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John Atkinson
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Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

Posted by Gordon's good friend Bob O'Neill on the Audio Asylum:

"A few minutes after 12 noon mtn time, July 20, 2009, J. Gordon Holt passed away in his home in Boulder, Colorado.
A memorial service will be held in a week or two. There will be, of course, martinis and the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams." - Bob O'Neill

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

Very sad news indeed. I wish his family the best in this tough time. I have confidence that Stereophile will have a nice piece to pay tribute to him in the coming months.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

JGH goes skyward on the day man first walked on the moon. That seems OK. JGH was to to my Hi Fi hobby what Apollo 11 was to my sense of wonder about space.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

I am so sorry to hear of Gordon's passing. His writings were my first exposure to high-end audio. My sincerest condolences to all who cared about him.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

I, too am sad to hear about JGH's passing. I actually got to meet him at the '86 CES in Chicago and as a much younger audio geek it was like... actually it WAS meeting a celebrity for me.

I was nervous walking up to him (even though I towered over him, physically) and asking to shake his hand. Rather that being stand-offish, he excitedly told me about a buying guide he was working on and about other doings at Stereophile. Meeting him was a pleasure.

Vaya con Dios JGH.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

The audio community certainly lost one of it's most important voices, one that due to his passion will live long into the future by the magazine he founded and guided.

The measure of a man goes far beyond just being good at something, and JGH brought insight and value to a hobby that we all hold so dear. He was strong in his opinions about live vs recorded, constantly trying to bring the two closer together, it that is possible. He pushed the envlope as far as any one could, I believe.

Many of you have enjoyed his partnership, his leadership, and his friendship, while others of us got to enjoy his passion through his writing. He will be greatly missed.

A prayer goes out to his family and all knew him and called him a friend.

Jim Tavegia

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt

My father passed away yesterday shortly after noon Colorado time. He had suffered a long fight with COPD/Emphysema and he died in his home with his family around him.

If you are so inclined, you can pay him your respects by having a good martini and complaining about the weather.

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt

There are alot of us who would like to think we knew your dad, unfortunately we never got to share a martini with him and I never recall him complaining about the weather.

My condolences. May your dad rest in peace.

RG

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt


Quote:
My father passed away yesterday shortly after noon Colorado time. He had suffered a long fight with COPD/Emphysema and he died in his home with his family around him.

If you are so inclined, you can pay him your respects by having a good martini and complaining about the weather.

Yes, I blame my audio habit increasing to the level of having to manufacture to keep my habit under control (meaning under the radar from it's true stance:Pathological) squarely on JGH, who's early works and ragitorial issuances I read in a very voracious fashion. I miss his voice on these matters. My condolences to the Family.

I will go have my friend, who owned the biggest and most successful audio shop in town and also had the Stereophile rag rack in the store (back in the day)..I will have HIM make it, as he is the best bartender in town (he did it for 15 years off and on) when it comes to making martinis..He will make the martinis and we will Kvetch about the weather.

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt


Quote:
I never recall him complaining about the weather.

Gordon relocated to Santa Fe at the end of the 1970s partly, he told me, becuase he was tired of the rain in Pennsylvania and because Santa Fe has 300 sunny days a year. When I moved to Santa Fe in 1986, I was having a beer with Gordon at a downtown restaurant and noticed that there was a solitary cloud in the gloriously blue sky, on the north side of town.

"That cloud's over my house," explained Gordon. And he was right!


Quote:
May your dad rest in peace.

Indeed. We will have an appreciation of Gordon's life and achievements by Larry Archibald in our October issue. In the meantime, it's worth reading the article Ed Dell wrote about Gordon on the occasion of Stereophile's 25th anniversary in 1987 at http://www.stereophile.com/historical/712/ .

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt


Quote:
We will have an appreciation of Gordon's life and achievements by Larry Archibald in our October issue. In the meantime...

In the meantime, with all due respect, I would have thought you would have put a face to this on the home page of this site. I know I would appreciate it.

RG

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

RIP Gordon...

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt

He shall be missed. In his honor I did indeed complain about the weather and had a shot of gin!

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Re: Sad News about Gordon Holt


Quote:
In the meantime, with all due respect, I would have thought you would have put a face to this on the home page of this site.

The announcement is now on our home page: http://www.stereophile.com/news/j_gordon_holt/

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

Very nice John. Thank-you.

I very much enjoyed your story of a time when you and JGH shared a beer.

Forgive my boldness in changing the title of your thread, but perhaps it is in the recanting of these stories that you and the fortunate others who knew JGH, the man, can help many of us find reason to celebrate his life.

Hopefully you will share others with us in time.

RG

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

JGH and Julian Hirsch should have a lot to talk about.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:
JGH and Julian Hirsch should have a lot to talk about.

That is totally funny.

I wonder, do they even have Hi Fi in Heaven? I mean, wouldn't all the music be available live, on demand, with perfect acoustics and stuff?

Or, if they do have Hi FI, is it perfect sound, forever? Or, does Hi Fi vary from brand to brand? If so, can there be bad sound in Heaven?

Do they have every pressing of every record, or does any given record sound better than the best pressing here?

Can people hear better in Heaven? Will DBT work there?

The mind boggles.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

One of the things I really loved about Stereophile circa the mid-late 1980's were JGH's many footnotes to other reviews...just loved those many quips. His contributions to the high-end cannot be underestimated...from language to philosophy to intellectual honesty, he set a remarkable tone in his approach to audio reviewing. If Audio had a hall of fame, he'd have his own wing.

My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt


Quote:
His contributions to the high-end cannot be underestimated...from language to philosophy to intellectual honesty, he set a remarkable tone in his approach to audio reviewing.

Amen to that sentiment. Webmaster Jon Iverson has gathered all of Gordon's writing currently available in our free on-line archives in its own section: http://www.stereophile.com/j_gordon_holt/ .

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

Very sorry to hear about JGH's passing. Probably the most influential audio writer ever.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

My condolences to those who knew him and his family.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt


Quote:

Quote:
His contributions to the high-end cannot be underestimated...from language to philosophy to intellectual honesty, he set a remarkable tone in his approach to audio reviewing.

Amen to that sentiment. Webmaster Jon Iverson has gathered all of Gordon's writing currently available in our free on-line archives in its own section: http://www.stereophile.com/j_gordon_holt/ .

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

I'll give you a clue how this can go, how it can cascade, if you are paying attention.

Over at the AVS forum, I had to help the Videophile crew awaken to the idea of the language and phraseology that can surround the idea of subjective -human- relations and relating of the seen visual aspect(s) of video imagery..how to communicate it. In human terms.

Before that it was hardcore technical language and it really did not have the capacity to relate to the common man that was actually out there and using the equipment.

I used Gordon's work in that area to begin the video version of that 'language' system. This was back in 2000.

They all thought I was nuts. Now it is the norm. I forced it into existence, through the face of all the ridicule - because I had to. There was no other choice that made any sense.

Thank you JGH.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

What I appreciated about Holt's writings in the '90s was his insistence that the sound of live music should be the singular goal for audio equipment. The extent to which it approached this was the extent to which it succeeded. I think in recent years this goal has seemed secondary in some Stereophile writers' reviews.

Toussaint

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt


Quote:
What I appreciated about Holt's writings in the '90s was his insistence that the sound of live music should be the singular goal for audio equipment.

It was this insistence that many of us did not appreciate.

RG

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

The remark can be taken out of context. I would hazard a guess that his meaning was to please try and include the character of live music as a criteria you aim for. The dynamics and the fidelity, the micro nuances, the soundfield - if you can.

The reality being that the dynamics of live natural unamplified instruments are still well beyond all gear that I am personally aware of.

One must always keep this in mind at all times, otherwise one gets lost down multiple false trails. This is fundamental and critical. If you give one guy or company or situation an excuse, then the next guy takes the next excuse and pretty soon the whole thing is crap from the use and making of excuses. Down at the end of that road lies the $1 radio made in China, that was bought from the dollar store. DO NOT GO THERE. If you give people room for one indulgence, pretty soon the whole world will be filled with people taking/doing/thinking/selling what they want under the guise of the one indulgence. Sledgehammers and crushed fingers do work well to keep such in line. Thus, deliver the message in a strong manner. Anyone who has kids, employees or has ever been a child - should know this.

In my experience dealing with malcontents on forums, if I leave room for people to have a space between us to breathe and develop a stable and fair exchange, the self indulgent and unthinking types will simply step into my face again by stealing the common ground area I created..and start screaming at/from point blank range again. Sooner or later I hit them with a big stick and they act confused and angry, as if I am a bad guy. Or whatever.

It is best to put the prime criteria straight up front and all should use it. This cuts the cummulative effect of shortcuts and poor thinking down to hopefully a manageable point. Critical.

If you understand human nature in this context, then it may become clear that this may have been the intended point in JGH's insistence on always comparing to live music. Give them an inch --and they'll take a mile.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt


Quote:

Quote:
What I appreciated about Holt's writings in the '90s was his insistence that the sound of live music should be the singular goal for audio equipment.

It was this insistence that many of us did not appreciate.

RG

Really?

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

It is my understanding that JGH thought live acoustic classical music was the only reference that should be used to evaluate audio systems, period. No please about it. Hard line drawn in the sand, when there need not be.

Much was written on it, most contained HERE .

JA made some forum comments HERE of which some appear below.


Quote:
Gordon's views on the value of acoustic musics for judging audio components were clear -- see www.stereophile.com/features/109/index3.html , for example. I strongly believe that he was and is wrong in this respect. If a Kraftwerk piece allows you to hear what is wrong, say, with a speaker's enclosure and the Ode to Joy doesn't, then it behoves the reviewer to use Kraftwerk not Beethoven, philosophical arguments be damned.

But you are wrong to say that that Gordon position was distorted into a classical-vs-non-classical strawman. Gordon demanded of then-music editor Richard Lehnert at a late 1980s writers' conference that Stereophile cease reviewing recordings of jazz or rock music. Gordon felt -- and still does feel -- that such musics are antithetical to the philosophy underlying high-fidelity audio reproduction. In Gordon's opinion, music's culmination was the Romantic orchestral literature, basically Beethoven thru Mahler, with Shostakovich and Vaughan Williams included, and that reproducing this music with the utmost fidelity was what mattered.

As by that time I was the magazine's editor and Gordon wasn't, his demand was rejected. And a good thing too!

Amen!

RG

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

you see?

I just colored what you wrote as a incomplete statement..as a whole rant on another subject which kinda smelled just like it. It happens to anybody. All the time. I'll admit it. If everyone else will...

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:
The announcement is now on our home page: http://www.stereophile.com/news/j_gordon_holt/

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

I see from Stephen's blog Jeff Wong is working on some JGH art for October Issue. Is this graphic that was used for your above referenced news item a Jeff Wong creation?

All that memorbilia in Stephen's recent blogs is fascinating.

Why does where this hobby came from seem more interesting than where we are?

RG

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,

Since I still do a fair about of amatuer recording I will chime in...IMHO:

No one has ever taken home the exact audio copy of a performance. Once an engineer takes mics out of his cabinet he is making a "sound" choice one way or another. If you record an electric bass and choose to used a direct box or an SM57, it will not sound the same, try as you might.

As much as JA agonizes over what he does and how he does it, he probably gets closer to the real event as that seems to be a major goal, maybe the only goal. JA's piano recordings are super close to how a real piano sounds in a given space to the audience, JGH's requirement, but where you sit at that recording makes a difference as well. Who's perspective are you trying to capture?

If you used AKG 414's, Neumann 103's, ribbons, Earthwork omni's, all have their own sound. To use a wide range of material recorded with who knows what, is important to find out "does something sound real or not", even if the recording is faulty in terms of reality. God love you for trying to remember what the "event" sounded like week(s) later. I know JA tries, and maybe by now can do it. It sound like he can.

One thing I can count on is that the more live acoustic concerts I attend the less excited about my record/cd collection I become as most do not come close to a live event, or what ever your definition of "real" is. (A real instrument in a real space). I do not belive that it is totally the fault of my systems, as I belive it is the fault of the recording/mastering engineer's use of mics, compression, EQ,(the Aphex Aural Exciter), etc., and we haven't even talked about sample rate or ADC choices.

Why should you record at higher bit rates? That is when no matter what or how you recorded you are bringing "more" of the event back with you. That to me is what 24/96, 24/192, and DSD are about.

I love JA's piano sound, but I also love the Sony piano sound from Murray Parahia discs and Billy Joel's Fantasies and Delusions dics. Neither sounds exactly like our 7 foot Steinway B at our church I hear and play all the time, just as pianos each have their own unique sound. JA's are more "Real", to me.

If I listen to Kazoo music all the time a pair of stand monitors may be all I need. That kazoo will sure sound different if I record it with 2 Rode NT1-A's and a PreSonus BlueTube vs an a pair of AKG 414's into a Grace 201. If the first doesn't sound as real it is not the speaker's fault.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:
Why does where this hobby came from seem more interesting than where we are?
RG

Because it was really new and much more demanding. Components were not so sleek and house-broken as they are now. They were temperamental and complex. I remember experimenting with LP EQ curves before RIAA standardization and learning about cartridge/arm setup and alignment. We actually had to build things. As a kid, I went to Cortland Street every Saturday, browsing the shelves and sifting through the parts bins. There were discoveries every week.

I remember JGH's column in HiFi/Stereo Review to help beginners with the technology. I also recall (pretty easily since I have collected many of those old mags) his organization of listener's panels for comparative evaluation of complete systems. One could sense his impatience in starting Stereophile where he could objectively analyze subjective impressions and relate them to the technology. Readers like me ate it up because this was all new and we desparately needed someone who made sense of it.

What we have achieved in technology has, imho, deprived the user/listener of discovery and experimentation. It is, almost, too easy today.

Kal

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:

Quote:
The announcement is now on our home page: http://www.stereophile.com/news/j_gordon_holt/

I see from Stephen's blog Jeff Wong is working on some JGH art for October Issue. Is this graphic that was used for your above referenced news item a Jeff Wong creation?

Yes, with his permission, I cut'n'pasted it from the comic book that Jeff Wong created to celebrate the magazine's 45th anniversary. (It was published in the June 2008 issue.)


Quote:
Why does where this hobby came from seem more interesting than where we are?

I don't think it's more interesting, but there are now 2 generations of audiophiles who take for granted what was so bitterly fought over before they were born.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:

What we have achieved in technology has, imho, deprived the user/listener of discovery and experimentation. It is, almost, too easy today.

Kal

Audioaustistaethnihilsophilism?

Or thereabouts?

We now have a far more advanced toolbox, so we can make it up as we go along. Part and parcel of the problem. Pretty freaky-cliquey foo, man.

It reminds me of the problems of HTML and other 'high level language' programmers, who have no idea of what they are really doing. Connectivity to the basics has been lost. This also leads down the road of having those who really do not know what they are doing being touted as 'designers'. I personally don't find that very appealing. That the tool set is advanced is a good thing but..loosing track of the basics is as bad as a 2nd rate 3rd gen neophyte becoming full of themselves and deciding to attempt basic changes - that lead down false paths. Sadly, this is not unusual. In any area of endeavor.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt


Quote:
Posted by Gordon's good friend Bob O'Neill on the Audio Asylum:

"A few minutes after 12 noon mtn time, July 20, 2009, J. Gordon Holt passed away in his home in Boulder, Colorado.
A memorial service will be held in a week or two. There will be, of course, martinis and the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams." - Bob O'Neill

My sincerest condolences to his friends and family at this very sad time.
I seem to remember learning about Stereophile and JGH from my brother in the late 1960s when he was probably first exposed to it in college. We talked a lot about his recommended components and tried to get out to hear them for ourselves. We didn't give up on measurements but enjoyed reading about his listening impressions.

A very sad day.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:

Quote:
...

What we have achieved in technology has, imho, deprived the user/listener of discovery and experimentation. It is, almost, too easy today.

Kal

I read this as I am listening to Pandora on my Squeezebox.. What about Pandora to discover new music? I don't miss vinyl, I don't miss using a turntable. I felt stupid the last time I try to use it. With a good DAC the sound coming out of that squeezebox is pretty good, too. That Squeezebox is brilliant, very easy to set up. Who needs a fucking Soolos?

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:
I read this as I am listening to Pandora on my Squeezebox.. What about Pandora to discover new music? I don't miss vinyl, I don't miss using a turntable. I felt stupid the last time I try to use it. With a good DAC the sound coming out of that squeezebox is pretty good, too. That Squeezebox is brilliant, very easy to set up. Who needs a fucking Soolos?

Why are you changing the topic? I loved the Sooloos but cannot justify its cost. That said, I do listen to streaming audio (from web and files) using my PCs and simple USB connections to an HRT Music Streamer+ or directly into an ARCAM AV888.

OTOH, what I was talking about was the sense of discovery about equipment and reproduction found through construction and experimentation. DIY, today, occupies a restricted niche compared to those hazy early days when it was implicit. My first real turntables came in separate pieces: mechanism, base, arm, cartridge. There were no packages. Similarly, speaker-building was as common as speaker buying to judge from the catalogs of the 50s and 60s. One learns, and learns to appreciate, a lot by such experiences.

Kal

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

The sense of discovery has shifted from hardware to music. Who can complain? Instead of spending hours to tune their car and their turntable people spend more time to discover new music with the help of their Squeezebox. That is progress. One can get Antonio Carlos Jobim and Ali Farka Toure on the spot!

The sound of reproduced music was so bad in the old days that we were going much more to live music concerts. I remember foundly the British clubs in London and Brighton during the Beatles and the Rolling Stones...

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

Kal, I don't think Grosse Fatigue comprehends.

Grosse Fatigue
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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

Hu!hu!hu!hu!

Parles a mon cul
Ma tete est malade
- Alfred Tennyson

When was that you played with your first turntable, your first amp, your first CD player??

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

I always love it when some senior citizen has a hernia publicly on an online post. Don't change a thing, Gross Fart-a-lot.

Grosse Fatigue
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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

Show-off

Tu peux chier dur
Tu peux chier mou
Mais tu dois chier dans le trou!
- Montaigne

You are incapable of that.

linden518
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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

I had no idea that what I said to you was show-offy, but okay. Get twisted.

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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

He was not my cup of the, he would never have made it to White's, but apart from his bad review of the Meridian 565 I agreed mostly with his reviews. He was honest and I respected his opinions.
I miss him.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt


Quote:
Show-off

Tu peux chier dur
Tu peux chier mou
Mais tu dois chier dans le trou!
- Montaigne

You are incapable of that.

Nice one. Heh heh.

Grosse Fatigue
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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

My Dear c'est a (..mou mou)rir de rire!
C..c'est ..f''fou!
Perrier.
Audio.
Merde.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

My dad's views may have seemed a little extreme, but that was because he had a narrow focus: The reproduction of symphonic music at home in such a way as to try and replicate the experience of being at the performance. Not much else mattered, because not much else had a benchmark to compare it to. This attitude confused and frustrated many people.

People would talk with my dad about his "legacy" in audio, but he honestly felt he never left a legacy behind. Stereophile lost the focus that he intended for it (and became profitable in the process). High-end audio in general became more about what stupidly exorbitant prices people would pay and less about how accurate things sounded. He was upset that people stopped trying to measure things in any sort of quantifiable way which could be related to others (he took a very scientific approach to it, as any early reader of Stereophile can attest to). Ultimately, most of what he struggled to create was lost. It's one reason why he quit audio and started to get into video, although he ended up giving up in frustration there as well. He was a purist, and the world doesn't treat them kindly.

My dad didn't care a whit about how expensive something was or how it looked, all that mattered to him was how it sounded. At one time he used to use zipcord from a spool at Radio Shack for his speaker cable because his testing at the time showed no one could tell the difference between that and more expensive cables. That attitude turned off a lot of people, and certainly upset a lot of advertisers.

I know people like JA will have some other viewpoints to offer, and they certainly spent more time talking shop with my dad than I did, so I welcome to read what they have to say over the next few months.

Thanks for everyone's comments and support. And of course, I can't speak for my dad, just from what I knew of him.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

We have to look past Grosse Fatigue.

Like most male frogs, his sense of self-worth is Grosse-ly overinflated. He cannot help it, came by it honestly.

reading some old JGH articles. I never was much into him(jumped on the Sphile train only in the past 5 years) but, I like his style.

Grosse Fatigue
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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

There is more to it. I think the Stereophile of Larry Archibald was extraordinary. It was never the same after he sold it.

jcharlesholt
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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

For those who care, I will be auctioning off some of my dad's audio equipment and other items over the next few months. Check here for a current list: JGH Items

I'll be adding new items as time allows. I've got a lot of stuff to get rid of to get his house emptied and sold, with some of the money going towards paying funeral costs and other expenses.

One of the items which may be of interest is a Heathkit which my father built and which appeared on the cover of the Volume 1, No. 12 of Stereophile. I'll be listing that soon.

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Re: Remembering Gordon Holt

I would be interested in his sneakers, circa 1995.
They were a work of art, especially if you would have two pairs.
-Grosse Fatigue

nunhgrader
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Re: Sad Newsabout Gordon Holt

RIP Mr. Holt. Peace and comfort to your family and friends.

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