An ode to our founding fathers, and should you break in speakers?
Rob Sabin’s Track One column in the January issue excerpts comments on Woodstock by former editor William Anderson. I actually remember reading those remarks in 1969. They’re even more laughably condescending and out of touch today than they were then. However, Sabin’s comments on his predecessors are no less condescending: “erudite, pipe-smoking, suit- and lab-coat-wearing type who snobbily held the classical genre as the standard-bearer for music.”
Even without the snarkiness and stereotyping, that misses the point. Anderson and his colleagues in the late ’60s were helping to advance the science of audio recording and reproduction. Yes, some of them had rather limited tastes in music. But that may have been an advantage. Their goal was fidelity to the original sound, and for them that meant the sound of acoustic instruments (a piano, a pipe organ, a symphony orchestra, an unamplified voice). That’s a pretty reliable benchmark. Think what would have happened if the development process was driven by people who took Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” style of electronic manipulation as their ideal.
We take the achievements of our predecessors too much for granted today. Let’s give them some credit.
Thomas V. Lento Wilmington, DE
Thank you for your Woodstock remembrance. My buddy and I were there for the whole show (which we can prove with ticket stubs and photos, thank you). You say, “As the legend goes, the festival was all peacelove-dove from start to finish,” and I can tell you it was no legend...that’s exactly how it was. It’s hard to be violent when you’re stoned. We made a pilgrimage to the site for the 40-year anniversary and, defying signs that said “Stay Off the Grass,” I took a seat on that hillside approximately where we were in 1969, only to be threatened with arrest by a rent-a-cop for violating their sign. Can you imagine? We were the reason they even had a Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, and we were being chased away. I suggested to the gentleman that the papers would have a field day: “Senior citizen and former Woodstock attendee arrested for sitting on the grass.” As a crowd had gathered by that time, he left me alone while I communed with the past. Ommm...
I also recall your progenitor magazine, which I first subscribed to in the early ’70s. I remember editor William Anderson well. He could be stuffy, but the lessons he taught about audio value shaped my audio life. He would roll over in his grave if he read your reviews of $1,200 earbuds and $40,000 speakers as being a good value. Using his principles, I’ve put together an outstanding 5.1 A/V system of Sony, Polk, and Samsung (60-inch screen) products for the miserly sum of $1,700, complete.
I loved Stereo Review, and I love Sound & Vision. Some things have changed but never the passion we share for good sound. Keep up the good work.
Herb Goldman Hollywood, FL
Thomas, on the contrary, I meant no snarkiness or disrespect in my description of my forebears, and though it draws on a stereotype, it’s a fair accounting of the approach, tone, attitude, informed intelligence, and fine writing and editing skills that helped establish Stereo Review as the powerhouse it became. And I do give immense credit to all of the folks who’ve held this seat before me, including a few editors-in-chief I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with in my career. This includes William Livingston (22 years in the position), who was still editor emeritus and an occasional visitor to our offices when I first came to SR in the mid-1990s; Bill’s successor Louise Boundas, who was EIC at that time; her successor (and our current editor-at-large and web editor) Bob Ankosko, who took the reins in the late 1990s and was responsible for recruiting me to SR as a senior editor and later for shaping Stereo Review and Video magazines into Sound & Vision; and Mike Mettler (our music editor), who helmed the magazine in the years prior to its merger with Home Theater. All of these individuals left their imprint and took good care of the publication while it remained their charge. As I’ve
said before, I’m proud and even humbled to sit in their shadows.—RS