Reviewer Video Profile: Jason Victor Serinus

Following this year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I trekked northwest to Port Townsend, Washington to observe Stereophile's one-and-only Jason Victor Serinus in his natural habitat.

In this Reviewer Video Profile, Jason gives us a tour of his listening room, introduces us to his adorable dogs, and shares some thoughts on life. Oh—and, of course, this video would not be complete without a little whistling! (But I won't tell you where.)

Despite having spent a good bit of time with Jason in person at audio shows, I was surprised to learn that he really is just as quick, witty, and charming as his writing—not just in person, but also on camera!

If you love Jason's writing, you will love this video. Enjoy.

dalethorn's picture

Everything in this video is worth the time to watch. Each time Jason started the music player, it was a track that I also have - probably through HDTracks, and in some cases recorded by John Atkinson. The detail in the Widor organ pedals came through very well, given (I assume) that the video recording picked up the speaker sound from the room, rather than splicing it in digitally (yes?). Watching Jason's descriptions of the room treatments, the position of the couches, and the precise location of the sliding doors when listening, I wonder how much effort he makes tweaking any of this tweak-hardware when installing new gear for review.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

In fact, while working on my current review of Jadis mono blocks, I first removed the Pass and installed the Jadis, then went back to the 160 lb/each Pass to correct a change I had made to the power that turned out to be detrimental, and, once I had re-established my baseline, went back to the Jadis. (Yes, that is a lot of heavy lifting, with which the dogs are no help whatsoever.) This is what I had to do to ensure that my assessment would be accurate and fair.

jracine's picture

Great video.
Shazam suggests 6 different tracks for the Widor.... I want it!
What is it?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

It’s the Toccata from Widor’s Organ Symphony 5, Op.42 No.1.

foxhall's picture

Regarding wireless internet, did you try one of the mesh wifi solutions?

I just deployed the Google Wifi system on a friend's property. He needed wifi in a his workshop which is 58 feet from the main house where I have his modem. If not, it may be worth checking out since the little pucks can be moved around to find the best coverage. Other consumer mesh solutions are available as well.

Also, so glad you briefly mentioned the history of your pets. I've been a volunteer at an animal shelter for 14 years so the dogs and I appreciate it.

"Adopt, Don't Shop"

Ortofan's picture

... whose impedance dips to below 2 ohms, you should try a pair of the Parasound Halo JC-1 monoblock amps. It has a lower output impedance, so less frequency response interaction with the speaker; it can easily drive low impedance loads - >2kW into 2 ohms and > 4kW into 1 ohm; and the first ~30W is in class A. Plus, it weighs only 60lbs.

DannyBoyNYC's picture

Thanks so much for allowing us into your inner sanctum. I found it fascinating to watch and it gave a great deal of insight into the pursuits of an audiophile. Surely one of the most charming things I've seen on YouTube in a very long time.

tonykaz's picture

Phew, kinda looks like a bit of a Perfectionist's workings.

Kevin Deal ( of Upscale ) just sent me a fresh video of his 'new' personal 'man cave', he keeps a Porsch in his, along with his Audio Gear. ( I think he also displays a collection of vintage Motorcycles ). He seems to be a bit of a perfectionist.

Perfection is over-rated for my purposes but I can understand people chasing it. My business has been getting close to perfection by percentages but the perfection model is a moving target that can't be hit.

Gosh darn it ( a little mid-western lingo ), There's no way for you to squeeze-in a Vinyl playback system, is there? You'd need another whole listening room to accommodate one or two massive Record Players, a complete Record Cleaning Station, a Phono Cartridge & Arm set-up bench plus all the paraphernalia associated with the 2nd Generation Media systems. If you were vinyl instead of SACD, you'll likely need 5x the Cubic Footage and probably 3x the financial commitment. Thats not taking into consideration the technical expertise needed to operate the 200x microscope needed to set the cantilever angles properly, ( I used a older tubed Tektronix Oscilloscope ).

Still, you're lucky that you don't have my Wife's decorator stopping by to make changes in everything.

I was immediately impressed with your CD/SACD storage shelves ( the one with the Keys ), geez, that's a nice useful system.

I have to say: In my life's travels, I've met very few people in your league. I had one Audio customer ( Audio Research/Soundlabs ) that spent his waking hours striving for something I couldn't quite define, he was way too much for me to cope with, I was happy to return him to Audio Dimensions in Birmingham.

For me now, music is a component/companion to a pleasant life. All my music/college courses are stored on memory, played by digital gear that's mostly Air Travel Portable. I can fit an entire music system in a shirt pocket ( if I have to ).

I gave up Drinking, Smoking & hair-shirt Audiophila. I'm a very old new-man, again. I'm a "Stereophile"

Tony in Michigan

ps. Brrrrrrrrr , Port Townsend looks "Cold & Rainy" with yukky dirts, kinda like Michigan can get in November.

Anton's picture

Did you used to post as "DUP" on the Stereophile forums?

tonykaz's picture

Years ago, I think, I encountered you at a Burning Amp event.

Burning Amp is for tweaky folks that talk about stuff like 'feedback', capacitance, ground loops and all manner of Amplifier innards. A new Resistor supplier is exciting news for these folks.

Hmm, I had it in my mind ( somehow ) that you were that kind of "bird of the feather" but you're not, are you?

This video shows you to be a Top Level owner of music gear, not an experimenter with smoking soldering irons, loaded shirt-pocket protectors and empty 2 liter Soda Bottles in the corner.

You're not a reformed tweak, are you?

So, why would you be at a Burning Amp event?

But then, maybe, you're a Closet 2A3 admirer, which is fine with me, I'll keep your secret.

Tony in Michigan

ps. or 807, 45, 6SN7 & a few others I could name

prerich45's picture

Dude....that's one nice system and room that you have there!!!!!!!

mikewxyz's picture

Hi Jason: Thanks for the tour. As impressive as your audio gear is, I think I was more impressed with your music selection. Give us your top ten recordings in any genre.


Jason Victor Serinus's picture

That isn't one of them. But I think I do need the good Lord's help with this. I can certainly give you one - Arleen Auger's Love Songs on Delos, and collections of Schubert lieder by Elly Ameling, Matthias Goerne, and Janet Baker (recorded when they were in their prime). An early digital recording of Thomas Allen singing Brahms. Klemperer's recording of the Brahms German Requiem. The early recordings of Beverly Sills. Going back back back, French by Maggie Teyte, and German by Elisabeth Schumann - her Schubert is divine - and Lotte Lehmann. Lehmann's voice and brilliance speak to me on multiple levels. Murray Perahia playing Handel and Scarlatti. Recordings by Claudia Muzio. The recording of Terry Riley's In C by the Ragazze Quartet. The Abel Steinberg Winant Trio playing Lou Harrison. How's that for starters?

Hiphile's picture

Coming back to audio after taking a sabbatical. Not a fan of Stereophile anymore but love their old stuff in that regards kudos to Mr. Serinius. I visit the site frequently always interested in the reviewer's videos, of all the ones I have watched this is the best so far. Interesting, informative, fun, and well presented. A joy to watch! Jason you're a bad influence I'm subscribing back to the darn thing. Looking forward to read your reviews. Someone mentioned before about getting your hands on Parasound JC1, will be nice to find out what wil be your choices in reference quality "affordable" amps. Audio by Van Alstine wonderful monoblocks comes into mind.
Great job!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I really appreciate learning what a bad influence I am on you ;-)

In terms of amps, there is this little issue of space: little of it. I can't imagine having as reference not only the Pass Labs XA 200.8 and D'Agostino Progression mono blocks (once they arrive), but also a third set. Where would I put them? I'd have to warn people that as soon as they open the door and take off their shoes, they need to walk sideways down the hall. We'd have to move four amps from the hallway to the music room and then back to the hallway anytime we wanted to bring anything else in. As for the boxes...

natedog's picture

He said not to, but here goes:
Even within its limits, would it not be better to change the room to 1) not have the rack between the speakers and 2) have those speakers out from walls/ corners? A reviewer here who would love his system more - 'more joy' - if he indeed changed this. Lottery win not necessary. Remove the hall-entry wall, maybe.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The loudspeakers are precisely placed, within a quarter of an inch, for their best performance in the space. The front couch is where it is because that's where the response from octave to octave is most uniform. The hallway exists because, without it, the room is square. (Besides, it does provide storage space.) All these issues and more have been carefully addressed. Please see this:

Having said all that, I do want to honor your desire to help. Ultimately, like everything else in life, my experience with this sound room is another case of doing what you can, and acknowledging when it doesn't make sense to keep trying to push the river. Think of the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change...
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Since I'm not aware of any hidden relatives who are going to leave me a million dollars, and I'm not a candidate for a grant from the Gates Foundation, I'm afraid it's up to those lotto tickets or a gift from an anonymous donor. We accept Mastercard, Visa, and Traveler's Express.

natedog's picture

In the spirit of constructive criticism. As of now, you have crammed the set-up into 12-13 feet (front wall);
you could have 15-16 feet instead. Plus this change would free up that side wall for the rack. Or drop the keyboard (other side wall).
It's in a separate bldg, so, move entry door at/ near rear of room; place your hall (if you need it) to behind the listening area, thus achieving the desired non-square room. You do have space, since 2 big benches take up alot of room. A stud wall moved, with the door = less than 10k$.
Just sayin'.

veentage's picture

Good job on this interview Jana! Thoroughly enjoyed this, thanks!

JohnG's picture

Thank you for the visit. Beautifully produced and presented.

Tesla one's picture

Mr. Serinus --

Just noticed my comment, which I placed last Friday, has been deleted - along with your reply. Any reason for this I'd gladly be informed.

John Atkinson's picture
Tesla one wrote:
Just noticed my comment, which I placed last Friday, has been deleted - along with your reply. Any reason for this I'd gladly be informed.

As the website moderator, I felt the comment and the reply weren't appropriate.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Tesla one's picture

Mr. Atkinson --

I'll respect your decision as such, but would like to inquire on the nature of the inappropriateness. Given the circumstances I assume you'll refrain from elaborating on the matter here, and if so please be so kind to mail me at:

(I'd appreciate you deleting my mail-address following this conversation)

hb72's picture

Very interesting, and very likeable.

readargos's picture

I was interested in your observations of light versus dark. I might generalize that systems tending toward bright (as in well-lit and open) highlight aural detail. At their best, they reveal a full palette of orchestral color and instrumental interplay. Challenges with such systems include being bright without becoming brittle or bleached, presenting body and not just leading edge, and presenting a wealth of detail while also remaining naturalistic.

Systems that tend toward dark (assuming similar price points in our light and dark systems) can have as much detail, but are more subtle about it. At their best, they exist in a kind of liminal space between hearing and feeling, aural and palpable. Some of that detail, you do not hear so much as sense, in the manner of sensing of a presence in the room that makes you turn your head, rather than turning your head because you heard the floorboard creak. Challenges with such systems include that they can lack sparkle, present body without as much leading edge or attack, and seem a little starved for air, like all that energy that hovers just above the instrumental sections that we hear in orchestral concerts, and that we describe in home playback with words like “bloom.”

Of course, the ideal system would do it all, and it becomes pricey to approach that ideal. At the same time, I have found pricier gear tends to be more demanding of setup to achieve synergy.

tonykaz's picture

Steve Guttenberg, just today, went on a Rant about "Lazy" Audiophiles that only want to play files.

Sir, how shall we respond to this vicious assault?

I've admired Mr.Steve, since I met him at RMAF11. I never would've anticipated him saying horrible and mean spirited things like this.

I'll write to Tyll and various Stereophile Staff concerning this matter.

I can't tolerate this sort of attitude from our leading authorities, can I ?

Tony in Michigan

ps. I learned of the above from the Audiofiliac's Vlog on YouTube where Steve makes daily pronouncements on all things Audiophile. ( a must read )