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Interesting POV...

but I do have a couple of questions/points:

Firstly, your entire post seems to make the assumption (or the acknowledgement in your case) in your criticism of current mags that the purpose of the reviews, and by extension the purpose of reading the reviews, is to provide information for helping to make an informed decision about purchasing equipment. I have a different take, which I acknowledge may be mine alone: I read the reviews because I enjoy it. Essentially it's the same reason why I read reviews of a new Ferrari or a Saleen: I'll (probably) never be in a position to buy one, but I get a kick out of reading about the experience of driving one, and about how it's made, and the technological issues behind it. Same for audio: I have a system that I have no intention of changing for the forseeable future, but I subscribe to several of the mags, and read them religiously, not because I'm shopping, but because I enjoy it. I believe a lot of audiophiles read the mags for the same reason. And that's what enthusiast magazines are all about.

Secondly, you make the following statement: "And at least partially due to the policies of Sterephile, TAS, etc. (along with a number of other factors, of course), market forces are essentially inoperative in the quality audio field." Following from my previous point about being enthusiast magazines, I find this a somewhat specious comment. Marketing forces aren't inoperative because of the policies of the mags AT ALL. After all, Automobile magazine doesn't affect the quality or quantity of econocars or mid-sizers because they prefer to review the new Audi R8 rather than the Chevy Cupholder ES. I believe that the review policies of Stereophile, TAS, etc., have absolutely nothing to do with the shrinking high-end: the problem, if there is one, lies in the decrease in importance of music and its reproduction in the mind of the general populace. Fewer and fewer people go to live music, fewer and fewer people actively listen to recordings (as opposed to sticking earbuds in while exercising or doing the laundry), and fewer and fewer people learn to play an instrument or study any type of music history or theory in schools. You should look there for the underlying reasons why our hobby is shrinking, not to the review policies of a few enthusiast magazines.

Beyond that, the desire to have a valued reference to assist with purchasing decisions is a good one, and I support most of your points quite strongly. But until the issues that I believe are at the heart of the problem with the high-end, an alternative type of mag won't have much hope of survival. The existence of the information can't produce the desire: it is the desire needing the info that will make the enterprise successful...

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