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DLWyattjr
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Where have all the record reviews gone?

I just picked up the current stereophile and discovered precisely one new record review, that of Neko Case's "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood",

Granted it was the 'Records 2Die4" issue, so there were reviews. And I was pleased to see Ms. Case get such attention. I've became a fan of her work as solo artist and with The New Pornographers after an NPR review led to an impulse purchase.

I am interested in the gear, I'm even interested in tweaks though I'll have to try them on my own system before I'll belive. But the reason we by this gear is to listen to music. And though I'm not in my thirties any more I'm still looking for good new music, or information on older pieces I've missed.

If I'm a record store at the catalog with an extra $20 in my pocket I would prefer not to blow it on another Led Zeppelin album. While i'd like to fill in holes with the music I don't yet own, the seventh Miles Davis album might not add as much pleasure to my life as Amy Rigby's "Little Fugitive" or a "Dose" of Government Mule.

Over the past couple years I've noted a steady decline in the number of reviews in Stereophile, particularly from the time when I first became a subscriber back in the nineties. But I think they're an essental part of any music magazine. A lot of good music languishes on the shelves while Mariah Carey's figure is splashed across a dozen magazines. Somebody has to help us find the Nils Lofgrens of the world. Stereophile can do better in this regard.

bobb
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

I too would like to see a return to more reviews. While one can make the case that reviews are merely opinions and don't count for much, I still put some faith in those "opinions" that come from reviewers who may be more familiar with an artist than I am. Might save me from a bad buy.

How about one less equipment review per issue and devote that space to reviews? Maybe Stereophile can contract for reviews with former Stereo Review reviewers (wow, that was an awkward choice of words!) I think reviews should be a vital component of Stereophile. What good is the stuff if you don't know what to play on it?

I miss reviews. I was very sad when Stereo Review died a brutal death and became Sound & Vision. The music reviews all but disappeared to be replaced by an emphasis on video. Ugh!

Bob

ohfourohnine
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

It will be interesting to see where this thread goes. I'd like to see more coverage of recordings too, but I think you and I are decidedly in the minority. Yes, I like gear and tweaks. In the last five years I've invested in major equipment upgrades, and I spent about an hour earlier this evening satisfying myself that I was, indeed, currently using the turntable mat that does the most to reveal the "good stuff" in my recordings, but music is what it's all about.

I believe that audiophiles who "get it" have more invested in recordings than in equipment and I certainly do despite recent hardware purchases. My guess is that most of those who frequent this forum do not. I'd like to be wrong about that, but I don't think I am.

jazzfan
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?


Quote:
I believe that audiophiles who "get it" have more invested in recordings than in equipment and I certainly do despite recent hardware purchases. My guess is that most of those who frequent this forum do not. I'd like to be wrong about that, but I don't think I am.

Well count me among those who "get it" since I have far, far more cold hard cash and time invested in recordings than in equipment and I've some serious equipment (and my stereo ain't too bad either )) but seriously it's first and formost about the music.

I truly respect the various "audio nerds" of the world, whose individuals can spend hours obsessing over the details of equipment design, trying to find ways to improve upon it. May God bless them as much as all the wonderful musicians who make the music in the first place. They both have their place in the wild and wacky world of high end audio.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

When I was young I could go to Cooks Record Shop and go listen to any 45 I wanted in their "phone-booth" record rooms before I laid down my 50 cents. Who in their right mind would buy "used" lps today? Oh, wait, I do!

Now we can listen to MP3 clips off the net of artists we are interested in. I have even had other forum members send me to other sites to be able to listen to an artist where their label did not even offer sound clips. What's up with that?

I look at what MF is spinning these days, even though our tastes differ, you can usually bet sonically it will be a great ride. The R2D4 section is great, but, be realistic, there is no way for it all to be reviewed and JA does a great job of bringing in other writers to list their preferences to make the list broader. Once in a while we get lucky and find something we like on someone elses list letting us know we are not too far out of the loop.

As of Thursday's mail my Feb issue is not here so I am a little behind the R2D4 for 2006. Maybe today. This forum is a great way for each of us to list some of our own favorites that make peak the interest of other forum members. Nothing like networking your musical passions.

Buddha
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

One of my other favorite magazines is "Q", a British popular music (a little jazz) magazine that includes many 60-70 word reviews each month. Just enough to let readers know something exists and toss in a blurb about how it sounds. Sometimes they have a "if you like....., then you may like this" added.

While an educational treatise on how a disc was mixed and who was in the control room is nice, I'd suggest an additional small section of eight or more reviews per page just letting us know what the critics there are liking and then we can do the leg work from there.

On a related note, Mr. Fremer's quick top ten list is a nice touch, by the way.

In fact, didn't someone at Stereophile used to do a quarterly review of audiophile releases? That would be potentially cool to bring back, although Elusive Disc, Audio Advisor, and Music Direct seem to have taken the audiophile update ball and run with it.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?


Quote:
In fact, didn't someone at Stereophile used to do a quarterly review of audiophile releases? That would be potentially cool to bring back, although Elusive Disc, Audio Advisor, and Music Direct seem to have taken the audiophile update ball and run with it.

Wes used to write the Quarter Notes column.

smejias
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Looking into this led me to an interesting piece, Robert Baird's first Aural Robert.

dcrowe
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

I also have far more invested in recordings than I will ever spend on equipment. My question for the group is: which has better correlation with your own taste: the equipment reviews or the recording reviews? Personally, I have found the equipment reviews more valuable.

Buddha
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Good point, Devon.

I've been turned on to alot of great music via the equipment reviews!

dcrowe
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?


Quote:
Good point, Devon.

I've been turned on to alot of great music via the equipment reviews!

Unintended consequences in action! Equipment reviewers tell us about the recordings they use to evaluate equipment. This is a highly selected set of music that is usually worth a serious listen!

Monty
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Well, back in the nineties, Stereophile was owned by Archibald and was about 360 pages long. Today, Stereophile has different owners and isn't likely to see that many pages again. Give JA another 100 pages to work with and I'm sure he would gladly expand the music section.

I'm not at all in favor of expanding the music section. Not because I don't want to know what's out there, but given the number of pages and the abundance of other music resources available, this just doesn't make good business sense.

When you have a limited number of pages to work with, use them for what the majority of your readers are subscribing for in the first place...and we all know what that is.

I think it is just about right...and thank God the car stereo experiment has run its course.

I do miss Lisa Astor, though. (sniff, sniff) Did she finally ditch that nut she was married to?

bobb
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

<<Monty wrote: "I'm not at all in favor of expanding the music section. Not because I don't want to know what's out there, but given the number of pages and the abundance of other music resources available, this just doesn't make good business sense.">>

Monty,
Would you list some of the abundant resources you refer to? Lately I have been more interested in reading recording announcements/reviews than equipment reviews. I'm done with equipment for a while, but always on the search for music. What sources would you recommend, either online or in print available at Borders, etc?
Thanks,
Bob

Monty
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Hey Bob, I hear ya...really. I'm not suggesting that the music should in anyway serve the gear, I'm simply recognizing that fact that we have comparatively fewer resources devoted to high quality reproduction available to us than we have for software.

I'm coming from the position that the record business could cease to exist tomorrow and I could still spend a lifetime aquiring previously recorded music and run out of money far quicker than I would run out of excellent musical choices.

I long ago stopped trying to keep up with the latest releases coming out of the industry and rely more on my local favorite music store Waterloo Records to keep me at least somewhat in touch with what is available. Waterloo is a music lovers paradise and I am fortunate to have this resource locally.

Anyway, I'll list a few of my other favorites and maybe some of the other guys will add a few of their own.

Elusive Discs
Concord Music Group
Mikey Fremer's Site
Classical

Editor
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?


Quote:
Give JA another 100 pages to work with and I'm sure he would gladly expand the music section.

Yup!


Quote:
I'm not at all in favor of expanding the music section. Not because I don't want to know what's out there, but given the number of pages and the abundance of other music resources available, this just doesn't make good business sense.

However, what is good business sense is to expand the magazine's music coverage on the Web. We are about to launch an extension to www.stereophile.com, edited by Robert Baird, that will be devoted to music and recordings. Watch this space for the announcement.


Quote:
I do miss Lisa Astor, though. (sniff, sniff) Did she finally ditch that nut she was married to?

Myles and Lisa did divorce, and Lisa is now remarried, living in Key West, and indulging her newfound passion for flying by getting her pilot's license. She says she is writing a book on Florida life, but has no plans to return to audio journalism. :-(

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

DLWyattjr
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

That's an interesting point. First of all, I've heard only a fraction of the equipment reviewed in this magazine. My current speakers (Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v.2) were very well reviewed by this magazine, but so were a number of the spearkers the beat out from people like Reference 3A, Theil and B&W. The other finalist was something the magazine never reviewed, though they have liked other stuff.

I'll never audition the Halcro Amps or the other mega bucks stuff. I can't begin to afford it. Why take up some salesman's time just so I can dream? As I can't afford to trade up very often (the gear I have will have to go for a decade) I hardly audition anything at all these days.

Record reviews are a nother matter. They are possibly more subjective than equipment gear, where at least we have the measurements to agree on. Reviewers have tastes and emotions like anyone else, and a fair review really requires more than a quick audition. But how else do we find stuff? In Columbus I have an NPR affiliate that is very progressive, a metal station, a good professive rock station and classical with Jazz and blues only getting occasioanal treatment. Even when I am listening I don't always catch what that great tune was.

My software collection is pretty large, but so varied that I'll never fill the holes without Ed McMahon's intervention. But the thrill of discovering something new, followed by the thrill of sharing your discovery is still quite real. There are plenty of holes I don't know about yet, and those are the best kind of holes.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Expanded music coverage by Robert Baird on the website - great! Thanks very much, John.

bobb
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Thanks for the links, Monty. I look forward to spending some time on them. I checked out Waterloo...wish I had something like that near me (Philadelphia, PA area.) All I have is Tower, Borders and some mall stores that all seem to think I should pay $17.99 for a CD.

JA - I look forward to the expanded music section. Thanks!!

Bob

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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Bob, we don't have even that much in East Central Florida. Unless one travels to Orlando, there is basicly Circuit City and Best Buy (in Melbourne). To get dvd-audio one must buy from Circuit city on-line at that.

I would consider an expanded music review section on the web-site a terrific idea. Even with xm now available on directv it is difficult to hear new music. Their two new rock stations are either a very vulgar heavy metal or a much much softer alternative channel. It would be great to read some reviews of some of the new musicians referenced in the rock music room.

IBnotRich
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Well, that's certainly service for you. JA that's exciting news! Can't wait till it launches and good music reviews head our way.

Dave_c
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Re: Where have all the record reviews gone?

Bob - Regarding Philly-area record shops, there are a lot of really great ones, as an alternative to Tower and Borders. I will say that the Tower on Broad is fantastic and has a really nice classical section. No vinyl at either however. Here's a few which I dig:

AKA Music - Old City, on 2nd ST. Fantastic selection of new and used cd's and lp's; one of the best shops in the city. Nice jazz section too!

Repo Records - South Street and in Bryn Mawr. Alternative/Punk/post-anything/rock; lp's and cd's at both locations. Great used prices!

Gold Million Records (formerly Plastic Fantastic) - Bryn Mawr. Great selection of used and new vinyl. This is a really cool shop!

Shady Dog Records - Wayne. A jewel! Tons of used and new lp's and cd's. Really cool owners, who will always help you search for that elusive disc.

Main Street Music - Manayunk. Used and new cd's and a small selection of lp's. Great selection of rock/WXPN-approved cd's.

I use the usual suspects for mail order too (Elus. Disc, Music Direct, Red Trumpet, Ac. Sounds), but also check out Deadalus Books/Music for some great deals on new closeouts from Linn, Chesky, Harmonia Mundi, etc..

Hope this helps, good luck!

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