Who Are You?
Table 1 About You
|Annual Income of Household||Percent over|
|$200,000 or more||4.8%|
|Less than $15,000||2.9%||97.1%|
Average = $80,700, Median $66,000
|Postgraduate study without degree||9,9%|
|Graduated from 4-year college||24.1%|
When it comes to the age range of the magazine's readers, again nothing major has changed since 1988, babyboomers making up the bulk of the readership, just as they do the magazine's staff. Since the earlier survey, however, we have acquired slightly more readers at the older end of the age scale, the above50 group swelling from 15% to 21%, and the mean age increasing from 39 to just over 41.
The older you are, the more disposable income you have, and the average household income has also increased since 1988. One in four Stereophile readers has a household income of $100,000 and upward, compared with 11.5% four years ago. (For reference, Mediamark's statistics for US adults as a whole indicate that just 4.4% fall into this category.) 55.8% earn $50,000 or more compared with 47.4% in 1988, or 25.6% of US adults. This influx of high-income audiophiles raises the average household income from $58,900 to $80,700, with the median incomethat which splits the population into equal halvesnow $66,000. The fine statistical print reveals that 78% of Stereophile readers own their own homes, while nearly 72% hold professional or managerial positions compared with 26.8% for all US adults. As might be expected from their career profile, Stereophile readers are well-educated, 42.6% having studied for or obtained a postgraduate degree.
Table 2: About Your System
|What is the appproximate total value of your hi-fi equipment||Percent Over|
|More than $25,000||5.6%|
Average value = $9,100
What components have you bought within the last 12 months?
|Any in-car component||24.3%|
|Cabinet, rack, stand||15.4%|
|Projection TV (>=35")||2.3%|
|Digital recorder (DAT)||2.2%|
How much do you plan to spend on hi Ii equipment in the next 12 months
|(if planning to buy)||Percent over
|More than $5,000||7.7%|
|Less than $500||17.7%||82.3%|
What factors do you think important when reaching a buying decision
|Quality of construction||9.4%|
|Reputation of dealer||4.4%|
|Other (warranty, brand, etc.)||13.2%|
It comes as no surprise that people who read Stereophile buy a lot of hi-fi equipment. The first list in Table 2 shows how much readers have invested in sound-reproduction components. Whereas 49.7% of 1988 readers had systems worth more $5000 or more, with an average value of $7125, 60.4% of 1992 readers have systems worth $5000 or more, resulting in an average value of $9100 and a median value of $6300. Certainly I feel justified in including high-priced components in our "Equipment Reports" section, but as James Rock points out on pages 33 and 35, Stereophile doesn't forget those readers who are temporarily strapped for funds. Even given our love for megabuck equipment, we still review more components costing less than $1000 than any other US magazine except Stereo Review, and then only just. I suspect that the real complaint is that there is no magazine doing as thorough a reviewing job as Stereophile that concentrates on inexpensive equipment.
Our readers were heavy frequenters of specialist retailers in 1991, buying 15,000 pairs of loudspeakers, 14,500 CD players, 12,000 power amplifiers, and 9500 preamplifiers (footnote 5). And one in three bought interconnects and speaker cables within the last 12 months. More than four out of five readers intended to buy a piece of hi-fi equipment within the next 12 months, with an average planned expenditure of $2154, giving a total amount to be spent on hi-fi gear in 1992 of nearly $110 million. Stereophile's readers also invest heavily in video and in-car systems, with half of them indicating that they planned to spend, on average, $1300 on video components in the next year. But don't worry. I know that while you may buy video gear, you don't want to read about it in Stereophile!
And sound quality is the predominant factor in their hi-fi purchasing decisionsas it should be!being almost 9 times as important as price. Note, however, the low ranking given to "design." Advertisers who get hung up on talking about the technical story behind their products' fascias please take note.
Table 3: About Your Music
What is your musical taste?
|Symphonies & concertos||73.0%|
|Urban contemporary (rap)||6.0%|
What types of recordings did you personally buy in the last 12 months?
|Medium||Percent who bought||Average bought||Total bought|
The musical tastes in Table 3 were compiled by asking the survey's respondents what categories of recorded music they had purchased in the last 12 months. The love of classical music comes as no surprise, and rock and jazz are not far behind. But who would have suspected that 6% of our readers would enjoy rap? Or that one quarter were into country?
Stereophile readers spend, on average, 11 hours a week listening to their systems (down from 15 hours in 1988, however), and, like the magazine's contributors, are voracious record consumers. All but 1.5% bought some form of recorded music in the 12 months leading up to the survey. With an average of 57 CDs purchased by 93% of readers and 60 LPs by 39%, this gives the astonishing figures of 3.24 million CDs and 1.44 million LPs bought by the magazine's readers every year!
Table 4: About Stereophile
How long have you been reading Stereophile?
|Less than 1 year||22.4%|
|10 years or more||5.6%|
What other magazines do you read?
|Publication||Percent of readers who subscribe||Percent who formerly subscribed|
|The $ensible $ound||2.5%||3.6%|
|Car Audio & Electronics||1.6%||0.1%|
|The Audio Critic||1.5%||4.2%|
|Car Stereo Review||1.3%||2.3%|
|High Performance Review||1.3%||3.1%|
|Hi-Fi News & Record Review||1.2%||3.6%|
|American Record Guide||1.0%||0.9%|
|Any of the above||67.6%||58.2%|
What magazine do you rank first in interest and value in providing information about hi-fl equipment?
|Publication||Ranked first||Ranked second|
|The Abso!ute Sound||11.4%||33.1%|
Even though Stereophile's circulation has grown, when Table 4 is compared with the equivalent table in the 1988 survey, its readers appear to be loyal, with nearly 50% having read the magazine for three or more years. Maybe our "Letters" column allows them to let off steam! And to the 3400 or so people who have been enjoying (I assume) what we have to say for 10 or more yearsThank You!
And another thank you for ranking Stereophile so far ahead of everyone else when it comes to providing information about hi-fi components. Perhaps this is why the second list in Table 4 reveals there to be only a relatively small overlap between Stereophile and any one of its competitors, even though two-thirds of you do regularly subscribe to at least one other title. Although I haven't extracted these statistics in the tables, Sam Tellig, J. Gordon Holt, and I still appear to be the most popular of the magazine's writers, closely followed by Larry Archibald, Robert Harley, Dick Olsher, Lewis Lipnick, and Thomas J. Norton. And there is no mistaking what you like in Stereophile: reports and opinions on hi-fi hardware. Equipment reviews, "Recommended Components," and "Sam's Space" are the most popular features, though I am gratified to see Richard Lehnert's "Record Reviews" section right up there too.
Finally, having just returned from Stereophile's High End Hi-Fi Show in Los Angeles, I'm now tallying the "Best Sound at the Show" forms. The winner of the promised trip to Santa Fe is Bryan Thorpe, of Upland, CA.John Atkinson
Footnote 1: Stereophile's ABC-audited circulation for the second six months of 1991 was 61,047. [For the second six months of 2009, it was 73,810.]
Footnote 2: 1000 postage-paid survey forms were mailed in the summer of 1991 to a random sampling of the magazine's subscribers on an every-"nth"-name basis, with 702 returned. This high response is extremely unusual, noted Mediamark.
Footnote 3: The detailed results of the 1988 Stereophile survey were listed in Vol.11 No.10, October 1988.
Footnote 4: "Dispatches From the Front," Vol.14 No.10, October 1991.
Footnote 5: Numbers extrapolated from the magazine's audited circulation of 61,047 and the 702 returned survey forms.