When the Audio Critic was subjective.


I was reading through this old issue of TAC and it is quite amazing to see how subjective Peter Aczel was in his earlier days before the "all amplifiers sound the same" kick.  Yes I know he didn't say exactly that, but you know what I mean. 
I think I liked the magazine much better when he presented a more balanced combination of measurements and subjective listening. 
http://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/mags/The_Audio_Critic_V1-2.pdf

chayro
I seriously doubt most readers here even know who he was. Too long ago, too obscure. But ya neva know!
Aczel was just a run-of-the-mill subjective reviewer, certainly no J. Gordon Holt, or even Harry Pearson. I don't recall what lead to his "objective" transformation, but was thereafter an obnoxious jerk. His ethics came into serious question when he used the mag to promote his own loudspeaker, his credibility when it became known his hearing was seriously impaired. Good riddance.
At least he wasn't touting expensive wire and fuses - unlike many on this site!
I seem to recall he was touting some rediculously-priced Class A amplifier in one of his initial issues. 
That was the Levinson ML2 mono 25 watt amp. And Aczel was correct! A classic design and still one of the best sounding amps! Designed by Tom Colangelo (who also designed the ML1 preamp).
The ML2’s were priced at $3600 a pair in 1976. Hardly qualifies as "high end" compared to the sky-high prices for a lot of today’s gear (Dagostino, Soulution, Dartzeel, MBL ...).
I have followed The Audio Critic from the beginning (1977) to its end. For the most part Peter Aczel's recommendations were spot on! He made a serious attempt to reconcile measurements with listening trials. Unlike the all-over-the-map conclusions of the "golden ear" reviewers at Stereophile and TAS. And was the first to stress the importance of proper tonearm/cartridge alignment for LP playback - when LPs were the most common music source!
Aczel was also the first to publish a comprehensive chart for determining proper alignment for a wide range of tonearm lenghts, stylus-to-pivot distance, offset angles and overhang distances. This chart was for the Baerwald alignment. And he discussed VTF and stylus rake angle, along with the importance of stylus shapes (conical, elliptical, Shibata ...) for maximizing music retrieval from those vinyl grooves!
After the arrival in 1983 of the CD he abandoned the LP as a reference source. Aczel called LP playback "buggy whip" technology and embraced digital sources as music's future. Naturally this engendered much hate from the analog uber-alles crowd!
I would best describe Peter Aczel as a rationalist regarding music and its various storage/playback methods over the decades. He would always want to know "why" and questioned established dogma regarding music systems!
roberjerman
I would best describe Peter Aczel as a rationalist ... He would always want to know "why" and questioned established dogma regarding music systems
Actually, Aczel created his own personal brand of dogma. That was his problem.
+1 Cleeds
Most reviewers do that. Its the readers choice to line up with who values their particular dogma.