High Fidelity (magazine)

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High Fidelity
Categories Audio
Circulation 327,000 at closure in 1989
Founder Milton B. Sleeper
Year founded 1951
First issue April 1951 (1951-04)
Final issue July 1989
Company Audiocom, Inc. (1951–1957)
Billboard Publications, Inc. (1957–1974)
ABC Consumer Magazines (1974–1989)
Country United States
Language English
ISSN 0018-1455
For other uses, see High fidelity (disambiguation).

High Fidelity was an American magazine that was published from April 1951 until July 1989 and was a source of information about high fidelity audio equipment, video equipment, audio recordings, and other aspects of the musical world, such as music history, biographies, and anecdotal stories by or about noted performers.

Great Barrington, Massachusetts-based High Fidelity magazine was original founded as a quarterly publication in 1951 by audiophile Milton B. Sleeper.[1][2][3][4] One of the first editors was Charles Fowler.[1] Later, the publication became a monthly and Fowler became the publisher.

In 1957, High Fidelity and its sister publication Audiocraft was obtain by Billboard Publications, Inc., when it purchased High Fidelity's parent company, Audiocom, Inc. from Audiocom's president and publisher Charles Fowler.[5][6]

After 16 years of ownership, Billboard sold High Fidelity in 1974, along with its sister publication Modern Photography, to the magazine division of the American Broadcasting Companies for $9 million.[7][8] At the time of the sale, High Fidelity and Modern Photography had circulations of 260,000 and 470,000 respectively.

Until 1981, its editorial offices were located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In January of that year, its parent company, ABC Consumer Magazines, began moving the publication's operations to New York City, a process that was completed in about a year. In 1989, ABC sold High Fidelity and its sister publication Modern Photography to Diamandis Communications (now Hachette Filipacchi Media), which merged its subscriber list with that of Stereo Review magazine.[9][10] (Stereo Review transformed into the present Sound and Vision magazine in 2000.) High Fidelity and Modern Photography had circulations of 327,000 and 689,000 respectively by the time these magazines were shut down by Diamandis.

Musical America[edit]

Main article: Musical America

While as a subsidiary of Billboard Publications, High Fidelity purchased Musical America in 1964 and incorporated the newly acquired publication as an additional insert to selected editions of High Fidelity that were mailed to subscribers who had paid an additional fee.[11][12] During this time, the Musical America was not available in the copies of High Fidelity that were sold at newsstands, but only in certain copies available only by subscription. This business arrangement continued after High Fidelity was sold to ABC Consumer Magazines in 1974.

ABC continued this publishing arrangement until 1986 when ABC decided it needed to revive Musical America as a separate monthly publication[13] (which later became bimonthly) to fight back against that lost of readership caused by the foundation of a new competing classic music publication by a James R. Oestreich called Opus. Oestreich was a former High Fidelity classic music editor who was fired in 1983 for protesting the cutbacks in classic music coverage in the joint High Fidelity/Musical America publication.[14] In protest to Oestreich dismissal, several noted classic music editors resigned in mass to eventually join Oestreich at his new publication.

The reintroduction of the first separate issue of Musical America in 1987 was mishandled by ABC since ABC did not provide copies for distribution at newsstands in many major cities.[15] Although Musical America's tenure at ABC was not very impressive,[16] it avoided High Fidelity's fate of being sold to Diamandis and remained with ABC until 1991 when it was sold to media investor Gerry M. Ritterman.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ad for High-Fidelity magazine". Popular Mechanics 96 (6). December 1951. p. 35. ISSN 0032-4558. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Tim Jay (1998). Lost in sound: Cultural-material issues in American recorded music and sound, 1948-1964 (Ph.D.). Northwestern University. pp. 305–306. OCLC 50420754. Again, take for example the number of feature articles that High Fidelity ran in its first few years of publication. As the first commercial magazine printed for the pleasures of the amateur and professional audiophile, High-Fidelity was established in the summer of 1951 with the intent of being a quarterly, but within a few years demand was great enough to force it through the stage of bi-monthly publication, and finally into monthly editions. As the editor, Milton B. Sleeper, claimed, High Fidelity was "devoted to your interests in 'the sense of hearing,'" emphasizing topics ranging from in-home record audio equipment, records worth mentioning and, of course, FM radio.  Link via ProQuest.
  3. ^ Marshall, Christy & Selvin, Barbara (May 25, 1989). "Diamandis Buys, Will Fold 2 Mags". Newsday (New York ed.). p. 51. High Fidelity was started by a radio and audio aficionado named Milton Sleeper. ABC bought Modern Photography, High Fidelity and Musical America, from Billboard Publications in Manhattan in 1974 for $12 million. ABC is keeping Musical America.  Link via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Ziesmann, Jeffrey K. "Milton B Sleeper". American Radio History. 
  5. ^ "High Fidelity Magazines Join Billboard Fold". Billboard 69 (43). November 25, 1957. pp. 1, 25. ISSN 0006-2510. Billboard Publishing Company bought Audiocom, Inc., owner of High Fidelity and Audiocraft. Charles Fowler president and publisher  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  6. ^ "2 Music Papers Merge: High Fidelity and Billboard Will Retain Present Format". New York Times. November 27, 1957. p. 26. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  7. ^ "ABC Plans to Purchase 2 Consumer Magazines As Base of New Unit". Wall Street Journal. June 21, 1974. p. 13. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  8. ^ "Media Briefs". Los Angeles Times. June 23, 1974. p. E10. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  9. ^ "Diamandis Acquires 2 Magazines". New York Times. May 25, 1989. 
  10. ^ "Hachette Unit Buys High Fidelity, Modern Photography Subscriber Lists". Associated Press. May 24, 1989. 
  11. ^ "Classical Music: BB's High Fidelity Buys Musical America". Billboard 76 (47). November 21, 1964. p. 16.  Link via ProQuest.
  12. ^ "Musical America Magazine Sold; To Run as Part of High Fidelity". New York Times. November 10, 1964. p. 57. (subscription required (help)).  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  13. ^ Page, Tim (November 2, 1986). "Music Notes; Championing the Music of Today". New York Times. p. A.23.  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  14. ^ Page, Tim (October 5, 1983). "Music Editor Dismissed". New York Times. 
  15. ^ Reich, Howard (March 15, 1987). "A Classic Newsstand Tale Of Woe". Chicago Tribune. p. 24. The most eagerly anticipated "new" classical music magazine in America went into print this month, but it's impossible to buy a copy in Chicago... or New York or Los Angeles. Musical America, for years published inside High Fidelity magazine, went to a free-standing format for its March issue--unfortunately, the magazine never made it to the newsstands.  Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  16. ^ Page, Tim (December 18, 1990). "Now Musical America Is For Sale: Bad Times for The Classical Music Press". Newsday. p. 59. In recent years, however, Musical America has often been hard to find. From 1964 to 1986, the magazine was available only as an insert in special subscription editions of High Fidelity. (In 1983, High Fidelity had an estimated circulation of 400,000; at that time only one issue in 20 carried Musical America.) In 1986, Musical America was again cut loose from High Fidelity. At first a monthly, then a bimonthly, it never caught on at the newsstands, in part because of the unusually high price - $6 - that was set for the slim magazine. The new, independent Musical America expanded its coverage and began to run recordings reviews.  Link via ProQuest.
  17. ^ Kozinn, Allan (April 3, 1991). "Musical America Magazine Announces Reorganization". New York Times. 

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