As We See It

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J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 20, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1964  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: The editorial leader for the seventh issue of what was then called The Stereophile, cover-dated April 1964, was the first to introduce a recurring theme to the magazine's first 20 years of publication: an apology to subscribers for being late.—John Atkinson

Those of you who have a mind for dates may have noticed that this issue of The Stereophile is very, very late. This, the seventh issue, was supposed to have been a Merry Christmas November–December issue, but as things worked out, it doesn't even deserve the title of January–February issue. So, we think a few words of explanation are in order.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 13, 2016  |  9 comments
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.—William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)

I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the exquisite meanings.—Walt Whitman, "That Music Always Round Me," from Leaves of Grass

These two statements, to me, express the core perspective shared by Stereophile's contributors. When I encountered both of them within a span of 30 days, they spoke so strongly that I felt impelled to hook up the biggest, baddest loudspeakers I could find and broadcast them to the world, without distortion. Failing in that quest, and having not yet attained the status of the Edward R. Murrows and Walter Cronkites of eras past, I share them here.

J. Gordon Holt, Edward T. Dell, Jr.  |  Nov 29, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1967  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: in the main, Stereophile has steered clear of DIY audio projects, leaving them to magazines like The Audio Amateur, which was published by the late Edward T. Dell. But one of the exceptions was this 1967 article on the "Brute," a tube amplifier design by none other than Ed Dell. Note that the DIY competition mentioned by Gordon Holt is long closed to entries.—John Atkinson

There's a platitude to the effect that the road to Hell is strewn with good intentions. Well, we don't see ourselves as headed for perdition, but we must admit that we are surveying a rather impressive-looking junk pile of good intentions at this point.

Robert Schryer  |  Nov 15, 2016  |  10 comments
My friend was in dire straits. What had been rare occurrences of panic attacks—one every year or so—had turned into a full-blown panic disorder that made it impossible for him to enjoy peace of mind..

If you've never suffered a panic attack, the idea of one—of being, in the absence of any real threat, suddenly overwhelmed by fear—can seem inconceivably strange. Try to imagine fear flooding your mind with such fierce momentum that you struggle to catch your breath, so convincing is the sensation that everything is spinning horribly out of control. Once that happens and the fear has taken over, it doesn't matter if the threat is real or not.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 09, 2016  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1964  |  2 comments
Like every sensible publication, The Stereophile keeps track of the questions raised by readers who write to us, so we can get some idea of what most of you would like to see in future issues of the magazine. To date, the list looks like this, in order of diminishing interest: transistor amps and preamps, loudspeakers, pickups, tape equipment, tuners and, way at the bottom of the list, recordings. We are devoting most of the August 1964 issue to a discussion of commercial recording practices.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Oct 19, 2016  |  6 comments
I'm at Dan D'Agostino's house listening to his triamped Apogee full-range ribbon speakers. It's 1985. His listening room is immense, easily 30' by 45', and we're rocking out to Led Zeppelin and Bonzo Dog Band records. The sound is light-years better than anything I've heard—dynamic as hell, beyond vivid, and the soundstage has infinite depth—and Dan's obviously loving that I'm blown away by his system. We get to talking. He has three pairs of Krell KMA-160 monoblocks and Reference KRS preamps for me. Thanks, I say, but how can I get them home? No problem—Dan has a van.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 04, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1970  |  6 comments
Thanks to two developments and a promise, the compact cassette has finally become, as they say, a force to be reckoned with.

Development one, perhaps the most significant factor in the changing picture, is the ready availability of B-type Dolby devices (which are single-band Dolbys, acting only on hiss frequencies). Advent makes two that can be used with any tape machine, cassette or otherwise, while Fisher, Advent, and Harman-Kardon (as of this moment) are producing cassette recorders with built-in Dolby-B. No doubt there will be others by the time this gets in print.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 20, 2016  |  17 comments
What do Prince, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Gato Barbieri, Phife Dawg, Frank Sinatra Jr., Keith Emerson (Emerson Lake & Palmer), Dan Hicks (Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson (Jefferson Airplane), Glenn Frey (Eagles), Dale Griffin (Mott the Hoople), pianist Paul Bley, bassist Rob Wasserman, sopranos Susan Chilcott, Phyllis Curtin, and Denise Duval, countertenor Brian Asawa, composers Steven Edward Stucky and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and conductors Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gilbert Kaplan, Gregg Smith, and Royston Nash have in common? Besides the fact that all were musicians who made multiple recordings and who died in 2016, their recorded legacies rarely, if ever, get airplay at dealerships or audio shows.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 13, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1968  |  3 comments
Editor's Note: 40 years before it became a reality, J. Gordon Holt predicts music streaming and predicts the Compact Cassette will become the dominant prerecorded music medium.

Traditionally, the New Year is the time when editors light their pipes, tilt their chairs back, fold their hands and shut their eyes, and make bold predictions about The Future. It is said that prognostications are always risky, because events have a nasty habit of making fools of those who prognosticate. It has been our observation, though, that the only prognosticators who are remembered are those who were proven right, so we are going to do some fearless limb-climbing about something that is coming to worry increasing numbers of stereophiles: Namely, which of all the current recording media is going to become The Standard for home use, and which are going to be left stranded on the shoals of obsolescence?

J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 06, 2016  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1965  |  2 comments
Well, it's that time. The time of reckoning, the moment of truth. It's renewal time.

Most of you have noticed the hyphenated numbers on your address labels, and most of you guessed what they were: Expiration codes. If your label has a 1-12 number on it (or no hyphenated code at all), the next issue of The Stereophile, Issue Number 12 [published in September 1966—Ed.], will be the last one that will arrive on your present subscription.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 16, 2016  |  11 comments
A recording engineer's choices of microphones to record singers, guitars, horns, bass, drums—or an entire orchestra—are absolutely crucial. Those very subjective choices are, in large part, what separate the best recordings from the also-rans. When I contacted some of the best engineers in the business to talk about mikes, I got an earful. I was told that mikes have a more profound impact on reproduced sound than does any other link in the recording chain. Yes, the acoustic of the recording venue also plays a huge role, and post-session mixing and mastering can of course improve or ruin the sound—but the choice of mikes is absolutely crucial.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 09, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 12, 1963  |  4 comments
By the time you read this in late 1963 (probably a month after it is written, judging by the speed with which the US mails speed second-class matter on its appointed rounds), Capitol Records will have announced the first bit of really good news for the high-fidelity perfectionist in years: the release of imported disc pressings—taped, cut, and stamped in Europe. London has been importing for years—all the Londons you buy are pressed by Decca in England. But this will be the first opportunity we will have of sampling the products of some of London's overseas competitors.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 04, 2016  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1970  |  6 comments
Editor's Note: Approaching its ninth year of publication in 1970, the advertisement-free Stereophile was failing as a business. There was just one issue published between December 1968 and June 1970, the date when J. Gordon Holt published this plea in response to the reaction to the increased subscription price: first to $4 for four issues, equivalent to $25 in 2016, then to $5 ($31). The response from subscribers to his plea was not positive enough to enable the magazine to continue publishing—Gordon could publish just two more issues in the next two years before Stereophile had to accept advertising, first from dealers in October 1972 and from manufacturers in December 1977.Ed.

Our recent price increase at the end of 1969 elicited numerous letters telling us the magazine was exhorbitant at $4 a subscription and is outrageous at $5, and supporting their contention with comparisons between the price per page of the Stereophile and one or another of the commercial hi-fi magazines. We will answer this once, here and now, and then let the matter drop.

Robert Schryer  |  Jul 14, 2016  |  8 comments
Once in a blue moon, I'm asked this question: How much should I spend on an audiophile rig? It's usually asked by someone with no real interest in buying an audiophile rig, but who's fishing, for giggles, for the exorbitant figure that is the presumed going rate for joining our hobby. Sometimes, when the mood strikes, I'll bang out a randomly absurd number—"$80,000!"—then lean back to observe the fallout. Nine times out of ten, that fallout consists of a head shake and a snicker, as if to say, "You guys are nuts!" But on those occasions when honesty seems the best policy, my short answer to the how-much question, regardless of the buyer's financial means, is the same: As little as possible.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 28, 2016  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1967  |  0 comments
By the time you read this, in the fall of 1967, the "Dolby system" will probably be old hat to you. Every other audio publication has been describing it, discussing it, and hailing it as the greatest invention since sex.

We've seen that kind of press ballyhoo before, about such significant advances as the Edsel, the 16-rpm LP and the "thin-profile" loudspeaker, so our first inclination was to be a wee bit skeptical of the Dolby. It seemed too good to be true.

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