I shan’t make a habit of this, but this is the inaugural bit of correspondence.

Ben Kwong writes:

Hi Stephen,I recently just got back from the Sony Product Launch and did a search on the new KVHR36M31 Tv and stumbled across your site!

I must say I am very impressed by some of your articles after some brief reading of your website. Its been a while since I’ve found a whole heap of good reading, it’ll distract me from my studies! I absolutely love home ent and also pondered the idea of freelance writing as I’ve been involved in a few forum discussions/debates. Only thing that’s making me think twice is I lack experience. Any tips?

I’ll definitely be passing this onto my colleagues for reading! Once again, great site!

To which I replied:

I ought to give you a prize (but don’t hold your breath!) You’re the first person to write to me via my new site.Thanks for your very kind remarks. I’ll keep trying to get up material of general use to home entertainment and hi fi enthusiasts.

Regarding freelance writing, the first thing to do is make sure you keep up your studies. Freelancing is not the way to wealth. But as to doing it, all I can do is tell you what I did. I bought a bit of computer software back in the early 90s. Then I thought I really ought not to have hit the credit card that way. Then I used the software, thought of a fairly original view about it, and figured maybe I could recoup the cost by selling a review. So I just wrote it, using that idea as the theme, and sent it to a magazine. Not one of the industry leaders, but a nice little middle-of-the-market production. Heard nothing so I rang up the editor, who said ‘Sure, we’ll use it!’ And so it started, with ad hoc articles from time to time for a few years. Eventually I had an opportunity to toss in my day job, so I started concentrating on the writing. I intended to do computers, but one of the first ideas I had concerned portable stereo gear. I lobbed the idea at an editor, who agreed. From there, it just built up.

My rules for writing reviews are simple. First, I try to relate the technology to its effects. That the DMD in a DLP has a zillion literally flippin’ mirrors is interesting. But the important thing about it is what it provides on the viewing screen: relatively dark blacks, providing a richer picture, and relatively narrow between-pixel borders, providing a smoother picture.

Second, I write about a product with proper regard to its price. Sure, we’d all love Krell power amps and B&W 801 speakers, but there are lots of people out there (including me) who want the best they can get for a given budget. My aim is not to tell them what that is, but what kinds of things to avoid and what kinds of things to keep in mind.

Third, I don’t read anyone else’s reviews on the items I’m writing about. I don’t like a group mentality on anything. Since so much in this game is subjective, there is much room for legitimate disagreement. Better that a range of opinions be aired.

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