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Magazine title: „HIFI PIG MAGAZINE”
Position: Editor-in-Chief

Publication frequency: monthly + portal
First published in: 2012


et us think: “Soundstage!” was established in the year 1995, whereas “” was set up a year later, in 1996,; “Positive-Feedback Online” moved online in 2002 (it had been printed since 1990); in the same year “” was launched , whereas “High Fidelity” has been available online since 1st May 2004. When compared to the above-mentioned magazines, the American “HiFi Pig Magazine” seems to be a novice.
However, contrary to what its “birth certificate” indicates, its influence on the radio market seems to be very strong – its reviews are recommended by many audio manufacturers and a lot of music lovers rely on opinions that it publishes. What is the origin of the magazine and who is the man in charge of it? I hope that my interview with the Editor-in-Chief, Stuart Smith, will shed some light onto these issues.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Stuart, please tell us about yourself: who you are and something about your career, your work.
STUART SMITH: I am English, but 10 years ago we bought a restaurant in Brittany (France) and we moved there. There are the “headquarters” of “HiFi Pig”. When asked about my background, I often tell people that I never got a proper job until I was 28. Then I started selling advertising on the telephone for “Yorkshire Post Newspapers” where I ended up managing a large team of sales people. I loved my time at “Yorkshire Post” as I was given the freedom to create new titles and launch some pretty innovative publications – it was a stressful job, with large budgets, but hugely satisfying.

Before this I had been an environmental studies student in the North Eastern town of Sunderland. During the ten years that I spent in Sunderland I had a successful radio show, a thriving career DJing in clubs and at parties (I've played all over the place), played in a dub reggae band (Roughneck Sounds), owned a vinyl only record shop (Mr Music Man) and had a 50% share in a recording studio. So, as you can see, music has always been a major part of my life.

As a teen in the eighties I, like many teenage boys at that time, read the hi-fi press avidly and dreamt about the classic start up system of a Dual turntable, NAD amp and a pair of Wharfedale Diamonds (or similar). I never got this system, but I did get a Crimson Electric power amp, Musical Fidelity The Preamp and that pair of original Wharfedale Diamonds, all being fed by a Technics SLDL1 linear tracking turntable. I loved this system, but I knew its front end was a weak spot, so I spent my first term's grant on a Linn Sondek LP12 in Afromosia veneer. Unfortunately, I could never afford to buy an arm for it and, in the end, I swapped the Linn for a pair of Technics 1210 turntables and a mixer in the late eighties, just as the dance scene was burgeoning.

At home, for many years, I listened to music from the same system that I used as a DJ. This was huge for a domestic environment and painted fluorescent pink to boot. Later, step by step, I got back into hi-fi with a little Cambridge Audio setup. Only about ten years ago I went out and bought a full Linn system (the LP12 even had an arm and a cartridge) and this was my dream system at that time. Since then, I have auditioned and swapped out loads of components and the original system is long gone.

How did you start “Hifi Pig Magazine”? Why?
The initial spark for creating “Hifi Pig” was to provide a creative outlet for myself and to allow me to start writing again on the topic I loved (I had always written music reviews for record labels and magazines in the past). A self-produced online magazine seemed the ideal platform for this. Being very much a child of the punk generation with its DIY attitude, I found the freedom that the Internet gives you liberating and, given my background in launching magazines, I could not help but develop “Hifi Pig”.

Many people ask me: “Why the name: “Hifi Pig”? and the reason is simple - my sound system in the 80s and 90s was called the Big Pig Sound System (that is why it was painted fluorescent pink) and it comes from that. We have a stage in our barn where we play live music in the summer for friends and neighbors, and it is bright pink, too.

What is “HiFi Pig” – a magazine, portal or something else?
It is an online magazine (though, as I suppose, many would call it a blog) with an associated free monthly PDF magazine that we launched just over a year ago to compliment the online content and give readers an alternative means of accessing our product. We also upload to ISSUU which offers readers a very “magazine style” experience.

What are your goals?
I would like to see “Hifi Pig” continue to flourish and carry on offering our readers honest and unbiased reviews, as well as up-to-the-minute hi-fi related news. We have a few more ideas that we are working on to grow the “Hifi Pig” brand, including media-partnering the North West Audio Show (Cranage Hall on the 28th June) or partnering with SIAV in China. We generally want to be more visible at relevant shows. There are also a few other things that will be able to tell you about in the very near future.

What is your methodology and policy of writing reviews?
I do not get involved in the review process with the guys and girls that review for us, other than organizing the product delivery, etc. They receive the sample, listen to it in their system, send in a review and I publish it. We have a rule that if an item sent for review is below what we consider an acceptable standard, then it gets sent back without review but with a comment as to why we did not like it. The people who review for us have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and I trust their opinions implicitly. So, if they say that something should go back, it goes back. I have read a comment on one forum that they think this is a gimmick, but it seriously isn't and we have even sent back some very expensive kit, in the hope that our feedback will help the manufacturer create a better product.

Of course, Linette, who is my co-editor, and I both review, too. Our modus operandi is the same as with the other reviewers. I once had a conversation with a few people in the industry that a reviewer’s job could actually be condensed into saying that a product is “better” or “worse”. However, I think readers like to get a feel for your overall thoughts on the product and over time they get to know your preferences as a reviewer. Though we do try to be objective in our review process, it is clear that our personal likes and dislikes come into the equation. It would be unfair for anyone to suggest that personal preferences do not come into play to a greater or lesser extent.

How does “HFP” differ from other magazines?
Stuart Smith: It has been said that “Hifi Pig” is the Sex Pistols of the hi-fi media and I quite like that comment. I really do love that quote and I think it sums us up pretty nicely, though I would like to think we are more akin to the more colorful Rubella Ballet…

I missed the original punk scene in the 1970s, but got involved in the peace punk movement in my late teens. This was about having enthusiasm and a can-do attitude, and if there was something that you wanted to create, then you simply did that. We did this in the past with sound systems and the free parties we put on, but I do not think a bloke in his late forties, putting on raves in the middle of nowhere, is really appropriate... though we are currently involved in organizing a very large free party here in Brittany.

We are bright, bold and very enthusiastic, and we like the difference that “Hifi Pig” brings to the table. It has a personality, and that personality is guided very much by the kind of people involved in “Hifi Pig”. Look for us at shows and you will recognize us immediately, as Linette (Mrs Hifi Pig, as she is often referred to) has bright pink/red/purple hair...

When I took the step to get the site “branded” properly, I asked a good few people what they thought about the pink and the black colors on the site. Their comments were pretty much the same – negative. Personally, I like to be different and if someone says that something cannot be done in a particular way, then I am always keen to prove them wrong and do it just that way – it is that punk thing again. I am also fanatical that “Hifi Pig” should remain free to our readers.

What can we learn anything from printed magazines? Can they learn anything from us?
My background is in launching and selling printed media, and I love magazines and print. In my early teens I restored an ancient printing press at school and I have always been fascinated by the printing process. I suppose print has made information available to the masses to such an extent that I would suggest that the printing press is the most important invention ever. However, times move on and technologies change.

I think that the advantage that “Hifi Pig” and other online magazines have over printed ones is that we can react quickly to news. Perhaps an even more important advantage is that we are free to our readers. We are not constrained by the time and expense it takes to print a traditional magazine.

Are you happy with your work?
I absolutely love “Hifi Pig” and the opportunities it has afforded us. We have met some really great people (and a few not so great, it has to be said) and had the chance to visit some great events and businesses. Of course, there is always room for improvement with any project and we are constantly revising and revisiting what we do to improve the “Hifi Pig” readers' experience.

Please give us the titles of 10 albums that my readers should listen to right away and say why.
I have an Analogue Works Turntable with an Origin Live Silver tonearm and a Cartridge Man Music Maker cartridge, as well as a Coffman Labs G1A preamplifier with the Tellurium Q Iridium power amp. The cables are a mix of Tellurium Q and Chord Cables.
Most of the time I use a Windows computer running the JRiver Media Center, set up according to the Computer Audio Design instructions and using one of their USB cables.  I listen to music a lot at my desk and use the KEF x300a loudspeakers fed from the computer. 
I have Audeze LCD-XC headphones running from the Coffman preamp or an Epiphany Audio prototype headphone amp (if I am in the main room), or a little Schiit amp when I am at my desk. 
I also have a small Clones Audio integrated amplifier that I use sometimes when I am asked to test some more modestly priced components. The Quad kit that readers can see in the photos is an element of a future retro system in which I will also have ESL 63s... One day. 

Please give us the titles of 10 albums that my readers should listen to right away and say why.


I love Hawkwind and pretty much adore everything they have put out over the years. This is psychedelic space-rock at its very best, in my opinion.

2. Fleetwood Mac, RUMOURS

I have several copies of this album that vary wildly in quality. I am sure most people will already have this in their collection and I reckon it gets played more than any other album here at the “Hifi Pig” towers. It has just got a real “up” vibe to it that I love and Songbird (and its recording) is a great tune. Invariably, this is the first record to get played when a new device comes in for review.


To be honest, this is a pretty arbitrary choice, as I could have chosen any of the earlier Neil Young albums. We were lucky enough to see him a couple of years ago at a nearby festival. He was playing with Crazy Horse and towards the end of the concert they cleared the stage and played whatever we wanted for twenty minutes or so. When they played “No Rain” chant from Woodstock, the heavens opened. Even now I have goose bumps as I am typing this.

4. Crass, FEEDING OF THE 5000

Crass have had a big impact on me and the way I look at the world, so no shortlist would be complete without something by them. This album includes Reality Asylum which possibly is as offensive a song (to some) as it is imaginable. Linette hates Crass and the band is musically a bit “challenging”, but it has the punk attitude I have been banging on about in spades. .


Pop music done properly and with a bit of attitude. As a teen I loved Debbie Harry.

6. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, WINTER IN AMERICA

An incisive social comment and the artist laid bare. I went to see Gil Scott-Heron in the late 1980s/early 1990s and arrived at a gig in Newcastle a little worse for wear, and far too early with my friend Mingus. We went into the venue, ordered drinks and played pinball in the corner of the club. A guy appeared and asked if he could join us. We chatted, had a laugh and played pinball for an hour or so. Then the venue filled up, the lights went down and there was our newly-found pinball buddy sitting behind the piano at the front of the stage. Neither of us had the faintest idea that we had been shooting the breeze with the man himself. When he died, it was the first time I had really been touched by the death of a recording artist.

7. Jefferson Airplane, SURREALISTIC PILLOW

Released a few months before I was born, this is a record that is synonymous with the “Summer Of Love” and the whole Haight-Ashbury hippie scene which has always fascinated me. Coming Back To Me is a wonderful tune and the album has the brilliant White Rabbit on there for good measure. The album is very much of its time, but still very listenable. I was lucky enough to get hold of the first pressing recently.

8. Massive Attack, BLUE LINES

I never really understood the whole trip-hop thing when it first appeared, as I was firmly ensconced in the house and techno scene. I bought this album only a few years ago as it had the brilliant Unfinished Sympathy on it (which I knew, of course). It appears there is no bad tune on this album and it is always on my portable media player if we go off on a trip anywhere. Bass heavy beats and a laidback vibe are the order of the day.

9. Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, THE GREAT SUMMIT

I bought this album a few years ago in a second-hand music shop here in France. I would never come across it before as I knew very little about Jazz music at that time. This album was a bit of a revelation for me and has opened my mind to a new music genre.


This album came out in 1990 and was produced by Adrian Sherwood. I got this record in a job lot, together with some other items that I swapped for my Korg MS10 synthesizer. For me, the album captures that time in music perfectly with its mix of reggae and house-inspired beats. Not on this record, but also by Lee Perry, is the brilliant Midnight Train To Doomsville which we used as the introduction to our long-running weekly radio show on Wear FM – “The Midnight Train To Doomsville”.

“THE EDITORS” series has included::

  • SCOT HULL, “Part-Time Audiophile”, USA, editor-in-chief, see HERE
  • ART DUDLEY, “Stereophile”, USA, editor-at-large, see HERE
  • Helmut Hack, “Image Hi-Fi”, Germany, managing editor, see HERE
  • DIRK SOMMER, „”, Germany, chief editor, see HERE
  • MARJA & HENK, „”, Switzerland, journalists, see HERE
  • CHRIS CONNAKER, “Computer Audiophile”, founder/chief editor, see HERE
  • MATEJ ISAK, "Mono & Stereo”, chief editor/owner, Slovenia/Austria; see HERE
  • Dr. DAVID W. ROBINSON, "Positive Feedback Online", USA, chief editor/co-owner; see HERE
  • JEFF DORGAY, “TONEAudio”, USA, publisher; see HERE
  • CAI BROCKMANN, “FIDELITY”, Germany, chief editor; see HERE
  • STEVEN R. ROCHLIN, “Enjoy the”, USA, chief editor; see HERE
  • STEPHEN MEJIAS, “Stereophile”, USA, assistant editor; see HERE
  • MARTIN COLLOMS, “HIFICRITIC”, Great Britain, publisher and editor; see HERE
  • KEN KESSLER, “Hi-Fi News & Record Review”, Great Britain, senior contributing editor; see HERE
  • MICHAEL FREMER, “Stereophile”, USA, senior contributing editor; see HERE
  • SRAJAN EBAEN, “”, Switzerland, chief editor; see HERE

Hifi Pig is part of Big Pig Media LLP 
Partnership No. OC397825