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RE: Print Rag (1991-2003) came out about once/year

>>And, oh yeah, a loudspeaker by "Fourier". Some accused him of shilling for that, since he had a financial/design interest in it. (Can anyone corroborate?)<<

I'll be glad to. In Volume 2, Number 3, the "Spring through Fall 1980" issue of The Audio Critic, Aczel reviewed a speaker from a previously unknown company, the Fourier 1. The cover said:

"We introduce you to a floor - standing 3 - way dynamic speaker system ($1190 the pair) which is basically conventional - except that there are no conventional errors in its design. That alone seems to be enough to make it sound like no other."

The review inside was a complete rave. Completely absent from it was any mention or hint that Aczel was a part owner of Fourier. Indeed, Aczel intentionally misled his readers about his relationship to the company:

Although we can't take credit for the actual nuts - and - bolts engineering and execution of the Fourier 1, the speaker never would have happened without our initiative and our conviction that it was feasible

So Aczel modestly 'fesses up that he didn't do the engineering of the Fourier 1 while neglecting to inform his readers that he owned the company and employed the people who did the work. Aczel continued to tell what he claimed was the story of the Fourier 1, that it began as "a single pair of speakers, constructed strictly as a laboratory exercise, incorporating all the specific design points we had been clamoring about and found lacking in others." Aczel walked through his design criteria, subtly pointing out how each aspect of the Fourier 1 was much better than anything else on the market:

it had to have deep bass, flat down to 30 Hz or so, and not just on a small - signal basis. Really loud and clean in the bottom octaves ... the subwoofer sound without the subwoofer... at the other end of the spectrum, it had to be much faster than typical dynamic speakers...our consultants came up with a relatively simple [crossover], an elegant little constant voltage network that any C+ student in a graduate course on filter theory would consider a piece of cake but one that would never enter the mind of the typical self - taught designer found in most small speaker companies...

Aczel wrote in his summation:

In view of our role as godfather to the Fourier 1, even though we didn't design it, we've decided not to review it in the subjective sense. The objectively verifiable design data presented above should be sufficient. Its large - signal bass respose [sic] alone, not to mention its time - domain characteristics, make the usual comparisons unnecessary. We're currently using it as one of our top reference speakers...That should tell you where we stand

Elsewhere in the issue there was further praise for the Fourier 1, again without any mention that Aczel owned the company. On page 23 there was the "Reference A Update":

The "A" designation stands for the sonically most revealing and musically most believable stereo system we're able to assemble at any given time, out of the components tested and reviewed up to that time. Price as such is no object..

Under the heading "Speaker System" Aczel first listed the Quad electrostatic paired with the Janis W-1 subwoofer and Pyramid T-1 tweeter, a combination with a total price of $4405. Then, he wrote:

As an alternative at a huge saving, the new Fourier 1 full - range speaker ($1190 the pair) comes surpirsingly close to the above in overall performance characteristics.

Two pages later was the "Reference B Update":

This is our best - sound - per - dollar, rock - bottom stereo system for the serious audiophile

Only one speaker system was listed, the Fourier 1. In other words, Aczel praised his own company's product as simultaneously almost as good as the best cost - no - object speaker system he could assemble and the best bang - for - the - buck speaker on the planet. "Our role as godfather to the Fourier 1" was not anywhere close to the truth about Aczel's relationship to Fourier Systems, as he later admitted. There's no question about that relationship - Aczel attended the CES Show and handed out business cards that gave his title as president of Fourier. Of course Aczel had the right to review the Fourier or anything else in his magazine, but he also had an absolute obligation to inform his readers that he was a part - owner of the company that made the speaker. He did not do that. Readers needed to know Aczel's conflict when they read his praise of the Fourier. Hiding his direct financial interest in the Fourier company from TAC readers was patently wrong and a grotesque abuse of his readers' expectations of impartiality. Aczel and his apologists never had a good explanation for why he didn't write something plain and clear such as "I OWN THE COMPANY THAT MAKES THIS SPEAKER SO I'LL MAKE MONEY IF YOU BUY IT." A simple declaration like that would have prevented the scandal when the truth was exposed, and Aczel wouldn't be tarred for the rest of his life as the worst scoundrel in the history of high end audio.


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