June / July 2010
Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
Editorial By Robert Harley
If you haven't visited our Web site (theabsolutesound.com) recently you're missing out on an entirely different dimension of The Absolute Sound. The recently upgraded site complements the coverage in the magazine in ways that are uniquely suited to the Internet. For example, at theabsolutesound.com you'll find The TAS Editors' Blog, a place for our contributors to sound off on a wide range of topics as well as to share their first impressions of products in-house for review -- long before the review appears in print. The blogs are also a great way for us to cover interesting topics that we don't have space for in the magazine, or that are more suited to the Web. A good example is my recently completed multi-part overview of the 35 most expensive loudspeakers in the world. Guess what?
The $158,000 Wilson Alexandria X-2 isn't on the list.
An important difference between print and Web is the ability for you to engage in an interactive discussion with TAS writers as well as other TAS readers. It's no longer a one-way street. You can post your own thoughts in response to the TAS Editors' Blog and get immediate feedback from a TAS editor or another reader. These discussions often spark lively debates that are not only fun to read, but give us at TAS an insight into your interests, which in turn helps us shape the magazine.
In addition to the interactive blogs, our on-line Forum has become a vibrant and stimulating place to talk about all things related to high-end audio -- including your unfiltered opinions of what you read in TAS, for better or worse. It's also a great place to get your questions answered as well as advice from TAS writers and readers. I often receive questions by e-mail from readers, but I advise them to post their questions on the Forum. They'll get the benefit of the collective wisdom of the TAS readership and editors, rather than just my opinion. For example, if you're considering a particular power amplifier to drive your loudspeakers and are not sure how the combination will sound, it's highly likely that another TAS reader has heard the setup or actually owns it and can comment with authority. Moreover, TAS readers are without question the most passionate and committed audiophiles in the world (and perhaps the most passionate and committed to any hobby), which leads to some spirited controversy. The Forum has grown exponentially over the past two years to the point that you can conduct a dialog on just about any topic.
In short, theabsolutesound.com is a rich, diverse, and engaging experience that extends what we do at TAS. You apparently agree; we now have more than 230,000 unique visitors and 1.1 million page views per
month and the growth curve isn't slowing down.
Another way for TAS to engage readers through an electronic, rather than paper, medium is our new series of Buyer's Guides. Ten times a year we publish a comprehensive guide to a particular product category. The Buyer's Guide is available as a downloadable PDF -- for free. A typical Buyer's Guide includes a compendium of selected product reviews in the category, background articles that provide context, and newly created content showcasing products that are about to be released. For example, the 108-page The Absolute Sound/Hi-Fi+ Guide to Disc Players, DACs, and Music Servers offers 29 full product reviews, four in-depth feature articles, and seven pages of sneak previews of about-to-be-released digital products. The electronic format allows you to jump to a spot anywhere in the guide with a single mouse-click. By the time you read this we'll have published The Absolute Sound/Hi-Fi+ Guide to Preamplifiers and Power Amplifiers. Remember, the Buyer's Guides are absolutely free at theabsolutesound.com.
We're constantly exploring better ways to interact with you and serve your interests. The Internet offers a spectrum of choices that transcend the print medium. We love print along with the experience of holding a physical magazine, and will continue to offer the highest quality magazine possible. But there are some aspects of communicating with readers that print simply can't match. The beauty is that you can have both, and in any mix you desire.
Finally, I'd like to point out that there's a lot of information available on the Web, but only one Absolute Sound. As we enter our 38th year of publication, we're still striving to deliver the best possible experience -- print and Web -- to our loyal readers.
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