J. Gordon Holt founded Stereophile in the fall of 1962 in order to promote the idea that the optimal way to judge audio components was to do what end users did: listen to them. Since then, Gordon has had an unbroken relationship with Stereophile, through its sale to Larry Archibald in 1982, my coming on board as editor in 1986, the sale of the magazine to Petersen Publishing in 1998, and the subsequent sale of Petersen to Emap in 1999. Through all this time he has been listed on the magazine's masthead as "Founder & Chief Tester." (A fascinating interview with Gordon, conducted by his associate and friend Steven Stone, can be found in this website's "Archives.")
It was the road signs alongside I-44 that first caught my attention, each with its twin supports neatly snapped halfway up. Then I saw the outlet center east of Oklahoma City, smashed flat as if struck by the mother of all baseball bats swung by a careless god.
Stereophile magazine is pleased to announce that senior contributing editor Jonathan Scull has joined its full-time staff as senior editor. As of April 19, 1999, he will be based at parent company Emap Petersen's office on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan's Flatiron district.
History teaches us that the full flowering of any social phenomenon takes place after the seeds of its destruction have been sown. That tourist magnet, London's Buckingham Palace, for example, was built decades after the English Revolution and the Restoration had redefined the role of the British monarchy as being merely titular, and made the elected Parliament the real seat of power.
Audio magazine has appeared to have been in difficulties of late, with falling circulation, advertising revenues, and issue size. The current editor-in-chief, Michael Riggs, has worked hard in the past few years to create a more appealing editorial product, since he replaced long-term editor Gene Pitts. However, an even bigger change is now taking place.
The standalone digital/analog converter emerged as a product category in 1987 with the appearance of the Arcam Black Box and the Marantz CDA-94, closely followed by the PS Audio Link. The idea was that putting the sensitive D/A-conversion and analog stages in a separate enclosure with its own power supply would maximize the sound quality when compared with packing these circuits in the same box as the transport. However, it turned out that the routing of the digital data between transport and processor in the form of an S/PDIF- or AES/EBU-encoded bitstream could introduce word-clock jitterwhich undid much of the sonic advantages. (See "Bits is Bits" by Malcolm Hawksford and Chris Dunn, Stereophile, March 1996.)
It was the weirdest orchestral balance I'd ever heard. The gentle woodwind chords that begin Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream were as loud as the climactic "Wedding March" that ends the piece. The radio broadcast was obviously being compressed to hell. Yet, sitting at the wheel of the rented Vauxhall Vectra I was driving down to Cornwall for an old friend's surprise 50th birthday party, I was actually glad for the compression. Had Classic FM broadcast the Mendelssohn with its true dynamic range intact, the quiet passages would have been irretrievably buried in the road noise and the loud passages would have had me lunging for the volume control, to the possible danger of those sharing England's congested A303 trunk road with me.
This series of articles is based on a paper presented at the 103rd Audio Engineering Society Convention, New York, September 1997. The preprint, "Loudspeakers: What Measurements Can Tell Us—And What They Can't Tell Us!," AES Preprint 4608, is available from the AES, 60 East 42nd Street, Room 2520, New York, NY 10165-0075. The AES internet site, www.aes.org, offers a secure transaction page for credit-card orders.
It is with regret that I announce that Wes Phillips has resigned from Stereophile in order to take a position, beginning January 1, 1999, with PR company J.B. Stanton Communications, Inc. Wes and his wife, Joan, will be relocating to Connecticut. I wonder how Wes's unreconstructed Virginia ancestors will take to his becoming a Yankee!
We are saddened to learn of the passing, on December 13, of audio writer Ann Turner. Ann, who was diagnosed earlier in the year as suffering from clear cell carcinoma, was a stalwart of high-end audio magazine The Abso!ute Sound---Editor Harry Pearson tells me he used to refer to her as "the Aquarian War God," a phrase she liked. She was also the inspiration and the driving force behind that publication's web site, The Abso!ute Sound.