Think Pieces

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George Reisch  |  Jul 01, 1998  |  0 comments
In a dark, smoky office, a desk lamp beams a cone of light onto papers, books, pipes, and notepads. A theoretical physicist hunches over his desk, half-illuminated, visualizing the world inside his equations.
George Reisch  |  Mar 29, 1999  |  0 comments
Call me naÏve, but I thought the Hi-Fi Wars were merely in-house squabbles. Yes, meter-carrying objectivists and wide-eyed subjectivists can carry on worse than Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But I always figured that once someone cues up Dark Side of the Moon or Kind of Blue, the partisanship subsides as we revel in our common passion for music and sound. C'mon, everybody—group hug! Okay, I exaggerate.
Jim Austin  |  Dec 04, 2018  |  17 comments
If there's one thing audiophiles agree on, it's that snake oil is bad—even if they can't agree about what snake oil actually is.

In audio, snake oil means fake science or fake technology—anything that's claimed to improve the sound of a system but that looks like an obvious rip-off. For some people, expensive speaker cables and interconnects are snake oil. A few objectivists consider AC power treatments snake oil: most modern audio components, after all, can correct for AC line-voltage flaws and reject "ripple" in a power supply's output. A handful of hard-core objectivists maintain that every new digital technology since the advent of the Compact Disc is snake oil.

George Reisch  |  Jun 06, 2006  |  First Published: Nov 06, 1999  |  0 comments
Mary is a scientist living in a distant galaxy. She and her fellow humanoids are just like us, but their knowledge is highly advanced. It's so advanced, they've solved the most daunting problem in science—understanding the brain and mind. They know everything scientifically possible to know about the brain's neurons, its architecture, and how consciousness, ideas, feelings, and memories occur. Perception and sensation are understood, too. Mary knows exactly how light and sound waves become colorful visions and beautiful melodies. On her planet, aspiring neurobiologists are out of luck. There's nothing more to aspire to.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 21, 2014  |  First Published: May 01, 2005  |  10 comments
This essay first appeared in the May 2005 Stereophile eNewsletter. But as the opinions and comments are still relevant in 2014 and in some ways the phenomenon of over-compression in recorded music (footnote 1) is just as bad, I thought it worth republishing.—John Atkinson

I write these words mere hours after returning home from Home Entertainment 2005, the Show cosponsored by Stereophile magazine that took place from April 28 through May 1 at the Manhattan Hilton. A full report will appear in the August 2005 issue of the magazine.

J. Gordon Holt  |  May 29, 1997  |  First Published: May 29, 1988  |  0 comments
During the late 1950s, when high fidelity exploded into a multimillion-dollar industry, product advertisements bragged about bringing the orchestra into your living room. Apparently, no one realized what an absurd concept it was, but there are still many people today who believe that's what audio is all about. It isn't. There is no way a real orchestra could fit into the average living room, and if it could, we would not want to be around when it played. Sound levels of 115dB are just too loud for most sane people, and that's what a full orchestral fortissimo can produce in a small room.
Linda Tasker  |  Oct 28, 1990  |  First Published: Oct 29, 1990  |  0 comments
PO/SSSLQs (footnote 1), SOs (footnote 2), & Spouses of audiophiles: Linda Tasker (aka Mrs. Kevin Conklin) has some advice for you!
George Reisch  |  Sep 26, 1999  |  0 comments
Call me sentimental, but I'm sad to see turntables disappear. They were my original calling. Back in 1973 or so, when a kid from my neighborhood insisted that I see his brother-in-law's "fantastic stereo," I was entranced by a huge Pioneer receiver and walnut AR3a speakers. But most alluring by far was the Marantz turntable. Its brushed stainless-steel controls and gleaming, chromed tonearm made it look like some delicate and expensive scientific instrument. Compared to the all-in-one plastic unit I played my Partridge Family records on, the mere sight of it put me on the audiophile path. (And I mean just the sight of it. We weren't allowed to touch.) Eventually, his brother-in-law played a record for me—Gordon Lightfoot's Endless Wire. Since that day, I can chart the passage of my life according to the turntables I've owned—if it's VPI, this must be Chicago.
George Reisch  |  Apr 03, 2005  |  First Published: Mar 03, 1998  |  0 comments
Mojo Nixon sings, "Elvis is everywhere." My version is "Darwin is everywhere." Last Thanksgiving, as my extended family was gathered around the dinner table, my 11-year-old nephew abruptly reminded us that Darwin was there, too. Out of the blue, he broadcast the $64,000 question:
Larry Archibald  |  Nov 17, 1999  |  0 comments
This is my final "Final Word." Although, combined with the announcement of J. Gordon Holt's resignation, this will undoubtedly cause rumors to swirl about Emap Petersen forcing all the old guys out, I assure you that my departure is of my own volition. It's a process that started back in 1997, when John Atkinson and I first talked about selling Stereophile, and for me it reaches its conclusion here.
Larry Archibald  |  Feb 07, 1999  |  0 comments
Ethics is a subject always more easily discussed than practiced. There's been a lot of discussion recently about the ethics of retailing—or, more accurately, the ethics of buying retail.
Herb Reichert  |  Oct 29, 2019  |  17 comments
"The crying rain like a trumpet sang
And asked for no applause.
"—Bob Dylan, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune"

I remember as a toddler sitting in the kitchen on a highchair, watching my mother smoke a cigarette, apply red lipstick, and tune a turquoise table radio from one news station to another. Between the strange, nattering voices, the radio emitted a sharp hissing sound. That's my first memory of human voices coming from a little box.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 16, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2006  |  28 comments
You could sense the frustration in Keith Pray's e-mail. "We are on the same team. I have always respected your wishes and will continue to do so," he had written me. At the request of a possible advertiser, Stereophile's publisher had asked me a question about something appearing in the issue of Stereophile we were preparing. I had responded that not only would I not give him an answer, I felt it inappropriate for him to ask.
George Reisch  |  May 07, 2006  |  First Published: Jan 07, 2000  |  0 comments
Two scientists are racing for the good of all mankind—both of them working side by side, so determined, locked in heated battle for the cure that is the prize. It's so dangerous, but they're driven—theirs is to win, if it kills them. They're just human, with wives and children.

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