Interviews

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  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.
Robert Baird  |  Dec 02, 2015  |  22 comments
Talk dirty to me!

"I had to master this record 11 times to get it to sound the way I wanted," Joanna Newsom growled with the knowing grit of someone who's worked through a sonic ordeal.

"Instead of test pressings, we had test lacquers for this one."

"I have no way to listen to music digitally in my house."

Oooh, baby!

At a time when the future of print is troubled, Newsom can make even a magazine editor feel slightly more secure.

"I love your magazine. I love your publication."

John Marks  |  Oct 15, 2015  |  3 comments
A mastering engineer's job is both to act as the final quality control before a recording goes out for manufacturing and, just as important, to apply to that recording the requisite technical finishing touches. Over the course of his career to date, mastering engineer Robert C. Ludwig has racked up more than 7500 album credits.
Robert Baird  |  Sep 08, 2015  |  1 comments
It had been years since Stereophile's last San Francisco Hi-Fi Show, when we'd hired him as a solo act, and yet the conversation was once again instant vaudeville, and I was again the straight man.

"The last time we saw each other, I think I just shook your hand and handed you a check."

"What, you didn't bring a check this time?"

"So this is your 16th solo record?"

"Is that all? Bach was doing a cantata a week. How many songs did Schubert write?"

"But he didn't do the words."

Robert Harley  |  Aug 24, 2015  |  First 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.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  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.
Robert Baird  |  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.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  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.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 16, 2015  |  First 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.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 09, 2015  |  First 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  |  May 13, 2015  |  First 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  |  Apr 15, 2015  |  0 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.

John Atkinson  |  Apr 08, 2015  |  First 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

J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 17, 2015  |  First 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  |  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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