Enjoy the Music.com
The Absolute Sound
June / July 2008

Getting To Know You

  I'd like to thank the more than 1400 readers who returned the survey card included in Issue 177. That number of responses alone says a lot about you and the passion you have for music and high-end audio. But the details in the data say even more about your interests and hi-h systems, and what you think of The Absolute Sound.

About a third of you have audio systems with retail prices of $50,000 or more. Although that's a high dollar figure, many TAS readers have been involved in high-end audio for decades, and these readers' systems reflect years and years of upgrades. A "sweet spot" for a complete system seems to be between $6000 and $15,000, a range that describes nearly a quarter of your audio systems.

When it comes to TAS, 58% of you thought our reviews have "just the right mix of price points," while 35% believed the products we review are "too expensive." Despite that impression, your favorite section in TAS is overwhelmingly "The Cutting Edge," the spot in which we feature cost-no-object gear. Most of you thought our reviews are "just the right length" (7l%), with 70% feeling our reviews are too long and 22% opining that TAS reviews are too short.

Now that we know more about you, I'd like to share something about the individuals who create TAS. I was prompted to tell you about how we put the magazine together after reading a post on an Internet forum that pointed out a one letter typo we'd made in a product model number in Editors' Choice Awards. This single typo caused the Internet poster to rail: "Don't they have proofreaders or people called editors who actually know something about high-end audio?.

...Maybe it's standard practice for those types of sections to be put together by non-audiophiles like ad people or marketers.

...Makes you wonder how seriously they take this stuff ... I guess I just don't know how a big magazine like TAS is run."

Well, TAS is a "big" magazine in what is a niche industry, but in other ways, we're quite small. TAS is created by just three full-time editorial staff; an art director, and a half-time music editor. And no, "marketers" don't assemble and write the Editors' Choice Awards — Jonathan Valin, Neil Gader, and I do. In fact, the three of us, along with Bob Gendron in the music section, vet every word on every page of every issue — about 850 to 900 editorial pages per year.

If you like the way TAS looks lately, credit goes to Art Director Torquil Dewar, who single-handedly designs and lays out each issue. Music Editor Bob Gendron writes for and edits the 18-page music section along with our upfront music features. Bob recently relinquished his managing editor duties at TAS to work full-time on Playback, our free on-line music, movie, and equipment magazine. (Go to playbackmag.net for a free subscription.)

Associate Editor Neil Gader, who has worked on TAS for more than 20 years, handles all equipment acquisitions and returns, keeps track of review gear, scouts the market for new products, and acquires all the stock photography we publish. Neil also writes Future TAS, some Industry News pieces, show reports, equipment reviews, and The Back Page interviews.

Executive Editor Jonathan Valin is the wordsmith of our small group, copyediting every word you see in the magazine. After an issue has been laid out, Jonathan proofreads the text and makes corrections in the InDesign layout program with the aid of expert proofreader Mark Lehman. These tasks alone are a full-time job, but Jonathan also manages to write his standard-setting equipment reviews, mostly of cutting-edge gear, as well as show reports and "think pieces." 

My job is setting the magazine's editorial direction, choosing products for review matching those products with the appropriate writer, working with the freelance writers, planning and managing each issue's table of contents, writing reviews and feature articles, editing and proofreading, serving as the de facto technical editor, and deciding what will go in a particular issue.

But the full-time staff is only half the story. We are extremely fortunate to have a first-rate team of freelance music writers and equipment reviewers who bring vast experience, keen insight, and eloquence to the magazine. Four of our senior reviewers — Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert E. Greene, Dick Olsher, and Paul Seydor — have between them well over 100 years of experience writing about hi-fi. And TAS founder HP has been at it for an astonishing 36 years (and counting).

TAS also has amazingly well informed readers—just look at any "Letters" section—who continually inspire us to strive to make The Absolute Sound the best magazine in the field. Your answers to the reader survey will help us in that goal. Thanks for contributing.



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