A New Size For Stereophile Still More Letters

Pick up that pen

Editor: I have written in the past (but have not been published) about ways Stereophile can improve. Generally, I have been satisfied. But after receiving a totally mangled copy in the new size format, I felt compelled to pick up the pen. Larry's "Final Word" suggested that subscribers will now receive Stereophile in pristine condition, like other large magazines. I estimate that 5% of the large magazines I subscribe to (11 monthlies, 2 weeklies) arrive with some damage. This seems to happen to Stereophile more than the others. Perhaps my post office has something against high-end audio...I, like many Stereophile subscribers, retain each issue in a reference library. I would be thrilled if all issues were packaged sufficiently so they arrived in good condition. The subscription prices certainly warrant this.

I applaud you for increasing your review coverage over the last 12 months beyond the more recognized brands. I hope that trend continues, since many brands are still absent or rarely reviewed. Also, I would like to see more focus on recording equipment—I don't think I'm alone in making tapes for use away from my home system. There have been several advances in recording equipment (Dolby S, DCC, DAT, MD) over the last couple years that you haven't reviewed as frequently as necessary. Your broad-brush approach on cassette decks in "Recommended Components" is appalling. I recently purchased an Aiwa XK-S9000 that has surprisingly excellent recording capability for home use! I would like to hear your opinion on some of this equipment before purchase!—David Groomes, Novi, MI

A new medium?

Editor: An impressive achievement! No issue in your previous 16 volumes has the heft, sway, swagger, or impact of Vol.17 No.1. Stereophile has become a sexy Euro-zine—the kind one sees devoted to cars, clothes, and cuisine on Italian newsracks. Your content is thereby heightened, but could require tighter editing. Different 'zine, different imperative.

The Cary on the cover is simply objectified lust—that re-sized glossy color sings! It ought to force some advertisers into soul-searching. Sell the sex and sizzle, allow reviewers to sort out specs and sound.

Quite simply, 1701 has become a new medium. Lotsa potential here. (Doubling subscription prices by late '94, right? Dammit!)

I can think of three very unhappy competitors. Expect 1701 to be a tolling bell for one of them.

A couple cavils, however. With improved size and stature, above-ground, please don't hire some sweet, young lovely just-out-of-school to go artsy-fartsy with your design and layout. More than one computer and one audio magazine have had very mixed results doing just that. Color and clarity in ad, article, and editing remain paramount.

Too, would someone there please subscribe to any of the Cond;ae-Nast publications: Vanity Fair, GQ, Traveler? You'll find they come in tightly wrapped heavy plastic with stiffening card insert and will probably arrive there as well as they do here. No scuffs on the spine, no dog-eared corners, no tears through the classified section—all of which my 1701 suffered. A tight, heavy wrap is the answer. Screw political correctness: get my issue to me cleanly intact, even if it means static buildup and landfill woe.

You've born a new ballgame, boys. I welcome it, 'cause somehow my avocation of 45 years is elevated. Now, get your advertisers to sell these vastly priced unessentials to our ids, not our egos. The industry might actually start to thrive. The forum, at least—at last—is here...

Congratulations.—Kent Waterman, Oakland, CA

A bold step

Editor: As yesterday's post arrived, I was certain that my wife had sent you a secret message about my needing a Reader's Digest-style large-print edition to comfortably find my way through Stereophile, and that here it was, a large copy of Stereophile.

Once I got past the front cover, it became immediately clear that Stereophile has taken a bold step forward and improved the magazine immeasurably by increasing the square inches, despite the fact that the cozy space reserved in my bookcase for the smaller publication is now for naught.

Although I did not compare between old- and new-text point sizes prior to writing, I find that I really don't need the large-print version (yet). Just goes to show how subconscious psychology can trick a middle-aged man.

Some constructive comments:

Larry Archibald writes, "Ironically, one of the practical advantages of the new size is that we've been able to abandon the environmentally invidious [word of the week!] plastic bags that your Stereophile had been arriving in. Unless Stereophile is treated differently from other full-size magazines, it should arrive in as (relatively) pristine a condition as the other publications you receive."

Pure wishful thinking by the silver-tongued Mr. Archibald. My new copy of Stereophile arrived in very similar shape to most other magazines of its size and weight that I receive—front cover looks as if someone sandpapered it, mailing label barely hanging on, upper- and lower-right-side corners dog-eared, first ten pages folded back twice, and front cover through p.48 ripped. Larry, Murphy's Law says that if any kind of magazine-delivery mayhem is possible, the United States Postal Service can and will do it! The only large magazines which usually arrive intact are thin mags, such as Newsweek. On the other hand, the only large mail which arrives each time in pristine condition is junk mail—never a tear, fold, or other defect—Murphy's other law! My suggestion is that you keep some of that environmentally invidious bag material handy to overcome the invidiousness of the postal service.

In closing, thank you all for your earnest effort to make Stereophile the best magazine about sound reproduction in the world. While "best" is subjective, and therefore remains the beauty in the eyes of the beholder, there are many beholders among your readers, myself included, who believe you are certainly within reach of the prize.—Michael W. Maduras, Glendale, CA