Gramophone Dreams

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Herb Reichert  |  Aug 11, 2022  |  14 comments
I was born an obsessive reader and a compulsive tinkerer. During the '60s, I subscribed to Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Hot Rod, Car Craft, Motor Trend, Road & Track, and (of course) Stereo Review and High Fidelity. Every one of those magazines presented articles discussing the importance of upgrading stock wiring to better-quality "premium" wires, citing improved electrical performance and greater reliability.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 28, 2022  |  4 comments
I am an artist by trade. Saws and brushes and cameras are some of the tools I use. The aesthetic quality of the things I make is determined not by my skill with tools but by the dynamic relationships I establish among space, color, tone, and shape.

Of those elements, shapes are the most important because they are the first thing a viewer notices and the chief vehicles for transmitting sentiment and artistic intent. Stylized shapes, like those in popular art, may induce superficial responses in the viewer. Taut, Euclidian shapes suggest their author is of a higher mind; the Parthenon and Pantheon exemplify this type of shape making.

Herb Reichert  |  Jun 02, 2022  |  16 comments
I have this friend, a smart, good-looking young physicist from Argentina. Naturally, I call him "Gaucho." He lives in a glistening-white steel-and-glass apartment overlooking lower Manhattan. I visit him regularly, usually with a group of audio friends, mainly to compare recordings, drink wine, and talk hi-fi.
Herb Reichert  |  May 03, 2022  |  14 comments
The week before Christmas, I invited my artist friend Joe to visit my studio to see my 2021 paintings. To spice the invitation, I told Joe that while he was looking he could audition the newest flagship DAC from Denafrips, the Terminator Plus.
Herb Reichert  |  Mar 22, 2022  |  35 comments
Look closely at the audio system in the photo. It belongs to my friend, and fellow audio seeker, Devon Turnbull (aka Ojas). Notice every object in the room, particularly the arrangement of amplifiers, and turntables, and that awesome herd of cartridges on the table in front of the listening chair.
Herb Reichert  |  Mar 02, 2022  |  7 comments
A month ago, I ran into my Russian neighbor in the hall. As usual, he asked me what I was reviewing. (Vladimir likes to come over and listen, then find fault with everything I play.) When I told Vlad I had Stax's new top-of-the-line earspeaker, the SR-X9000, he lit up and exclaimed, "I need to hear it," adding that he has been a lifelong Stax fanatic and owns at least five different models, "dating way back."
Herb Reichert  |  Feb 01, 2022  |  8 comments
I'm deep into audio power amplifiers because they remind me of race car engines. Both power sources are wildly inefficient, converting only a small percentage of their stored energy into work while dissipating the rest as heat and vibration. Mainly though, I love how race car engines sound. How they shake the air. Just like amps and speakers.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 23, 2021  |  11 comments
At noon on a cloudless, ridiculously bright 97° day, John Atkinson and I auditioned Audeze's new-but-not-yet-released CRBN electrostatic headphones. The audition took place at a sneak preview hosted by Audeze's principal, Sankar Thiagasamudram, in a sleeping room at New York's hipster-chic Ace Hotel on 29th Street and Broadway.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 02, 2021  |  20 comments
Since the plague arrived, several of my closest audio friends have been chattering and bugging me constantly, not about masks, vaccines, Trump, or Biden but about Bruno Putzeys's digital-to-analog converter, the Mola Mola Tambaqui. They've been sending emails and texts like pesky kids:

"Herbie! Have you tried the Mola Mola? Come on man, what's taking you so long? Is Putzeys's DAC better than my MSB? Or the dCS Bartók? Or the HoloAudio May?"

Herb Reichert  |  Nov 04, 2021  |  17 comments
In the household I grew up in, telling a lie was a death-penalty offense—worse than murder or leaving crumbs on the kitchen counter. So, believe me when I tell you that way more than a year ago, Musical Surroundings' Garth Leerer sent me DS Audio's lowest priced optical cartridge, the DS-E1 ($2750 with energizer/equalizer, footnote 1). He said, "You need to know about this." Then every few months he would write and politely inquire how I was liking it. Each time I would write back saying, "I'm sorry Garth, I haven't tried it yet, but I'll install it right after deadline."
Herb Reichert  |  Oct 06, 2021  |  5 comments
Today is Monday. Since Saturday, I have changed the amplifier driving my Falcon Gold Badge LS3/5a speakers three times—from the Parasound Halo A21+ (250Wpc into 8 ohms) to the Pass Labs XA25 (>25Wpc into 8 ohms) to the Elekit TU-8600S (9Wpc into 8 ohms). Now I am listening to the Falcons via the just-arrived RAAL-requisite HSA-1b headphone and speaker amplifier. This unusual, made-in-Serbia amp is priced at $4500. It's specified to produce 10Wpc into 8 ohms, 20Wpc into 4 ohms, 40Wpc into 2 ohms, and 55Wpc into 1 ohm, these values from the loudspeaker output
Herb Reichert  |  Aug 24, 2021  |  24 comments
One summer afternoon in Brooklyn, after a sweaty too-long day doing construction, I stumbled upon a hi-fi shop I'd never noticed before. I thought, hmmm, I bet they have air conditioning.

Inside, the air was only marginally cooler, but before I could leave, an excessively happy salesman introduced himself. After a bit of low-level chit-chat, he asked me if I was into British audio. I told him I "Never heard of it."

Herb Reichert  |  Jul 29, 2021  |  2 comments
From my writing chair, I can see about a dozen moderately priced tube and solid state audio amplifiers.

The five stacked next to my desk are First Watt or Pass Labs models designed by Nelson Pass. Across the room is a hybrid tube/class-D Rogue Sphinx V3 integrated. That black Sphinx is standing on its side behind one of the DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 speakers. Next to the Orangutan is a Schiit Aegir. The most conspicuous amp in the room is my BFF, the Line Magnetic LM-518 IA (footnote 1), which breaks the night's darkness with its tall, bright-emitter 845 triodes. Next to that is Ampsandsound's Bigger Ben KT88/6L6 single-ended speaker and headphone amp.

Herb Reichert  |  Jun 30, 2021  |  19 comments
In my world, the quiet ritual of choosing a record and placing it carefully on the platter is always followed by a sequence of three rough sounds.

With the volume at listening level, I hear the bristle-by-bristle rasping of my stylus brush as it drags across the exposed tip of the cartridge cantilever. Next, as I dip the diamond in Onzow gel, I hear a little suction cup pop and feel the compliance of the cantilever's rubber-tire suspension. Finally, my brain registers that sizzle sound as the stylus contacts the grooved surface. These sounds are tattooed on my brain. They "cue up" my consciousness, preparing it for attentive listening.

Herb Reichert  |  May 18, 2021  |  12 comments
We have inherited an infinitely vast library of recorded musical art, the majority of which is well-recorded but has yet to be fully and completely reproduced. Countless times, I've played an album and thought, am I the first person ever to hear this recording sound this clear and microscopically detailed? Audiophiles understand that in order to be fully enjoyed, great recordings need the finest possible audio reproduction. Reciprocally, the finest audio systems are best enjoyed when playing great recordings. It's a horse and carriage thing.

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