A Brief Journey Through Audiophilia
About a month ago, we met 17-year old audiophile, Sarah Witkowski, whose exceptional knowledge and appreciation of classic rock left many of us feeling happy and encouraged. (And left me feeling like I had a lot of catching up to do.)
However, I suspect there are many more young people like Sarah, people who love music and sound, and who can remind us of the elements of our enthusiasm. Take, for instance, 16-year old David MacRunnel.
"I am always striving for better sound, as I am obsessed with music and reproducing it accurately," says David.
In addition to working towards becoming a professional recording engineer, David has spent time rebuilding tube amplifiers and turntables. David also prefers vinyl records over music files stored on a hard drive or iPod, and defines the difference as one between "experiencing" and merely "hearing."
Regardless of the format or associated equipment, however, David is first a music-lover. While he thinks that high-quality components can certainly help the listener get closer to the music, and while he believes in the importance of fine-tuning a system using the right cables and intelligent speaker placement, he says he has no problem enjoying his favorite tunes no matter what they're played on.
David has had a lot of geara lotand owns a collection of over 1300 vinyl records. When I asked him what his dream system might consist of, he admitted that his preferences are still evolving, and he offered the following list:
Klipsch Cornwalls with the Bob Crites Mods
New Large Advents
Mcintosh MC275's bridged mono
Magnavox 8802 (I have one currently under restoration)
pair of Eico HF20's
ARC Ref III preamp
some sort of ultra-clean audio distribution amp for my tape decks
Teac Model 1 for "lower Fi" source switching
Hacked JVC 4DD-5 CD-4 demodulator. I bypassed the filters in it and it is the finest sounding phono stage I have heard, but then again, I have not heard anything new and high end.
I'd like to hear a Hagerman phono pre, also...
Technics SP10 w/ SME 3009
Elac 50H (this thing has serious PRaT and I can listen to it for hours)
Some vintage high end Idler, like a Lenco L75, Rek O Kut B12H, Garrard 301, etc.
Audio Technica AT15S
Akai GX912 (cassette)
Tascam 122mk3 (cassette)
Ampex 350-2T (with the original tube electronics)
Teac 3340 (original version, IMO it sounds the best out of a A3340S, 3340S, and 3340)
Scott 350, Modded Kenwood KT-7500 (I have both. The Scott is DOA at the moment; The Kenny is stock.)
VPI 16.5 record-cleaning machine
Sheesh! Pretty impressive list, huh?
When it comes to recording, David believes in using as few microphones as possible, and likes to capture as much as he can in just one take.
What aspects of the listening experience are most important to David? It depends, he says, on the recording, the source components, his mood, and sometimes even the time of day.
"I do like using speakers, phono cartridges, and reel-to-reel decks as my tone controls, and having everything else be as neutral as possible. So, no, neutrality is not a major issue, so long as I like how it sounds. And realism, or at least good soundstaging and tonal balance, are key to bringing out an emotional response."
To learn more about David's enthusiasm for music and sound, watch "A Brief Journey Through Audiophilia." David recorded it himself, of course.