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rmeyer52
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A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

First I did not mean to "hijack" the thread. I really enjoy reading my monthly issue of Stereophile but a review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

Like I stated before the high end audio market will be flat or decrease because of the reasons stated but in addition to that todays artists are "products" and not musicians. Does it matter if you listen to Madonna and Spears on an iPod or good system? Are you really going to hear things you never heard before?

I can say that the music I listen to (mostly jazz) sounds rich and full on my system and because of the quality of music I will continue to invest in upgrades where I can. That being said with interconnects costing thousands of dollars I can see why people who want to enter the market are afraid. Journalists can review products but when you first hear a system it's the "oh-wow" that hooks people. I would look like to see more stories in the mainstream media about how good CD's can sound for little money. Once someone starts down the path of high end audio it usually can go on for quite awhile.

I love high end audio and thank everyone for these lively debates, I just wish more people would get into it via more entry level components and articles within Stereophile. I, for example, would love to see a monthly article series on "the new audiophile" tackling subjects like "where do I start?, how much is enough? & working with your audio dealer". I would also like to see "recommended systems for $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 with a reminder that your ears have to guide you.

I do want more audiophiles brought into the wonderful world of high end audio I just know that with reviews of $100,000 speakers a lot of people are going to be scared off.

smejias
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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I really enjoy reading my monthly issue of Stereophile but a review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I'm 31 years old, still feel relatively new to the high-end hi-fi world, and I strongly doubt that I'll ever buy $100,000/pair loudspeakers. However, I was very excited when I learned we'd be reviewing the YG Anat Reference. I wanted to know what Wes thought about them, and I was eager to see how they'd measure.

Were you not at all curious?

tom collins
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

i agree with you, Stephen. with those ads they run, of course i wanted to see if they measured up to the ad copy. i won't ever be able to get a pair either, but i am glad to know they are out there and technology being what it is, some of the technology will trickle down to something i can afford someday.

noahbickart
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I too enjoyed the review, despite never intending to buy such a product. technology does tend to trickle down; much of the R&D associated with the "cost no object" design is later applied to the rest of the range. WP was remiss, however, in not listening to the various pieces of this modular system on their own. I don't know how much the "main module" costs, but I bet that I would be willing to live without either subwoofer in my Manhattan apartment, while bringing the cost down substantially.

Furthermore, in this very same issue a $1K monitor was also well received, and ST loved a $350 DAC, so there really is no shortage of reviews of budget gear.

To whom is it relevant? To me!

-Noah

rmeyer52
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I guess I was interested but that same interest causes me to look at a Porsche or a house in Napa Valley. While I understand that you have to remain neutral for ad relations etc.., I would like to have seen something within the article about "were they worth it?"....

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

15,000 dollar systems? Are you mad? That is so out of touch with the average citizen as to boggle their minds.

You need to set your limits lower.

Take a zero off the end of your price points if you want to avoid being criticized as lunatic fringe.

smejias
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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While I understand that you have to remain neutral for ad relations etc..,

What I DON'T understand is why "ad relations, etc." must be brought up in this conversation. What do you mean by that? "Ad relations, etc." has nothing to do with how we review gear.


Quote:
I would like to have seen something within the article about "were they worth it?"

It's clear to me that when Wes says, "...it's hard to argue that they're overpriced," he thinks they're worth the money.

smejias
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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I, for example, would love to see a monthly article series on "the new audiophile" tackling subjects like "where do I start?, how much is enough? & working with your audio dealer". I would also like to see "recommended systems for $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 with a reminder that your ears have to guide you.

Great ideas. I've tried, and will continue to try, to cover some of these topics in my blog. The blog started in 2005 with me knowing very little about hi-fi, and continues to this day with me spending all my money on music and gear. The whole point of the blog was to follow "the new audiophile." I've even taken a few shots at reviewing truly affordable gear and our intern, Ariel Bitran, has joined in from time to time and has done good work in promoting the fact that even a college student can get into hi-fi.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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but a review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

Any one that's interested in the state of the art. Which includes me regardless of whether or not I can afford it. Since most of us won't get a chance to hear them in person the review offers a valuable service.


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Does it matter if you listen to Madonna and Spears on an iPod or good system? Are you really going to hear things you never heard before?

Rich M you're showing your age there. I'm sure that the original generation of Audiophiles would have made a similar argument about Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, et al. Heck some really early audiophiles probably would have made that argument against Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Theo. Monk.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do

I enjoyed the article. It was hilarious.
I think a good future article title would be...

"Why does hifi gear cost so much?"

I guess, to a large extent, the reason would be "because it can".... so long as some yahoo out there will pay 100 grand for a speaker, anyway.. The prices will get higher and higher, mind you...not because there is any component out there ever really worth that much., but because the target market is made up of folks like This

I view the magazine as dada-esque sociology satire. In that context, I can just lay back and enjoy it for what it is. Ive long accepted the reality of what the magazine is not .

If you want more serious, real world for real people helpful advice, read "the sensible sound" or audio eXpress.

This is entertainment, Rich. Dont take it too seriously. Critiquing Stereophile for jigabucks gear reviews is like telling MAD magazine that they use Alfred E. Neumann too much. It is an integral part of the "shtick",the "mo", man.

Just like GQ..or Elle. Or vogue...do real people really wear that shit? No. Hell no!

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

"Rich M you're showing your age there. I'm sure that the original generation of Audiophiles would have made a similar argument about Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, et al. Heck some really early audiophiles probably would have made that argument against Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Theo. Monk. "

I disagree- recording quality mattered back then. Record companies actually cared about sound, advancing the technology and taking time to groom real talent. Not so today for the majors at least. I picked up some used (hardly it seems) Beatles albums recently. They are very early pressings of their first couple albums and damned if they don't sound GREAT! I mean- seriously, the sound pretty well crushes just about any pop albums I've heard in years. Somebody was doing something right back then. And as for the jazz you mentioned, well I think most (not all of course) the classic 50s-60s recordings are top of the stack for natural and dynamic sound. And the fact that they were often cut in a day or so? Crazy.

As to the topic- I didn't mind the review. Sure it's out there, but so's a lot of what is fun to read about. Like NC said- you're not gonna go by any $500k cars either, or $15k clothing, but if you're into it why not enjoy the ride?

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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Does it matter if you listen to Madonna and Spears on an iPod or good system? Are you really going to hear things you never heard before?

Yes. You should try it before assuming that only typical 'Audiophile' music, sounds better on a good system... I have very wide tastes in music from Classical to Rap and Pop... and all genres sound better with quality gear...

That does not mean that I find much value in a $100K speaker review... I think I'll go read the $1K Monitor Audio RS6 review again instead...

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
"Rich M you're showing your age there. I'm sure that the original generation of Audiophiles would have made a similar argument about Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, et al. Heck some really early audiophiles probably would have made that argument against Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Theo. Monk. "

I disagree- recording quality mattered back then. Record companies actually cared about sound, advancing the technology and taking time to groom real talent. Not so today for the majors at least. I picked up some used (hardly it seems) Beatles albums recently. They are very early pressings of their first couple albums and damned if they don't sound GREAT! I mean- seriously, the sound pretty well crushes just about any pop albums I've heard in years. Somebody was doing something right back then. And as for the jazz you mentioned, well I think most (not all of course) the classic 50s-60s recordings are top of the stack for natural and dynamic sound. And the fact that they were often cut in a day or so? Crazy.ut if you're into it why not enjoy the ride?

Doug-

You'll get no disagreement from me about the sonic superiority of those recordings. I was taking Rich M's comments as more of an indictment of the artistic merit of new artists. While I don't care for Madonna she is an artist. While I don't PERSONALLY consider Ms. Spears an artist many probably do. My point was that every generation sees the music of the next as being less artistically relevant than their own. From that point of view many parents probably saw The Beatles as less artistically relevant than Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, or Chuck Berry. A stance that few would agree with today. That was the point I was making.

Who will be the artists from this generation that will stand the test of time? I have no way of knowing but there will certainly be some. As for the recording quality of today's artists hopefully the folly of massive dynamic compression will be recognized in the future as a huge mistake and those sins can be corrected by remastering in the future depending on when in the recording process they were applied.

Plus I FIRMLY believe that nearly any recording sounds better on a High End system than on crap.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

Stereophile is, blessedly, a magazine written by geeks to be read by geeks. Barring unforseen but not unwelcome circumstances, I will never be able to afford a pair of $100k speakers. But the notion that the Anats are designed using a purely objective, test driven methodology, rather than a subjective, listener driven methodology, is pretty fascinating.

A great part of the pleasure of this hobby is thinking about it. There are interesting questions here: why does something sound good? why does music convey emotion? as Shakespeare said "how strange that sheep's guts should move men's souls." Reading about, and thinking about, extreme high end component designs allows an entry into these sorts of questions, which cannot be as thoroughly explored by staying in the realm of the practical financial realities that most of us face. So I celebrate Stereophile's reviews of equipment that, even if I could afford, I would be embarrased to buy (that's someone's college education, sitting there in my living room).

Moreover, I wonder how a review of any component could be "relevant," in a direct way, to any particular reader. If you are reading a review of an audio component to decide whether to purchase it, you are making a lateral move on the informational flow chart. There are so many uncontrollable variables in the process -- the reviewer and the reader are going to have differences in ear, room, equipment, tastes, expressive ability, perceptual screen, etc -- that the notion that a review conveys an objective -- or even an inter-subjective -- reality to the reader is sort of daft.

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that I get a great deal more pleasure out of reading a review of an ultra-exotic component than I do out of reading a review for a component that I might actually buy.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

ok., ill bite here.. what is high end and what is crap?


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Plus I FIRMLY believe that nearly any recording sounds better on a High End system than on crap.

mrlowry
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I'd have to say something similar to What Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography (he said "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it.") In a similar vein I can't define high end but I know it when I hear it. Of course there will be some disagreement between knowledgeable people but lots, and lots of agreement too.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:

Quote:
I really enjoy reading my monthly issue of Stereophile but a review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I'm 31 years old, still feel relatively new to the high-end hi-fi world, and I strongly doubt that I'll ever buy $100,000/pair loudspeakers. However, I was very excited when I learned we'd be reviewing the YG Anat Reference. I wanted to know what Wes thought about them, and I was eager to see how they'd measure.

Were you not at all curious?

In the 1930's society magazines sold very well as the great unwashed peered into the supposed lives of the very rich and thought 'If only I was there'. I believe this is similar....fantasy product for phantom readers. Ah, if I only had one...

Actually, at least there was no 'affordable' pretext in the review.

rmeyer52
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do


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I enjoyed the article. It was hilarious.
I think a good future article title would be...

"Why does hifi gear cost so much?"

I think a relevant title would have been "A fool and his money are soon parted"

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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ok., ill bite here.. what is high end and what is crap?

Unlike you, ncdrawl, I don't believe "crap" is defined by either higher or lower price.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do

So, let's put you guys in charge, hypoethically speaking, so we don't kill the magazine....

What are your upper price limits to keep the gear that gets reviewed "relevant?"

Where are your price lines?

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do


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So, let's put you guys in charge, hypoethically speaking, so we don't kill the magazine....

What are your upper price limits to keep the gear that gets reviewed "relevant?"

Where are your price lines?

To make it more real hypothetically, cancel my subscription now. I don't want a magazine that puts blinders on me and says that largely everything that measures about the same sounds the same. Because I know it isn't true and I'm adverse to paying people to lie to me even though I live in Illinois and my tax dollars paid Blogo and continue to pay Mayor Dailey.

tom collins
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do

i'll go a little further and ask: why are these guys even here in a forum for a magazine that reviews luxury goods if they dispise the cost of those very goods so much and by extension anyone that can and chooses to afford them? If they are hoping to win converts, haven't they come to the wrong forum?

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do

Yes, but there are others who stay here who also hate anything they see as too much for their budget or their ears. If they ever spend enough on bus fare to get together they will call a jihad and start the suicide bombings.

Jan Vigne
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Sweet Home Chicago


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... I live in Illinois and my tax dollars paid Blogo and continue to pay Mayor Dailey.

I grew up in Illinois and have never grown tired of the antics occurring in Springfield and Chicago. From the day they opened the late Secretary of State Paul Powell's closet to find shoe boxes full of millions of dollars worth of checks made out to the State of Illinois it has only got better. Here in Texas the pols do the same stuff but hide it in the all white, all male country clubs with their good ol'boy networks. In Illinois there has long been the Al Capone attitude of, "Yeah, I did it, you saw me do it, everybody knows I did it, and you can't do nothin' about it."

Maybe you're much younger than I am but in public grade school in Illinois they used to teach that when Dorothy went flying off from Kansas she landed not in Oz but in Illinois; "Pay no attention to the man pulling the levers behind the curtain."

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

Stephen-

I think it's funny that a company pays thousands upon thousands of dollars to stereophile to advertise its speakers and you say that there's no relation between advertising and reviews.

Would that speaker have been reviewed had not the company been a major client?

-Doug

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I'm sure that JA will be along to answer this question for the 1,478th time with the specific figures but NEARLY half of the products reviewed in Stereophile ARE NOT from advertisers and many get glowing reviews. In fact Art Dudley RARELY reviews products FROM manufacturers that choose to advertise.

A number of years ago Polk and Velodyne were big advertisers that both were given scathing reviews. I've worked in the industry for nearly 10 years and have spoken to many manufacturers about the behavior of magazines. Not one of them has ever questioned the ethics of Stereophile or John Atkinson. That can't be said for the other magazines.

JA can't win for losing. First he gets criticized for letting YG Acoustics run adds that LOUDLY (and somewhat obnoxiously in my opinion) claim to be the best loudspeaker in the world and NOT reviewing them. Now Stereophile has reviewed them and is getting slammed FOR reviewing. The poor guy is going have his heels nipped by the "Self appointed Watch dogs" no matter what he does.

This group of criticisms (stuff's too expensive, reviews are bought, reviewers are out of touch spoiled brats, et al.) is getting real old. It's like the beat of disco music. It's mindless repetition that except for minor shifts, never really changes. Unfortunately, unlike disco it probably will live forever.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

Lowry-
What was your point in saying that some of the products reviewed in Stereophile are not from advertisers?
I'm sure that my complaint, if you want to call it that, has gotten old. That's because it's something that people have been observing for a long time. Something that should be pointed out, I guess. My main point is that if reviewing a $100k pair of speakers seems a little over the top, as it were, don't you think that it is reasonable to question weather these speakers would have been (formally)reviewed at all if this company didn't pay Stereophile so much money?

-Doug

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

My reason for pointing out that nearly 50% of the products review in Stereophile aren't from advertisers(http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/ see footnote 2) was my way of saying that it's not necessary to advertise in Stereophile to get a review, and a positive one at that. All that's necessary is to make a great product and to meet the requirements (again see http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/ for the specifics.) Secondly, my example of Polk and Velodyne getting slammed was an example of an advertiser NOT being protected from a deserved negative review.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

So, should Stereophile not allow a manfuactruer to buy ad space if their products have ever been reviewed?

Exclusion by virtue of having been reviewed?

Then you'd complain that none of the manfuacturers who advertise ever get reviews, it would prove a bias against advertisers, eh?

How would Aquinas work this out?

Reviews of only the products that have never been advertised seems ridiculous. Manufacturers would never buy ads, knowing that would disqualify them from being reviewed.

So, Aquinas...

What percentage of reviews would be acceptable for products that do have a history of advertising in Sterophile, and why do you pick that answer?

If a complaint is a valid complaint, there should be a solution to discuss, eh? So, you should be able to offer your solution.

WWAD?

What would Aquinas do?

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
don't you think that it is reasonable to question [whether] these speakers would have been (formally)reviewed at all if this company didn't pay Stereophile so much money?

As has been pointed out to you but you appeared to have ignored, there is no correlation between a company advertising in Sterephile and having its products reviewed. Period.

In the case of YG, I have wanted to publish a review since I heard the speakers at a CEDIA conference 3 years ago, but I was waiting for the company to acquire the requisite number of dealers.

As was pointed out, we can't seem to win for losing with some of you folks :-(

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do


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i'll go a little further and ask: why are these guys even here in a forum for a magazine that reviews luxury goods if they dispise the cost of those very goods so much and by extension anyone that can and chooses to afford them? If they are hoping to win converts, haven't they come to the wrong forum?

I am struck by your characterization of the magazine. I thought it was about getting the best sound one could from a series of machines. If I wanted to read of 'luxury goods' I'd subscribe to a different sort of magazine. I do not object to reviewing fantasy gear any more than I object to auto magazines reviewing Ferrari or Luxury home magazines speaking of luxury homes. I only object to the affectation that such things are 'budget' or 'moderately' priced

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do


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I only object to the affectation that such things are 'budget' or 'moderately' priced

. . . and where were the $100,000 speakers classified as either "Budget" or "Moderately Priced?" No where in Stereophile (and I would guess nowhere on planet Earth.) Wes even OPENLY acknowledges the cost issue in his conclusion when discussing their "flaws" by saying, "And they're expensive. Those aren't complaints. They're just facts." You appear to be still sore about the Marantz CD player issue. It's so last month, get over it.

aquinas
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

JA,

I'm not trying to insult your integrity, and I'll take your word for it (no ad/review relationship), but it just doesn't appear that way to me. A few years ago as I started to get into high-end audio, I heard many people talk about Stereophile, and I always thought that it was obvious that the advertisement/positive review metric was the way business was done. Virtually everyone I've ever talked to about this subject has said the same thing. I wonder, do you think that companies believe that their advertising expenses would have no positive impact on the review?

-Doug

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


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JA,
I'm not trying to insult your integrity...

Yet you did.


Quote:
... and I'll take your word for it (no ad/review relationship)...

Yet you continue to insist the opposite, as in:


Quote:
but it just doesn't appear that way to me. A few years ago as I started to get into high-end audio, I heard many people talk about Stereophile, and I always thought that it was obvious that the advertisement/positive review metric was the way business was done. Virtually everyone I've ever talked to about this subject has said the same thing.

With respect, you must be be more skeptical of such things. A few years back on the Audio Asylum, someone made the same point as you have just done. I provided statistics to show that, as has been pointed out to you, there is actually a small _inverse_ correlation between a company advertising and having its products reviewed. The poster was not convinced, just as you are not convinced, because of all the people he had spoken to.

I chased down one of those people, a manufacturer who had started advertising in Stereophile but who was angry because I had not arranged to review his product.

"I lived up to my side of the deal," he complained to me. "Why aren't you honoring it?"

"What deal?" I asked.

"That if I advertise in Stereophile, you will review my product."

"Who told you that?" I responded.

"The publisher of The Absolute Sound."


Quote:
I wonder, do you think that companies believe that their advertising expenses would have no positive impact on the review?

I have no idea. What matters here i not what companies _believe_ or even what _you_ believe, but what I _do_. And has been pointed out to you, the reality is the opposite of that belief.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

aquinas
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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

John,
The general perception is that the ad/review relationship exists, as evidenced by, among other things, that conversation with a manufacturer that you had. So, I don't think that you have to take as an insult my observation of what might be common perception. If the relationship doesn't exist, that's great, but it sure seems like it does . I think that the perception is more that the relationship provides positive reviews, as opposed to just securing a review in the first place.

I'd guess that the manufacturers see it like this:
- Stereophile is where the captured audience is, and exposure there is good.
- A positive review is as good or better for business than just the ad exposure alone.
- Virtually all reviews in Stereophile are very, very positive.
- All reviews of gear manufactured by heavyweight (as in volume of ad revenue) advertisors are very, very positive.
- This is a no-brainer!

As far as the Absolute Sound is concerned, relative to Stereophile, I think that it would be fair to say that most people familiar with them would agree that it's like Lowes and home Depot. Or Burger King and McDonalds. Or the Red Sox and the Yankees. However, to me, the ad/review relationship is decidedly more pronounced or overt in the AS. They even have some kind of marketing or Point-of-sale offer/package promoted: lets us help you put together an ad structured around our review of your piece of equipment. And so, because the perception is that the two magazines are so similar, it makes the believability(?) of the ad/review relationship within Stereophile that much easier.

From a business stand point, it would, I guess, suprise me if the "close and comfy with the manfacturers" model was less efficient that an "arms-length" or "Chinese Wall" model. It seems like you are adamant about using the latter, which brings up a few questions:
- Are the advertising revenues significantally greater than the subscription's?
- What kind of process is in place to prevent the magazine or its reviewers from becoming shills for the industry?
- Is it reasonable to believe that Stereophile and TAS have the same level of success using radically different models all the while maintaining the same perception?
- Would it be possible to (re)structure Stereophile in such a way that the perception of the ad/review relationship disapates, makes the product better, and makes competing products weaker? Or might that knock the whole apple cart over?

I subscribed recently to Gramophone and BBC Music, and see none of the apparent conflicts there. Could Stereophile employ a similar operation or philosophy, or are the two more dissimilar than I assume?

-Doug

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

I have to say, I really enjoyed the review after seeing the advertisements month after month,year after year, claiming the speakers were the "worlds best".

I enjoyed both the technical review imformation and listening tests on them. I had wondered for a while if a disinterested third party would give an opinion on whether they could stand up to their claim.

When I saw the cover, it was the first page I turned to in the magazine to satisfy my curiosity. Well done Stereophile.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:

- Are the advertising revenues significantally greater than the subscription's?

I'm not in the magazine business but I'm strongly under the impression that with respect to revenue nearly every magazine gets the vast majority from the advertisers.

Quote:

- Would it be possible to (re)structure Stereophile in such a way that the perception of the ad/review relationship disapates, makes the product better, and makes competing products weaker? Or might that knock the whole apple cart over?

The majority of people that are skeptical, seem to enjoy being so and would always find some "evidence" to continue to suspect whatever it is that they are naturally inclined to suspect. So whatever other policies JA would put in place wouldn't be enough. Things at Stereophile are pretty darned transparent compared to The Absolute Sound. Does TAS have nearly as well as thought out guidelines as Stereophile? Has TAS published their review criteria lately? Not in the last 5 or 6 years that I recall, unless it's been in the last issue or two (I must admit that my TAS subscription has lapsed.)

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
So, I don't think that you have to take as an insult my observation of what might be common perception. If the relationship doesn't exist, that's great, but it sure seems like it does .

-Doug

Doug, the reason why John should be offended by your statement is simply because he is the person who can state as FACT whether such a relationship exists... so when you keep saying things like "if the relationship doesn't exist", you are in fact saying that you do not believe JA (essentially calling the man a liar or at least saying that he needs to prove that the relationship does not exist, because you will not take his word for it). Whether you think he's lying or just don't trust his word, that does give him reason to be offended...

Keep in mind that the accusation of these skeptics is essentially that the Major HiFi mags are committing fraud; handing out sweet reviews in exchange for advertising dollars... If someone casually accused me of committing fraud at work, I'd be rather offended too...

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
John, The general perception is that the ad/review relationship exists, as evidenced by, among other things, that conversation with a manufacturer that you had. So, I don't think that you have to take as an insult my observation of what might be common perception.

You miss the point of my parable, Doug: that the perception you regard as "common" was, in this instance, being promulgated by a _competitor_. Unless you are more than usually naive, how could you regard that competitor as being disinterested?


Quote:
If the relationship doesn't exist, that's great, but it sure seems like it does . I think that the perception is more that the relationship provides positive reviews, as opposed to just securing a review in the first place.

Ah, shown that your original statement is not supported by any factual evidence, you now pretend you were saying something different. Okay, I'll play along for one more turn of your dice:


Quote:
I'd guess that the manufacturers see it like this:
- Stereophile is where the captured audience is, and exposure there is good.

Yes indeed. My role as the magazine's editor is to maximize the size of that captured audience.


Quote:
- A positive review is as good or better for business than just the ad exposure alone.

The reality is more nuanced than this. A good review in Stereophile that follows an over-the-top-rave in another magazine actually hurts sales. And please remeber that unlike TAS, Stereophile accompanies its reviews with measurements. There have been many examples where those measurements uncover compatibility problems or idiosyncratic performance issues that must be taken into consideration by those, like you, who say that all reviews in Stereophile are "very, very positive."


Quote:
- Virtually all reviews in Stereophile are very, very positive.

Mostly, yes, for reasons that have been examined at length in the magazine. As you are presumably a reader of Stereophile, I am sure you have read those essays.


Quote:
- All reviews of gear manufactured by heavyweight (as in volume of ad revenue) advertisors are very, very positive.

Not so. See, for example, Erick Lichte's follow-up on the Musical Fidelity 550K amplifier at www.stereophile.com/solidpoweramps/907mf/index5.html . Musical Fidelity and its various distributors have been major advertisers in Stereophile, yet this single short follow-up was sufficiently negative that it stopped US sales of that amplifier dead in its tracks. There are other examples of advertisers getting less-than-positive reviews, so how would you explain my publishing those reviews if your hypothesis is correct?


Quote:
- This is a no-brainer!

Only, perhaps to someone who overlooks actual facts in favor of his preconceived notions.


Quote:
As far as the Absolute Sound is concerned, relative to Stereophile, I think that it would be fair to say that most people familiar with them would agree that it's like Lowes and home Depot. Or Burger King and McDonalds. Or the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Really? Yet to draw that inference, you have to overlook the fact that Stereophile's audited circulation is 3x the unaudited circulation of The Absolute Sound; that Stereophile's website has considerably greater audited traffic than TAS's; that Stereophile's gross revenue is similarly higher than that of TAS; etc, etc. If you want a more appropriate analogy, if Stereophile is the Mets, TAS is the Brooklyn Cyclones. :-)


Quote:
However, to me, the ad/review relationship is decidedly more pronounced or overt in the AS. They even have some kind of marketing or Point-of-sale offer/package promoted: lets us help you put together an ad structured around our review of your piece of equipment.

I have heard similar tales. If true -- and I have no idea if they are true or not -- they reveal a depth of cynicism on the part of that magazine that borders, in my admittedly not-disinterested opinion, as corrupt.


Quote:
And so, because the perception is that the two magazines are so similar, it makes the believability(?) of the ad/review relationship within Stereophile that much easier.

So your thesis is that because TAS operates corrupt business practises, so must Stereophile? Depite my giving you my word that it is not so. Again, you appear to be calling me a liar, Doug.


Quote:
From a business stand point, it would, I guess, suprise me if the "close and comfy with the manfacturers" model was less efficient that an "arms-length" or "Chinese Wall" model.

It is well-established in publishing that it _is_ a less-effective strategy, Doug. It tends to be operated by second- or third-place titles that have little to lose.


Quote:
It seems like you are adamant about using the latter, which brings up a few questions:
- Are the advertising revenues significantally greater than the subscription's?

In common with _all_ magazines, the ad revenue predominates. See my As We See It in the current issue for why this is irrelevant to my editorial policies.


Quote:
- What kind of process is in place to prevent the magazine or its reviewers from becoming shills for the industry?

When a writer crosses the line between honest enthusiasm for a brand and shilling, I fire them. I have done so in the past (other than one high-profile reviewer who quit before he was fired) and will do so in the future. Fortunately, my current team is as honest a bunch of people as I have had the pleasure of working with.


Quote:
- Is it reasonable to believe that Stereophile and TAS have the same level of success using radically different models all the while maintaining the same perception?

As the two magazines have vastly different levels of financial success and editorial "reach" - defined as circulation x frequency: TAS = 25,000x10 issues = 250k readers/year; Stereophile = 75,000x12 issues = 900k readers/year - your question is meaningless.


Quote:
- Would it be possible to (re)structure Stereophile in such a way that the perception of the ad/review relationship disapates, makes the product better, and makes competing products weaker? Or might that knock the whole apple cart over?

I don't think such restructuring necessary. And in any case, given the fact that cynics such as yourself are not convinced that your perceptions are mistaken, what would be the point?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?(do


Quote:

Quote:
I only object to the affectation that such things are 'budget' or 'moderately' priced

. . . and where were the $100,000 speakers classified as either "Budget" or "Moderately Priced?" No where in Stereophile (and I would guess nowhere on planet Earth.) Wes even OPENLY acknowledges the cost issue in his conclusion when discussing their "flaws" by saying, "And they're expensive. Those aren't complaints. They're just facts." You appear to be still sore about the Marantz CD player issue. It's so last month, get over it.

I didn't say they were, just that such pretense infects the magazine...

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

John,
I am not calling you a liar. I don't believe that you are a liar. During the time that I spent thinking about this topic, I never said to myself,"John is a liar".
It seems obvious to me that you have a great deal of pride in your magazine, as you should. It seems equally obvious that there is a perception that Stereophile (and TAS, and others)is less than transparent, that a relationship as previously mentioned exists. I myself believed this to be true right up until you told me that it is not. But the perception remains out there. Most people familiar with the magazines believe, or at least suspect this. Maybe not most people on Stereophile's own forum. Maybe not most people that the editor of Stereophile interacts with. Just most people. I don't believe that this has to be the case; I believe that you could, at least in part, change this.

I'd like to respond to some of the things that you mentioned in your last post; I don't know how to display your quotes, so I'll just hit some bullets:

-I didn't miss your point, and of course the guy from TAS isn't disinterested. My point was that the perception do exist.
- I have not said one thing and then, when presented with evidence to the contrary, pretended to say something different. Likewise, no evidence, factual or otherwise, has been presented that disproves my point.
- I said that the manufacturers might believe that a positive review has more impact that the ad exposure. I got this idea after a trip to Audiovision in San Francisco. I was auditioning the PSB S1 (I think) and the manager said that they were going fast because of your review. I have no trouble believing that the reality can be more nuance than this, though.
- I was talking about the manufacturer's possible point of view when I said that virtually all of the reviews in Stereophile are very positive. However, this seems to be factual, as opposed to opinion. I'm not sure if I got this from something that you've written, but I suppose this could be because Stereophile simply does not review bad gear. If this is the case, why? In fact, this seems really important. Why no negative reviews?
- I stand corrected. All of the reviews of equipment made by manufacturers who are heavyweight advertisors are not positive. Erik Lichte is not a reviewer, right?
- The baseball analogy is fair, I believe. Though maybe the Mets and the A's or Royals would be better. I don't know who the cyclones are, but people's perception is, in my experience, what I said it is. Or close to it.
- The thing about the offer in TAS to help with a marketing kit is right there in their magazine.
- It is not my thesis that if TAS is corrupt then Stereophile must be as well. I never said that. But as I've said, the perception is that the two products, if you will, are very similar.
- the ad revenue dominating makes sense. I can't read "as we see it" because the March Stereophile is not at Barnes and Noble here in Northern Ca., at least not as of yesterday.
- The numbers that you have given are simply not sufficient to gauge the financial success of a company, relatively speaking.
- I'm not suprised that you think that a restructuring is not needed. But if you did agree with me on the common perception of Stereophile, would it be possible to do without losing market share?

-Doug

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:

- I have not said one thing and then, when presented with evidence to the contrary, pretended to say something different. Likewise, no evidence, factual or otherwise, has been presented that disproves my point.

What kind of evidence would you find sufficient? It's nearly impossible to prove a negative. For example how would a heterosexual man prove beyond any doubt that he NEVER been attracted to men. Proving that a business IS NOT corrupt is much more difficult than proving a business IS corrupt. That's why we have the presumption of innocence in the United States.


Quote:

- I was talking about the manufacturer's possible point of view when I said that virtually all of the reviews in Stereophile are very positive. However, this seems to be factual, as opposed to opinion. I'm not sure if I got this from something that you've written, but I suppose this could be because Stereophile simply does not review bad gear. If this is the case, why? In fact, this seems really important. Why no negative reviews?

This has also been answered a million times on the forum. Most Stereophile reviewers are not full time staff, but do it more as a side line because of their interest in audio. They choose gear that sounds promising at audio shows that they find PERSONALLY interesting. Now, put yourself in their shoes. Would you rather listen to a piece of gear that gave you a strong positive first impression for a month or two or would you rather suffer for a month or two with a piece of gear that you hated the first five minutes that you heard it at a trade show? First, there is so much great audio gear out there that warrants coverage why waste ink on crap. Second, you couldn't pay me enough to put up with a piece of audio gear that I disliked for a month or two. I love music too much to subject myself to that kind of abuse. Most of Stereophile writers probably feel the same.


Quote:

- the ad revenue dominating makes sense. I can't read "as we see it" because the March Stereophile is not at Barnes and Noble here in Northern Ca., at least not as of yesterday.

Why buy Stereopile on the news stand where it's roughly $7 an issue and you have to go get it every month. A yearly subscription is less than $15 per year. That's a no brainer.

Think of it this way. You've showed up to JA's backyard BBQ through a general "everyone in the neighborhood" envite taped to the big blue mail box at the corner, and in the first five minutes told him his wife is ugly, his favorite dog smells bad, and his daughter dresses slutty. Considering that, he's been a very gracious host by trying to calmly and rationally explain that you are incorrect instead of throwing you out on your ear. That, in my opinion says a lot about him as a human being. Just something to think about.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

At the Least Thomas, you input is appreciated, as this question comes up all the time, and each time it needs be 'cleared' anew. Stick around, you'll like it here. You seem like a decent enough guy, it's just that this little mystery needed to be cleaned up.

Also remember, like the song: 'It's a small world after all', meaning it's situation that is difficult to escape as the Audio world is just a tad small! Good and true situations will happen along side one another so closely in this tiny market that there is no possible outcome but to -also- consider the possibility that nefarious things could be 'afoot'.

Being a watchdog, with respects to minding the 'potentials' in any given situation is great and necessary, IMHO. All sides of coin heed be looked at.

stereophile, over the years, has spilled considerable ink on the subject of 'being open on transparency'.

IMHO, you are not -yet- familiar with that point in reality.

That's about all there is to it. I think that Stereophile's position on this will become clear to you over time.

It does get tiring to answer the same questions over and over. I did this at my company day in-day out..for six years straight. In the end- it nearly drove me mad. The day came when I had about 120 unanswered phone messages that I could not bring myself to look at. That's when I had to step away from being the guy that everyone went to, in order to obtain advice on the use of our product. What I'm trying to iterate here...is that this question will CONTINUE to come up, about as long as the existence of the magazine..and then will exist in perpetuity as long as there are old copies to read by the current iteration of human beings. This, due to human nature.

As stated, both sides of a given coin must be issued usage of some cranial energies for contemplation of their potential existence..and this one has been considered, again. Like it always will. Each time, Stereophile has shown their integrity under that particular line of questioning.

So, I will end in noting that it is nothing more than a 'until next time' type of situation.

Welcome to the forum!

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
John, I am not calling you a liar. I don't believe that you are a liar. During the time that I spent thinking about this topic, I never said to myself, "John is a liar."

That is true. But when you reject the factual information I offer you, what other inference can be made?


Quote:
It seems obvious to me that you have a great deal of pride in your magazine, as you should.

Thank you.


Quote:
It seems equally obvious that there is a perception that Stereophile (and TAS, and others)is less than transparent...

I can't speak for TAS, But in the case of Stereophile, I have repeatedly offered insights both in the magazine and in this forum into how and how Stereophile is what it is, stopping short at revealing proprietary corporate information. I fail to understand, therefore, how much more transparent I can be regarding Stereophile. What information would satisfy your skepticism, for example?


Quote:
...that a relationship as previously mentioned exists. I myself believed this to be true right up until you told me that it is not. But the perception remains out there.

Of course. And as I tried to get you to comprehend, there are often agendas operating that underlie that perception.


Quote:
Most people familiar with the magazines believe, or at least suspect this. Maybe not most people on Stereophile's own forum. Maybe not most people that the editor of Stereophile interacts with. Just most people.

"Most People"? How do you know that to be the case? Have you surveyed all the manufacturers who do business with Stereophile? Have you surveyed all the readers? With all due respect, it is a step too far when you to offer opinions that you believe are shared by others without factual substantiation.


Quote:
I don't believe that this has to be the case...

It isn't the case.


Quote:
I believe that you could, at least in part, change this.

By doing what? As I said, I have tried hard to make Stereophile's operation as transparent as possible. What more is possible?

I see no point in responding further, as it would seem a fruitless task to try to change your perceptions of other people's perceptions. But I will address a couple of things you say:


Quote:
I said that the manufacturers might believe that a positive review has more impact that the ad exposure...

Of course. But that has no bearing on how _I_ behave, only on how _manufacturers_ behave. Do you not see that there is no causal relationship?


Quote:
- the ad revenue dominating makes sense. I can't read "as we see it" because the March Stereophile is not at Barnes and Noble here in Northern Ca., at least not as of yesterday.

I was quoting something a magazine mentor of mine had told me, in a tribute to his passing, and which I have acted upon throughout my career as a magazine editor, both at Stereophile and at Hi-Fi News:

"It was John Crabbe who defined for me the relationship between a magazine

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

JA,

Am I correct in assuming that Erik Lichte is not a reviewer?

If he is just a casual reader or musician, id bet that the public does not care too much about what he says.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
Am I correct in assuming that Erik Lichte is not a reviewer?

Erick Lichte is musical director of Cantus and producer of the Cantus CDs that I have recorded. At 32, Erick represents the new generation of reviewers who will be making an appearance in our pages in the next few years. He has already written articles and news items for Stereophile; the Follow-Up on the Musical Fidelity 550K was his first review.

As is the case with new reviewers for the magazine, Erick started with a Follow-Up, so that subject of his review would be a known quantity, not only to readers but also to me.


Quote:
If he is just a casual reader or musician...

Neither would qualify anyone to have a review published in Stereophile. I make it very difficult for anyone not already part of the magazine's review team to be published.


Quote:
id bet that the public does not care too much about what he says.

As I have already said in this thread, Musical Fidelity's Antony Michaelson told me that Erick's review stopped US sales of the amplifier in their tracks. I fail to get your point, therefore.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

John-

When that follow up came out I meant to write you an email commending Erick's review and asking if he would be a reviewer in the near future. He didn't mince any words, his description of the sound was very clear, and he wasn't afraid to take a stand significantly different from the original reviewer. Unfortunately, I got busy and never did. I'm glad to hear that we may be reading more of his thoughts soon.

On a similar topic I like the pieces contributed by Stephen M. to the magazine recently. The enthusiasm that he displays in his blog for new music is contagious.

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
As I have already said in this thread, Musical Fidelity's Antony Michaelson told me that Erick's review stopped US sales of the amplifier in their tracks. I fail to get your point, therefore.

Given the discrepancy between the "Class A" initial review and the result of the follow-up, a follow-up to the follow up would make for a killer read.

The change in sales is a little depressing, when you see so many audiophiles pretend they only trust their own ears.

If I had the change, I'd grab a pair just out of ineterest at this point!

Fascinating chance for some roundtable type discussion, even if various Stereophile reviewers and Mr. Lichte did it online!

I bet the hit count would be tremenadous!

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

A lot of us do not live where we can 'audition' anything not mass market. We rely on reviews and the words of folk on forums who own the thing, then we order from a dealer often 1000 miles away. We might be able to return the thing, but generally for only 30 days and we pay the freight coming and going, It is also unfair to return something because it does not sound quite right when the thing might take a few hundred hours to sound right.

We rely on reviews....

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?


Quote:
A lot of us do not live where we can 'audition' anything not mass market. We rely on reviews and the words of folk on forums who own the thing, then we order from a dealer often 1000 miles away. We might be able to return the thing, but generally for only 30 days and we pay the freight coming and going, It is also unfair to return something because it does not sound quite right when the thing might take a few hundred hours to sound right.

We rely on reviews....

"We rely on reviews...."

That's a terrible thing.

I refuse to acknowledge that!

In our hobby, we are willing to toss kilo-dollars into our gear, but not take the time to seek things out in our travels or attend shows? I don't mean that in a flame way, just that I would like to see more audiophiles approach this hobby less passively than 'buying what we are told.'

"We buy what we are told." That's a very liberal nanny state kind of thing to say! Sounds like a Peter Gabriel song.

Stereophile Show? RMAF?

Those should be considered investments in our own enjoyment, I say!

I know you aren't that far from Denver! Plus, we could have cocktails and talk politics in that now blue state!

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Re: A review of speakers costing $100,000 is relevant to who?

"in our travels"....wow. I do get all the way from Boise to Caldwell now and again. It is 8 hours to anything much bigger. This is the west son...we don't do idle travel and distances are a tad further than NY to Boston.

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