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Monday, 13 August 2018


Exerpt of a 21st century photographer’s conversation overheard at the local high-end music boutique:

“I photographed my XT 8Fs with my X-T2 and processed the raw images through C1. I then made work prints on my P800 and also created some JPGs for my site and ‘Gram.”

Quaint but delicious, especially the punchline at the end of the song:

"...then I never did care for music much"

Flanders and Swann

I'm always amazed at how much money people will spend for the difference in quality they won't be able to hear (if there even is any difference, that is). Not unlike photographers and the monies they spend on cameras, actually.

Are these in ear or over ear wireless? ;-)

They look lovely. I'm pretty satisfied with my set-up, and unlike with camera gear I'm rarely tempted by new stereo gear. My last purchase was an eighties era Denon automatic turntable with a pretty good Denon cartridge. Everything works, and I'm happy.

What I'd like is new music listening culture. To me the experience today is a lonely one. I would love to share and talk music with other people, in person, but it seems I need a time machine.

I always liked Tannoys and the idea of dual concentric speakers.
Growing up my older brother and a pair of these https://www.mixonline.com/technology/1944-altec-lansing-604-duplex-speaker-383624 Powered by an Avery Fisher american made tube amp., and later a smaller set of Tannoys
When my son and I built our Studio ( 1990's) we used the ubiquitous Yamaha NS-10m's, 8" Geneledcs (8050A ?) and Tannoy System 12 DMT's which were more musical than typical studio monitors.
They were very popular, and there are tons of used ones on the market now at bargain prices.

"One thing I've noticed is that when I use older terms ironically, younger people (naturally) miss the irony."

But Mike, that's half the fun of growing old; using expressions that confuse the younger folks! I once tried to tell a waitress I wanted "high test" coffee and she gave me a blank stare. I derisively told her she was too young and that I wanted regular coffee. That restaurant later went out of business, so there!

I've had tinnitus since I was 19. The speakers built into my iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2017) are more than good enough 8-)

I'm an anomaly—I'm over three quarters of a century old, but I think like a teen. I despise retro and luv bleeding edge.This point was brought home by "Apple’s current ads annoy and worry older people – but it doesn’t matter …" https://9to5mac.com/2018/08/10/iphone-ads-annoying/ Fuddy-duddies don't like the security of Apple Pay—how sad.

Fuddy-duddies luv living in the past—how sad. YMMV.

I know a couple from the Philippines who work in SoCal. They use a Video- over-IP phone app to interact with their chiltern, who are over 7,300 miles away across the Pacific.

I'm sure that fuddy-duddies would insist that putting pen to paper, and sending it via snail-mail, is a more personal way to communicate. And they would be wrong—two-way real time companionship is best!

Veronica Belmont monetizes likes the old fashioned way. No Patreon link, no beg-button or affiliate sales links for her. Companies hire her to host and produce podcasts—you know a real job with a paycheck every week. Her current show is online life Is Real Life https://irlpodcast.org/season3/episode3/ IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla.

For the above to work you need to appeal to a general, not niche, audience. Niches come and go, but general interest is generally interesing to everyone 8-)

Mike, we need a computer speakers OT from you! When I searched here I only got 2 hits, and the one from last year were not computer speakers.

When I was a high-school kid, back in the old country, Tannoy was the generic name we used for the hard-wired messaging system in school.
As in "I just heard over the tannoy" etc.
Never thought of them as hi-fi when I started serious listening though.

My first LPs, (which I still have), were mono, so stereo to me refers to the medium.

To consumers, stereo was a so-called "unit" that had speakers behind pretty grill cloth, a turntable, and a tuner/amplifier in a wooden cabinet - "furniture."

Hi-fi implied personally selected components, the more the better. Being on the poor side, I went the Lafayette and Allied and Radio Shack route, piecing things together, designing and building some electronic parts, to get to the point of sounding a bit better than a "stereo." As I got slightly richer, so did the pieces.

At 76, "golden ears" refers to my hearing aids, and I no longer chase ultimate sound.

I was very much into audio in my 20's, less so in my 30's, now hardly at all in my 40's. In the sense that I was into optimizing the equipment (I listen to a broader variety of music now than I ever did when I was younger). I never had a big budget, but I had a good $5-7k system that went through various evolutions.

Realistically with my listening habits now, I'm saving up for the KEF LS50 wireless, which provide an attractive all-in one solution with excellent sound quality that works with streaming, PC and legacy sources.

Nice to see you write (and specifically) about this, timely as well. As I'm on the verge of buying the PrimaLuna you describe. Problem has been that there are newer, flashier models that do more of course. Bu t perhaps I don't need "more" at this point. I am really enjoying putting vinyl on the turntable and sitting back down for 20 minutes or so. Also liking Tidal and Apple Music which have expanded my music consciousness incredibly in the last couple of months. Listening to the Chesky Demonstration Recordings have been educational and "ear opening". Thanks!

Many years ago I had the D500s, similar to the ones you highlight. I loved them and wish I still had them. They were great for low level listening, and with young kids in house I appreciated that. I currently have Harbeth “shoe box” speakers and while not as easy to drive they are also very musical. I’ve come to learn I like that British hi-fi sound!

I worked (well, made tea and hung around) in a recording studio when I was young, whose main monitors were Tannoy Super Reds, which were ... impressive. Years later in two separate moments of madness I bought (not new!) first a pair of Reds (12in dual concentric) and then a pair of Super Reds (15in). I suspect I need to have the cone surrounds looked at but I am reasonably sure I won't ever need new speakers, not least because I don't think I am now strong enough to get the Super Reds down the stairs again.

I’d be very tempted if I didn’t already have these nearly unique speakers from a one-man company:


I loved my Quad Electrostatic speakers. Beautiful sound ... two problems. They were best placed, it was said, four to six feet from the back wall. That put them almost in the middle of my cottage sitting room.
On top of this their ressemblance to radiators meant that friends would try to dry their wet coats on them.

No such risk with those Tannoy beauties!

None of your newby slang! "Stereo"! Good grief!

the word you want is "gramophone" Much better. : )

(I've been thinking about the old record player in a box like a wooden suitcase today, that we had in the living room when I was growing up. Sometimes called a gramophone.)

I've been using an inexpensive Denon shelf system (RCD-M37), Denon turntable (DP-300F) and external phono amp as my stereo for several years but just received a nice pair of http://www.decware.com/newsite/ERR.html ">Decware ERR Radial speakers as a gift. The ERR’s are from 2009 (bottom of page) and were a revelation when I hooked them up. What a difference. You’re right Mike, a good pair of speakers makes a world of difference.

Now that I’ve had a taste, it may be time for some new audio toys to compliment my “new” speakers . I have several old Receiver/Amps (Marantz 2238, Marantz 1180DC, Pioneer SX525) stashed in a closet but a new tube amp and phono stage may be just the ticket. Decware is known for their tube amps and I will check out the ProLogue’s as well. Thanks for the tip.

I’ve noticed the ERR’s make my old albums sound great. I suspect this may be due to their efficiency? My cheap phono amp needs all the help it can get.

Do you have a Phono Stage recommendation to go with the PrimaLuna?

[Not really, but I suspect John Curl's Parasound designs would be good "low end of the high end" alternatives. If you want to go cheaper, there are lots of able circuits in the $100–$300 range, like this one from Emotiva


Or this one from Musical Fidelity



Still listening, with hearing aids, to my beloved Martin-Logan CLS's, from the early 80's. They still work, and with a woofer, sound pretty good to these old ears. Never quite got the tube fascination though in the day, I read "Stereophile" and "The Absolute Sound." Never could get some of the old voodoo, eg hearing the difference between cable brands and connectors that had to go in a certain direction. Magnets on speakers never caught my attention either. Hundred dollar a foot pure silver speaker wires never caught my fancy. There's almost as much imagination in photography these days, "micro contrast," and other unmeasurable things. I like real distortion measurements, I like MTF curves. I know some people decry sharpness as a measure of lens quality, I rather love it. Bokeh-shmokeh.

Regarding concentric drivers: in my experience, the best designs I've heard to date of these were from the brilliant speaker designer, Andrew Jones. He developed the concentric tweeter/mid for KEF, then went on to Pioneer and did the same thing for Pioneer and its high-end audio company, TAD. The TAD Compact Refence is one of the finest speakers I've ever heard at any price, bar none. Andrew Jones then left Pioneer and designed the ELAC speakers that Mike referenced above, so you can count on those to sound wonderful.

As for the Focals, personally I've never heard a pair of Focals that did not drive me out of the room inside of 5 minutes. For 10 large, I would recommend the new Dynaudio Contour 30s.

As for phono stages, there's always the E.A.R. 324....

I bought a pair of Tannoy 10" dual concentrics back in 1970, took them out to Australia and back to the UK. In 2000 I auditioned a bunch of new speakers against the Tannoys; when we got to £1500 a pair I gave up, the Tannoys were still better. Recently I decided they just had to go as they were too large for a new living room (partner pressure!). I made some enquiries and was amazed to receive an offer, sight unseen, of £550 for the pair. The buyer paid in full and collected them a week or so later! I'm hoping to get one of the small KEFs as the "small" Tannoys are rather big and also rather ugly!

Tannoys: brilliant speakers!

So lovely! They are not quite efficient enough for the new TWO watt DECware Zen amp that I will have shortly ... unless I bridge it to mono and buy another. $igh

I've moved on to a more European / French sound delivered by the maestros at Focal, namely the delightful Aria 906's. The rest of my system would be Japanese, Danish and Czech but I can sneak in some British sound by swapping out my Graham Slee phono amp and AKG headphones. I would really love to move to a bigger house with a dedicated listening room and hook a dedicated mono amp (Proprius by Graham Slee) for each one fed by more GS stuff (DAC, Phono Amp) to have that warmth the British are famous for but also the detail that is sometimes lost having the warmth :) Hope that makes sense.

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