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December 2007
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Sound Practices...
An Audio Archeological Expedition
Article By Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

  Vacations, or holiday as my friends in Europe like to say, are usually filled with fun, sun, and some much-needed rest and relaxation. During a glorious ten days in Hawaii you would think that audio would be far from my mind, yet these quiet, relaxing moments are also when i get my best ideas. While i type this at 25,000 feet above sea level while heading towards home, it was days ago that getting back to my old school ways of surfing also brought about memories of my days at Heathkit... and of one of the great magazines of years past. Specifically, the totally hip and cool Sound Practices.

Sound Practices, published and edited by Joe Roberts, covered everything from do it yourself (DIY) projects to new discoveries in audio to flashbacks of audio history. Sure there was plenty of tube audio and horn loudspeakers, yet it was amazing at bringing about newfound angles and glories in some of the great audio goodies one could easily find back then (that may be rare now and go for 30x the cost when you can find it!). We were not just readers, we participated! This was an interactive print magazine, of sorts, where we used this newish technology called the Internet to participate on Joe Robert's Joelist. Joelist was a mailing list where a reply to the list via e-mail would reach all members who subscribed. Eventually there was a daily-condensed single e-mail version so you would not get 40+ separate e-mails a day.

 

We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled... 

But before i get too far on that topic, over the past few months i have taken some flack from the died-in-the-wool subjective types over the recent addition of the Boston Audio Society (BAS) within our pages. The BAS has members that are Harvard and MIT graduates and who's past members include some legendary names within the industry like Henry Kloss. Sure the BAS is very scientific and has members who are impressive engineers, yet the subjective types should not live in fear of scientific ways of betting the art of audio signal transfer and amplification or ABX tests (this was covered in last month's editorial).

Enjoy the Music.com is not 100 percent about subjective, nor are we 100 percent about objective. We are 100 percent about enjoying the music. There are many types of people with various personal preferences... and ways in which to enjoy the music. It could be through the most esoteric audio gear that easily reaches into the five figure plus category. Perhaps it is the type of person who finds joy in the glow of tubes... or reel-to-reel tape. There is another type of person, for which i was a much more active member of years ago. And that type of person is one who cherishes the glories of DIY.

 

We Now Return You To... Already In Progress

And this leads us right to the now out of print Sound Practices magazine by the audio archeologist Joe Roberts. Sound Practices was totally hip and cool with various notes about now legendary audio gear and many DIY projects. Many people might not know this, but Joe is truly an archeologist of not just audio, Joe scientifically studies the history of mankind. Joe, along with many other writers including Gordon Rankin, Larry Moore, Bottlehead, Jeremy Epstein, etc. are guys i have personally hung out with from time to time and feel privileged to call my friends.

This hip movement back in the day led to a few informally formal get togethers called the nyNOISE. Before that it was the PA Tube Show and in-between we had a small get together in Boston. After nyNOISE was the Vacuum State Of The Art Conference and Show 2003 (VASC) that took a few years off and will be holding another meeting in Washington state in 2008. Yes indeed, yours truly happily traveled to these shows and i'd be remiss if i did not mention the great Vacuum Tube Valley Magazine VTV Expo Audiophile & Music we covered in 2006.

It always makes me wonder if the guys who cry and moan about audio being too expensive have ever tried their hand at building a kit. Many kits nowadays are fairly well pre-assembled, though there are quite a few kits available for the more advanced builder who knows their way around a schematic. So what does this have to do with Sound Practices magazine and how it came to mind during my vacation? Easy, as my holiday in Hawaii brings about the beach bum in me. The beach bum begat the surfer. The dead broke and chemically experimental surfer (think Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High) begat the DIY guy who worked for Heathkit. The Heathkit employee begat...  you get the idea. So there i was, a surfer dude in Hawaii with 20-foot (face) high waves at the North Shore and my mind was flooded with memories of the good ol' days. Perhaps it was the long ago yet not forgotten strangely familiar scent in the air? Anyway... 

Back then us audio nuts subscribed to Sound Practices magazine where receiving a new issue was like manna from heaven. This was nearly religion, with us as readers participating via the Joelist! We participated on the Joelist not just in the hopes of finding ways to get some impressive sound from a 6922 or 300B, but to really take the state-of-the-art in audio into new realms of enlightenment. Remember, this was almost religious for certain readers. Some might seek truth, others enlightenment, and still others the way of audio Zen.

So who were some of these guys you ask? Well, some have come and gone, some of the names you may recognize as they have become 'established' audio designers, and others have moved on into the sunset. While, in one way or another, we all took part in this journey.

So you wanna get in on the fun? Well, here is your chance as Enjoy the Music.com will be publishing one article each month from various editions of Sound Practices! This is your chance to live audio history as it was being made and perhaps catch the fever of DIY... while also learning about audio past. Sure some of the articles are a bit over the edge, yet what do you expect from guys who are fanatics about music and finding new ways to reproduce it! Add to that, we worked together so it was kinda like the Linux or Firefox of audio. And with that said i am here at 25,000 feet above sea level hoping Joe has e-mailed me a few last minute bits i need and snail mailed me others.

Please remember there are some ground rules to this ballgame. Joe is no longer in the audio game and offers his amazing set of historic Sound Practices documentation for all those who desire it via eBay.... but be cool and don't be sending him questions about the sound of orange drops, tantalums or various BGs in certain types of circuitry implementation. He is, after all, retired from the game.

And so it brings me great pleasure at 5am to say we have some of very best in English language-based audio magazines here at Enjoy the Music.com including The Absolute Sound, The Audiophile Voice, The $ensible Sound and excerpts from the Boston Audio Society. Add to that, we now are bringing some great history to the Internet with never before seen online Sound Practices articles! Of course in the end what really matters is that we all....

Enjoy the Music (Jesus Jones "Right Here, Right Now"),

Steven R. Rochlin

 "A woman on the radio talks about revolution
When it's already passed her by
But Bob Dylan didn't have this to sing about you
You know it feels good to be alive

I was alive and I waited waited
I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now, there is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now
Watching the world wake up from history

I saw the decade in, when it seemed
The world could change at the blink of an eye
And if anything
Then there's your sign of the times

I was alive and I waited waited
I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now...
Watching the world wake up from history..."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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