Now On Newsstands: Stereophile, Vol.34 No.4
The April 2011 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands. I’m especially excited about this one. In fact, I kinda wish I could create an enormous high-resolution, illuminated reproduction of the cover and drape it over one entire side of the Empire State Building. That’s how much I love this issue. Yesterday afternoon, I walked over to 4 Times Square and handed a copy of our April issue to my dear friend, Jaime, the photo editor for a very popular woman’s magazine. Jaime was equally impressed.
You see those warm, happy colors and those delicious, little loudspeakers on the cover of our April issue? Those things make girls happy. And when girls are happy, dudes, the world is a better place.
And about that cover…It’s an interesting story: We had a different model in mind for the April 2011 issuea much larger, plus-size modelbut we ran into some scheduling and logistical conflicts between the manufacturer and our cover photographer, Eric Swanson. So, rather than risk missing our deadlines, we decided to push back the would-be April model to the May issue. While this would provide us with greater scheduling flexibility and more finish options, we’d still have to come up with a different choice for our April cover. At first, nothing immediately jumped out at us, but, after some thought, John Atkinson suggested we feature the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 and PSB Alpha B1 loudspeakers, discussed in my column, “The Entry Level.”
I was delighted, but tried not to show it. I probably gave a casual nod and let out a little noise, “Hmm…”
“Featuring two inexpensive speakers on our cover would also tie in nicely with my opening essay on the upward price spiral,” John continued.
“Yes, it would.”
“That’s what we’ll do,” he decided. “Can you make it happen?”
And that’s the story of how, for the first time ever, products that I reviewed were featured on the cover of Stereophile.
Of course, this is a special issue for another big reason: “Recommended Components,” everyone’s favorite semi-annual feature. Our April and October issues are our best-sellers on newsstands thanks to “Recommended Components.” Knowing that more people would be buying our magazine this month, we wanted to really jazz it up. While in-depth equipment reports on the Audio Note Jinro integrated amplifier, VTL MB-450 Series III Signature monoblocks, Plinius SA-103 power amplifier, and Musical Fidelity V-Link USB-S/PDIF converter are detailed, entertaining, and informative, I think our April issue’s columns are especially interesting.
There’s also an unusual amount of sex-talk in our April issue. While Sam Tellig wonders if “the magic wears off,” Erick Lichte is concerned about being in “a perpetual state of lust.” Meanwhile, in his 100th column for Stereophile, commemorated with a special illustration by Jeff Wong, Art Dudley calls audio journalism “an unwitting form of pornography.” (What’s up with all of this introspection? There’s no introspection in hi-fi!)
Have you read Art’s column yet? Oh, it was the very first thing you read? Good. It’s worth reading again. Art opens:
Audio journalism is an unwitting form of pornography, albeit one that debases the soul with materialism instead of carnalism. It encouragesinadvertently, of coursethe objectification of its subject matter, and can lead to Chronic Disappointment Syndrome [Ed: Have Sam and Art been talking?], as well as a lifelong difficulty in forging healthy relationships with technology.
You cannot find writing like that in any other audio publication. And that’s just the first paragraph; it only gets better from there.
Speaking of fine writing, John Atkinson opens the issue by explaining “the upward price spiral”:
With an impoverished middle class no longer able to find the scratch for $5000/pair speakers and the large amount of capital required to make or sell large quantities of beer-budget products not being available to small companies, the only viable business strategy is [to] move upmarket to service the very small number of very rich customers.
But, JA warns, affordable products become more necessary than ever:
While I respect and lust after the megabucks components, it is these products for the rest of us that keep me optimistic and excited about the long-term viability of high-end audio. Otherwise, the upward price spiral will become a downward death spiral.
You can read the entire essay right here.
Also in this issue: Paul Messenger brings us news of Boston Acoustics’ new A-series “world speakers;” Michael Fremer reports on the new analog toys at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show; John Marks sends a dispatch from the “Loudness Wars;” Robert Baird speaks with tenor sax player, Joe Lovano; our music critics provide reviews of new releases from David Fray, Cake, Eleventh Dream Day, Wye Oak, John Vanderslice, and the Matija Dedic Trio; and readers write letters and manufacturers make comments.
Thanks for reading Stereophile. We hope you enjoy reading the issue as much as we enjoyed making it. You can talk about it in our forums.