50 Years of Stereophile!

Fifty years ago this month, Vol.1 No.1, Issue No.1 of The Stereophile, published, edited, and mostly written by J. Gordon Holt out of Wallingford, Pennsylvania, hit the newsstands. Gordon had worked for two major audio magazines, High Fidelity and HiFi/Stereo Review (later renamed Stereo Review), and had been disgusted by those magazines' pandering to advertisers. Not only was The Stereophile going to tell it like it was, it was going to judge audio components by listening to them—a heretical idea in those days of meters and measurements. "Dammit," said Gordon, who died in 2009, "if nobody else will report what an audio component sounds like, I'll do it myself!"

The magazine you hold in your hands is issue number 394; unusually, there have been only two editors in Stereophile's 50 years: J. Gordon Holt, who put together the first 82 issues, and me, responsible for Issue 83, August 1986, onward.

But Stereophile has always been a team effort. That team includes Natalie Brown Baca, who has been in charge of the magazine's appearance for almost all of the issues we have published since fall 1995; Eric Swanson, who has shot almost all the cover photographs since January 1994; Pip Tannenbaum, who puts the magazine together in Adobe InDesign and has been with the magazine, on and off, since the October 1997 issue; music editor Robert Baird, who celebrated his first 16 years with the magazine in September; webmaster Jon Iverson, who on December 1 celebrates his first 15 years of producing www.stereophile.com; assistant editor, columnist, and popular blogger Stephen Mejias, who in this issue contributes his first full equipment report, of the VPI Traveler turntable (p.66); editorial assistant Ariel Bitran, who celebrated his first anniversary this year, and brings a Generation Y sensibility to our content; Richard Lehnert, who has copyedited almost every word you have read in Stereophile since July 1985, and was the magazine's first music editor; Art Dudley, who celebrated his first decade as the magazine's Editor-at-Large at the beginning of this year; erstwhile Audio Cheapskate Sam Tellig, who has provoked and prodded readers and manufacturers alike since July 1984; Michael Fremer, whose "Analog Corner" column has promoted the sonic benefits of LPs since July 1995; and John Marks and Kalman Rubinson, who have contributed regular columns to the magazine since, respectively, May 2001 and June 2003.

There has also been longevity on Stereophile's business side: Publisher Keith Pray has been with the magazine since 1999, and advertising representative Laura LoVecchio since 1988. Nor is that to forget the newest members of the team, sales coordinator Rosemarie Torcivia and advertising manager Ed DiBenedetto. I will also use this opportunity to thank our most recent classified-advertising sales manager, my sister-in-law, Helené Stoner, who, sadly, passed away in August.

And I haven't forgotten the huge contributions made to Stereophile over the past five decades by our writers and reviewers—not only the present team of Jim Austin, Brian Damkroger, Robert Deutsch, Larry Greenhill, Steve Guttenberg, Fred Kaplan, David Lander, Erick Lichte, Paul Messenger, Wes Phillips, Robert J. Reina, Markus Sauer, and Jason Victor Serinus, but those who have moved on to other ventures: Lisa Astor, Arnis Balgalvis, Christopher Breunig, Lonnie Brownell, Martin Colloms, Anthony H. Cordesman, Shannon Dickson, Alan Edelstein, Jack English, Corey Greenberg, Robert Harley, Muse Kastanovich, Ken Kessler, Guy Lemcoe, Lewis Lipnick, the late Peter W. Mitchell, Thomas J. Norton, Russ Novak, Dick Olsher, George Reisch, the late Rick Rosen, Don Scott, Jonathan Scull, Bill Sommerwerck, Chip Stern, Steven Stone, Peter van Willensward, the late Steven W. Watkinson, Kristen Weitz, and Barry Willis. And on the music side, Tom Conrad, Robert Levine, Fred Mills, and John Swenson deserve a special shout-out.

My thanks to all who have contributed to our first half century of success, but especially to my friend and business partner, Larry Archibald, who owned Stereophile from 1982 to 1998.

Ten years ago we published a 40th-anniversary article that gave a year-by-year account of Stereophile's evolution and growth. Since then, there have been many more changes, some of them evolutionary: 2011 saw the introduction of an electronic edition from online publisher Zinio, followed earlier this year by an Apple Newsstand edition and a free "Recommended Components" iPad app. Other changes have been revolutionary—in the past 18 months we've launched three sister websites: InnerFidelity, edited by Tyll Hertsens and devoted to personal listening; AudioStream, edited by Michael Lavorgna and devoted to getting the best from computer audio; and the self-explanatory AnalogPlanet, edited by Michael Fremer.

And some have involved the world outside of audio. In 2004, we moved from our office close to Manhattan's Union Square to new digs on Madison Avenue, close to Grand Central Terminal. In November 2002, Stereophile was owned by Primedia, who had purchased EMAP's US-based magazines in August 2001, and thus became the second-largest magazine publisher in the US. In June 2007, Primedia, weighed down by debt, announced that it was selling all of its consumer magazines to Source Interlink Companies, a major distributor of magazines and DVDs. However, Source Interlink, a publicly owned company, was heavily leveraged, and went into voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2009, emerging a month later as a privately held corporation with much-reduced debt, and with its magazines—including Stereophile, Home Theater, Shutterbug, Motor Trend, and Automobile—now published by a subsidiary, Source Interlink Media LLC.

Yes, there have been many changes over the past 50 years, but Stereophile's core mission remains what it was in 1962: report on how an audio component sounds without the reviewer's final value judgment being based on anything other than that sound quality. Please lift your glasses to the next 50 years—as long as people are listening to recorded music, there will be a Stereophile to help them get the best from it!—John Atkinson

COMMENTS
370lbgorilla's picture

Stereophile in my opinion, is only a shell of its former self.  Over the years it has become just one of many magazines/sites that panders to audio manufacturers, and is a far cry from the hard-hitting, warts-n-all, type publication that it once was.

I can't remember the last time a product was actually criticized severely within the pages of Stereophile.  Oh sure, there is the formula you have fine-tuned to the point of being impotent, amongst your reviewers that will temper the otherwise glowing rave that almost every piece of gear and every loudspeaker you review seems to garner.  It goes something like this... this is the absolute greatest piece of equipment you could ever imagine and I am totally blown away by it!!!.... but I do have to criticize the fact that there was some dust on the rear of the enclosure and a spelling mistake on page 12 of the manual.  So be warned!

Give me a break.  To compare what you guys are putting out today, to the vision and integrity that J. Gordon Holt had (and stood for) is nothing short of blasphemy.

I gave up my subscription to Stereophile years ago and haven't looked back.  There are far better choices both in print, and online, for the audio enthusiast to read in order to get a solid, impartial, and warts-n-all honest view of high-end audio and the hobby of audio as a whole.

The only thing this post has done for me (and probably has done for so many reading this) is make me feel a little sad, and long for the days when Stereophile actually stood for something in audio.

I do spend time on your site but sadly it isn't for the audio reviews themselves, but for the nice pictures that allow me to see product I might not otherwise see.  So to me, you've become the Stereo Review of audio.  I used to subscribe to that magazine simply because it was so inexpensive and provided the basic information on pieces of gear, along with nice pictures.  I never once considered it a valid source of information for deciding whether or not a piece of gear was worth buying or not.

If you ever stop being the magazine that recommends every single piece of gear it reviews, and starts giving its readers honest, and deserving "real" criticism, then I will subscribe to the printed magazine once again. 

Until then, thanks for the free content, because that is all I'm prepared to pay for it.

GeorgeHolland's picture

Amen to that. It's just become a meaningless magazine that likes everything and allows silly snake oil products to be "reviewed" by, lets face it, not the last word in technicaly educated people. Just because they throw in some speaker measurements doesn't excuse the rest of the subjective pandering to cable, power cord and tweeks that do nothing in my opinion.

Glotz's picture

Your words are utter tripe.

tmsorosk's picture

I take it you gentlemen read the mag that you are able to form such a strong opinion?

              " power cord and tweeks that do nothing "

     You can't hear the difference a good power cord makes ?

     There's been plenty of changes, but many have been positive. Stereophile has shared in molding my systems, and to that I must say thanks. I've purchased more pieces of audio equipment than I can recall, many were recommended in the pages of Stereophile, I honestly can't recall a single time where I felt a review mislead me. That alone makes it worthwhile to me.

Happy 50th

    

 

                                                                                          Regards

GeorgeHolland's picture

"You can't hear the difference a good power cord makes ?"

 

THIS is what is wrong with today's Stereophile readers. Thank you for being a prime example of the uneducated gullible audiophile pesona. Understand I'm not being insulting, just being accurate. Yes I have read Stereophile, you think we just come on here and point out the faults without knowing about it?

 "I've purchased more pieces of audio equipment than I can recall, many were recommended in the pages of Stereophile,"

Well congratulations on owning so many necessary pieces of audio equipment. Sounds like you need to see someone about this compulsive buying disorder?

"I honestly can't recall a single time where I felt a review mislead me."

Hmmmmm then you must have bought some of the exotic snake oil products also like resonating bowls, rainbow foil and blocks of wood?

mrplankton2u's picture

Really?

 

The "Editor in Chief" said above:

"Stereophile's core mission remains what it was in 1962: report on how an audio component sounds without the reviewer's final value judgment being based on anything other than that sound quality"

 

The actual evidence contained in the magazine and on this site suggests the opposite. For example, in the following cable "review":

 

http://www.stereophile.com/cables/300mit/index.html

 

the "reviewer" said:

 

"The MITs also seemed to open up the spaces between images more than other cables, and to move the boundaries of the soundstage a bit farther outward."

 

The "review" contained no measurements, no specifications - absolutely nothing concrete or scientifically based that could be independently verified. In other words, the entire "review" was pure BS. As with all of these types of "reviews", there isn't even an attempt at explaining how an aspect of the product actually influences "soundstage boundaries" or "spaces between images". The "reviewer" simply asserts that it does. Is it the plastic jacketing that does this? Is it the black box that comes with the product? Nope. Nothing. Nada.

 

This isn't a review. It's pure, unadulterated snake oil at its best. I can't speak for the "integrity" of Stereophile's past. But I most certainly can say it is seriously lacking in many respects today. 

Signed,

mrplankton2u

(Criticizer-in-Chief)

tmsorosk's picture

Georgeholland,,  

After being involved in audio and music for fourty years, and having more than one residence and system and being a bit of a collector, would you not expect a person to have owned many pieces of fine audio equipment ?

   " understand I'm not being insulting, just being accurate "

Well , you sound insulting and irate , please try to relax and enjoy this fine hobby and this fine audio publication as I have . Whatever personal problems your experiencing will pass . I sincerely hope you have a better day tomorrow.

GeorgeHolland's picture

If it's so fine, then it should have lasted longer? Collector? oh one of those that listen to their equipment rather than the music. I got it now.

jgossman's picture

The urge to criticize. Some people just can't help it.  But some humility is in order.  How well do YOU do when asked to work with 20 or so people to put out a generally well recieved product - every month and for 50(!) years.  Stop being ninnies.

And not to put to fine a point on it, but have you heard a TRUELY bad piece of audio equipment, made by one of the major 10-20 audio perveyors in the last 5-10 years?  From 500 to 50,000 clams, it's a really great time to be an audiophile.  Maybe the reason for so many glowing reviews is that as audio has moved from an art to a well studied science (and don't you ninnies doubt, there's ALOT of science in modern tube and SS design), with just a bit of art in "voicing" components to the percieved audience, is because the stuff is mostly very good.

Congrats, Stereophile.

John Atkinson's picture

jgossman wrote:
And not to put to fine a point on it, but have you heard a TRUELY bad piece of audio equipment, made by one of the major 10-20 audio perveyors in the last 5-10 years?  From 500 to 50,000 clams, it's a really great time to be an audiophile.

Yes it is!

jgossman wrote:
Maybe the reason for so many glowing reviews is that as audio has moved from an art to a well studied science (and don't you ninnies doubt, there's ALOT of science in modern tube and SS design), with just a bit of art in "voicing" components to the percieved audience, is because the stuff is mostly very good.

That is an excellent point. There is also the fact that, as I explained in my October 2004 "As We See It" - www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1004awsi/index.html - "Given that we can only scratch the surface of the universe of products offered audiophiles, the goal of our reviews is not to try to review a representative selection of all the audio components that exist. Instead, we do our best to preselect components for coverage that have the best chance of performing well. (Once the review process is underway, however, a full description of a product's performance is published, warts and all.)"

The more we succeed at this goal, the more it seems to enrage those who don't actually read the magazine.

jgossman wrote:
Congrats, Stereophile.

Thank you. It just saddens me that people who don't read the magazine nevertheless feel that their uninformed opinions matter as much as yours. So it goes.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture

JA you never cease to amaze me at how you manage to say so little yet take up so much space writing it.

"Thank you. It just saddens me that people who don't read the magazine nevertheless feel that their uninformed opinions matter as much as yours. So it goes"

Don't read the magazine? Uninformed opinions? That in itself says more about you than the readers and the "uninformed". Once again you ignore valid points and concentrate on back patting the sheep who line up to get fed your vapid "reviews".

So now it's a science instead of an art? Didn't you just give a lecture at RMAF where you stated that recording is an art and not a science? I guess recording is voodoo while building a resonating bowl is a science?  Funny stuff, but that's always you JA, never admitting to doing anything wrong and defending yourself to the bitter end regardless of the evidence.

JohnnyR's picture

Talk about sucking up, So if the equipment made today is so perfect, why does JA bother to run those extensive tests on amps and speakers? You are saying why bother to test or listen at all if everyone makes perfect components.Okay that's official now folks, no need for testing or reviewing by Stereophile, close down the printing presses and sell that testing equipment and turn off the lights before you leave.

Duhhhhhhhh you think we don't know that it takes science and the real world physics to design and biuld a component? It's Stereophile reviewers that claim it's an art all the time when it comes to cables and tweeks and snake oil products that still get glowing reviews on here month after month. Stop being a ninny yourself.

mrplankton2u's picture

I would add that it's becoming increasingly clear that Mr Atkinson - Stereophile's "Editor-in-Chief" (some might argue, self annointed Commander-in-Chief) is refusing to address the obvious problems and complaints about the snake oil published in Stereophile that he and others have been trying to pass off as "reviews". 

A TIME TESTED AND WELL WORN TACTIC OF THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE A LEGITIMATE, SUPPORTABLE ARGUMENT IS TO ATTACK THE PERSON (S) WHO ARE ASKING VALID QUESTIONS THAT CHALLENGE THE AUTHENTICITY OF THEIR CLAIMS AND POSITIONS.

John Atkinson is clearly guilty of this He has been questioned over and over again as to the different standards Stereophile uses to "review" product. He refuses to directly address the discrepancies - instead questioning how "informed" the people are who are challenging his credibility and that of Stereophile. 

As a designer/builder of speakers, I would never agree to a review of anything I build by Stereophile because Stereophile can't be trusted to be objective and honest. Stereophile is clearly beholden to its advertisers who rely on it to help peddle a good deal of snake oil. The claim of 50 years of honorable, authentic service to the audiophile community is becoming a joke - unless of course, you happen to like worshipping snake oil.

JR_Audio's picture

Congratulations

Congratulations to Stereophile and to John Atkinson and his team for all this great work and effort. Stereophile is for me one of the most informative and with knowledge written Hifi magazine.

All these destructive and negative comments in the last weeks, for example pointing to nearly every RMAF post, are making me sick. If those posters think they could do it better, they should do it.

It does take an immense amount of work and passion, to do all the writings, reporting from shows, testing, listening and measuring HiFi products and I respect this a lot.

So go ahead Stereophile and I am looking forward reading every new issue.

Best Regards

Juergen

JohnnyR's picture

......LOTS better. Care to fund our endeavour? You surely have loads of spare cash lying around. Thanks in advance. You do know that The Audio Critic did just that for years and years, albeit with a horrible track record of getting their issues out on time. It's one of the most honorable audio magazines ever produced along with the old Audio Magazine. Too bad that the gullible seem to want a flashy glossy magazine chock full of adverts and snake oil reviews but then again that's why they are called gullible.

Steve Eddy's picture

"Drop the 'the,' just... Stereophile."?

se

 

 

John Atkinson's picture

Steve Eddy wrote:
So who was the Sean Parker who suggested "Drop the 'the,' just... Stereophile."?

That was J. Gordon Holt, who dropped "The" from the magazine's name in Vol.4 No.1, Issue No.37. Conspiracy theorists should note that this issue, published in December 1977, was the first to include ads from manufacturers.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture

.......are conspiracy theorists now? *chuckle*  Good one, don't quit your day job, whatever that might really be.

Steve Eddy's picture

Thanks, John!

se

Poor Audiophile's picture

It's either how bad the mag is(which includes how dishonest JA & the reviewers are)  or how stupid people are for using tweaks, or whatever!

I always laugh at rants like " double blind testing is used on new medicines so they should be used for audio equipment"- huh?! Oh yeah. It's "science". Should I bow down?

To me the bottom line is: if you don't like the mag, don't read it. If you don't like certain equipment or tweaks or whatever, don't buy them! Also, it's none of your business if I do!! MYOB as to how other people spend their money & time!!!

If I want your opinion I'll ask for it!!! If I want to spend my hard earned money on something, that's my choice! I laugh at the really expensive equipment, however, if some folks want to spend their money on that, that's up to them.

Overall I like the mag & this site & appreciate all the hard work that goes into both! While I do know a bit about electronics, some of the technical stuff goes over my head, but that's ok as there is still lots to enjoy! 

BTW, I'm not ashamed to admit I subscribed to SR for several years starting when I was in HS(1977). I learned a fair amount from them. However, Stereophile is NOT like them!!

JohnnyR's picture

So you laugh at DBTs? Ever taken one? How about a simple SBT?  NO? How about just having a friend switch out cables and you guess which is which?  Hmmmmmm I'm guessing you never did that either. Yeah who needs pesky science muddling up your brain when you can let Stereophile decide for you.

My my you are a bit touchy about someone even crticising the sacred cow called Stereophile.You don't seem to have any problem bowing down to that golden idol though.

When you post something online, like you just did, you open yourself to other's opinions so stop being so demanding sheesh.

Yeah Stereophile sure isn't like a lot of things, you got that right.

mrplankton2u's picture

This is not "gang up on Stereophile day". Stereophile has done some things well - it's speaker reviews on average have been accurate. But that credibility is seriously undermined when it publishes "reviews" on other types of questionable products that are nothing more than BS. You obviously think this hurts no one. On the contrary, if you look at any manufacturer exhibiting products at various trade shows, every exhibit includes ridiculously priced cables, power conditioners, and the like Those that dare exhibit without this trash get lousy or no press from trade reviewers like Stereophile or worse yet, they get ridiculed for presenting equipment with "crappy cables" or cheap electronics. Whether you realize it or not, this has a serious detrimental effect on the small "high end" business. It supplants the merit system with the belief and con game system. It encourages more payola for favorable press and acts as a dissincentive for companies that believe in doing things the hard way - advancement and improvement through hard work. Yes, fools will buy the junk and people like you will laugh. But the negative impact regarding what is rewarded and what is shunned in the industry is no laughing matter. Inevitably, prices go up without any guarantee that what you're getting for your money is commensurate with the cost.  And that's a prescription for an imploding business model which is what we've been seeing now for years.

anonymous2013's picture

congrat  on the years I had the pleasure of talking to Holt a few times.

I wish I had years 1 thru 10 in my hand to read here at the stereo casa.

careful with the negarive comments on posting

your profiles will disappear and comments evaporate into thin air.

JA and the corp staff monitor comments and delete profiles and comments

they dont like  "its in our power to do so...."

 

reminds me of the reviews where the have slammed perfectly good equipment

John Atkinson's picture

anonymous2013 wrote:
congrat  on the years I had the pleasure of talking to Holt a few times.

I wish I had years 1 thru 10 in my hand to read here at the stereo casa.

Thank you. It was an privilege not only to be able to take over from Gordon in 1986 but also to work beside him for the next 13 years.

anonymous2013 wrote:
careful with the negarive comments on posting

your profiles will disappear and comments evaporate into thin air.

Not without warning, please note.

anonymous2013 wrote:
JA and the corp staff monitor comments and delete profiles and comments

Again, we don't delete profiles without public warnings. With comments, we operate a liberal policy, but we don't tolerate libelous or racist postings and other hate speech.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

anonymous2013's picture

YOU DELETED MY PREVIOUS PROFILE AND MY ALL COMMENTS WITHOUT WARNING

THERE WAS NO HATE SPEECH AND NO LIBEL

 

THERE WAS NO WARNINGS PUBLIC OR PRIVATE

 

John Atkinson's picture

anonymous2013 wrote:
YOU DELETED MY PREVIOUS PROFILE AND MY ALL COMMENTS WITHOUT WARNING

Unless it's a spammer, we do contact all posters whose accounts we decide to delete. My apologies if we did so without warning you. When was your previous account deleted? There were some glitches when we switched to the current content management system in November 2010.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

anonymous2013's picture

by the way JA  my previous posts comments and profile were quite funny in a trollish way and nothing as mean spiritied as many of the posts seem to be in this article.

I wish I had saved them (and now will begin to do so  I did not know you should save your posts and comments for fear of deletion)

I wish I had saved them because I had actually said a lot of good stuff!! 

bascially I think you have done a good job over the years. ( I have boxes of old issues in the closest)  I went to my first Stereo Shows in 1973 or 1974. 

we are in the golden age of being an audiophile because all the cadillac very high price equipment you have reviewed over all the past 30 years is now available on craigs list and audiophile for a dollar and a song. (and usually still in good working order)

by the way I was a (pdf) subscrier a year or so ago and had to contact the office repeatedly about the order then I renewed and that order was mixed up and I had to contact the office 4 or 5 times about that and It was never fixed and I just had my credit card cancel your order since you would'could not fix it.

I have suggesed before and here again
Old Archive Items.  dont publish the 20 year articles on the front page of the blog
the blog and news should only be current items.  great you have 2 or 4 old old articles you want people to see.  dont publish them on the blog as news. make a blog entry to archives and say  hey guys we have republished the following 2 or 4 articles. I and many get tired of all the re hash re hash of all the old review. I could care less about a review of a 20 year old levinson product (unless I have found one on craigs list for $300 and want to read up on it.)  (then I do want to find that article by searching the archives)

since you are not interested much in old low price audiophile equipment I am thinking of starting blog where people all over usa can publish and share current audiophile finds .  (*   hey guys just found this on craigs list  Vandersteen 2CE series 2 used okla city $240  see link )

I am 58 and strangely enought like classical opera jazz and TRANCE and Electronica  I am surprised you dont talk  about or review music like they play on www.somafm.com (my favorite radio station)  My channels Tags Trip Trance and the famous  SPACE STATION SOMA. 

i GUESS THIS should be a letter to the editor rather than a reply to a comment.
I think you should have a regular huge letter to the editor column here on the websiite.   then a lot of the really bad trolls (not me) could post there in that column
and keep the comments on products and blog columns like this more civil

i AM THE guy that found the robert johnson 78s mention in the robert johnson write up by (hartley?)

 

Ariel Bitran's picture

what was your username?

when was it deleted?

this seems like an error. We only delete spam accounts. If we delete a user account, it is only after much deliberation and communication with the user.

jgossman's picture

If anyone realizes there is absolutely nothing keeping them in a community they so obviously abhorre.  

mrplankton2u's picture

There is nothing wrong with members of a "community" acknowledging that a subset of the community is a joke. Moreover, the subset that is a joke has no more legitimate claim to ownership/control of the "community" than the rest of the community. As long as illegitimacy continues in the "community", it will be a target of those who believe in some level of honesty or integrity. So get used to it. Fight back with facts or evidence if you have them. But if all you have are personal attacks to offer in support of the ridiculous, you can expect personal attacks in kind.

: )

thomasrhee's picture

There used to be a time that I was an avid reader (and subscriber) to Stereophile (as well as The Absolute Sound).  IMO, Stereophile has become just what JGH detested in all of the other audio magazines.  It is philosophically no different than Stereo Review, Audio, Hi Fidelity, etc.. from years ago.  It has become an ad driven magazine with nothing more than a lot of drivel in return for ad dollars.

Maybe one day Stereophile will find it's way back to what the magazine's original ways... until then...

JohnnyR's picture

,,,,,,as long as Fearless Leader is in charge. What I find amusing is JA thinking Stereophile will be around for another 50 years. Heck the high end will be lucky to survive another 10, let alone a subjective review based magazine that panders to the weak minded and gullible,

Regadude's picture

Wrong on all counts Johnny...

John Atkinson's picture

Regadude wrote:
Wrong on all counts Johnny...

Amen to that thought, Regadude. It makes you wonder why JohnnyR reads this site, he has so little empathy with its content. :-)

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

GeorgeHolland's picture

Mr Atkinson, you keep warning JohnnyR about posting insulting posts but then ignore and even praise Regadude? Double standards everywhere on here I see. By the way this site is a public site so anyone is free to read it or does that concept go over your head like doing some real testing? Either subject everyone to your "rules" or no one. I suppose those that live with their heads in the sand never see the future coming. I can promise that Stereophile will not be around in 50 years and thinking it will just shows your inability to look forward and adapt. The high end will flounder and perish because of their foolish ways and I say good ridance to stupid people like that.

John Atkinson's picture

GeorgeHolland wrote:
Mr Atkinson, you keep warning JohnnyR about posting insulting posts but then ignore and even praise Regadude? Double standards everywhere on here I see.

Following my warnings on October 31 and November 1, in the comments to Ariel Bitran's "Enter the Void of Cygnus X-1: A Vinyl vs. CD Comparison (Kinda)" blog, that I had enough of flame wars and that I would start deleting postings without warning, I have so far deleted abusive posts from JohnnyR, RegaDude, and yourself. So no, I don't think I am operating a double standard.

GeorgeHolland wrote:
By the way this site is a public site so anyone is free to read it or does that concept go over your head. . .

I am merely wondering why JohnnyR, in particular, even posts here. Unlike skeptics like you and mrplankton2u, who have posted some relevant, on-topic comments, JohnnyR doesn't post anything other than content-free noise. He is like a Lutheran who keeps posting on a Catholic site his opinion that transubstantiation is a myth :-)

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

 

 

 

GeorgeHolland's picture

I think you just don't like him because he made it personal. He does and has brought up good points which I keep repeating but I guess your own bias makes that hard to see.

Regadude's picture

I am rolling my eyes upwards to this comment of yours George... no

GeorgeHolland's picture

Do I care what you think anymore? The comment was aimed at Mr Atkinson not you but al usual you think I want your opinion about eveything I post. I don't.

mrplankton2u's picture

The current state of the audio press is a microcosm of the press in general - corporate entities placing profit and survival far above any other potential "function" as disseminator of objective, accurate information to the information consumer. People have noticed.

http://www.high-endaudio.com/magaz.html#Intro

 

And circulation is down significantly in recent years. That hasn't stopped a steady stream of excuses from those responsible for Stereophile's content. We've heard the stupid claims that interest in the 70,000 circulation magazine rivals that of another of Source Interlink's products - the 1.3 million circulation Motor Trend. This is a clear indication as to how factually challenged folks at Stereophile are and how willing they are to ignore the writing on the wall.

 

JohhnyR reads Stereophile because it is one of the few trade magazines still left standing - not because it is any kind of bastion of virtuosity in the audio equipment review industry. It's simply a matter of choosing CNN versus Fox - the lesser of available evils. Yes the information is seriously slanted and of questionable value - but it's better than a blank screen. It just means you have to do more to read between the lines to understand what's really going on.

John Atkinson's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:
And circulation is down significantly in recent years.

You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Here's how the audited circulation of Stereophile has varied over the past 5 years:

2012 (first 6 months): 71,969

2011: 71,900

2010: 72,293

2009: 71,192

2008: 74,843

2007: 74,609

This is what I meant by stable. Yes, it went down slightly in 2009, but even Stereophile is not immune to the recession, please note. But in the past 3 years, while circulation has fluctuated slightly, it has plateau'd, ie, is stable. And please note that Stereophile's circulation is 3x that of our closest competitor and greater than the combined circulations of The Absolute Sound, HiFi+, HiFi News, and HiFi Choice.

mrplankton2u wrote:
We've heard the stupid claims that interest in the 70,000 circulation magazine rivals that of another of Source Interlink's products - the 1.3 million circulation Motor Trend.

Not from me or from anyone else associated with Stereophile. What I have said is that as a percentage of overall circulation, Stereophile's Zinio and Apple Newsstand editions are higher than those of Motor Trend. A direct comparison of the actual circulations of the two magazines is meaningless, given the very different audiences they serve.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture

Stereophile paid circulation:

 

2000    91,384

2001    84,987

2002    82,932

2003    81,668

- fast forward to 2012  - 72,000

 

The math says 20% decline roughly over the past decade in a period in which disposable income at the top 5 percent has risen dramatically. So you have a magazine that continually courts speaker cable companies marketing "products" costing in the tens of thousands of dollars while the apparent market interest continues to shrink over that ten year period. It's obvious what's been happening and as I've warned repeatedly, the continued implosion of the audiophile market will ultimately result in commercial irrelevance and extinction. To paraphrase and contradict a well known phrase in popular culture - "GREED (unbridled) IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD".

John Atkinson's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:
Stereophile paid circulation:

2000    91,384

2001    84,987

2002    82,932

2003    81,668

- fast forward to 2012  - 72,000

When I said "stable," I thought it obvious that I was referring to recent years, ie:

2012 (first 6 months): 71,969

2011: 71,900

2010: 72,293

2009: 71,192

2008: 74,843

2007: 74,609

The high circulation in 2000 was due to the 1990s being a boom period for everyone, but particularly for the middle classes, who are high-end audio's primary customers. The reduction in middle class disposable income through the Bush 43 presidency is well-documented; see, for example, www.stereophile.com/content/upward-price-spiral.

If you are going to pick an arbitrary starting point to make your case that Stereophile's circulation has "significantly" declined, then why not start in 1982, when JGH sold the magazine, when it was <3000? Or when I took over editing the magazine from Gordon, when it was around 25,000? 

mrplankton2u wrote:
you have a magazine that continually courts speaker cable companies marketing "products" costing in the tens of thousands of dollars while the apparent market interest continues to shrink over that ten year period.

And you accuse me of cherry-picking data? Reviews of expensive cables are few and far between in Stereophile. In fact, Stephen Mejias in recent months has been writing about affordable cables, starting with what is available at RadioShack.

As I said, you are entitled to your own opinions, as wrong-headed as I feel they might be, but not to your own facts.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Jeff0000's picture

I would think that the excellent and free Stereophile web site (there are over 90,000 users in the forums area alone) has also played a role in the lower paid circulation numbers as well as the general trend toward becoming a more paperless society. 

I don't know what it is exactly, but I, for one, do enjoy holding a printed publication in my hands over electronic media.

Additionally, the printed publication has the distinct advantage of not having to put up with the likes of Johnny R, Mrplankton2u and GeorgeHolland as they cavil on without facts or useful purpose.

Keep up the excellent work!

Jeff 

GeorgeHolland's picture

90,000 users on the forum? I see maybe 100 at most even using it and not even that many posting on a regular basis.

John Atkinson's picture

GeorgeHolland wrote:
I see maybe 100 at most even using it and not even that many posting on a regular basis.

While only a relatively small number of visitors post to our forum or comment on stories like this, our audited traffic to www.stereophile.com as a whole is of the order of 300,000 unique visitors generating 3 million page views each month.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture

........at the trian wreck that is Stereophile. The educated read it to have a good laugh like I do.

Regadude's picture

Maybe people like to gawk at your insane posts little Johnny. Now that is a train wreck!

John Atkinson's picture

Both of you, RegaDude and JohnnyR, please stop the public bickering.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture

.......I post my opinons about a TOPIC and Regadude comes along to troll my posts. Seems simple enough to me.

JohnnyR's picture

.........you are Mr Excuse tried and true.

soulful.terrain's picture

 

 Congratulations to Stereophile and ALL the staff on all years of service to the audiophile community. You guys do all the heavy lifting for us neophytes. ;-)

If it weren't for Stereophile, I would venture to say..I probably wouldn't have gotten into audio in the first place. A huge thanks to JA and Jonathan Scull primarily.

Mark

John Atkinson's picture

soulful.terrain wrote:
A huge thanks to JA and Jonathan Scull primarily.

Thanks.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

TENJOU TENGE's picture

I saw  Holland first post and his reply to Tmsorosk. Why we this hobby always has people with dog habit running around?

 

 

 

GeorgeHolland's picture

?????? please use better english so I may understand what you are saying?

MrGneiss's picture

Congrats on 50 years of a Rad magazine!! :-)

JohnnyR's picture

Congrats on 50 years of a RAG magazine!! :-)
There I fixed the typo you made.

mrplankton2u's picture

John Atkinson says in comments that follow the original post:

 

"The high circulation (of Stereophile) in 2000 was due to the 1990s being a boom period for everyone, but particularly for the middle classes, who are high-end audio's primary customers. "

 

With that ridiculous post, you now have a clear answer as to why Stereophile has backed itself into a corner and lost 20% of its readership over the past decade. Anyone who thinks high end audio's primary customers are "middle class" buyers is grotesquely out of touch. The balance of affordable versus ridiculously over priced products has clearly shifted in the pages of Stereophile. There is not now nor will there ever be a legitimate basis for supporting an industry that takes $20 speaker cables and resellls them for thousands of dollars. The blame for the prevalence of these snake oil products at trade shows around the world can be laid squarely at the feet of those who contribute to magazines like Stereophile. When it becomes rational to promote systems with $60,000 speakers connected to $100,000 cables,, there is a complete break down of credibility and objectivity. In that context of anything goes, it is very likely that the "high end" industry as we know it is going to go - the way of the Dodo bird.

mrplankton2u's picture

According to John Atkinson - Stereophiles "Editor-in-Chief", Stereophile has a proud heritage of "telling it like it is". In that spirit, I will do the same.

 

Above, Atkinson is quoted as saying:

 Not only was The Stereophile going to tell it like it was, it was going to judge audio components by listening to them—a heretical idea in those days of meters and measurements. "Dammit," said Gordon, who died in 2009, "if nobody else will report what an audio component sounds like, I'll do it myself!"

 

What does "report what an audio component sounds like" really mean? Can we take those words at face value, or is Atkinson going to pull a shape shifter move  -trying  to suggest something akin to "it depends on what the word "is" means"...??

 

The above sentence suggests to me and to most rational people (I hope) that the magazine's #1 priority is to listen to and report what components sound like - in other words - answering the simple question -what is the impact of a component on the sound that is heard. 

 

Fast forward to 2012, where Stereophile Editor-in -Chief attempts to answer for the explosion of advertising and commentary within the magazine's pages relating to expensive "tweak" products and accessories like "high tech" cables, "footers",  and "isolators" - PARTICULARLY WHERE SAID "TWEAK" PRODUCTS ARE NOT OBJECTIVELY TESTED IN ANY WAY:

 

 

John Atkinson wrote:

I have said before that some of these tweaks actually have an effect, apparnetly repeatable, on the listener's perception, not the audio system. Measurement of a physical parameter is thus irrelevant.

 

So now, Stereophile and Atkinson believe its ok for Stereophile to promote products through "reviews" and advertising that do not impact the sound but inexplicably impact the listener's state of mind.

 

TRANSLATION - SNAKE OIL IS GOOD FOR STEREOPHILE AS LONG AS IT HELPS PAY THE BILLS.

 

Yes, John - in 50 years, Stereophile has come a long way in serving the needs of an ever shrinking community of people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and massive insecurity. Thank you for your service to such a vital and vibrant community!

JohnnyR's picture

It obviously isn't "hear hear" anymore xD Atkinson thinks that certain voodoo snake oil products affect the listener but not the system but "can't"  or in my opinion WON'T bother to test that ridiculous hypothesis. He loves throwing out conjectures for years at a time but gets stubborn about actual testing.

"TRANSLATION - SNAKE OIL IS GOOD FOR STEREOPHILE AS LONG AS IT HELPS PAY THE BILLS."

Oh that's been obvious to intelligent peple for years now. Money matters way beyond the truth. I think that should be carved on Atkinson's tombstone as a nice memorial. Remember that Atkinson is NEVER wrong anf NEVER will be. His "superior" education and experience wins out over all. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

John Atkinson's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:
Fast forward to 2012, where Stereophile Editor-in -Chief attempts to answer for the explosion of advertising and commentary within the magazine's pages relating to expensive "tweak" products and accessories like "high tech" cables, "footers",  and "isolators"...

I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but this word "explosion" needs examination, as it implies Stereophile's choice of what products to review is significantly weighted toward cables, etc. (I won't even begin to address advertising - the "Chinese Wall" that exists between advertising and editorial departments works in both directions - the advertising staff have no influence on the magazine's content but neither do the editorial staff have any influence on what advertising appears in the magazine.)

As it so happens, Stereophile's "Recommended Components - Collector's Edition" hit newsstands last week, which comprises mini-reviews of every product we have reviewed and recommended since October 2002. It includes:

370 tonearms, turntables, phono cartridges
240 digital disc players and digital processors
400 amplifiers and preamplifiers
380 loudspeakers and subwoofers
104 headphones and headphone-related products
204 miscellaneous products like FM tuners, room acoustic treatments, stands and racks, power-line accessories, signal processors etc.

And 137 interconnects and speaker cables.

So the so-called "explosion" of cable reviews in Stereophile is actually 8% of the total.

Tweaks of various kinds are not broken out separately, but a quick look at the Collectors's Edition suggests that there is not many. So let's say that 10% of the products Stereophile reviews are things that enrage you, mrplankton2u, GeorgeHolland, and JohnnyR. This hardly seems to support your case that  "SNAKE OIL IS GOOD FOR STEREOPHILE AS LONG AS IT HELPS PAY THE BILLS."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture

Atkinson said:

"I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but this word "explosion" needs examination, as it implies Stereophile's choice of what products to review is significantly weighted toward cables, etc"

Yes, words have meaning . And if you look at the word I used - explosion of "COMMENTARY", you wouldn't have had a reason to go off on a tangent using words like "TROLL" to describe people in this thread who whether you believe it or not - have a legitimate gripe with what the magazine is doing and its NEGATIVE impact on the industry. "COMMENTARY" is not the equivalent of "REVIEW". Anyone who can read has noticed that in numerous press reports and reviews, deference has been given to which cables are being used and the significant SONIC impact they have produced.  A cursory look at just about every single recent RMAF blurb backs this up. This is commentary. And the accolades frequently heaped on these "questionable" products ($100,000 speaker cables!) are a reflection of Stereophile's commercial and editorial values. As you tried and failed to suggest about me earlier regarding Stereophile's obvious loss of readership in recent years (over the past decade), you are certainly entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. The facts I and others have been alluding to are indisputable - written clearly in print for all to see. And they establish clearly that Stereophile has supported and helped flourish a market segment that is at best of questionable integrity and at worst - a complete fraud.I know I do not speak alone. I know of more than a dozen professionals with a long time association in the industry  (more than 20 years) that feel the same way - many whom have spoken out publicly about it. You can label people who criticize or raise valid concerns as being "trolls". In doing so, you just further alienate those who feel as we do and thus solidify further your reputation in their mind.

John Atkinson's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:
I know of more than a dozen professionals with a long time association in the industry (more than 20 years) that feel the same way - many whom have spoken out publicly about it. You can label people who criticize or raise valid concerns as being "trolls".

No I don't label such people that way. I am specifically calling _you_, and others like GeorgeHolland and JohnnyR, trolls, both for your continued posting of negativity and noise, and your apparent inability to comprehend or respect others' points of view. And then there is your refusal to understand why, as you don't read the magazine either as a subscriber or as a newsstand purchaser,  anyone here should pay attention to your rants. That, sir, is the behavior of an attention-seeking troll.

This hobby is about sharing our passion for recorded music. Your only passion, mrplankton2u, seems to be for the sound of your own voice. :-)

I wrote this "As We See It" essay to pay tribute to the many talented people I have been privileged to work alongside for the past 26 years and past 311 issues. That you, and JohnnyR and GeorgeHolland, seem bent on disrespecting those people with your trolls is more than a little sad, it is pathetic. You have all said what you have to say multiple times in the comments sections of multiple articles. Surely it is time for all three of you to STFU?

And regarding your data dredging:

mrplankton2u wrote:
Anyone who can read has noticed that in numerous press reports and reviews, deference has been given to which cables are being used...

Our policy for show reports is to note _all_ the products being used in a room that we are reporting on. It matters to our readers. This is not "deference" (to use your loaded term), it is simply responsible journalism, as much as it seems to upset you.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture

Cry and throw a tantrum some more Atkinson. Anyone that disagrees with Fearless Leader is labled a troll. Anyone that dares bring up YOUR shortcomings is labled a troll. Anyone that questions your failures is labled a troll................and so forth and so on. You sound like  broken record of EXCUSES. Hey I thought you had a 60 hour work week and don't have TIME for other activities so why are YOU on here EVERYDAY?  XD pretty pathetic when you get caught in yet another LIE but then you've had years of practice as editor of Stereophile.

 i think it's time YOU STFU and get busy doing some REAL testing for a change.

GeorgeHolland's picture

"No I don't label such people that way. I am specifically calling _you_, and others like GeorgeHolland and JohnnyR, trolls, both for your continued posting of negativity and noise, and your apparent inability to comprehend or respect others' points of view."

You should practice your own advice. Calling those that have a different opinion "trolls" just shows the lengths you will go to try to discredit well thought out points

."Surely it is time for all three of you to STFU?"

There it is then, I would think a so called professional like yourself would not use such terrible language. Have you run out of ideas or as JohnnyR calls them "excuses" and have to resort to being crude? [edited twice by John Atkinson]

Regadude's picture

I think that Mr Atkinson has been very patient and generous with the likes of JohnnyR, George Holland and Plankton. I would have booted your arses off of this site a long time ago. You three complain and bitch as if the people of Stereophile had just killed your dog! 

You have MORE than made your point; you don't like Stereophile, Stereophile is no good, etc. We have all heard your complaints, countless times. 

Now that your message has been heard, there is no point for you three to stay here and suffer. Go read some other magazine that you do like. 

John Atkinson's picture

I will let you have the final word, RegaDude. I do not wish to ban anyone for contributing to Stereophile.com. However, as postings have, in my opinion, devolved to the level of noise, any further comments to this thread will be deleted without notice

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile