It's a strange sort of progress: As culture and commerce evolve, most people look for simple, easy solutions to their needs. Enthusiasts, however, go out of their way to complicate matters, often choosing products that are expensive and difficult to use. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the world of home audio, where typical consumers have embraced the notion of smallish, self-contained music systems—yet audiophiles, who are surely as crazy as bedbugs, seem bent on parsing an ever-increasing number of individually distinct products from the basic concept of a music system.
Along with speakers and their placement, the greatest influence on the sound of a music system are the acoustics of the room itself. With two-channel stereo, some reflections and reverberations are necessary in order to maintain the perception that one is listening in a real space. So, while many experts recommend having a "dead" end behind and near the speakers that absorbs most sound, few suggest such treatment for the rest of the room. With too few sonic reflections, the stereo image would narrow; without the aid of "room gain" to enrich the bass, the sounds of instruments and voices would be thin. Listening in an anechoic chamber is interesting and informative, but far from pleasurable.
Hasil Adkins: Out to Hunch
Norton Records (no catalog # whatso-a-ever) LP, no CD. No producer, no engineer, no studio, no stereo, no mikes that weren't carbon police dispatcher models, no other people at all in fact—just Hasil Adkins, vocals and guitars and one-man drums and some weird rhythmic screeching that may or may not be LP surface noise. TT: infinite, as I can't stop hearing it in my head hours after I raised the needle off it. To order, send $10 to Norton Records, Box 646, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003. If you don't, you shall burn in hellfire eternal. Hasil Adkins Fan Club; Hasil Adkins Headquarters.
U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Interscope B0003613-02 (CD). 2004. Steve Lillywhite, prod.; Carl Glanville, eng.; Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Chris Heaney, others, asst. engs. AAD? TT: 49:08
Within the confines of the cozy analog audiophile kingdom, things couldn't be better: Turntables, cartridges and phono preamps can be found in abundance, while mounds of new and used vinyl can be scored by the truckload.
As 2004 wound down, the Los Angeles sheriff's department successfully conducted five simultaneous raids on illegal CD replication plants in southern California on December 15. Dubbed "Operation Final Release," the joint operation between the Southern California High Tech Task Force and the LA sheriff's department put 65 officers into action, closing down five optical disc replication facilities in LA and Orange counties suspected of churning out millions of pirated CDs, which were sold throughout the United States.
If you're an audiophile, the words "hearing loss" are bound to strike terror into your heart. Of course, many of us aren't preternaturally acute—and all of us lose some high-frequency sensitivity as we age—but there's no excuse for not taking care of what you've got. When it comes to hearing, more is always better.
Some say it dates back 50 years, to when the late David Hafler introduced a tube amplifier with a "better-sounding" ultralinear output stage. Others claim it goes back to the introduction of electrical recording and playback in 1927, when Gramophone magazine's founder and editor, author Sir Compton McKenzie, thundered that electrical reproduction was a step backward in sound quality. But whenever it started, the "Great Debate" between "subjectivists," who hear differences between audio components, and "objectivists," who tend to ascribe such differences to the listeners' over-heated imaginations, rages just as strongly in the 21st century as it did in the 20th.
Medford, Long Island–based manufacturer Shahinian Acoustics has announced a recapitalization and a manufacturing-facilities expansion to meet demand for its quasi-omnidirectional loudspeakers. In a related development, Vasken Shahinian has succeeded his father as president and managing director.