Harry Pearson, HP and The High-End As We Know It

Harry Pearson, HP and The High-End As We Know It

Editor's Note: HP is significant in the development of Hi-Fi+ in that he was a friend of, source of inspiration to, and (in a sense) a role model for, Hi-Fi+ founding editor, Roy Gregory. In an indirect way, HP helped to draw Tom Martin's attention to Hi-Fi+, which eventually led to a decision on Martin's part to purchase and develop Hi-Fi+, just as he earlier had done with TAS.

Additionally, HP was notoriously reticent to see his picture in print, and as a mark of respect, we have run through the company archive to find what he might have considered his best side - some of the classic TAS covers!

I first became aware of Harry Pearson, without exactly realizing it, in the spring of 1973. I was in my first year at university in the U.S., and I happened upon a tiny classified ad in Rolling Stone magazine promising a new, critically rigorous, audio magazine. As a budding audiophile I immediately sent in my check for what I suppose was something like $8, even though that was quite a bit of money for a student in those days.  A few months later, I received Issue 1 of The Absolute Sound (or TAS for short).

To understand the impact that Harry Pearson (or HP as was his nom de plume) and TAS made on high-performance audio, you need to take your mind back to those days. You need to go back because now it is hard to imagine the advent of a single magazine making such an impact. But at that time, at least in the U.S., there was only one publication attempting to describe, in detail, the sonic differences between different pieces of audio gear. That publication was Stereophile, edited and mostly written by the great J. Gordon Holt. Unlike the modern Stereophile, JGH published irregularly. And that is putting it mildly, because readers would sometimes wait a year or longer between issues. With a hobby that was really beginning to take off, that simply wasn’t enough to either cover much of the available equipment or to keep up with new technological developments.

HP’s TAS stepped into that void. And though HP was hardly publishing on an exact schedule, he generally managed to get at least three issues out per year. That kept audio junkies in the game, though I have to say there were times when the wait for a new issue was excruciating.

A outside cover was a canvas to HP: the last pages of TAS #23 and #28

But once an issue arrived, oh how it was devoured! On the day of arrival, I would sequester myself in my dorm room or bedroom and just begin reading. A day or two later, the entire issue had been consumed—every word—and some re-reading began. If you have children or grandchildren who were readers of the Harry Potter series, you will likely have witnessed similar behaviors. No more avid study would greet the arrival of a newly discovered and authentic book of the bible at an evangelical prayer meeting.

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