Interviews

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Robert Harley Posted: Aug 24, 2015 Published: Jan 01, 1995 0 comments
Arnie Nudell is one of a handful of designers who could justifiably be called founding members of the high-end audio industry. With Cary Christie, and John Ulrick, Arnie co-founded Infinity in his garage in 1968 and recently joined forces with Paul McGowan, the co-founder of PS Audio, to create Genesis Technologies, the Colorado-based company formed to build ultra–high-end loudspeaker systems.

I visited the Genesis factory in September 1994 and spent some time with Arnie and Paul discussing loudspeaker and amplifier design, and high-quality music reproduction. I asked Arnie how he became involved in high-end audio.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Aug 20, 2015 3 comments
It's a rare day when famed amplifier designer Nelson Pass leaves his bench to deliver a seminar. It's even rarer when that seminar is geared toward consumers rather than what he calls "specialists." In fact, at the start of his talk, Nelson confessed that after almost 50 years building amplifiers, his CAS seminar was his first ever tailored specifically toward consumers.
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Robert Baird Posted: Aug 04, 2015 11 comments
Is it because no one takes pot shots at you unless you're on top? Or are the most recent criticisms of Klaus Heymann and his diversified Naxos Digital Services empire on to something more?

To refresh: Heymann, a German entrepreneur who began selling cameras and stereos to American GIs in Vietnam, and later become the Hong Kong distributor of Bose and Studer audio gear, launched Naxos, a classical-music label specializing in budget-priced CDs, in 1987 (footnote 1). The label's name is also easy to pronounce in any language. Heymann began to build the Naxos catalog—now one of the largest classical labels—by recording young and often unknown artists and orchestras, most from Eastern and Central Europe. Soon, displays of Naxos CDs, all of their covers conforming to a uniform, instantly recognizable design, became to crop up in record stores large and small.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jul 24, 2015 5 comments
The most refreshing music I encountered at the huge 2015 Munich High End Show was an excerpt from David Chesky's children's ballet, The Zephyrtine, which Paul McGowan played in the PS Audio room. Hence it comes as no surprise that another of Chesky's recordings, his Rap Symphony, has just won the Independent Music Award (IMA) for Best Contemporary Classical Album.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 16, 2015 Published: Jan 01, 1995 1 comments
95christie.250.jpgWhen Cary Christie, Arnie Nudell, and John Ulrick founded Infinity Systems more than 25 years ago, high-end audio as we know it today didn't exist. Hi-fi was audio, though the reverse wasn't necessarily true.

Through the growth years, Infinity became a major force in the High End. Cary Christie is the only one of the original players still associated with Infinity in 1995, now part of Harman International. His relationship, however, is now as an independent designer and consultant with Christie Designs, Inc. (footnote 1). I corralled him by phone on a clear fall day in Santa Fe, and a snowy one at his home near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I asked him how Infinity had started.

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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2015 Published: Jan 01, 1995 2 comments
It was with regret that I heard John Ulrick had passed away on May 20, 2015 due to complications from cancer. With Arnie Nudell and Cary Christie, John was one of the founders of loudspeaker manufacturer Infinity, a company that, with Audio Research, Magnepan, Mark Levinson, and Threshold, epitomized the nascent High End that emerged in the early 1970s. After leaving Infinity, John Ulrick started Spectron, to manufacture class-D amplifiers.

Just by chance, I met with the John Ulrick, in Los Angeles in late 1987, when he was doing some design consultancy on a switch-mode power amplifier to be used with the Sumo Samson subwoofer. As I had my Walkman Pro with me, I took the opportunity to tape some background from John about the birth of Infinity and about switching/pulse-width-modulated/class-D amplifiers—boy, can this man talk about switching amplifiers! The natural kickoff question was, How did Infinity get going?

J. Gordon Holt Posted: May 13, 2015 Published: Mar 01, 1986 0 comments
Meridian's MCD CD player was perhaps the first audiophile-quality player to be introduced in the high-end market. I met with Bob Stuart of Meridian at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January, 1986 (footnote 1). My first question was about the name of the company he runs with industrial designer Alan Boothroyd:

J. Gordon Holt: Meridian in England is called Boothroyd Stuart, right?

Bob Stuart: Yes, the company is called Boothroyd Stuart, Limited, and the trademark is Meridian.

Robert Baird Posted: Apr 15, 2015 2 comments
Violet- and orchid-colored LED banks shimmer across the room. Green and pink spots radiate out and back. A steady stream of beats and keyboards from other electronica luminaries rumbles out of the speakers. Let's dance! Or maybe just listen?

Onstage, Dan Deacon is busy tweaking his gear. Out on the floor, the audience is oddly antsy. To fight the waiting, one woman hangs on her boyfriend. Clumps of hipsters conviviate. Very strong drinks (a sponsorship deal?) flow for seven bucks a pop. Anticipation thickens. Impatience turns to pacing. Young men make solo air grooves.

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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 08, 2015 Published: Sep 01, 1984 4 comments
As reported by Michael Fremer on AnalogPlanet.com, legendary mastering engineer and co-founder of Sheffield Lab, Doug Sax, passed away on April 2. Doug had been suffering from cancer and would have been 79 on April 26.

Coincidentally, we had just posted J. Gordon Holt's October 1982 review of the Sheffield Track Record, which Doug had cut direct-to-disc. This reminded me that Robert Harley had interviewed Doug in the October 1989 issue of Stereophile; rereading that interview reminded me that in September 1984, I had published an interview with Doug in the magazine Hi-Fi News, which I edited at that time.

So, in tribute to Doug, here is my 1984 interview, reprinted with the kind permission of Hi-Fi News editor Paul Miller.—John Atkinson

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J. Gordon Holt Posted: Feb 17, 2015 Published: Aug 01, 1984 6 comments
Keith Johnson is the man responsible for the records issued by Reference Recordings, from Professor Johnson's Astounding Sound Show through Tafelmusik—not to mention upcoming releases of Your Friendly Neighborhood Big Band and Respighi's Church Windows. As is frequently the case, Johnson's astounding recordings result from his intimate (molecular-level) knowledge of the process with which he deals and his ingenious adaptations to squeeze the most out of available (and not so available) technology. He is also one of the few critics of digital recording who has actually used a digital recorder, who has run tests to specifically identify digital's problems, and who would welcome a digital format that works as perfectly as the claims would have us believe the current system works.—Larry Archibald
Robert Baird Posted: Jan 29, 2015 8 comments
For famously civilized and jaded New York City, the crowd at the resplendent Beacon Theatre is uncommonly involved. Loud requests, many in tangled liquor dialects, boom from the balcony:

"'REDNECK FRIEND'!"

Onstage, Jackson Browne smiles and shakes his head.

"'COCAINE'!"

"I could do that, but it would have to be the rehab version." [crowd roars]

"'FOR A DANCER'!"

Oh, wait—I'm yelling that.

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David Lander Posted: Jan 21, 2015 1 comments
Aerial Acoustics, the speaker firm that Michael Kelly conceived a quarter-century ago with David Marshall, is headquartered north of Boston, not far from the Merrimack River Valley region that once produced textiles and shoes by the trainload. Kelly, though, is quick to equate Aerial with far more distant firms. His industrial models are in Germany, where he lived for a while when his father, a US Army officer, was based there, and where he later spent time as a vice-president of a/d/s/, which had been founded by a German-born and -educated scientist, Godehard Günther, who died last October. They're small-to-midsize specialty firms that together constitute a category called Mittelstanden, and they're as accomplished as they are narrowly focused. They're artisan enterprises, and it's only natural that someone as dedicated as Kelly is to building state-of-the-art loudspeakers would embrace them as examples.
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David Lander Posted: Oct 21, 2014 3 comments
Both Chesky Records and HDtracks have a pair of co-founding partners, but the music-minded press has perpetually focused on one of them, pianist and composer David Chesky, while ignoring his younger brother, Norman. Mainstream reporters and photographers did converge on Norman Chesky once, when they spotted him rolling a bulky, rough-hewn, wooden artifact from the 2009 auction at which Bernard Madoff's personal effects were sold for the benefit of bilked investors. Leading newspapers ran photos of Norman with the tree-trunk table he'd bought after happening on the sale, and the New York Times identified him as "a music executive from Manhattan." As the exchange that follows shows, that description was a glaring oversimplification.
Robert Baird Posted: May 06, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments
Making a recording is always a personal journey—everyone has a story to tell. Jazz violinist Regina Carter's latest, Southern Comfort, is an eloquent musical expression of Carter tracing the roots of her paternal lineage back five generations. For the project's sound engineer, Joe Ferla, it's the final project of a engineering career, and the beginning point of his new life as a practicing musician. The entwining of these journeys gives the album's music and sound a rare honesty.
Robert Baird Posted: Mar 05, 2014 2 comments
As songwriters go, Guy Clark has been touched by the muse more than most. Unfortunately, in recent years he's also been visited by illness and heartache. In June 2012, his wife of 40 years, Susanna Clark, who was both a songwriter ("Easy from Now On") and an artist (the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust), died in Nashville. In the past several years Clark, 72, has battled lymphoma, had his knees replaced, and undergone an arterial replacement in one leg. He was being treated for skin cancer when I visited his home, south of Nashville, in October 2013.

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