Archive for November, 2022

GOA8: Addendum/change to decisions and schedule

Saturday, November 26th, 2022

After thinking about it and running a full-scale test run, I’ve made a decision that should do two things:

  1. Improve the quality of APC/fee information, by eliminating possible transcription errors and by using 2022 fee/APC levels rather than those of early 2023.
  2. Save time–potentially a lot of time–thus making it possible that GOA8 will be done this Spring, or at least early summer. Not certain, but posslb.e

The changes

Around December 14, I’ll download the DOAJ metadata as usual. But this time, I’ll start out by doing the following:

  • Determine currency usage.
  • Immediately lookup exchange rates (using Forex annual-median where feasible, shorter-term where not).
  • Prepare stripped fee amount and currency columns in DOAJ metadata, and perform the conversions right away.
  • Populate the GOA8 master spreadsheet with those values, and other values as appropriate, to wit:
  • St8 (new status) is n (no fee) if there is no fee, f (fee) if there is one, BUT if the DOAJ metadata shows the possibility of other fees (they now have a field for that), then x.
  • Fee code will start at “d” (derived from DOAJ) in all cases.

Since I retain the fee (call it Fee7), fee code (Fc7), and status (St7) from GOA7, it’s an easy matter to change St8 to “x” whenever Fc7 is any code indicating something other than a standard fee (e.g., submission, b9th submission and processing, membership, variable fee).

While going through the journals, I’ll look for fee information in the journal websites if the St8 is “x”–and populate the fee code appropriately. If not, I’ll just use the downloaded/converted fee.

A trial run suggests that I’ll need to look for fee info within journal websites in about 1,300 journals (out of more than 17,000).

Note that this should make overall fee info *more* accurate because I’ll be using 2022 fee levels, not 2023. And this process essentially removes the possibility of transcription errors.

So: target for completion is still “whenever,” but a considerably earlier “whenever.”

GOA8: Decisions and preliminary schedule

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Here’s where things stand with regard to Gold Open Access 2017-2022:


  • I will be using fees from DOAJ where that seems appropriate, based on fee code for last year and other factors. (Usually decided publisher-by-publisher; some big publishers provide spreadsheets with fees, which I’ll use.)
  • I will be using counts from DOAJ where that seems appropriate, based on availability of counts and consistency with previous data.
  • There will be a new CC column for count codes, e.g. d (DOAJ), f (pattern find), w (provided on website), e (estimate–rarely if ever used)
  • Unless things go more smoothly than expected (see below), malware sites will only be checked twice (and sites that had malware in GOA7 will only be checked once)
  • Final decision on Country book won’t be made until later, but given the underwhelming usage and interest, it may not happen.

Preliminary steps (now to December 15)

  • Clear out pre-GOA7 folders: archive master spreadsheets and ms, delete other files.
  • Set up and prepopulate GOA8 folder; make “test” copy of master with years changed for template work
  • Rearrange columns of new master file (in data gathering, years are in descending order; in reports, they’re ascending).
  • Build and test templates for GOA8, based on G7 templates (but with new CC column)
  • Clear other stuff to allow more time–and, giving the devil his due, that was made much easier when, ahem, certain decisions made me unfollow everybody on Twitter and make it an inactive placeholder, instead of deciding one-by-one how many of 100+ Follows to get rid of.

December 15-31

  • Preliminary DOAJ download[s] (that is, the master database and the added/removed spreadsheete)
  • Match new DURL column as first match between old master and new download
  • As needed, do second match (ISSN and eISSN) and, if needed, third match (normalized URLs).
  • Remove deletions–that is, old data clearly marked as removed from DOAJ
  • Save unmatched for 12/31 rerun.
  • Massage data: copy 2021-2017 data, subject, category, and [for year-to-year comparisons) country and fee, but use new/DOAJ data in all other cases.
  • Normalize data and add subjects to newly-added journals.
  • Build and populate currency conversion spreadsheet based on DOAJ fee & submission currency occurences
  • Afternoon of 12/31 (after midnight GMT): New downloads; do new matches and add new data.
  • attempt to account for unmatched data.
  • As of yesterday (11/20), DOAJ shows 18,561 journals, with 1,285 added this year and 382 removed.

Data gathering, starting January 1, 2023

  • Almost certainly done in publisher order again.
  • Updates here monthly (or so), weekly or more often with #goa8 hashtag at Mastodon, with occasional updates on Facebook (and, if sanity returns, maybe on Twitter).
  • Last year, this process was completed on April 20, with additional testing taking through May 5.
  • Factors that may speed things up: using more DOAJ data; there are fewer new journals this year.
  • Factors that will slow things down: there are more journals–but, probably more important, I already know that health issues will chew up around half of the time I’d normally devote to testing for seven weeks somewhere in the first half of the year–and if some side effects come to play, it may impact timing even more. (And, of course, that’s only issues I already know about…)
  • So my “schedule” is that I hope to have the first pass done by late June (or earlier), but the testing passes might run into July or August. BUT NOTE UPDATE: these changes may speed things up by a month or possibly more.
  • Updates as appropriate.

The Absolute Bose: down to earth

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Admittedly, the “how much?” exercise was over the top–and I doubt that even most multimillionaire audiophiles will be buying tape decks, so let’s call the actual total about $2,840,000.93

Yes, you can buy a system of stuff TAB likes for a lot less. Sticking with floorstanding loudspeakers and ignoring tape decks, I find:

  • Speakers: PSB Alpha T20, $849.
  • Integrated amp with phonostage: $799 (the combination of a Schitt Audio Mini $149 phonostage and NAD C328 $599 integrated amp is $50 cheaper, but then you need an extra interconnect)
  • CD player with DAC: Arcam CDS50, $1,320.The boig
  • Streaming device with DAC: Cambridge CXN-2, $1,099.
  • Turntable/arm/cartridge: Rega Planar 1 Plus, $725 (or ProJect Debut Carbon EVO turntable/arm $599 and Grado Prestige Black3, $99–$26 cheaper but a bit more setup).
  • Interconnects and power cables (one speaker, three interconects): Transparent Audio The Link interconnect ($100 x 3), The Wave speaker ($250), High-Performance PowerLink AC ($340 x 4).

So that’s $4,725 for components, $1,910 for wires: $6,635 total–or 0.234% of the top-notch system. I’m guessing it would provide 99% of the pleasure for most folks–oh, maybe adding a nice JL Audio or GoldenEar subwoofer for $1,100-$1,500 for that bottom octave of bass, but–even with another $590 for AC and cables–that’s still less than 0,3% (that is, one-third of one percent) of the highest-end system…

i was going to price out Stereophile’s most expensive class-A/class-A+ system, but why bother? The biggest differences would be the amps ($230,000 rather than $700,000, since Stereophile doesn’t have speakers that require two amps each) and loudspeakers ($335,000 rather than $750,000), but what’s $830K between friends?

Just for fun, I counted speakers in three price ranges in both sources–up to $10,000 (a  natural cutoff since that’s roughly the price of the cheapest full-reference-quality speakers), $10,000-$100,000, and over $100,000. Stereojphile has more in the least-expensive range (59 compared to 51), a lot fewer in the expensive range (43 compared to 57), and just over half as many in the ultra-expensive range (seven compared to 12).

And that’s it for fun with audio magazines & prices.

As for what I listen to music on? While the Grado SR80 headphones are still available (at a slightly higher price, around $120), the Cowon Plenue portable players seem to have disappeared, and an equivalent (?) seems to be at least $600 (more than twice what the Cowon cost)…s0, no recommendation here.

The Absolute Bose 3: How much?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

How much would you spend to get TAB’s bets system? Hard to say: where Stereophile divides its recommendations by grade, apparently everything at TAB is wonderful, so it’s arranged by price. So I guess the most expensive must be best.

Here’s the picture in 2022:

  • Speakers: Magico M9. $750,000–oh, and you must use two amplifiers (two stereo or four mono). Which also means two sets of speaker cables.
  • Power amp: Burmester 159. $350,000 for two monoblocks–but, again, double that.
  • Preamp: Boulder 3010, $142,000.
  • Phono stage: VAC Statement, $80,000.
  • CD player: dCS Vivaldi Apex, $48,500. [The full “Vivaldi stack” is $140,000, but there’s an Even Better digital, see below.]
  • DAC (digital/analog converter): Wadax Atlantis Reference, $157,000. Really–and it’s three boxes and weighs 206 pounds.
  • Music server: Wadax Reference Server, $76,495 with optical interface.
  • Turntable: TechDAS Air Force Zero with tungsten platter: $550,000.
  • Tonearm (no, TechDAS doesn’t include one): Swedish Analog Technologies CF 1-09, $50,000.
  • Cartridge: Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement V2.1, $17,500.
  • Tape deck: United Home Audio SuperDeck, $89,998. [Of COURSE you need a tape deck so you can play those 15ips tapes that can cost $290-$500 and WAY up.]

So, setting aside power conditioners, record cleaners, and the like, you can get a top-notch system for a mere $2,551,493 (plus tax and shipping). So if you read about spending $600,000 or so to add a proper listening room…well, consider.

Ah, but you still need proper power cables and interconnects: ten AC cables, two pairs of speaker cables, three analog interconnects and two digital interconnects. So…

  • Power cables: Echole Infinity, $24,500 (times ten)
  • Speaker cables: CrystalConnect…Art Series Da Vinci: $48,000 (times two)
  • Interconnects: Nordost Odin 2, $26,999 (times three)
  • Digital interconnects: Transparent Audio XL, $3,670 (times two).

Add that up, and you get $429,337 for cables. So that’s…

$2,980,830. Which if you only have a paltry three million set aside for your stereo system. still leaves almost $20,000 for accessories. Or 1,000+ CDs, maybe 700 LPs, or a few dozen tapes.

It might be interesting to price out a system with components TAB calls bargains or the like. Or maybe not.

The Absolute Bose 2: purple prose, cheerleading and plausibility

Saturday, November 12th, 2022

A few more notes on TAB, a semi-mythical periodical that’s either for audiophiles or true believers, or a little of both.

Purple prose

Much of it seems taken directly from manufacturers. Others comes from the two demigods and their lesser minions. But it does come hot, heavy and long.

Just looking at one page from the Big Book of Wonderful Equipment (the November issue), I see in two adjacent speaker raves the phrases “the fit and finish are breathtaking” and “the mirror-like finish [is] breathtaking.” The next page and next speaker just has “a visual image that might win it an entry in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.” That kind of purple prose abounds–an “almost magically neutral midrange,” “uncanny levels of purity and resolution,” “sensuous silhouette,” and so on. [And those are for what for TAB are modestly-priced speakers, “only” $20-$35,000 a pair.


This is more evident in full-length reviews. TAB loves some manufacturers; many reviews really do sound as though the writers should be wearing little skirts and waving pom=poms. (A terrifying mental image, that.)

The two audio magazines I read both invite manufacturer comments, presumably only after the reviews are written. In the other magazine, the manufacturers are frequently arguing with the reviewers (especially the technical reviewer) about some comments that are less than laudatory. In TAB, the manufacturer comments almost always seem like lovefests.


I should be clear here. I am not of the camp that says “if it’s not measurable, it’s not audible”–too much of musical reproduction can’t be fully measured, especially since music is inherently dynamic. I am also not one who believes in double-blind testing as the road to nirvana. Double-blind testing, in my experience, tends to minimize differences (that’s how you get StoreBrandCola tasting identical to Pepsi, $3 wines tasting as good as or better than $50 wines…). I’ll admit that I would love to see some single-blind audio reviewing (feasible for some preamps, some phono cartridges, most cables, some digital gear and, with help, most speakers): that is, reviews where the reviewer doesn’t know the identity or price of the particular item under review until the review is written. But that won’t happen, especially since a thorough review can involve weeks or months of listening: the overhead of single-blind is too high.

But, you know, some things can be measured–and some improvements or solutions may strike me as just a tad implausible, stretching the sound-is-created-in-the-mind truth a bit too far.

I think especially of very expensive AC cords, speaker cables, interconnects–especially digital interconnects–and of, unusual additions.

At one level–that is, faintly plausible but perhaps overstated–you get examples such as:

  • A $695 power conditioner that offers “profound” enhancement of “soundstaging, dimensionality and depth” from a CD drive.
  • An $8,000 power conditioner that gives you “far greater resolution of air and space”–which must certainly be plainly audible, given that “far.”
  • A $26,000 (no, I’m not kidding) box that “allows listeners to ‘peek’ into the sonic information below the noise floor” and yields audible improvements “across all criteria [that] are not subtle but staggering.”
  • A $16,000 power cord that “seem[s] to lower the level of noise and coloration”–but, of course, you’ll need one of these for each component. (There’s another one for $24,500 that’s “sonically outstanding.” Let’s see: with a turntable, CD player, phono preamp, preamp and power amp,m that’s $122,500 in power cables alone…)
  • A $48,000 speaker cable that yields “immediately audible” improvements–or maybe that’s the $23,900 interconnect.

At another level, I find the claims entirely implausible, but what do I know? For example:

  • While they list a $15 Belkin USB cable that is probably well worth it, if only because it’s probably better made and likely to outlast a true cheapo USB cable, I find it implausible that a $3,250 USB cable could be remotely worth the cost–but then I don’t hear that “chalky midrange and treble” that Roha assures us “plagues the USB interface”–I don’t even hear the “graininess.”
  • So, yeah, I’m also unlikely to believe that a $3,670 digital cable makes binary transfer so much better that it immediately improves transient speed (whatever that is) and makes treble “noticeably smoother” and bass “firmer and more refulgent,” rendering the sound “more tactile.”
  • How about $830-$2,750 for a “modular system” you put under your equipment that emits an electrical field that “manipulates the electromechanical resonances in its immediate vicinity” t’ “synchronize your stereo system”?
  • Consider $230 “stones” with “proprietary noise-reduction technology” that you put on top of amps, preamps, and other electronics, that TAB says reduce noise and enrich timbre. Note that actual noise reduction should be measurable, but TAB doesn’t do measurements. Oh, you can use these wonderstones–which have no electrical contact with the equipment–in your car, where–the company says–they increase horsepower when used near the car’s computers.
  • $650 for a record mat? A paper record mat at that? Absolutely! It improves the “continuousness of musicians making music ensemble in a real space.”
  • And, for good measure, the same company sells a $2,800 “LP conditioner” that “demagnetizes” your LPs, and “greatly reduces noise, deepening background silences and, thereby, raising resolution.”

I could go on. I remember the Tice Clock, a $500 alarm clock–really a $25 Radio Shack digital alarm clock that’s been Specially Treated–that was supposed to work wonders for stereo systems in the same room. That went away, but lots of other magic devices are still with us.

And I will say this again: If you believe a device will make a difference in how you hear music, then it probably will–because hearing takes place in the brain, not the ear.

Part 3 will be less argumentative and more factual: what does this all cost?

The Absolute Bose: a silly non-political essay (or two)

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

Consider the following statements about stereo systems:

  1. A good stereo system should reproduce the recorded material as faithfully as possible.
  2. A good stereo system should make beautiful music.

If you don’t see a difference between the two, you’ll find this “essay” completely meaningless. And if you’re in Camp Two, you’re a target reader for The Absolute Bose, my sort-of mocking name for one of the two stereo magazines I currently read. (I’ve read/subscribed to many over the years; unfortunately, falling subscriber counts and consolidation have reduced the “mainstream” choices to one magazine, and I finally gave up on Sound & Fury–not the real name–after a change in editor and the strange decision that audio gear shouldn’t be measured but video gear should left me feeling like it was a waste of time.)

I use the name The Absolute Bose advisedly, as it’s becoming increasingly clear that (most, not quite all, of) the writers regard “musicality” as preferable to accuracy. Some of them are blunt: at least one reviewer has flat-out stated that an amplification system needs to have a certain amount of “second harmonic”–leaving out that nasty word “distortion”–to make pretty music. But there are lots of other indications–a belief that tube equipment is always better than solid-state, a belief that vinyl is *inherently* superior to digital (even when the LP was actually cut from digital sources, with the digital version being readily available, the LP is “more musical”), etc., etc.

The abbreviation ED springs to mind, but not the problem many older men have. No, this is euphonic distortion: changes in the original signal that make the music prettier. If anybody tells you that a recording or speakers or digital source is bad because real music doesn’t have “edges”…well, that’s ED. Real music does have edges at times. {When I put my very good hearing aids in in the morning, I’m reminded that the world is a noisy place, and some of the noise is, well, scratchy and unpleasant.]

I find TAB amusing in some ways. The mag has two demigods, call them Roha and Jova, who both have superhuman hearing and discriminatory capabilities, and apparently limitless funds. The mag seems to pay by the word, and Jova’s reviews (pretty much always raves, as are almost all reviews on TAB) use two-thirds of a page for an exhausting, er, -ive list of his many reference components, even those having no relevance to the review–apparently it’s important to be reminded that Jova is the King of Component Excess. On the other hand, Roha is known to smite those who belittle TAB’s infinite wisdom with hard-hitting editorials. And multipage feature reviews, with lots of pretty pictures, that feel a bit like audioporn sometimes.

TAB doesn’t do measurements.

TAB uses lots of descriptive language, with lots of terms that mean whatever the writers want them to mean. Most TAB writers appear to have perfect hearing and uncanny abilities to describe what most folks might think of as trivial or nonexistent differences as major, breathtaking, whatever. I believe most of the men (all men?) are middle-aged or older, but apparently none of them have the usual hearing losses the rest of us tend to.

About hearing: I do not doubt that the reviewers, including Roha and Jova, hear what they claim to hear. I don’t doubt that because, after all, hearing is not what comes into one’s ears: It’s what the brain makes of them, including all the non-auditory factors that affect any brain activities. I think it it possible, even likely, that some of the distinctions that these writers so clearly hear may not actually exist as measurable differences in sound waves, but after all, TAB doesn’t do measurements.

Do I find it a bit odd that Roha editorializes that the tiny (if existent) “improvements” bought about at huge expense in refining a system are actually more significant because they get you that teeny bit closer to The Absolute Bose? Sure, but that’s me. Am I envious? Not really. We’re not poor–but our sound systems suit our needs just fine. (My personal “system” cost about $400 total; our weekend system is still three-digits, but higher. I used to have a four-digit system, five digits including source material, when I was spending a lot more time listening to music. I find that I can’t really write or read while actually listening to music, and that I’m not much for background music, so…)

I could cancel my subscription to TAB, but it has its uses as an example of, well, whatever (and the multiyear subscription was so cheap–after all, it’s the advertisers who are really paying the bills–that it’s pointless). I could wonder about priorities involved in seven-digit systems that probably “need” six-digit upgrades/refinements each year, and wonder how much these superpurists spend on recordings or live music, but it’s their money (and I assume they give to good causes, or at least can hope

I realized what I actually felt about TAB and its writers, maybe as I’m going through their annual buyer’s guide and reading about how much five-digit audio cables and four-digit replacement power cords (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!) will improve your six-digit or seven-digit sound system:

Sadness or pity. That’s what I feel. Sadness that people who apparently have the time to pay that much attention to music appear to focus most of their resources and attention on tweaking their sound systems, not enjoying a world of music on what might be only 99.9%-outstanding gear.

[That’s part one. Part 2, if there is one, will quantify just how much this all can cost.]

GOA7: November 2, 2022 stats

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022
As of November 2, 2022, as far as I can tell:


  • Overall report: 774 PDF copies (no books)
  • Countries: 96 PDF copies (no books)
  • Dataset: 170 views, 33 downloads


  • Overall report: 2,496 PDF copies (no books other than my copy)
  • Countries: 322 PDF (no books)
  • Dataset: 770 views, 132 downloads
The last month has seen relatively little use. Note re print books (where I’d love to see one or two sold–I think they’re really good, and get almost nothing over cost): some prices have gone up slightly because Lulu’s raised prices (and for non-US countries Lulu serves, exchange rates have generally worsened). I haven’t updates the overall webpage.