Issue 231 March 2013
Know Your Audience
Editorial By Robert Harley
audience" is the first rule of writing. In pursuit of that goal, we recently
conducted a survey asking a large sample of you about your systems, the
products you are most (and least) interested in, what you think about specific
parts of The Absolute Sound, and
other questions. We listen to this feedback and will use your ideas to make TAS
an even better magazine.
I thought I'd share with you who your fellow readers are.
Not surprisingly, you are highly educated (nearly half of you have
post-graduate degrees), affluent (nearly 70% earn more than $100k per year),
and overwhelmingly male (98.9%). Sixty percent of you bought a product you saw
advertised in TAS, and nearly
90% have given advice about equipment to friends and colleagues during the
past year. As for your systems, 73% own systems with a retail price of more
than $10,000, nearly half have systems costing more than $20,000, and 8.5% of
you own systems over $100,000. Nearly a quarter of readers have systems priced
between $50,000 and $100,000. That's quite a demographic; there's no question
that TAS readers are serious about their music systems.
When it comes to what you think about TAS,
you're split 62% to 38% on the question of whether the products we review are "too
expensive" (38% think so). You are most interested in reading about
loudspeakers and least interested in desktop speakers and headphones. As many
of you are "intensely interested" in vinyl playback as you are in computer
audio, with both categories in a tie for second place (after speakers).
I'd like to thank everyone who participated in our survey;
we're listening to you.
On another note, I'm delighted to bring to you the work of
two new writers, Vade Forrester and Ron Doering. Although Vade and Ron are new
to The Absolute Sound, they are
both experienced listeners and reviewers who bring significant understanding
and fresh new voices to TAS. Vade's review of the exaSound e20 DAC in this
issue and Ron's assessment of the Ayon Orion II tubed integrated amplifier in
the following issue give you an idea of their respective sensibilities,
writing styles, directions. You'll see more from Vade and Ron in the coming
year. I asked each of them to introduce himself to TAS
After completing careers in the Air Force Reserve and Federal Civil Service,
Vade Forrester now devotes more time to his audio interests. His fascination
with audio began when he was in high school, where he studiously devoured
audio magazines like Audio,
High Fidelity,and Stereo Review.
Vade later encountered a quirky little magazine called Stereophile,
and then another one called The Absolute
Sound, which have had major effects on his audiophile interests.
Vade began his reviewing career writing for Positive-Feedback.com,
and later moved to the SoundStage! Network,
where he wrote reviews for its on-line publications.
Vade enjoys exploring both vinyl and digital facets of the
audiophile experience. Recently, he has focused on developments in digital
audio, including playback of high-resolution computer audio files, both PCM
and DSD. His audio equipment interests tend towards low-powered amplifiers and
single-driver speakers (knowing full well that both have possibly
insurmountable flaws). His musical interests lie primarily in the classical
realm (particularly music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods), with lesser
interests in jazz, pop, and folk. He enjoys season tickets to his local
symphony orchestra, and also attends chamber music concerts.
While Ron Doering would like to have been a professional pianist or noted
music producer, or to have moonlighted as one of the world's foremost audio
engineers, the reality is that he is none of these things. On the other hand,
he is an avid sailor, science
editor, amateur musician ("I tend not to get the gig when the subject of money
comes up"), and unwavering recorded-music enthusiast. A natural-born critic to
be sure (just ask his wife), Ron is no snob. He has heard expensive dreck and
inexpensive dreck and only favors the latter because it tends to be smaller,
lighter, and thus easier to pack and send back to the manufacturer. His
favorite pet aphorisms: If it sounds good, it is good; at the end of the day
it's your money; new doesn't equal better; bigger doesn't equal better; more
expensive may not equal better;
and ultimately "better may not really be, well, better." Finally, for the "what's
with that?" files, Ron hails from HP's own stomping grounds — Sea Cliff, NY.
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