And earlier in the night, I listened to an old Yazoo title: St. Louis Blues (1929-1935): The Depression, which has some amazing, moving cuts from Henry Townsend, Charley Jordan, Georgia Boyd, Peetie Wheatstraw, and Hi Henry Brown. Such pure, raw sounds are timeless, and are perhaps especially meaningful today.
Also, I made one other change when I removed the Ayre gear from my system: I switched from the Ayresupplied and spec'd Cardas cables to Furutech Evolutions. Incidentally, it was right around this same time that I read Jay Rein's essay on system synergy.
The guitarist John Fahey was born on February 28, 1939, and died just days before what would have been his 62nd birthday, on February 22, 2001. Like so many other beautiful things that continue to have enormous impact on my life, Fahey’s music was introduced to me by Michelle. The album was 1997’s City of Refuge. We were in our second year at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in the second year of our relationship. Michelle had claimed the album from our campus radio station and brought it back to our dorm room and played it for me.
I’ve been reading Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, which argues that an intimacy with manual trades may revitalize a connection to the material world lost to those who spend their lives in offices or cubicles, staring at computer screens for eight to twelve hours a day, unable to quantify exactly what it is that they do. I’m digging it. It aligns, in many ways, with a philosophy John Atkinson has shared with me: Do doingfully.
Kelli’s Etymotic ER-6i earphones ($99) offered a well-balanced sound, with satisfying bass and natural highs, but I found them extremely uncomfortable and I had a difficult time getting them to fit properly in my ear canals. I liked Shure’s SE210 ($149.99) and SE115 ($139.99), but they felt large and heavy in my ears, and friends often balked at their prices. Don’t get me started about the V-MODA Remix Metal in-ears ($99.99); their highs were so pronounced and glaring and bass so completely absent, I wanted to run away from my musicnever a good sign. (But I’ll take the blame here: I should’ve known what to expect from an earphone with the word “Metal” in its name. I have since steered clear of models designed to look like bullets, arrows, and jet engines or whose product literature uses the words “crisp,” “sharp,” or “edgy.”)
Thinksound believes in “clear sound with a clearer conscience.” To that extent, the company makes all of their products from wood and employs intelligent and responsible packaging design, utilizing recycled, bleach-free materials, with the now-familiar orange, green, and brown color schemeif Whole Foods made headphones, they’d probably look like these.
A look inside the impressive Emotiva ERC-2 CD player.
Audiophiles have been buzzing about Emotiva for a few years now. The attraction is no mystery: Emotiva’s products are solidly built and modestly priced, and the company takes pride in its strong relationships with customers. Yet, other than in the usual show report, Emotiva’s products have been absent from Stereophile’s pages.
Fortunately, I didn't have to rob any banks or max out my credit cards this weekend. I didn't even have to travel to Africa. The crazy heat and humidity (Footnote for Jaclyn Gooding), however, made it feel like high noon in the Kalahari Desert. Simply sitting at my kitchen table, my laptop (Footnote for AlexO) open and our April 2008 issue turned to page 155, was a kind of dull, hot torture.
Fourteen years ago this week, when I was 16 years old and spending all my spare time memorizing the lyrics to Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hotstepper," John Atkinson was busy penning this "As We See It" essay.
It was around 9:30am on Monday, November 12, when my plane landed in gray and chilly London. I managed to get through Customs with nothing more than the usual amount of stress and embarrassment, satisfactorily answering all of the agent’s odd questions. That out of the way, I next had to find my hostKEF’s head of brand development, Johan Coorg. Because my cell phone wasn’t working, I was worried that I’d be left stranded at Heathrow, but I recognized Coorg immediately: At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, he had introduced me to the stunning KEF Muon, and, at KEF’s lavish 50th Anniversary celebration, he had introduced me to a delicious Pimm’s Cup. Now he was standing casually at the Arrivals gate. He wore a dark brown blazer, striped button-down shirt, gold cufflinks, faded blue jeans, shiny leather shoes, and a look of comfort. He was busy pressing buttons on an iPhone.
“Johan,” I said.
“Hello! You made it!”
He led me from the airport, through the parking garage, and to an impressive black Mercedes. After loading our bags into the trunk, I instinctively walked around to the right-hand side of the car and nearly opened the door.
“Wrong side, mate. Unless you want to drive.”
It was a mistake I’d make a few more times before our three-day trip was over.