As We See It

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John Atkinson  |  Nov 13, 2005  |  0 comments
Michael Fremer's review of the AudioPhysic Caldera III loudspeaker in this issue (p.81) reminded me of a subject I have written about many times in the past: what happens when a manufacturer submits a faulty sample for review. I formalized Stereophile's policy on this matter in late 1988, following both an unfortunate series of reviews in which the samples either arrived broken or broke during the auditioning, and my learning about how much went on behind closed doors at other audio magazines, where reviewers and editors too often appeared to collude with manufacturers.1 I wrote back then that:
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 06, 1992  |  0 comments
Editor's Introduction: Thirty years ago this month, in September 1962, J. Gordon Holt, lately Technical Editor of High Fidelity magazine, was working on the contents of the first issue of his brainchild The Stereophile, a magazine that would judge components on how they actually sounded. We thought it appropriate, therefore, to use the occasion of the 1992 Summer Consumer Electronics Show, held in late May in Chicago, to invite some 200 members of the international high-end industry to a dinner to celebrate the occasion. Larry Archibald dug deep into the magazine's coffers; Ralph Johnson took time off from organizing the 1993 High End Hi-Fi Show to burn up the long-distance telephone lines faxing invitations; the conversation was excellent, the food superb, and the wine even better. Which is probably why the venerable JGH took the opportunity to remind the assembled luminaries what this whole business is supposed to be about. Here follows the text of his speech. I hope you find it as stimulating reproduced in these pages as did those who heard it live.—John Atkinson
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 30, 1987  |  0 comments
1987 will mark Stereophile's 25th year of continuous (if initially sometimes sporadic) publication. And while we haven't yet decided what we're going to do in celebration, the first issue of 1987 does seem to be as good a time as any to contrast the state of the audio art when we began publication with what is routinely possible today.
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 03, 2010  |  First Published: May 03, 1982  |  0 comments
As another Consumer Electronics Show rolls around, we are seeing some interesting and not-entirely encouraging things taking place in the audio field. The people for whom high fidelity was originally intended—so-called serious music listeners —have abandoned audio almost completely, leaving the pursuit of perfect music reproduction to a group of hobbyists who have more interest in hardware than in music. This, plus the recession, has almost killed middle-fi, which is now flailing out in all directions looking for a new market. Here's how it all came to pass:
John Atkinson  |  Jul 06, 2009  |  First Published: Jun 06, 1992  |  0 comments
In the four years since our last readership survey, Stereophile's circulation has grown by one third, from 45,000 to over 60,000 (footnote 1). We thought it time, therefore, to commission new numbers, from specialists Mediamark Research Inc. (footnote 2). Table 1 shows the demographic breakdown of the magazine's readers. While the launch of CD did bring more women into the audiophile fold almost 10 years ago, the proportion of Stereophile's female readers has not changed since 1988, at just over 1% (footnote 3). At one of the panel sessions at the 1992 High End Hi-Fi Show in Los Angeles, a man in the audience asked why high-end audio was so testosterone-bound when women were just as interested in music as men? The answers given by some of the many women at the show ranged from the fact that women only earn 47 cents on the dollar compared with men to conjecture that women are turned off by the hobby's tweak aspect. Certainly dealer Andrew Singer felt last October (footnote 4) that the high-end industry is hobbling itself by ignoring half the US's population.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2019  |  85 comments
When we launched Stereophile's website at the end of 1997, we decided that we would not reprint the magazine's most popular features, including the biannual "Recommended Components" listings and Michael Fremer's monthly "Analog Corner" column. We were concerned that doing so would cannibalize magazine sales. As it turned out, we were wrong—and so the latest "Recommended Components" is available on our free-access website day-and-date with the publication of the April and October issues in which it appears. And starting with Mikey's very first "Analog Corner," from July 1995, I have been posting his column on our AnalogPlanet.com website.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 10, 2015  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1977  |  1 comments
Many years ago, the now-defunct Life magazine ran a feature article about science and its sacred cows, in which a cartoon showed a huge inverted pyramid-shaped structure of great complexity, tapering downward to a single support at its base: a toothpick. The toothpick was labeled "basic premise," the inverted pyramid was the entire body of scientific knowledge.

Everything we do or think or know is based upon assumptions, some of which are rather more justified than others. When we set the alarm clock, we assume there will be a tomorrow. When we reach for the car's brake pedal without glancing at it, we assume it will be where it was yesterday, and that it will stop the car. When we scorn a phono cartridge because it is too bright, we assume the brightness is in the cartridge, not in the rest of our system. We have to trust our toothpicks or live in a world totally devoid of security—a world where 2+2 can equal anything from 3 to 11, all the laws change unannounced every few days, and Greenwich Mean Time is determined by a roulette wheel.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Mar 15, 2016  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1968  |  1 comments
While we were preparing our list of specifications for our perfectionist's tape recorder discussed elsewhere in this issue, we suddenly came to a screeching halt at the spec which started "Scrape flutter less than . . ."

What, we wondered, was the scrape flutter percentage in a recorder in which scrape flutter is audible? Would it be 0.5%? Or 1%? Or even 5%? We perused the readily available literature, and were informed that "scrape flutter is caused by the tape's tendency to move past the heads in a series of tiny jerks in stead of in a smooth gliding motion." We were also told that scrape flutter is due to friction between the tape and the head surfaces, plus the slight elasticity of the tape that allows it to stretch slightly before being dragged along by another silly millimeter, and that it sounds like a rough edge riding on all signal frequencies between about 3kHz and 8kHz.

Wes Phillips  |  Aug 04, 1997  |  0 comments
This morning, John Atkinson passed along to me an e-mail he received from one of our most attentive correspondents—a reviewer, in fact, for an erstwhile competitor. We know that this particular writer ranks among our closest readers because an issue seldom comes out but that he writes an analysis of it, including, and down to, what he considers our excessive political correctness in choice of pronouns.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 04, 1997  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1963  |  0 comments
Dateline: late August 1989. The scene: my palatial office in the Stereophile Tower. Present were the magazine's official technowizard Robert Harley, Circulation Kahuna Michael Harvey, and myself. The subject under discussion was the program for the Stereophile Test CD, launched in this issue, and Bob had been dazzling Michael and myself with a description of the sophisticated signal-processing power offered by the Digidesign Sound Tools music editing system with which he had outfitted his Macintosh IIX computer. (He had to fit it with a 600-megabyte hard-disk drive!) "It'll even do edits as crossfades as well as butt joins," enthused Bob. "Let me tell you about the crossfade I once did when editing a drum solo for a CD master that lasted ten seconds..."
Robert Schryer  |  Nov 14, 2017  |  61 comments
"Why can't you stop being an audiophile?"

The question took me off-guard. It didn't come from one of the usual suspects—a hostile anti-audiophile, or a non-audiophile who simply can't fathom why we should care so much about something as nonessential as sound reproduction—but from Louis, a sharp dressed, goateed, middle-aged man who was known, among his audio repair shop's clientele, for not only his virtuosity as a classical solo violinist, but his expertise—some would say his preternatural ability—in setting up turntables to sound their very best.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 11, 2010  |  1 comments
"Stanley, see this? This is this. This ain't something else. This is this."—Michael, inThe Deer Hunter
Glenn Weadock  |  May 22, 2014  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2014  |  8 comments
Why does music matter so much to so many of us? Some, like Stereophile's readers, go to great lengths to reproduce it in their homes with accuracy and impact, and build libraries of their favorite works. Others, like my daughters, don't care much about equipment, but find it hard to spend more than five minutes in a car without listening to music. We go to concerts, play instruments, hum tunes, sing. Why? Why does music seem to speak to so many more of us than do, say, painting, sculpture, poetry, architecture, or even literature?
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 30, 2010  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1979  |  1 comments
A very popular myth among the audio unwashed—and one still perpetuated by the pop hi-fi writers—is that nothing is to be gained by paying more than $1000 for a stereo system (footnote 1). Members of the general public, including masses of people who enjoy live, unamplified music, have the impression that more money simply buys one wider and wider frequency range, and defend their $500 "compact" systems with the lame excuse that their ears aren't all that good, and who needs to hear what bats hear anyway? This is no doubt a soothing emollient for one's disinclination to invest more money in audio gear, but it is a supreme self-deception.
Ken Micallef  |  Aug 25, 2015  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2015  |  59 comments
Photo © Kipnis Studios 2015

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