As We See It

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Art Dudley  |  May 17, 2016  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2016  |  17 comments
Note: All dialogue quoted verbatim from e-mail exchanges to which I am privy; the stage directions are imaginary.

Dramatis Personae:

bill, director of marketing for PS Audio

randy, amateur reviewer for a commercial audiophile website

dick, professional reviewer for an established audio magazine (not Stereophile)

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 01, 1973  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1973  |  0 comments
Hey, kids, here's the Big News. We've been deluding ourselves all along, worrying about piddling little bits of distortion that we can't hear at all. How's your preamp distortion? 1% at 1 volt out? You have a perfect preamp—a veritable straight wire with gain! That ear-shattering shrillness is all in your mind, because it has now been demonstrated that the human ear cannot perceive distortion levels of less than 6–12% on "normally complex music." If you think you can hear 0.1%, you are deluding yourself.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 24, 1996  |  0 comments
"A newspaper can flout an advertiser...but if it alienates the buying public, it loses the one indispensable asset of its existence."—Walter Lippman, 1922, reprinted in Public Opinion, New York: Free Press, 1965.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 09, 2007  |  First Published: Nov 09, 1994  |  1 comments
If there's a phrase that increasingly gets my dander up, it's "mid-fi." I'm even starting to lose patience with the term "High End."
John Atkinson  |  Sep 19, 1997  |  First Published: Sep 19, 1993  |  0 comments
"To be an influence in any society...one can be a little different, but only a little; a little above one's neighbours, but not too much."---C.P. Snow, The Masters, 1951
Jon Iverson  |  May 15, 2010  |  2 comments
In an e-mail exchange with Stephen Mejias about why the mere mention of cassette decks on www.stereophile.com can so easily inflame our readers (and John Atkinson), I began to develop the idea that the brains of audiophiles and music lovers are governed by three complementary needs, or desires, that define who we are. I joked to SM that these desires, which apparently shift over time, constitute the Holy Trinity of Audiophiledom. They are, respectively, the love, desire, and need for:
John Atkinson  |  Sep 24, 1994  |  0 comments
During a recent visit to Canada's National Research Council, I noticed stuck to the wall of the prototype IEC listening room a page of results from one of Floyd Toole's seminal papers on the blind testing of loudspeakers. The scoring system was the one that Floyd developed, and that we adopted for Stereophile's continuing series of blind tests. "0" represents the worst sound that could possibly exist, "10" the perfection of live sound—a telephone, for example, rates a "2." The speakers in Floyd's test pretty much covered the range of possible performance, yet their normalized scoring spread, from the worst to the best, was just 1.9 points.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2007  |  0 comments
"The whole band was in the hot tub. As water frothed over my bare breasts in the moonlight..."
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 22, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2016  |  14 comments
It's one of audiophiledom's eternal questions: What can we do to draw more music lovers into the audiophile fold?

Of the proposals bandied about on audio forums, two seem predominant: a) sell stuff more people can afford, and b) sit your neighbor or the cable guy in front of your stereo, cross your fingers, and let 'er rip—the theory behind b) being that the experience will be so epic as to transform the reluctant participant into an audiophile butterfly. As if.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 13, 2007  |  First Published: May 01, 1989  |  0 comments
Last October, in Vol.11 No.10, Stereophile's Founder and Chief Tester J. Gordon Holt stated, in his acerbic editorial "The Acoustical Standard," that, in his opinion, only recordings for which there is an original acoustic reference—ie, typically those of classical music—should be used to evaluate hi-fi components. And that in the absence of a consensus over such a policy, high-end component manufacturers were losing their way over what does and does not represent good sound quality.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 09, 2007  |  0 comments
I began writing this essay on New Year's Day 2007. The passing of the old year reminded me that I am now in the 21st year of editing Stereophile, my 25th of being the editor-in-chief of a mainstream audio magazine, and my 31st of working full-time as an audio journalist. (Prior to joining Stereophile in 1986, I had worked for 10 years at British magazine Hi-Fi News & Record Review, the final four as its editor.) Back in the innocent 1970s, reviewers and editors generally picked and chose what products to review based on their own interest and what they felt appropriate for their readers to know about. Back then, there was only a tiny fraction of the audio brands now available to the audiophile, and even with fewer review pages than we now have, it was possible each year to cover a representative sample of the products being offered our readers. But such was the explosion in high-end audio throughout the 1980s that, by 1989, I felt it necessary to impose some restrictions on what products we choose for full review coverage in Stereophile.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 03, 2007  |  First Published: Mar 03, 1983  |  0 comments
Question: What is it that almost every audiophile takes for granted, yet has more effect on the sound of his system than does any single component in that system? Answer: His listening room.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 15, 2015  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1971  |  9 comments
In the 1952 edition of the Radiotron Designer's Handbook, long recognized as the "bible" of the industry, the permissible level of IM distortion for a high-fidelity amplifier was given as 3%, with the alternate figure of 2% being cited as a "rather extreme" specification. We wonder what the author of that statement would think of today's solid-state amplifiers with their measured IM of 0.01% and less. And we wonder what he would think about the fact that these super-amplifiers still have audible distortion.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 06, 2016  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1965  |  2 comments
Well, it's that time. The time of reckoning, the moment of truth. It's renewal time.

Most of you have noticed the hyphenated numbers on your address labels, and most of you guessed what they were: Expiration codes. If your label has a 1-12 number on it (or no hyphenated code at all), the next issue of The Stereophile, Issue Number 12 [published in September 1966—Ed.], will be the last one that will arrive on your present subscription.

John Atkinson  |  Jan 11, 2004  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Hanging above the expensive desk in my penthouse office atop Manhattan's prestigious Stereophile Tower is a photocopy of a New Yorker cartoon, in which a bewildered-looking guy complains, "There has been an alarming increase in the number of things I know nothing about."

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