As We See It
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As We See It
Michael Lavorgna Dec 26, 2012 Published: Jan 01, 2013 24 comments
To say that a digital source "sounds like analog" has always struck me as coming up short. The notion that one format sounds like another is not really sensible or even ideal. While I love listening to LPs, there are some physical attributes of vinyl that, ideally, you don't want to reproduce. You know what I'm talking about because, every chance they get, LP haters remind us about pops, ticks, skips, surface noise, inner-groove distortion, etc. So when we say that a digital source sounds like analog, what we're really saying is that it doesn't sound like digital.
As We See It
Jason Victor Serinus Nov 29, 2012 Published: Dec 01, 2012 1 comments
Every music-loving audiophile has a unique story—a story of the first time he or she was grabbed, body and soul, by a first, usually low-budget listen to a 78, LP, CD, open-reel, cassette, or MP3—a story that continues today in that audiophile's quest for high-end bliss. For me, it was my desire to move closer to the voices of the singers I most loved.
As We See It
John Atkinson Nov 02, 2012 67 comments
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!"
As We See It
Steve Guttenberg Sep 25, 2012 Published: Oct 01, 2012 49 comments
Before 1982, when the Compact Disc arrived, I didn't love LPs. Analog was already very old tech, and while every trick in the book had been applied to turntables and LPs, they still wowed & fluttered at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. Vinyl's deficiencies were legion: warped LPs were more common than truly flat ones; surface noise, clicks, and pops sang along with the tune; LPs rarely had perfectly centered spindle holes; inner-groove distortions popped up at inopportune moments; and each time an LP is played, its sound quality degrades, if only ever so slightly. The LP format? Imperfect sound forever.
As We See It
Art Dudley Aug 28, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 27 comments
In the old days, when audio-show reports routinely appeared in the print edition of Stereophile, life was easier. I spent my show days visiting exhibitors and listening to new gear, but I decorated those days with record shopping, dining out, and staying up late to visit with friends in the industry. And because hard-copy deadlines always seemed to be at least a few days away, I would wait until I'd returned home before doing any actual writing.
As We See It
Art Dudley Jul 25, 2012 Published: Aug 01, 2012 7 comments
I was recently reunited with an old friend from high school. My best friend from high school, in fact. Our families got together, everyone got along, and as the dust of conversation settled toward the rug of companionable silence, talk turned to work. And when the inevitable happened, and my old friend and his wife—classical-music lovers both—asked how much a person had to spend these days in order to get a good music system, I answered their question with a question—a question that, crazily enough, just popped into my head...
As We See It
Stephen Mejias Jun 28, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 2 comments
A few years ago, while on vacation in Puerto Rico, I found myself sitting at a nearly empty beach bar, discussing music with Cassie Ramone, singer and guitarist for one of my favorite bands, Brooklyn's Vivian Girls. (I was as surprised as anyone by the strangeness of this chance encounter, but that's another story.) When the conversation turned to the topic of so-called "lo-fi" bands, Cassie's tone became critical, almost bitter: "No one wants to make 'lo-fi' records," she said.
As We See It
Jim Austin May 29, 2012 4 comments
Portland, Maine, my hometown for the better part of two decades, is a pretty hip place. We are not, for the most part, innovators in fashion, but we are early adopters of the more interesting latest styles.

For years now, what I take to be a Brooklyn style has been prevalent among the local twentysomething crowd. The hipper restaurants are full of pretty young women and bearded men in plaid shirts who, on the one hand, seem ready for the woodlot but who, on the other hand, seem too skinny to lift a decent-size chainsaw. Likely as not, they arrived on single-speed racing bikes converted for commuter use. Nifty machines.

As We See It
Art Dudley May 01, 2012 2 comments
Stop me if you've heard this: On January 10, at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center, a performance of Mahler's Symphony 9, led by conductor Alan Gilbert, was stopped in its tracks by the ringing of an iPhone.

It wasn't just any part of the Mahler Ninth: It happened during the exceedingly quiet closing measures of the final movement.

It wasn't just any symphony orchestra: It was the New York Philharmonic, which Gustav Mahler directed during the last two years of his life.

As We See It
Stephen Mejias Apr 04, 2012 8 comments
Every time I stepped from the slow elevator onto the casino floor at Harrah's, where Stereophile's editors spent their sleepless nights, my hatred for Las Vegas was revitalized. It felt like some kind of bad joke: Oh god, I'm still here. I would turn right and see the same flashing lights, the same low ceilings, the same people—still sitting, still smoking, still hoping, still staring blank-faced into spinning screens of cherries, spades, and jokers—and I would wonder why.
As We See It
Steve Guttenberg Mar 01, 2012 6 comments
There's an old Woody Allen bit about his mother running the family's food through a "deflavorizing machine" a couple of times, just to make sure dinner was completely tasteless. Well, that's what a lot of contemporary music sounds like to me. Booker T. Jones's recent album The Road from Memphis has some great tunes, but the sound of the album pales in comparison with his seriously funky work with Booker T. & the MG's in the 1960s. It's not just that the new CD is maximally compressed and processed to a fare-thee-well—it's a totally lifeless recording. But this isn't just another analog vs digital diatribe. The problems have little to do with the recording format; it's the way recordings are now made. Too many are assembled out of bits and pieces of sound to create technically perfect, Auto-Tuned, Pro Tooled music. It's not that great music can't be made that way, but it's sure as hell less likely to get my mojo workin'.
As We See It
Art Dudley Feb 03, 2012 3 comments
Children, for the most part, are normal human beings who like to make believe that they're extraordinary, just for fun. Adults, on the other hand, are delusional creatures who enjoy pretending that they're normal, simply for their own peace of mind.
As We See It
Robert Deutsch Dec 29, 2011 Published: Jan 01, 2012 6 comments
You know about them: audio products or tweaks that fall outside the standard definition of audio component. They're not source components like CD players, not amplifiers or preamplifiers, not loudspeakers, not power-line conditioners or cables—and, if aimed at modifying room acoustics, they're not the standard devices that absorb or disperse sound. Let's call them Unorthodox Audio Products (UAPs). They promise a kind of audio panacea: something that fixes whatever's wrong with the sound of your system.
As We See It
Thomas Conrad Dec 01, 2011 6 comments
On this page in the May 2011 issue of Stereophile, Steve Guttenberg became the latest in a long line of prophets of doom who periodically announce that jazz is deceased. Guttenberg argued that "Digital audio mortally wounded recorded music's creative mojo in 1982" and was "stifling creativity in rock and jazz."

I bring glad tidings to Stereophile readers. When it comes to jazz, Guttenberg is dead wrong. The jazz art form today is rich, diverse, deep, and international.

As We See It
John Marks Oct 31, 2011 Published: Nov 01, 2011 1 comments
My "As We See It" in the July 2011 issue seems to have touched a nerve. At the AXPONA NYC audio show last June, more than one person stopped me in a corridor to take issue with what they thought I'd written.

That column certainly brought the Beethoven worshippers out of the woodwork. Look, I revere Beethoven, and I stand by what I wrote in the July issue: There can be little doubt, in terms of his impact on the course that Western music would follow, that Beethoven was the most important composer. But "most important" in terms of music history is not the same thing as the composer whose works most deeply touch my heart. For that, Beethoven is just not in my Top Five.

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