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in the world had evolved into mags that take the same “subjective” viewpoint as the enthusiast’s magazines or been replaced by such in the marketplace.
Affordable Audio (USA)
Alta Fedeltà (Italy) See --> AF Digitale
...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
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
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
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.
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.
FM Guide (Canada) See --> Audio Ideas Guide
I Audio (Singapore)
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.
Mr Audio's Bi-Monthly
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.
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 UltimateAudio.com domain name started to redirect to the Enjoythemusic.com 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, enjoythemusic.com still has control over the domain name though.
Zounds (NZ) See --> AudioVideoOther defunct magazines that contained english language hi-fi hardware content: Primyl Vinyl Exchange Newsletter
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)
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.
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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