Julian Hirsch dies

I'll bet the majority of us grew up reading his work in Stereo Review. Here's a link to his N.Y. Times obituary, containing a succinct mention of the reason why most audiophiles eventually outgrew his reviewing method. But until we did - if you were anything like me - you pored over his every word (and measurement) each month when your father's latest issue arrived. R.I.P.
Hirsch was a man of integrity who always stuck to his guns and was a voice of reason. Although I did not always agree with his views, I still miss his insightful column and reviews. Despite the presence of a number of good writers and editors, Stereo Review (now Sound and Vision) has not been the same since Hirsch's departure. Much of his writing remains relevant today and he deserves the respect of the audio community.
Couldn't have said it better. He was the reviewer who mattered as I was growing up and growing into this hobby. He was fair and consistent and helped shape the audio world.
You could tell where Julian stood with speakers if you knew how to read him between the lines. Many models just received what amounted to a perfunctory two-sentence-long 'acceptable' rating, with maybe one or two minor reservations obliquely noted along with the obligatory one or two compliments and an assurance of overall competence or good value. Other speakers received a full paragraph, written with obviously more personal enthusiasm for their sound, but still treated as being of secondary importance to the technical discussion, and never employing audiophile lingo to attempt to further delve into what we might call a speaker's 'musical character'.

Electronics however were another story ; typically, sound never even entered into the equation. I remember the time - I'm guessing in the early 80's or so - when Stereo Review broke with their mass-market norm and put a Mark Levinson power amplifier on the front cover to spotlight the growing high end sector, with Julian trying to ascertain whether or not there was really anything so special about such a unit that might be worth its high cost of admission. As I recall it, his measurements, while fine, did not shed light on why this amp ought to be considered superior to typical Japanese offerings (although he was impressed by the build quality), but he did in the end slightly allow that during his listening sessions - which I believe he indicated were given somewhat more attention in this review than was his habit, in order to discover any possible justification for audiophile contentions - he found himself thinking that the amp might indeed sound just a bit special in his experience, despite his bench-test results providing no clue as to why, and even though he didn't really describe in what ways he thought so.

But in these days of routine reviewer hyperbolic overkill - often written in language that's fast becoming so disconnected from reality in its catchphrase-y parsing of alleged sonic minutiae as to be largely meaningless even, I suspect, to those who write it - we could do worse than to look back and remember not only Julian's reluctance to critique sound when such might have been appropriate, but also never to oversell where that was inappropriate (not to mention his insistence on reasonable ergonomic design). The distinct possibility exists that many of today's generation of reviewers, for all their gratuitous verbosity* (but almost always conforming with the ever-expanding conventions of the pack) - and with their typical lack of formal technical competence - may in some ways be less deserving of our trust than was the frumpily terse but constant Mr. Hirsch.

*[I should talk :-) ]
Julian Hirsch. My AR 4x speakers, Garrad turntable and Sony integrated amp taking over for my Lafayette receiver- Thanks Julian. And Stereo Review, of course. I haven't read him in years. But there was a time: he be da man. My man.
Well any one else. We may have moved on but he got most of us started. Think about that, not what you thought about his reviews after you became more experienced.

Hirsch deserves the highest audiophile honors for that simple reason.

I will miss him,

The industry lost that day....
Back in the 1970's, before the high-end audio publications became established, I read Stereo Review and Julian Hirsch's articles religiously. As others here have already said, Hirsch was the very model of integrity. I absolutely agree with Zaikesman about the usefulness of the many hyperbolic reviews in print today (although I find Anthony Cordesman's reviews more balanced and honest than the majority). Since I live in Seattle, I won't be able to attend Hirsch's memorial service, but I will crank up my system and play a good recording of "Taps" for him... RIP, Julian, and thanks for the enjoyment you brought me every month when my Stereo Review arrived in the mail.
While attending a Stereophile show at the Hilton in Chicago (part of winter CES?), The elavator door opened and I came face-to-face with Mr. Hirsch. I'll always regret not paying respects to this gentleman (just pretended to be unaware of him). At the same show (or maybe a year later), I happened upon J. Gordon Holt dragging his famous cigarette in a hallway. Wish I would have bummed one and lit up with him...