the music started I whipped around and hit eject fully expecting to find he had swapped or something. But no, it was my CD.   

All these Stereophile Class A Components combined for the worst sound ever. Horrible, could hardly stand it. No exaggeration.   

Few weeks later we had a party, everyone in my listening room just playing tunes. Couple hours into it this guy's wife sneaks up to me, looks around to make sure no one will hear, and eyes wide in wonder whispers to me, "I could listen to this all night!!!" This was before the hopelessness of digital had become clear to me. We were probably playing a lot of CDs. So it wasn't that. It was the awfulness of the combination of all those Class A Components. 

There are probably some good ones on the list. But I suspect it is more about bragging rights than anything.
@jjss49 i'm relatively new to this hobby, <2 yrs.  where does one find the information you describe about the policies of the different publications?  
@jjss49 Very well said!

I would also add that the new crop of youtube reviewers are following in the same footsteps. Almost all of them start with good intentions and fair and balanced reviews. Before long, they realize that this could be a lucrative business and at that point it’s pretty much downhill from there. For instance, watch some of the older videos from the likes of Zero Fidelity, Thomas and Stereo, NBT Studio, John Darko, Tarun the Brit Audiophile, etc. and compare them to what they’re publishing nowadays. You will see an incremental improvement in production values but the opposite when it comes to providing unbiased opinions.

I think the only place to get information that is not influenced by ulterior motives are forums like this one, barring a few dealers and well-known shills here and there.
"...I am not saying Schiit is the best best all end all of audio but they allows for average people to dip a toe in the water of high end audio..."

The best part of this hobby is finding gear that is really good but also affordable but don't discount the heavy hitters there is another layer above mid-range gear.
I enjoy Stereophile, TAS and HiFi News and Record Review. I do not find Harley, Valin, Fremer, Reichert, Kessler or other prominent reviewers in any way dishonest. I do not believe that the magazines provide great reviews for ad money (although I know of one reviewer who will remain nameless  and is no longer in the business who would provide a great review, unbeknownst to the higher ups at the magazine, in exchange for keeping the item reviewed at no cost to him--which he would later sell). 
 It is obvious that a brand with consistently great reviews will advertise in the magazine as their advertisements will reach their target audience and influence purchasing decisions. 
One has to know the type of sound that each reviewer prefers and judge their reviews accordingly. Furthermore, a reviewer will rarely report that a component sounds terrible, but you can usually learn the character, strengths and weaknesses of each item reviewed even if the weaknesses are not set forth in bright lights. I've come to appreciate Fremer the most as he is not afraid to be more direct than most about the character of the sound of an item and precisely what he liked and disliked about it. 
Kessler has a pathological hatred of anything Linn or Naim. They obviously must have had some sort of contratemps in the past, because he becomes mentally unhinged whenever their names are mentioned.

Mention Marantz and he can‘t stop the sycophantic platitudes. Mention Ken Ishiwata and he loses the plot.
Reviews are opinions.  I let my ears be the ultimate judge.  For reviewers, it is best to be totally independent of the manufacturers which means subscription supported.... It is very difficult to come by hence they need advertising revenue.
Also reviewers comments and opinions maybe somewhat colored by the benefit received from manufacturers who simply gift the product being evaluated to the reviewer.When is the last time you have read a negative review of any component.
Sad to see so much hate on the site coming from consumers who think that the first qualifier into their world is price paid!
True, it’s the mag that gives the full gamut of measurements for "those can can understand" them, that "can" backup the reviewers listening comments. And those measurements can be linked to, to show the non technical here what their problems are when they ask for help..

And it’s usually this magazine’s "hateful ones" that have no idea about measurements and usually believe in "snake oil" and voodoo to fix their problems.

If not your left with just what the reviewer heard and listen to him waxing lyrical with his poetic licence like in the Absolute Sounds do, and asked to believe it.

Cheers George
New Stereophile review of the  VAC Sigma 170i IQ integrated amplifier

See this is a bit of a dud, as the measurements show, severe tone tone control mimic, on the 8ohm tap 6.5db variation from flat!!! with simple Kantor simulated speaker loading, and only gives 11.5w tested, and the lower taps will be even far less wattage.

Bet Absolute Sounds would wax lyrical over this, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but Klipsch-Horn owners. 

Cheers George
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 stereophile was great when I first got it back in the mid-80s it was the size of a Reader's Digest and this was the first time I read in a magazine or they were reviewing a very expensive piece of equipment and they actually said it was a piece of junk and don't buy it I have yet to hear them criticize any component they reviewed since then they have turned into stereo review and to be quite honest with you I don't trust anything they say
I was surprised to find that Stereophile gives a three-year lifetime to these products.  If there is truly a reference product with a great design that does not need revision every three years, you lose.  You won't see it on this list.  The other choice is the manufacturer has to re-submit the product for a new review which is not too interesting.  These reviews are specifically looking for what is new and interesting. 
I have some direct experience to offer on this.  Absolute Sound, Stereophile (and several other online magazines) have reviewed and recommended our our ATC products without one dollar of advertising- ever.  While all of us want to make the link between reviews and revenue (I know I do with car magazines) they really are not as related as one might think.  Magazines aren't some collection of people in an office somewhere, plotting how they move forward in big editorial meetings.   They are a company that hires writers that likely work from home writing something they think people will want to read.  They want to read it bad enough they will subscribe-that's really how it is.  The people I know in the magazine business, pro side mostly, none of them are getting rich or making anything more than a living.  My observation is the people left in it are sincere and love the business of audio.   

We've had several products make Stereophile's list and Absolute Sounds' list.  I'm always really proud of the gear ATC engineers and builds because I know it IS unique; I'm thrilled that someone besides me recognizes that.  I know for a FACT no one ran an ad or series of ads to get that recommendation.   Since there's no advertising in it for them, the suspected motive of rewarding advertisers is clearly not the reason its on the list.  Someone actually liked it.   

Lone Mountain Audio
ATC Importer
I think it's interesting that nobody has mentioned the obvious - that the sound quality of modern gear is getting closer and closer. To us mortals with normal hearing modern components sound very similar to each other. In other words, they mostly all sound good.

OK, I know that there are those of you who can hear a dramatic difference in cables and that one solid state boutique amplifier "blows away" another SS boutique amplifier of similar price. It does not surprise me, however, that the Schiit amp with a well designed circuit path using good quality parts, and sold direct to avoid a whole level of markup, sounds really good. Did it deserve a Class A rating? Maybe, maybe not, but I trust the reviewer that this is a good sounding amp.

I've read Stereophile and TAS for decades. One criticism I hear is that there are no longer any bad reviews. Stereophile has directly addressed this. Their position is that they don't want to waste space on a bad sounding gear - there's more than enough excellent gear to fill their magazine. I also suspect that it is getting harder to find a truly bad sounding piece of equipment.

Lastly, I happen to be one of those people who have assembled a system of mostly Stereophile Class A and B components. The heart of my system is 90's vintage (Krell, Thiel) and part of the reason I bought these components was because they were well reviewed in the audio press. The idea that a system composed of Stereophile Class A components is somehow inferior or sounds bad or that I am an audio idiot because I didn't buy non-reviewed esoteric gear is flatly offensive. The level of arrogance, self importance, and narcissism on the part of a few of the regular posters on this board is truly amazing.
I think the reviews in these publications CAN be useful if one picks and chooses what to pay attention to. Objective discussion of features is something I'll note. "This competes with <fill in the blank> 3 times as expensive!" I will disregard. I find message boards and forums to be much more useful as I get a variety of opinions to look at. And I couldn't care less about measurements - I never even look at them - the only measurement I care about is that provided by my ears and brain. 
I was more curious about the fact that the Marantz 30 integrated made it to their class A list at $2499 - this is a class D integrated without gan fet technology...maybe there’s something special about it or is this just a Marantz loving reviewer. Always find it funny that they like to put the KEF Ls50 in class A and the KEF Reference In class B lol - I’ve heard them both extensively, including the Meta version. The reference is for sure and by far the better sounding speaker. 
Stereophile was great when I first got it back in the mid-80s it was the size of a Reader’s Digest and this was the first time I read in a magazine or they were reviewing a very expensive piece of equipment and they actually said it was a piece of junk and don’t buy it

"they actually said it was a piece of junk and don’t buy it"

They basically still "say it", but with measurements (far less liable) with this new VAC Sigma 170i IQ integrated amplifier review.

But "say it" with the measurements instead, if readers can understand them, which to me is even better.
Because if you just "say it" your just taking the reviewers word for it like Absolute Sounds.

Cheers George
I've read Stereophile and TAS for decades. One criticism I hear is that there are no longer any bad reviews. Stereophile has directly addressed this.
Stereophile leaves it up to the reader to make sense of the measurements, so he/she can make their own decision (less liable) if it's junk or not for his or her use.
Measurements don't lie or do poetic licence.

Cheers George
I do read Stereophile. I do find objective statements that make sense. Also you learn particular reviewer's preferences and incorporate that filter in reading them, though a mag's reviewing guidelines help minimize the bias. 
Hearing equipment (best in your own system) is the most enlightening review. When I've done that and I read a reviewer who matches my impressions then validation of the product review occurs.
The mags choose items of audiophile interest to review. They cover a lot of ground. But they actually review only a smidgen of available products. Thus their "recommended" lists only draw from reviewed products.
Several folks here apparently believe they are in on a big secret that ads buy good reviews. I personally haven’t found that to be true. And if it were, what do you think the people at Big High End Advertiser think when gear costing 90 percent less gets the same “A” ranking? Isn’t that a problem, too? Do you really think the staffs at Stereophile or The Absolute Sound accept kickbacks? That the whole thing is a con? Or could it be that people just have different opinions and hear sounds differently. The alternative is to maintain that you yourself are the font of all right thinking. Ever had a salesman diss your preferred model? “Don’t believe those idiots at Consumer Reports, listen to me!,” is his pitch. As if he only has your interests at heart. Folks, didn’t we just through the “Fake News” phase? The only faking going on there are the charlatans that want you to accept their “alternative facts”.
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