A Babel, a Babble . . . Page 10

This is the perspective I come from. The hardware is fine, but it's what I hear with my ears that's the most important determining factor for me. Again, we come back to the subjective vs the objective. It's difficult. People want to be told. "This is what you should buy." "Editor's choice: five stars, four stars, three stars..."—let's not fall into that trap.

Lipnick: I think it's important that we try to find a way how we can get more visibility for high-end audio. The average John Q. Public doesn't know that the American high-fidelity industry is the finest in the world.

Holt: Or exists!

Lipnick: Exactly. I think what we have to do at Stereophile is to say "There is a high-end community in this country. It's the best in the world. You go to Japan, what do they buy? They buy American stuff. How about that? Hmm!" People's eyes'll light up. That's the first thing I do when I go to a client's home. I say, "Japanese stuff is great, mid-fi stuff is great, but do you know who makes the finest audio equipment in the world?" They say "Who?" I say "The United States!" And they say "What?! The US?" And they look at me like I'm a screwball.

Holt: I have been talking for years about the idea of trying to get together an institute or something like that which will promote high-end audio.

Atkinson: Well, Harry Pearson's promoted this Association of High-End Audio Design. I feel they should present President Bush with an all-American, high-end hi-fi system.

Lipnick: He doesn't want it.

Holt: He'd never listen to it. His tubes would last forever.

Atkinson: That would generate the kind of publicity Lew is talking about...

Lipnick: I tried that. It got to Mrs. Reagan, and she didn't want it. And the Bushes don't want one. Just a couple of months ago I talked with the head usher of the White House about just such a proposal about high-end. He said the Bushes are not interested.

Atkinson: But it made such an impact in the '70s when the Carter White House was presented with an all-Japanese system. That was big news even in England.

Holt: Maybe we can send one to Gorbachev, he's supposed to be an audiophile.

Lipnick: The National Symphony is going to Russia next February. I was thinking, what we should do is set up a high-end system for Gorbachev (footnote 6) and then in the papers in the US, you would read "Gorbachev given high-end American audio system—What does our President own? Japanese!" [laughter]

Atkinson: Would anyone care to bring the discussion to a close?

Galo: A lot of it's been alluded to, but I think one of the real strengths of Stereophile which continues to this day is its attitude toward its readership. Stereophile has always treated its readers as equals, like friends sharing information. Which is very, very different from our major competitor, which treats its readers with contempt. I got an interesting reaction from the students who take my "Audio Fundamentals" course. I have them go to the library and review the audio magazines—the college gets Stereophile, The Abso!ute Sound, The Sensible Sound, The Audio Amateur, Speaker Builder, Gramophone, and Stereo Review. This summer was the first time we had done this, and many of my students said The Abso!ute Sound is pompous, arrogant. At the same time, they said Stereophile seems on the level.

Deutsch: They should read The Audio Critic.

Galo: I think that's very, very important and I really hope we keep in that direction.

Holt: We will.

Atkinson: That whole attitude stems from Gordon.

Holt: And John has not changed that at all.

Atkinson: As I said earlier, we're all drawn to Stereophile for similar reasons. I was drawn to Stereophile because when I first read Gordon—which was very hard, Gordon didn't make it easy for people to read Stereophile in England in the '70s—this was a man speaking my own language. He wasn't talking down to me, he was talking straight at me. It was obvious that with his experience and with his abilities, this was somebody I could learn from, but this man wasn't pompously standing back and saying "I know it all. Just read what I say and believe it." He was saying "This is where I'm coming from. Think for yourself."

Footnote 6: Unfortunately, we were too late. According to a report in the September '89 issue of the German magazine Audio, Gorbachev was recently presented with a Restek/Backes & Müller/Transrotor/SME/Ortofon system.