This Magic Moment

I remember the Tuesday night that music broke free of my hi-fi. The sound stirred my soul—everything was so right that I was tempted to call over my audiophile pals to earwitness its magnificence. But I didn't, fearing that sharing the sound might break the spell cast first by the Allman Brothers Band's At Fillmore East (2 LPs, Capricorn ST-CAP 712223 VSRP), then by Jimi Hendrix's Live at the Fillmore East (CD, MCA MCAD2 11931). By the time Hendrix got to "Machine Gun," I could almost smell the pot wafting up to the Fillmore's top balconies. Next came John Mayall's unplugged album The Turning Point (CD, Polydor 314 549 432-2)—the best-sounding Fillmore recording, in my opinion—and capping that Tuesday night was the Incredible String Band's Live at the Fillmore 1968 (CD, Hux HUX 137). I swore I'd never have to change my system ever again. The sound was perfect.

Wednesday eve was a different story. Some of that magic had vaporized. Mind you, I hadn't changed a thing—no cable swapping, no adjusting of cartridge VTA, no monkeying around with DAC filters, no nothing. My SME Model 15 turntable with SME 309 tonearm and Koetsu Urushi Sky Blue cartridge, Parasound Halo JC 3+ phono preamp, Oppo UDP-203 universal Blu-ray player (used as a transport), Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC, Pass Laboratories XP30 preamp and XA25 power amp, and TAD Micro Evolution One speakers all sound freakin' great every night.

But that Tuesday night the stars had aligned, and sound and music had reached another level. Such nights arrive according to no set schedule—I'm lucky to get one a month. If only there were some way to experience such epiphanies every night.

Well, some things were different on Wednesday. First, I hadn't repeated Tuesday afternoon's deliciously wonderful shiatsu massage. I was super-relaxed Tuesday evening, and my wife, Robin, was out with friends—our apartment was unusually quiet, and I do tend to play music louder when she's not home. On Tuesday the weather had been cool and dry—on Wednesday, it was warmer and more humid, and that night I'd had pizza for dinner and should have stopped after three slices; I felt a tad bloated. Do you think any or all of that contributed to the difference I heard in the sound of my system on Tuesday and Wednesday nights? Duh.

Craving a fix of Tuesday's magic, on Wednesday I played some of the same Fillmore albums I'd played the night before. Somehow, they weren't quite as stirring. The music was just as great, but when the sound didn't make my pulse race, I began to fret about not getting there. My head was literally in a different place—I was sitting up straighter. I was thinking, too, that maybe the AC power had been unusually clean Tuesday evening—that had to make a difference, right? Or was it the cumulative effect of many little differences that had taken the sound down a peg or two?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes through these kinds of changes with their hi-fi: one night the sound is glorious, and the next night you wonder where all the wonder went. Then, if the hits of dopamine from your pleasure centers don't hit in the next few nights, you might be tempted to do something rash: to upgrade this or that to reach some imaginary sonic plateau, even if all the right stuff—the stuff that got you there in the first place—is still there in front of you. Could it be a simple matter of rearranging those little throw rugs in front of my speakers to lock in the sound . . . ? Ah, that's better!

When your system has a bad case of the blahs and you start frantically changing things in hopes of getting the magic back, more often than not you're just digging yourself deeper into a hole. Take it from me: On those days when, for no good reason, my system doesn't sound right, I turn it off and do something else. A few days later, it's back to normal.

I've noticed that the level of ambient noise in my apartment changes with the flow of traffic outside my windows. A lifelong city dweller, I find traffic noise easy to ignore, but there's no denying that it takes a toll on the sound of my system. Of course, refrigerators, fans, air-conditioners, etc., also raise the level of ambient noise in a house or apartment, and the more ambient noise there is, the more music's low-level details are masked. Varying levels of ambient noise must take some of the blame for changes in a system's sound from day to day.

How loudly we listen to any given recording is yet another factor. This would be easier to deal with if recordings were mastered at a reference volume level and that information was included with the recording, but they're not and it isn't. In determining the "correct" volume for a particular recording, we audiophiles are on our own. I suppose the more obsessive among us could note down their own personal reference levels: the volume level or setting they prefer for each album or tune they listen to. Then again, as system components come and go, there's no practical way of ensuring you playing music at the same level every time.

All of this can drive you crazy. Of course, your mood will affect how you experience music, and not just music from your hi-fi—live concerts, too, are no less influenced by mood. Ditto food, art, sex, and pretty much anything else that can be experienced. As for my system right now, it's sounding awfully sweet, and I'm feeling good—or is it the other way around . . . ?—Steve Guttenberg

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"I second that emotion" ........ Smokey Robinson & The Miracles ;-) ............

Herb Reichert's picture

southern saying: "You gotta hold your mouth right"

(and listen late at night)

dalethorn's picture

"The sunsets come, the sunsets go. The clouds roll by and the earth turns old. And the young bird's eyes do always glow. White bird must fly or she will die."

dougotte's picture

That was an excellent essay. I've had these varying reactions so many times (sometimes I think it's the best album in history - other times I can't stand it; sometimes my system sounds so sweet - other times it's dead). I'm sure that technical or environmental factors are at play, but many times I'm sure it's just my mood.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be we should all do what JA did during auditioning the Wilson speakers ........ Have some "liquid beverage" when listening to music through our main audio system ...........

ok's picture

tonykaz's picture

Neurosis : 2 + 2 = 4 but I don't like it, dam-it!


Psychosis : 2 + 2 = 7 today, 15 tonight and maybe 4+++++ tomorrow morning

My Old Retail Store's customers spent their disposable ( and then some ) incomes because of the above two Mental Conditions.

Audiophile Sales people ( especially mine ) thrived on Audiophile's instabilities.

My three Psychiatrists ( one being an Audio Store Customer ) can explain how we "fall-off" the stuff we own, how the "Magic Moment" is never repeatable and how we are consistently chasing a higher "High". ( much like being an Addict )

We're kinda lucky that "The Magic-Moment" returns from time-to-time ( if it does ) without having to buy that new "Must-Have" Van den Hul Phono Cartridge for $4000 more that the $8000 it costs last year. Phew!!

Having Audiophile'ites is a Curse !, an expensive Curse or an horribly expensive Curse ( as in chasing 2.5 Million Dollar gear ).

The Rolex & Patek watch people have it, the Jay Leno Car people have it, the Cruising Boat people have it, the Cessna Plane people have it, lots and lots of people have it, it's not just Audiophiles.

Old age and experience suggests:
Nirvana comes from ownership of a 10 year old LINN system or a older complete Meridian Active System or Now buying a complete PS Audio System with the New Arnie Neudel loudspeakers.

I'm feeling the Audiophile Greatness in the Pages of Stereophile Writing from :

Steve G ( & YouTube ),
the Herb Adventure Series ( the best darn read in all of Audio, darn it )
JA's insights
that lovely guy in Canada : the Stereophile guy!
that new guy writing about MQA
PS Audio stuff ( including Paul McGowan's YouTube technical discussions )! How did we ever get by without Paul's tutorials?

Most of the other lads are Gold, ( I pass on 33.3 stuff as vintage arcane along with Joe Bussard and his lovely 78's )

Tony in Michigan no longer chasing the high

ps. Is there going to be an RMAF without Tyll ?? It's not gonna be the same!!
or Jana for that matter.

rschryer's picture

He may be the new MQA guy, but he's been writing for Stereophile for years.

Thanks for the kind, if questionably deserved, words said about me, Tony. I'd give you a Justin Trudeau bro hug if I could. (Or were you referring to that other Lovely Guy in Canada, Robert Deutsch? *Face red*)

tonykaz's picture

and Justin Trudeau, Curtis Stone the Urban Farmer, JM Fortier the French Canadian market gardener.

Canada has a density of talent that's probably unrivaled.

Tony in Michigan

rt66indierock's picture

Tell him we miss him. Lately MQA has been shills and astro turf marketing. While we wait its been fun to trash power cord demos and the related politics.

Good of Tony to remind me about Canada. We need to start a chapter of the "We oppose MQA fraternity" (as John Atkinson coined us) in an Eastern Providence. The BC chapter is strong.

rt66indierock's picture

Please move to the Sunshine State soon so we get some new stories. In the meantime keep up the crazy.

Route 66's picture
tonykaz's picture

HP, Vinyl and Retail all died about the same time.

Our Recorded Audio ( by 1918 there were thousands of records listed in the Victor Record Catalog ) started about the same time as Cars, Flying, Telephones, indoor plumbing, electrical appliances and quite a few other things that continue gaining strength/power and marketplace acceptance.

Personal Audio systems are rapidly morphing into the LG V30 Device that our Mr. JVS revealed to thousands and thousands of thoughtful readership ( our JA showed us that wonderful Astel & Kern AK240 for gods sake ).

HP's era drew inspiration of a few Live Concerts, a few Vinyl "Living Presence" favorites and a pair of Arnie Nudell's IRS series 2 loudspeakers confined to a tiny bedroom listening space. ( something of a Audio Laboratory )

Today all recorded music is a series of electronic constructs laking any sort of reference standards.

Perfect music is live acoustic and quite rare for most of us Citizens that never get to experience a String Quartet, someone playing a Piano in a venue or a vocalist performing Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

HP's world of descriptive adjectives became overused, inaccurate, marketing hype but it was an improvement over what Stereo Review was reporting.

Tony in Michigan

ps. in Michigan, Absolute Sound was a Retail Chain selling Linn / Naim. Overture Audio in Ann Arbor Michigan became the last surviving Linn dealer ( I think they even have an LP-12 in Stock ).

tonykaz's picture

The Apple Watch Series 3

Ceramic, $1,300, works without the iPhone, plays Music, makes & takes phone calls along with scads more capability.

Phew, here comes the 21st Century

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

I have the Apple ceramic watch. Ho-hum. My grandmother was introduced personally to Caruso by her next door neighbor Evan Williams, who was the second most popular singer on RCA at the time. She died in 1918 of the flu, and Williams died in 1918 of "blood poisoning". We were tough people who lived through world wars, and we saved the bacon of those "refined" Europeans and Canadians time and again.

rschryer's picture

...on behalf of all "refined" Canadians. (Since you put refined in quotation marks, I suppose I can include myself in that group.)

BTW, you mean bacon figuratively, right? Or do you mean your people saved our Canadian bacon? (We would be grateful either way.)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is Justin Bieber a "refined" Canadian? :-) ............

rschryer's picture

Even though he pee'd in a restaurant bucket, JB is one of us "refined" Canadians.

dalethorn's picture

I've met lots of tough Canadians. We'd get tour busses at Jamboree USA in Wheeling every Saturday night. Country music fans - great people. Remember Gordon Sinclair and Byron McGregor ("The Americans")? Yes, lots of great Canadians. But there are some whiny types here and there who think they speak for most of us. They don't. Enjoy Canada, enjoy your audio gear, stay tough.

rt66indierock's picture

Time for a lesson you are the most important thing in your listening room. And if you don’t understand your moods and the other factors that determine how you listen to music you will struggle with long-term enjoyment of music.

As for the room itself my office is pretty quiet with the HVAC off at night. Just having the HVAC on will change the sound since it adds a few decibels to the background noise. Even during quiet periods during the day there are enough other noises to add a few more decibels and change to sound some more.

I shouldn’t drive anyone crazy it just defines audiophiles who don’t understand themselves and their rooms as on the wrong side of the bell curve.

dalethorn's picture


tonykaz's picture

The Biblical reference ( Jeremiah 17:9 ) suggests "The heart is more treacherous than anything and is desperate, who can know it?"

Probably applies to Audiophile cravings and all other Human obsessions.

don'cha think ?

Tony in Michigan ( heading to SW Florida in 2019 )

dalethorn's picture

Audiophiles have standards, like the people who wrote that stuff in Jeremiah. Non-audiophiles' standards, if they have them, are far lower than audiophiles when it comes to sound quality, and in most cases the attention to quality in playing the music, etc. Treachery and desperation are the things that some folks resort to when they are caught unprepared for change - when they feel that things are beginning to slip away from them because they were lazy and indolent, and wanted to avoid the kind of hard work and conflict that comes with working through changes. My advice is to know your standards, make sure they are in accord with history, and be prepared for hard work and sacrifice to achieve your best.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

So, audiophiles can't have "guilty pleasures"? :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"We are the champions" ......... By Queen (and audiophiles) :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

Why would pleasure go along with guilt? If "pleasure" is derived from something that hurts you or others, then you might very well feel guilty about that, but all it really means is don't hurt yourself or others - get your pleasures from positive things like good music.

Robin Landseadel's picture

I would like to start by noting how Mr Guttenberg has influenced me. My audio focus has shifted from speakers to 'phones. Many of Steve's posts helped me decide what to buy. So far Steve's got the best batting average in his assessments of headgear and the devices one connects to them.

I work in an open office of typists where headphone use is actively encourged. Managed to get the AKG "Tiesto" K167 headphones for $50, connect them to a Schiit Magni 3 hooked up to a Fiio X1 DAP. Cheap & cheerful and way better than any personal audio I've previously used/owned. This includes Stax's top of the line offering as of 1988. Everything in the chain sounds good, but the Schiit Magni 3 gatecrashes into high-end territory. I've modified the AKG cans slightly–a 1mm hole in the center of the plastic mount for the driver [both extends and smooths out the upper octaves, resulting in a "brighter" sound from these "dark" sounding cans], and swapping out the earpads from a pair of Sennheiser Urbanite XL headphones. The Urbanites are ergonomic masterpieces, tend to sound dark & "warm" [fattish lower-mids], have a great headband that makes adjusting clamping force easy. Comfort with the Tiesto earpads on the Urbanites is just fine, the sound is a little brighter and in a good way. The Urbanite pads on the AKG cans deal with two big problems of the stock cans—the original earpads are too thin and too pliable, the ears rest on the hard plastic, isolation is a little dodgy. The Urbanite earpads address all that, also take a little off the top octaves and provide a better seal for the lower octaves. For $400 [including the Urbanites and two 128gb flash drives] I've got a personal audio system I listen to about five hours a day. It's better sounding than any similar system I have used in the past.

The unintended consequences of all this are vast. Mind you, there is all that business with the Large Hadron Collider, things haven't been the same since they switched that mutha on. I suspect I'm somewhere around the same age as Steve, understand his musical references, have heard them repeatedly but clearly without the same "real religious fevor". It seems as though my "audio upgrade" has led me to the motherload of classic Great American Trash Music, the Dance-Pop, producer-driven, computer-customized music of 2000-2010. Hello Auto-tune. I feel like Rip van Winkel, waking up at Bonneroo with some diaphanous nymph sliding me a DAP and some custom IEMs, said DAP containing all of Saraswati's collected wisdom.

Because the Fiio/Schiit/AKG combo is such a bass monster, my musical interests have moved away from classical music & minimally-miked, sensitive singer-songwriters to Lady Gaga, Fatboy Slim, the once and future Beck, "Various Artists" collections of phat dance grooves, a renewed appreciation for Rap and Hip-Hop, Bill Laswell gittin' down with William S Burroughs, Britney [Goddess help me] Spears, "Now That's What I Call Music" collections and other audio repertoire with complex production & massive bass attacks. Right now I'm listening to an old favorite that bridges these two musical worlds—Suzanne Vega's "Nine Objects of Desire".

I'm no longer concerned with music sounding "real" in the old Harry Pearson sense of "The Absolute Sound". My ears tell me that Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra sound great on those vintage recordings, but no matter what sort of gear those recordings are played on, my ears will always tell me that they are a multi-miked and edited simulacrum. Better than most, but still not "the real thing". Besides, when it comes to the sound of a Symphony Orchestra going full bore in one's living room, best to be prepared to lay out real cash. For real estate. Fact is, the living rooms of most folks aren't big enough for a string quartet.

Having recorded Symphony Orchestras plenty of times I can't help but hear the artifacts of the recording process. Sometimes the edits just pop right into my ears, particularly on "Golden Age" audiophilia like Shaded Dogs and Blue-Backed Londons.

I already know the sound is faked. I am now seeking the most interesting fake. If I want the real thing, I've got a very nice guitar.

dalethorn's picture

Makes perfect sense. Playlists by genre (newwave, glam, trance, ..... even disco). Love it. To be honest though, the music reviews posted here feature a lot of new things (new to me at least) that help to break up any monotony from the older things.

Robin Landseadel's picture

I remember the olden days of High Fidelity and Stereo Review. Music now deemed "classic" being treated like poor cousins to all those classical titles they reviewed. When I'm talking about Bass-dominant dance/pop of 2000-2010, it's the type of music generally frowned upon critically. The situation is much like the time Beatles records were critically dismissed in audiophile publications because, in essence, they were too popular.

My other point being that the old paradigm of "The Absolute Sound" does not apply to dance/pop's surreal soundscapes. Thanks in large part to the Beatles and their peers.

ok's picture for music I mostly listen to previously unavailable youtube killer live tracks; never mind sound quality etc, somehow denon ahd7200 cans directly pinned into asus essence pc soundcard render almost anything alright while mind/body wisardry compensates for the rest of it all.

tonykaz's picture

My Savior, many times.

I was B&K Imports, importing Audio Gear from England.

I was Esoteric Audio in Farmington Frills Michigan.

Around the mid 1980's , The Absolute Sound went all kissy-face for Tim DeParavicini and Esoteric Audio 509 Amplifiers so I picked-up the entire Line.

EAR gear might be good stuff in England but it totally sucked on the Sales Floor of any USA Audio Dealer's Showroom. ( it was the worst Product Line I ever had - by a large margin )

That TAS "blessing" review screwed me, the Amps are not winners performance wise, sales wise or reputation wise. Looooooosers, I'm still Pissed at TAS for doing "Marketing" reviews ( which continue to this day ).

To the RESCUE came my old pal Dave Wasserman at StereoExchange who ended up selling off all of "MY" dud EAR gear. Phew.

Conversely :
For anyone looking for some a unique piece ( like a PS 4H preamp or a Conrad Johnson MV-45a ), Dave can help and probably has one in stock.

Stereo Exchange (212)-505-1111

Dave Wasserman one of the 'Great' People in all of Audio

Tony in Michigan

ps. it'd be an "Overstatement" to say that Stereo Exchange "SOLD" those EAR Amps, they ended up nearly "Giving" them away.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Problem with TAS is, they don't do any measurements .......... Their hardware reviews are like "Sounds great (to me) and looks pretty (to me) :-) ........ Lots of "snake oil" flows through, especially with some (expensive) tube equipment and some (expensive) loudspeakers :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

To add to the above ........ Same thing is true with some (expensive) headphones, headphone amps and IEMs, as well .......... That is the reason why measurements should be an important part of the review process :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

Headphone measurements will never tell you the difference between a Sennheiser HD800 and a $1500 planar. You either try them yourself on appropriate amps, or you struggle with trying to correlate a bunch of differing reviews.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Agreed ........ Our ear-canals are different ........... Measurements are a (important) guidance, so that we can pursue the worthwhile ............

dalethorn's picture

When you and I sit at a live acoustic music event close to the musicians, you and I hear the same exact thing regardless of your ear canals or my ear canals.

If your headphone sounds to you like the live event and my headphone sounds to me like the live event, then both headphones should be considered "neutral" or "high fidelity".

In other words, these things about "our ears are different" are pure marketing BS used to sell more gear to the gullible. Now, if you don't like the sound of live acoustic music and you "tweak" your system to sound brighter or more "relaxed", then that is a different matter entirely, and has nothing to do with high fidelity.

I for one like the sound of live acoustic music just as it is, and I like my headphones to sound the same.

ok's picture

..had once undergone cornea transplant operation and never again saw the same color both eyes.

dalethorn's picture

But when she saw the band live and then saw them a few hours later on video, the video looked the same as the live view, if the video was good video fidelity.

ok's picture useful to her as eye glasses that keep all defects intact.

dalethorn's picture

It would be OK to hide my eye defects if:

1) They were irritating, debilitating, or otherwise interfered with my life.
2) I weren't hiding something that I should be aware of, and possibly have treated.
3) They didn't get worse because of how I hid them.

Generally speaking, self-treating of eye and ear deficiencies isn't a good idea unless supervised by a medical professional.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The "Harman Curve" for the headphones may not sound good if applied for loudspeakers ........

dalethorn's picture

I purchased the Harman AKG K812, which was an expensive headphone made according to Harman's design to represent the Harman curve. Innerfidelity hated it, I couldn't even find a good EQ for it - if that's an example of the Harman curve then it's a failure.

dalethorn's picture

In the early 1970's or even earlier, Sennheiser supplied printed curves for their headphones - even the very cheap HD414 and 424, which looked exactly like the headphones sounded. Ditto for the pricy HD800.

Sometime later, Stax supplied a printed curve for the SRX that had an extremely choppy treble curve, which they claimed was the "correct" curve. Innerfidelity subscribed to this Stax method, and thereby made headphone response curves unreadable.

Koss' response curve for the ESP9 was another that looked like the headphone sounded - essentially flat.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Let me re-phrase it ......... The Harman Curve is supposed to be good/ideal for headphones .........

dalethorn's picture

It is not. See my previous comment.

tonykaz's picture

not the same as experiencing the same sensations.

Our Ears, our nervous system, our synapses all relate to sounds differently. We can train our hearing to have vastly differing sensual results.

My U of M Audiologist and Psychologist help me re-tune my hearing.

We can't and shouldn't make assumptions about how anyone hears Audio Quality or Sound Qualities.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

I certainly can make the assumption that high fidelity means that ideally my playback system should sound approximately like the live music experience. J. Gordon Holt covered that concept in detail when he created Stereophile. Now, you can have your own opinions about hearing and sound reproduction, but you don't get to reinvent the concept of high fidelity.

tonykaz's picture

Hmm, maybe Gordon Holt was Selling a Concept to willing buyers.

Holt was a Theorist, as all of us are. He never attributed any of his thought to be the result of extensive laboratory research or that his concepts were provable. We readership assumed Holt was close to accurate and that we could get better results by his guidance.

If our entire theology of Audio is based on Holt we are in Trouble, Holt was an observer with no Scientific Research Credentials.

Is there any Audio Designer that feels or felt successful from designing to please Holt ?

Of course, Holt made some dam good points but so did a wide range of competing theorists ( like Omar Bose ) and Joe Grado.

Holt was a good guy, not god. As a journalist he was less than those writing for Stereophile today, he kinda started a Magazine.

I'd like it if Holt was around today, pitching in on Wire Reviews, DAC insights, Marketplace reporting, and commentary about Audio Gear Manufacturing practices. We almost desperately need Holt on those RMAF Seminars that frequently flounder. We need Holt to shed some light on whatever he feels like shedding light on.

We need Holt

but He's gone.

Holt was one of us but he had barrels of Ink to print his voice., we have the internet.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

High fidelity is a simple concept. It is also a standard. You're rambling on about personal preferences and gods and who knows what all that you believe, but in the end it has no bearing on high fidelity, accurate reproduction, and why standards of accuracy and fidelity are vitally important in creating recordings and playback gear that can serve a wide range of people, without bias. I don't expect to go buy a $5000 amp that sounds like your personal preferences. I expect it to sound neutral. It's not difficult to understand.

tonykaz's picture

I imported and sold huge quantities of valuable Audio gear, I experienced how people reasoned their way thru to purchasing.

I speak from experience not ideology.

Placing a $1.5 Million dollar per month order with Overseas Manufacturers based on Holt or Harry Pierson's philosophy will be disastrous.

Any one person can have their point of view and/or experienced opinion but it doesn't extrapolate out to high percentage levels of accuracy.

One person is a hunch, even quorums can be well off the targets.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Audiophile Leadership would've killed digital. (for gods sake)

ok's picture

..that no one would be anymore inclined to call “accurate” or “high fidelity” what JGH once considered as such – and all this regardless of measured performance, since measuring standards have also undergone significant changes. Some of them would still be nice sounding gear though, whereas a great deal of today’s "high end" hardware tends to sound as ugly as hell. Could be a sign of the times that, when confronted by similarly measuring amplifiers etc, most current audiophiles would consider as “accurate” the ugliest sounding of the bunch. I guess “beautiful” and “faithful” are no longer compatible notions in audio as well as in human reproduction.

tonykaz's picture

I recall our HR say'n he never heard a EL-34 Amp that he didn't like.

I loved Audible Illusions Pre-Amps and the Schiit Asgard 2

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

The evolution of our technology isn't just that our gear has gotten better and the measurements have gotten better. The music industry has changed radically, the publishing industry has changed radically, the communications industry has changed radically, and the intense consolidation of these industries into fewer and fewer hands has meant that *their* now-ensconsed standards have overwhelmed audiophile principles.

But, an Apple iPhone-8 with DragonFly Red DAC and a Sennheiser HD600/650 are proof positive that Gordon Holt's dream of high fidelity reproduction is very alive and very well, in spite of the excesses of the music industry and their Loudness Wars etc.

dalethorn's picture

There are matters of principle and matters of fact. Different things, about which you are constantly confused.

tonykaz's picture

will still be important & valuable for those of us living thrilling lives in the 70's.

Seinfeld will remain a Cultural Element much like a symbol the Beatles became.

33.3 may ( or may not ) finally dissolve into disuse and obscurity. We don't 'need' 33.3 do we? Will the $,$$$ cost of 33.3 playback gear still be justifiable ? Will dedicated Collectors continue to devote time and bedroom space to preserving pieces of 1970's Culture that bears no relationship with the lives they're living? Will someone playing 33.3 be like watching someones 8mm Kodak Movies of their vacation ?

Will 33.3 collectors become like those obsessive hoarders, effectively choking off the livability of their homes ? Silly question, who in their right mind would fill their home with thousands and thousands of musty old Fossil based music storage devices considering the very Either is filled with glorious Sounds nearly free for the asking?

Thousands of 24/196 songs on the "Head of a Pin" is here.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Tony in Michigan

ok's picture

I think that this whole “vinyl resurrection” thing is all about looks and feel and has actually nothing to do with supposedly "analog" sound. Maybe some kind of “virtual vinyl” media player user interface (with turntable and tonearm and azimuth options and all) could finally spare analogs a serious amount of space, time and dough.

dalethorn's picture

There is one significant aspect of vinyl sound that exists no matter what the source for the record (i.e. digital or otherwise). Scroll down to the text "But here's the big one: Considered against literally every music-playback medium ever conceived and created, the analog disc is the only one that generates its own electrical signal."

ok's picture

I could not agree less with every single word of dear Art’s article, but maybe this is not the time and place to rekindle an already worn out and pointless debate. I have really nothing against aficionados in general, vinyl aficionados included, as long as they don’t habitually struggle to convert me to an irrational vice by using specious arguments. A simple “I just like it this way” would perfectly do.

dalethorn's picture

I did not post that link because "I agree" with Art. In fact I usually don't. But what I pointed to is a technical fact, for whatever it's worth. I can hear the result of it, even though I don't place any personal value in it.

dalethorn's picture

Seinfeld is a classic example of what happens when huge corporations find the "perfect" formula to mesmerize the great American Couch Potato. And the fallout from tens of millions of couch potatos has been an enormous boon to the medical industry, which BTW will no doubt be consolidated into the entertainment industry eventually.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I Googled it ............ HD800 is one of the top 3 headphones used by the recording engineers .......... HD 600/650 are also in the top 10 .......... Aren't you getting tired of winning? :-) ...........

dalethorn's picture

Funny thing about high fidelity, isn't it? In spite of all the changes in recording styles over the years, my oldest music tracks still sound as good as they did decades ago. It is true that the more revealing** the gear gets, the more likely one will hear tape hiss or other artefacts in the sound, but then again, those things were still a bother in the day those recordings were created.

**From my Koss ESP9 and Stax SRX headphones circa 1974 to today's latest and greatest, the difference that technology has brought is somewhat lower distortion and a slightly smoother response. But it's not an order of magnitude of difference, unless you count subtle changes as huge differences.

tonykaz's picture

hits another one outa the park !! : Insanely expensive Jul 16, 2018

The Experienced Audio Salespeople I've known have a better grasp of Audio Gear's Performance than pretty much any reviewer .

Still, Customers ( especially mine ) bought based on TAS Reviews ( mostly ) but listened with open-ears when in my big Sound Room. Customers loved but didn't trust or believe their ears yet hung on every vowel & consonant falling from HP's lips. ( dam him )

15 minutes with Paul McGowan & Steve Guttenberg is like eating an Audiophile Apple a Day, it can keep the Craziness Away.

Tony in Michigan

tonykaz's picture

, Campfire discussions

tonykaz's picture

Sitting around the Campfire today...

Paul McGowan came up with a good one ( two good ones ) :

1). Setting the Gear on Helium Baloons


2). Hanging/Suspending the Gear with wires ( presumably wires & springs ).

My preference is to have the Amplifier electronics built into the Loudspeakers ( like Andrew Jones is now doing ).

Steve G. tells a compelling Story about musical sounds and some of the history of interesting sounds that supports a strong case for music collecting. Steve G. seems to have his music suspended in Air instead of his Gear.

Herb Reichert created a fascinating Audiostream piece. Steve must own the most superb'ist Audio System 'cause his music playing is connecting directly to his nervous system and controlling his emotions. I wonder if music collecting, for Herb, is like buying drugs that never wear off and his music reviewing is figuring out which gear steps on his drugs and which enhances them ? Our Mr.HR might be Audio's most important reviewer today. ( much like what Tyll was for Headphones )

Herb Reichert feels like he's writing a personal letter directly to me, I know he isn't but it feels like he is.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

In the summer of 1959 I described the future I envisioned to a number of fellow campers at our retreat on Lake Erie. One of those things was virtual music and information, such that I could speak the name of a song and it would play immediately from a central source, with perfect tone, volume, etc.

We are on the edge of that vision already.

Capt Jack's picture

I must say this as I am late to your audio discussion, that the picture heading Steve's essay is a trip back in time for me. It was late 1970 and the picture on stage at Fillmore East of Greg and Duane Allman, and Dicky Betts, brought back memories of that live concert in which I was sitting about mid way back from the stage. The memories of the sound from the concert are golden nonetheless and are vivid and crisp to this day. For me this was an eye opener not having heard a band like the ABB before and so I am now going to go fish out my original copy and throw it for a spin on the good "old" Dual 1229 turntable with the "old" Shure V15 Type III, as reviewed by Gordon Holt May 1 1974! Thank you gentlemen for this trip back into history.............
PS: And I still have the ticket stubs from the Fillmore East with the album.