Audiophile hype is necessary.

treesinlisbonIf you are a stressed commuter, the tree in the photo will make you curse specially in rainy days. Not only it hides the time of arrival panel but also the incoming bus.
Now let’s say there’s an car accident and the same tree saves the lives of the commuters, will they still hate the placement of the tree after such event? Perspective is a curious thing and it can be applied to everything.

The audiophile hobby these days is flooded by hype products but some of them can actually bring more music enthusiasts to the hobby, and that is a great thing at least for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate hype specially when it brings bullshit to the table (Yes, Sony! I’m looking at your SD audiophile cards), but hype also makes big players in the Hi-Fi industry move their asses and actually make good use of their engineering teams. Sadly it also makes some products more expensive, for instance you now pay more for entry price turntables because of the vinyl hype.

I wrote about hype before the Pono player was released. Pono the High-Resolution player gain massive traction from artists that really noticed the difference of High-Rez audio inside a car. On the good side because of it, companies from all around the world jumped on the bandwagon and now everybody can purchase better audio players.

The Beats headphone hype also gave a breath of fresh air to the on-the-go music market, companies like Sony, Sennheiser, AKG and other big players had to up their design, quality and advertising to face the competition of star athletes turned audiophiles. Yes, because everyone knows soccer players know how good headphones should sound.
Hype, gonna love it! Jokes aside, finally headphones started to be viewed as an amazing way to hear music even by high-end magazines.

The hype behind the portable digital to analogue converters (DACs) and headphone amplifiers also made companies like Creative Labs release solid gear for a decent price.
As the owner of the Creative Labs Sound blaster E1 and soon the E5 I can only be grateful of the hype behind this kind of gear. When the big players come to the market everyone wins! Niche audiophile companies might suffer but the consumer wins.

Hype for all that matters is a necessary evil if the hobby wants new blood in the ranks.

New book for my colection.

Last week I was on my way home and there was a book fair on the subway, I usually don’t have the time to visit discount fairs but that afternoon I was in a good mood, I asked the store clerk if they had books about music, she presented me with this lovely almost 4cm high book about records.
Priced at 20€ I didn’t think twice and it came home with me, the photos don’t show the quality of the print or the quality of the paper, plus it comes in 4 languages (Got love Taschen for that one).

Most of you know I don’t own vinyl records but this book is amazing, even if you don’t have vinyl at home. If you enjoy vinyl try to find a copy and at least give it a look. 

I’m not affiliated with Taschen or any book store, I paid this book with my money and if Taschen asks I’ll remove the photos.  

Audio Enthusiasts – Rob Leroy – RF engineer.

Rob Leroy
is a engineer by trade, this means he has a professional insight about audio that only professionals have and its something that shows in his own writings.
I really respect his words so this interview was a true joy to make.
Btw Rob your Pioneer gear is a beauty, they don’t make them like that anymore.

1. Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure.  I grew up in New England and lived there until about ten years ago. I now live here in Ohio with my wife, Ann. I’m a dad and granddad. My day job is in RF engineering. My kids think I should retire to devote full time to writing and photography which I enjoy. But my first passion has always been audio.

2. What music do you enjoy and why?
I listen to classical and jazz primarily because it is the music I grew up with. These recordings tend to be done with more care to detail and are less often overproduced. I love rock and folk, too, but that is a different experience for me. There is nothing wrong with cranking it up to 11 and losing yourself in the fury.

3. Why are you enthusiastic about audio?
It’s all my dad’s fault. I grew up surrounded by my dad’s hi-fi gear back in the 1950’s. His day job was to produce musical programs for figure skaters and way back then, he had to pretty much build his audio system from scratch. As a young lad, I was fascinated by the music and the sound and the science. Ever since then, listening to well-recorded and reproduced music has been a transcendent experience for me.

In the last few years, there has been an explosion of new audio technologies and products. Some of these are truly revolutionary. But others are nothing less than fraudulent. It offends me to see these purveyors of audio snake oil preying on the (many) inexperienced newcomers to the hobby. Stop talking about sound as if it were wine.

4. What audio gear do you use?
Back in New England I used to have my own home studio devoted to recording and producing for local talent before it became so simple for artists to do all that for themselves. But frankly I did not listen to music for the sheer joy that I do now. I have always been partial to vintage gear because manufacturers used to put their value into performance instead of cosmetics. My listening room presently consists of vintage Pioneer gear (top to bottom) SX-1280 receiver / RT-707 open reel deck / PL-518 turntable with an Audio-Technica AT120E cartridge / CT-F 1000 cassette deck.

For speakers (not shown),a double pair of “New” advents.

OK. OK. I also do have a Sony CD player. Ugh.

5. What would be your perfect audio gear setup?
It’s not so much about the setup. Linearity and dynamic range electronics are abundant nowadays and can be measured objectively. The real issues are source material, transducers, and acoustics in the listening environment. Even if cost were no object I would not waste good money on “warm tube sound” or goofy 10K$ turntables or speakers that look like a brass band. The laws of acoustics (and psychoacoustics) are what they are. Get used to it.

Give me two high quality front channels, and a  simple “A minus B” ambience recovery channel above and to the sides. Done. The whole system (turntable / cartridge / amplification / speakers / ) should not set you back more than $2500. The listening room acoustics are another matter.

6. What is your favorite format for audio and why?
This is a trick question Raphael! There is a place and time for them all. I have a ton of (mediocre) MP3 files that I love to listen to around the house when I am cooking a fabulous dish for my lovely wife. I also have a ton of lossless digital files that I enjoy usually with headphones late in the evening. But when I really want the whole enchilada I put on vinyl and let the Advents sing. Goosebumps.

7. Would you like to share some photos of your audio gear?
FYI / if you would like more sage audio abuse advice like the above interview, feel free to visit my tumblr audio blog.

Interview conducted 21/06/2014

The concept behind Audio Enthusiasts was inspired from the amazing My Linux Rig. If you want to get interviewed drop me a line on my Tumblr, or via Twitter.