As We See It

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J. Gordon Holt  |  May 03, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1964  |  4 comments
Well, the New York Hi-Fi wingding has come and gone once again, and now is the time when audio editors dutifully adopt the role of oracle, divining the future of high fidelity, and generally sketching out The Big Picture for those of us too blind to see the graffiti on the wall. So, who are we to shirk our duty? Herewith, The Stereophile's audio observations and predictions for 1965.
Art Dudley  |  May 01, 2012  |  2 comments
Stop me if you've heard this: On January 10, at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center, a performance of Mahler's Symphony 9, led by conductor Alan Gilbert, was stopped in its tracks by the ringing of an iPhone.

It wasn't just any part of the Mahler Ninth: It happened during the exceedingly quiet closing measures of the final movement.

It wasn't just any symphony orchestra: It was the New York Philharmonic, which Gustav Mahler directed during the last two years of his life.

John Atkinson  |  Mar 28, 1991  |  0 comments
John Atkinson examines the role of myth and magic in high-end audio.
Wes Phillips  |  Apr 17, 2005  |  0 comments
These days, too many audio stores are like hushed mausoleums. Audio gear is displayed like dead art, and the sales staff, unless you're known as a regular customer, either greets you with a predatory gleam or, certain that you've wandered in by mistake, ignores you.
Jon Iverson  |  Oct 21, 2001  |  0 comments
Screeeeeeech, thump, thump, vroooooom...
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 04, 2016  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1970  |  6 comments
Editor's Note: Approaching its ninth year of publication in 1970, the advertisement-free Stereophile was failing as a business. There was just one issue published between December 1968 and June 1970, the date when J. Gordon Holt published this plea in response to the reaction to the increased subscription price: first to $4 for four issues, equivalent to $25 in 2016, then to $5 ($31). The response from subscribers to his plea was not positive enough to enable the magazine to continue publishing—Gordon could publish just two more issues in the next two years before Stereophile had to accept advertising, first from dealers in October 1972 and from manufacturers in December 1977.Ed.

Our recent price increase at the end of 1969 elicited numerous letters telling us the magazine was exhorbitant at $4 a subscription and is outrageous at $5, and supporting their contention with comparisons between the price per page of the Stereophile and one or another of the commercial hi-fi magazines. We will answer this once, here and now, and then let the matter drop.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 29, 2003  |  0 comments
The song ended. My friend gestured to me to remove the wads of Kleenex I had stuffed in my ears.
Robert Deutsch  |  Dec 29, 2011  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2012  |  6 comments
You know about them: audio products or tweaks that fall outside the standard definition of audio component. They're not source components like CD players, not amplifiers or preamplifiers, not loudspeakers, not power-line conditioners or cables—and, if aimed at modifying room acoustics, they're not the standard devices that absorb or disperse sound. Let's call them Unorthodox Audio Products (UAPs). They promise a kind of audio panacea: something that fixes whatever's wrong with the sound of your system.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 16, 2005  |  0 comments
Having just spent the last four days at the 2004 Audio Engineering Society conference in San Francisco, I was struck by the sunny enthusiasm shared by many industry professionals for 5.1-channel surround-sound music.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 29, 2007  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1995  |  0 comments
In this month's "Letters," Donald Bisbee raises the subject of the government's proposed reduction in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), I agree with Mr. Bisbee that commercial radio broadcasting in the US is an intellectual desert. Music is narrowcast, with listeners' tastes bound into predigested categories. There is no depth or analysis to radio news programs, other than discussions by populist commentators who, no matter what you may think of their politics, usurp the ability of their audiences to think for themselves. As a regular listener to NPR and watcher of PBS, I feel that public broadcasting is an essential factor in American public discourse (footnote 1), but not for the reasons some might think.
John Atkinson  |  May 01, 1995  |  0 comments
When some unknown copywriter coined that immortal phrase to promote the worldwide launch of Compact Disc in late 1982, little did he or she foresee how quickly it would become a term of ridicule. Yes, early CDs and players offered low background noise, a flat spectral balance, and freedom from wow and flutter. But all too often, the music encoded in the "perfect-sounding" pits seemed to have taken a vacation, leading the renowned recording engineer John Eargle to offer, in the medium's defense, that if you were to hear just one CD that sounded good, digital technology would be proved to be okay.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 05, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1981  |  4 comments
Editor's Note: On the 52nd anniversary of Stereophile's founding in 1962 by J. Gordon Holt, we are publishing this mea culpa "As We See it" essay from 1981, in which he explains why Vol.4 No.10 was almost six months late in mailing to subscribers. Gordon had relocated from the Philadephia suburbs to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1978, and as he had explained in the April 1978 issue, the move had not gone well. "Much of the equipment necessary for testing got damaged or destroyed in transit," he wrote, adding that "What had promised to be a superb listening room turned out to have some sticky acoustical idiosyncrasies."
John Atkinson  |  Jul 04, 2004  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1997  |  0 comments
When I first started buying records at the end of the 1950s, I had this vision of the typical recording engineer: A sound wizard wearing a white lab coat rather than a cloak festooned with Zodiacal symbols. He (it was always a "he," of course) would spare no effort, no expense to create a disc (LPs and 45s were all we had) that offered the highest possible sound quality. At that time I also believed that Elvis going into the Army meant the end of rock'n'roll, that my teachers knew everything, that politicians were honest, that socialism was the best form of government, and that talent and hard work were all you needed to be a success. Those ideas crashed and burned as I grew up, of course, but other than the long-discarded white coats, each new record I bought strengthened rather than weakened my image of the recording engineer.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 13, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1968  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: 40 years before it became a reality, J. Gordon Holt predicts music streaming and predicts the Compact Cassette will become the dominant prerecorded music medium.

Traditionally, the New Year is the time when editors light their pipes, tilt their chairs back, fold their hands and shut their eyes, and make bold predictions about The Future. It is said that prognostications are always risky, because events have a nasty habit of making fools of those who prognosticate. It has been our observation, though, that the only prognosticators who are remembered are those who were proven right, so we are going to do some fearless limb-climbing about something that is coming to worry increasing numbers of stereophiles: Namely, which of all the current recording media is going to become The Standard for home use, and which are going to be left stranded on the shoals of obsolescence?

Robert Schryer  |  Apr 18, 2017  |  64 comments
Audiophilia is dead.

Actually, it retired to an exclusive country club in the sky—but as far as the enduring, salt-of-the-earth audio hobbyist is concerned, it may as well be dead. The reason is simple: The old audiophile paradigm used to be mostly about when we were going to get that top-shelf component we had our eye on; it was rarely an if proposition. That's because, if you were an average, determined audiophile, it wasn't prohibitively expensive to buy top-shelf equipment. That's what made our hobby so exciting back then: the idea that you could actually own the best sound around. Damn!

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