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 thema 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 reviewersnot 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 Stephen 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.
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 revolutionaryin 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 magazinesincluding Stereophile, Home Theater, Shutterbug, Motor Trend, and Automobilenow 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 yearsas long as people are listening to recorded music, there will be a Stereophile to help them get the best from it!John Atkinson