Stereophile and the love of hotel decor

I often appreciate the Stereophile review of industry shows but one thing that always bothers me is the choice of images. They often lead with a full-system image which is usually 80% hotel curtains and rugs.  That is, there's a speaker in the left, the system in the middle and another speaker on the right.  That's fine but if you look at the image as a whole, the area of the image that is covered by gear is about 20% or less.  The rest is invariably 1980's hotel curtains and rugs.

Once you see it that way there’s no going back, your eyes see the curtains and rugs forever.

I really wish they’d focus on more interesting close-ups or even montages.


"I really wish they’d focus on more interesting close-ups or even montages."

With the state of the world today it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans!

because audiophiles are pretty bad at many things including taste in furniture, sense of humor, baking, going to the kid's baseball game and taking pictures. 

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If I were you, I would contact Stereophile and complain.  You will have to be a Karen to really get your point across.  🤣😂

Last years Tampa show, all the audio mags stated there were large crowds, and crowded rooms. The only room that was crowded was the dining room. We didn’t see anybody on some floors, we were the only 1’s in some rooms, why didn’t they report this? Also 90% of the rooms didn’t sound that good and the products were very expensive. I wish the audio mags would tell things like they are, good or bad

Yeah, I am bored.

Also, I was trying to focus on the surface area that the hotel decor takes up when you try to photograph an entire system. When your picture composition is like this:




Invariably your picture has more of the room than the gear, by a lot. Like 80% of the image is the room and 20% is the gear. That is what I meant by saying you can't unsee it.  Not the hideous curtains but the total waste of image space.

As Robert Cappa said, "If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough."

As a photography enthusiast, I totally get it. Photos like these make me cringe a little.

I am starting to focus more on the “in between” in my own listening environment…trying to integrate the acoustic room treatments with millwork design. I don’t have the luxury of a independent listening room so important that the details work together without drawing too much attention to the purpose. I plan to use a 60’s inspired slat wall in walnut no drapes in sight! to integrate speakers cabinetry and acoustic treatments.

Necessity often breeds creativity, limited space of a condo collapses that residual space and intensifies the mix of materials colour and textures.

I hear you....if I can't be there to hear them, it would be nice if they focused in on the speakers and gear, then the back drop.

PS - Also, I am not trying to complain about how audiogoners decide to decorate their homes.  If 1970's faux wall paneling goes well with your 1990's black oak speakers and your Technics stack, more power to you. 

I'm just saying I wish Stereophile pictures would focus on the gear and less on the hotel room.

Doesn’t everyone still have Burnt Orange shag carpet throughout their homes?😁😁

Doesn’t everyone still have Burnt Orange shag carpet throughout their homes?😁😁


Only in the sexy rooms. 

Stereophile should disclose their major investment in the Hotel Curtains R’ Us franchise. Their selection of rugs is still a mystery to me.

Here is a perfect recent example. Two speakers, gear in the middle. If we cover up the gear, 80% of this image is the hotel room. Even if you wanted to have speaker to speaker coverage, what point is there in including so much carpet and window in this shot?


Focals in Hotel Room

I remember those shots. To refresh my mind I went back to look for an example. The first show I found was The Absolute Sound show report July/August this year. Not a single curtain shot… all close ups. I went looking for a Stereophile show article and gave up but I remember them. Thanks @erik_squires… I can stop looking.


A reason these wide shots are useful is to put the look and scale in context. With only a shot if a speaker it is harder to get a feeling for size. Also, it gives you a feel for how bad the acoustics might have been for a person listening to the system. You can alway find lots of color glossy promo shots… in the same issue usually.

I agree with the idea that a sense of scale is important, but I’d trade sexy for scale, and you can usually get that from a single speaker shot.

Take a look at the picture I took above for instance.  Nothing in the room gives any sense of scale at all except perhaps the power strip to the right of the amp.  In this case I don't think we can tell much by seeing it all.

I'd prefer show coverage to be sexy first, and encyclopedic second honestly.

The OP is right...

But i quit reading audio review long ago now...



@mahgister Oh, I never bother reading about sound quality from the text. :)

I am however interested in the new gear, pricing and industry news though.

I did not say this for you...

You are a designer then you must inform yourself..

me i am only a music lover and dont need to know about speakers design as you need for sure...


My best to you..


@mahgister Oh, I never bother reading about sound quality from the text. :)

I am however interested in the new gear, pricing and industry news though.

I'm contacting stereophile and the hotels to put an end to this visual annoyance.



You know after looking at that photo you posted. It has all contradictory scale component. The lamp would normally be 5’ high?, a normal hotel window starts three feet above the ground. All that is different than the scale implied by the power strip. 


1980’s hotel curtains sound better than anything made today. 

That's just because that's all you are used to hearing.  If you heard 1970's curtains you'd realize what crap all other curtains are.

People are ignorant of Art Deco years and how acoustically good are curtains designed by the years 1910 till 1935...





«Utopia is a recipe that decrease a lot by cooking time, then it take a huge amount to begin with »-- Groucho Marx 🤓





I remember Art Dudley's  photos of shoes taken at an audio show.Some included the wearer's foot and the carpet. No equipment:-)


I'll admit that I do have a soft spot for 70's/80's Howard Johnson's carpet

... but does your room smell like fried clams????????

Comes as a package deal. Writers/reporters often scramble with limited time prior, during, and after the show aka not much interest to further change the pics.

Those color photo costs why take three photos when one gets them all even if curtain and rug are included.