24 years with Stephen Dawson
Our big sports-themed audio-visual focus this issue coincides with a sad moment — the last equipment reviews by Stephen Dawson that will appear in Sound+Image for the foreseeable future. Stephen is moving on to pastures new, undertaking a commercial writing gig which will preclude him writing for us. His new employers can congratulate themselves on obtaining the services of one of Australia’s very top rank of technical reviewers.
Stephen has been writing for Sound+Image for 24 years (thereby tragically missing out on his silver Cartier watch by mere months), during which time his reviews and features have informed readers and manufacturers alike with his accuracy in fact-checking the puffery of public relations, and his delivery of honest and reasoned opinions on both new products and new technologies.
Many are the times when his identification of underlying flaws in a product has led to a manufacturer returning to their test rooms and fixing the problem for the next product cycle. He has also been famously sceptical about extravagant bit-depth in digital audio, describing it as “extra bits of mostly noise”, and about expensive cables, once stringing together 100+ metres of bits from his parts bin and then comparing them favourably to a rather pricey cable sent for review. (“I’m not suggesting you go cheap and nasty for your cabling needs,” he clarifies on his hifi-writer.com blog. “Just be sensible.”)
As his Editor at Sound+Image for the last 15 of those 24 years, I can only note how much I shall miss his cheery words, his clean copy, his assistance with hairy deadlines, and most of all his well-argued points and clear explanations of technical matters that require investigation. Together over the years we have uncovered various issues of import, most recently the ongoing issues with DLP projection chips often being locked to 60Hz and therefore delivering judder with both 50Hz material and 24 frames-per-second movies (i.e. pretty much all of them). We shall endeavour to maintain his high standards in such things, as they are our own standards too.
Reviewers who know what they are doing and therefore have the confidence to point out problems with products are few and far between — just try looking online for bad reviews rather than good ones, and see how many you can find. You can only write a bad review if you know what you’re doing. Stephen knows exactly what he’s doing, and we’re sure our readers will join us in wishing him well, for we will all miss his wisdom.