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No. 100 September 2012

HAPPY HUNDREDTH TO ALL

Hundredth for the first time
By Jaromir Waszczyszyn

One hundred is quite a magical number, especially in Slavic culture. Poland is one of the countries where vodka culture turned “100ml” into a unit of pain and stress relief rather than liquid measurement.

Of course, as civilized Europeans we can blame the numeral system we use for it all. 10 and 100 are round numbers to us (only a programmer borrows $1024, not $1000, because that’s his idea of borrowing $1K). A great example of this mystical power of numbers was the year 2000, predicted to be the end of the civilized world because of computer systems failure. Despite all the preparations, studies and predictions, nothing happened. The Y2K Doomsday was a figment of our imagination.

One hundred is the most magical of them all, though, being a hard milestone to reach. We often wish our loved ones to live to be a hundred years old – even though few actually live that long. Driving 100 miles an hour on the road is also always an adrenaline-pumping moment for every driver. The distance of 100 miles used to seem really huge, too, especially driving on a post-war dirt road without a spare tyre. That’s where the Polish tyre company “Stomil” (Hundred-Mile) got its name from – apparently producing rubber that would withstand 100 miles of torture on the road.

One hundred years is also a milestone which lets people look back at how important an invention was for the whole human civilization. The one hundredth “birthday” of the car, the aeroplane, and the telephone always made us realize how these innovations had influenced our everyday lives. For us, seasoned audiophiles, the one hundredth birthdays of the vinyl record and the triode have just passed. Without the two, music would still be limited to live performances in front a limited audience. Did Marconi, Lee de Forest, or Berliner even presume that their inventions would pave the road for four tousle-haired blokes from Liverpool to achieve greater fame than Jesus? It is the same God’s Spark that is used BTW by the opposite faction, no less tousled, who would rather have our country’s citizens listening to Jesus than to Madonna.

The number 100 has a completely different meaning for publishers. Only a select few magazines live to be 100 editions old and are usually mummified by then. Immediate response to the changing environment is a good asset here. The 100th edition of “Gazeta Wyborcza”, Poland’s biggest paper, declared that democracy in Poland is undeniable, and the 100th edition of the computer magazine “Byte” predicted a future with computers in every household.

Therefore, the 100th edition of “High Fidelity” is a reason to celebrate, my friends. We might not have herrings, mushrooms, vodka, diplomas, speeches and performances, but we will certainly celebrate nonetheless. I suppose the faithful circle of knights of the Krakow Sonic Society will meet up for a glass of wine over a few records and a controversial conversational topic (speaker cables set up in an east-to-west fashion versus south-to-north). We’ll exchange kind words in written, spoken and read form. A more important question to ask, what is “High Fidelity” to the Polish (and even international) audiophile community? How important is it? I guess it’s like the radio – try to imagine the world without it…

With best regards,
Jarek Waszczyszyn – Ancient Audio

And a second toast to our hundredth!
By - Wojciech Pacuła

Big anniversaries have been and always will be reasons to celebrate. They’re simply reasons to remind ourselves about how something began, where it began, why it began, etc. For anniversaries to make sense they also need to look forward, to the future, otherwise they turn into celebrating the demise of something.
The 100th edition of any magazine (not a daily paper, mind you, because that’s no achievement…) is something very special. It means, after all, that the journal has been running for over 8 years – if it’s a monthly mag – and that it’s found its niche on the market. If it’s still developing and growing, and not just fighting desperately for survival, it’s an even bigger reason to celebrate.

I treat “High Fidelity” as a child of mine, brought to life despite everything that was happening around me, based on my personal conviction that an online magazine makes sense and would be worth it. It wasn’t a surefire success 9 years ago, and it was basically inconceivable in Poland.
The magazine was created because my wife got inspired. In mid-2003 she noticed I didn’t have much to do and that writing for “Audio”, which I’d just joined, took up much less of my time than my previous job at “Sound & Vision” based in Chorzow, and she told me that I should try doing something on the Internet. To this day I’m not sure where she got the idea – she firmly believes it was the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, I believe it was a cycle of futuristic articles in “Gazeta Wyborcza” newspaper. Whatever it was, the seed had been sown.
Here’s where the hard part began. Neither the graphic designers, nor the programmers or anybody else I talked to, understood what I was telling them. Even though I showed them online American magazines which were also starting up at the time, they didn’t understand what the difference between a portal, vortal and magazine was. They didn’t know what it was supposed to look like – even though I was precisely explaining to them what I meant. It took me a while before I actually found someone willing to take the risk of creating a layout, logo, and some sort of concept of what it should all look like. Marcin Chmura was that determined man, and after a few months gave me a rough draft. It took us another few months to actually come up with something that seems dead easy to make nowadays. We started the first edition of “High Fidelity” on the 1st of April, 2004, choosing April Fool’s Day on purpose.

“High Fidelity” was meant to be different than the things available on the Internet at the time. From the start, I wanted it to be a MONTHLY MAGAZINE. I’m using capital letters, because nowadays some people don’t understand that it’s basically a journal, but published on the Web. That’s exactly what “High Fidelity” is called on the papers I got from the Krakow District Court, which legally permit me to publish and distribute the magazine on the Internet, and even potentially print it.
The beginnings were very humble and largely hobby-like. It took over a year for the income to cover the expenses – such as the graphic designer costs, server maintenance, domain name etc. The domain is actually a whole different story – I came up with the name in 2003, making a reference to the beautiful tradition of the American “High Fidelity” magazine, published from April 1951 to July 1989. That’s when the magazine changed its name – how stupid! – to “Stereo Review”, and then to “Sound and Vision”. All in all, it was a great legacy. You can imagine my pleasant surprise when I found out that www.highfidelity.pl was free! And you would’ve thought that all domains like this would be long sold out.
Other things took time, like the idea for the first front cover, which was published along with the 12th edition in April 2005, on the magazine’s first birthday. Covers practically don’t exist on the Internet. Only e-mags published in .pdf format (great, in my opinion, because of their layout, graphics etc.) use them, such as the American “TONEaudio”, which just published its 47th edition. But “High Fidelity” types of magazines don’t have one. And I don’t know what the readers think of it, but the cover is actually a very important part of the magazine for me.

Like I said, the magazine was from the beginning meant to be published monthly. However, a month is a very long time, especially on the Internet, so we decided that the introduction, table of contents and some of the articles will be published on the first day of every month, and the remaining articles on the 16th day. It turned out to be a very good idea, although for many years people wrote emails at the beginning of the month asking why some of the articles weren’t opening.
Marcin Chmura, who didn’t live in Krakow, was getting many different jobs and “High Fidelity” was beginning to be a burden for him – it took up too much of his time. I don’t remember exactly, but I guess it was around the year 2006 when Bartosz Łuczak, who was starting up his own business – Piksel Studio – joined the team. And he turned out to be the co-worker of anybody’s dream. He’s been the author of the current magazine look and layout since 2009.
Overall, I think I’m always pretty lucky with people. It’s not as ideal as – I presume – the Paradise will be, but it’s really great. I got lucky with choosing the first author (after me), Krzysiek Kalinkowski, and the second one, Marek Dyba, who publishes up to this day and is also a journalist in “Hi-Fi Choice” print magazine. I’d like to add that Krzysiek was the first translator of the magazine. Marek joined him later, and the translating job was taken over by Andrzej Dziadowiec who has been doing it up until this day.

The next move forward was actually thanks to Bartosz – on the 1st of October, 2006, we published the first edition of “High Fidelity” in English (see the Archive. From the start I had the conviction that limiting ourselves to our backyard – our country – is pointless, and that the audio world has no boundaries and that even national distribution channels of audio equipment will sooner or later have to be modified. I was also sure that what printed journals would not be able to do, Internet magazines definitely would.
As it turns out, I was right. It’s international recognition on the audio market that gave “High Fidelity” its current position. I’ve sadly noticed that the journal is far better known outside of Poland. It’s not necessarily bad, you know, there’s no need to brag, but going to Munich for the High End show I always get a different reaction from people when they see my name plaque, my face and hear the Polish language. Site visitor statistics only confirm this – at the moment, more than half of the 35,000 readers of HF are people from abroad, from all over the world. I don’t think there is a country – well, except China, for some reason – that we wouldn’t have regular visitors from. Poland remains number one for me, though. After all – this is where we’re from, this is where we live, pay taxes, etc. And it seems that the popularity and interest we get abroad rebounds with more interest from Polish readers, distributors and manufacturers.

It seriously helps that “High Fidelity” has its place in “6moons.com” magazine. I don’t really remember how and when it started, but it must’ve been after 2008.

I think I just wrote to Srajan Ebaen, the magazine editor-in-chief who lived in Cyprus at the time, and I introduced myself and my journal to him, asking if he’d mind cooperating. Srajan immediately agreed, which I’m really grateful for.

We came to an agreement that every month some articles of his choice would be published in his magazine as well as mine, as part of a “syndicate” (read the interview with Srajan HERE). It was a great leap forward for us! “6moons.com” had 100,000 readers at the time and nearly 1,000,000 hits (by now it’s 250,000 and 2,000,000, respectively) which took us to a completely new level and allowed us to finally exist on the international publishing market. It was also a success for products and manufacturers – deciding on a review in HF they definitely get a text in Polish, and very possibly in English, too (due to financial constraints we aren’t able to translate more than 6-7 articles per month) and probably another in “6moons.com” – 3 in 1 is a good deal, right?

Let’s go back home, though. Reports from the Krakow Sonic Society turned out to be one of the trademarks of “High Fidelity”. Looking at the Archive of meetings, and even more so at the list published in No. 80 titled Gerhard Hirt and his S-3 (Ayon Audio) you can see that the articles from the Krakow meetings only started making appearances in HF after the 30th edition (it was a meeting regarding Nuvo speakers from Eryk S. Concept; see HERE). As you can see, it wasn’t even called the Krakow Sonic Society yet, I was the one to think of the name much later on, but it was just a report from the meeting. Where did the idea come from? I’m not sure – do any of you remember the cycle of articles I wrote for “Audio”, published under the name “Audioszołek” (“Small audio show”)? Andrzej Kisiel, the chief editor of “Audio”, came up with the name, and the meetings were meant to be a channelled down version of an idea I’d had with him, to have actual meetings, where we could all focus on some topic, laugh together, talk, listen to music, drink a glass of wine or have a beer. It was all developing nicely, “Audioszołki” were appearing regularly in the magazine. However, all things come to an end eventually, and after some time the publisher of “Audio” stopped being interested in them. But I already had a great team, a good methodology – it would be a shame to just leave it like that. That’s when I decided to carry on. We started having one or two meetings per month, but without taking photos or any thoughts of publishing. That’s until the meeting with Eryk. That’s when I thought – why shouldn’t I write about that in HF? Maybe it will interest someone… The rest is history – I thought of a name, counted which meeting this was after “Audioszołki” got cancelled, and it took off… We’re currently publishing the 85th report from the KSS, so you can easily count that we’ll have another 100th anniversary in less than two years, and it will probably happen simultaneously with the 10th birthday of “High Fidelity”. And it all started with an idea my wife once had…

What else is there to say? I’ve talked about the magazine’s politics, but let me add that we always choose the devices for testing ourselves, and if they don’t work well, we send them back without reviewing them. It happens surprisingly often. This double filter lets us choose only the most interesting gear on the market. I don’t test weaker systems, because it just bores me. I got into audio because of a passion, not to cringe my way through… I think Marek Dyba has similar outlooks on this. Music and its perfect reproduction is our love, something that winds us up and gives us energy to live. You can say I’m quite blessed, because I get to do what I love most and I get paid for it. It’s a perfect deal. I meet great people, I learn new things, and listen to music. Life’s great…

What about the future? Who knows. 8 years has shown that the Internet is definitely a direction that everybody is taking. Although a paper copy is still a desired object – I, myself, read a few print audio magazines every month, which really pleases me (and by the way, the owner of the oldest polish audio magazine, “Audio-Video” has changed in July. From September onwards the magazine will be published by the Audio-Project company, owned by Filip Kulpa, a long-term editor-in-chief of AV. Filip – good luck!!!) – people turn to the Internet for information. And that’s that.
Anything else? Well, on the 1st of July I began cooperating with yet another giant of the Internet radio – more precisely, the American journal “Enjoy the Music.com”, where I’ll be publishing original (never seen before) reviews of Polish audio devices. The first one is a platform from PAB, which you can read HERE. The magazine has a similar monthly audience to “6moons.com”, i.e. approximately 250,000 readers, although it’s got a slightly different scope – I encourage all those interested to read my interview with the journal’s editor-in-chief, Steven Rochlin HERE. I’m also talking to another publisher at the moment, but we’ll just have to wait and see what that turns out like.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short reminder of who we are and how it all began, and that you’ve read about something new you didn’t know before. I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting us over all these years, for all the help and the kind words. As usual, I ask you to click on the advertisement banners as many times as you can, to read about what the advertisers have to offer, etc. The magazine is free, after all – You all don’t pay for it, the advertisers do. If I could ask you for one thing, it would be for you to be just a little grateful to them, and simply click on their banners at least once. We don’t know, how this upcoming Internet revolution will end like, after all – current trends suggest that most press will be paid for by subscriptions etc. I don’t know if that’s going to work. But I’d like “High Fidelity” to stay free for you as long as possible – preferably, forever. However, the advertisers are really the key to that.
I’d like to thank you all – readers, co-workers, well-wishers, manufacturers, distributors, audio salons, advertisers – for these 100 past editions. I think that we can all be proud of what we’ve achieved over this time. And I have a strong conviction that we’re just getting started – the real life is just beginning!

Wojciech Pacuła
Editor-in-chief

And a third toast to our hundredth!
By - Jakob Gorski

Essen, 24th July, 2012

Dear Mr. Wojciech,
Dear editors of “High Fidelity” on highfidelity.pl!

One day before the publishing of your 100th edition
I want to thank the entire team of your wonderful magazine
for sharing your immense technical knowledge, toleration
in answering often repetitive questions,
but most of all, for sharing your passion for music with us.

Please don’t be discouraged by the – hopefully infrequent –
rude and personal remarks from people in Poland and abroad.
I admit it’s sad, but your knowledge continuously proves your
superiority. Keep it up!

I wish you all the best in your personal lives, and good luck
with – at least – 100 more editions of “High Fidelity”.

With a big miner’s greeting “Glückauf”
from the distant Nordrhein Westfalen

Jakob Gorski



About Us

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the Music.com”, “Positive-Feedback.com”“HiFiStatement.net”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years it has been published both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.

Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one of reviews published online. This unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland, held in November of each year.

For years, "High Fidelity" has been cooperating with other audio magazines, including “Enjoy the Music.com” and “Positive-Feedback.com” in the U.S. and “HiFiStatement.net”  in Germany. Our reviews have also been published by “6moons.com”.

You can contact any of our contributors by clicking his email address on our CONTACT  page.

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ALL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE TESTED DEVICES ARE MADE USING THE EQUIPMENT OF THE COMPANY



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