what's your opinion on the magazine 'stereo review'??


i started reading 'stereo review' back in the early 70's untill they retired. i used to buy their magazine every month. whatever i know about stereo equipment is what i've read in their magazine! any thoughts after all these years???
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I had a subscription for years to Stereo Review and loved reading the articles and equipment reviews. I especially liked the issue that came out once a year that had all (or most) of the equipment manufactured at the time, it had brief specs and prices.

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For a few years before, I had wanted to begin learning about stereos (I hadn't bought anything toward my first system yet), but didn't know where to begin. I was 12 years old when I picked my first copy. I felt a little confused looking through it...until I found the glossary in the back that had the definitions of all the audio terms they were using and then I realized I had "a way in". 

I read that magazine for a couple decades, then graduated to Stereophile, then to Absolute Sound...finally I reached the point where I don't need to rely on magazines or review sites so much anymore. But, for me it all started with Stereo Review and I remember it with fondness and gratitude for that...and maybe a certain nostalgia.
I read Stereo Review for years and really learned a lot. Most of which unfortunately turned out to be wrong. At the time it seemed I was learning. Only years later did I come to understand just how great a disservice the Stereo Review philosophy had done. 

Julian Hirsch was just dead wrong to say all you need to know about wire is gauge. Wrong to say measurements like watts matter. Wrong about one thing after another. Which J Gordon Holt came along and corrected. The listener is the final arbiter of performance. Stereophile won. Stereo Review, RIP.

The one thing I did learn was the distinction between the music, the performance, and the recording. Three very different yet closely related and easily conflated things. To this day this eludes many audiophiles. Yet it was a regular feature of all their music reviews. So on balance not as bad as it could have been.

It is funny though that a magazine whose primary duty is evaluating stereo equipment did so poorly at that but then did much better at the side gig of reviewing music. But that's the thing I guess about nostalgia- we get to decide to view it clearly, or through rose colored glasses.

I'll end on a positive note: great cartoons.
My dad had a subscription to the rag when it was still Hi Fi review, and I read the thing religiously from about age eight to my late teenage years. But yes, it was a total revelation when somebody turned me on to The Absolute Sound.  Wow, they're actually discussing the fidelity the components rendered, not just giving the specs!  I think it was TAS that lampooned the Hirsch-Hauck test report style with the closing line, "Of all the components we have tested, this has certainly been one of them."
Julien Hirsch who reviewed all the equipment in Stereo Review said openly that all amps that measure the same, sound the same.  Let that sink in.  He did more to damage our hobby then help it because of his narrow minded beliefs. 
I kind of agree with Julian Hirsch now that I think about it. Most amps sound equally bad. Am I allowed to say that? I also think he was probably open-minded. Just because someone expresses an opinion you don’t agree with doesn’t necessarily make that person narrow-minded. 
Julian Hirsch who reviewed all the equipment in Stereo Review said openly that all amps that measure the same, sound the same. Let that sink in. He did more to damage our hobby then help it because of his narrow minded beliefs.


Right. Because of this one dim old POC I missed out on years and years of audio improvement. Even when I finally built my Listening Room, because of him it took me a good two years to figure out just how dead wrong he was.

Because of him I brought my Magnavox CDB 650 to Definitive to compare, because he had told me they all sound the same. Because of him I did the same with a Dynaco ST400. And do you have any idea how much work that was, dragging that thing around? But I take my sound quality seriously. When I did the same with a patch cord and heard how much better even a cheap interconnect can be that was it.

Even today, just look how many poor misguided souls still don’t get the importance of wire. The importance of listening- and of learning to listen! Even today, just look around, all the poor lost souls, mindless as any zombie, trudging blindly along only instead of brains brains their vocabulary is full of equally vacuous tech word salad. This is all the legacy of Julian Hirsch. Haunts us to this very day.


I kind of agree with Julian Hirsch now that I think about it.

The final nail.
Who is open minded and who is closed minded? That is the question. Thanks for playing, millercarbon. 🤗
"Everything makes a difference."
-- noromance
“Who is open minded and who is closed minded? That is the question. Thanks for playing, millercarbon”

@geoffkait, you nailed it! 👏
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Apparently all you have to do around here is utter the word closed-minded and Look 👀 who shows up.
High Fidelity and Audio (remember them?) were better! But Brit publication HiFi News And Record Review (started in 1956) set a high mark for reviewers. And still remains active today!
Huh? Give me a break! Those Brit publications can’t hold a candle to US publications. Or to 6 Moons.
6 Mooons! LOL! That's some real audio porn! I get my fix from reading IAR and Sound Practices. Plus Glass Audio and Vacuum Tube Valley! All, alas, sadly defunct.
I share @roberjerman's high opinion of the four publications he named, as well as Art Dudley's Listener magazine. Of the newsstand mags, Audio was my fave: a good blend of "objective" and "subjective".
You got something against porn? You probably just read the articles. 😬 I knew the guy who ran Audio a little bit. He was a nice guy. 
HiFi News and Record Review -- Yeah!  I ran across it one evening while cruising a newsstand near where I lived.  Superb, subjective reviews of both classical LPs and hardware.  Loved Ken Kessler.  Not much later, I became buddies with Kevin Conklin, a regular customer at the classical records department where I worked at the time.  Kevin turned me on to The Absolute Sound.  Later, of course, he started writing for Harry Pearson's rag.
I also read Stereo Review in the 70s. I got married & started farming in 1978. The first load of corn I sold that fall went to purchase a new Sansui AU & TU 717.   Stereo Review had highly recommenced them.
I enjoyed "Stereo Review" back in the 70s, and it certainly piqued my interest in newer/better equipment as well as gave reviewers' perspective on artists or albums of interest. I always took reviewers' opinions as just that, and make my own buying and listening decisions.

As for the "Specs are everything" principle, I never bought that. Published specs are sensitive to test & measurement method and represent what is thought to be most important, not everything that actually is. Marantz used to point this out in their literature, saying in effect "Our specs may not be the most impressive, but we sound better." That of course is a matter of opinion and taste, but my experience bore it out in comparison with friends' gear.

Design decisions on the inside, such as the resonant frequency of a tank circuit, filter characteristics, or the precision of resistors may or may not be reflected in output specifications, but they all play a part in making the sound.
Great Magazine with wonderful reviews of gear and music.  I can still see in my mind the pages that contained the reviews of many of my albums / CDs.

Then along came 'high end audio', the folks with many dollars and not so much knowledge.  So, in order to make the millions, sitting there ready for the taking, they first, had to discredit mags like stereo review.   And so they did.  Destroyed the reputations, or tried to, of many of the great pioneers in audio, in favor of a bunch of charlatans whose research and evidence was:   Specs don't matter, (unless they help us), it's what I hear that counts.  Now everyone was an expert. 
Took surprisingly little to conquer and dominate the herd.

Stereo Review and other mags help build the industry, the so-called ''audiophiles' have just about destroyed it.

Cheers
My first encounter with SR, was after being hired at Audio Lab, Indian School Rd, Phoenix AZ. I was hired to sell audio gear for the store. Took home back issues of SR and Audio Etc. Read them cover to cover, including the ads. As the new and only salesperson in the store, I needed to get up to speed. Not just the products, the jargon, specs. Edward Tatnall Canby classic reviews got me into classic music.
 +1 rok2id
What a blast from the past. I had subscriptions to High Fidelity, Stereo Review, and Audio way back when and enjoyed reading each one of them when they arrived. That's how I learned what little I know about stereo equipment.

The record reviews were always fun to read too. One of the reviewers, PhyI Garland, I actually had as a college instructor. She turned me onto to Coltrane and jazz for which I'll be forever indebted. It's a shame those mags are long gone. A couple of years ago after lugging back issues around the country for decades I finally threw out all my piles of them after realizing I never reread them and probably never would. 

Maybe I should get a new subscription or two. Which of the newer mags would anyone recommend to take their place?

Mike
Millercarbon...interesting points I won't dispute.  At 16 in 1971 I read every month and thought I learned a lot as a start into hi-fi.  Later sold stereo (yamaha, McIntosh, Ohm, B&O, other classic 70's) and have an aquaintance with Julian Hirsch's son.  We are both musicians in bands and he was once just as opinionated as you say his dad was.  But he did have the cleanest sounding PA system on our little circuit.  He later ran a pro sound audio store.  I will completely agree on their Rodriguez cartoons .  Still applicable. 
EVERY Brit magazine is worlds better than EVERY American magazine on ANY topic. 
*s* Would leaf through some....subscribed to none....

Let my ears and budget 'do the walking', and let the equipment bought speak for itself.
I taught myself to listen carefully and learn what I enjoyed hearing, and How.....became Picky.
"Bang for the buck" beat 'opinion' and pretty pics...'specs', whether for audio, vehicles, or any of the other 'distractions' of the previous decades could be balanced by detail, skill, or 'nuance' ; esp.with regard to  distractions'....;)

"Audio Porn"....how apt....
Millercarbon...interesting points I won't dispute. At 16 in 1971 I read every month and thought I learned a lot as a start into hi-fi. Later sold stereo (yamaha, McIntosh, Ohm, B&O, other classic 70's) and have an aquaintance with Julian Hirsch's son. We are both musicians in bands and he was once just as opinionated as you say his dad was. But he did have the cleanest sounding PA system on our little circuit. He later ran a pro sound audio store. I will completely agree on their Rodriguez cartoons . Still applicable.


For sure they are still applicable. So much so, look at a current thread, about audiophiles and divorce. I wonder if you recall the Rodriguez cartoon where this old guy is talking about his system- and its, "I have the Symphonic Bombastic MkII speakers with the Quad Series Crossovers, Nautilus 30.7 tube amp, not the regular the S series with 8 KT88's and 4 NOS Electrolux 6SN7's per channel, the Andromeda 7 speaker cables with the Malarkey MkIII optional shielding, and no wait that was that was with my first wife, what's her name..." 

OMG! USED its $88! These are hilarious! Look at the cover!
https://www.amazon.com/Total-harmonic-distortion-Cartoons-Stereo/dp/B00072OXXQ
Surely the best of Stereo Review.
It was my introduction to hi-fi, I read it religiously. I think technically it is still around, they renamed it to Sound and Vision.
Read all of the magazines, and enjoyed them all, for different and various reasons. I liked the Rodriguez cartoons.
Thanks mikey99 for the links.  Brings back my childhood.  Used to read it in middle school. hoping one day to own a nice system.
Before the internet, Stereo Review was THE source for audio information. I looked forward to every issue. I loved the music reviews, cartoon illustrations and reading about the latest equipment. When I was fifteen and after nearly 3-years of delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, raking leaves and shoveling snow...I bought the Pioneer SX 939 with a pair of BIC Formula 6 speakers from Stereo Corporation of America in Brooklyn, NY. I was thrilled beyond words when it finally arrived. Music in stereo...nothing like it.
I subscribed from age 12 to age 16...it was like a gateway drug.  Now I'm strung out on high end.

If you're interested in perusing Stereo Review back issues:

https://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-All-Audio/HiFI-Stereo-Review.htm
They never told you starting out on Stereo Review leads to the hard stuff like The Absolute Sound and Positive Feedback. Too late now! 😩
I always found Stereoplay and Audio, both German, to be more informative and simply a better read than magazines from the U.S.A. British ones somehow appeared snotty.
Are you sure? I’m pretty sure they’re Swedish.
I read Stereo Review religiously when I was a kid. Found the record reviews great, but found the equipment reviews too much like Consumer Reports.

I don't think that Julian Hirsch had it in him to write disparaging copy on anyone, and that really cost me when as a 19 year old I followed Hirsch's recommendation and bought an AR Amp. What a horrible sounding POS, but a lesson learned.

geoffkait,


"Are you sure? I’m pretty sure they’re Swedish."


I think you are mistaking audio-oriented magazines for meatballs. There may be a Swedish magazine, or two, with such names, but I used to read German ones.

I think most if not all stereo magazines are paid by the manufacturers to review their equipment based on how much money they give to the magazine or to the person writing the reviews.  They often will sell their gear at cost to the writer in order to receive a good review.  Be curious to find out how much money they hand out for good reviews.  My nephew wrote for Stereophile Magazine and Revel Harmon basically gave him the speakers he was reviewing.  He paid a fraction of the cost for all of the equipment he owns as a result of writing an excellent review.  Based on this, how many reviews are written to reveal the honest truth?
"They often will sell their gear at cost to the writer in order to receive a good review."
Why do reviewers buy equipment when they get different new ones to review all the time? When do they have time to listen to their own?
I read Stereo Review and High Fidelity.  I don't remember any bad reviews of equipment.  If there were, manufacturers would pull their ads.
I read SR back in the day and can't disagree too strongly with any of the posts. The record reviews were always a favorite.
Getting out of the Navy in Fall 1974, I had saved enough money to buy a pair of AR 3a speakers and, along with the speakers, I ordered a pair of 50'AR speaker cables: they were gray-colored lamp cord!
It took until the late 80's before my ears were "peeled back" via a pair of my brother's used Monster cables hooked to a pair of K-horns.  ...ironically, those '78 model horns were internally wired with the same spec lamp cord! 

Reviewers have to eat too.
I subscribed for 5-6 years starting in 1980. I had no money to speak of, so the equipment reviews were entertainment for me. I did like the music reviews. I liked Steve Simels in particular. When I could scrape the money together, I purchased a few of his recommendations, and I don’t remember being disappointed. He still has a music blog. 
The only good thing about Stereo Review was the speaker reviews because they had to actually LISTEN to them.  Everything else was based on measurements.  If a $200 receiver measured the same as a $5,000 amp, they sounded the same.  I guess they never bothered to conduct a listening test of hardware.  Stupidity.  
I liked Stereo Review because they wrote about affordable equipment.  I subscribe to Stereophile and the Absolute Sound but can't afford 90% of the equipment they review!
Several posted links to american radio history.  This is a great site that has a downloadable library of SR, and High Fidelity, and Audio, and many other wonderful magazines.   Take some time and go through the back issues, paying specific attention to the period of about 1956-1965.  In the beginning, magazines were honest about reporting the actual quality of equipment under test.  Prose was polite, but there was no doubt if a component was deemed good, bad or average.  J Gordon Holt wrote for High Fidelity before starting Stereophile.  He left HF after a wrote a bad (but accurate) review, and an advertiser pulled ad spending.  Roy Allison was a frequent contributor to Audio magazine during this period.  By 1959 or 60 all were publishing specs and test results to support what they wrote.  Surprising how the test results often corresponded what we hear when listing to vintage components.  EX:  ABC integrated amp is rolled off in the bass- there it is on the FR graph- down 10db at 20hz.   Or DEF receiver needs a few DB of bass/treble adjustment to measure and sound "flat".   Back then, test results were used to confirm what was heard.  By 1965 SS was all the rage, and SS equipment measured flat, with vanishing levels of distortion, and indeed all amps sounded more or less the same because differences were now at the margins.  And that was enough for most listeners.  Eyeballs and ad money determine profits, and writing for the person signing the check is an easy way to get paid.  Hirsch was in interesting character.  He started in the mid 50's an published the Audio League Journal.  This publication pulled no punches when it came to reviewing !  He praised quality, and damned the turds.  He actually heard differences between components !   With the formation of HH Labs, and their eventually becoming a contract test lab, they sought to serve their paymasters, and the rest is history.
The best thing about Stereo Review was that it gave rise to Stereophile and the Absolute Sound in the '70's.