Anthony (Tony) Cordesman has passed away

This one hurts!  I've known Tony for a very long time.  My absolute favorite reviewer.  Meet him years ago and have been a huge fan ever since.

Great ears and wonderful gentleman.

R.I.P. Tony...thanks for everything!




I have read him in TAS for years, and had NO idea he was the same guy, the policy analyst! RIP.

<< Dr. Cordesman graduated from the University of Chicago in 1960 and received a master’s degree the next year from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He completed a doctorate from the University of London in 1963.

He served in intelligence analysis posts at the Pentagon and State Department in countries including Egypt and Iran, and at NATO in Brussels and Paris. From the 1988 to 1995, he was national security assistant to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the Senate Armed Services Committee and was civilian assistant to the deputy secretary of defense.

He joined CSIS in 1995 and was most recently the group’s emeritus chair in strategy.

The more than 50 books he wrote or co-wrote covered a range of foreign policy and defense issues including Iran’s nuclear program and China’s expanding military reach in Asia. In “Arab-Israeli Military Forces in an Era of Asymmetric Wars” (2006), Dr. Cordesman analyzed the capabilities of military forces across the Middle East.

Dr. Cordesman’s prolific pen included a passion far from policy wonks and military brass. He contributed articles and reviews for an audiophile magazine, the Absolute Sound, including an annual best-of list called the Golden Ear Awards.

He said he became fascinated by high-end audio gear while working at a stereo shop in Chicago as an undergrad to help with tuition. “My professional life has been in national security,” he wrote, “but I’ve never lost touch with the high end.” >>


I was a fan of his reviews in Stereophile and then TAS.  And I remember seeing him interviewed during the Gulf War.  What a fine learned gentleman.

I didn't share his personal tastes in gear, but I always respected his clear and organized approach to reviews. He was no nonsense without being sterile. He was a very intelligent and good man. I will miss him.

I became aware of his dual existence a few years ago, after having read some articles in Foreign Affairs magazines and TAS.  R.I.P.


RIP Tony! He was a regular at the shop I worked at, Excalibur Audio in Olde Towne Virginia, he was a wonderful gentleman and a friend. I'll always hear him refer to the treble region as "upper octaves", he will be missed.

A fantastic reviewer and gentleman and scholar he will be missed RIP Mr Cordesman.

A great audio writer who always made sense making a well crafted and logical case for whatever he was talking about.

I remember him as a national security analyst or "talking head". Had no idea he also was a HiFi reviewer. Maybe I've read his reviews without paying attention to the byline.  May he rest in peace.

Sad to hear of the passing of this fine gentleman and well respected reviewer.

I always looked for his reviews because he seem to be very objective and unbiased. I believed them.


First read Tony's articles in The Absolute Sound Magazine decades ago. A very  talented man and insightful audio reviewer.  May he rest in peace. 🙏🏼

Read his articles but never knew his true background. A very intelligent man. RIP

 IMO he was one of the most trusted high end audio reviewers. His review of the original Adcom GFA-555 contributed greatly to the hugh success of this product. He will be sorely missed not only in the audio world but in national security affairs and as a media “talking head”. RIP’


The WaPo obit sure puts our hobby in its place…for a Titan of national security policy wonkery, a lifelong obsession, a hobby.  Who will take his place….and I don’t refer to TAS.

I, too, feel compelled to offer my condolences to his family and loved ones!

I was never aware of his love of music and audiophile gear until last year when I happened upon one of his reviews, took notice of the authors name and realized it was THE Tony Cordesman!  I've been reading Stereophile, TAS and other publications for years.  So, unless he used a pen name in the past, it's quite possible I've read some of his stuff in this regard without realizing it.  I always loved and looked forward to his reporting on foreign affairs, trusting and respecting his knowledge and astute analyses of same.  Our planet has lost another good one!

God speed, Tony!

Dr.Cordesman was my absolute favorite reviewer. I bought a few components and speakers on his recommendation. He will be missed in the Audio community. RIP. 

this is sad, another great one from the old guard passes

a serious and influential person in life, not just in our hobby of hifi

r i p

OMGosh. Like others I remember “AC” from TAS. I also recall seeing and hearing his analysises during interviews on the evening news occasionally. Never did imagine them to be the same individual!

I’m saddened by the passing of yet another giant in our hobby.

Godspeed Mr  Cordesman.

Happy listening.



Like so many others, I grew up reading Tony C's TAS reviews and had no idea about his day job as a national security analyst until he began appearing on TV during the Iraq years. Same no-nonsense style either way. Dry, precise, dependable. They don't make 'em like AEC any more. Or Harry Pearson, of course.

I first became aware of AHC from his 1980s Stereophile equipment reviews. Largely based on his rave review of the Apogee Duetta II, I went out of my way to audition them at two different dealers and bought a pair, which I still use as my main speakers.  Around that period he also did a Stereophile survey of top cartridges, and based on his review of the Monster Cable Alpha Genesis 1000, I bought one of those, which I also am still using (has over 1000 hours on it and still sounds like I remember it sounding in the 1990s).  I think he also reviewed the Eminent Technology ET-2 tonearm in Stereophile, which is the tonearm I still use on my SOTA Star Sapphire. 

I later learned of his work in the national security field when I saw him on TV, and assumed it was the same guy--not a common name, and he seemed the right age to be the reviewer.

I will miss AHC. His ears seemed very similar to mine, though his budget was larger.

I found his email decades ago and we exchanged brief messages every 10 years or so. His advice was always sterling.

A favorite comment by AHC, from one of his reviews:

When it comes to actual recordings, I have not yet heard any reason to even go as high as 192kHz. Some of my colleagues disagree, but I have so far found rates above 96kHz/24 bits to be a waste of money. I do buy the 96kHz/24-bit version of the music I download or stream for safety’s sake, but most of the time, a good 16-bit/44.1kHz version of the same mastering of a recordings will sound exactly the same. One has to be very careful in paying what usually is nearly twice as much for the 96kHz/24-bit when there is no way to hear whether there is any difference, particularly with a modern DAC with really good filtering. Oddly enough, the better your DAC, the less likely you are to hear any difference.

Loved his audio reviewing work.  Not nearly as big a fan of his other work as a national and global security analyst.  I wrote to him once because I took issue with something he had written regarding geopolitics, mentioning that I was a big fan of his audio reviews.  He never replied.  Still, he will be missed.  RIP, Anthony.

I read, and trusted, Anthony's reviews for the past 40 years. He had a very good ear and a true talent for putting into words what he heard. His insights will be missed, and the audiophile world is a little murkier with his passing.

AHC pulled the wool over my eyes with his praise of Adcom electronics in the 80’s. At around 19 years old and having just entered HEA with a JVC Y-5F/Ortofon MC 10/ Ohm Walsh 2 speakers/Kimber cables with a Toshiba SA-750. I felt my receiver was my weak link? Purchased an Adcom stack 545 amp 555 pre and tuner. Needless to say other then the increase in power the Amp/Pre were only marginally superior to the Toshiba receiver. Less then a year later I turned in my Adcom power/pre for an Amber Series 70/FF-17 preamp and later Magnepan SMGa’s that provided several levels of improvement. My point is be careful with so-called experts. AHC made a fortune for Adcom and could have been generously compensated? FWIW Steven W. Watkinson was my favorite reviewer in my formative HEA days.

I thought the article was a joke until the last paragraphs.  I remember reading his op-ed's in the newspapers and his name from AS.  Trying to evaluate and figure out audio products and world politics surely share the difficulty of simultaneously accurate subjectivity and objectivity.

I was affiliated with TAS for its first several years.  Tony was absolutely the best reviewer the mag ever had, IMHO. He had a better ear than HP, and did not allow price to bias preference and quality as did HP, unfortunately.   After leaving TAS he also wrote briefly for Audio magazine.