By 1970, I had been buying records (you remember records, don't you?) for about five years, and had accumulated enough of the little vinyl biscuits that I actually fancied myself a stereo buff this despite the fact that the equipment I had was somewhere between pitiful and horrid. I vowed, however, that things would improve, and I sent four bucks that might have otherwise gone for an LP to One Park Avenue, New York, New York, home of, among other Ziff-Davis magazines, the late, lamented Stereo Review.
I'd seen a couple of audio magazines including, indeed, Audio magazine before. But Stereo Review was different. It wasn't as hardware-obsessed as Audio, not as steeped in musical ephemera as High Fidelity, and not as snotty as [fill in the name of your favorite high-end audio publication]. Being not quite eighteen at the time, I wasn't at all ready to proclaim my particular personal Audio Truth, and Stereo Review, bless them, didn't fault me for either my youth or my diffidence.
The years went by. The cover price went up from sixty cents to seventy-five to something else and then something else again and finally ended up around $3.95. There are literally dozens of records I would never have heard, had they not been covered in Stereo Review: an amazingly wide spectrum, taking in works as disparate as the theatre piece The Nude Paper Sermon, by composer and occaional reviewer Eric Salzman, the faux-Fifties foolery of Big Daddy, and all maner of stuff in between. The 1973 edition of the magazine's Calendar of Classical Composers hangs on my wall to this day seventy-five cents to order, seventy-five dollars to frame.
Came 1999. The marriage of audio and video, something to which I had been objecting for some time, was declared to be the new order of things, and Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, owner of both Stereo Review and Video magazine, fused them into a single publication, to be called Stereo Review's Sound and Vision. For the first time in 29 years, I decided not to send the renewal check; the first issue of Sound and Vision would be my last. Maybe it's just creeping oldfarthood. I don't know for sure. But I do know that for me, for now, audio and video are two separate forms of entertainment. I don't want a Home Theatre. I don't want to have sound swirling around me from 5.1 sources. I'll plug the VCR's audio outputs into the stereo system, but that's as close as I want them to get. Consider this my particular personal Audio Truth. It certainly took me long enough.
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Copyright © 1999 by Charles G. Hill