Opinions - The Absolute Sound

I recently recieved an offer in the mail for a year of The Absolute Sound for $14.95. I've never had a subscription to an audiophile type magazine and am wondering if it's worth getting for this, or any, price.
You're asking advice about a $14.95 subscription? Are you serious?
Nice Pictures.
Tvad - Before the mailing arrived I'd never heard of The Absolute Sound. I'm just interested to know if it's a decent magazine or if I'd be better off choosing another one or staying where I'm at with zero subscriptions. It's not expensive, but still a waste if I won't end up reading it.
Good luck with the decision. I'm sure you will receive helpful advice and weigh the options accordingly.
I haven't subscribed to any audio magazine for years. I can pretty much get everything I need from the web. The only one I still read is Tone Audio because it is free and I found that it is no more or less useful than any others.

14.95 a year isn't a lot of money. It is worth subscribing if you like to read paper magazine, just don't believe everything it says.

Come on Tvad give Mceljo a break. The Absolute Sound....... I mean if the reviewers were to accidentally see this thread they would?

1. Break down in tears?
2. Write for a different magazine?
3. OD on Lady GaGa turned up loud?
4. Divorce their wives? Ops! Already divorced...
5. All of the above?

Not to mention the advertisers. They would?

1. Place more ads?
2. Go to full color on the back page?
3. Bribe the reviewers?
4. Bribe the owners?
6. None of the above.
7. You choose your own answer.

I have no respect for the Absolute Sound ("TAS"). Anthony Cordesman's reviews are serious, but the other reviewers tend to write exceedingly positive reviews - a typical review basically reprints the ad copy produced by the manufacturer and concludes with a statement to the effect that the component under review is the best that the reviewer has ever heard (the best, that is, until a competing component is reviewed in the next issue, which then is labeled "the very best"). TAS does not perform any laboratory analysis of reviewed components like Stereophile does. Finally, TAS's editor, Harry Pearson, is an intolerable windbag.

The original TAS of 25 years ago was a serious magazine - the current iteration is a shill for the industry, in my opinion.
Heaven forbid someone should spend a wallet busting $15 and determine for one's self the value of the product.

Hey, I've got $1, and I've been thinking about buying something on the McDonald's Value Meal menu. Should I spend my dollar at McDonald's tomorrow? Will it be tasty? Will it satisfy my appetite? Will it be nourishing?

What has happened to us?
Tvad - Thanks for the good wishes. Obviously, the cost isn't an issue, but there' no point in having another useless thing show up in the mailbox once a month.

I was interested to know if it was a respected magazine overall.

$14.95 would get me another CD so is it worth more than getting one, or more, new CDs?

I got that offer too and I am going to re-up, also got an offer for Stereophile for $7 and it comes with a IPOD USB car adaptor it............not bad for a year of reading.
I think if you are interested in what it does provide; samplings of upcoming products, short, non-technical to a certain extent, and nice glossy pictures, of current products, then you will like it. I like it for its differing perspective compared to the mainstream, what many on forums often complain about. I like to have different opinions, as there is often times no 100% absolute in some things, you must simply try it out for yourself.

For the price, it is useless to debate the merits of the worth of TAS. I like it for what it is as well as Stereophile. I also like Car and Driver, Car Craft, Automobile, Vette Magazine, Corvettes Quarterly, GM High Tech Performance, and Federal Times, but that is me.

I just signed up for another 3 years for 39 dollars, 38 issues. I figure if I am going to be a hobbiest, I might as well get some hobby magazines. Ther are a couple of online webzines that I have bookmarked as well.

I subscribe to both and find myself enjoying Absolute Sound a bit more. Their articles are more accessible and readable without being "dumbed down" like an A/V monthly publication I won't mention. Stereophile reads a little too serious for even a serious audiophile like myself. I subscribe to Stereophile because they keep offering me some rediculously cheap subscription rate which works out to be a cup of coffe for each issue so it's a no brainer. I reread the Absolute Sound while Stereophile gets a single look through and gets passed onto my friends. Go the library and compare and ask: "Which one do I find more readable?"
1. driving a porsche, buy a car magazine.
2. taking pictures with a leica, buy a photography magazine.
3. fiddling around with big chunks of audio components, buy an audio
NOTICE i did not mention anything about music appreciation which is a function of your education on the subject and your exposure to one or many forms of music. still further is the separate dream of fusing what you perceive good sound is with what you believe is possible in electronically reproducing it.
so reading the magazine might push your buttons or repel you, or both at the same time (my experience). in the end i like to get stereophile and the absolute sound, look at the pictures, and read one or two of the articles.
sometimes this serves as a launch pad for further research. BUT IN ADDITION I can also HIGHLY recommend the audio show reviews that audiogon and other on-line web sites are offering. better yet try to attend one of the shows in person.
I'm with you on this one.

Hey, I've got $1, and I've been thinking about buying something on the McDonald's Value Meal menu. Should I spend my dollar at McDonald's tomorrow? Will it be tasty? Will it satisfy my appetite? Will it be nourishing?

Tvad, as you are looking for recommendations, spend a little more and go for the Mac Snack Wrap. Yum Yum.
As for TAS, total crap IMO.
I'm with Tvad. Do you really need someone to hold you hand about a magazine subscription?
The music recommendations are worth looking at. I usually force myself to read one article. The ads always make me wonder how any of these companies stay in business and the models are definitely B list.

Overall I would say it's worth $1 or so an issue.
For the small price of the subscription, it is a cheap fix to my addiction to audio. I may not be able to afford all the good stuff, I can at least look and read about it.
Mceljo, If you are interested in music also, and not just gear, you might check out HiFi+, which offers not only better pictures than TAS but also better music reviews by far, and finally a flavor for what the Brits are up to. The subscription costs of TAS and Stereophile are so cheap, the decision really becomes do you enjoy reading about new equipment and, if so, just order them. If you have philosophical differences with the reviewers and/or advertisements then don't buy them and read Soundstage!, Dagogo, Positive Feedback Online, Enjoy the Music, etc. etc. etc. on line for free.

Tvad, no such thing as one dollar meal. Sort of like audio magazines. You buy one and you want another...pretty soon every day....then finally you are hooked and you can forget that 100 miles a week on your bike. Just say no :?)
Seems appropriate to ask opinions on an audio mag here.

I prefer Stereophile, for the measurements and the detailed set-up information, both of which AS lacks. I think these omissions contribute to the slightly lightweight vibe of AS, since the (almost invariably positive) "verdict" often seems to me less useful than other info in a review.

That said, Mceljo, I think most hobbyists would get a CDs worth of pleasure from a year of either mag.

Imo, both tas and stereophile claim this current product they are reviewing is the best they ever heard, in their own room and setup, even if their setup isn't the same when they reviewed the 1st product. Laughable sometimes. Better reads are hifi+, tone, and absolute audiophile. I am converting all my subscriptions to the ipad version which is much cheaper and more convienient.
I find looking at my Back-Issues for Used Equipment purchases helpful [ usually 3-10 year old stuff ] .

Reviews that I paid little attention to when the Mags [ AS & Stereophile ] first arrived are relevant .

Also Software Reviews can be helpful .
For $12.97 you can subscribe to Stereophile.

Save $2 for the same BS and arrogance.

The free market concept is alive and well.
I used to read it 20+ years ago. Since the hobby is purely subjective, what's the point; HP's opinion is as relevant as my local butcher's (though since the butcher is 40+ years younger, he technically has better hearing). There are numerous online resources which give you nice glossy pictures of recently released audio products, and there are certainly better e-zines and blogs regarding music of all types.

Talk, listen, form your own opinions as to what you value in audio equipment (or anything in life). Everything else is merely pissing in the wind...
It might be worth reading for a year. Just don't take it as seriously as they take themselves. It used to be better, and may be "total crap", but you do get a glimpse of whats new, and what they want to create buzz about. I for one miss the adolescent feud TAS had with Stereophile. Pompous blowhards slinging feces at each other about stuff nobody cares about is funny.
I like the look of hifi+, and even remember a negative review here and there. I like the Brit rags, but dont really read anything that's not online any more. Still take every review with a grain of salt, or Pepto-Bismol.
simple answer:

it doesn't matter, one way or the other.

maybe they are entertaining, but they take up space.

of course, you can read it and then give it away.

point is , you can be a happy as a music listener and owner of stereo equipment, without reading magazines. just like you can buy a good car, without reading car magazines.
Today I received a final notice for a bargain renewal price. The deal was $63 for 3 years, $48 for 2 years, or $32 for one year. It's in the trash.
I like the absolute sound, especially at $ 15.00. While I might agree that the reviews may not hold that much weigh, they can come in handy if your interested in a piece.
Sometimes they can point out specific features and issues.

The more information you have the better, especially when some audio gear cost more than a used car.
I like their music reviews.
'tis super short money to subscribe; out of pocket expense not worthy of note. the only question is whether there is substance that interests you. at this point, i find the music blogs in stereophile (baird and kaplan), very much worth reading, the the other columns pretentious and otherwise not appealingly quirky (the same estimation follows tas. i am so very tired and bored to tears having to face/and read - or not - the latest and 'greatest', 'game changing' hyperbolic reviews from reviewers.

whatever, don't sweat over the decision, it's hardly worth a blink of the eye.
Maybe TAS only publishes reviews of equipment they mostly like, and if a specific manuf's equipment has not been reviewed, ever, in any issue you can assume a. they haven't had a chance to listen to it or b. they listened and didn't like. In other words all equipment reviewed is recommended equip, I don't see anything wrong with that.
Regardless, I find the sales and marketing facets of this industry fascinating and a hard copy magazine is a good way to experience the marketplace, from the letters to the editor, to the record reviews, to the ads.
Mceljo, Yes, do it. It's a good deal, really. I'm sure you will like TAS. While you are at it you should take Audiofeil's advice and subscribe to Stereophile too. You can decide which one you like the best and tell us all about it.
Be a sport get Absolute Sound live a little!!
Both The Absolute Sound & Stereophile are a complete waste of money. Not to mention if your do decide to waste your money on either of them - they'll JUNK MAIL you to death every 3 months soliciting "re-uping" your subscription.

Save your money. Buy more vinyl.
I have always been a bit perplexed by the level of cynicism expressed by some audiophiles about audio mags; particularly TAS and Stereophile. I have come to the conclusion that many of us are closet reviewers; magazine writer wannabes. IMO, this level of cynicism is usually not warranted.

Sure, TAS is not what it used to be. But to declare that it is a worthless rag is absurd, and simply not true. IMO, anyone who insists that it is, simply doesn't know what he is talking about. Particularly for young audioplies, it can be an invaluable source of information. If anything, about the history of high-end audio. TAS has done more to promote the high-end in a way that is rooted in something resembling integrity than any other magazine. It has contributed more to the development of a meaningful audiophile lexicon than any other force in the high-end; certainly more than any other magazine. And most importantly, it (along with the early Stereophile) set a standard, and reference, for the judgment of components' sound: the sound of live music. Imagine that, that audio systems should sound like real music! Sorry, now I am showing my cynicism.

Mceljo, you wrote: "Before the mailing arrived I'd never heard of The Absolute Sound". IMO, the answer to your original question is a resounding YES! Usually good to excellent music recording reviews, interesting retrospectives about the history of the high-end, and audio reviewing. And audio reviews that while not at the level that they once were written, still sometimes demonstrate glimpses of the quality that was once routine (wether we agreed with the conclusions, or not). In general, exposure to writing that will expand your audio lexicon in a way that is rooted in some sort of standard. All for $14.95? Are you kidding me?
Go to your local Barnes & Noble and read it and see if you like what you see.
hi frogman:

knowledge has nothing to do with attitude.

the idea expressed that "absolute sound is a worthless rag" can not be proven. it is a matter of opinion.

for you to say that such a person doesn't know what he is talking about is technically correct, as such a statement is an opinion. however, your implication is a disparaging remark which is completely uncalled for.

this forum should not be a place for ad hominem attacks, although i assume that your comment was not intended that way.

it is unfortunate that words like "knowlege" have been used improperly according to the strict definition of the term.

there is very little knowledge expressed in posts on these forums. knowledge can only be established using mathematics and/or logic, both absent in your statement(s).

rather they are opinions and perceptions based upon (one hopes) personal experience.

surely we can disagree without being disagreeable.
knowledge can only be established using mathematics and/or logic, both absent in your statement(s).

Mrtennis: is your contention that there is no observational/empirical knowledge? Might make it difficult to explain scientific discovery.

Yours in epistemology,

Mrtennis, I am sorry I upset your sensibilities; sensibilities seemingly rooted in political correctness. Beyond that, I offer no apology for what I wrote. Moreover, I believe you could not be more mistaken in your characterization of what I wrote, or the issue at hand; certainly, as concerns the issue of logic, or it's absence. And yes, even mathematics, or it's absence; issues that you raise in your own disagreeable comment about what I wrote. Why don't we start by practicing what we preach?

On the issue of disagreeability: Kindly explain to me how making an arguably disagreeable comment in response to someone else's, likewise, disagreeable comment about a publication's worth is more deserving of your scrutiny and lecturing than the original offense. Particularly when the publication in question is one which has been, faults aside, unquestionably influential in a positive way. (And yes, IMO anyone who refuses to acknowledge this is a curmudgeon with his head in the sand). Notice that I said IMO; just as I did when I made my original comments. Comments that you found so troublesome.

So, the basis of your argument is that the views which I "attacked" are opinions, and thus not provable. I made it clear that my comments are my opinion. So, what exactly is the problem? Additionally, my comments were an attempt to encourage someone with no knowledge about this publication to explore what it has to offer; a positive endeavor, I think. More positive than the unfounded, knee-jerk negativity expressed by many. That, to me, is logic of the highest order.

Now, on to the subject of mathematics: $14.95?

The cost of reading these advertisement controlled magazines is NOT the price of the subscription, but the cost of purchasing one of there world's best components and finding out it isn't. That is costly.They are paid for by the advertisers and will not give a negative review for fear they would pull the advertising.
Have Stereophile or TAS ever given a less then glowing review to a product whose company is running a full page colour advertisement?
Not recently.
This may be of interest to some


Seems kind of ridiculous to get this serious about what is basically IMO entertainment. Yes, for me, there are entertaining moments in the magazine that are worth the reasonable cost of admission.
Not earth shattering by any means, not meant to be. Maybe we should all lighten up a bit.
And of course if the magazine is not to ones liking, no one is forcing anyone to read it.
Personally, I've never bought audio equipment based on a review although reviews have tweaked my curiosity enough to investigate. But I frequently buy music based on reviews.
empirical observations and so called empirical knowledge is based upon induction. so called empirical knowledge is usually synthetetic posteriori.

that is a collection of corroborating facts leads to knowledge of an evnt.

for example. the sun has risen evry day for a long time. i suupose you might say that one knows that the sun will shine the next day. such knowledge is based upon induction.

the problem with induction is that the exception disproves the rule, and it will take an infinite number of occurrences to rpove with certain (, i.e., to know) that something is true.

that which is considered knowledge must be true and provable.

mathematics or logic based upon the analytic a priori principle is necessary to establish knowledge.

therefore, empirical knowledge is an oxymoron. if a conclusion is based upon empirical observation it does not constitute knowledge.

knowledge is tautological.

that is given axioms, and definitions proofs are possible.

euclidian geometry is a fertile field from which analytical proofs are possible.
hi frogman:

i reread your post in which you commented on statements you believe are held by some cynical audiophiles. while i agree your statements are opinions. to suggest that that knowledge is relevant is something with which i don't agree.

accusing someone of not knowing what he/she is talking about is an ad hominem remark,in my opinion.

my comemnts did not insult you personally.

i would be willing to debate the principles of philosophy , knowledge and mathematics if you wish.

the appropriate context would be e mails or by phone.

the ball is in your court.
I'm not embarrassed to say I looked up "tautological". I would advise you guys take a chill-pill, but it is evident you both enjoy the exchange.
Lets just say, if you get the subscription, be aware that the reviews may be bias and many think TAS is rubbish. That is not reason for you to not draw your own conclusions as to the validity of content and entertainment value. Order the damn thing, its cheap.
You opine here in six months.
I need a "prescription" after reading some of these threads !
Blkadr: Note that I'm not the one who used "tautological." ;) I think a little epistemology makes a nice counterpart to "the best speaker", and of course, toothpaste.

Mrtennis: Glad to see you biting the bullet on the impossibility of scientific knowledge. Hard to do nowadays (harder than it was for Plato), given the remarkable success of scientific inquiry.

As others have noted, the music reviews and writing in both TAS and Sp probably justify the cost (though I feel guilty about the paper). I've been put on to a good bit of nice music I'd not have come across otherwise.

Just think of Stereophile and TAS as audio porn. :) Who cares about the articles?
Great mag worth it!!