1. As a child, growing up in a sleepy seaside town in southern England, I
was fed a diet of classical music by my mother, traditional jazz by my
father, and scraps of rock and folk music from my brother and fellow Enjoy
The Music.com™ contributor, Alvin. Listening
to Schubert, Beethoven, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet,
Act 2. I was educated in mathematics and
economics in a fine old university town, with no hall large enough for a full
orchestra, but no shortage of church choirs, chamber music and solo recitals.
This background has informed my life's preferences for small-scale
performances and the love of choral music. Listening to Mozart, Bach, Edmond
Hall, Earl Hines, The Beatles, Ten Years After.
Act 3. The hero becomes a sheep farmer. I would
take large flocks of sheep out to pasture, and listen to music on a tiny
transistor radio. I remember listening to the BBC world service on the hills
outside Nazareth. Listening to Mahler, Bruckner, Stravinsky, Oscar Peterson.
Act 4. I join the army, and thankfully, never
see action. I learn to drive a tank, and find there are advantages to
monocular vision. No music at all!
Act 5. Enough physical work -- I'm not cut out
for it. Now I become an actuary, and move to Canada. Many fine concerts, a
wonderful Meridian active system, and my Linn Sondek is born, November 1980.
The next year I get married. Listening to Bach, Bach and more Bach.
Act 6. I switch to software development, and
set up my own business with two partners. Two children and much music fill the
house. Musical horizons expand. Listening to Latin Jazz, Cannonball Adderley,
Sonny Rollins, Klezmer bands, Early Music, Shostakovich, Piazzolla.
Act 7. Music and equipment reviewer, in the evenings and at weekends. A new age is just beginning...
Chamber music: The George Weston Hall in the Toronto Arts Centre
music: The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
music: The Chapel of Kings College Cambridge
In many cases I use recordings by artists that I have heard live to assess the sound from the equipment I review.
I love jazz played by small groups of musicians, but I don't carry a mental
yardstick for how this should sound. Instead I look for air and space around
each instrument, strong realistic tonality, warmth, a very wide frequency
range and a sense of ease, a total absence of strain. If I feel I'm in the
same room with the musicians, I know it's working. Folk music follows a
For pop and rock music, who knows what it should really sound like? What is
the true tonality of these electric instruments? Is that distortion meant to
be there? Here I judge on a more subjective level. Do the various elements in
the mix come through clearly, am I hearing low level information, are
transients well reproduced or is the effect harsh and fatiguing? I would never
use rock music alone to judge sound, but I like to include it as one factor