As We See It

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 16, 2016 7 comments
A recording engineer's choices of microphones to record singers, guitars, horns, bass, drums—or an entire orchestra—are absolutely crucial. Those very subjective choices are, in large part, what separate the best recordings from the also-rans. When I contacted some of the best engineers in the business to talk about mikes, I got an earful. I was told that mikes have a more profound impact on reproduced sound than does any other link in the recording chain. Yes, the acoustic of the recording venue also plays a huge role, and post-session mixing and mastering can of course improve or ruin the sound—but the choice of mikes is absolutely crucial.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Aug 09, 2016 Published: Dec 12, 1963 3 comments
By the time you read this in late 1963 (probably a month after it is written, judging by the speed with which the US mails speed second-class matter on its appointed rounds), Capitol Records will have announced the first bit of really good news for the high-fidelity perfectionist in years: the release of imported disc pressings—taped, cut, and stamped in Europe. London has been importing for years—all the Londons you buy are pressed by Decca in England. But this will be the first opportunity we will have of sampling the products of some of London's overseas competitors.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Aug 04, 2016 Published: Jun 01, 1970 6 comments
Editor's Note: Approaching its ninth year of publication in 1970, the advertisement-free Stereophile was failing as a business. There was just one issue published between December 1968 and June 1970, the date when J. Gordon Holt published this plea in response to the reaction to the increased subscription price: first to $4 for four issues, equivalent to $25 in 2016, then to $5 ($31). The response from subscribers to his plea was not positive enough to enable the magazine to continue publishing—Gordon could publish just two more issues in the next two years before Stereophile had to accept advertising, first from dealers in October 1972 and from manufacturers in December 1977.Ed.

Our recent price increase at the end of 1969 elicited numerous letters telling us the magazine was exhorbitant at $4 a subscription and is outrageous at $5, and supporting their contention with comparisons between the price per page of the Stereophile and one or another of the commercial hi-fi magazines. We will answer this once, here and now, and then let the matter drop.

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Robert Schryer Posted: Jul 14, 2016 7 comments
Once in a blue moon, I'm asked this question: How much should I spend on an audiophile rig? It's usually asked by someone with no real interest in buying an audiophile rig, but who's fishing, for giggles, for the exorbitant figure that is the presumed going rate for joining our hobby. Sometimes, when the mood strikes, I'll bang out a randomly absurd number—"$80,000!"—then lean back to observe the fallout. Nine times out of ten, that fallout consists of a head shake and a snicker, as if to say, "You guys are nuts!" But on those occasions when honesty seems the best policy, my short answer to the how-much question, regardless of the buyer's financial means, is the same: As little as possible.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jun 28, 2016 Published: Sep 01, 1967 0 comments
By the time you read this, in the fall of 1967, the "Dolby system" will probably be old hat to you. Every other audio publication has been describing it, discussing it, and hailing it as the greatest invention since sex.

We've seen that kind of press ballyhoo before, about such significant advances as the Edsel, the 16-rpm LP and the "thin-profile" loudspeaker, so our first inclination was to be a wee bit skeptical of the Dolby. It seemed too good to be true.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 14, 2016 Published: Jul 01, 2016 12 comments
Last January, in Las Vegas, a record 170,000 people attended the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. Most of them neither saw nor heard a trace of high-end audio gear. Not only was all mention of what CES calls "high performance audio" absent from the show's official Attendee Guide, but the hallways of the Venetian Tower, which in past CESes were filled with high-end manufacturers, dealers, and distributors, were anything but crowded.
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Art Dudley Posted: May 17, 2016 Published: Jun 01, 2016 17 comments
Note: All dialogue quoted verbatim from e-mail exchanges to which I am privy; the stage directions are imaginary.

Dramatis Personae:

bill, director of marketing for PS Audio

randy, amateur reviewer for a commercial audiophile website

dick, professional reviewer for an established audio magazine (not Stereophile)

J. Gordon Holt Posted: May 03, 2016 Published: Dec 01, 1964 4 comments
Well, the New York Hi-Fi wingding has come and gone once again, and now is the time when audio editors dutifully adopt the role of oracle, divining the future of high fidelity, and generally sketching out The Big Picture for those of us too blind to see the graffiti on the wall. So, who are we to shirk our duty? Herewith, The Stereophile's audio observations and predictions for 1965.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 21, 2016 Published: May 01, 2016 41 comments
I was in a strange mood last January when I posted this on Facebook: "Do speaker designers strive for accuracy, or for a 'sound' they think potential buyers want?" I doubted that any designer with two working ears would even attempt to design speakers that merely measured well—there must be at least some subjectivity in their process. I also assumed that few designers would go on record about where they stand on the accuracy question, so I was thrilled when Elac Americas' speaker designer, Andrew Jones, responded...
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Apr 12, 2016 Published: May 01, 1966 0 comments
Editor's Note from 1974: As you can read in the following "As We See It," the last issue of Vol.1 No.12 (cover dated "Spring 1966") was perhaps not as "strong" as it might have been. If we had been doing things according to Proper Business Practice, we should have held back our best articles and our gutsiest reports until that issue, as a high-powered incentive for our subscribers to renew their subs. We didn't. There were better articles and a greater variety of topics covered in earlier issues, but Issue 12 was significant in that it set the pattern of topic emphasis, and the balance of reports versus other editorial material, that was to continue more or less unchanged for the next 7 years.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Apr 05, 2016 Published: Sep 01, 1966 10 comments
Our mail, in recent months, has brought a number of comments (some of them printed in this issue) from professional audio men who decry the fact that developments in the audio field seem to have come to a screeching halt.

There would seem to be some justification for believing this, too. There hasn't been a new kind of loudspeaker, amplifier, pickup, or tuner for the past five years or so. The professional engineering journals, once loaded with juicy articles about research and developments in music reproduction, are now devoted largely to public-address techniques and new methods for the "creation" of electronic music.

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Robert Schryer Posted: Mar 22, 2016 Published: Apr 01, 2016 14 comments
It's one of audiophiledom's eternal questions: What can we do to draw more music lovers into the audiophile fold?

Of the proposals bandied about on audio forums, two seem predominant: a) sell stuff more people can afford, and b) sit your neighbor or the cable guy in front of your stereo, cross your fingers, and let 'er rip—the theory behind b) being that the experience will be so epic as to transform the reluctant participant into an audiophile butterfly. As if.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Mar 15, 2016 Published: Jul 01, 1968 1 comments
While we were preparing our list of specifications for our perfectionist's tape recorder discussed elsewhere in this issue, we suddenly came to a screeching halt at the spec which started "Scrape flutter less than . . ."

What, we wondered, was the scrape flutter percentage in a recorder in which scrape flutter is audible? Would it be 0.5%? Or 1%? Or even 5%? We perused the readily available literature, and were informed that "scrape flutter is caused by the tape's tendency to move past the heads in a series of tiny jerks in stead of in a smooth gliding motion." We were also told that scrape flutter is due to friction between the tape and the head surfaces, plus the slight elasticity of the tape that allows it to stretch slightly before being dragged along by another silly millimeter, and that it sounds like a rough edge riding on all signal frequencies between about 3kHz and 8kHz.

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John Atkinson Posted: Feb 23, 2016 Published: Mar 01, 2016 13 comments
One of the benefits of belonging to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a subscription to their monthly magazine, IEEE Spectrum. Superbly written and edited, this journal keeps me up to date on emerging technology, and entertains me with things like reprints, on the final page, of vintage advertisements. Their January 2016 issue, for example, featured an ad from December 1920, promoting the Victor Talking Machine Company's Victrola: "By all means get a Victrola this Christmas, but be sure it is a Victrola and not some other instrument made in imitation. $25 to $1500. Victor dealers everywhere."
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Feb 16, 2016 Published: Dec 01, 1962 5 comments
When the Record Industry Association of America adopted its standard disc playback equalization curve in 1954, hi-fi enthusiasts heaved a sigh of relief and bade fond farewell to years of confusion, doubt and virtual pandemonium. Before the RIAA curve there were six "standard" curves in use, and since nobody seemed to know who was using what, getting flat response from a disc was often more a matter of luck than anything else. The adoption of the RIAA standard playback curve heralded an end to all this.

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