Friday, January 27, 2023

Audio for adults?

I received a peculiar msg from the Blogger team last night that one of my earlier entries here was being put behind a 'warning:adult material' screen, suggesting readers needed to proceed with caution. What? Yes, it was a mild entry to the initial reviews I was doing live from RMAF 2014. I've searched and tried to determine the issue but I cannot figure out how anyone, that is any living sentient being, could find something even remotely 'mature' about it. AI doing it's thing? A disgruntled manufacturer annoyed at my comments? Someone having a laugh? Will this message trigger the same? What a world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Thank you Jeff Beck

There's much that can and will be said. There's a ton of later video clips out there but for me, that early 70s line up was his best, and he was the coolest cat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Jerome Sabbagh launches new album by Kickstarter

Jerome Sabbagh is a superb saxophonist and jazz musician who has a record of putting together recordings that matter. I backed a previous release (The Turn, fabulous) and he announced today the lauch of his latest. You can find details below but suffice to say, if you like good music, well recorded, and pressed on vinyl with care, you will likely love this. I'm in, join me and encourage this type of artistry. Jerome Sabbagh - Vintage - 180g All Analog Vinyl Note -- the image below does not launch the video, you have to follow this link to play it.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Mofi Sourcepoint on the way

He has a good record of producing interesting speakers across the price range so I'm sure there will be interest in these. Not sure about the eyes-closed head nodding but this is about listening with the heart, right?

Friday, October 7, 2022

Roger Waters delivers in Austin

I know he's a lightening rod for many but Roger Waters last night reminded me of why music matters. At the Moody Center in Austin he delivered pure theater with a soundtrack that few can hope to match. Heavy on Floyd, and why not, it's his music, he defied his age, and backed by a great band (and more than few loops it seems) he never went into his famed rants but rather gently reminded us in his between-song banter that he's been around for some time and likes what he's doing. Oh, and he loves his wife. It's hard to summarize what is on offer here. The stage set is built to allow him and the band to move in four directions (which he cutely, if inaccurately referred to in compass directions) and work that stage he and they certainly did. Sometimes he was in front, more times to the side or with his back to me). The two backing singers moved everywhere, as did the main guitarist. Above, a cross-shaped screen continually streamed images and text, and that's where the messages were drilled home. Military and police beatings, names of the victims of violence, reminders of his old past (replete with sarcastic but not entirely unfunny references to you-know-who from his last band) and digs at a lot of politicians (poor Joe B being described as just getting started as a war criminal might play to some in Texas but I wished he'd pointed at old Vlad). The mood was set at the start when a voice and text announcement basically said "If you are one of those people who loves Pink Floyd but hates Roger's politics, you might prefer to Fuck Off to the bar right now".

The crowd largely loved it but one feels he does not care if you do or don't. Regardless, the music wins out. What a catalog the man has. And watching him sing Wish you were Here in front of me (yes, he came in my direction for that one) was a highlight. Music can still move me and this was the soundtrack of many years delivered by professionals. 

Downside -- the Moody Theater. What a shitshow. Lines to get in...incredible lines to use the restrooms (did any one plan this for real crowds) and $21 cans of beer after tax/tip? Getting out was so slow as we were herded to a few exits that I could only imagine egress in an emergency. This theatre is good once seated but seems designed to shake you down at every turn. Welcome to the machine.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Friday, August 12, 2022

MoFi speaks..sort of..

There's a short interview in The Absolute Sound editor Robert Harley's blog with MoFi president Davis over what will always be known as 'The Debacle'. You can read it here. It's not exactly an exploration of the major question concerning MoFi's misleading marketing. Is this what real journalism looks like?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The debacle keeps on giving

So, perhaps I was too understanding of MoFi's use of DSD in their much touted One Step releases. As the fall-out continues, am now reading customer service notices that buyers received which apparently assured them there was no digital step. MoFi seems to be making an effort to rewrite earlier social media postings, stating earlier messages or replies to customers were 'unauthorized' etc. This whole mess seems like a case study in mismanagement.   Meanwhile, folks are having a field day posting videos of claimed all-analog processes from a couple of years ago, or quoting 'expert' reviews that raved about the sonics being evidence of all-analog superiority, sharing promotional material that touted the MoFi process and in which there is not a single mention of a digital step. Ah, the internet, history is there if you know where to look.  Am even seeing  reports of price drops on the used market for some of the MoFi collection  (though given the asking prices from before the news broke, any adjustments are hardly at the fire sale level). 

It all has the hallmarks of a road crash. You hate to see it but can't look away. And in there are other nuggets -- like Analog Planet's tour of Music Direct's record storage where the company head not only pushes the party line on all analog goodness, but when Mikey Fremer mentions that he does not have a copy of one record there, the owner basically says he must have it as they send a copy of every release to him. Now that's music direct!  Not a dig at Mikey, he has been an advocate for good sound, and let's face it, who would say no to such a deal?   But I am less impressed with his response to the mess in this next video where he basically argues Mike Esposito, who exposed the story, did not sufficiently act "like a journalist" and was "rolled" by the MoFi team. That's not how I view it. And the comments about Esposito's background? That reveals more about Mr. Fremer's personality than it should. Mikey does admit on camera that he basically covered up for MoFi in some of his columns though! Oh dear. Is that how a real jourmalist should act? I suspect some rewriting of history is actively ongoing, and not just on the MoFi website.

In the end, I feel for the engineering guys at MoFi who are doing their best to release great sounding records. And I have sympathy for people who did spend tons of cash for a form of record they feel was misrepresented, often directly and in response to inquiries they made prior to purchase. This is not a scenario that makes the audio industry or even the press look good. I still feel that if you love the sound of your MoFi LPs, and many people do, then that's what ultimately matters but I don't expect everyone to feel the same. We can but hope that going forward, all releases will clearly describe what you are buying and maybe the pricing will adjust accordingly. I wonder sometimes if history will view the limited edition LP craze of our time as another tulip moment. In 50 years, will any of this seem more than a silly old guy's indulgence? Thoughts for another time...

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Mobile Fidelity - just where is the debacle really?

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth happening right now on audio forums over the apparent revelation that Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs vinyl might actually not be quite as analog as imagined. What? You paid a shitload of money for the Santana One-Step or whatever (or you bought two copies in the hope of making a killing, er, I mean just to make sure you had a back-up) and now you find your prize product is not as 'pure' as you imagined? Hmm..many collectors seem to be taking to the forums to rant, to call it a 'debacle', to claim they were tricked into overpaying by promises of an all-analog production etc. 

I understand some of this purist-disquiet. The marketing of many releases certainly suggested you were paying a premium for an all-analog release, but how often have we heard analog fans saying something like 'I don't know why but I just find the sound of LPs to be better'?  So now it appears that some releases may sound better because of a digital step in the process. Does that make it sound less impressive? Apparently for some it does and it devalues in their minds their expensively curated collections. But what if one didn't know? Does a record by any other name sound as sweet? 

So confusing....see if this helps (clue, it won't much but at minute 41 you get some explanation). So is it all about the quality of sound at the end of the day, not the marketing? From the sound engineering side, it makes sense to go with what works. But, were buyers deceived intentionally? You have to wonder just what the marketing folks and management were thinking here. Who in the industry knew about this and kept quiet?  Welcome to 2022. Transparency is in short supply. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Dick Sequerra RIP

Not sure how I missed this but I've only just learned of the passing of Dick Sequerra, another audio legend with a long history of work with Marantz before forming his own company. Most people of my age will associate his name with FM tuners, and his were among the best. He also produced several lines of speaker that owners still cherish. Here's the obit that I found from someone who had met him, but it does make me wonder how such a life passes unnoticed in the mainstream audio press (of course I might have missed it but a quick search turned up little). Read this

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Blue Note release new Charles Lloyd albums

A trio of trios no less from master Charles Lloyd....and wait, there's brilliant Bill Frisell and Julian Lage among the players. Purchase separately or as a 3 lp boxed set (will cost you $100 plus tax after shipping for the set but I'm in). Yes, there's a cd release too, if you must. Had the pleasure of seeing Charles in concert last time he was in Austin, he was magnificent, as were his band. Here's a taste of the new release. Find out more here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Three guys talking about audio

I sort of smile usually at Bill 'made for radio' Parrish's video postings, lots of talk and good vibe but not always so much content. That said, he delivers it all in an amiable manner that draws you in. Here's an interesting one, if you have the patience, that sort of says a lot about our hobby. Three guys, of a cwetain age, talking at length about one turntable and arm combo. The actual designer hardly gets a word in (you'll have to jump to around the 20 min mark to hear him talk about the 12 month lead time on Kronos products). For the rest, Dabid Robinson (who we are reminded has a PhD) spends a lot of time saying little other than 'this is the best' about the Kronos Discovery (11 actually sold in the US!) It does feel like you joined a conversation with a few guys drinking scotch who are begining to repeat themselves as it kicks in. I get the feeling Bill (conspicuously the only one without a drink) is smiling and slowly realizing it's time to cut them off. This video really does go better with a drink.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Affordable vacuum based record cleaning

 Lots of options out there for those who want to clean their records, most seem a bit pricey for what you get (audiophile reality I suppose) but this one caught my eye. Still $125 and you have to add a shop vac but it looks decent enough. If you have one, let me know.

Friday, June 17, 2022

McIntosh and Sonus Faber change ownership again

 Story of modern business I suppose, and no particular reason to worry, but both McIntosh and Faber are lifestyle brands and for some, that's attractive enough to make companies acquirable. Here's a brief PR blurb, and a link to the official announcement:

June 15, 2022 – Dallas, TX – Highlander Partners, L.P. (“Highlander”), a leading private investment firm, today announced the acquisition of McIntosh Group, through a newly-formed holding company (“the Group” or “the Company”). McIntosh Group has been a leader and innovator in the high-end audio category for decades and today manufactures and globally distributes the world’s finest amplifiers, speakers, turntables and other audio products under several renowned brands. The Company is driven by its dedication to quality performance, sophisticated technology, refined design, and artisan manufacturing. These tenets have resulted in brands known for incomparable design, product quality and consumer experiences.

The Group is anchored by the legendary McIntosh brand. Since 1949, McIntosh amplifiers have been engineered and handcrafted in Binghamton, New York and have undergone an incredible history, having powered events ranging from presidential inaugurations to Woodstock ‘69. McIntosh amps are globally renowned both for their iconic signature design – classic tubes, knobs and the beloved blue metered faceplate – as well as their unparalleled, powerful audio quality.

More details here

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

When a new release is just not enough

 Blue Note are now in the auctioning business, offering selected test pressings of the generally excellent Tone Poet LP series for auction. Kicking off with Wayne Shorter's Etcectera, your winning bid gets you a sealed, authenticated, unplated test pressing and a copy of the regular release. Tempted? You have 4 days, there's been 10 bidders so far and you need to top $500 as of tonight. I'll be keeping an eye on this and no, I definitely am not getting involved. 

More info here