Conspicuous Consumption?

"At what price does a high-end product cease to exist for the 'normal' audiophile?" This question, which I asked in the February 2017 issue, was a follow-up to one I'd asked in our April 2011 issue: "If all someone is offered is a $150,000 pair of speakers . . . that person will walk away from this hobby, or build his or her system by buying only used equipment. Either consumer choice turns the price spiral into a death spiral for manufacturers."

Yet this issue sees me reviewing a loudspeaker that costs $215,000/pair. Last month I reviewed an amplifier priced at $55,000. In August, Michael Fremer reviewed a monoblock amplifier that costs $118,888/pair. And in September, Art Dudley reviewed a CD player that costs $43,000 and, even at that price, had no digital inputs—it could play only CDs, and could not be used as the core of a digital playback system.

All of these products sounded superb, but I must confess wondering who buys components that cost more than a luxury car. Why does a magazine read by regular middle-class people devote space to products that might as well be made from unobtainium?

The primary answer is that many people who will never be able to buy these products still want to read about them. When I'm asked what criteria I use when deciding which product should be photographed to appear on our cover, I explain that the only reason for a magazine to have a cover image, rather than just a list of what can be found inside (footnote 1), is to tempt someone browsing a newsstand to pick it up and, we hope, buy it. A magazine's cover is nothing more than an engine to create newsstands sales, period. And not just Stereophile but gear magazines of all kinds put expensive eye candy on their covers—that's what catches browsers' eyes, in the few seconds those eyes rest on them. Car magazines don't put a budget-priced Chevy Cruze on their cover—they feature a $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron. The cover of this issue of Stereophile features Technics' SL-1000R turntable ($20,000), not PS Audio's Sprout100 integrated amplifier ($599) or Mytek's Liberty D/A processor ($995), both of them also reviewed in its pages.

This is not aspirational bias on editors' parts. When you look at a magazine's newsstand sales, the key metric is "sell-through," aka "efficiency": what percentage of the number of copies of an issue of a magazine shipped to a newsstand are actually sold. A good-performing issue might have an efficiency of 50%; ie, one of every two magazines displayed is purchased. With an unappealing cover, a magazine's sell-through might drop below 20% (footnote 2). When an issue of Stereophile hits an efficiency of 50%, which it occasionally does, I get a pat on the back from my bosses. By contrast, the issue of Stereophile that sold worst on newsstands in recent years was November 2013, whose cover pictured an inexpensive but high-value NAD integrated amplifier. Readers might wish we gave a higher profile to budget-priced products (see Bruce Stram's letter in October, p.11), but my continued employment depends on keeping that efficiency number as high as possible.

But why are the numbers of very expensive audio products exploding? As I wrote in 2011, an audio manufacturer that must gross a certain amount of revenue each quarter to cover fixed expenses and meet payroll has a choice of three strategies: 1) sell a very small number of very expensive products; 2) sell a larger number of mid-priced products; or 3) sell a very large number of inexpensive products. In a world of increasing income inequality and reduced inflation-adjusted income, the lowest-risk strategy for the audio manufacturer is Option 1: move upmarket to service the smaller number of very wealthy customers.

Why is this the lower-risk strategy? In 1991, loudspeaker engineer Ken Kantor, then with NHT, answered this question in a post to the now-defunct bulletin board The Audiophile Network: "In general, there are two ways a manufacturer can derive the price of a given product: 'markup' (materials) driven, or 'contribution' (overhead) driven. . . . Markup pricing starts with materials cost, adds in labor, then multiplies this total by some constant 'gross margin' to get the dealer cost. Markup pricing works well for production volumes that are large enough to amortize overhead costs, and is typically used by companies selling more than, say, $2 million annually."

Many high-end audio companies gross less than that $2 million ($3.7 million in 2018, adjusted for inflation). For them, Kantor offered a different pricing model: "Contribution pricing is useful when production runs are smaller, and sales lower. In this scenario, materials cost is not the driving factor. Rather, the manufacturer uses their sales level and overhead to determine how much a product has to sell for to be worth making. This is an iterative process, as sales volume and price are interrelated."

Kantor then calculated the price the manufacturer would charge the dealer for the same speaker with the same bill of materials. With the contribution-pricing model, that speaker would cost four times what it would with the markup-pricing model. However, assuming a correct calculation of how many speakers the manufacturer can sell, the risk to that manufacturer with the contribution-pricing model is considerably lower. The upward price spiral is just the inevitable outcome of companies increasingly relying on a business strategy based on contribution pricing. But it marginalizes regular audiophiles like you and me.

Footnote 1: From its Autumn 1975 (Vol.3 No.10) through June 1982 (Vol.5 No.4) issues, almost every issue of Stereophile featured the Table of Contents on its cover. In those years, Stereophile wasn't sold on newsstands.

Footnote 2: In 2016, the average efficiency of all magazine titles sold in North America was 25.1%.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Luxury" ........... The Rolling Stones :-) ............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Do the people who buy this stuff, really care about reading formal reviews and measurements? :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be it ia a good idea to start a separate column with a title "Luxury Audio" (or something like that) and devote few pages without any measurements? :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The problem with reviewing these luxury audio components is, how can the reviewers say that, this particular CD player which costs $45,000 or that particular loudspeaker which costs $250,000, sounds bad or, not any better than that $3,000 CD player or, say that $15,000 loudspeaker? They all do automatically sound good, right? ..........Well, I know they are all included in the Class-A or Class-B components with other less expensive components ........... But still, it seems like too many pages are devoted "drooling" over this luxury stuff ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I have a suggestion ......... Stereophile has a column "Records to die for" ......... This new column for luxury audio could be named "Luxury audio components to totally and completely die for" :-)..............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I have another suggestion ........ Why not bring back binaural audio with video, like before? ........ We get a chance to see and listen to some of this esoteric equipment ....... It is the next best thing to live experience ...... We had a chance to hear the Infinity IRS at PS Audio before, for example ........ There is a binaural audio with video of the DeVore reference speakers at Darko Audio website now, for example .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Approx., 30 minutes of listening to binaural music is worth more than 1,000,000 words :-) ..........

Indydan's picture

Even better than the wireless Kef LS50? :-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Well ....... We can't quite compare the two ........ It is like comparing apples to say, grapes ........ Both are sweet :-) ........

dalethorn's picture

So because one person can't tell the difference, the price is too high? That's like saying that these manufacturers are cheating us. I would never say such a thing, because when I hear the $30k amp and the $60k amp, I recognize right away that the $60k amp sounds better. The truth needs no defense - it simply is.

Joe8423's picture

The point of these products is to have something others can't. They're far too expensive for dealers to stock or for people to get to know at home. Nobody knows these products so they don't have to be good. It couldn't be more obvious. Price them astronomically and give them some pleasant distortion. Some will prefer the flavor and find them better. Since only 15 people will ever hear them, the ones who like the flavor will make statements like you. The older I get the more painfully transparent this is.

dalethorn's picture

When you gain the whole world but lose your own soul, you won't be all that concerned with measurements or criticisms from the have-nots.

tonykaz's picture

Audiophiles are readers, it's dam good news that isn't News.

Magazines need to sell Print product written by interesting people with a fascinating story to tell. Loquacious people with an Audiophile Curiosity, interesting people describing interesting subject matter. ( like MQA )

Glitzy Covers being Hooks for Impulse Buyers craving "inside" details about ROLEX Priced Items is the price we civilians have to pay for good journalism concealed within.

However, I don't recall Harry's TAS ever using bling or the wonderful scribbler HR ( for that matter ).

I prefer Audiophile grade front Covers to Blingy Eye Candy stuff but I'm not having to sell against Sizzle.

On top of it all is the idea that the Audiophile Marketplace is frail compared to Automatic Swiss Watches doing around 25 Billion per year. How many Audiophiles wear a GMT or Submariner ?

The Best Audiophile News Today is that Schiit & PS Audio are both thriving, can we have a Schiit vs. PS Audio Issue ? Who made the very first DAC, Moffat or Paul ?

Can Stereophile afford John Darko? ( and his travel budget )

Tony in Michigan

Robin Landseadel's picture

"Can Stereophile afford John Darko? ( and his travel budget )"[?]

Probably, but the fisticuffs twixt Darko & Mikey might require additional and potentially cataclysmic legal costs. Don't wanna get those two too close to each other.

tonykaz's picture

Who is Mikey ?

Darko is way up there in Writing & People Skills.

The only Michael that Stereophile has writes about Vintage 33.3 stuff , not the higher levels of technical accomplishments the 21 Century industrialists are now presenting. It's a Fossil Fuel vs. Solar comparison.

Tony in Michigan

Robin Landseadel's picture

Yeah, that one. In fact, that's how I found out about Darko. Somebody tell me this—how in hell does a 24/96 [or higher bit rate] file 'o' music get "improved" by mastering it to vinyl? I can't imagine how it can be improved, only degraded. And my $80 Fiio X1 can easily handle a 24/96 file. Seriously, isn't this peak absurdity?

For those who have not bothered to click on the link—Darko pointed out that entry level turntables are simply inadequate. The only way to get a turntable package to be sonically competitive with modern digital formats requires a whole lot more money than folks starting out with vinyl are willing to invest. An entry model Rega or Project isn't going to cut it. Which from my experience is reality.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Who is Mikey?" ............

Mikey is the same person who made that breakfast cereal commercial when he was a young kid ........ Mikey hates everything except analog gear :-) .............

ok's picture

ok, alright.. but – do they really play better?

Anton's picture

People will say it isn't true, but you know how audiophiles really think.

Mo money = mo better.

Anton's picture

As a consumer, the 'contribution pricing' model ends up creating a feeling of cynicism about the product, for me.

It also serves to render the term "value" moot, and then when I see reviews mentioning how a 75,000 dollar piece of kit offers good 'value,' I feel cynical about the reviewer's "siding with" that model.

None of what I said is meant as an indictment of anything or anybody, it's just the connotative experience I have. No one is obliged to conform to my own way of looking at things.

RH's picture

Anton, I share your sentiments.

Though I certainly enjoy the idea of no-holds-barred high end gear, and it can be fascinating in it's own right, at some point the price for high end audio seems to break the earth's gravitation and hurl upward with nothing stopping it. It's the pricing of the flagship speakers, cables, amps etc that gets me the most cynical, where the calculation just don't seem anything remotely associated with the cost of production, but are more along the lines of "SOMEONE will pay this much!"

Though something I've often noticed: it seems that it tends to be Americans on audio forums who more often come to the defence of super high end products, or big ticket items in general. I certainly don't mean of course every American would do so, but simply as a trend I see more Americans defending high priced items with: "Look, it's worth whatever you can get someone to pay for it. And if you can get someone to pay $50,000 for something you could have sold them for $8,000....good for you!" (And by the way, "you are probably just jealous because you can't afford it!") As if the concept of "gouging" just has no place.

Maybe it's something about the individualism/capitalism/anyone-can-become-rich-if-they-work-hard-enough aspirations enshrined in American culture. (And...maybe that's why I'm not rich...)

(Again, that's just anecdotal and clearly not all Americans defend ridiculous pricing, and we've seen even Stereophile writers take some shots at high end pricing)

jeffhenning's picture

...Is that most of this premium kit is not world class gear. It’s really good, but not truly great.

If you’re spending that kind of money, that equipment should be state of the art. Almost none of the super expensive gear reviewed here is worth the price. Most especially that $43K CD player.

TNtransplant's picture

First regarding cover images: Don't doubt that eye-catching "exotica" captures attention at newsstand and drives higher "sell through"; but question how much of the relatively poor sell through of the NAD -- "the" classic nondescript black box component -- could be attributed to its price point vs. well, lack of visual interest? I mean, there's also attractive mid-priced gear out there.
Second, seems to me, given the alternative pricing models as described, really does make a case for more, let's say "rigorous" comparisons within price tiers as part of reviews. Not suggesting "by the numbers" spec comparisons; but on the other hand how about banning nonsensical reviewer comments along the lines of .. "sounds like it could sell for (fill in the much higher price)" -- well, yeah because some of those components have been priced very differently and as a result are not very good values.
(Like a truly silly $43,000 CD Player which, okay I admittedly have not heard, but find extremely hard to believe is going to sound all that "better" than a disc player at half that price or a similarly priced digital front end with far greater flexibility -- other components probably, loudspeakers certainly, but given CD source limitations?...)

bsher's picture

My first thought was, yeah, I really have zero interest in speakers that cost more than my house, or speaker cables that cost more than my car (let alone phono cartridges and tonearms, etc.), but the truth is there is a middle ground. I like reading about Wilson Audio and KEF Blades and the like because there are more reasonable alternatives that might help me approximate the sound of a million dollar system (especially in the case of KEF, which sells truly affordable gear). I do have a threshold, so, even with unlimited funds could not imagine spending more than $100K total on a system and, since my funds are considerably limited, my dream system probably costs around $10K (Pro-ject, NAD, DALI or Elac, that sort of thing).

Charles E Flynn's picture

For those of you in the Boston area, the Barnes & Noble store in the Prudential Center has moved the audio gear magazines to the Music section.

After learning that "the average efficiency of all magazine titles sold in North America was 25.1%", I suspect I will start to see magazines on newsstands as almost 75% future recycled material. Sad, but we cannot adopt them all.

Thanks to our editor for citing his own previous material on the two models for pricing audio gear, which saved me from having to perform an experiment with various search engines to see just how hard it would be to retrieve this important distinction.

Ortofan's picture

... if the previous month's issue(s) were offered for sale at a significant discount, instead of immediately being returned to the distributor/publisher?

Robin Landseadel's picture

I am unaware of Any newsstands in Fresno carrying Any audiophile periodicals. And 15 years ago, I worked at a bookstore that carried a lot of them. This obsession with unobtanium has led almost everyone to internet resources. Remember the tale of the golden goose? I knew you could!

Robin Landseadel's picture

Found the newsstand with Stereophile in Fresno—the bottom row of the last of about 8 12' x 6' displays, next to Sound on Sound and Absolute Sound at the Barnes & Noble. Not exactly what I'd call a growth industry. You can see the magazine's name, but not the bling on the cover unless you pull the magazine off the rack. Meanwhile, in the "music" department, the classical music section is now eviscerated, replaced by rows of very expensive reissues on LP of more popular titles derived from digital files. I'd give B & N a couple of more years, max.

tonykaz's picture

By the way, Stereophile's Covers are Beautiful !

Whoever is doing them is an Artist.

Tony in Michigan

mns3dhm's picture

It's worth noting that, at $7.95 for an annual subscription, you're basically giving the magazine away. What is most interesting to me as a long time reader is the discrepancy between your advertising and editorial content. You review a lot of products that never, as far as I can tell, actually buy any ad space in your publication. I would think at some juncture your heavy rotation advertisers, businesses that buy ads month after month, would be screaming holy hell that they are not getting their due. As an editor, I'd be worried that this is an unstable business model.

John Atkinson's picture
mns3dhm wrote:
What is most interesting to me as a long time reader is the discrepancy between your advertising and editorial content.

There's no connection. That's how it should be. See my mentor John Crabbe's explanation at (Scroll down to paragraph 7.)

mns3dhm wrote:
You review a lot of products that never, as far as I can tell, actually buy any ad space in your publication.

That's correct. We choose products to write about based on what we think their relevance is to our readers' interest.

mns3dhm wrote:
I would think at some juncture your heavy rotation advertisers, businesses that buy ads month after month, would be screaming holy hell that they are not getting their due. As an editor, I'd be worried that this is an unstable business model.

As this has been my editorial model for the past 36 years, I am not too worried. (Though my various bosses over the years have been concerned.)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

davip's picture

"...Can Stereophile afford John Darko? ( and his travel budget )" Tony in Michigan

Can Stereophile really afford to have this cloth-earned audio-noob on its roster? His restriction to DarkoAudio/whatever should remain unchanged. Let's have no more staffers whose notion of high-fidelity is a digital one, largely as a product of being born after CD became the carrier of world-choice (unless of course they too can be shuffled-off into the lofty, audiophilic world of cable-company PR...)

funambulistic's picture

I have not heard that one before - what does it mean? That being said, he was born before the era of CDs if I got his age right and did the maths. Yes, the majority of his reviews are of digital products, but seems to enjoy vinyl as well. Personally, I find his "music-first" approach refreshing as that is what is more important to me (i.e., music over equipment).

I think he is doing fine on his own...

Anton's picture

I say this as a dedicated audiophile and so-called music lover:

People who really love music, who actually take the "music first approach" can't be bothered with Hi Fi gear. They are busy enjoying music.

Audiophiles bloviate about how being able to hear the subway during a Harry Belafonte recording shows off the quality of their gear. Or, that being able to hear musicians turn pages while listening to a symphony recording is so grand.

If a "music lover" needs to be able to hear a trumpet player's fingers moving the valves in order to be a better "music lover," I call BS. W are sonic fetishists.

I agree with the rest of your post, just not that we are all about "the music first." That's the big lie about what we seek/do.

Robin Landseadel's picture

One of the reasons digital record/play grew so much, so fast in classical music. Things like sustaining continuous pitch, lack of background noise and ease of track access are more important to people listening to the music than issues of tonal quality, low-level ambience retrieval and the sounds of chairs shuffling about in the woodwind section. The same applies to new-age music, stuff that works much better in a digital format than an analog format. Most of my listening these days is via a FiioX1 DAP, Schiit Magni III and a pair of AKG 167 headphones. The more I listen to that set-up, the crappier LPs sound to these ears.

One more thing—people who are really "Into the music" are singing and playing their instruments.

davip's picture

No, I think he's beyond the pale and has no place in a a serious audio magazine (which is probably why he is, and will hopefully remain, "on his own").

For a slice of the idiocy, look here:

Cloth-eared = English aphorism for deafness...

michaelavorgna's picture

So much anger. Perhaps you should consider taking up needlepoint.

davip's picture

It's hilarious that you of all people should respond on this issue! My point was that flakes and frauds have no business in subscription magazines, and I'd prefer for both Darko and you to be kept in the non-subscription arena -- except that they didn't even want you there, did they? It's your constant arsey responses to readers like this one (and numerous here: that got you the boot, no?

So much 'listening' to Ethernet cables SD cards. Perhaps you should consider taking up something other than equipment reviewing...

michaelavorgna's picture

It's always fascinating to learn what people hold onto for years and years.

Anton's picture

No way someone without an agenda could cruise around Twittering Machines and not come away happy.

The site is chock full of enthusiasm and value equipment. It includes new music and some other enjoyable aspects of life, as well.

Highly recommended. It is a very free feeling experience of an audiophile's general world view and approach to the hobby.


Then, Twittering Machines had an ad for "Inner" Magazine, which is also quite awesome.

funambulistic's picture


Robin Landseadel's picture

I've read it. He's absolutely right.

Anton's picture

Other than his disdain for playing vinyl with a clean stylus, I found the article to be good.

What was it that turned you off?

Robin Landseadel's picture

I wasn't turned off. That dust on the needle thing? That is what happens in the real world, just like brand new LPs that continue to be off-center or have non-fill or are warped or skip or have the surface noise baked in so you can't remove it. Just like LPs that use the same master as the CD with the same sound, plus speed distortions, plus IGD that doesn't go away. Pointless conspicuous consumption? You betcha!

Ortofan's picture

... resulted in a poor selling issue.
Suppose that JA decided to put, for example, the NAD C316BEEv2 on the cover along with the headline "GIANT KILLER!" and "$400 amp indistinguishable from amps at ten times the price (in blind test)"?
Would that sell more magazines or just result in the makers of kilo-buck amps pulling their advertising - or both?

Anton's picture

Well done.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If JA did that (or similar thing like that) to the Stereophile magazine, we will all stop reading Stereophile and switch to AARP magazine (like Anton mentioned) :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

Notice how quiet it got all of a sudden?

barrows's picture

Personally I want to see reviews of cost no object products, and when I go to audio shows, or dealer showrooms, I want to hear cost no object systems. I will never purchase a 6 figure audio component, but I want to know what is possible at the outer limits of audio reproduction, only by knowing this, can I make informed decisions about the components which I do purchase (or build, as the case may be).
Additionally, while trickle down economics does not happen, trickle down sound quality often happens. Take Constellation Audio, for example. Their top level products are in the 6 figure range, but when one listens to them, in comparison with their entry level "Inspiration" series products, the sound quality on offer (the matched to copacetic speakers) is very, very close. While the Inspiration Series is still what I call expensive, they offer high value as the performance is within spitting distance of the Constellation components at ten times the price.
Despite the number of 6 figure components out there, there is a great deal of good value audio available now, in fact, it is a fantastic time to be an audiophile on a budget, as the sound quality offered by even entry level products is at an all time high. Technological advancement in electronic components (parts that is, chips) have made entry level and lower mid priced gear perform so close to their higher priced rivals, that is now sensible to build a fantastic system with a moderately priced intergrated amp from a company like Sim Audio, and just add some speakers. Unfortunately, loudspeakers are still the rub, it is nearly impossible (with the exception of open baffle and planars) to build a really awesome speaker for low cost, due to the expense of the cabinet-good cabinet construction is always going to cost some money, just as custom cabinets for your kitchen do, this is especially the case if one has a larger room and desires higher SPLs and full range performance (although JL audio's E series subs are fantastically good and a good value).

Mikeymort's picture

This is why I follow Steve Guttenberg on CNET. He mostly reviews equipment that I can afford. I read reviews of expensive equipment, but I'm most interested in components that give me the most "bang for the buck". I look most closely at the "Recommended Components" that have $$$ beside them. How about a column devoted to complete systems at varying price points?

rschryer's picture

I think this idea makes sense in theory only. Excluding computer / office systems, how many Stereophile readers buy a whole system at once? I'm guessing pretty much not one. The audiophiles I've known prefer the one-component-at-a-time approach, probably for these reasons:

1) Audiophile gear ain't cheap;

2) The one-component-at-a-time approach is the best way to get to know a component to see how well it fits with the rest of the system, and with you;

3) Buying a complete system harkens back to a time when talk of such a practice meant buying same-brand mainstream garbage. Audiophiles have a primal, subconscious suspicion of the system-in-a-box model. More reassuring, in general, is to abide by the maxim of "slower wins the race".

Robin Landseadel's picture

I'd like to see an all-in one desktop audio system, a little box with a dac/amp combo with internal power supply and slots for flash drives of various sorts. If it's branded Schiit, even better. Super-high-end aspirations run up a brick wall of both cost and size. "Audiophile" gear can be cheap in the real world. Audiophilius Nervosa is a real thing.

Joe8423's picture

It makes sense to some degree. If you're thinking about buying now or in the near future you want to read about stuff you can afford. If you're not interested in buying any time soon then price isn't as much of a factor, although I'd rather still read about stuff I can afford. Sort of stupid for advertisers to be paying for space in a magazine read by people who have no intention of buying, though. You'd think that there'd be pressure from them to aim for people actually looking to buy again before they die. Not just sell to a higher number of people wanting to read flowery language about stuff they can't afford.

music or sound's picture

Any expensive equipment does not make sense if it is not used in a room with good acoustics. But a good room is something reviewers can not loan for auditioning so I see not much discussion here! Also a lot of the consumption of ultra expensive goods is about brand recognition as any luxury good and not about technical or in our case musical merits.

Anton's picture

If we are looking for a chance to improve circulation, it may be useful to look at what the top ten magazines are in terms of readership and go from there.

Here's the list, with some hints for Stereophile...

1) AARP Bulletin.

2) AARP Magazine.

Well, no help there, Stereophile already skews toward that demographic. ;-D

3) Better Homes And Gardens.

Perhaps adding some recipes and a few celebrity audiophiles on the cover, showing their tastefully decorated listening areas? Also, plants and flowers arranged around audio gear.

4) Game Informer Magazine.

Obviously, this tells us that the cover needs promises of AUDIO SHOOTOUT ISSUES!

5) Good Housekeeping. ...

Eww, you need to add irritating celebrities who spew platitudes and talk about "their" recipe for good sound.

6) Family Circle.

I always thought that was just a crappy comic strip. I guess this requires pictures of delicious looking food set out next to audio gear.

7) Reader's Digest.

Hmmm, this, how would this help Sterophile? Perhaps, "Laughter, the Highest Fidelity Medicine? Maybe include truncated reviews fro other audio journals? Harrowing tales of how audiophile gear survived fire and flood, or some terminal failure that was miraculously fixed? I dunno, this one is tough.

8) National Geographic.

Obviously, more pictures of topless women from third world countries.

9) People

More celebrities, including lots of royalty. Also, you know the rule: You can't write anything longer than it takes your average person to take an average crap.

10) Woman's Day

Pictures of more food and holiday decorations. Perhaps seasonal decorations surrounding audio gear!


So, taking lessons from the top ten:

Appeal to older people, mission accomplished.

Include pictures of food, seasonal decorations, celebrities, self help gurus, and naked third worlders and your 'sell through rate' should skyrocket!

No charge for this sage wisdom.

I look forward to the Christmas issue with Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray, a naked person from Borneo, a cornucopia of holiday dessert treats, and a nice tree lit up between and pair of Kharma Grand Enigmas!

Done and done!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

What? .. No 'National Enquirer' in the top ten list? ........... Enquiring minds (like the Stereophile readers) want to know :-) .........

Anton's picture

It’s too high brow.

johnnythunder's picture

I worked in the magazine industry for 16 years (large company that starts with a T that was recently taken over by Meredith) and John makes total sense. Magazines feature the "aspirational." Cover images are meant to entice and provoke. Your condescending spin on his points shows you as out of touch. You can buy Consumer Reports if you want bargain advice.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Puttin' On the Ritz" ........... Taco :-) ............

rt66indierock's picture

I don't think people are feeling marginalized at all. There was a lot of interest in my plans to downsize my home system at RMAF and in private correspondence afterward. I take this as good sign of the interest in practical systems.

foxhall's picture

I have to admit I read every piece on and find his approach, content and style more to my liking. I guess he caters to the segment of us who aren't embarrassed to relish in things like Spotify Connect or a $100 DAC.

Anton's picture

We absolutely should relish the things you mention!

Even on this thread, we see people minimizing less expensive gear because the high priced stuff "must" be better.

I proudly join you in celebrating small budget items that can!

A friend talked me into buying one of those 99 dollar SMSL amps on Amazon and I use it with an Oppo BDP 105 and a pair of Infinity Intermezzo 2.6 speakers and it's great!

I got the Infinities used for 300 bucks, the Oppo was 1250, interconnects are Audioquest Silver (I think they were 90 bucks,) and home made speaker cables.

Into the loft for 1750 bucks and no system on earth can shame how great Louis and Elle sound on it. Moonlight In Vermont, hell yeah!

Cheers to you!

DarthMatzoBrei's picture

Darko covers equipment and music at many price points and does something that nobody else is really doing very well; explaining how the piece can work in different scenarios and who it might be appropriate for.

dktrdktr's picture

Veblen goods.