A Change of Schedule (from 1980)

Recently, we've been asking a representative sample of Stereophile subscribers for suggestions as to how the magazine could be improved. We got 'em, in droves. And the one thing that led every list of suggestions we received was: "Publish more often!" Second in importance was: "Do more reports on affordable components, and let's have more suggestions for cheap ways of improving existing systems."

So, we did a considerable amount of soul-searching. Putting together an 80-page magazine every 3 months without a resident staff isn't easy, but we had finally reached a state of organization where it was becoming clear that it could be done. That alone still wouldn't have solved the timeliness problem, though. There may not be much going on in audio these days, but what's happening is happening fast. It is simply impossible for a quarterly magazine to keep up with what;s going on, except in retrospect. ("This happened two months ago but something else has happened since.")

Finally, we made a decision. And if you aren't already sitting down, we suggest you do so.

We have decided to publish Stereophile every month.

"How," you may well ask, "do we expect to get this idiot rag out every 4 weeks when it took us so long to get on to a quarterly schedule?"

Well, to begin with, we are not going to try to get out our 80-page issues every 4 weeks. (Although, if we get enough interesting, provocative letters to flesh-out another 20-or-so pages, we'll be glad to print them.) Instead, the average monthly issue will run around 32 pages.

Our new schedule calls for 10 issues at 1 per month, with a 2-month hiatus during late summer when most audio activity is at a low ebb (and we'll need time to catch our editorial breath).

Those of you who subscribed to Stereophile for 4 quarterly issues will receive 2.5 times the number of monthly issues that would otherwise have been due you. (Rounded-off to your advantage.) In other words, if you had 3 issues still due on the old schedule, you'll receive 8 monthly issues before you are next up for renewal.

Some issues may well be fatter than 32 pages, depending on what the cat drags in. But assuming that all 10 issues run to 32 pages, that will still add up to 320 pages per year, which is what you were getting in 4 issues a year with a 12-week wait between issues.

Monthly publication will confer other advantages too. If we publish a particularly irritating (or controversial) letter or report or editorial, we can have rebuttals in print before the provocation has grown cold. If readers have problems that we can answer in print, they can get an answer before despair has set in. And if something particularly newsworthy (like the blockbuster we'll be reporting in our next issue) happens in audio, we'll be the first magazine to get that news to you. (Our lead time—the time needed to get something in print—is 2 months less than that of any other monthly.)

For example: Audio exhibitors at the 1980 Summer CES (which ended yesterday, as I write this), reported a disastrous drop in advance orders for new components, and there was much talk about a number of well-known high-end manufacturers being on the verge of failure. If a manufacturer fails, he usually takes with him the facilities for servicing those of his products which are already in consumers' homes. (Dynaco was a rare exception.) Thus, it behooves you to unload, as soon as possible, any components made by moribund (or deceased) firms. If you learn about that first in Stereophile you have a better chance of selling it than you'll have when everyone knows that Acme Audio bit the dust. (Although if you want to live with your conscience, we'd advise selling to someone with the technical know-how to do his own servicing.)

Speaking of which, it is now official that Precedent Audio, which was manufacturing and distributing the MZ-Mod speaker systems, went out of business just a few weeks ago. The Berning TF-10 preamplifier will continue to be manufactured but is no longer available through Precedent. Inquiries about that product should now go directly to David Berning Audio, 11007 Candlelight Lane, Potomac, MD 208S4. You are reading about this a month after we learned about it.

More timely news: Early in June, a certain Dr. John Diamond, of the Institute of Behavioral Kinesiology (try to say that three times rapidly), caused a near-riot at a Los Angeles-chapter AES confab by demonstrating that digitally processed sound saps muscular energy. We're telling you that now because we plan to have a long item about it in the next issue, and are reasonably confident that we'11 still be first to report on what could be the most significant discovery in audio during the past five years.

Your Audio Mart classified can be out to other audiophiles in a matter of weeks, not months. And if we must conclude an equipment report with some unresolved question about the component, you won't have to wait 12 weeks for the resolution.

Another change we are making as of this issue is the discontinuation of display ads (except for our own) in the editorial section. The large ads we used to run just weren't the effort of scheduling. "I promise I'll mail it tomorrow...") and billing ("Oh, I mislaid it. Send us another and we'll take care of it immediately"). Any ads that dealers wish to submit will be run in the "AudioMart" section.

The "Recommended Components" listings will be run in their entirety twice per year [A tradition we continue to this day—Ed.], with updates each month as they occur. Abbreviated "Recommended Components" listings will appear 2 times a year. Anyone who can't wait 6 months for the complete listing, with Notes, may order a copy of the current list (including Recommended Systems) for $1.50. [This offer is no longer available.—Ed.]

Our equipment reports in this issue are a bit weighted in some directions and shy in others, because we made the decision to go monthly before we had a chance to plan what would be covered this time. In future, we hope to be able to cover at least one of each basic kind of component in each issue. And while we will still, on occasion, review un-affordable components just as a reminder of what we lose by buying the affordables, the thrust of our equipment reporting will be in the field of moderate-to-cheap components, where sonic differences are much more real than imaginary.

If you are still skeptical about our ability to bring off this unprecedented (for an "independent") commitment—and why after all shouldn't you be?—you can either sit back indifferently, refuse to renew your subscription when it's up for renewal, and let us go quietly down the dunny for the lack of your support while saying "See, I told you so." Or you can say "I don't think they can do it, but it's such a good idea I'm not going to help scuttle it because of my lack of support."—J. Gordon Holt