A New Size For Stereophile

By now you've no doubt realized that Stereophile has changed its size—from 5½" by 8 7/16" to 7½" by 10¼". (All right—maybe you didn't know the exact dimensions of the change, but that's what they are.) We have Edward Chen, Publisher of Stereophile's Chinese edition, to thank for our new size. It is the same size as the Chinese Stereophile and a common size in the Far East. We've been admiring it in Chinese for the last two-and-a-half years, and we thought it would make sense in English as well.

We're very excited about this change. If you've already read this issue, you'll have seen that very little about the rest of the magazine has changed—we have the same great letter writers, the same great columnists, the same great equipment and music reviewers, the same great editors. Our reasons for this size increase are straightforward: The extra space will allow us to make our graphic presentation more open and approachable; we love the way our covers look on the larger Chinese Stereophile; and our new size will afford us the opportunity to bring our appreciation of excellence in sound reproduction to the wider newsstand audience.

With the new size comes a necessarily increased percentage of space devoted to advertising—our ad sizes are up approximately 60%. But the amount of editorial material remains exactly the same. In fact, this issue carries our largest equipment-report section ever!

Stereophile's last size change was in 1968 with Vol.2 No.8—it went from 81/2" by 11" (a size now only rarely printed) to digest size, where it remained through December 1993. J. Gordon Holt's motivations for that size change appear to have been practical: The larger issues were getting mangled in the mail, and the digest-size issues didn't seem to suffer from this problem. Ironically, one of the practical advantages of the new size is that we've been able to abandon the environmentally invidious 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.

We work hard to make Stereophile the best magazine about sound reproduction in the world. We're really excited about using the size change as a way of approaching that goal. As you might guess, we're eager to hear your responses to this change.

I've noticed signs in some of the other magazines concerned with sound reproduction that we may have already come too close to our goal of being the best in the world. The editors of two such publications recently explained in print that they feel compelled to spend so much time bitterly attacking Stereophile because of our "excessive" success: Too many people may be corrupted by the evil of Stereophile's editorial views, is the thrust of their argument.

This surprises me—not that our views should be regarded as evil, but that these magazines should choose to attack us for reaching so many people. Not too long ago (1982-86), Stereophile was in a similar position with respect to The Abso!ute Sound: We felt that they had too much influence in the audio world.

My response to this situation was quite different from the one currently chosen by our contemporaries: Except when I occasionally misbehaved, I deliberately didn't attack TAS or give them any unnecessary publicity. I believed that Stereophile had better things to say about sound reproduction than did TAS, so I set out to make sure our distribution and circulation efforts were such that our reviews reached the maximum number of audiophiles. I felt sure that, in time, this would turn out to be a successful strategy for equalizing the influences of the two magazines. It has.

I would recommend the same strategy to the editors of all audiophile magazines. As president of Stereophile, Inc., I believe that Stereophile offers the most well researched and authoritative reviews available, and that other magazines are, well, basically unnecessary. As a member of the high-end audio industry, however, I realize that alternative voices and points of view are healthy, and that the high-end consumer benefits most from wide and vigorous debate. However, in order to best serve you, the consumer, that debate needs to focus on music and the equipment used to reproduce it—not on personalities and publications.

Finally, I would like to offer New Year's thanks once again to Stereophile's most valuable asset—you, its readers. And among you, special thanks to those of you who write letters.—Larry Archibald