"Where's the Real Magazine?" Letters, March 2001

Letters, March 2001, Vol.24 No.3

But the subject wasn't closed when the February 2001 issue hit the newsstands. The following letters were published in the March 2001 Stereophile, which in turn triggered that issue's "As We See It" essay.

A waste of space?
Editor: Okay, people—very funny. A DVD player gracing the cover of the November Stereophile and a receiver on the cover of the December issue?! What do you have in store for the January cover? A 100-disc changer? An Aiwa mini system? Ooh, ooh, I've got it—how about a Bose Wave Radio?!!

Oh, and be sure to waste precious space in the magazine reviewing these pieces of crap. We wouldn't want to go another month without reading about them, would we? Hell no! Why would we want to read about Levinson and Krell when we can read about Technics?

Please, tell me that the joke is over, and let's get back to reviewing some real gear. Let's work on those covers as well. If memory serves, when magazines like Audio and Stereo Review went along this route, either they were out of business soon, or drastic changes had to be made. Don't let this happen to Stereophile. It would be a shame if it did.—Geordy Duncan, apocnow1@home.com

Perhaps not
Editor: Okay, okay, you win. I retract my earlier comments chastising Stereophile for its selection of gear on the covers of the November and December issues.

The Magnum Dynalab MD 208 is an excellent choice for any magazine cover. After actually hearing this incredible piece of equipment, I can see why it was worthy enough for Stereophile to grace its January cover with it.

Actually, the entire January 2001 issue was fantastic, front to back. The reviews of the MD 208, Audio Research VTM 200 tube monos, and the Classé CAM 350 monos were all also extremely well-accomplished. Rick Rosen's interview with bass god Tony Levin was also excellent.

After reading this issue, it is obvious to me now that Stereophile is not turning into a Stereo Review-type magazine. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to the February 2001 issue.

Until then...—Geordy Duncan, apocnow1@home.com

But then...
Editor: Just received the January 2001 issue and was taken aback to discover that the JVC CD recorder reviewed inside was not featured on your cover, as Yamaha and Technics products have been in the recent past. Gee whiz, guys, some less-than-perceptive individual might not confuse your rag with Sound & Vision this month.

And what's with Sam Tellig? It's been a couple of months since he's fallen all over some Musical Fidelity component. Could it be that Audio Advisor has demanded some discount on its ad pages? [For shame, Mr. Steinberger!—Ed.]

Keep up the good work. I may yet save my subscription money and put it to better use—like filling out my Barry Manilow and Air Supply cassette collections.—Jac Steinberger, blzbub1@aol.com

Has the world changed?
Editor: When you and Larry Archibald sold Stereophile in June 1998, I worried about how the magazine would change. Generally, I have been happy with it since then. But then I saw the Denon AVR-4800 on the cover in December. "Damn," I thought, "doesn't the new ownership know what all the loyal subscribers know, and what JA knows, about home theater? Don't they know that, a few years ago, Stereophile went through all the options and questions about home theater and very wisely determined to start a separate magazine for what is clearly a distinct category?"

Home theater is a legitimate and rewarding hobby that is capable of inspiring fanatical and spendthrift devotees, but it is not high-end audio. I have a good two-channel system and a separate, modest home theater, and I have heard the AVR-4800. While many things could be said for the AVR-4800, it does not belong in this magazine. By Stereophile standards, the unit sounds terrible. Maybe it's better than some of its competing 5.1-channel Dolby Digital receivers, but for music, especially in stereo, it is far inferior to many two-channel integrateds at half its output and price. Several of those integrateds have been reviewed here, and they belong in this magazine, but multichannel receivers are in a whole different category. Leave them to Stereophile Guide to Home Theater.

Including such components in Stereophile's review coverage may increase newsstand sales, but it dilutes the entire magazine and threatens your credibility with the people who can tell the difference—we're your long-term subscribers. I just can't reconcile a positive review of the Denon in December, followed by criticism of an Audio Research product (which, admittedly, I've never heard) in January. Can you?—Bill Knopp, lackeyknopp@mediaone.net

Could I? I wrote the following "As We See It" essay in response.JA