Feedback/Ideas for New Magazine?

Hi Guys,

In perusing the forums here at A-gon it is very apparent to me that many of you do not trust commercial magazines and reviewers. Obviously, with any magazine the derives its income mainly from commercial advertising, questions always arise regarding reviewer bias and the mag's political slant. I constantly see the question, "Why are there no negative reviews?"

Having been a reviewer for 4 magazines, I know the insider's perspective of why there are very few negative reviews published. In life, it is true that you get what you pay for, and since many of the e-zines are free and the print mags are very inexpensive because they pack in lots of advertising dollars to cover their costs, this maxim holds true.

More and more lately, I've been leaning toward starting my own audio magazine, which would allow me the freedom to be unusually candid and truthful about the topics and review gear the magazine covers.

My question, is: "Would you be willing support a magazine that is mainly funded by subscriptions if you had to pay a minimal yearly fee for it?" Please be honest, because as much as I'd love to start a venture like this, there's no point in doing it if there won't be a market for it. I'm speaking of an online publication to begin with; print would come much later, if at all.

Let me know what you think, and feel free to e-mail me privately if you prefer.

Thank You!
I am leaning toward featuring more $500 to $2000 products as opposed to extremely high-or low-price gear.

Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated, so feel free to tell me exactly what youÂ’d want to see in such a publication as well as whether or not you think it is feasible.

Thanks Again!
I was reading just today in The Audio Critic about how it was stopping some of its columns and was thinking about stopping altogether in the not-so-distant future. I basically never come across anything said about this magazine which I personally feel is quite good. Their candid approach apparently isn't all that financially worthy. There could be internal problems exacerbating the issue too but at any rate, it looks like they are a sinking ship. I will miss them. Perhaps you can take their place...? If you make it, I would be interested for sure. I don't spend my time criticising what reviewers do and say (like many I see on this website) so I would enjoy hearing your [mag's] opinions and would subscribe. I already subscribe to two of them and a third would be fine with me. I would only suggest that the price bracket be raised to about $4k or so to make the selection pool more interesting/varied and that you hire people who have heard A LOT of different gear so that their field of perception is large. Good luck - Arthur

Thank you for your opinion and for your thoughtful comments.
In order to be successful I think you have to offer your visitors something(s) unique of value, that they can't find anywhere else. I've been reading some books on web marketing and I have a lot of interesting ideas for ways to attract and hold my reader's interest. I'm presently putting together a marketing plan/blueprint for my initial foray into the e-zine business. Getting up to a some higher-priced gear is a good suggestion and I know I will do that. But I may shy away from $12k amplifiers and $25k+ speaker systems that only the very rich could ever hope to afford.

I have heard and reviewed a wide cross-section of audio products over the past 7 years and any writers that I add to my masthead will have to demonstrate considerable knowledge and experience, as well as excellent writing/communication skills. Above all, they will have a responsibiliy to the magazine and to my readers to be completely honest in their comments and testing procedures.
How about some real hot women draped all over the Rowland Amplifiers?

just kiddin... well.. maybe not.

I think it would be nice to get a magazine that doesent seem so Biased.

I'd like to see a magazine with no "Advertisements" only reviews and the real deal on audio gear.

I would like to have people with different personalities and tastes review each piece of gear.

I would like the opinion about a gear from the perspective by a hip-hop fan, a metal head, a classical afficianado, a blues fan, a country fan, etc etc. instead the apparent 45 year old wine tasting super-sucessful gentleman "clone"

Have each one of thm review the same piece of gear, get the different perspectives.

Not all audiophiles like fine wine and listen to classical, not all audiophiles wear dockers, wingtips and button up shirts. Some of us like to crank Metallica and wear jeans and a tshirt while chugging back Budweiser. Itt doesent mean my money is any less green, and it doesent mean i dont enjoy the same satisfaction of a high end system

Maybe if they would encorperate different types of persona and personalities on audio gear it would reduce the whole "Snobbery" and "Elitism" that seems to surround the whole audio hobby. Make it something everyone can enjoy.

I know this whole debate has raged before about what is music and what is crap, but remember, people who listen to opera, classical, jazz, blues, are far far far in the minority of tastes in america. There is a whole world of possible audiophiles that remains untapped, simply because the elitist snobbery has somewhat of a "club" mentality and all decide to trash the music of the masses.

You know WHY bose does so well? because it markets to EVERYONE, not just upper class white males who would rather sip fine scotch than work on a car engine.

Ahem, I meant no offence in my remark, i hope i dont spark anyones anger because that is not my intent. I have come to know many audiophiles on this board and i DO realise there are not many snobs on here, there are not many "Elitists" and alot of people hear listen to more than just classical than opera, there are rockers on here, "Goths" ive seen some poeple talking about Punk music, everything. This is definatly a cesspool of personalities, tastes, and viewpoints which High-end audio is not marketed to.

once again, i mean no offence!

Hey Chris,

No offense taken (at least by me) and thanks for your viewpoint. I think people should listen to whatever kind of music they like whether it be metal, rap (well, maybe not rap :) pop, classical, jazz or blues, etc.

Personally, I would never restrict myself to just one genre of music because there are so many enjoyable types and styles out there. I admire people who go to the audio shows and play the music that they actually listen to at home. Music you are the most familiar with is always your best reference.

Having multiple reviews of the same piece to provide different perspectives is something I favor. I used to enjoy when PHD and HP of The Absolute Sound used to argue back and forth over a component's relative merits or lack thereof -- back in the days before TAS started taking advertising.

One of my goals will be to make my site more interactive than most other audio mags, giving my readers chances to actively participate, registering their opinions on certain issues and products. I think it will be more fun and will also let me know if I'm on track and serving the interests of my readers.

You were chuggin' back some Bud's when you wrote that weren't you Slappy!? I don't know if I fall into any of your categories, but I am white, live on the edge of our continent, enjoy red wine, don't like scotch at all, like all kinds of music, will refrain from putting myself in a 'class' (upper/middle/lower). I like your idea....maybe Plato could do a "Trailer Trash" column (no offense intended whatsoever).....seriously, you are quite right; all kinds of folks enjoy music. Where I differ in opinion is why Bose does so well. It is certainly not because it markets to everyone, it is simply because it MARKETS BIG TIME, putting a huge emphasis on advertising and marketing and cutting corners when it comes to the final product. It is clearly not targeting the high-end market, as it is simply not a high-end product. The majority of white, middle-American, Bud-swilling males buy into that advertising shit BIG TIME! Advertising moves Widgets in America, no ifs ands or buts about it! The other primary component of their success is they make an inexpensive product that the common-man can afford that does the job at hand. Lets face it, most folks simply don't give a rats-ass about soundstage, bloom and transient decay (whatever that is)! They just wanna listen to the music they like, have it sound reasonably well, and they don't want to pay a lot of money and they don't want to spend any time researching their purchase... They've got TV shows to watch, Bud to chug down, and 87 Billion in aid to Iraq to pay off!!! The challenge with smaller manufacturers who are doing it from the heart, as you are clearly aspiring to with your speaker-building idea, is that as soon as they have to start paying for marketing and advertising space it means the price of their product will need to go up in order to pay for it. You can then have the choice of becoming good at doing just that (marketing) and passing on the marketing costs to the consumer (as they must be in order to stay in business), or you can start to cut corners in your products to make a better profit to try to juggle the mark-up/marketing costs. That's why some of the best bargains in the high end are small manufacturers, doing it for the passion they have for it, and not putting a lot into advertising (i.e. Quicksilver, Homegrown, DH Labs, etc.). It is the beauty of Plato's idea, as it was the beauty of Listener magazine. Plato knows better than anyone whether it is realistic from an insiders perspective. I'd buy it and support it as I have Motorcycle Consumer News (no advertising there either though I'm not liking the direction that publication has been headed lately). So can it work Plato? I think it's a great idea, but what are the numbers you're talking about and how do you think you can make it work? It's a noble undertaking for sure. I already know way more than I need to about $30K turntables and DAC's, but I'm sure that even if I had that kind of money where it didn't mean that much to me, I don't think I'd spend it that way, as much as I do LOVE to listen to music at home, the margins of improvement I've heard in systems like that just don't justify the costs when I think of how much good that money could do elsewhere. I also know that, per what I responded to you Chris, that the vast majority of Americans would say the exact same thing and put that price tag a whole lot lower inclusive of some of the prices I've paid for components. It's all relative. So the short answer is, yes Plato, I'd be part of your target market that would be willing to support such an effort.

Bound for Sound is a mag that I read that I feel is somewhat true to the point and no advertising. Your idea is OK but you will not make a living at it and getting in equipment is difficult unless you have connections. I personally know many of the well known reviewers. Do not beleive for a second that the on-line mags do not have their favorites. Post a bad review and you may be out of business from getting more products to review for any manufacturer. IMHO, there are too many reasons why things sound the way they do so even an unbiased review can basically mean nothing, just your opinion.

It all comes back to you hae to hear it for yourself in your system in your home.

Anyway, I wish you well and Happy Listening.
I would like more of the "then" and "now" type comparisons. It seems a product comes out, is "hot" and then goes to the "was" while the next hot product is out. I really liked Art Dudley/Listener when it did current reviews of classic gear such as older snells, turntables, and even "extinct" stuff such as fidelity research moving coil cartridges. I think most of the classic gear can more than hold it's own in comparison.

I wish you luck in your venture.
Marco, you had me ROFL! Thank you for your support and words of encouragement.

Bigkidz I appreciate your kind wishes. I have some clever ideas for getting review gear going right down to paying for it myself if I have to. You say I won't make a living at it and I appreciate your honesty. Naturally I feel otherwise, and I'm ready to make the requisite effort and committment. My mantra is that I will succeed no matter what! Once I start the wheels in motion, I am going at it full-bore. Time will tell, as it always does.

Frank :)
Marco you rock!

BigKids, there is an idea right there.

Plato, why not have a part of the magazine dedicated to small mom-&-Pops audio companys? the ones who cannot afford advertising?

As marco said, getting gear sent to you for review from the known high-end companys requires connections.

Why not contact the mom & pops audio companys and ask for a demo of thier gear? you could set a section of the magazine aside for that purpose, and im sure that some of these people trying to get what could be very excellent products into the market would jump at the opportunity to have thier gear reviewed for all to see.

seek and find out the hidden gems?
Steelhead, as a veteran audiophile of 30+ years, it's been my experience that bonefide improvements are much more incremental/subtle than the magazines portray. I can assemble a system with 30 year old classic gear that will not be too far off from what is possible with today's technology. Certainly there have been advances in parts/manufacturing and large strides (especially recently) in commercially available digital technology; but the whole "breakthrough-a-minute" syndrome so common in the magazines definitely begs credibility.
Plato: I have no problem paying for something that i enjoy and feel to be a reliable source of info. I have stated publicly on AA and on this forum that i wouldn't mind paying as much as $10 an issue ( subscription price ) for a really good mag that did not have advertising in it. After all, it is easy to piss that much money away on a magazine or two that lack integrity and / or consistency. As such, i'd rather pay more for one and at least have something that offered usable content.

Other than that, you don't have any affiliation with Attainable Audio, do you ??? : ) Sean
Hi Sean,

I appreciate your comments and encouragement. In my opinion, you are one of the most well-liked, respected, and valuable contributors to this forum, and it would be an honor to have you as one of my subscribers. And no, I have no afiliation with Attainable Audio.

Slappy, it's possible that the mag could devote space to small operations that have promising, and possibly cutting-edge products to offer -- but there would be no favoritism involved, i.e., their products would be held to the same standards and scrutiny as all the other products we review. But, if they think they have something special and want to submit it for review, I'd certainly be open to covering it.

Frank :)
Review equip from ALL price ranges.

Review accessories such as speaker switch controlers, so if someone really needs to utilize this type of equipment, they are armed with some opinion to hopefully chose the best performer for the dollar.

The one thing that I would like to see most is a review of factory upgrades. Many manufacturers offer equiment upgrades "MK II." On a regular basis, I would like to see an a/b comparrison of the original version to that which was the upgrade a good value or is it time to consider a new component overall??? At one point within the past year, my front end, pre amp and power amp all were capable of a manufacturer's upgrade to the newest version. If I had $1000 to spend on an upgrade and this was the average price for each of the individual upgrades, how would I know which one of these upgrades would give the largest return on my upgrade investment?

Just my thoughts.
Hi Plato:

Are you considering the classic hardcopy magazine or an online magazine?

There are staggering costs associated with hardcopy and it makes going w/o advertising very difficult. A number of small specialty mags have bit the dust and those left standing have moved on to video and HT. IMHO, there are powerful $$$ reasons for this.

I suggest (if you have not already) you talk to an editor like Ed Dell of AudioXpress (I remember a lead editorial about a year ago bemoaning the lack of advertising and the implications for his mag) or Dave Robinson/Dave Clark of Positive Feedback (now online) about it.

Cheers and Good Luck
I remain,
I would like to see reviews of equipment at all price levels. I would find it especially interesting to read a review which compares a lower priced piece to a higher priced piece to determine whether the lower priced piece is a good value. For example, a buyer may decide to pay half the cost of a higher priced piece for 95% of the sound. I would also like to see far more direct comparisons of equipment. The mainstream magazines fail miserably in this regard. I would also like to see articles on the business of audio -- which companies are stable and doing well? Which companies may be in trouble. This is not for purposes of gossip or idle curiousity; the stability of a company is critical to a buyer who needs to depend on service. A company's stability also is important for maintaining the value of a product. For better or worse, the secondary market is a fact, as demonstrated by the success of audiogon. This too would make for an interesting article -- how the secondary market drives retail pricing. Finally, I would like to see reviews of direct-marketed products like Ridge Street, Pure Note, Axiom, etc.

In an ideal world, I would like to see a print magazine with glossy photos, backed up by an on-line archive for subscribers to the print magazine.

Thanks for your efforts.
Count me in as a subscriber if you hold true to your origins. But why not just form the largest audio club in the world using A'Goners as the startup? Any manufacturer who wants to sell to us would have to consider us as a major reviewer. Any member interested in reviewing has the chance to do so when his/her name surfaces to the top of the reviewer's list. You can see where this is going, so I need not say more but this is certainly attainable. We could set this up a lot like computer user groups in this country use their clubs for reviewing hardware and software.
I really miss "LISTENER". I enjoy a hardcopy magazine and I especially liked the digest size. I understand the financial issues involved with a printed publication and the fact that information on the net can be provided in a more timely fashion. I just like to read while listening and get tired of sitting at the computer.
I'd be VERY interested. What I'd also like to see is comparisons of some of the best vintage gear compared to the new stuff. For instance, when the other mags review a new turntable, I've never heard any of them compare to a Linn, or Thorens, or whatever. Also, review the expensive stuff, but also the stuff we can afford.

As I stated earlier, my intention is to start as an online-only publication and move to print in the future only if the online edition is profitable and will support it.

Thanks for all your suggestions so far; I'm still listening and taking notes!

Frank :)
Plato: Since others have brought it up, any "magazine" that is available in downloadable form should be able to print out in like fashion. Many people don't want to spend as much time on the puter as we do. Besides that, we all need "good" reading material for the "library" : ) Sean
Plato, this is not meant to be a mark against you, but everyone has biases. Everyone has their own room in which to listen. Without knowing a reviewers bias and having an intimate knowledge of the listening room many reviews would be meaningless. I would be less interested in a reviewer who claims to be unbiased than I would be about a reviewer who is up-front about his bias.

I don't doubt your honesty or integrity, but we may have differences of opinion about a piece of gear. That doesn't make either of us wrong, but it does mean we would write a different review and possibly dislike something the other enjoyed.

The complaints about Stereophile/TAS/Bound for Sound/and the others are often foolish and without basis in fact. You are setting yourself up for the same criticism, even if you don't realize it.
Guess I should learn to read.
Still would talk to those folks.

And Sean(and whoever else)is right, Any half technical article should have a printer friendly version.

I remain

Your point is well taken. I do intend to be up front with my readers about my listening room, associated equipment, and listening biases. Believe me, all this information will be spelled out in detail on my website. And the same will be done for any afiliated writers. I agree this is important information and that readers need to take these details into consideration when reading the reviews.

Elmuncy, I think there will definitely be a place for comparisons of vintage gear in the mag. It's a topic that interests me, as well.

Sean and Clueless, I have been advised that a good way to set up the subscription magazine is to set it into PDF files, which can be downloaded by the subscriber, printed out, and stapled together in book form for your reading pleasure.

Frank :)

I commend your wanting to produce a magazine that would offer up no nonsense, unbiased and unsolicited reviews of equipment. Your problem lies in the fact that all of these magazines produce their main source of revenue from the advertisers, NOT the subscribers. This now puts you in a quandry. How do you review a line or a piece from a manufacturer that is an advertiser and review them truthfully even if you felt like making disparaging remarks. Makes for a slightly sticky situation.

If you can figure this dilemma out I salute you. I would absolutely buy your mag. Let me know how things work out.
BTW, what mags did you write reviews for? I have a good friend who was part owner of the now defunct "Fi" magazine.

Good Listening,

Plato good luck getting any $ out of these folks on Audiogon. Average "white collar" + "audiophile" is a cheap, cheap, cheap kind of creature. Unless, off course something is there for them...! Cheers!

It will probably take a couple of months for me to get my website up and running, but I'd like to encourage any of you who are interested to take a moment to e-mail me privately, so I can keep your e-mail address on file and you will be among the first to receive my free, informational newsletter that will contain news on the website, contests, and other audio-related topics. Of course there will be no obligation, and you are free to opt out at any time (though I'm sure you'll like what you see and want to learn more).

Let me hear from you!

Frank Alles :)
Senior Editor

Maybe you didn't read my entire post. I said that my publication would be subscriber-based and would not take manufacturer advertising. That's how I can "afford" to be completely honest in my commentary. Magazines I am or have been affiliated with include: The Audiophile Voice, Soundstage!, Positive Feedback, and

Kkursula, you may be on to something -- saying you'd be willing to open your wallet and opening it are two different things... But we'll see how things develop and go from there.

Best regards,
I'd like to see clear photographs from every angle.
I'd like a list of ALL peritnent specs, including measurements, sensitivity, input and/or output impedance and any other relevent information that could aid and/or prevent inappropriate system matching including any unusual considerations or quirks.
I'd like the manufacturer to recommend their products in the context of a complete system and setup prior to evaluation.
I'd like true value ratings that consider the manufacturers reputation for reliablity, customer service, resale value, cost of ownership, warranty and comparison to other products both new and used.
I'd like reviews done within the paramaters of similarly priced associated components.
I'd like reviewers to review gear as a typical customer would recieve it and refrain from using "souped up" gear.
I'd like reviewers to use appropriate and appropriately described rooms with complete photographs.
I'd like some reviewers to maintain systems that are similar to what subscribers have and use them in the same type of rooms that subscribers do, at various price points.
I'd like experts in the field of scientific measurments develop accurate measurements and a data base to discover any consistencies or inconsistencies.
I'd like reviewers to make comparisons to other products that a consumer might consider.
If "best of" issues arise, I'd like the reviewers names to be included. That the true value rating mentioned above be the rule.
I'd like reviewers to state up front if they had, have or have pending any personal or business relations with any one directly or indirectly that might in any way, shape or form be considered a conflict of interest.
I'd like all reviewers required to sign a contract refraining them from gifts, loans or any other advise or considerations that might be considerd a conflict of interest.
I'd like all reviewed items to actually be purchased in the
manner that a typical buyer would.
I'd like multiple reviewers simutaneously and discretely reviewing gear in multiple settings.
Well, I can wish can't I?
Good luck!
Unsound stole my thunder.

I'd like reviewers to review gear as a typical customer would recieve it and refrain from using "souped up" gear-

AND- to guarantee this...

I'd like all reviewed items to actually be purchased in the manner that a typical buyer would. (and notes regarding this purchase experience included- was the dealer a prick?)

It would then be nice to see how much the new MEGA-DUPER 2000 was purchased for new vs. its used sale price not too much later. Where will you get the capital to constantly purchase items and then sell them used at a loss? I have no idea, but it's your magazine, think of something.

I'd also like to see a column similar to what some car mags do-- Vintage buys or some such-- something like "the Rowland Consonance Preamplifier" or "Adcom GFA-565"-- reviews of under or over appreciated older pieces that can be purchased used for fractions of their original sales price and how they stack up (or don't) to current new models-- is the piece's rep deserved or hyped? Basically a column aimed at people who buy used gear.

I'd also like to see stuff reviewed with more mainstream music, not Jezzky records presents the audiophile approved crap quintet. Sure, reviewers will have varying musical tastes, but it gets a little old when it's all music with little merit recorded perfectly. "I could really hear the lute player's fingers and the digeridoo's image was rock solid while the percussive sound of the broom handle striking the half full paint bucket had impressive weight"

Obviously you will have to ban an entire list of ridiculous and overused words and metaphors used to describe sound as part of the company charter.

Oh, and have pie charts and hot broads scattered throughout.
Unsound, is that ALL you want???

Should be a piece of cake. We're still on Earth, right?!

Frank ;)
Plato, actually what I would really like is a system that is so real, so user friendly, so reliable and yet so inexpensive that it would negate the very reason for a such a magazine. I might return to earth tomorrow, then again, maybe not. In the mean time, what I'd really like, is to sincerely wish you good luck in your endeavour.
Pmkalby, you really had me going; hey, maybe you could do an audiophile-humor column for me! I thank you for that bit of fun and for your suggestions.

Unsound, I enjoyed learning about your meager expectations and I will certainly take your advice and sentiments to heart. Your encouragement is very much appreciated, as are the ideas and suggestions of all the A-goners who replied.

So, may I put you on my e-mail list?

Frank A :)
Your e-zine sounds like a great idea, and it seems like you will gain a niche market. From a business standpoint, why not take advertisements from non-audio gear companies to avoid conflicts of interest?
I understand that non-audio businesses might not have an interest in advertising with you, but if you were to do a thorough market research, you might be able to come up with hard data that might be convincing to some of these companies. I'm sure audiophiles have a life and do other things, or have other interests and needs, (stretching...but you get my point). A couple of things I can think of are softwares, beverages, maybe furniture (chair for the sweet-spot), firearms,etc... Ok., maybe not firearms, but there have been times where some of the things that I've bought seem to serve no purpose other than target practice.
Just a suggestion, as I would really like to see something like this take-off. Maybe you can use Audiogoners as a focus group (which I understand you are right now), but with an emphasis on how you can gain advertisments from non-audio gear companies.
Now..., back to reality. What else do I buy besides audio gears?
Plato, how could I refuse someone with such a gift for humerous diplomacy?
Mhu, that's not a bad idea, in fact, I thought of it the other day and then forgot about it. One of the books I've been reading on successful marketing states that any site that has a certain amount of traffic could be used to derive income from banner ads and such. If the companies are not audio companies, then there should be no conflict of interest. There are potentially many other businesses, like the ones you suggested that may be open to advertising once I get an established flow of traffic. I think maybe sporting goods/wear, automobiles, watches, wines (thanks Slappy!), and many other types of non-audio-related industries would lend support and advertising dollars once I cross the required hit threshold. Good point!

Unsound, that's right -- you can't refuse; it is not permitted! I'll add you to my list. Thanks :)
I would be interested in everyone's views of an opinion piece I wrote recently in UltraAudio on some of these issues. I have no doubt that there is a degree of cynicism about the review process and some of it may in fact be warranted, but let me know what you think. the link is It is a part of the Soundstage network. Once you enter the Ultra site go to the Opinion section and look for my piece which was published on October 1. The piece is called Obligation and Integrity in the Audio Community (or something very close to that). I actually briefly discuss the idea of a subscription based magazine. Others I know are toying with the idea and have even more substantial plans than those outlined in this thread. I am very interested in what members of the community think
Jules- I read your piece last night and I must say I was very impressed. Excellent writing and a very calm and impartial view of the industry. I'd recommend anyone interested in this hobby who takes the time to look at reviews give his article a read. That said, I don't know if I agree regarding the narrow margin of excellence you cite as one of the reasons for universally "positive" reviews. Perhaps reviewers have cultivated objectivity far beyond my capacity for same, but I tend to be pretty picky about what sounds good to my ears, and what I don't like. That is not to say that what I don't luck is necessarily a bad component, but more likely doesn't combine well in my system, or simply does not suit my tastes. I don't think I have the vocabulary nor the discernment to write a review like the more "informed" ones I read in the rags and online. It all comes down to what the component does to the sound for me, and I tend to speed-read the technical stuff (which may be another man's desert) and go right for the listening impressions and try to get an overall sense of those. Blah, blah, blah.....anyway, I enjoyed the piece Jules. Some of the insight into the review process you offer was eye-opening and your suggestion of disclosure was refreshing, though I doubt that would ever happen. Hope you at least get some pizza out of it...heck, I'd take you out for a slice if you're ever in Seattle and I have nothing to peddle....well, my Muse rig is up for sale...perhaps you could say a few good words about that and I'll throw in a beer! I look forward to reading more from you.


For those A'goners wishing to read Jules' article here is the link:

Jules: well written & does convey our collective concerns of the audio industry today. Indeed we are plagued by much skepticism that is hardening into cynicism & butt of much of our cynicism is directed at those 2 magazines we can find at our local bookstore. I also agree that fully disclosing the reviewer's/magazine's ties with the manuf. will go a long way in removing some of our skepticism.

However, what I don't understand is how will a subscription-only magazine solve this problem?
S'phile is a subscription based magazine. It's cheap but still subscription based.
TAS is also a subscription based magazine.
Richard Hardestry's Audio Perfectionist is also an (expensive) subscription e-magazine.
J. Peter Moncrief's IAR is also a subscription e-magazine of sorts - it's free on the web but costs you if you want his archives.
The last 2 magazines do *not* accept any advertising whatsoever & so their views should be neutral/call-a-spade-a-spade.
Do the Audiogon members here put any more faith in the reviews printed therein??
Have all or many Audiogon members of both types - those that have slammed S'phile & TAS & those who haven't - gone running with their money & subscribed to Audio Perf. & IAR??
If not, why would they subscribe to one published by Plato?

On a related note: I personally find more even-handed reviews on esp. when one component is reviewed by 4 reviewers. I also find that Soundstage reviews more price-wise diverse equipment. However, I do find some co-relation between their advertisers & that manuf's equip. getting a good review but it *appears* to be less blatant. Maybe this website is the better of the worse?

A friend & myself were discussing this issue some time back & we likened the evolution of the audio industry to maturation of an economy. When a country is poor & trying to bring itself out of the dumps (think Germany & South Korea) all the workers are earnest & put in their best. Goods from such countries are hailed to be excellent unanimously. As that economy matures, these same goods now become commodities. Manuf. is mechanized & millions are belted out en-masse. What started out as being built for the cause is now built for commercialization & revenues dictate the strategy more than anything else.

Audio too started out this way in the 1950s & 1960s. There was virtually no hype & even tho' the equipment wasn't that good, it was built be craftsmen & designers who were true to the cause of audio: accurate reproduction of music in the home environment. As this industry has matured, has it become a commodity item where marketing hype over-rules (by a long margin) the true reason of building audio gear? is this a natural cycle for this industry as it is for many other industries? If so, we are those unfortunate souls who will witness the "corruption" of this industry & the audio industry will never return to its former glory. Those among us for older vintage will remember those hay-days with much fondness & with good reason.
Seems like a fatalistic attitude on my part. Not so! I'm merely posing some questions for this forum at large. And, asking whether we are seeing a natural progression of an industry to which we seem to be the unfortunate witnesses.

I want to thank those of you who took a look at my piece for your feedback. It is all very welcome. I continue to worry about the cynicism that too many within our community have settled into, however understandable it may be. I am open to all suggestions.

In my 'other life' I am a University Professor and one of the skills we all learn is how to write critical or negative letters of evaluation without being 'directly' critical. There is a 'code' that everyone (or nearly everyone) employs and understands, and the same is true of audio reviews. More of them are more critical than you might at first think. If I were to see a review of speaker X in which the reviewer claimed that it favored neither tubes nor solid state -- that it was equally good with both -- I would read (without more) as damning with faint praise. After all, the reviewer never said that it was good with either. Perhaps, people want to see more directly critical remarks, but some of that may just be to see real criticism that anyone could recognize as such. Believe me, the manufacturers know such a review is not favorable.

I think what readers want is to develop a 'relationship' with a reviewer or two. They want to get know them through their writing, to learn what they like and why. They want to trust them and to follow their work. No one wants to get close to people they can't trust. It is our burden to make ourselves trustworthy. If we are trustworthy, then it is not going to matter whether we disagree with one another's ultimate judgments, tastes and so on. People will read what we have to say and find it credible. Our goal is to provide meaningful and helpful information and our ability to do that depends on all of you seeing us as persons of integrity. Don't give up on us, but demand of us that we earn it.
Tell me what you need from us to earn your trust. This is the topic of my next two opinion pieces and this is meant to be an interactive process. I'll let you know about me through my writing and you'll tell me -- and others -- what you need to be comfortable with us and willing to put your trust in us. We need that do a useful job, and from my experience, my sense is that with a few exceptions of some who may be in this to feed their egos, reviewers want to contribute to the success of the community and to the enjoyment of music. To do that we need not only to be informative and judgmental; we need to be able to construct a narrative, to tell a story, to make it interesting and to give you a reason for caring about what we think. And you wont care if we aren't worthy of your care and interest.

Needless to say, I was pleased to read that some of you have found the reviews on Soundstage to be particularly honest and helpful.