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The Absolute Sound Or Stereophile? Which is your favorite?

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Also what reviewers are your favorites? Of course the late Harry Pearson, but who after him, and which reviewers do you not like as far as the accuracy of their evaluation or not mentioning pertinent things?

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As I have gotten more satisfied with my sound to the point that I sometimes wonder if there is much farther to go as far as the limitation of the recordings, I have not sought the magazines out as much as I used to. It is nice to take a look every now and then to see what's going on with the overall scene. There are music reviews and you can check out what music has been re-released in audiophile form. Sometimes a new format pops up, that's good to know about. I have been very pleased with some UHQCD's I have recently bought. UHQ standing for Ultra High Quality and in this case its proving to be much more than a buzzword. I miss certain things of the now distant past, End Lumley in TAS and Bert Whyte's articles in Audio magazine. Good to take a look to see what's going on though.

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Stereophile has more credibility - not that I'm a subscriber of either, just find myself reading TAS for much, much less time online than Stereophile.

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I subscribe to both, as they are (combined) for me the most complete source of information on all things high-end. I also continuously discover new music because of their reviews. I read and speak multiple languages and I can say that there is no equivalent anywhere else that I have seen to the quantity and quality of the reporting in TAS and Stereophile. Much of the reporting in other languages is either pandering to the manufacturer (reviews of X are often in correlation with  who advertises in that month's issue) or the reporting is lightweight, with the possible exception of the German magazine Stereoplay. In both TAS and Stereophile, I can read in-depth reviews and analysis, both from a perceptual and from a purely technical perspective. I will continue to read both as long as I can. 

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i agree completely with @pvanosta -- i read and enjoy both.


source:  intel nuc8i5 (roon rock) > intel nuc6i5 (win 10, ao, roon bridge, dirac v1) > schiit yggdrasil (unison, analog 2)
headphone rig:  bryston bha-1 > senn hd600
two-channel rig:  bryston bha-1 > parasound a21 > kef reference 1

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5 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

I haven't seen it in a while but I used to really get a lot out of the British publication Hi Fi News & Record Review. Their music section had a dizzying amount of good reviews in addition to maybe near a hundred capsule reviews each issue. It put me onto a lot of good music that I otherwise might have never discovered. 

 

 There was another U.K. magazine that in addition to new equipment reviews each month; they had in every issue, page after page of capsule reviews that they had done full reviews of in the preceding months and years. 

I remember it well, but HFN&RR stopped publication quite a few years ago, at least under that name. There's also HiFi Choice, HiFi+, HiFi News, etc. None of them come close to Either Stereophile or TAS in my opinion.

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In an issue around 1980 Hi Fi News & Record Review, reviewing a Carver preamp, made the statement that there is a bigger improvement when you press the little button;  between Carver Sonic Holography and regular stereo than between stereo and mono. In my early 20's I had a full featured Carver preamp which in addition to the Sonic hologram switch, which increased focus and space between instruments by a great amount, it also had an Autocorrelator switch which decreased hiss on records and tapes, a dynamic range expander, separate tone controls for both left and right channels for those who had heavy drapes on one side of the room like I did, and a digital  time delay circuit where you could simulate the acoustics of anything from an intimate jazz club to a a large cathedral.

 

 If the amp would have been a little cleaner sounding, it might have been the greatest preamp of all time; bar none. On purity of sound, Carver once said, " once the sound is clean enough, there are more important things to worry about." 

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57 minutes ago, pvanosta said:

I remember it well, but HFN&RR stopped publication quite a few years ago, at least under that name.

 

Really? Isn't this the publication he was referring to?

 

https://www.hifinews.com


Everything matters... when brewing coffee.

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20 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Also what reviewers are your favorites? Of course the late Harry Pearson, but who after him, and which reviewers do you not like as far as the accuracy of their evaluation or not mentioning pertinent things?

Hi-Fi News and Record Review is my favorite audio magazine. I think it is the best Audio rag in the English-speaking world. I’ve a friend who says that some German magazine is better, but I don’t read (or speak) German, so I can’t comment. Knowing the Japanese, I suspect that they probably have some great Hi-Fi mags too, but again...

I also find two other British Audio Magazines to be excellent reads: Hi-Fi Choice, and HiFi+ are also excellent. I take digital subscriptions to all three of those Brit magazines, as well as Stereophile, TAS, and Australia’s HiFi.

Because of the way it’s distributed, I find TAS to be the least desirable. 

Their web-based “reader” is, in my opinion, very awkward, making the digital edition harder to read than the rest.

My favorite writer was Stereophile’s Art Dudley, but since he’s no longer with us, I find myself pretty much “at sea” in that regard, these days.


George

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I think its a good idea that Stereophile gives a face and personality to some of its reviewers via YouTube Videos. How could anyone not get a kick out of Herb Reichert for instance. I think most people seek out the audio review magazines for guidance in making equip. purchases or hoping to be put on to some great equipment that's within their price range. Also to possibly deepen their understanding of judging sound through what a particularly good reviewer explains; like a student and a teacher. Perceptual learning to some extent can be achieved through words, if understood properly. 

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As the OP of this thread, perhaps the more relevant question is have you ever bought a piece of gear partially or fully based on what was said about the equipment in the magazines review, and were you glad you bought it?.. I have bought 3 things partly influenced by Stereophile reviews of them. Have been satisfied with 2 of the 3, especially for the price I paid. The only thing I bought that maybe I wish I hadn't, goes way back to the years of Sam Tellig "The Audio Cheapskate." He recommended the Optimus 3400 CD player. He failed to mention that it made instruments sound tiny as tiny can be, like munchkin land. Perhaps though I should have figured that, as its size ruled out it having a decent size transformer. Also he didn't mention it severely lacked resolution. Not too far into the 1990s, it was claimed that it was the only CD player that had "bloom".A little controversial. It was a little warmer than usual (perhaps to veil some high frequency distortion it had). I had a good time with it though, but when I went to a Magnavox its small warmish sound was relinquished to a drawer. No biggie. I only paid about $130 for it on sale.

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What was a little bizzare about the CD 3400 being claimed to be the only CD player with "bloom" was that:

1. It was a product from Radio Shack.

2. It was only a $180 list price  player.

3. There were CD players on the maket that cost around 100 times as much.

 4. Some people were supposedly using it as a transport (it had a digital out) reportedly people who had $30,000 systems (foolishly I think).

 5. People like Dick Sequerra (of tuner & speaker fame) were riding the wave by coming out with outboard "Power Station AC power supply platforms" made especially for the CD 3400.

6. I did not know what "bloom" was and thought I would find out by buying the player and listening to it.

 

 After a while, I knew the player well, but thinking that maybe I had a sub par sample, I went out and bought another CD 3400. Sounded just like the first one, so I just kept it as it was about to go out of production (a chip manufacturer or something was ceasing production on something used inside it), and I figured maybe it will be worth something someday like an out of print audiophile LP. Not too many years later someone offered me more than what was its list price when in production, but I couldn't find it.

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7 hours ago, kumakuma said:

 

Really? Isn't this the publication he was referring to?

 

https://www.hifinews.com

Yes, like I said 'under the name HFN&RR'. They changed the name and the format and the layout to the  Hifinews it is today (I subscribe to that oner as well).

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3 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

As the OP of this thread, perhaps the more relevant question is have you ever bought a piece of gear partially or fully based on what was said about the equipment in the magazines review, and were you glad you bought it?.. I have bought 3 things partly influenced by Stereophile reviews of them. Have been satisfied with 2 of the 3, especially for the price I paid. The only thing I bought that maybe I wish I hadn't, goes way back to the years of Sam Tellig "The Audio Cheapskate." He recommended the Optimus 3400 CD player. He failed to mention that it made instruments sound tiny as tiny can be, like munchkin land. Perhaps though I should have figured that, as its size ruled out it having a decent size transformer. Also he didn't mention it severely lacked resolution. Not too far into the 1990s, it was claimed that it was the only CD player that had "bloom".A little controversial. It was a little warmer than usual (perhaps to veil some high frequency distortion it had). I had a good time with it though, but when I went to a Magnavox its small warmish sound was relinquished to a drawer. No biggie. I only paid about $130 for it on sale.

I have definitely bought a lot of gear over the years based on reviews in the English language audio press (Stereophile, TAS, Hifi News, Hifi + and many others), including Thiel 3.6, Classe 15, Parasound JC2 BP, Mark Levinson 39, Thiel CS7, Bel Canto Ref1000m, Hegel h390, Devialet expert pro 220, Marten Django XL, etc...

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Any one of those things you just mentioned that you bought, probably cost more than the total amount of money I've spent on audio equip. in my entire life, even though I've upgraded dozens of times. I get stuff cheap. Everything that has stunning sound has stunning sound for down to Earth reasons, not because someone decided it should cost a lot. Figuring out those reasons, and implementing them with ones own unique creative ideas is the most satisfying and perfect way to achieve "perfect sound". 

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5 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Any one of those things you just mentioned that you bought, probably cost more than the total amount of money I've spent on audio equip. in my entire life, even though I've upgraded dozens of times. I get stuff cheap. Everything that has stunning sound has stunning sound for down to Earth reasons, not because someone decided it should cost a lot. Figuring out those reasons, and implementing them with ones own unique creative ideas is the most satisfying and perfect way to achieve "perfect sound". 

Fully agree and to be fair, all of the items I listed, I bought used or at least ex-demo, and I would resell my own mint condition equipment to fund the next purchase. Rarely have I spent more than a couple of thousand out of pocket on a new item, taking into account the sale of the item it rplaces. The list also describes 20 years of HiFi purchases...

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I've been purchasing for over 44 years now. I'm kind of old, but you would never know it in the least. I figured out some things there too. As far as audio, the shortest most direct signal path is best, which means there doesn't't have to be that much circuitry inside. Less parts; everything should be cheaper. Stuff from Best Buy with all the controls that do all sorts of things; that's the stuff that should cost. Tone controls if properly designed do not degrade the sound noticeably. I have never met a room with a flat frequency response.

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I am kidding a little bit. People deserve to be paid for their work (research and development). Good quality parts do cost. Lots of things have been advanced in audio; big advances even. Everything I use equipment wise has been bought. However I do second guess and modify my equipment and tweak everything I can think of. Some things are worth it and some things aren't. Analog is wonderful but digital at its best; people would be surprised. Being able to reproduce sound in your home, that often doesn't sound too far removed from live music is one of the miracles of modern life. My favorite companies are ones that give you great sound for the least amount of money; but the others... well its a free country. To each his own. Audio needs way better exposure. There has to be a better way than waiting for people to come in their doors. Infinitely more people would be amazed and interested in audio if they were given the right experience. Sometimes one listen is all it takes. People would be surprised and amazed at the level of realism that is possible. They would want it and get into it. I don't know what the answer is. Maybe a traveling audio show that shows up at high schools like a technical school recruiter, only more fun.

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I subscribe to Stereophile only these days. One reason is the frequent use of measurements to validate why something may sound good/bad. Another reason is that generally if something sucks they will say so or in some other pretty obvious way express the same.

 

I used to subscribe to TAS years ago but got bored reading about how each month some new shiny product was the best thing the reviewer ever heard, blowing away the previous months best shiny product in the same category. Rinse and repeat every month.

 

Then there was the constant waxing poetic of every product, no matter what. Even if it was a total piece of shit they would refuse to ever say so. Plus there are no measurements  of anything which I find odd because I believe Harley is pretty familiar with how to conduct such tests properly and accurately.

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Maybe the relative popularity of the two magazines depends on regionality; or something. The only place I see either.one is Barnes & Noble. The Absolute Sounds are usually either sold out or bought up except for the last one or two. The Stereophiles are usually there in abundance along with a few of the U.K. publications. It's nice to see equipment reviewed that most people can actually afford or choose to afford when there is some under review. A lot of the YouTube videos have sort of taken over that turf now; especially with reviews of bookshelf speakers. The sound of my main system is so good now that I am almost afraid to change anything, especially anything that might alter frequency response. It took me many years of experimentation and acquiring know how to get to this point. But no matter how good the sound gets there is always that reaching for more sound quality. We all need things to look forward to, and as audiophiles we all look forward to improving our sound. I have been buying a lot of music of late, even though I have too much already to ever get around to. People with the best reproduction capabilities know that even though it might not sound 100% believably  real, it is amazing enough that once it gets up to a certain level, maybe "real" doesn't matter. It's a thrilling enough experience.

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On 5/25/2020 at 6:14 PM, Digi&Analog Fan said:

The Absolute Sound Or Stereophile? Which is your favorite?

 

Neither and I'll explain.

 

In the 1970’s I subscribed to High Fidelity magazine for R.D.Darrell’s column “The Tape Deck" for reviews of new prerecorded reel-to-reel tapes and later audiophile cassettes when I got a Nakamichi cassette deck. I also found Fanfare magazine helpful as it had tons of record reviews. I used to also read Wayne Green’s CD Review.

 

I found early 1970’s TAS (The Absolute Sound) to have many good LP reviews, including audiophile LPs and especially Harry Pearson's Super Disc Lists. They even had an issue dedicated to RCA Living Stereo and another one dedicated to Mercury Living Presence.

 

A few years ago I had a one year subscription to the newer versions of both TAS and Stereophile, and was unhappy with their music reviews so I didn’t renew.

 

I like to read about news, new technologies and most of all reviews of audiophile recordings of unknown (to me) composers and artists but I don’t like to read equipment reviews at all.

 

Before music was on the internet I had to depend on reviews of music or performers I’ve never heard. Now I can sample music before I buy so I don’t depend on record reviews very much.


I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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