Rogue Audio M-180 monoblock power amplifier Who Am I?

Sidebar 2: Who Am I?

When I got to high school, I joined the debate team. (To intimidate the competition, my debate partner and I used to wear bow ties. It worked.) One day, during practice, a varsity debater who was also an audiophile saw me reading Stereo Review and berated me for reading such a "low-class rag." Condemnation and hyperbole come easily to high school debaters. A few days after chastising me, he came up to me and said, almost apologetically, "Here—this is a real audio magazine," and handed me a stack of his father's back issues of the old digest-format Stereophile.

I didn't know quite what to make of them. First, they looked all wrong—like books, not magazines. When I opened them, I was further confused. To my 15-year-old mind, Stereophile's contents came from another planet. In those issues were reviews of equipment that cost tons of money—I mean, speakers costing an astronomical $7200/pair didn't seem even possible. Also featured were equipment reports that seemed to blur the lines between science, philosophy, and religion. Being the nerd I was, I thought it was soooo cool, and kept begging my fellow debater for more of his dad's back issues. Finally, my friends chipped in and, for my 16th birthday, bought me a subscription to Stereophile. An audiophile was born.

Back then, I dreamed how cool it would be to hang out with really smart guys like Wes Phillips and John Atkinson, play with ridiculously expensive gear, and get paid to write about my thoughts on amplifiers and speakers. I imagined the power I would wield as a Stereophile reviewer. Shivering manufacturers and lowly readers would bow before my astute listening skills and acidic comments. I would decide what was good and what wasn't. All would love me and despair!

But now I've grown up—and, more important, I've grown up with Stereophile. Through some very funny twists of fate, I now sit here writing my first full review for Stereophile magazine. It's a funny feeling when you fulfill a dream you had as a teenager; it doesn't feel at all as I imagined it would. Any grandiose ideas I ever had about being The Mighty Reviewer are gone. In their place is an overwhelming sense of responsibility—to the readers of Stereophile, who need to be able to trust what I'm about to write; to the manufacturers who subject their products to public scrutiny; and to the wonderful reputation of Stereophile. I therefore approach the writing of this review with humility and a bit of fear.—Erick Lichte

Rogue Audio Inc.
3 Marian Lane
Brodheadsville, PA 18322
(570) 992-9901