Mad Drama at the Asylum

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by Josh Ray on December 22 '05

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I guess people are anxious for a little in-law arguing because It's drama-central over at AudioAsylum. The 9000 pound gorilla Stereophile defends the kingdom on a number of fronts while warfare rages over Peak Consult speakers.

First, Stereophile editor John Atkinson, in his recent eNewsletter, attacked Bush for the wiretapping hoopla. A portion of the letter was published on the AA forums causing John to ask for the article to be removed. However, he was promptly denied:

The quoted material was properly identified as to authorship and was posted for the evident purpose of commenting thereon.
That is "fair use" and not an infringement.
Your request is denied.

Naturally, the forums exploded with supporters and detractors, all arguing politics' place in audio, Stereophile's power in the industry and which political party has smellier feet.

If that weren't bad enough, Stereophile journalist Sam "I can spell backwards" Tellig got a little nasty when AA thanked its sponsors. The forum has been closed, but not before a dozen people vowed to cancel their Stereophile subscriptions and demand Sam's head on a platter. Ouch. Needless to say, it hasn't been a good week for the big dogs. The whole industry is in flux and this kind of warfare against the industry leader is ground zero.

In other news, reader Beto posted our Continuum Caliburn article over on AA which devolved from discussing the merits of a $90k turntable into full-out warfare over high-efficiency speaker design. Chris Sommovigo, owner of Signals-SuperFi who imports the Caliburn as well as Peak-Consult speakers, defended the $70k El Diablo against the hi-eff zealot "Eso" who proclaimed a speaker with 94dB efficiency will, inherently, sound like doody. Here's my favorite defense:

He's given a new twist to the double-blind test: It's the Double Deaf Test. He not only hasn't heard the [El Diablo] (Deaf Test 1), he then uses his opinion to judge [the Caliburn] (Deaf Test 2). That completely lacks credibility.

And then, vouching for [Jonathan, another hi-eff fan], you tell me that - although you have never heard his system, you believe his references are exceptional - thus, you would agree with him. Is this a Triple Deaf Test?

The "Triple Deaf Test" - I love it. Eso then went on to criticize Chris's ears:

Having looked at the Peak speakers I'll go Jonathan one better and rate them as "Unlistenable Garbage", because I have never heard ANY speaker of similar design that I could live with in my system....

I'm just guessing that either you have never heard a really good speaker, do not have a very critical ear for music reproduction or are merely pandering to what the mass-market expects.

Of course, a pistol duel isn't far behind. I must say, Eso is a true connoisseur, no Merlot for that man. He's the kind of guy who rides a Ducatti and calls Ferrari a pile of garbage. As for Chris's ears, it must have slipped Eso's mind that Mr. Sommovigo makes the universally praised Stereovox cables...

So that's all the drama for now but more is surely on the way.


Well Josh, what can I say? That's just another day at the Asylum as usual, actually. Stereophile has been AA's punching ball of choice since long ago. Maybe I should consider biting up the bullet and get TAS instead - they never seem to mess with them. Nothing to see there, move along... or so it seems to me :D
The Absolute Sound (TAS) gets hammered pretty hard too, but they don't have John Atkinson and Sam Tellig stirring things up in the forums. As for switching to TAS, all the criticism heaped on Stereophile applies to those guys as well, justified or not. TAS has a smaller readership than Stereophile though the online mags' traffic puts the print mags to shame. Heck, last month SonicFlare had vastly more unique visitors than Stereophile's claimed circulation. Of course, the true metric for success is anyone's guess... As I see it, AudioAsylum is the salon for the old school and every industry has to have their Microsoft. I'm a firm believer that all drama is good drama.