It is that time of year where we wonder to ourselves, "Is it almost 2006 already? Where did the past year go?" For Enjoy the Music.com, 2005 has been busying hiring writers most of you are already familiar with due to their longstanding involvement within the industry. Professional audio enthusiasts surely know about John Gatski, who also owns and edits the industry's leading review and information print magazine Pro Audio Review. Jules Coleman's enthusiasm has been enjoyed for many years within the New York scene and his writing will soon be appearing within these pages. UK-based journalist Chris Beeching's career in writing started in about 1976 and since then has included Audiophile, Classic CD, Hi-Fi News, Hi-Fi World, Jazz on CD, plus Listener.
It is amazing when one realizes we have reported on over 250 Industry News events in the past year! Other happenings in 2005 consist of many show reports, reviews within both our Review Magazine and ultra-fi Superior Audio that i am considering doubling Superior Audio from a bi-monthly magazine to releasing a new issues every month! For years some people have been saying that high-end audio is dead, yet the demand for superior performing, mega-buck cost-no-object designs appears to be on the increase! As such we are steeping up our efforts in Superior Audio, yet at the same also focusing on high value for the dollar designs within our Review Magazine. High price does not always equal great performance just as lower price goods does not always equal making any great sacrifice. There are many extraordinary products available to audiophiles for under $2,000!
Blue Notes and Gifts
This month signals our first annual Great Audiophile Gift honors. Many of us have family and friends who wonder just what to get their audiophile for the holiday season. We hope to have made their job easier as our variety of choices make great gifts! Audiophile goodies need not be expensive, as our list highlights great accessories priced from free to only a few hundred dollars. Make it easy for those who want to buy you a gift by printing out our Great Audiophile Gift article and highlight those items you want to receive. Perhaps all your audiophile friends can get together and give each other gifts from our list, as it is better to give than receive.
Protected Disc Roundup
Scott grew up in the 1960's and was raised by parents that grew up in the Great Depression. That meant they listened to music and the radio quite a bit. "Music raised me," says Scott. "It has always been a welcome friend. When I'd get home from school, I seldom turned on the TV. I usually went straight for the stereo. That holds true to this day."
As a young lad, he had an inquisitive mind and needed to know how and why things worked. In turn, he was forever dissecting and trying to reassemble things and would get in more trouble for taking things apart than you could ever imagine. His love of music lead to operating on stereos of course and his first major project was when his parents decided to get rid of their old tubed console stereo. Needless to say Scott promptly gutted the cabinet, built individual cases for the amplifier and tuner, followed by designing his first loudspeaker enclosures. Because his cousin worked for Speaker Lab up in Seattle as a speaker designer, at family gatherings they would spend time talking shop and his cousin would imparting some new wisp of knowledge to me. All this before Scott was a teenager! Most impressive, but there is more....
As time went on, he built bigger and bigger loudspeaker and audio projects. He would rescue old console stereos and work his magic, though as many DIY'ers including myself know, we have also suffered from an arm numbing zap of electricity. Scott's first entry into the solid-state realm was a nice discrete quad setup including a quad turntable. In the early Internet days he would rack up $400 long distance phone bills from dialing up and lurking on the audio boards, connecting at a smokin 4,800 baud through the Prodigy Network. This is when Scott says "I think that's when the high end bug bit me again. Since then, I've spent way too much time and money in the stereo shops and on eBay." From here on out Scott will tell the tale:
When it comes to the 'sound' that blows my skirt up, its valves and vinyl. After all these years, I'm still a hardcore analog guy. I never abandoned my vinyl rig. Through the years I continued to buy records. When they pulled them from the shelves at the local records stores, I'd go to flea markets, garage sales or anywhere I could to find vinyl. As a result I have got so much vinyl I don't quite know what to do with it all. Don't get me wrong with my talk of vinyl; I've got a boatload of CD's too. My collection has to be over 1000 by now. As you can imagine, I use a tubed output on my CD player. I really enjoy the convenience of CD's. Lately I've really been getting into using your computer as a music server (with lossless compression, of course).
My love of tubes has led me down the single-ended triode and full range drivers path. After years and years of my own speaker designs, I've learned to dislike passive crossovers and tweeters. Not that some don't sound very nice, but I've yet to find a pair that sounds more like 'real' music than my single drivers. If you read my bio, I've got a full description of how I do it. I'm one of the very few reviewers out there that actively bi-amps their systems. I've been actively bi-amp'ing since the 70's. Thing was back then I had no idea it was actually 'high-end'; I just knew it sounded better.
Over all these years, I've maintained my curiosity for why things work and sound like they do. In turn, I'm still an avid DIY'er and tweaker. I love building and tweaking gear. This is a great way to learn and understand how and why gear sounds like it does. There is no substitute for hands on experience. Since classes on thermonic technology and speaker design don't exist (at least where I'm from), I've resorted to buying old books from the 1940's and 1950's and taught myself. Though that light bulb hasn't gone off in my head yet where it all clicks, I'm pretty close.
When it comes to the sound itself, a system needs to sound great at both low and high SPL's. I say high SPL's because I'm still a head banger at heart. What I find grating are overly forward, analytical and lifeless sounding systems. I've yet to hear a bright acoustic event. In turn, that is where so many pieces of gear (speakers in particular) get it all wrong. My musical tastes are extremely eclectic. I listen to (and buy) nearly every genre that exists. To give you an idea, my latest two purchases were Disturbed Believe and Cyclo (a super cool Italian Jazz band). Since my kids are now grown, my wife and I are free to pick up where we left off in the early 80's. We've become avid concertgoers again. We take in (easily) twenty shows a year. The fun part is, we are now in a stage of life where we can combine concert with a mini-getaway. We've been known to pack a couple of bags and travel to some far off city to see a show.
Using my experience as a writer for the past six or seven years, I'm starting to get my feet wet interviewing some of my favorite artists. I've yet to publish any of my interviews. Transcribing a half-hour long conversation isn't exactly what I'd consider fun, so on my computer the wav files sit. Who knows, one of these days I'll get ambitious and start listening and typing. When I can get a press pass to a concert, I've rekindled another old hobby, photography. Shooting the events can be loads of fun, especially when you get that killer shot.
Fortunately, I've got a nice amount of experience with high-end gear. Locally, we've had (and have) some decent shops that carry a carried selection of gear. I've lost track of how many formal reviews I've written but it's got to be well into the hundreds by now. When it comes to reviewing gear, I am not a believer in measurements. Unfortunately, measurements don't tell the whole story, regardless of what the graphs state. Too many people rely on measurements and pointless blind testing to make decisions. They let their brains get in the way of their ears, which is a complete mistake in my humble opinion. Who cares if some double blind taste test survey can pick out Preparation H seven of ten times. Music is about emotion, not measurements and blind testing. Emotions are completely subjective and highly personal. What turns me on may sound like cats mating to you. That's just fine. In the end, we all have our preferences in sound. Why? Because nothing in audio sounds like the real thing. It's all just a recording.
My job as a reviewer is to tell you (as best I can) how a piece sounds, regardless if I like it or not. Considering Big Steven R. Rochlin asked me for two or three paragraphs to spotlight myself and I've just typed three pages, you can bet what I write will describe what a piece sounds like (at some point).
In the end, I just love music. That and I love to write short stories, which is all that reviews are. I'm lucky that I've been able to turn my love of music into a pretty darned cool hobby... writing audio reviews.
Thanks Scott for allowing us better insight into your deep love for music. Stay tuned as next month we will focus on yet another journalist for Enjoy®. As we always say, in the end what really matters to me is that we all....