I've subscribed for two years and at first thought it was the best mag out there. It has slowly metamorphosised into dealing almost exclusively with low power tube amps, esoteric horn loudspeakers, and articles that are big surveys of a group of components around the same price. Now this last point is not such a bad thing, unless of course you're not interested in that particular type of equipment, in which case it consumes the whole equipment review section. A case in point is a recent issue where every contributing reviewer told us how they clean LP's. Not exactly strong enough material to do a whole issue. In addition, I find the column The Audio Police to be well nigh incomprehensible. And in general I have found what used to be a lighthearted and quirky sense of humor to be getting a little darker and holier than thou. I don't mean to be too critical, but I used to anxiously await receiving each issue and now I don't and that's a shame.
I really like it, but I'm just nearing the end of my first year of subscribing, so it may start striking me in a similar manner over the coming issues. I like the writing style a lot - it's written from the point of view that, while being a professional reviewer, their perspective is very similar to any of ours as avid users. They clearly love audio for the music's sake, while still having an appreciation of what makes fine gear fine. While I agree that sometimes their humor slips over the line into being a bit holier than thou, I like the fact that they bring a big (and generally good) sense of humor to what is, after all, a pretty non-serious subject. -Kirk
I subscribed for 1 year and thought much the same as Jond. In particular I also thought they were biased toward the low power tube stuff and analog sourcing. I saw the issue where everyone wrote about record cleaning and threw the rag in disgust! I respect the vinyl-phile, but I ain't going there in the near future. Yeah, I read some stuff that kept me interested here and there, but I no longer subscribe. Everything about this magazine felt foriegn to me and always left me empty, uncomfortable, and (for lack of a better word) frustrated!
I subscribed for a year a few years ago and found all the
"humor" pretty boring--not funny and not really a style for a complete issue of a mag on stereo. I remember one great review of the Harry Smith Folk Anthology cd set. I bought the set based on the review and was glad I did. But the rest left me cold. Although I haven't subscribed to either for a while, I think Positive Feedback and Bound For Sound offer the best hope for audiophiles.
Its a great magazine . But not for those that are wound too tight! It pokes fun at things even itself. Its fun reading and can be informative . Art Dudley the Editor is a hoot ! They are much more down to earth than the big two mags. Audio is a fun hobby !
I only read one issue, the one I got as a freebie so I would subscribe. Though I found it an interesting and worthy magazine I felt the crass humor and liberal profanity seemed like the grain, etch, and glare that a cheap solid state amp imparts to what is otherwise enjoyable music.
Well.........6 issues a year? I even forget I have a subscription. And they don't seem to review anything I'm interested in, which is pretty much "mainstream high-end gear"-- is that an oxymoron? So, just for lack of interest in the esoteric stuff they do review, I'm letting my subscription lapse. I like TAS the best, Stereophile is slipping fast, but I still get it, and I like "Bound for Sound". Cheers? Craig
Upon first subscribing, i found much of it childish and aimed at a very small segment of the market. Upon further examination a few issues down the road, i find it childish and aimed at a very small segment of the market : )
None the less, i do get a kick out of some of the articles. Most are pretty lacking in terms of usable info, but i "think" that these guys are at least enjoying themselves. Every once in a while, i do get some useful info out of it and will probably renew when my subscription lapses. I do wish that they would cut down on the snide remarks and at least make comments that are actually FUNNY.
Speaking of funny, who could ever follow what spewed forth out of Harvey Rosenberg's column ??? Genius or idiot, i couldn't really tell. If i had to pass judgment, i think he aimed for the former but he leaned more towards the latter in reality. Obviously, some folks found him both entertaining and informative. I found most of his columns rather inane.
I will say that i liked the work that i saw come out of AA Inmate Phil Sieg. I wonder if he'll be doing more writing for them ? I don't have much of a hankering for "mini" amps, but his stuff drips enthusiasm and i DO think that he is having fun.
Since we're travelling off the beaten path of book store glossies, i too like Bound For Sound. Needs a technical crew and a little refining, but i like Martin's style. They tend to cover gear that i think is well chosen and varies in price range. Nothing is off limits. Too bad so many manufacturers are afraid to loan him gear for review. I guess that they are not used to having to deal with someone that will offer an honest point of view ( good AND bad )and doesn't accept "advertising revenue". Don't have to worry about renewing for this one as i'm good for about another 4+ years. Sean
I think that Listener is the best audio magazine on the planet. The writers poke fun at this obsessive, often elitist hobby (the picture of a Wilson X-1 used as a boat anchor in one issue is on my wall). It brings a much needed degree of levity to this insane hobby of ours. They actually dish out poor reviews, too! I subscribed to stereophile for 5 years, and I only read one real negative review, but that was after a GLOWING review of the same product! (Cary Monoblocks) Listener rarely quibbles with inane tweaks that cost megabucks, but instead deal with great sounding, reliable, reasonably priced components. Best of all, most of it is British (which to me, sounds the best, along with French gear). And they review gear that genuinely sounds good too, but that no one has heard of much (Audiomat comes to mind...some of the best tube stuff I've ever heard, period). Cheers!
I have read Listener since the first issue, it is becoming the MAD magazine of audio. Too much wasted ink on trying to be cute and witty. I respect Art Dudley's opinions but his reply to letter writers are sometime quite vicious. In his defense it is HIS magazine and he can do what he wants. I find too many of the reviews entry level and have no interest at all. It is also very tiring reading all the slams against the other audio magazines. They are never directly mentioned but anyone who is a regular reader knows who they are talking about. I think there is great potential there and I hope they spend less time on sarcasm and more time reviewing audio.
I think the Mag is mostly lame w/reviews that are not very well fleshed out on lame equipment.
I like the pictures of the rabbits (I own 2).
I've subscribed for a good couple of years and still like it- however, it has been on a downward slide for quite a while now. There are still some flashes of brilliance but there is more and more that is less and less. I think that Art Dudley sold the mag about a year or so ago and that may explain some of the more recent failings.
But I did buy a Fi preamp based on the review and have been very happy with it. No one else reviewed Fi stuff so I'm glad that Listener did.
I still think it is worthwhile even though what is worthwhile is harder and harder to find.
Listener is a fun read. I love the "classic" equipment reviews. Too see how prices were and how they compare it with present day stuff.
Still a fine mag, but definitely not for the obsessive/compulsive crowd. IMHO, their main pluses are being down to earth(usually), some excellent writers, Art Dudley, good music reviews, and, above ALL, evaluating gear from the perspective of the musical/emotional involvement it provides. True, they have become more "niche" and therefore would not be most audiophiles choice as sole magazine subscription. Were they once better? Maybe..... Has any audio mag defied entropy?
They list the Wright phono stage as a five star phono stage! (Have you ever heard one?) It's the perfect magazine if you're into budget SET amps, Linn products, Lowther horns, or DIY amps. Personally, I find Art's humor great, but find myself not reading many of the reveiws.
The great thing about Listener is that you get the impression that they are more honest in their reviews than Stereophile. When a Listener reviewer does not like a component you know it from reading the review; you don't have to read between the lines like you do Stereophile or a papal encyclical. I subscribed to Absolute Sound for a year and almost fell asleep reading it. They tended to harp on the most expensive equipment and use the term "liveried" quite often. What a load of crap! Listener, on the other hand, actually review equipment a school teacher or a working shmo could afford. There is very musical inexpensive equipment out there that can make people happy. That is the whole point of the hobby, right? Do I really need to add stress to my life in my hobbies? Art Dudley and most of his editors do have a very defined point of view, and if you don't agree you will hate this magazine. But if you agree, if you enjoyed Dr. Gizmo, or if you don't have $30,000 to spend on a hobby like this, then Listener can be of great value. And the bunnies are great; I show them to my wife every issue! Thanks,
I would like to thank everyone who posted an opinion to
my question. After reading your comments and considering
the type of gear I favor - McIntosh electronics and Thiel
and B&W speakers - I am going to drop LISTENER when my
subscription expires and give Bound For Sound a try.