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This is either a hi-fi magazine for those who really appreciate high quality audio sound, or one for those who are so stupid they’ll pay daft money for bits of wood and metal. I’m not quite sure which. As it says on the cover, this magazne is about “Pure audio excellence”, so this is definitely a cut above magazines such as What Hi-Fi, in terms of its target audience, at any rate. The appearance is very glossy – and the advertisements especially so (no cluttered Comet or Currys ads here). At 132 pages, it’s also somewhat slimmer than some audio equipment magazines. Again, quality, not quantity, is the watchword. As befits the ‘news’ in its name, there are items on recent developments, such as anti-copy CD’s, as well as details of new products. The product reviews are good – critical, and offering comparisons with other models – but they are definitely aimed at the wealthier punter. In their annual awards (January 2002 issue) there are “under £500” categories, but most of the recommended pieces of kit are over £400. And I’m talking just for an amplifier, or speakers – not for the whole system. All out of my league, I’m afraid. The test articles are far too technical for me, with details of lab readings (white noise, multitone graphs, etc) There are music reviews, too – as you’d expected mostly classical and jazz, but also the occasional pop (e.g. Michael Jackson and Cher). They make for strange reading, though, as they are as concerned with the technical qualities of the albums as much with any creativity or otherwise. At £3.40 an issue, it’s an expensive read, but (even worse) if you find yourself believing that what’s written in it might actually be worth taking notice of… it’s likely to lead to far more expensive outings. Not that I’m off to buy that £56,000 Wilson
Watch system – but you know, I’ve almost been persuaded that it might be worth getting better quality cable... that kind of thing. I don’t personally have much time for discussions about cartridges and turntables, either – I’ve ended up relying mainly on bog-standard CD players and mp3 players, and am perfectly happy with those. It’s what you play on ‘em that matters, in my opinion. So, not the magazine for me, although reading it was definitely an interesting diversion, a visit to what is, for me, another world. I’m obviously not a true audiophile. But if you are – Hi Fi News could very well be just for you.