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Sunday, 10 April 2016


Go ahead and feed my gas. Great! What about best-selling DSlr? I would think the Nikon 750. Best selling camera bag?

My wife thanks (hates) you.


UPS brown? My old boss had a Corvette that color, we called the flying poop mobile, it would have been ironic if he had hit a wind turbine with it but no, he sold it.

Not quite the same, but your Uncle Tupelo post reminded me of Carlsberg beer ads... Their slogan is "Probably the best beer in the world." I just like that use of "probably", as they manage to brag, but with uncertainty.

Surely the VPI deserves a better cartridge than the one pictured. I use an Ortofon 2M Blue (which is one notch above the Red in Ortofon's line-up) on my Rega Planar 3 and don't find the combination to be so over-the-top. I doubt the 2M Red realizes the full potential of that turntable.

Still occasionally using my late '70s vintage Bang & Olufsen turntable. Now, if I could only find a cartridge for it that costs less than what I paid for the turntable...

I saw a presentation by Seth Casteel last spring (Sedona PhotoFest) where he presented his amazing images. Prior to that day I had never heard of him. So glad that I attended.

May I add that people complain loudly for paying $3.00 a GALLON for gas then blithely pay $1.25 for a PINT of water. Go figure.

I was one of the culprits for the Bryan Peterson's book appearance here... (3rd edition). Nice, although I found it quite on the basic side (but peppered with really nice suggestions, especially in the captions of the photo).
Now, I would like to see the reaction of a lot of sharpness-over-all people to the fact that he repeatedly suggests apertures of f/22 (...and sometime f/32!).

My wife bought me a kindle a couple of years ago. I liked it at first and it's great for travel and holidays but I haven't used it in a while now. I've gone back to paper.

I don't think HM the Quen is the richest woman in Britain, by a long shot. An awful lot of what appears to be hers - the property, the palaces, the paintings, the jewels - aren't. They form the Crown Estate, and as such belong to the nation, although the monarch gets to enjoy the use of them. But she can't dispose of them, and that's as good a definition of ownership as any, I think.

Canon 100D + 24mm f2.8 STM: +1 from me.

I agree that the VPI is a bargain, especially if you care about music. I own two other turntables, otherwise I would be looking at purchasing a VPI or an equivalent.

Funny, not a single item on your list interests me. I'm satisfied with what I have. (How un-American!)

I think that the Porsche SUV named after an unpleasant pepper is the Cayenne. The car pictured is the Macan -- probably a Macan S.

[Nope, it's an entry-level Cayenne. The picture comes straight from the Porsche website: http://www.porsche.com/usa/models/cayenne/cayenne/ --Mike]

US Macan MSRP prices range from $47,500 to $76,000 -- not that any are actually equipped to sell at those prices. No matter how much you have to spend, Porsche has a way to get it all. Nice cars.

Several years ago my wife's kayak harbored three thick trade paperbacks during a nine-day camping trip on the north shore of Lake Superior. Now we carry just one Kindle Voyager each for reading in camp -- much less weight and volume.

Mike, I didn't know that you were a phood philistine :-) I know very few people who don't enjoy hot&spicy Chinese and Thai food — they are a popular take-out foods here in SoCal. BTW eating food spiced with Cayenne Pepper is good for long term weight loss https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayenne_pepper

I have neither GAS, an additive personality or expensive tastes. My last new camera purchase was a Sony NEX 5n. A great little camera that has never been used for a paying job. Paying work was done with owned xxD and rented 5Dx Canon cameras.

I listen to music on my iPod Touch 4G or my late 2009 iMac which also serves as my television (I'm presently binge-watch Californication on Amazon Prime).

The next item on my want list isn't a camera, a car or audio gear. It's a Kitchen Aid food processor.

Mike, so far as stereo equip is concerned I purchased a VPI turntable back in 1986 or 87, arm and cartridge and (if I remember correctly) came to $1800.00 in 1986 dollars. Worth it? Yes, its still works as new, sound is wonderful. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Purchasing a Porsche of any variety is of no interest to me. But for those that it does I completely understand.

Too bad they don't make them anymore but Technics made all the turntable anyone ever needed. Audio-Technica makes perfectly good ones today for less than $500 and you can go home happy as a clam with a belt-drive turntable for $200.

Differences may be measurable, but are not audible to anyone with a breath of honesty in their hearts.

As a footnote, used direct drive turntables, if they haven't been used by DJs, are a very good deal, since there is almost nothing to wear out, except for the rubber mats and feet, which are easily replaced. They are about as simple and overbuilt an electro-mechanical device as it is possible to conceive.

[Alan, I say with complete confidence, you have never heard a good turntable properly set up. I mean that in a friendly way, yet I'm convinced of it. --Mike]

Yes the Pro 2 is selling well, but wait until the T2 hits the shelves.
The real Fujifilm bestsellers are Instax models, which outsell all Fuji digital cameras by quite a lot.

" ... what Henri Cartier-Bresson might be shooting with were he with us and IN his prime today." Haha, it could indeed be 'with' instead of 'in'.

In regards to the comments on the VPI, I often find it interesting that people pay huge amounts of money for speakers, amps and big fat cables washed in snake oil between them but baulk at spending money on the "front end". To me it would be like running that Porsche with the hand brake on and some of the spark plugs removed.

A good, properly set up turntable with a good cartridge (I like the Goldring 1042) can make a "uuuuuge" difference. I know, I have heard a few in my time.

Love the Kindle concept, and the paperwhite is superb to read but my family have gone through at least 7 Kindles in the last 4 years - not upgrades - the things just break. Some lasted a couple of years, some just 6 months.

With the latest one to fail, a call to Amazon ascertained it was a hardware failure, and a fee would be needed to upgrade it. When asked the procedure for returning the unit, the support person said, 'No need, we can do it over the 'net' (!) Further correspondence resulted in a free software update.

Anyway, I've been done with Kindle and I've been using a Nook for the last 2 years. Its not as good a reading experience as the paperwhite, but at least it works.

The perception of silliness of pricing is interesting. It's often allied to a perception of "the real reason of purchase"... for example, A might claim he needs a $160K SUV for traversing rugged roads at high speed, and well made roads at higher speeds in relative safety. I might estimate that as self delusion, since I know A lives far from the nearest unmade road and rarely drives fast under any circumstances, in any case far from the limits of performance of a Camry. So the silliness pertains not to the Cayenne or VPI (or Hasselblad HP6), whose quality of engineering may justify the price, but to it's irrelevance to my perception of what is important in A's life. At this stage I can invoke purchase vs rental costs, double-blind testing, SNR's, information theory, MTF's and Freudian psychology.

A should reasonably tell me that it's none of my business, and that he just likes having a thing of technical excellence beyond pragmatic needs. A little bit of Pirsig's notion of quality in motorcycle construction and maintenance.

New Zealanders know that there are advantages to being 4th best!


To spend $3300 on audio equipment is a relative judgment. But to spend that amount on analogue equipment is an affectation. There is no way that analogue equipment can generate a better signal than a digital input. The audio limitations of vinyl preclude that. The protestations of vinyl lovers are purely subjective and have been disproven by audio engineers and psycho-acousticians. The purchase of a $3300 turntable is just GAS.

[...And Bob Dylan can't sing. --Mike]

Back in the 70s a girlfriend of mine wrote for one of UK's biggest-selling hi-fi magazines. We had the use of all kinds of hi-fi equipment which, at that time, seemed to locate us in a little corner of paradise. Of course music itself was a rarer and in some ways a more precious commodity than it has since become - and maybe the dope-smoking at that time had an influence on those perceptions. Coming back from a gig one night I discovered that (let's call her) Hattie had left a fan heater switched on, accidentally pointed at a huge stack of about 200 LPs, many of which were costly imports. Anyone who eats at Indian restaurants will know what a poppadom looks like...

The resurgence of interest in vinyl baffles me. I can believe it sounds marginally better than most digital media but >$2K for a turntable and another three figure sum for a cartridge? And how much do you spend on the rest of the installation to get a match with the notional quality of these components? Absolutely crazy given that the ultimate limitation is the discs themselves and any disc of some vintage is guaranteed to suffer from all kinds of imperfections. Of course I guess we're all supposed to go out and re-purchase re-mastered new copies. Personally I was glad to see the back of vinyl and almost as glad to see the back of Cds.

I'm feeling much the same way about cameras - and indeed most "consumer durables". Rush to dump your iPhone N.n as soon as the iPhone N.n+1 is released (personally I use a low-end Windows phone which does everything I need just fine.) We're destroying the entire planet and all the other species on it in pursuit of these phantoms.

Upon hearing his favorite classical pianist play a live solo performance at Carnegie Hall, the audiophile sullenly remarked afterwards that "His recordings sound so much better."

Hint: If you can read the sentence above and find no irony in it whatsoever, you may be an audiophile.

Re: Underwater Dogs

Saw this ad just last night:


The ad featured a lady photographer (or actress, whatever the case.)

While I agree with you Mike in the 'psu/Mike responds' discussion, I did want to point out something pedantic about your original reference to the VPI as a 'mid-priced high-end product'. That term isn't technically possible, more an oxymoron actually, because 'high-end' is a marketing term and refers to price bracket. You are in good company, however, to say high-end when meaning either high-performance or highly-subjectively-rated, or both. (my being an audiophile only makes me more pedantically insistent, heh)

[It's not an oxymoron because it's a category within a category. It's mid-level within the high end. Like, say, the term "entry level luxury car." That appears to be oxymoronic on its face, but it's actually not because it merely refers to the lowest level within the luxury car range. --Mike]

A good turntable is a nice thing, but the devices that change one form of energy into another are more critical. Examples of this include speakers (electricity into sound), phono cartridges (motion into electricity). Easily audible differences are there. Others seem to matter less, eg preamps and amps, (electric in, electric out). It is hard to hear the difference between decent amps and decent preamps. In photography, sensors seem to matter a lot, translating light into electricity. Printers seem to matter too. Lenses seem to matter a lot in photography and people manage to spend disproportionate sums on them, though they deal with light in and light out. Go figure and just enjoy all of the sound and the images.

I just want to take this opportunity to gripe about any turntable that doesn't return the arm to its resting place after a record is finished, no matter the price. That's what is keeping me hanging on to my eighties era fully auto Denon. I don't even need fully auto, just auto return or even auto shut-off.

The one true best seller I own and use daily is of course my iPhone. I don't know if the world is a better place with these things, but it certainly is different.

[I agree about the turntable point. I use a 1980s Yamaha that lifts the arm and turns itself off at the end of every record. Those are called "semi-automatic" turntables and they're not made any more except in very cheap, inferior products. I find it a basic convenience I'm not willing to do without.

Belt-drive tables without suspensions or isolation and with completely manual arms are what dedicated hobbyists (audiophiles) are thought to prefer (this might be received wisdom rather than researched fact), and they also happen to be much easier for small-scale boutique fabricators to make, so it's mostly what we get now.

I personally prefer idler-drive tables, and those aren't made any more either. There is a thriving subculture of aficionados who restore old idler-drive models such as the Garrard 401 and 501 and the Thorens TD-124. There was a craze for the Thorens TD-124s a few years back when a leading audio writer got enthused about them and wrote multiple articles singing their praises, so of course the prices on those went through the roof. But making new idler-drive turntables would require a real engineering department and a real factory, not to mention the advantages of economies of scale, so we won't see them again. --Mike]

The idea that there are still people investing serious time and money on turntables makes me happy in my heart.
I have had a Technics wheel of steel in my system for about twenty years and love it even though it's DJ connection and direct drive probably relegate it to "mid-fi".
George Harrison is supposed to have said that he missed the clicks and pops on his favorite recordings when the Beatles went to CD. I get that. Flawless is nice but a little sterile too.
Dust noise, clicks, pops and heaven forbid the occasional seed crater are just part of the vinyl experience.
Slightly OT but last week I watched an old Columbo rerun that had a killer using an Accutrac 4000 as part of a murder plot. If Accutrac 4000 doesn't ring a bell this may help.

I like your style of "selling out", Mike :-)

Who's going to break it to 'psu' that the VPI price excludes the cartridge, which could easily cost an additional $1000 or more....or lots more?

One of the best music gear investments I ever made was in the early 80's for a SOTA turntable with a Wheaton Tri-Planar tone arm that was personally installed by Herb Papier in Wheaton, Maryland. It's still going strong, and I'm only on my second Lyra cartridge 30+ years later.

[I met Herb Papier once. Quiet, unassuming guy. The Herb Papier of today is probably Mark Baker of Origin Live...although you can still buy the Tri-Planar new today. (I can't, though :-) --Mike]

Yes, the VPI is covetable and worth the price, which should be seen as low, assuming demand had always outpaced production.

On the mid-price debate - I was buying ice creams for my family and they had two sizes - small and medium, so we all picked medium. I wonder if, had the sizes been described as medium or large, would we have still gone with the larger size?

I think the term medium (or mid) has long been abused by marketers to steer our decision making. in terms of that turntable, it is probably not exponentially better than a $800 machine, despite what its price should suggest. 80/20 so often kicks in way before we reach the so-called "mid-range".

Hey, what's with all the audiophile bashing? Can any pursuit be nobler and more rewarding than seeking the best possible reproduction of music in one's home? As I once read in TAS, what can beat losing oneself playing the maestro along with Reiner or Walter or Szell -- in one's underwear? And cue up an encore anytime you want?

To those who say digital is better than analog, and that all "good" amps sound the same, all I can say is you have not heard what a high end system sounds like. Sure, there is much snake-oil (mega-dollar cables and power cords etc.) in this business. But there is nothing more difficult than reproducing live sound in a live venue. I have taken pics which, processed, I can say look "better" than the real thing. But I have never heard music reproduced which sounds anywhere remotely close to the real thing. Which makes the pursuit more quixotic, more worthwhile.

"Love the Kindle concept, and the paperwhite is superb to read but my family have gone through at least 7 Kindles in the last 4 years - not upgrades - the things just break. Some lasted a couple of years, some just 6 months."

My wife's Nook Simple Touch died a few days ago. Only our second failure in several years of use. (Actually, the other one sorta works still, and it's the screen on the latest - maybe I can ...)

"Anyway, I've been done with Kindle and I've been using a Nook for the last 2 years. Its not as good a reading experience as the paperwhite, but at least it works."

When Carol's Nook died, I did a little reading and went down to the local B&N, expecting to buy a Glow+. When I held my Simple Touch next to the latest, greatest, the old one clearly has better contrast, whiter page and is simply more readable.

Yet another case of added features actually making a product less perform less well at its primary function. Sure, faster page turns, night lighting, higher resolution and capacitive touch screen are all nice. But at the cost of a less pleasant reading experience in the vast majority of our use, no thanks. I gather that the latest Kindle uses the same screen.

The $39 back-up I bought when B&N was closing them out went to Carol and I have one of the remaining new ones coming to replace it.

A really OLD Thorens TD165 and Sonus cartridge whenever I listen to vinyl (through equally old BA speakers). My golden ears rusted out a while back, replaced by ones that take a number 312 battery. I still love the experience of carefully removing the disk while not touching the grooves, positioning the tone arm, and turning the lever to set the stylus down.

"[I agree about the turntable point. I use a 1980s Yamaha that lifts the arm and turns itself off at the end of every record. Those are called "semi-automatic" turntables and they're not made any more except in very cheap, inferior products. I find it a basic convenience I'm not willing to do without."

I have a little arm lifter gadget labeled Thorens on my Well Tempered Record Player. A tiny bit fussy, but does the most important job of lifting the needle out of the grooves.

Seems it was sold as Thorens Q-UP,
and someone new is now selling it, with added height thingies, as simply Q-UP.

I had to stick it to a weight to mine, to make it stable and consistent in use.

After reading all these interesting posts, I've reached the conclusion that analog audio is quite similar to what we refer to as analog (eg film) photography, as opposed to digital photography. By any objective measure digital is superior in audio as well as photography, but there are those who love heating their home with tubes, placing the tone arm on the record, and those who love the smell of fixer and enjoy working in the dark. Nothing wrong with that but we should not be confusing the outputs. Different, not necessarily better.

It took business travel to make me an e-reader convert. Frequent trips around Europe with the ability to access English titles and travel light with a big collection of reading material kept me sane on planes, trains and automobiles.

Not to mention late nights in odd hotel rooms with incomprehensible TV shows, even if some were kind of hilarious or just downright weird. In Vienna, there was a 24 hour channel just showing the view from the drivers cab on all their metro routes. Quite hypnotic, but deeply curious.

In 12 months I got through 32 novels.

Dunno but perhaps Barbie Dolls, GI Joes, Yo-Yos, Hula hoops, and Hot wheels cars might be pretty high in the total sales rankings, among others.

Might be quite a challenge to come up with accurate numbers.....

A word of support for Eric Brody's point of view from far away Singapore, which is an audiophiliac city-state on the other side of the world from many of the commenters here.

Singapore is unique in having had an entire mall, the Adelphi, devoted solely to audiophile equipment. It's heyday was in the late 1990s, coinciding with my own interest in audio gear—the fever is now greatly abated :)

At it's peak, there were about two dozen high-end equipment retailers/distributors in the mall with listening rooms, so it was possible for a visitor to audition a huge variety of top-end gear over the course of a year's worth of weekends and lunch breaks, as I was fortunate to be able to do.

My firm conclusion is the same as Mr. Brody's. One can hear the difference in signal conversion components (cartridges, speakers, and, to a limited extent, DACs) but not in electrical->electrical components—with the sole exception of differences arising from switching out brands of input tubes in tube amplifiers.

With design and manufacturing being what they are in the modern era for even slightly above mass-market gear, a high standard of technical specifications was met by all components. As Mr. Carmody said above, differences may be measurable, but not audible. Pace Mike. I couldn't hear any difference in turntables and tonearms, nor in amplifiers and pre-amps, nor amongst DACs. Most tube amps sounded the same, as long as they used the same input tubes. All the solid state amps sounded the same.

No, I did not do direct A/B blind testing (for the most part, though a couple of the dealers were set up for that), but my strong impression, in time, was that I could tell the difference between speakers or cartridges but little else.

The experience cured me of mad audiophilia. I do want to get a pair Spendor SP100 speakers someday, when I have a large enough listening room, and perhaps go back to vinyl with a cartridge of my choice for variety's sake, but that's about it.

Love my thorens turntable, curse the idiot that scraped all the spare parts at thorens a few years back.

That Porsche brown is called Havana. One of my favorites , but on proper air cooled cars please.

Porsche UPS?

Wrong. wrong. Wrong. By a long shot the most important element to the serious, critical listening experience is the source material. If you play sloppily recorded electronic instruments and voice tracks which then get studio processed and mixed, what difference does it make what components you pass it through? What do you compare the results against? What is the real thing, anyway?

But if you play acoustic music performed in a space with good acoustics, and recorded by the handful of good recording engineers with minimal miking and minimal or no post-processing, then I bet you can hear a difference in what gear you run it through. Golden-ear is not about AB comparisons in a store. It is acoustic memory acquired by frequenting live performances. It is about knowing the benchmark.

And then you have to consider the complexity of the music. Simple music is easy to reproduce more or less faithfully. Try a properly recorded romantic symphony in full cry. Then tell me if tone-arm or cartridge or pre-amp or amp makes no difference.

Hmmm.. Methinks $3,200 would buy a decent camera system today (even GX-8 based) with which someone could change their life.
Or a decent smaller/older motorcycle. Ditto. I'm not a musician, but i'd bet it's "ditto" for some musical instruments. I can't imagine a turntable changing anybody's life." just sayin'"As they do say:-)

Reader Mike Plews wrote:"George Harrison is supposed to have said that he missed the clicks and pops on his favorite recordings when the Beatles went to CD."

I remember once reading a magazine interview with Jazz master Charles Mingus in which he remarked that he found that hearing the pops&noise in his favorite records was part of the experience of hearing the music he loved. I think he meant that knew them as well as he knew all the notes being played,and that they'd become part of the listening experience

I'm making a concerted effort to listen to my modest collection of vinyl recordings on my modest Rega turntable with its Ortophon cartridge and new belt.

As a result I've had a modest epiphany.

This medium forces me sit and listen to the music unlike other delivery methods whereby multi-tasking is usually undertaken at the expense of the music.

'Porsche's no. 1 best-selling vehicle is an SUV named after an unpleasant pepper'

Not in 2016: https://www.porscheclubgb.com/news-and-events/news/2016/april/successful-start-to-2016-for-porsche .

This year it is an SUV allegedly named after an Indonesian tiger.

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