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October 2020
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Looking Back At Enjoy the Music.com's 25 Years Of Service
As we also celebrate today... and the future.
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Looking Back At Enjoy the Music.com's 25 Years Of Service As we also celebrate today... and the future. Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin

 

  When I initially realized 2020 would celebrate Enjoy the Music.com's past 25 years of being of service to the high-end audio / audiophile community, it brought a huge smile to my face. As one of the very first web-based sites online, there's quite a bit of history that was being made at the time. Back then virtually no print publication had a website. Yahoo was only a year old, while Google search engine would not appear online until three years later(!). Virtually no hi-fi print publication had a website back in 1995.

Decades later, virtually every manufacturer and print publication has a web presence (and social media too!). Today, many enthusiasts within our hobby have their own web page, some of which are producing excellent articles and reviews too! As we're all in this together, Enjoy the Music.com is also celebrating decades of working with, and actively promoting, other magazines too!

 

A Personal Thank You
Please allow me to personally take this moment to thank both our longstanding, and newfound, global readers. It is your e-mails, and chatting with you during shows, that makes it all worthwhile. Your e-mails, phone calls, late-night social media chats, etc always bring a smile to my face. Helping you and the industry is the goal. Even during this time of polarizing politics, it simply makes us all grow stronger as reality sets in over time that we are indeed all is this together. Manufacturers and distributors are smart and understand the benefits we have been providing for decades to you, our readers.

Keeping my ego in check, the simple facts are no other publication in the history of high-end audio has done so much for so many freely. I'm elated that Enjoy the Music.com continues to grow, introduce you to additional publications you may not be familiar with, and daily industry news to keep you informed on the latest and greatest gear while also keeping an eye on future tech such as immersive music.

Bringing it back home, thanks goes out to the efforts of the incredible writing staff here at Enjoy the Music.com. Over the decades we have been blessed with publishing reviews and articles written by our incredible in-house writing talent. Recently we've been hiring experts within their field to write articles as well, so you can learn about both the latest and future technologies that may play a key role in our hobby. Enjoy the Music.com's writing staff, as happens with any publication, has ebbed and flowed over the years.

 

 

Sadly, a few have passed away due to advanced age or health concerns, and we miss them dearly. If you have a look at the bios of our esteemed and experienced writing staff, you'll note we've been increasingly hiring those who are intimately familiar with music (musicians). We've been adding more publications so you can benefit accordingly too, including web-based review sites. We all work together to help you, and that's a key point few can say, and far fewer do.

It has been an honor to be of service to our global readers, the high-end audio industry, and the occasional onlooker during the past 25 years. My meager talents and support mated with photo editing, video production skills, etc., plus an incredible writing staff continues to push forward the aggregate. At least once or thrice a month I get e-mails asking why Enjoy the Music.com promotes other publications. The reason is we're here to help everyone, and not here to placate Bean Counter businesspeople. This website is by, and for, music lovers / audiophiles. While the past year or two has brought forth added attention to the idea of everyone within the world pulling together in unison to ensure equality within the human race, it's been a joy to actively and successfully do that for decades within the audiophile community.

 

It Started 25 Years Ago
As I was celebrating my 30th birthday back in 1995, a decision was already made to create a web site on CompuServe's OurWorld section. Little did I know at the time that this was the beginning of a more public presence on the web. Soon thereafter the URL Enjoy the Music.com was reserved and I began migrating what was on Ourworld, while also posting news, show reports, and more to be of service to our community. It drove me to near bankruptcy, yet anyone who truly believes in their 'business' will look around, sell whatever is not nailed down, and keep going. Imho many of the most successful companies have faith in what they're doing, and so will find ways to self-finance to keep going versus pushing off costs to others with a forced unsecured loan without either an equity stake or interest payments.

 

 

While only us 'old guys' may remember these olden daze, you had CompuServe and Prodigy as the big players, while there also various smaller Internet Service Providers (ISP) too. While I understand the self-business plans, as some magazines only promote themselves and whatever benefits their bottom line, Enjoy the Music.com is the high-end audio industry's first web influencer in freely in helping many magazines / people. As one of the very first web-based sites online, there's quite a bit of history that was being made at the time. Back then virtually no print publication had a website so we lent a hand without cost to others. Back then, this included us helping Audiophile Audition, Hi-Fi Choice, Hi-Fi News & Record Review, Listener, The Absolute Sound, The Audiophile Voice, The $ensible Sound, Triode Guild, and many others with sections on Enjoy the Music.com.

 

Freely Helping Others
Many of our efforts when this site first began were completely free of cost, and this is still true today as we are deeply grateful to promote audioXpress, Australian Hi-Fi, Hi-Fi+, HIFICRITIC, HiFi Media, Hi-Fi World, plus vintage print magazines Sound Practices and VALVE Magazine. We're also partners with websites Headphone.Guru, NOVO High-End, Positive Feedback, and STEREO Magazine. I'd be remiss if I did not mention we've invited other magazines, yet reality reminds us all that their choice to not join us may be down to politics and whatnot that gets in the way as Big Business bean counters seek profit (and dare we say seeking the next owner, and perhaps the next after that). It's along the lines of commercial shows that are known to build an event and maximize profits to then sell it to the next entity, and those operated by, and for, enthusiasts.

Over the decades, offers have been made to buy this site, yet in my heart there's a desire to continue helping the industry freely, and not a single offer from other companies included plans to expand on this goal. Instead, they seemed to want to leverage our name and content, while also bringing some exclusivity (at the 'cost' of alienating others within the industry). Sure it'd be easy, and financially beneficial, in eliminating Enjoy the Music.com's daily industry and music news page for example. Yet imho that's a short-sighted bean counter type of move.

Imho the best sites have excellent, and regularly updated, industry news. They also report on many shows, which if I may humbly say the very first high-end audio show report online was published by Yours Truly (CES 1996). There was the incredible Frankfurt show, and once again Enjoy the Music.com was the only American magazine reporting on it. As we all know, the Frankfurt show is now HIGH END in Munich. There are many examples like this time and again as there was Top Audio & Video, VSAC, nyNOISE... plus other magazines held their events and we gladly reported on them time and again as the dreaded industry politics only gets in the way, while also reducing the content this site provides to millions of readers year after year.

 

David Chesky of Chesky Records and HDtracks.

 

Mr. Van den Hul with his 'Enjoy The Music' lanyard.

  

True innovation is also key, and with ego aside I'm truly humbled to have been able to produce the industry's only professional live streaming show coverage years ahead of today's basic app or web-based streams. When CES asked what I felt was outrageous costs for bandwidth back in 2015, as a thinking man I chose to bring the benefits of Skype to the forefront. With thanks to many manufacturers who understood the advanced concepts of what was in mind, Enjoy the Music.com brought live streaming coverage of CES to a worldwide audience for the very first time within the history of our high-end audio community. The same can be said for AXPONA and RMAF too.

Today, everyone seems to be live streaming as it is very easy to do. Of course not all live streams are equal. As many of us know, simply grouping manufacturers and distributors on different Facebook or Instagram pages and a timeline leads to frustration and confusion. This is why when Enjoy the Music.com did live streaming, I could easily provide you code to embed within your website to stream the entire live broadcast. One of the best streamers using high-quality software today, with chat and social media integration, is Joe N Tell. Once again Enjoy the Music.com is helping our industry by supporting the efforts of others freely. There's no 50% commission or anything as Bean Counter outrageous as that! We once again do this free of cost to benefit audiophiles worldwide.

 

Success Is A Winding Road
Today, decades later from when this site was first launched, virtually every manufacturer has a web presence and a social media page or two. Another great thing I love is that many enthusiasts within our hobby have a web page, some of which are producing excellent articles and reviews. Now that high-end audio is very mature, with the age group expanding in both directions, these younger enthusiasts are reaching an audience in ways more established publications can't seem to match. No single publication can truly hone in on all things audiophile for all people.

As an example, as much as Enjoy the Music.com tried our hand at music reviews, there were far better-focused publications online that did a far better job in quality and quantity. Since my very first 'day job' was working at Heathkit Electronics, for about eight years Enjoy the Music.com had a DIY section. The good news is that there are no dreaded Bean Counters here, so without ever making a single penny yet paying the writing staff, this site went forth to help our DIY friends. Eventually, I had to admit that various laser-focused discussion boards online were far better at keeping pace with the ever-growing and diverse DIY community. To this day it makes me smile that we tried a DIY section, and let the reviewers keep the test gear I purchased out-of-pocket for them when we folded up Enjoy the Music.com's DIY section. Success, however one chooses to define that, is more a winding road than a straight-line German autobahn.

 

VAC's Kevin and his Darlene enjoying their time during HIGH END 2019.

 

CH Precision's crew proudly enjoying music within their Munich exhibit room.

 

Today's Choices In Publications And Equipment
Today's music enthusiasts can easily click and read many magazines. We've come a long way since 1995! Print publications offer digital subscriptions, while web-based magazines are free to read anywhere there's an internet connection. We're already beginning to see print publications choosing to move their content online instead of being behind a paywall. Decades ago manufacturers restricted online sales. Fast-forward to today as many of them now allow sales online, with some manufacturers moving from brick-and-mortar sales to online only! There's a place for all to thrive, and it's their choice of which strategy they feel works best for them (and their Bean Counters).

 

 

Independent manufacturers, and publications, tend to have more freedom of choice. Generally speaking, they also have more liberties to creatively choose how they reach the audiophile community. I'd be remiss if I did not take this moment to thank the many publications over the decades that have joined us in bringing more joy to music lovers worldwide. This extends to manufacturers too, as back in the day few knew of the internet and the reach a review on the web could have for gear sales. Today, web-based reviews are far and away more the norm than 25 years ago, while we also still recognize print-based publications as well. Enjoy the Music.com has always been by, and for, music lovers. All of us seek to be of service to music enthusiasts globally. We are here for you.

 

An Eventful 2020
This year is not only Enjoy the Music.com's 25 Anniversary, which took three months to fully celebrate and, we also must note that in America as of this writing there's not a confirmed physical hi-fi show for Q3 or Q4 2020. Nevertheless, high-end audio equipment sales have been tremendous, and for some at all-time highs, during 2020! Yes we need shows, as it serves not just as a social gathering, it also enables us to see and hear a wide variety of hi-fi gear. Reserving review samples is easier done en masse at shows than over e-mail imho. With 2020 (hopefully) being a one-off COVID-19 event, years from now we'll look back at today and how we all worked together to benefit the industry and enthusiasts globally.

 

 

Just a handful of years ago, aided by a very hot economy, we were seeing the birth of many innovative technologies within $250,000 statement pieces. This is something virtually no one would have imagined back in 1995. Back in those days, for example, the $69,000 Audio Note Ongaku was seen by reviewers as both an outstanding bit of audio exotica that sounded incredible, yet at the highest (outrageous?) of price levels. Now 25 years later, a $250,000 statement speaker and $100,000 amplifier seems normal-ish.

With today's stock market still hot due to support by many trillions in investment and banking firms, we're also blessed with great value-based product surprises too! Modern single-box preamplifiers with Hi-Res DAC / streamers and stereo amplification come to mind as does active speakers with app / streaming control. In just the past few weeks, two major powerhouses announced their new value-priced series of speakers. In general, 2020 is the best time to be a music enthusiast as there is an abundance of choices in gear from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Advanced technologies, tight control of manufacturing tolerances, and overall quality has positively affected virtually every product within the market today.

Music delivery and consumption are also at the highest it's ever been in the history of the human species. There are more high-quality releases on LP today than there has been in decades past. There's also the odd cassette or reel-to-reel tape too. And, obviously, we have true lossless Hi-Res Audio / Hi-Res Music streaming from 2L, Amazon HD, and Qobuz to name a few of many. Back in the day for many older audiophiles, you'd have to buy music album by album (or 45rpm vinyl 'single'). Here in 2020, virtually all the music you ever dreamed of is easily streamed to one, or many at the same time, audio systems within your home, office, car, etc. What brings a huge smile to my face is (re)discovering hard-to-find albums, or live music concerts that are now available only on streaming services. We also have music remixes for pop plus an incredible amount of classical and jazz music with outtakes and the like. As I said before, there's never been a better time to be a music lover!

 

 

Thank You For.... Everything
Once again, my Muse / wife Heather and I offer our most humble thanks to everyone, from enthusiasts and publications to manufacturers and distributors, for their generous support over the past 25 years. It's nice to hear about others talking about helping our high-end audio community, Enjoy the Music.com has been actively doing that for decades... one day at a time. I look forward to you joining our Facebook and Instagram pages too. If you have a question, a great idea, or desire to become a member of our writing staff, let's chat! As always in the end what really matters is that you...

 

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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