Readers Review Stereophile's Poem LP Fourth Runner-Up
I feel as if I know you all personally after reading your prose religiously for three and a half years. "Stereophile cutting an LP!" I thought, "This is going to be one heck of a recording!" My copy of Poem arrived on February 17th. Oh, boy! I was so excited, I could hardly wait for it to get dark outside so that I could begin some serious listening. Night fell, and Poem lay on my trusty Well-Tempered Record Player (footnote 1). I lowered the arm into the lead-in groove and the Grado brought forth the first notes of side one. I turned out the lights and settled into my sweet seat. Sixty seconds later, my heart started breaking, as if JA, LA, and RL had just played some practical joke on me, and snatched $17.98 from my clutching hands. I had been had.
The sound was atrocious. "Grainy," "congested," "veiled," and "edgy" aren't strong enough adjectives to describe this recording. My god, it sounds as if the tape is oversaturated, the VUs pegged at +9dB and no one cares! I realized quickly that I truly couldn't endure more than 10 minutes of side one. The surface noise was worse than recordings that I have from the major labels. There was nothing palpable about this record. I can't describe the musicality of this record since I can't stand to listen to a complete side.
I was so looking forward to describing the luscious sound that I just assumed that you would be able to capture. You got my hopes up, then let me way down. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
My conclusion is that either:
A) This is really a trick. You are trying to see if everyone will write in waxing poetic about how marvelous you geniuses are. They will talk of "timbre so sweet, you can taste the platinum!" Ha, Ha! You will have the last laugh when 10,000 audiophiles write in telling you about how marvelous your record is, and in the June issue you expose that you really recorded Poem using exclusively Tandy equipment, from mikes to portable deck.
Or B) You have truly captured the sound of the recording venue. If this is really the case, then I prefer the sound of recorded music done well. I own many recommended recordings—Cheskys, Reference Recordings, Wilsons, Sheffield Labs, old Mercurys, and even a handful of Shaded Dogs. Poem is not in the same league. Poem is dreck. I am not being facetious; I can't believe how bad this record is.
It breaks my heart to have to rain on your parade. Telling a friend he has done a bad job is not easy. The sad truth is, Poem is unlistenable.—Scott Weinman, Redondo Beach, CA
Footnote 1: My LP playback system consists of a Well-Tempered Record Player fitted with a Grado TLZ. MIT 330 interconnects go to an Adcom GFP-555 preamp. Aural Symphonics As-One interconnects go to a heavily modified Adcom GFA-555 amp (Musical Fidelity in Los Angeles, highly recommended). Bi-wired AudioQuest Red fitted with WBT expanding bananas feeds my Vandersteen 2Cis on Sound Anchor stands. Records are cleaned on a VPI HW16.5, and I use a Discwasher stylus brush (dry).