Who Stole The Bass? / No One Stole The Bass Letters

Letters in response appeared in Vol.10 Nos.5 & 8, August & November 1987

Who stole the bass?
In response to AHC's ridiculous comment regarding small monitor speakers in Vol.10 No.3: "virtually all of today's small monitor speakers are reasonably incapable of high-fidelity reproduction, and have no place in a decent audio system," I say that AHC is measurably incapable of listening to and reviewing high-fidelity reproduction and has no place writing for a decent audio magazine. I therefore suggest that Mr. Cordesman stick to reviewing for Audio magazine, where everything is "decent."
---Howard Butler Audio Advisors of NY

Pure subjective garbage
I take strong exception to JGH's remarks that he was the first to invent subjective testing. What he meant to say must have been that he was probably the first to publish an underground magazine using subjective testing to mislead the consumer based on his personal opinions. I am not saying this was intentional, it has just developed that way.

Having had 40 years' experience of hi-fi, both as hobby and as a business, I can confidently say that you, Pearson, and our own Hi-Fi Screws and Rubbish Reviews magazine are continuing to mislead the consumer. Virtually everything Stereophile prints is pure subjective garbage, personal opinion, and has no real substance in scientific principles...

I can see from Sam Tellig's review of the Quad 306 in Vol.10 No.3 that Americans---not all, of course---do not understand what is meant by an amplifier having an output that is a larger facsimile of the input. You prefer bass-heavy amplifiers, and colored ones to boot---the Adcom 545, for example. However, I agree that the Quad 606 drives the "World's Best Loudspeaker for Music Lovers in the Home"---the Quad ESL-63---slightly better than the 306.

I am surprised that JA can test any amplifier with the Celestion SL600s: they are very room-dependent, and although not box-like, are still a poor speaker. The American reviewer who gets it right is Len Feldman of Audio.

I am going to continue to expose you for what you are: a bunch of charlatans, as I say in my ads. The only "High" in high-end audio is the price. Readers, believe absolutely nothing written in any hi-fi magazine---you must listen for yourself.
---Gerald Bearman Mayware Ltd., Edgware, England

Someone did steal the bass
Martin Colloms' and Gerald Bearman's responses to AHC's "Who Stole the Bass?" ("No one stole the bass" and "Letters," Vol.10 No.5) affirm the insular British disdain for reproduction of fundamental bass as something vulgar and strictly for Americans. They honestly believe that the only speakers for gentlefolk are hideously expensive shoeboxes. And with his condemnation of AHC's views, Mr. Butler ("Letters," Vol.10 No.5) has placed himself beneath contempt. (Mr. Bearman's Mayware tonearm and cartridges perhaps deserve a straight-up review, though if he were really so sincere about Scientific Objectivity, he would have given up peddling analog hardware when Sony and Magnavox announced Perfect Sound Forever.)

High-quality little speakers are like castrati; the sounds they generate are exquisite, but what they cannot generate is vital. Bell Laboratories established years ago that people can reconstruct bass fundamentals mentally if the overtones are clearly presented. This is how you can distinguish Uncle Fred from Aunt Hattie on the 'phone. However, while I'm willing to accept nothing below 300Hz on the 'phone, this doesn't apply to the hi-fi, thank you very much.

Last year I seriously considered Spica TC50s for my two-room apartment. Alone, they were charming but lacking. With a single servo-subwoofer they were better, but still lacking. Alas, the local dealers weren't able to demonstrate them with a subwoofer for each channel. Then I started considering available space and funds. A pair of TC50s and subwoofers with appropriate stands would come to about $2000 plus tax. A pair of Vandersteen 2Cs with stands came to $1200 plus tax, and experimentation with a tape measure and stacked boxes revealed that they would take up negligibly more space. Fortunately the apartment is wildly asymmetrical and broken up with books, records, and thick upholstery.

Mr. Colloms was a bit disingenuous in stating his case; it's not a choice between a VW Rabbit with all the subtle graces vs a wallowing Cadillac with nought but low-end torque. Has Mr. Colloms contemplated the Jaguar, which combines grace with guts? Richard Vandersteen drives one.
---Reginald Stocking II San Francisco, CA

mandyhousehold's picture

How can you steal something that wos never there? I have spent most of my life listening to live music, my ears are usually left ringing on a Monday morning (quite regularly), to acheive the same levels in my house, it seems it would be cheaper to just hire the band, I think you are all talking pish! I hate audiophiles, not because Iam jealous of what they own, but becuase of the pure pish they talk. Come down to the real world of music and domestic Hi-Fi, if you never hear it, you will never miss it will you? I hear you all waxing lyrical over Naim, Linn, Krell, Wadia, etc etc, 90 percent of the world will never be able to afford the hardware they sell, should they just give up on Hi-Fi and take up mountain biking or something else? NO, they shouldnt, because back in the real world, where the Mission 760i`s and Mordaunt Short Ms10`s live, there is some really really good hi-fi at large... and bollox to your high end nonsense, I buy Hi-Fi so I can listen to my music, I dont buy music so I can listen to my Hi-Fi. The Nad 3020 took the audiophile world by its Nads in the 80s, the Pioneer A400 took a bite in the 90s, everynow and then, audiophile equipment will be embarrassed by peasants, when this happens, it should be celebrated, not nocked and dissed, I have listened to some pretty high end Hi-Fi in my day of building my budget priced Hi-Fi in the listening rooms of the RETAILERS (that is another word for salesmen, well trustworthy yeah) and no, I could not afford the cables you needed to run them let alone the components, can I live without them? Is my budget Hifi awsome (which incedently includes a pair of 20 year old Mordaunt Short MS 10s which I have never been able to depart with despite having a rather larger budget to play with nowadays) HELL YEAH! If I won the lottery, I would re-commission the Nad 3020, Mission Cyrus One and Two, and the Pioneer A400 along with some of those crappy 80s mini speakers you talked about, and I bet they could shake up some of 2011s offerings all over again. Infact....if you can afford such awsome Hi-Fi, you obviously have money to throw away, so why dont you try that? I live in a terraced house, and I dont think the kind of speakers you say I should own would fit, and if they did, the neighbours would probably shoot me.