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“THE EDITORS” series

Magazine title:
Position: journalist

First published in: 2014
Magazine type: portal


ndia, the second most populated country in the world, is not associated with audio in Europe. It is hard to say why, as people listen to music everywhere in the world. Even if we assume that the richer a society is, the easier it is for people to buy luxurious products, it will not be really meaningful – statistically, in such a large group of people there MUST be a lot of audio enthusiasts.

So, when one of “High Fidelity” readers from India offered to help me contact an audio journalist from this country, I immediately took that opportunity. My interlocutor was Sridhar Vootla who works for the internet magazine “”.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Sridhar, please tell us about yourself.
SRIDHAR VOOTLA: By education I am an Industrial Engineer and have a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering, which I obtained at a university in the USA. I worked in the US automotive industry for about 18 years. I was based in Troy, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. I moved back to India in 2009 and currently live in the city of Hyderabad in the south of the country. Now I am involved in the pharmaceutical industry. I delved deeply into audio when I was still in the US. I was then a reviewer for and I have been contributing reviews to them since 2004. is a “brand new” magazine – what is its purpose? What kind of a magazine is it to be?
When I moved back to India 6 years ago, there were only 2 magazines (both printed) relating to audio and video. One of them folded up around a year ago and the other one is really a UK-based magazine, with a lot of reviews reprinted from the UK edition.

So, there have been no true India-based audio magazines catering for the Indian audio enthusiast. This gap prompted us to start our own online magazine, 
Anil Chugani, the founder of (India's largest audio and video online discussion forum with about 50,000 active members), is the owner of Currently, we have a team of 5 reviewers, all long-time members of

The goal of is to provide honest, but subjective reviews of mid-priced audio/video products (150,000 to 175,000 rupees or approximately  2500 – 3000 US dollars). It is important that they should be available in India from Indian dealers/distributors. We launched the magazine in January of 2015, so we are quite a young magazine. 

Why an online magazine? How does an online magazine differ from a printed one, apart from the obvious difference of the medium?
In the case of, online publication made the most sense due to two reasons.  First of all, we wanted to have reviewers from the whole of India as opposed to a central location, who would use their own equipment in their own listening rooms. Secondly, we wanted to pick reviewers from among the members of Beyond that, there are some obvious advantages of publishing a magazine online, such as reduced overhead costs, faster speed of reaction and publication, etc.

Why an online magazine? How does an online magazine differ from a printed one, apart from the obvious difference of the medium?
In the case of, online publication made the most sense due to two reasons.  First of all, we wanted to have reviewers from the whole of India as opposed to a central location, who would use their own equipment in their own listening rooms. Secondly, we wanted to pick reviewers from among the members of Beyond that, there are some obvious advantages of publishing a magazine online, such as reduced overhead costs, faster speed of reaction and publication, etc.

What do you think about vinyl revival – is it permanent or just a hype?
I do not believe that the current vinyl revival is a flash in the pan. Evidently, there are reasons for the popularity of this medium, sound quality being paramount. A well set-up turntable can indeed sound excellent and that is why I think vinyl is here to stay for a while. However, I must add that I do not have a turntable, preferring the convenience of computer audio to any physical medium, but a few of our reviewers have nice turntable setups. I still have about 70 or 80 treasured LPs which I am not going to get rid of.

What is the reference sound in the audio world?
An interesting question. There are differing views and one enduring goal for many is to try and get the sound of a live event at home. I believe that this is very hard to achieve, because one of the most important components of sound is the acoustics of the venue where the recording was made. If one wants their small listening room to sound like a large concert hall with an orchestra playing live, they can forget about it.

Naturally, there are digital signal processing methods but these are essentially sound manipulation techniques that try to bend the laws of physics to obtain a reasonable facsimile of the real thing. And then there are also physical methods of room acoustics modification that might be helpful. 

With these methods we can get somewhat close to obtaining the sound of a live event, but we can never truly attain it. Rather than doing this, I feel that one should try to set up a system that can get the timbre and tone of instruments right, as well as provide good reproduction of the human voice. THIS is the point of reference that everyone can easily relate to.

How does the Indian audio market differ from other markets – the English one, for example?
The Indian audio market is very different from mature markets of developed countries, mainly in its size and volume. Just like in the West, there is both a mass market and a more specialized higher end segment, but both of these are minuscule.
The mass market mainly offers dual purpose systems that can handle both video and audio. The basic product for this market segment is the classic A/V receiver, as popular as HtiB (home theatre in a box) systems. 

The stereophonic segment has demand for integrated amplifiers, entry to mid DACs and mid-range floor standing speakers. The demand for stereo separates and higher end speakers/electronics is quite low. One main reason for low sales is the high price of the devices. Foreign high-end equipment in India costs between 30 and as much as 100% more than in the West, due to various customs duties and taxes. Equipment manufactured in India costs significantly less but there are only a handful of audio equipment manufacturers based in our country.   

What are the most popular magazines in India and why?
Currently, the only printed audio magazine in India is “What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision”.  This magazine is relatively popular but many readers get their information and reviews from online-based magazines and forums. Unfortunately, most of these sources do not cater specifically for the Indian market, owing perhaps to its small size. However, readers are becoming more and more interested in information, reviews, technical specifications, etc. related to audio equipment available specifically in India.

What is your opinion about the future of high-end?
I think that high-end as it stands today is under threat for various reasons. The first reason is that the current generation of music listeners have very little interest in the fidelity of sound. They are absolutely content with low-resolution mp3 playback.

Secondly, there are so many attractive activities available apart from music – social media, for example.  Thirdly, there is a slow shift of purchasing power from developed nations to developing nations (India being an example) and unless manufacturers start addressing these markets with appropriately priced products, global high end sales will diminish, especially when developed markets have become saturated with products. 

Lastly, high-end audio, like most luxury markets, is very sensitive to changes in global economy.  It will continue to rise and fall with the vagaries of economic cycles. The unfortunate aspect of this is that only the strongest and best audio manufacturers will survive, while the rest will fold.

How about hi-res files? Do you think they are high-end or not yet? How about CD players?
I believe that true high resolution files like 24bit/192khz AIFF/Wav/FLAC sound significantly better than16/44.1 files. Unfortunately, finding true high resolution files is not very easy. The same is true about DSD files. I personally have been looking to jump into the DSD bandwagon but the paucity of releases, especially in the genre I prefer, has held me back thus far.

Regarding CD players, I think they will last for a little longer, as a lot of listeners have large CD collections.  Eventually, they may get around to ripping them into files and at that point perhaps the role of classic CD players will start declining. Of course, multi format disc players, such as Blu-ray and the upcoming 4k players, will still be around. 
Personally, I have totally moved towards computer-based sources and ripped most of my CDs. I also regularly download from HD Tracks and other sources, and have given up buying CDs altogether.

What do you look for in good audio?
As I stated earlier, the truth of timbre is high on my list. The immediacy and presence of human voice is also critical, so I focus on mid range and its richness.  I also like smooth extended treble that is not harsh and allows lengthy and pleasant listening sessions. I prefer taut and textured bass with adequate extension. Quality rather than quantity is important for me. Lastly, I like a well-extended sound stage with focused imaging.

Please tell us what10 albums High Fidelity readers should listen to right away.
These are some of my favorite albums in no particular order of preference:

  • Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, Midnight Sugar, Three Blind Mice, 1996
  • Freddie Hubbard, Red Clay, CTI, 1970
  • Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, A Meeting by the River, Water Lily Acoustics, 1993
  • Shelby Lynne, Just a Little Lovin’, Lost Highway Records, 2008
  • Dave Matthews Band, The Lillywhite Sessions, (unofficial release) 2001
  • Tomasz Stanko Qunitet, Dark Eyes, ECM, 2009
  • Kenny Wheeler, The Widow in the Window, ECM, 1990
  • The National, High Violet, 4AD, 2010
  • Donald Byrd, Royal Flush, Blue Note, 1962
  • Joshua Redman Quartet, Moodswing, Warner Bros., 1994

At the end, tell us please about your audio system.
My main system includes:

  • a computer source
  • M2tech Evo – a clock + a power supply unit + a USB/SPDIF converter
  • Ayon Skylla II DAC
  • Lamm Industries ll2.1 Deluxe preamplifier
  • Symphonic Line Kraft 250 power amplifier
  • Ascendo C8 Renaissance speakers
  • Kimber Select 1011 interconnects and Select 3033 speaker cables
  • Sine30a power conditioner
  • Shunyata Diamond Back, Venom and Audio Art Power 1se AC cables
  • a Soundfoundations equipment stand

My secondary system comprises:

  • a computer source
  • Line Magnetic 502 CA DAC
  • Parasound JC2 preamplifier
  • Belles Soloist 5 power amplifier
  • ATC SCM7 speakers
  • Signal Cable Silver Reference – interconnects and speaker cables
  • Audio Art AC cables
  • Sorice Equipment Stand

“THE EDITORS” series has included:

  • STUART SMITH, “HIFI PIG”, France, editor-in-chief, read HERE
  • SCOT HULL, “Part-Time Audiophile”, USA, editor-in-chief/publisher, read HERE
  • JOHN MARKS, “Stereophile”, USA, senior contributing editor and columnist, read HERE
  • ART DUDLEY, “Stereophile”, USA, editor-at-large, read HERE
  • HELMUT HACK, “Image Hi-Fi”, Germany, managing editor, read HERE
  • CHRIS CONNAKER, “Computer Audiophile”, USA, editor-in-chief /founder, read HERE
  • DIRK SOMMER, “”, Germany, editor-in-chief, read HERE
  • MARJA & HENK, “”, Switzerland, journalists, read HERE
  • MATEJ ISAK, “Mono & Stereo”, Slovenia/Austria, editor-in-chief /owner, read HERE
  • DR. DAVID W. ROBINSON, “Positive Feedback Online”, USA, editor-in-chief /co-owner, read HERE
  • JEFF DORGAY, “TONEAudio”, USA, publisher, read HERE
  • CAI BROCKMANN, “FIDELITY”, Germany, editor-in-chief, read HERE
  • STEVEN R. ROCHLIN, “”, USA, editor-in-chief, read HERE
  • STEPHEN MEJIAS, “Stereophile”, USA, assistant editor, read HERE
  • MARTIN COLLOMS, “HIFICRITIC”, UK, publisher, editor, read HERE
  • KEN KESSLER, “Hi-Fi News & Record Review”, UK, senior contributing editor, read HERE
  • MICHAEL FREMER, “Stereophile”, USA, senior contributing editor, read HERE
  • SRAJAN EBAEN, “”, Switzerland, editor-in-chief /owner, read HERE