Defunct Hi-Fi and other audio only consumer publications.

Defunct Hi-Fi and other audio only consumer publications.

Audio hardware was historically discussed as a minor matter or a side-line in specialised Gramophone publications that were the forerunners of today’s music magazines, in generic technical electronics, technical radio & DIY electronics magazines, in consumer electronics magazines and in radio listener magazines.

The idea of a magazine for people interested in audio reproduction specifically as end users is not an idea that reared its head until the 1950’s and even then we ended up with magazines that were highly reminiscent of earlier publications. Initially most of them resembled music magazines with a blend of hi-fi hardware reviews and editorial material alongside tape, record and even live concert reviews, there was a smattering of magazines took the same blend and added a radio coverage but the last of them died out in the early 70’s because radio programming waned and was replaced with DJ’s and other un-programmed material. The technical audio publication evolved from technical magazines and often featured writers that had previously written for electronics magazines and occasionally had a DIY article or 2 but most of these in the end morphed into pro-audio publications or died out, and then finally there was the consumer magazine that judged hi-fi products on an “objective” basis reminiscent of other consumer CE magazines.

It is not really until the 70’s that the pure hi-fi enthusiasts magazine is born and most of them originated as fanzines in the USA , France and Japan, by the early 80’s this sort of a user oriented magazine had reached the UK and northern Europe and by the 90´s most mainstream hi-fi publication in the world had evolved into mags that take the same “subjective” viewpoint as the enthusiast’s magazines or been replaced by such in the marketplace.

Defunct English language hi-fi magazines

Affordable Audio (USA)
This was a self published monthly USA based audiophile magazine that is distributed on the web in PDF format for free. The magazine reviewed "affordable" audiophile products which is where we run into problems, the publishers definition of the words affordable and audiophile may or may not coincide with your definition of it. Still there is the odd interesting article but much of the subject matters covered was memes that had been circulating on DIY and valve enthusiast forums in the months before publication. The magazine was published from Jan 2006 until Feruary 2011 when it merged with another webzine called Hifi Zine, however the AA back issues are still available from their webpage.

Alta Fedeltà (Italy) See --> AF Digitale

Atteinable Audio

Quarterly audiophile oriented print magazine published out of Olathe, Kansas, USA by a company called "Quarter Note Publishing", very short lived, announced in 1999 and still making announcements in 2000 about their first issue so it is even possible that there was only one issue released. The company promised a magazine where no item would be reviewed that was over 3000 USD in price and what equipment would be reviewed would be chosen by a readers poll rather than by an editorial decision.

...all we can remember is that they had a scary website that featured graphics in a TIF format, usually considered too big in 2010, gargantuan in a 56k baud modem equipped 1999 and that they did publish some headphone related reviews on the net, it is in retrospect even possible that there never was a print version of the magazine and all that they did publish was those reviews on the net.

The Audio Critic

Occasional USA based web blog that reviews audio hardware and music releases, started its life in the 1980's as a twice yearly print publication, went to quarterly on 1991, but was between 1992 and 2005 issued on a fairly irregular basis with on average just over an issue appearing per year, in 2005 the magazine stopped issuing print versions and converted to a web only publication but is by now only posting one or two short passages a year, you can however downlode some of their older issues in PDF form from the site for free.

The magazine has since its inception made a virtue out of its objective testing and reviewing and was in some respects intended to be a response to the "subjective" magazines that were increasingly common in the USA audiophile magazine market in the late 70's and early 80's, with Stereophile and The Absolute Sound being the best known examples. This it was to a degree but the main problem with an evangelical stance like emphasising test results over critical listening to the point of dogma is that for some credibility you need to do a comprehensive series of tests which are usually outside the financial capabilities of a small magazine, and in TAC only a limited range of tests were ever done on the equipment reviewed, even as late as 2009 the magazine was not testing DAC's for jitter etc.

In many ways the classical music reviews are the best part of the magazine, the gent who writes them is knowledgeable about the music and has access to classic recordings to compare with and is neither too harsh when negative nor too worked up when positive. The site does appear to have died in late 2009 except for about 4 small updates, however in the late 90's people had assumed that TAC was gone since there was more than a year between issues but it managed to bounce back and a similar thing happened in the early 90's, so with The Audio Critic you just never know......Note also that when this was written in May 2012 someone had infected the front page of the site with malware, however other pages were unaffected.

Audio Ideas Guide (Canada) See --> Audio Ideas Guide


A bimonthly magazine published out of Torrance, California and was founded by Dave Clark, Carol Clark, Sherman Hong, Larry Cox, Victor Chavira and Francisco Duran in early 1998 and was basically an outgrowth of the newsletter of the Greater South Bay Audiophile Society that the Clark's had been putting out since 1996. Printed entirely in black and white except for the cover that had 3 colours, was edited by Mr Clark and focused on high end products almost exclusively.

The notable thing about the magazine was the reviews but they were often 2 or more separate evaluations by different writers of the same equipment , which is not a bad idea in itself since not only did it allow different viewpoints on each piece of equipment but it also meant that all reviewed items were tested with different complimentary equipment and in different rooms, but sometimes meant that there were often only a few reviews of equipment in each issue. The mag also had lively audio accessories review section most often featuring reviews done by Mr or Ms Clark, plus the usual opinion pieces.

Was taken over by Positive Feedback Online in 2002 and many of their reviews are available on that site. In addition to the magazines founders the writers included Arthur Shapiro and Rick Gardner. If you are looking for older issues on inter-library loan the bibliographic code is ISSN: 1526-2979.

Audio Perfectionist Journal

USA based quarterly print magazine commonly referred to as APJ that was published from 1999 to 2009. The publisher called APJ an "educational publication", i.e. it did not usually feature reviews and the like but articles geared towards educating or otherwise enlightening the reader, but like so many other such publications through the years it was a tad too opinionated and personal to fully function as such and reads more like a professional newsletter (an USA only phenomenon, basically a print predecessor to the blog).

The magazine offered some interesting material nevertheless and they still sell back copies as downloads and make some of the interviews that were published in the magazine available on their website.

Audio Alternatives
USA based hi-fi magazine that was published in the 1980's, Larry Greenhill, later a writer for Stereophile, edited the magazine in the latter half of the 80's and had been writing for it since the early 80's. If anyone out there has any further info it would be nice if they left a comment.

Beat Reviews

Monthly English language print magazine published in Singapore by local high end retailer/importer/distributor Secondbeat PTE. Ltd., started in 2001 and it featured mostly reviews of high end equipment and audiophile recordings mostly written by well-known journalists from North America and Europe although there was local input as well.

The magazine was edited by USA journalist Ken Kessler and featured other writers connected with UK publication Hi-Fi News Magazine like Martin Colloms, Alvin Gold and Keith Howard in addition to Elliot Kallen who has also contributed jazz reviews to Listener (USA).

It is not known for how long it was published, there were at the least 7 issues published in 2001 with the inaugural issue being the March 2001 and the last one we see being September 2001 but preview articles had appeared for the October issue, there may even have been more issues but the magazine appeared to disappear around that time and the homepage of BeatReviews mother company went stagnant in early 2002 and the company appears to have gone out of business a few years later.


USA based printed magazine, that had the slogan “Fi - The Magazine of Music and Sound”, it was launched in late 1995 in San Francisco, California by Larry Alan Kay and Wayne Garcia but was later based in North Hollywood in the same state. The first issue was marked Jan 1996 and it ceased publication in early 1999 with the last issue marked March 1999 and The Audiophile Voice magazine taking over the subscriber base. It was primarily a high end equipment review magazine which reviewed products not often seen in the press such as Goldmund amps and suchlike, but often had shorter reviews of mid-priced stuff as well. Music reviews covered pop, jazz and classical, with a definite emphasis on pop and rock.

The quality of hardware reviews ranged from passable to good while music reviews, especially those of pop music could be a bit hysterical, best point about the magazine was its willingness to review products that were not in the retail channel which other USA magazines do not usually touch, like the JOB amplifier etc., and the fact that they managed to review a decent number of products in each issue. Hardware reviewers included Andrew Keen, Dan Sweeney, Larry Alan Kay, Wayne Garcia (who was also the magazines main editor), Dick Olsher, Jonathan Valin and Robert Harley while much of the popular music was reviewed by Paul Williams but also featured contributions from Frank Doris.

FM Guide (Canada) See --> Audio Ideas Guide

I Audio (Singapore)
English language printed magazine published in Singapore for a few years probably around 2000 to 2005, focused on high end audio, edited by Terence Wong who a few years later edited MOD Audio Video Magazine, for a time at the least.

Listener (USA)
Listener magazine was an USA based publication that was at the time it started a bit on the left field, it focused on analogue reproduction, valve based audio and mid end audio products which may seem normal now was was going aginst the grain back then, this was also a bit unusual for a specialised USA audiophile publications which in general tend to focus on high end audio and often ultra-high end audio.

The Listener also had some music reviews and interviews with classical musicians. It was founded in 1994, folded in 2002 and was edited by Art Dudley (ex-The Absolute Sound) who later became a writer for Stereophile, other regular contributors included Herb Reichert, Harvey Rosenberg, Bruce Kennett, Pat Meano and Rob Doorack.

Resources: The history of Listener magazine from

Mr Audio's Bi-Monthly
USA based and self-published audiophile magazine in a newsletter format, one of the earliest exponents of the valve audio revival in North America. Published by Trevor Lees and was apparently very short lived, possibly published for less than a year.

Audiophile print magazine published and edited by Thomas J. Norton & based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA. Started out in 1975 and was advertised as a quarterly magazine, it primarily featured reviews of high end equipment with a few feature article and some music reviews, by late 1975 the publication frequency had increased to 5 times a year and the magazine had grown considerably in size and had moved address to Shalimar in Florida. By 1978 or 1979 it appears to have disappeared altogether.

Mr. Norton was an USA Air Force pilot at the time he was publishing and edited the magazine in his spare time, he later resurfaced as a writer for Stereophile and in 2000 became the editor of sister publication Ultimate AV Magazine, other reviewers that wrote for the magazine include Randy Tomlinson.

If you are looking for issues on inter-library loan the original ISSN numbers may help you: ISSN: 0364-1538 and ISSN-L: 03641538 0364 1538.

Totally Tubular

Short lived self-published magazine/newsletter issued in the USA in the 1990's, intended for enthusiasts of thermionic valve based audio.

Ultimate Audio

A high end audio equipment and audiophile music review magazine published and edited from New York, USA by Myles B. Astor who prior to that had been a contributor to The Audiophile Voice and The Absolute Sound. Started life in 1996 with 5 issues appearing in the first year but grew steadily and by 1999 it was published 10 times a year, other contributors included "Senior editors" Dr. Michael Gindi, Jack English and Lars Fredell, senior editor is USA speak for a writer, some magazines over there like Keyboard Magazine for example, have managed to put out whole issues without a single writer BTW, but in addition to this there were less frequent contributions from Elliot Kallen, Steven R. Rochlin and Richard Foster.

The magazine did in general have quite good reviews and the selection of music reviews was in addition to the usual audiophile classical material, a more eccentric mix than we are accustomed to seeing from USA based audiophile magazines. Ultimate Audio ran into difficulties in 2001 and some of their spring/summer issues were late and by winter 2001 the magazine was no more.

The domain name started to redirect to the website in 2002 and it was announced in August, 2003 that the same website would be folding the magazine into their operation and they announced the rebirth of UA as an online publication with Mr. Astor as its editor and that back issues of UA would be available for viewing on that site, however that appears to have been a short lived affair, very little of older UA material ever appeared on the site and the on-line magazines name was quickly changed to Superior Audio, still has control over the domain name though.

Mr. Astor now works as a personal trainer but has contributed to Positive Feedback Online and BTW Lisa Astor who used to write for Stereophile was his wife.

Zounds (NZ) See --> AudioVideo

Other defunct magazines that contained english language hi-fi hardware content: Primyl Vinyl Exchange Newsletter

Defunct audio and electronics magazines

This requires a little explanation since this sort of a publication is for all intents and purposes a dead duck with the exception of a Japanese and German publication or two. These are primarily hi-fi enthusiasts magazines that also have regular electronic construction and technical articles and even at times write about other CE products or non-audio electronics. Normal hi-fi magazines may carry a DIY or a technical article every now and then but these have it as a regular feature.

This happened for primarily 2 reasons, in smaller language spheres there was not the space on the market for a separate publication for each market segment or a publication already on the market in either segment contained enough coverage of the other to discourage third parties to invest in a new publication. In the larger language spheres these were published to cater to specialist interests were there simply was not enough commercial equipment out there to make a review magazine out of, classic examples of this were the valve enthusiast and synthesis magazines of the 1970’s.

Then there was always the odd individual that had slightly different take on things and published a private mag that mashed electronics, opinion and audio materials into one horrible, but occasionally interesting mess, but these tended to be fanzines rather that magazine with proper distribution channels, and the web has taken over as a platform for such.

Audio Update (EN-USA)
A Magazine published in the mid to late 70’s by Audio Dimensions and edited by Henry L. "Ike" Eisenson. Audio Dimensions, Inc. was a company in San Francisco, California, USA that was run by Ike, Roger Stovold (who also did the layout and graphics for the mag) and Ike's mum. It specialised in selling audio kits, upgrades and electronic parts via mail order and to keep their punters updated started publishing a small newsletter/fanzine called Audio Directions that featured news, circuit and upgrade ideas etc. In 1976 the company opened up a that was a mid/high end hi-fi store that they called Audio Directions and then changed the name of the newsletter to “Audio Update” and added more generic hi-fi news and editorial material to the newsletter in which meant an increase size to about 20+ pages.

What set AU/AD apart from other such publications was that the electronic circuits and discussions had an emphasis on valve technology which was very unusual in the timeframe and it was for a time the only publication really dealing with such matters in the USA. Mr. Eisenson later compiled the most popular circuits and modifications in a book called “Tu-Be or not Tu-Be” (sigh). The mag in the end only amounted to 22 or so issues under the Audio update name with an unknown numbers published under the Audio Directions name, its publication was stopped when Ike went AWOL in the early 80’s, although the shop survived for a couple of years more. Ike later turned up in the 90’s working for the now defunct Sciteq Electronics and last we heard was living in San Diego and had republished the book from time to time.

Audiophile columns in newspapers and magazines

The Star
An English language audiophile column in the Malaysian newspaper “the Star”, which also featured the odd music review. Much better than what we were used to seeing in similar columns in the west, and given that the newspaper audiophile column is in fact a dying breed over here if not dead already it was a welcome sight. However, it was sadly discontinued in 2008.

Still, the column had lots of reviews and the bulk of the more recent ones are available online, mostly written by Lim Juan and definitely worth the occasional visit especially for reading up on gear that is seldom seen outside Asia.

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The site was last compiled on Sun Nov 10 2013 at 9:15:00am