Stereophile "coverage"

Stereophile must enjoy all the negative reaction they get out of their choices of what to cover. Witness the latest cover story, the new Krell LAT-1 speaker. Here, from the biggest of the big advertisers, we get basically immediate cover-story coverage of their latest release, a $37,500 speaker. Stratospheric. The reviewer (who amazingly wasn't Jonathon Scull, with something of this price), is extremely positive while almost seeming to forget the price of this beast. It doesn't go much below 40Hz and it measures horribly. I guess you'll have to wait for their $75K model to get around those obstacles, though the option to pair the LAT-1's with some Krell Master subs is offered up to get down below 40Hz.

So, a super-expensive speaker coupled with other reviews of >$8K components ("you guys never review affordable stuff!"), immediate, feature coverage of a new Krell product ("You guys pander to your advertisers!"), and a very positive review of gear that nobody would argue measures respectably (at any price) ("You guys always give good reviews!"), on top of the usual reduced size of the magazine in the middle of the summer - the August issue should keep the negative feedback coming in full doses.

Took all of ten minutes to read this issue, no desire to learn about $38,000 speakers, with all the great stuff
available under $5000 that readers are eager to hear about,
this mag needs to change!
They actually had a few interesting articles in there, but very little, and only a handful of equipment reviews. What disappoints me the most is that they used to have a lot of music reviews, and now there's hardly anything. Two classical recordings? Only a couple of rock and jazz? Reminds me of Audio magazine in its final years. Fortunately TAS has a good number of music reviews, and I get BBC Music magazine as well.
A high profile, maybe THE highest profile, manufacturer of electronics in audiophile-land, a manufacturer that has consistently made "state of the art" components changes direction and unviels a line of speakers. What should the largest circulation audiophile oriented magazine do? Ignore it. Maybe they should let every other magazine write about the Krell speakers first and then offer their opinion after the newness of the product has settled, say 18 months from now. Alternatively, they could plaster the Krell on their cover and try to sell copies of their magazines. Krell wants to sell speakers and Stereophile wants to sell magazines, it's an obvious conspiracy.
Its funny you mention the fact that these guys favor certain companies. I'm a big Sunfire fan, and I know that for the money, they put out a great product. So I did a search for reviews in their magazine... not one review! I also noticed that Sunfire does'nt advertise in their magazine! I get the feeling that Stereophile does'nt get along with alot of vendors. I would welcome a response from Stereophile to explain their position on this and why they dont review cost effective product. The trickle down effect in technology is all over this industry, lets read about it!
Mhubbard, years ago there was a big fight between Stereophile and Bob Carver, which I believe may have gone to court, and which I recall may have stemmed from his challenge that he could make a solid state amplifier that would sound the same as a 'Phile-chosen tube amplifier, which he did but not to Stereophile's satisfaction. I believe that it was part of the settlement they had with Carver that they would no longer make any references to him or his company, and I'm sure there's enough bad blood still between them that he won't give them his products for review or his advertising dollars.
Prince has it right. Carver and Stereophile are as friendly as Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp. Although I thought the dispute also had something to do with the fact that @ 1990 a Stereophile review trashed Carver's new ribbon speakers.
The whole issue was disapointing. There are frequently issues with no equipment reviews I'm interested in, but there's no excuse for the lame music session in the latest issue. The interview with Marsalis was about the only thing positive (and Astor's place--I always like that column).
Pretty slim issue!

What I did a double take on was the complaint on the frequency response graph on the Audio Physic Avanti speaker further in the mag. (I think it was a sharp dip somewhere between 2-4K.) Looking back at the Krell response graph, it was much more rough, peaks and dips all over the place from midrange on up, with or without the grills. The Avanti appears much smoother at 1/3 the price. But what do I know?I own Quad 63s. Maybe I can't read the graphs too well, either.
If I owned quad 63s I wouldn't care about graphs either. A friend of mine has them running with audio inovations.....lovely.....cheers, Bluenose
I didn't get my issue this month. Over the weekend, I checked it out in a local bookstore, and decided it was not worth buying. Maybe I shouldn't feel so bad about it...
Actually Stereophile HT reviewed the sunfire signature and gave it thier highest recommendations! If your gonna bash something at least get your facts straight. I like the mag, I'm sorry if you guys cant afford what they review, start reading something else. You guys sound like the critics that dump on stern...if you dont dig it, dont read it! .... But please stop bitching.
My original intent wasn't to bitch and certainly wasn't to suggest any sort of conspiracy. I like the magazine, I read about 90% of the content of most issues, and think that for $1 an issue it's an excellent entertainment value. I was interested in the new Krell speakers and enjoyed reading about them.

My point is that the letters section of the magazine and forums such as this over the past year have raised a number of issues multiple times each over the recent past, the three I highlight amongst them. While all of them probably apply to one degree or another to every issue, it just struck me that Stereophile managed to put really overt examples of each into this one issue. As such, I'd expect that we'll get another round of discussion on them. -Kirk

Stereophile has just reiterated what my letter entitled same old shame in the may issue, KRELL and LEVINSON.In every issue since then there has been the same old.Entertaining
for the $1.
If they put a relatively inexpensive Denon receiver, or a set of computer speakers on the cover, there are lots of complaints, if they put $36,000 Krell speakers on the cover...lots of complaints, talk about you can't please all of the people all of the time, it seems like no one is ever happy with their covers. Perhaps a swimsuit issue would do it?
One of Stereophile's reasons for being, is to report on new developments in audio. I have never heard a Krell component I liked yet, but I keep an open mind. When I heard their new $10,000 "bookshelf" speakers at the Stereophile show I must say they were the best I have ever heard in their category, so why not talk about their speakers? I am interested in what they say about them, regardless of what they cost or whether I am interested in buying them. Good point Vader. Most summer issues of magazines are a liitle "light" anyway, and Stereophile is no exception.
Stereophile is about half the size and about half the cost of what it used to be. Sounds about right.
It's unfortunite that the mag that " started it all" has continued to decline in size and quality over the past several years. As audiophiles, we need publications like Stereophile, TAS and several others to represent the high end viewpoint to the Sony's and Phillips of this world. I continue to subscribe and will probably continue to do so but I think they would be well advised to listen more to their readers comments.
Two times a year they do their recommended components nonsense, now they have records to die for, good for one more issue, car stereo should be next, then their is a need for an annual product listing (October Audio, remember?), maybe an annual music recap issue would be good, that's six issues, home theater,seven. We only need ideas for five more issues and we'll be able to recycle content with minor changes every year. Cut and paste, baby.
You got that right, Steteophile is a joke! Just look at Audible Illusions and Transcendent class A reviewed but gone like magic from this years list (No advertising can't be the reason can it ?? ) Look at SoundStage on the net for honest reviews from real people who do not owe their careers to advertising giants. Also The Absolute Sound is great and just kills Stereophile for info.
What do we expect for a magazine which costs us $1.50 per issue? Every other month it is Krell or Levinson plastered all over the cover in a way which dares to surpass the most garish ads you can find inside the magazine. This entire magazine, including the articles, is an ad. As for this issue, the $37000 Krell speaker with inaudible deep bass and, if you look at the graphs, with the rolled off treble, is not quite perfect, but at least it has excellent fit and finish! Please! They loved that Sony SS-9 speaker which they reviewed. They said it was nearly flawless. I heard it at the New York show at the 5 channel SACD demo and while it wasn't horrible, it certainly wasn't memorable. They definitely did get one thing right about it. The speaker was thin sounding.

Stereophile continues to sink to ever lower depths. It reviews the same old manufacturers' stuff while ignoring new, innovative or even classic and highly respected equipment in favor of nearly, if not completely exclusively, those manufacturers who advertise with them. At this point, it would appear that they don't even care that we the readers even can plainly see their strategy. Needless to say, I won't be renewing my subscription.
I sold all my Stereophiles a while back and didnt renew my subscription.I got frequent mail from them to come back and finally gave in when I saw I could get a year for $11.95 I guess its worth a buck an issue and it will keep them off my back for a while.
I can't help but think that a lot of the problem is that there is a kind of doldrums going on now in equipment-land. Noone knows if any of the new formats will succeed - there's little indication that any will - but the uncertainty has the effect of chilling the existing format. Add to that a cooling economy , the fairly lame state of 'popular' (read: dominated by huge multinational companies) music, the huge success of MP3 and home theater. So what's a poor magazine like Stereophile to do? I agree this issue was about a 10 minute read, but it seems to me that if your premise is that 2 channel is just fine, you're left with a hell of a lot of gear that's been out for a while which does the job beautifully (no news there) and the sad but moot discussion of SACD vs. DVDaudio (moot because neither will likely succeed). I think that better information on these issues (1.what equipment, old and new, works best and has the most value? and 2.are the new products any good?) can be found in discussion forums like this or audioasylum, taking things with a great many grains of salt of course (look out for contributors with an ulterior motive).
Well said Musicslug.
I liked the coverage of the Denon receiver, the computer speakers, and especially the sound cards - I had no real interest in purchasing the first two, and only a modest interest in the last one, but I was very interested to see how experienced reviewers compared these to the usual fare, since they don't usually get coverage in a way that they can be compared to the higher-end stuff.

When they put the Denon receiver on the cover and took all the heat for it (not from me), they said they wanted to grab more people's eyes, draw them into picking up and hopefully buying / reading the magazine - extend the reach of the hobby. Great, makes sense, I'm all for it. Now you've got some interested newcomers and you shift into your alter-ego and produce an issue with nothing reviewed under $8K. I'm still reading because I was already reading, but anybody who you happened to snag with your coverage of the Denon is scratching their head and re-confirming that audiophiles are completely out of touch. Sam's space was filled with a rant about how terrible it is that anyone would even consider surround sound (something you might have wanted the Denon for), but more importantly was NOT filled with the usual coverage of something considerably more affordable along with his obvious enjoyment of same. Fremer's column was coverage of the show, which necessarily meant brief coverage of very high-priced analog gear so, again, nothing a newcomer would immediately relate to.

Maybe they're just searching, trying new things and seeing what is well received, what isn't, etc. I'm sure it's tough times to be an audio magazine and I'm glad to see them trying different things. But I also think they're aware of what they're doing and the type of reaction they're going to get, and given the number of instances they provide of things they have to know are going to draw criticism, I have to assume they enjoy it. -Kirk

I have no problem with Stereophile reviewing $37500 speakers or $500 speakers but I do have a problem when a $37500 speaker that won't go much below 40hz gets a favorable review with the mention of the necessity to purchase the yet un-priced huge 450lb subwoofer to go with these lame duck speakers plus the need to play at over 100 db to sound right, probably to blast the sound past the rubber band grille. I'm sure if these speakers were made by a new unheard of company that didn't advertise in their magazine they would not even be reviewed, and if they were reviewed they would be severely trashed. The speakers may not suck but for the price ratio I'd say they do. Krell advertising dollars at work here.
I've heard that emap is selling out and took a large loss on their purchase of Stereophile. "See Audioasylum for John Atkinson's posts." I can't help but feel that most of the complaints about the size of the magazine, what's on the cover and products reviewed over the last year are to a large extent the doings of emap. I don't think John would admit this though.

My first feeling about this issue was "wow", this is thin and must be due to the transition in ownership. After reading it I still felt it was way thin, but enjoyed what was there.

Even though Sam and Mike did not review any equipment their articles were fine. And, I thought the debate concerning 5.1 vs 2 was great. I believe Steve won that battle! And, I'm glad that the Stereophile writers are voicing their opinions, whether I agree or not!

I would rather have Stereophile review "statement" products and high end equipment than cheap department store crap. A few good budget products are helpful in all the catagories, but I like that kept to a minimum. I don't have millions to spend either. I believe that this is what they have been in the past and I want that to continue.

I think that the complaints about not enough cheap recievers and $500 speakers is like me going into a BMW dealership and damning them for not having enough $12,000 cars. It's not their market and I don't believe it will ever be.

There are enough mass-market review rags for the extreme budget minded to read. Lets not try to make BMW sell Yugo.

"I know this is a polar example and I'm using it to make a point."
As something of a newcomer to "high end" audio I find it disappointing that a magazine like Stereophile does so little to encourage "newbies" like myself. My budget for gear probably exceeds that of others with a similar level of experience. Even so, products with a price tag much over $15K are all but untouchable. That doesn't mean reviews of "the higher priced spread" aren't interesting, just that there seems to be an imbalance between them and what are real world products for many of us. Stereophile would do well by having one writer dedicated to the "lower" high end who reviews products NOT made with unobtainium. A little more effort should also go into moving outside the very obvious circle of advertising manufacturers if for no other reason than to add a little spice and variation to the content. Not to mention maybe using it as an opportunity to regain a bit of their apparently tarnished credibility.

This is as good a place as any to add that I do understand the relationship between advertisers, periodicals and consumers. That's why comments like "The magazine only costs a buck" make me smile. The magazine costs what it costs to publish and it's more than a buck. Someone may only pay $1 out of pocket for a copy, but guess who is ultimately paying for all those glossy pictures and full page ads? Of course! We do when we buy something from one of the advertisers! That the cost is rolled into the price of a new cable doesn't change the price of the mag or who pays for it.

All that said, the most outstanding comment was from Musicslug who said to take "things with a great many grains of salt". I'd say that was one slug not long for this world! ;-)
The core readership of Stereophile is being let down - one by one - and the ML Prodigy and LAT-1 reviews are the most obvious symptons of this - pooly written and biased: e.g. the price/value relationship of the LAT-1. If a $40k (inc. taxes & shipping) speaker ought to be augmented by a sub there's something wrong!

The only thing I read the mag. for is MIKEY and the "Industry Updates" The classifieds are dead!

There are many areas of interest that could be introduced...reader's systems, store features, service features, vintage gear, pictures of the rear of reviewed components, established "Recommended Components" products (those pieces that have endured), and on and on.

But they won't do it! Go ahead let us all down Stereophile...I READ Ultimate Audio and UHF Magazine now anyway.
I think its funny that you frequently find in their "Recommended Components " issue " there are currently NO class C amps ,pre's tonearms.... WHAT!!! Class A is $25000 and there is no class c or d ?...