VUmètre comes over all Anglophone!
By Roy Gregory
Given the parlous state of the existing (I hesitate to use the term ‘established’) English Language magazines, it is as welcome as it is surprising to see a new entry to the market. Surprising that is, until you appreciate that far from being a ‘new’ title, this is an existing magazine that is both well established and well-respected. It’s just that this is the first time it has appeared in English.
VUmètre is by far the most interesting of the French audio titles. Editor Laurent Thorin had a long history working at Haute Fidelité before branching out on his own. The digest sized print edition is beautifully designed and replete with equipment reviews by experienced writers and excellent, in-depth music articles. Much of that content is now being offered, in English, online, for free at https://vumetre.com/en/.
A certain je ne sais quoi…
French manufacturers have long been amongst the most inventive yet insular audio producers, meaning that many of their most interesting products are rarely seen beyond their native borders. VUmètre currently draws a substantial proportion of the products it reviews from its home market, meaning that many of the brand names and many of the products themselves will be unfamiliar to English language readers – making the content all the more interesting. Mix that with reviews of more familiar units but written from a distinctly Gallic perspective and the equipment coverage is a real breath of fresh air. Talking of the Gallic perspective, the language is interesting too. Although the English translation is both excellent and entirely comprehensible, it will never be mistaken for the scribblings of a native English speaker. Instead, the mode of expression and the cultural underpinnings are, somehow, unmistakably French.
I could start listing contents, but instead, why not take a look for your self. Sadly, the initial tranche of material contains none of the superb music coverage that features so prominently in the print magazine. The last issue contained a fascinating interview with Víkingur Ólafsson and a comprehensive history/retrospective of Dead Can Dance, along with extensive music reviews. Hopefully, if this initiative receives the attention and support it so richly deserves, the music coverage will follow.
For the moment, VUmétre/en might be the inevitable work in progress, but it is off to a great start. It is not just a great source of new reading and new perspectives on things audio. It is also a valuable new opportunity for coverage of product from manufacturers of any nationality. The parent magazine may well be profoundly and proudly French, but as this initiative shows, it also understands the importance of spreading its wings. So if you are fed up with reading the same old same old, or fighting against the same entrenched prejudice, you know where to look. Any magazine with a tagline that reads “Magazine Hi-Fi Independent Non Conformiste” just has to be worth a read!