Interviews

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Sasha Matson Posted: Jul 19, 2016 42 comments
Twenty-three years ago, in 1993, Charles Hansen cofounded Ayre Acoustics, Inc., in Boulder, Colorado. On Ayre's website, Hansen is named as Research Director for Ayre, and it seems an apt description. Along with experimenting in and developing audio-electronics hardware and software, Hansen has strongly hewn to certain design principles, among them fully balanced operation, an absence of loop negative feedback, and solid-state circuitry. Ayre's current flagship preamplifiers and amplifiers, the twentieth-anniversary R Series, have received reviews and accolades, while at the other end of the budget spectrum, Hansen's design work was a key element of Neil Young's widely publicized and crowdfunded PonoPlayer project.
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Jul 18, 2016 13 comments
New York, NY—News Bar Cafe, Union Square. It's 11am. Low jazz can be heard playing on the overhead speakers, along with background chatter and the occasional ambulance. Caffeinated beverages and breakfast sandwiches are present. I take a tentative sip of cappuccino, reach under the table for my trusty Zoom H5. Across from me sits jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch. A man who has meant many things to me in my lifetime—a musical role model, a source of inspiration, a friend, a set of frequently played digital music files... I sit anxiously—is it the awe or the beverage? I think to myself: he's now entering the realm of debatable audiophile and breakfast co-conspirator. Cappuccino sip. Let us begin.
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Ken Micallef Posted: Jul 18, 2016 7 comments
John Hébert's experiences unearthing precious oddities have served him well as an adult musician, particularly when extracting deep bass sounds as one of New York City's most in-demand jazz bassists. From his 1990s-era Romanian and Hungarian upright basses and exotic stereo gear and LPs to the Baldwin grand piano that adorns the living room of his Jersey City, New Jersey home, Hébert is a perfect example of audiophile as musician.
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Jun 27, 2016 87 comments
As I was scanning the comments under Jason Victor Serinus's insightful piece, "What If They Gave a CES and Nobody Came?", Bill Leebens's words caught my eye. Being the (relatively) new audiophile on the block with high hopes to entice the masses, the concept of forming a trade body to promote high-end audio was immediately appealing to me. Dying to know more, I decided to stalk Bill and get to the bottom of this.
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Ken Micallef Posted: Jun 20, 2016 14 comments
Billy Drummond is a world-class jazz musician who listens to music on what he describes as "high-performance playback equipment." Drummond has not one, but three, working systems in his cozy New Jersey home, each one lovingly tweaked, carefully positioned and closely maintained to reach optimal playback efficiency.
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 10, 2016 1 comments
Eine kleine Nachtmusik it ain't. And yet, in 1992, lightning struck, tectonic plates shifted, and the third symphony of Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki (1933–2010) became a bona-fide hit. Defying both skeptics and logic, a recording of this decidedly sepia-toned work, subtitled The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, by the London Sinfonietta conducted by American maestro David Zinman, and featuring soprano soloist Dawn Upshaw, eventually sold over a million copies, making it the largest-selling recording of modern classical music ever.
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David Lander Posted: May 31, 2016 11 comments
This tale might have been scripted by Barry Levinson, the Baltimore-bred filmmaker who has set four pictures in his hometown, where much of the Sandy Gross story has also taken place. The young Sanford Gross moved there to attend Johns Hopkins University, and subsequently, in one of the city's Civil War–era houses, got Polk Audio rolling with fellow alumni Matthew Polk and George Klopfer. The company flourished, but Gross, who had minored in film at Hopkins, had an itch for Hollywood. He moved to Los Angeles, only to find the movie business tinged with illusion—much as Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett had portrayed it in Sunset Boulevard, their merciless 1950 film noir. So Gross plotted a new scenario, returned to Baltimore, and re-entered an industry committed to low distortion.
Robert Baird Posted: May 03, 2016 5 comments
Don't get me wrong—it was a nice surprise. It's always good to find another member of the cult, someone else interested in music and sound, and proud to be called an audiophile. But . . . Peter Wolf?

"What's John Atkinson like?"

"Here's the $64,000 question: What's in your system?"

Robert Baird Posted: Apr 07, 2016 3 comments
In conversation with Bonnie Raitt these days, one word continually jumps out: groove. She's speaking of her music, of course, but the blues singer and guitarist—her gifts as commanding as ever on her latest, Dig In Deep—has also survived some family struggles in the past decade that nearly forced her out of her personal groove.
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 31, 2016 3 comments
In November of 1990, my wife and I traveled to the UK for our honeymoon, much of which was spent in Scotland. But we also spent a few days in London, and it was during that time that I discovered, in the Bloomsbury district, one of the finest classical-music record stores in the world: a two-story shop on New Oxford Street called Caruso & Company. It didn't have quite as large a selection as Music Masters, on 43rd Street in New York, but it had something that that long-lamented store couldn't boast: clerks who were friendly, knowledgeable, and gregariously helpful.
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Stereophile Staff Posted: Mar 07, 2016 0 comments

As part of his preparation for reviewing Merging Technologies' NADAC Multichannel-8 networked D/A processor in the March 2016 issue of Stereophile, Kal Rubinson talked with the Swiss company's Dominique Brulhart.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Feb 28, 2016 4 comments
Ever since I encountered Wilson Audio Specialties' Peter McGrath (above) playing his own digital recordings at audio shows, hanging out in the Wilson Audio room has proven the consistent highlight of my show coverage experience. Nor is it simply the quality of the musicianship that continues to draw me to McGrath's rooms. As anyone who has heard his work can attest, the man's ability to capture the unique characteristics of a performance venue, as well as the natural sound of voice and instruments, is second to none.
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 02, 2016 1 comments
"With all due respect, what the hell is the matter with you?"

Over the years, I've felt obligated to ask this question of several friends who somehow concluded that their life's work involved founding a record label.

"That is the best question isn't it?" Shane Buettner said with a big laugh. "Why do I want to hurt myself this badly and spend a lot of money doing it?" He smiled again, with a mild shake of the head.

"Actually, yes—that's exactly what I mean."

Robert Baird Posted: Jan 04, 2016 2 comments
Let's face it: If you're one of those sedentary audiophilic types or you have a genetic disposition to growing pear-shaped later in life (genetic . . . right, that's it: nothing to do with couches or hooch), it's wise to adjust your fashion sense accordingly. And nothing says "portly gentleman in disguise" like a guayabera—a shirt that, I have just discovered, blues guitarist Bob Margolin and I both love. He even wears one on the cover of his new record, My Road.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Dec 07, 2015 8 comments
"I'm still in shock," Reference Recordings recording engineer Sean Martin blurted out during a conference call with his recording engineer stepfather, Keith O. Johnson. "When Jan Mancuso woke me up at 5:30 or 6 to tell me the news, I couldn't imagine who would be calling so early," was Johnson's follow up.

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