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No. 149 October 2016


any audio magazines published around the world, especially American, English and Japanese ones, have been published for a long time. In fact the oldest continuously published magazine "MJ Audio Technology" comes from Japan. Its first issue was released in 1924 and since then they have published more than 1000 issues (more HERE). The American "Audio" was published between 1947 and 2000, the British "Hi-Fi News & Record Review" since 1956, "Stereophile" (USA) since 1962, another Japanese magazine, a quarterly released "Stereo Sound" is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year (1966) and "the Absolute Sound" (that came back to USA) has been offered to readers continuously for 43 years (1973).

The oldest Japanese magazine „MJ Audio Technology”, still on the market today

Compared to these giants, Polish audio magazine industry associated with high-end components is relatively young. The oldest title is the "SAT Audio Video" magazine, which included an insert called "Stereo". After some time, this insert became independent and released as "Audio Video" ever since.

Exactly the opposite process happened to the second oldest, originally Gdynia based, magazine "Magazyn Hi-Fi". Issued in black-and-white it started in 1991 and it was the first truly specialized audio magazine in Poland. A printed version came out until 2001. After a while it was acquired by "Hi-Fi i Muzyka" magazine and since then it's become a part of it.

The "Audio" magazine recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and "High Fidelity" its 12th. Compared to the 92nd anniversary of the "MJ Audio Technology" or even the 60th anniversary of "Hi-Fi News" it doesn't seem much. No wonder that our colleagues from the Western magazines managed to develop some traditions and tools, which in Poland (still) don't exist.

Writing these words I am thinking above all about professionally conducted research on the history of the audio industry, which for many years, with great success, has been conducted by Ken Kessler, an author of monographs about companies such as QUAD, McIntosh and KEF. Since I, myself, am (or rather – will be) a historian by trade, this state of affairs began to bother me. After all Polish audio journalists are not less talented than English or American ones, and our local audio brands - although relatively young - are already doing pretty well for themselves. The Pylon Audio is a great example to back my words. Guided by the old folk wisdom that says that if something is not there, you have to make it happen yourself, I decided to take matters into my own hands and began a research on the history of the domestic hi-fi and high-end market.

A poster of the Muzyka w PRL conference

I've started with the period of the communist regime in our country, and my adventure with it - though brief - was really rewarding and interesting thanks to the organized in Poznan scientific conference titled Music in the People's Republic Poland, organized by the local branch of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). This event took place on November 18-20th 2015 in a beautiful building of the Institute of History of the Adam Mickiewicz University.

As a representative of the Jagiellonian University, and at the same time of the "High Fidelity" magazine, I delivered a short presentation about the need to address the topic of audio in the communist Poland. The topic, it is worth noting, that by the professional historians studying this period is either marginalized or simply ignored. After my speech I wrote an article for the post-conference publication, which is currently under peer review.

Will it appear in the book that will be published by IPN? I do not know that yet. I did my part though – I reminded everybody that such a topic as audio equipment already existed in the People's Republic Poland and that it was for many people an important part of their life.

Post-war history of Poland, although very interesting, is not, however, a center of my interests. I find an earlier period (18th and 19th century) as well as what happened after 1989 much more interesting. So for now I abandoned my research on UNITRA, Diora and Zaklady Kasprzak and redirect my attention to the period much closer to me. At first I did not know how to even begin. Should I research the entire Polish audio industry existing in the period? Or maybe it would be better if I chose a single company and tried to describe its history?

Finally, I decided for the second option, taking on the the well-known to our readers, Krakow based manufacturer, Ancient Audio. My choice was made based on two factors. Firstly, Ancient Audio is one of the oldest Polish high-end companies (founded in 1995), and it was successful not only in our country but also abroad. Secondly, I've known Mr. Waszczyszyn (founder of the company and the person responsible for its success) already for a few years, which made it much easier for me to persuade him to participate in my project.

Ken Kessler's & Steve Harris' book Sound Bites. 50 Years of Hi-Fi News, prepared to celebrate the 60the anniversary of this magazine

To get first-hand information, I conducted a series of interviews with Mr. Waszczyszyn, which were to bring me a lot of valuable information for my article (historians accept such spoken sources, which are especially popular among historical anthropologists). Initially, I planned to write a kind of a historical essay (such as From phonograph to record player, or the short history of audio equipment in the nineteenth century), but I quickly gave up such an approach. I soon realized that the material I had was simply not enough.

Despite the considerable length of the recordings of my conversations with the founder of Ancient Audio, I realized that we barely touched the surface of a topic of my interest. On the other hand, the first 120 minute of our conversation transcribed in Word document took more than 14 pages (Times New Roman, 12, spacing 1.5), which was an impressive result. Finally we decided (me and the HF editor-in-chief) to split the interview into two parts. You can read the content of the first one in the latest issue of our magazine, for the second part you will have to wait until November the 1st.

The interview is interesting enough (and unique because it is unlike anything else prepared by any Polish audio journalist so far) that it inspired a lot of other, new ideas. What ideas? For now I have to keep them a secret. Shall they actually be realized one day? Only time will tell. At the same time, I would like to declare that these interviews will lead to further research on the history of Ancient Audio and Polish audio in general. So many interesting personas came up in our conversations that it would be a shame not to let them speak up too.

This is one of the most downloaded „High Fidelity” covers – Jaromir Waszczyszyn A.D. 2009 (No. 65, September), in his famous hat, of course

I'd like to encourage everyone to read the first part of this extensive interview with the man whose career perfectly illustrates the changes taking place both, in the domestic high-end market, as well as in our country. My interlocutor is a person of a great knowledge that he wants (and loves!) to share. Do not let his valuable experience be gone into oblivion, otherwise we will have to reinvent the wheel all over again. And it would be such a waste of time.


Further recommended reading:

  • Wojciech Pacuła, Audiofil w czytelni, czyli magazyny audio, „High Fidelity” Dec 1st 2012, see HERE [accessed on: Aug. 28th 2016]
  • The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio. Volume One: Loudspeakers, ed Robert Harley, Austin (USA) 2013
  • The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio. Volume Two: Electronic, ed. Robert Harley, Austin (USA) 2016
  • Ken Kessler & Steve Harris, Sound Bites. 50 Years of Hi-Fi News, London 2005

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the”, “”“”  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” and “” in the U.S. and “”  in Germany. Our reviews have also been published by “”.

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