A Legitimate Stereophile

I'm still surprised whenever approached by some faithless audiophile — hair thinning, ears sagging, belly bulging — and asked (seriously): "Do you think there's any hope for our industry?"

How do I answer a question like this? Do I cite statistics, pull pie charts out of my hat, sing of the iPod, speak of love? I mean, who do I look like, The Incredible Kreskin? The Amazing Randi? Whitney Houston?

When they ask, so unapologetically, so apocalyptically, so Al-Anonically:

Do you

we will


I really just want to say: "Why do you think I'm here, fool-ass?" Which is to say: If I didn't believe in this industry, I wouldn't be a part of it. What's your story?

The Stereophile Forum is a place where audiophiles, music lovers, and other industry folk can come together and exchange ideas, discuss hot topics, and make fun of our writers, all without fear of being judged. There are no membership fees, there is no hand-holding, there are no twelve steps. There is, however, faith. There is, however, hope.

There are the more experienced participants, guys like Jim "I Went to the Dark Side Today" Tavegia; Lamont "Put the 'F' Back in Freedom" Sanford; Jeff "Did You Guys Notice the Original Post is From 7 Months Ago?" Wong; and Jan "Your Idea Is Not Completely Far-Fetched" Vigne. I must also mention our resident cable-lover, Monty; Cheapskate, a cheapskate; Jazzfan, fan of jazz; our Grecian Urn, Yiangos; and, of course, the existential audiophile and slacker supreme, Buddha. I love these guys. There are, of course, many others who thread the quilt that is our Forum. It would take me many moons (at least six) to list them all. We now have well over 4000 registered users. Not all of them post, but that is beside the point.

Some people come in, ask a question, get an answer, and never return. That's okay, too. May the Forum be with you. Others have ulterior motives. Wives come in, looking to find gifts for their husbands, or, you know, looking to find their husbands. Dealers and manufacturers come in hoping to promote their new gear. Haters come in to boost their self-esteem. This is all cool.

Occasionally, we are even blessed by young blood. That's right, you faithless ones. There is youth! One such youngblood, Erik Bobeda, a second-year neuroscience major at the University of Michigan, joined our Forum on Thursday, February 1. In his first post, "Making the LeaP to Analog," Erik told us of his recent conversion to vinyl and asked our opinions on entry-level turntables. The Forum members, always eager to spend someone else's money, were quick to offer their advice. I am happy to say that, as of today, Erik's got his heart set on a Rega. Congratulations, Erik. You've chosen well.

I am also happy to say that Erik has recently become a subscriber. He writes:

I recently ordered Stereophile Digital, which is an attractive option for me because of the address issues that come with being a college student. I will miss the occasional bookstore trips, though! I'm now a legitimate stereophile. I really like being a part of your community.

Dude's got his priorities straight! Thank you, Erik. We're very happy to have you with us.

Al Marcy's picture

Relax, I have gotten used to the new meds ;) Some people find something to love along their path. Animal, vegetable or audio are all beautiful.

michaelavorgna's picture

"Shimamoto was in charge of the records. She'd take one from its jacket, place it carefully on the turntable without touching the grooves with her fingers, and, after making sure to brush the cartridge free of any dust with a tiny brush, lower the needle ever so gently onto the record. When the record was finished, she'd spray it and wipe it with a felt cloth. Finally she'd return the record to its jacket and its proper place on the shelf. Her father had taught her this procedure, and she followed his instructions with a terribly serious look on her face, her eyes narrowed, her breath held in check. Meanwhile, I was on the sofa, watching her every move. Only when the record was safely back on the shelf did she turn to me and give a little smile. And every time, this thought hit me: It wasn't a record she was handling. It was a fragile soul inside a glass bottle." Haruki Murakami from South of the Border, West of the Sun

Erik Bobeda's picture

Thanks for the flattering introduction, Stephen! This industry is still full of life and potential, I agree. Many of my peers don't value quality sound, but as they mature and their musical tastes evolve, they may indeed feel the need to improve playback fidelity. A boombox does a fine job with 50-Cent and Britney Spears, but would prove woefully inadequate with Bach or Coltrane. The thought of music servers and turntables coexisting in high-end systems makes me smile. We're in a golden age of analog design and performance even as new and exciting digital technologies are presenting themselves. It will take dynamic and intelligent manufacturers as well as patient and open-minded enthusiasts if hi-fi is to sail through the coming years no worse for the wear. The times they are a-changin', but I think it'll all come out in the wash.

Al Marcy's picture

Playing with audio junk is fun. Music listening is anywhere from nice to orgasmic.Trying to make a living is the Myth of Sissyphus.The troll under the bridge complains when people find another route to the other side which does not require being robbed by him. Life is not fair. Music helps, if you bother to listen ;)Not all payments are taxable ... that should be obvious, but, this is Earth: Only death and taxes are obvious ...

John Atkinson's picture

Sitting here in my sister's kitchen on a flying visit to the UK, I find that the Stereophile Forum keeps me feeling a part of our extended community, wheter it be the more than 4000 who frequent the forum, the 68,000 more who buy the paper magazine, or the 300,000 who visit our website each month. Keep enjoying the your music, guys! And keep on keeping on, Stephen.

Stephen Mejias's picture

John, you're like Obi-Wan Kenobi. I was just wondering the number of visits we get each month. You must have read my thoughts, all the way from the UK. The Forum is strong with you, indeed, master.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I haven't yet picked up the Murakami book you mentioned, but I'm digging his writing. That relationship depicted there

michaelavorgna's picture

Yes Stephen that was my not so subtle reminder ;-)

Buddha's picture

"Which is to say: If I didn't believe in this industry, I wouldn't be a part of it."

Please don't become part of it.

Report on it, but stay one of us.