STOP READING STEREOPHILE MAGAZINES!!!
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No, None of the magazines care if you get the best value for your buck ie used gear. They want to sell/review new gear. It's a little strange that only Listner ever mentioned buying used audio online. Its sad! They would end up drawing more people into the hobby. Those people would have to buy some stuff new also to complete their systems.
Stereophile is a waste of raw material. What you're seeing is grade inflation. That's how they managed to find products that were better than class A.
I went to a gas station recently that didn't sell "regular" gas. The choices were:Premium, Extra Premium and Ultra Premium. Grade inflation.
Stereo Pile is now, and has been for more than a decade, about nothing but advertising sales. The actual product is about nothing but justifying the price of that advertising.
My recommendation is that we all stop helping them pad their readership figures by forgetting that Stereophile exists. After all, it doesn't really exist for you. As a consensus measure it has repeatedly shown itself to be off the mark, falling far short of Audiogon Forums in that regard.
here is my take on Stereophile and the rest of the audio magazines; they don't add anything other than reviews of vendor provided equipment, and any vendor that won't provide a no cost component will not reviewed or acknowledged in the magazine. Audio magazines don't do feature articles like photography / automobile / sport magazines. When was the last time an audio magazine tested the 5 leading power chords? Or presented an article on the various ways to isolate components? I can't remember when I read an article that actually taught me something....Unless you are in the market for a specific piece of equipment, Stereophile is useless..with the possible exception of Fremer's column, because I am a dedicated analog user....
Macrojack writes "I went to a gas station recently that didn't sell "regular" gas. The choices were:Premium, Extra Premium and Ultra Premium. Grade inflation"
Reminds me of a story a while back where the Russian Military ordered a bulk supply of condoms from a well known American Manufacturer in EXTRA Large only. maybe wishful inflation?
Triumph, really you must forget about the rating system in Stereophile and think more on the lines of what is is you want to hear in your audio system and match your components accordingly. Stereophile should only be used for 2 purposes, entertainment and sound characteristics of components. The problem with the later is there are few writers that can articulate the differences where one can get a sense of what that might be. It wasn't always like that...once upon a time..
I have pretty good experience with the Stereophile reviews except that I find them to be somewhat quality inflated, as some of you suggest. Still, the comments in the reviews are useful and also the rankings are useful, IMO. Sometimes they are flat out wrong, as in the case of Thiel 1.6. They rated it C, whereas other magazines find, as I personally have found, that they are awesome.
Maybe some Audiogoners ought to hook up and consider implementing a new section in Audiogon dedicated to component/sounds, comparison, system matching, from our own point of views and listening sessions, I know, sounds a little far fetched, but keeps the mags on the racks and the reviewers could read our stuff !!
Sorlowski, I don't have to speak Polish to look at the pictures do I :>)
Bbenn, very insightful on the lack of any educational content. As for Fremmer, I used to learn a lot from his column but lately all we get is news from the latest stereo show and unrelated crap like his experience driving a sports car. I only subscribe to get exposure to new music. About all I get from the reviews is info about the music the reviewer is currently using to evaluate his system. I think it is worth the $1 an issue for that.
Take a look at the back cover of Stereophile and you will see that Musical Fidelity has bought that advertising space for well over a year. Musical Fidelity has been featured many times within that same period with various reviews.
Stereophile needs both subscription(newstand)and ad revenue to survive, but the higher $$ ads seem to arouse a review, and we are to believe that this review is unbiased?
Not to take anything away from Musical Fidelity, but why would Stereophile go to great lengths with a review for a component that is being produced in a limited supply(500 units)?
Just a thought.
Atkinson's reply is indicative of the corner they've painted themselves into with this 'ranking' business. It could well be true that, for instance, preamps sound better today on average than they did 10 years ago. But if you read Stereophile's grade definitions, you will understand that even if that were the case, since the preamps (and everything else) are supposed to be ranked in accordance to what is currently available in the marketplace, there are still plenty of moderately-priced models that should be very recommendable at the lower rankings (even if you want to accept that there are no higher-priced models being made anymore that deserve to wind up there).
If that scenario is credible, then "Class A"-ranked products of today should sound better than gear ranked "A" from 10 years ago, and the same thing should hold true for "B"-class gear and so on. Yet even if that description were fact, it should still not change the relative distributions of gear throughout the rankings - unless the magazine has now stopped reviewing entry-level gear, and reviews much more reference-level gear instead.
So: Either they are guilty of promulgating grade-creep, in which "A" or "D" rankings mean something different today than they meant a decade ago (and also than their listed definitions stipulate), or they are guilty of neglecting to review the full range of gear available, at all price levels. IMO, the problem comes from both directions, but either way, the results have rendered the rankings increasingly meaningless and joke-worthy. Doesn't JA ever sit down with his own mag and realize they are now saying (and twice a year no less, which is once too many!) that in many catagories, a majority of the gear that comes across their threshold qualifies to be described as "Best attainable sound for a component of its kind"?! Maybe once they've finished with this progression and everything is rated "Class A", they can consider their jobs done and cease publication, since we'll no longer need audio criticism anymore.
I would like to see an outfit like Consumer Reports for high end. Use the same criteria that they used to use. They got nothing free from vendors, they bought it all just like we do. They would do real judging, and comparisons and give us a real "best buy" Where I would especially like to see them go to work, is on power cords and interconnects, do real evaluations, ie blind tests, and let us know what is snake oil, and what is for real
You have to realise that these mags and reviewers are out to promote new equiptment.If it was the case that mothing old was good my system would be toast.
I asked a reveiwer about Axiom speakers contending with NEARs and my statement was come on there is no way they are better.His response was thet NEARs are old.
Yeah well I will certainly take my NEARs over the Axes any day!
Another contention is that old transport are useless,well not according those who know my Phillips CD-60.It is made of Metal and is built like a tank.It is stable as hell.As an example I have 2 transports in my computer that cannot play a track off an Elton John CD.Well the Philly holds up fine as a transport!
You can update parts in old equiptment to make them better also.Amps and Pre's have not really changed in design with the exception of the new Digital amps.
I still use my B&K ST202 that is modded and will outplay some amps today for 4X the price.I know because I have went to hea them.
BS with the assertion that newer is better!Only in some cases like DAC tech and updated parts which can be switched out.
Don't knock Stereophile, they have a place in the audiophile world although their ratings of audio equiptments might be skewed at times. Keep in mind the fact that a reviewer's evaluation is almost always subjective. Use their reviews as a starting point to start your own assesment and evaluation of whatever equiptment(s) you are intrested in and ignore their rating. I know some reviewers are a waste, like one reviewer (could be Chip Sterns I'm not sure) who reviews speakers but never mention the size or configuration of the listening room or at what distance from the walls the speakers sound best. All reviewers like to show off their journalistic prowes, Sam Telling adds his knowledge of french, what country his wife came from and how helpful she is-as if we readers give a dam, all of which is a lot of crap and takes up space; does not add an iota helping the readers learn more about yhe equiptment under review. Those valuable(and now wasted ) space could be used to show a reader how to tell a balanced from an unbalanced connection. It seems to to me that journalism is their forte and they want to flaunt it. But the magazine is helpful also in that it is a "forum" in which high end maufacturers show their products and we audiophiles get to see what's new. I really believe Stereophile needs a technical column.
I have read every issue of Stereophile since the first issue and must admit it has changed drastically since J Gordon Holt days. But how many of you remember the trash and totally biased reviews (if those could be called reviews) that High Fidelity and Stereo Review used to push down our audiophile throats?,and which were an assult on our intelligence.
Let's be reasonable, Stereophile,like any other business must make a profit to survive; our subscriptions alone isn't enough to keep it in business, they need advertising revenue, hence they must cater to advertisers.
If the reviewers are not dishonest (and I don't think they are)then read the entire text of any review, feed-backs on Audiogon and other sources then use your God-given inteligence to chose your equiptments
Stop whining about unfair rating lest Stereo Review and High Fidelity (both demised) reappear.
I can't buy that. I've been a manufacturer seeking a review. I've been to HQ in Santa Fe. I've been wined and dined by JA and Tom Norton. Then I've been called repeatedly and hounded for advertising by Laura Atkinson.
Stereophile and Bob Harley busted Timbre Technology right put of business by favoring the heavily advertised Sonic Frontiers juggernaut at Timbre's expense.
Stereophile does far more harm than good and their pretense of concern for the advancement of high end audio belies a sickly corporate self-interest.
Saying that something worse used to exist does not make them better.
Macrojack, I know nothing about Timbre Technology. Maybe you could explain how Stereophile 'favored' Sonic Frontiers (who are no longer in business themselves, I might add), and how their doing so could have put any other company (especially one particular company) out of business. What did they do, run a review comparing an SF product to a TT product and proclaim the SF stomped it? From the tone of your post, I would guess that the TT product wasn't even reviewed at all, but enlighten me.
More to the point, maybe you could get specific on the question of an alleged advertising-for-reviews quid pro quo.
I think Stereophile should change the Recommended Components classification to price ranges. Most of us have budgets, and will buy, e.g., the best $2k speaker we can find, so long as it is good enough to improve our systems. I don't care if it's class B or C, just so long as I don't overlook some other choice that is better, at least within a few hundred dollars.
Zaikesman -- Timbre submitted their well made, beautifully packaged and technically astute DAC to TAS who placed it in the hands of Jonathan Scull for review. He then jumped ship and became an S-phile reviewer.
This made little difference as he loved the product and said so in no uncertain terms on paper. However, RH, the digital guru and reviewer in chief saw fit to introduce caveats to the circumstances. It so happened that Sonic Frontiers also had a DAC for review at the time and SF was a product line that RH was actively promoting. Nothing they offered was anything short of a breakthrough.
So Timbre was used as a patsy, a springboard to the wonders of Sonic Frontiers.
I know about all of this because I was a dealer for TT at the time and I was in close contact with the Timbre people.
As for the quid pro quo, I told you what occurred and I am not in possession of a taped conversation so you'll need to take or leave mty tale as you see fit.
The TT review is in the April, 1994 issue.
Eldragon -- Mine was just another opinion -- much like the ones that Stereophile offers -- though mine was considerably less couched.
Personally I don't see any credibility in their publication but those who respect it enough to do as they are TOLD in making purchases will surely not be dissuaded by the rantings of a disbeliever. I'm sure they love their stuff and will continue to do so as long as Stereophile does.
Whknopp713 -- You would be well served to dismiss Stereophile altogether and gleen your knowledge from these forums. The quality of suggestion will vary, of course, but the guidance will be good and the ability to know what is useful and what is not will come quickly. Also if you discover a person whose responses you respect, try contacting that individual directly. Everyone I know welcomes such overtures.
You're welcome, Z. Do you subscribe?
I hadn't seen the publication for a few years when this year a friend who took advantage of a twofer deal sent me a subscription for Christmas.
It has declined to the point of self parody. It says the same thing in every issue give or take a hyperbole and the new class above "A" sums the whole comedy rather nicely.
As someone said earlier in this thread, the pictures are great but the articles are lacking.
Actually, the pictures are woefully inadequate - just look at some of the Brit mags. A long promised effort to upgrade the graphic and especially the photo content of the mag fizzled before it got very far off the ground - I assume they just couldn't afford to really go for it. Think how much more interesting the magazine could be to look at if they had the same photographic standards as the car mags. Audio porn is not being done justice! Yeah, I subscribe. Probably the third time or so, but this time I don't think I'll get so disgusted that I'll let it lapse. They've effectively lowered my standards - and their price - to the point where I just don't care that much anymore. It comes, I read it in a day or two, and the basic update info it contains makes it worth the $12 a year it costs me. Occasionally I get infuriated with the lameness of the formula, but why get all worked up? The damage has already been done - the industry mold is set as it relates to the audio press. If I cared more about the high end, I might not subscribe as a protest, but I'm really just a voyeur who takes this hobby very lightly compared to many. Just the sort Stereophile depends on to subscribe ;^)
What about this piece of crap The Audiophile voice?? I loved Listener, I got 1 issue free and the subscribed and got 1 more. Then I find they went out and I get stuck with this garbage TAV. I hate this rag. The reviews of equipment suck. Most if not all of the music reviews aren't my taste of music.. Stereophile is at least good bathroom reading. I can't even squeeze out a fart by the time I am done with TAV!!!!
I subscribed to stereophile last year JUST TO READ THEIR ADVERTISEMENTS (as I was under no false assumption that they where at all unbiased).The other more mainstream a/v mags make me literally sick when i read them (for info on new products only-not for their "opinion"),but I can barely stomach them because they DON'T CLAIM TO BE UNBIASED(at least not outright-maybe by presumption) as stereophile does.I am not subscribing to stereophile again,even though it would only cost me $1 an issue.Why am I not subscribing-because they CANNOT BE TRUSTED.Hifi is not about every once in awhile throwing the reader a bone and reviewing an nad amp favorably.If you want to review only ridiculously expensive equipment(with the exception of nad and musical fidelity)-fine,but don't call your mag STEREOPHILE,call it something like HIGH END STEREOPHILE,HIGH END EQUIPMENT,or to be more ACCURATE,VERY EXPENSIVE AUDIO EQUIPMENT THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE BETTER THAN MUCH CHEAPER EQUIPMENT(AND MAY OR MAY NOT BE WORTH YOUR HARD EARNED DOLLAR)-I'M SURE YOU'LL THINK THAT TITLE IS TOO LONG(AND ACCURATE).
I mentioned to someone in another thread, that Sterephile is selling ad space. They have to come up with latest and greatest each month. Reviews are generally a waste of time from most of these people. They are no better than you at judging equipment. Personally, I find most of their reviews offensively stupid. They don't get cause and effect issues such as component matching, basic set up techniques. They know someone who knows someone, and that is how they got their job. I used to go to stores all over the country to help dealers set up systems correctly, and have helped manufacturers set up CES displays correctly. I spoke to John Atkinson about reviewing for them and he basically blew me off. How would someone with my experience and "golden ears" by reputation, and the ability to express the written word not be an excellent candidate. Take advice from the friends here on the Audiogon site, they have little agenda other than some egoic issues, loving what they bought. At least they aren't pandering to advertisers with the biggest budgets.
As to your question, you would have a hard time coming up with a better preamp than the cj at that price. While some are good, the Parasound won't be nearly as musical or dynamic. If you want to email me privately, I will give you free, unbiased advice based on thousands of listening sessions with most all the manufactured products worth owning.
Rooky, there are lots of people who read the reviews in TAS and Stereophile to scout for the next product that will trinkle down to their price level so they can buy it used next time the company offer the latest "flagship."
It's just plain stupid to criticize them for reviewing expensive audio gear. No company put their latest technology into the middle of the line products. When they build to a price point there are tons of compromises made. Are you content to live with all of those compromises or do you want something better. It's the top-of-the-line stuff that pushes the envelope so people like you will continue to have mid-fi gear to buy rather than buying the good stuff.
I began reading Stereophile about 17 years ago when I could bearly afford a used receiver. I learned enough reading it to know what I wanted when I could afford to move up to seperates. I quit subscribing a few years ago because they kept reviewing mid-fi crap that wasn't any better than what I already had. Who wants to read that???
Stereophile should have a solid section of class d gear, but I don't want to read about it, I want to see the cutting edge stuff. Show me things I can't afford and I'll be happy!!!!
I was 12 years old when I first heard a "hi-fi" system. It was in the home of my uncle Jack. Jack had a profound love of opera and he was rather a good researcher, dedicated, systematic and disciplined...just like we more recent audiophiles are.
I feel in love with the sound and power that music had over me while listening to his system...all I remember, as far as his equipment is concerned, is Wharfdale speakers in a sand filled cabinet and a tube reciever. What bliss and magic I experienced I can never fully express.
All I could think of was the world that listening to music opened up for me...a new dimension really.
I began to haunt audio stores...at that time...we are speaking about 1955...the speakers were "naked" in cut out holes on the wall. I would take home brochures, and pour over the images of tubed gear, comparing this one with another...I tried to listen critically, but to my 12 year old ears everything sounded incredible.
When I turned 13 years old, my father surprised me with an audio system of my own...I would have preferred if he had let me "pick it out" myself, but instead he turned to my uncle Jack for advice and I wound up with a system almost identical to his...
Less than 10 years ago, I once again became interested in purchasing an audio system and I became curious about what was available "out there." You know, what we often call "state of the art." I naturally turned to the magizines that were available, including Stereophile.
I still read Stereophile and TAS, preferring TAS because the reviewers seem to allow a more human sense of their presence to flow along the linear portraits of the audio gear under their scrutiny. But every once and a while, Stereophile allows an article into print that is interesting and informative.
But it is here, in this forum ,and to some degree in AA (I wish AA was not so poorly designed, we have it good here at Audiogon, with a very easy to read organization of material...Bravo! to the designers) that I have found friends that have helped shape my critical direction for audio gear...for the most part, I am now into rather inexpensive solutions, made by individuals that hand build there gear one at a time.
Who would have dreamed, that we would someday have the internet, as an active daily forum and conduit, that we could speak to one another "through"!!!!
The magazines have taught us a great deal, however. At their best they show us a disciplined, rigorous, careful, sensitive and human approach to accessing the "value" of a piece of audio gear and help to wet our appetite for it...we do like to be stimulated in that direction, after all. At their worst, they are boring, repetitive, predictable, and act out of self-interest.
What is interesting here, I believe, is that many of us, because of this forum, have raised our own level of critical thinking to at least the level of the best magazines...and that, I think, is partly a direct consequence of writing in this very forum over time, and sharing ideas and realizing where we get "stuck" and where we get "rigid" and getting past it...in other words...all of us are "practicing" reviewers.
No wonder we are so critical of the so-called "professional" reviewers.
Still, I am continually amazed at the passion and interest we seem to generate as a "community."
Keep up the good work...give the magazines hell, if that is what you think they deserve...in this way we act as a "corrective," a balance, if you will, to the magazines commercial interests.
Corona, you make a great philosophical point, sadly, advertisements do make a difference in customer buying habits. The smaller companies have to work much harder to get the attention of the buyers (and reviewers) as the larger companies, which have enormous ad budgets. If we think that the reviewers, for all of their protestations, are not pandering to the larger ad dollars, we are being naive. If only it were as simple, or easy as spending the lion share of the earned profits on r&d we would all have better products in our homes. Good point!!!
Corona, may I venture a guess that you are one of the "real" audio companies who doesn't advertise. If so, why hide behind an anonymous moniker taking pot shots at those who have become successful enough to afford these ads.
If you don't have a dog in the hunt then I apologize. If you do, the ethical thing to do is identify yourself.
Real audio companies do not waste money running ads in magazines; they use it for research and development.
I could not disagree more. It's a ridiculous statement! Marketing is a key element of any successful business plan. An ad can accomplish many things, but it is also an expression of pride by the manufacturer for their product(s). If you believe in your product, you should have no problem advertising that pride.
onhwy61 you could not be more right. I am a small business owner in a non-audio enterprise. The company that does not advertise is the company that is going out of business.
If the selfrighteous people who think advertising buys reviews would stop and get a grasp of what it's like to try to run a real business and pay 40 or 50 employees who depend on them for a living these dialogs would be much more helpful.
Any successful businessman know advertising is critical to maintaining and growing a business. If Bose (for instance) advertises and their competition doesn't, who is going to sell more product? Not everyone lives in NY or LA where virtually every product made can be auditioned and seen. Lots or people live in Yuma or Springfield where the closest they will come to most gear is by way of advertising and review.
Since many of the respondants to this and other posts have determined that advertising corrupts and reviewers from magazines like Stereophile and TAS (which does suck!) have been bought and paid for many times over, where does that leave the poor audiophile from Yuma, Springfield, and other parts unknown?
Are they to be left completely in the dark since they have not suffered the indignity of having been forced to live in the big city? Where should they go for information? Any suggestions?
i recently emailed him as well. only beacause i saw a photo of him and other hi end industry cohorts at one of their invite only dinners or whatever they do. apart from the already stated fact that audiophiles never learn anything more than what is available in the market, where does the guy buy his clothes? is the standard 70s sports jacket with crooked tie and paunch the state of the art for audiophiles? i hope not! get a life jk, go shopping. see whats out there. no wonder they complain about never being able to attract a younger (pre gen x? y? z?) age group to the hobby
Wolves, please pull back from Corona's throat. I don't think he meant that statement, in a completely. 'all or nothing' manner. His basic point as I interpret is that, while advertising is important, and marketing is at that core; please do R&D which justifies your marketing claims.
To say that the magazines are not influenced by advertisers is naive. That comes from having an inside the industry perspective. It is just that they (the mags) claim absolute autonomy and that their advertising has no bearing on who gets reviewed and who doesn't. Of course what do we expect them to say. "Hey these guys pay the bills, here is yet another review on their latest greatest." Advertising takes many shapes but has a common thread. "Coke is it" How simple, but look at what that did for Coca Cola (one of many hiundreds of catch phrases, and promos). Of course thay had the funds to repeat it 50 gazillion times, one key to this kind of advertising. The reason perhaps is that they are selling future urine, and a completely disposable piece of goods. But it is, as is most advertising, about imagery. I think giving Corona the benefit of the doubt is fair. Sometimes when the (industry) insiders let the respondants know their real names, everything they say is misconstrued as being self promotional. Albert Von Schweikert responded and was quickly lampooned by a couple of people who seem to thrive on controversy. I for one think as most good business thinkers do, that the delicate balance of Marketing and R&D are the real formula for busines success. Corona was only making this basic point. Of course this is IMHO.
Thanks, and good listening.
Larry R. Staples
When JGH was chief editor of Stereophile there were little or no ads, I think it was the same with the Absolute Sound; but there was integrity and credibility plus loyal following. With success came the ads, money, influence, you know the rest. These magazines had a very plain look but they were full of great information; now the magazines look great but theyre full of nonsense. If you were directing a small audio company would you want to put your ad in that pile?
There are many small audio companies that do not advertise in [MAGAZINES] but continue to succeed on the strength of their product alone. I for one find something quite noble in that.
I have been subscribing to Stereophile on and off since the eighties. JGH was the editor and chief crumudgeon then and I can say with volumes of proof that there was plenty of advertising in the magazine then. I will admit that there is more now. That may be due to the fact that it has become more of a pamphlet than a magazine though.
Manufacturers are not stupid. When they see a magazine that caters to their customer and does it at an increasing level of volume and quality they will want to advertise on those pages.
If magazines sell-out to advertisers how does this happen? It's like the: "What came first the chicken or the egg?" question. The answer in both cases is obvious. The chicken came first and so did the successful magazine. No one advertises in a magazine that has no circulation. When Stereophile and TAS got started they were an unknown quantity. There was no other rag that did the same thing they were doing. It would be pure speculation on the part of any advertiser to establish a relationship with such a publication.
The tiff between 'Tiffany' and TAS comes to mind. When TAS refused to bend over for them just because they advertised Tiffany threatened to pull their advertising. TAS response was to tell Tiffany that they would never accept advertising from them again. Tiffany went out of business shortly thereafter.
I find it quite noble that so many companies that did not advertise have gone out of business. WOW! Hurray for them. What a great bit of business saavy they displayed to all of us!!!
Companies that do not advertise and still succeed are the exception, not the rule.
Corona what do you do for a living? I doubt that you are a business owner. You seem to have no grasp of what it takes to compete in the marketplace.
Is there glory in a noble death?