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1995 SOS Readers Survey

Exploration By Paul White
Published September 1995

Ever wondered whether you are a 'typical' SOS reader? Editor Paul White lets you in on a few secrets gleaned from our 1995 Reader Survey...

Just in case you've ever wondered if you're a typical SOS reader, we've put together some of the figures from our latest Reader Survey that you might find interesting. But first, thanks to all 1734 of you who took the time to fill out the survey — the response was most encouraging! Here's a summary of the salient points...

The Typical Reader?

If you happen to have lost track of your birthdays, you might like to know that your average age is around 35 and that a third of you regularly play live gigs as well as record. Your fellow readers cover all ages, from being just about old enough to read to those awaiting their telegram from the Queen; roughly half our readers are over 30. Sadly, the vast majority of readers are male, so those of you who requested a 'lonely hearts' page will probably do better looking elsewhere.

We didn't ask how much you earned precisely, but your accountant might like to know that you spent an average of £2,100 on new gear last year, with a significant number of big spenders topping the £10,000 mark (they're obviously not music magazine editors!). In fact, if we count only the 1734 readers who filled in our survey, you spent between £2.7 and £4.3 million pounds last year between you.

While you are nearly 87% certain to already own a computer, about half of you are still hanging onto your old Atari STs, with take‑up of PCs outstripping the Mac by around two to one. Most of you seem to prefer computer‑based sequencers to hardware sequencers, but one surprise is that only 42% of readers own a sampler. Sampling is fun, guys — what are you waiting for? Get out those credit cards! Of those who do own samplers, only around one third buy sample CDs, even though almost 20% of you own a CD‑ROM drive. But most surprising is that around 70% of you own either an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, or both.

Your Views

I'm pleased to say that over 95% of you say that SOS reviews help you make your purchasing decisions, and considering how few of you have come around to threaten us with physical harm, I guess that we're getting the reviews pretty much right. 57% rated our reviews as 'highly informative', 27% deemed them 'OK as they are', but 16% felt our reviews were 'not critical enough'.

As expected, the majority of you would like even more practical 'how to' and 'hints and tips' articles, so it's obvious you want to get the best out of the equipment you already own, although fewer than 30% of you have attended any kind of training course in electronic music or recording. One thing our survey didn't say is how many of you have bought my Recording & Production Techniques book, but for those who haven't got a copy yet — order now!

When asked what you'd like to see more of in SOS, most of you wrote 'everything', but then you also thought we had the editorial mix and approach about right, which can only mean you want an even bigger magazine. That's fine, but you don't have to write it! Judging by the vast number of you who rate our Readers Ads service very highly, it would appear that you also spend a lot on used equipment, though nowhere near as much as you do on new gear. Presumably, the readers who sold it to you use the cash to buy even more new toys? I know I do.

Just to prove that we do take your comments seriously, virtually all of you would prefer to see the space we devoted to the SOS Readers Tape Exchange given over to more practical articles. In response, we will shortly be abolishing this service and replacing it with other things.

Although 62% of you do not share your copy of SOS with anyone else, 38% of you pass it on to between 1 and 5 other people [c'mon guys, buy your own copy instead! — Publisher].

It's Your Magazine

Of course, you don't have to wait until we publish a Reader Survey to tell us what you think about SOS — you can write, email, or even pick up the phone if you have any comments or suggestions. I'm on the phone to readers every day and it's the questions that arise in day‑to‑day conversation that provide the inspiration for many of our future articles. So, if you think we could do something better, if you have a suggestion for an article, or if you feel that some area has been neglected, please get in touch because we really do like to know what you think.

Equipment Purchases

Here is a breakdown of what the 1734 respondents bought, new and secondhand, in the last year.
<p>Keyboard synthesizer<p>21.8%<p>22.0%
<p>Synth expander/tone module<p>26.4%<p>14.0%
<p>Home/Portable keyboard<p>3.1%<p>2.1%
<p>Dedicated sampler<p>11.7%<p>3.5%
<p>Drum machine<p>12.2%<p>8.9%
<p>Reel‑to‑reel multitrack<p>2.7%<p>3.3%
<p>Digital multitrack<p>4.8%<p>0.8%
<p>Hard disk recorder<p>4.5%<p>0.2%
<p>DAT recorder<p>14.4%<p>3.3%
<p>Cassette multitracker<p>8.6%<p>1.9%
<p>Mixing desk <p>20.8%<p>6.9%
<p>Microphone <p>25.1%<p>8.2%
<p>Multi‑effects unit <p>26.1%<p>9.7%
<p>Compressor/limiter <p>13.4%<p>3.6%
<p>Noise gate <p>5.9%<p>2.0%
<p>Guitar <p>14.0%<p>6.2%
<p>Guitar FX pedal <p>7.7%<p>4.0%
<p>Power amp <p>11.4%<p>4.5%
<p>PA system <p>5.4%<p>2.7%
<p>Other amp/backline <p>7.2%<p>3.4%
<p>Computer <p>24.2%<p>10.3%
<p>Software sequencer<p>22.0%<p>4.4%
<p>Hardware sequencer<p>2.0%<p>2.0%
<p>PC sound card<p>10.7%<p>1.0%
<p>External storage device<p>9.3%<p>1.2%

Age Profile

Under 15 ... 0.3%

15‑20 ... 5.1%

21‑30 ... 38.6%

31‑40 ... 34.8%

41‑50 ... 16.9%

Over 50 ... 4.3%

Competition Winners

Thanks to all of you who filled in the Reader Survey, but sadly only a handful can be the winners of our superb prizes. The lucky blighters are as follows:

  • Fostex XR7 Multitracker Yves Altana, Manchester.
  • Behringer Ultrafex II T. Carter‑Ingram, Swansea.
  • Autopia Terakat 4U rack Mark Peters, Warminster.
  • D‑Zone Sample CDs A. Jaama, Tallinn, Estonia.
  • CP Technology MIDI‑CV Converter Mark Mills, Sutton, Surrey.
  • 1‑Year SOS Subscriptions
    A. White, Bangor, N. Ireland.
    Ally Dunlop, Auchtermuchty, Fife.Jane Woodley, Westcliff, Essex.
    Ben Armstrong, Horsemonden, Kent.
    A. Shipway, Birmingham