At this year’s “Reviewers on Reviewing” seminar at AXPONA 2023, moderated by our own Scot Hull, Roy Hall of Music Hall rose from the audience and commented on the importance of reviews on high-end audio products. “To hell with them,” he replied, making the solid point that Music Hall products sell whether they get good reviews or not. If one of his products gets a bad review, to hell with them. If it gets a good review, to hell with them. The audience, familiar with Roy’s juggernaut of a personality in this industry, laughed accordingly–as did I. And as a reviewer, I also tend to agree with him.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
The very next day I visited a familiar room populated with industry friends–Amped, Acoustique Quality and, for the last few shows, Music Hall. After Roy plied me with three shots of single-malt, he asked me if I wanted to review a Music Hall turntable. “I thought ‘to hell with reviewers!'” Roy laughed–I’m sure he wasn’t aware that I was in the audience at the seminar. But the answer to his question, of course, is yes. I want to review a Music Hall turntable. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.
I’ve never reviewed a Music Hall product. I’ve heard some of the first turntables Roy sold under the Music Hall name, back in the ’90s, and they were solid, affordable and good-sounding rigs that competed with Pro-Ject and Rega and a few others. In this system with Amped class D amplification, and the brilliant Acoustique Quality Passion speakers from the Czech Republic, Roy’s new direct-drive Stealth turntable sounded downright excellent.
The Music Hall Stealth turntable is direct drive, and comes fitted with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge for just $1,695. But let’s back up a few years. I once gained some notoriety for dissing direct drive turntables as a whole, and then I had to modify my comments to reflect that direct drive turntables can sound excellent–but at a cost. I’ve heard and loved analog rigs such as the $4,000 Technics SL-1200G and the $15,000 Brinkmann Taurus and some of the recent models from VPI. But I may have to amend my comments once more for this $1,700 DD rig, complete with arm and a pretty fabulous MM cartridge, which sounded very nice to my ears at AXPONA 2023.
So yes, I want to review the Music Hall Stealth, even if it means to hell with me.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.
Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.