Having been raised in what I'd call a virtual "anti-musical" environment (my mother's a sweetheart, but her idea of good stuff is Lawrence Welk, and my late stepfather considered any music intolerable noise), I've been merrily overcompensating ever since. Starting with rock-'n-roll in high school, I plunged into folk, jazz and classical in college, got deeply into the blues during graduate school in Chicago, and I've been an unrepentant music junkie ever since. I use that term because there's nothing more vital to my well being than daily doses of music. My favorite instrument is the female voice in all its infinite variety, but my most-often-attended live events are the concerts of my beloved local band, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which I attend virtually every week during the season. During the summertime in Chicago offers more high-quality musical fare for free than any other American city: the wonderful Grant Park Symphony plays 31 concerts at Frank Gehry's spectacular Pritzker Pavilion In Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue -- a venue which from the good permanent seats close to the stage has better acoustics than many indoor halls I have known.
I plead guilty to being an audiophile, but it's the music that drives my passion for audio. While I admire elegant design and engineering, my principal demand of any system, component or recording is that it opens the door to emotional connection. I'd characterize myself as intuitively a right-brain listener, seeking beauty and pleasure -- although reviewing equipment also demands attention to left-brain quantitative and analytical matters, and I try my best to give those factors due weight.
As an equipment reviewer my interests diverge. On one hand I'm fascinated by cost-be-damned attempts to create audio art of transcendent performance. But as someone who has always had to work for his money, I delight in equipment that combines good value with musicality. I also dig tweaky ways to make things sound more musical. I write about all those areas for Enjoy the Music.com.
While it is always satisfying to come across great audio gear, my favorite reviewer's hat is that of Classical Music Editor-- with an occasional nod to good stuff on the popular and jazz fronts. After all, we all know that what matters most is that you....
A few facts: I live in a spacious apartment in an historical building (built 1891, the same year the Chicago Symphony was founded -- a serendipitous coincidence), within easy walking distance of the city's major cultural venues. Now largely retired, I was for 15 years a communications consultant and writer for high-tech Silicon Valley companies including Apple, Sun, Oracle, Cisco and many more. In addition to logging countless hours in front of my speakers, I attend about 80 live musical events per year. (I'm puzzled by the number of reviewers who rarely attend live concerts. How do they know how well a system tells the truth about music without maintaining a sense of how the real thing sounds?) Previous review gigs were with The Absolute Sound, Fi, Ultimate Audio and Listener magazines.
System & Environment
Analog sources: VPI Aries 3 turntable with VPI single-motor rim drive, JMW 10.5i arm, Super Platter upgrade, TNT feet, SDS speed controller, VPI periphery clamp and Millenium Silentor LP center clamp & carbon fiber M-LP-Mat ; Dynavector XV-1s cartridge; Jolida JD-402 tube tuner
Digital source: Denon/Modwright 3910 all-format player with tube output stage, NOS RCA low-noise tubes; iMac computer
Core electronics: VTL TL 7.5 Series II line preamplifier with NOS RCA low-noise 12AU7 tubes; Ray Samuels "Emmeline" XR-10B phono preamplifier; Spectron Musician III Mk II amplifiers, upgraded with Bybee SE Internal Bullets and V-Caps, configured as monoblocks
Loudspeakers: Analysis Audio Amphitryon planar/ribbons with custom outboard passive crossovers upgraded with Bybee SE Internal Bullets
Interconnects: JPS Labs Aluminata
Speaker Cables: JPS monoblock remote semse; JPS Aluminata jumpers from crossovers to speakers
Power cables: Bybee (various), TG Audio Slver
Accessories: 2 ExactPower EP-15A voltage-regulating power conditioners; Bybee/Curl Pro power conditioner, upgraded with Bybee SE Internal Bullets; Arcici Suspense Rack; Sanus A/V rack; Ginkgo Audio isolation platforms & turntable dust cover; Bybee Golden Goddess Speaker, RCA Interconnect & XLR Interconnect Bullet plug-ins; Bybee Magic Bullet II RCA plug-ins; VPI HW-27 Typhoon record washing machine; Auto Desk CD lathe; AudioTop Digital, Vinyl & Connect cleaning products; Millenium carbon fiber M-CD damping disc, M-LP platter mat & Silentor center weight; Shakti Stones & On-Lines; ; Furutech DeStat & DeMag; Synergistic Research Acoustic ART room treatment.
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