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Wednesday, 13 May 2020


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In isolation I have sunk into my headphones, since I live in a small-ish house with my family of four. It’s a rabbit hole to hell, really...you can chase the dragon straight to the poorhouse. Fortunately, I have realized that it costs X dollars to get 95% of the way to heaven, and XXXXXX dollars for that extra 5%. I have three pairs of headphones I really like, and have upgraded the signal path lately - preamp and amp to go along with a DAC I already had. It all sounds great and makes me happy.

I have had a chance to hear headphones that cost as much as a starter house in Nebraska...and a 2-channel system that costs more than my car...and while I appreciate all that I can honestly say to people you can get damn close to all that for fairly cheap.

Sound quality matters, but like every gambler we should just cash out & enjoy what we have, eh?

Sigh. We have a nice SUMO NINE amp, Nakamichi pre-amp, Nakamichi CD player, and nice Paradigm speakers. I think there's a turntable in a box in the basement. No vinyl though. I believe it all works, but we haven't turned it on in years. Who knows? The only guy in town that serviced such equipment died several years back. We spent a pretty penny for it, and can't see getting any of it back. It gathers dust. Sigh.

So, even more OT: it looks like the "mechanicals" in your basement had been extensively updated. I've seen new construction in Center City Philly that was similar. Nice stuff.

And that's a good thing. You don't want, not to mention don't need, "vintage" pipes and electricity.

(Unsolicited assessment by an ex-IT guy, who used to be an electronics servicing guy, who built really cheap amps in the early 60s for my own use, with parts from Lafayette and Allied Electronics).

Best music system for a single guy who wants to downsize? How about an iPhone and a set of earbuds....?

[Not...even...close. Besides, I have my desktop system. I just don't always want to be at my desk. --Mike]

Lately I have super simplified my system, well, not really because I still have the stereo and big speakers, but most of the time I drag this little thing around for music and podcasts.


I was into vintage receivers about 15 years ago. Even bought a vintage Tandberg receiver and then a tuner that was the envy when I was around 15. They all kind of sucked. I kept my Nakamichi tape deck until it died (again) and parts were no longer available. A phase.

I've been big into audio gear (and music) since I was about 13 and had allowance, and depending on life's circumstances (kids etc) it has been with me all along. I'm in my 50s now and going through a new phase. It's really good. Audio gear has gotten insanely expensive while at the same time there's a lot of really great stuff for not much money.

My current system is getting long in the tooth at around 12 years old: Resolution Audio and Harbeth, but streaming and Roon makes music fun again.

There was a video this past week on how audiophiles and photographers are both into their art and their gear.

"Truth be told, I'm horrible at planning [photography] purchases. My brother Scott, who knows me well, once said that I'm great at advising other people what to buy but terrible about knowing what to buy for myself. Mea culpa, I guess. I do tend to change strategies at the drop of a hat, and get charmed by offbeat ideas* and weird pieces of kit**."

Fortunately, most or much (depending on reader) provides posts of interest to your photo dawgs.

* Witness the side trip into video for print critiques.

** Of course you can't use the gear everyone else uses for this sort of thing.

You are running a photography blog that can't display photos wider than 470 pixels - and you need video?

Decades ago I had an Accuphase tuner and an Accuphase pre-amp. They sounded great and were beautifully built. Built like tanks and just as big and heavy.

You are, of course, correct. But wow, that vintage stuff is so, so beautiful. I'm a complete sucker for VU meters.

I highly recommend Schitt Audio. Best bang-for-your-buck out there and actually made in the USA.

Why not stream cd quality music and play it through your current speakers? Pretty cheap and very flexible.

Vintage electronics is highly unlikely to be any good. The knowledge base, the designs and the parts have all moved on by leaps and bounds. That includes tube gear. If you look inside even the most prized vintage tube gear, say an ARC SP3a preamp and compare it to a modern ARC model, you'd be shocked at how shoddy the vintage one is. The only vintage audio parts worth having are NOS tubes (Amperex, Telefunken, WE etc.)

Talk about SE amps, a pair of NOS vintage engraved black base WE-300Bs can be had for only $19,995.

Offbeat gear is also highly unlikely to be any good. Would you ever consider buying an offbeat lens designed by some alleged genius and built to order in China?

Got us a Brennan B2 with 2 TB HDD (https://www.brennan.co.uk/). Ripped the CD collection, but listen mostly to the Jazzgroove on internet radio, which the B2 also receives. Runs through my old 1985 (?) NAIT into the Heybrooks I bought at the same time. For LPs I’ve still got the Michell Prisma hooked into the NAIT. Have to admit I just power up the B2 and let Jazzgroove run most of the day.
Neat thing with the B2 is its UI, which I can access via the web browser on my Mac. Or on my phone. The lazy man’s HiFi.


[I know, right? --Mike]

I have a huge big Marantz amp in my living room, connected to a Kef Sub woofer and kef eggs for surround sound. I have not used it for at least 10 years. I do have a nice Arcam amp/pre amp connected to Spendor speakers which I enjoy a lot. I ripped all my CD music to a usb disk, connected it to a small Nuc, put in an Arcam Dac and installed Roon. Really enjoy the sound of this setup in my living room. My bedroom has a raspberry pi, with a sound card, connected to a tiny amp, connected to 2 Kef eggs. Hardly visible. I was gobsmacked by the quality of the sound ifI wanted to listen to music in bed late at night, etc..

The problem I have is that I want to put music into my office and into the ceiling of my bathroom. It is frustrating that I have a thundering huge amp not used in my living room(the Marantz) which is too big to use in my office or bathroom (ie I would need to add furniture and stuff).

I have been looking at the Marantz for 10 years. Your article just gave me a lightbulb moment.... Trade in the Marantz for the Audio Engine A5+ you recommend and install in the office. Use any of the cash left over to put in a roon end point and speakers in the bathroom. Shifting the old gear that is never used can open new opportunities that we can enjoy now. Thanks for the thought.

[Which Marantz? This might be a lucky time to sell it. The value of those things has spiked just in the past few years. --Mike]

If you start making videos or especially if you transition to video altogether, I fear for one thing: you might concentrate on photography and lose all the interesting sidetracks and life stories that I've come to enjoy so much. That would be a pity!

Weren’t you a teacher? How is doing the print review project different than that once you figure out the video?

I know the feeling. I try to avoid my dad’s hobby of collecting hobbies, but I don’t always succeed.

Have you considered digitizing your vinyl? As a retirement project, I got my 80s vintage components revitalized by Stereo Surgeons – a nice road trip to East Hartford, Connecticut, by the way – and invested in a PS Audio analog to digital converter. Over the course of several months, using AlpineSoft’s VinylStudio, I recorded my 600+ albums. That means cleaning each one, recording both sides, splitting into individual tracks, cleaning up the pops and scratches, appending the metadata and album cover art, and loading into JRIVER Media Center (kind of a LR for music). It was great! I listened to long forgotten favorites from the 50’s, listened to tracks and sides that I never listened to before, and read liner notes to which I never paid attention. Now, hi-res versions of my albums are a click away on the PC. JRIVER also allows you to access the library from anywhere on your phone or tablet, so you can listen to your albums in your car or wherever. It was a fun project, not all that expensive, and I’m listening to more music now than ever!

One question Mike. Why are you keeping the vinyl but not any way to listen to them?

There looks to be a lot of wasted usable space down there :).

I had a somewhat similar decision crossroad 2 months ago on my beloved B&O 1800 turntable from the mid-80s which finally was unrepairable after a 2010 renovation kept it alive for the last decade. During that time my record collection bounced back from under 30 albums to around 250 now. Agonizing over options from vintage to high end new, I inadvertently (and in advance) took your advice to go mid-range and purchased a new Pro-Ject X1 for around $900 to feed into a Rotel receiver and B&W bookshelf speakers. Sounds marvelous; even better than the old B&O. But what do I do with those "extra" 2 sets of Allison speakers (one I renovated like you did) down in the basement? Hmmmm.... if our local thrift store reopens....

Lol, I know the game. I have a locker full of these and no place to put them to use. Crown, BGW, SAE, Classé, SimAudio, JBLs (small and big studio monitor), B&W matrix, EV studio monitor, electronic xovers. Insanity in a teenage way!
But when time and space allows, happiness and chills ensues

But also, a clean up is necessary and coming soon


I know the review site to which you refer, but it's a slippery entrance to a deep rabbit hole...

I recently actually set up the kit I had for my office, and managed to produce some of the best sound I've had with some of the least impressive kit. The trick - a DSP (I'm using a pretty basic miniDSP unit).

I've also moved away from CDs - a central server (lossless copies) and a multi-room distribution system are so much better.

I am going through this same exact issue. It hurts and is depressing. The system I have put together for my "bedroom" is a pair of Vanatoo Zeros and an iPad. The Vanatoo speakers are fantastic.
Getting rid of life's accumulations of cherished stuff is really hard

I have been using my AR turntable for 50 years (kept current with new cartridges and routine care) along with a respectable CD player and see no reason to part with either. I regularly surprise myself with gems in my disc collections that I can't remember buying (don't remember having so much diversity in my early musical tastes).

Those I know who were quick to dispose of their vinyl collections are now expressing regret that they were so hasty. We often don't know the worth of something until it's gone.

Mike, is it even possible to buy or build an acceptably good sound system for, say, living room use for $2,000 or less these days? I'm not talking about audiophile nirvana. But something most knowledgeable people - including yourself - would regard as "solid."

[Hmm, well, yes, but I can't promise you about that last. Audiophiles are a picky (and prickly) bunch. I'll just say that most people invest far more than that. I read that the average Stereophile reader, for instance, had $11,000 invested in his stereo--and that was 15 years ago.

I think there are probably good budget components that could be combined to good effect on that budget, although I'm not certain of it. I'm not in a position to recommend specific components, though, just because I'm not in a position to hear a wide range of the available options, and I try to resist the temptation to recommend things I haven't actually heard. --Mike]

Well, this really resonates with me on a few levels. I think my love of film and film cameras is simply nostalgia. I do love them. Loading a film cartridge gives me joy. Advancing the film or hearing the film advance on one of my SLRs pleases me. They are a joy to hold and use. It brings me back to my younger years and a much simpler time. I've learned to develop black and white and c-41 at home and have gotten pretty good at it...but I hate doing it and I hate scanning even more. It's a chore and I'm trying to eliminate the number of chores I have to do now. I much prefer loading images into Photoshop and seeing the results as soon as I want to see them. The Fuji XT-1, purchased used for very little, behaves enough like an old film camera to scratch that nostalgic itch. It's quite a pleasant camera to use and the classic chrome sim is rather nice as are the black and white images from the camera. I'm still really reluctant to sell my film cameras though and the thought of parting with them bothers me. I'll have to get over it.

"I really don't need such a thing, but it has the most awesome specs. Can't hurt to read about it, right?"

Well, I don't know about that.

First, there's the temptation for you. Secondly, you may as well make a clean break while you're getting rid of the old things.

You're not thinking of stuff to replace what you got rid of, are you?

I worry a bit about you and your G.A.S.

Wait a month or two, then read about the DAC if you feel you have to.

In the meantime, there are photos to take!

We've got a warming trend starting, but it's being accompanied by rain. If you get fairly dry weather in NY, go outside and take a look around and leave the audio gear for a while.

Check on the new calves at the farmer's place.
(Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the cute Amish/Mennonite young lady on your way!)

Good luck. We're all counting on you. ;)

Mike. Before you sell your last remaining turntable make sure you don’t have any vinyl that can’t be replaced on CD.
If you do then keep that turntable.
It doesn’t need to be a great turntable, just a good turntable.
All my vinyl is older than the introduction of CDs.

Hello, I hope you're aware of the Audio Science Review page. They have recently been churning out a lot of speaker measurements done with a pretty expensive rig (Klippel NFS):


Mike! Don't do what I did! I got rid of all my old vinyl when my wife and I transitioned to cd's in the late '80's (which we did in order to play the just released "Thelonious Monk: The Complete Riverside Recordings"---one reason I fell in love with my wife when she was 17 and I was 18 was her instantaneous love of Monk...I mean, love at first listen). Anyway, I gave them all to a friend, thinking that all of those albums would come out on cd.

HUGE FLIPPIN WRONG! So, do yourself a favor and check to see what is available in other formats first. Then, if necessary, get a gizmo to help you digitize those recordings. No joke!

We did have a Marantz tube amp for a while. Recently my wife said she missed the sound, which kinda surprised me.

I'm close to where you are on the bikes, though....

Oh no! Well, there goes one possible turntable sale that I might have made! I jest about the possible sale, of course, and I'm kind of sad to see you abandon vinyl, but you are doing it for the right reasons, out of self-awareness.

I've been selling off excess vintage gear to pare down to "the" main system (primarily vinyl) plus a workshop rig. Rediscovering my vinyl collection, some of which I had totally forgotten I possessed, has been very enjoyable.

Boy do I identify with the '70's nostalgia phase of audio equipment. I finally sold the couple of receivers save a B&O 1900 receiver that looks good just sitting there (it is hooked up in the den).

I found great value in 90's and early aught separates. A lot of audiophiles love to turnover gear and many times at greatly reduced prices for little used equipment. Both my McCormack DNA 0.5 amp and VTL preamp were less than 1 year old and half price when purchased. I have moved off records and CDs and went total computer audio. My expense now is Tidal streaming. No more looking for more, just listening enjoyment...but that DAC though, there's the rub, there has to be a better one out there.

I love the work of Nelson Pass. And I am a believer in class A sound.

Your saga offers convincing evidence that, in general, one can buy material goods as either investments or for enjoyment, but it's hard to do both. For example, if you spend $5,000 on a pre-amplifier and, at the end of its useful life, feel you got a solid $5,000 of enjoyment out if it, then why be concerned what it's worth to someone else? You might even spend another $2500 on restoring it, simply because how it sounds is more important to you than what's it worth in dollars. On the other hand, if you were buying the same pre-amp as an investment, then your primary concern would be how to maintain its resale value and sell at the top of the market, regardless of how much you personally enjoy it. The example here is audio equipment, but it could just as easily be guitars, cameras, or lenses.

I bought an outboard DAC a few years ago to play music from my music streaming computer. Into a line level input on a mid-fi integrated amp, good sounding speakers (well reviewed- not so expensive- that goes for the electronics, speakers and cables). And I kept my turntable ( a nice VPI with a mid level arm, Grado cartridge) which is used with an external phono stage into the integrated amp. Long story short, not expensive, sound I can listen to without fatigue.
Don't sell your turntable!

What kind of bike are you selling? Did you finally buy a Rivendell?

Funny, I was looking for a opening to make a comment about my trial of a vintage SLR and film and my conclusions are similar. Due to the current circumstances, I've only shot two rolls of film, but my exercises to test various equipment and situations means that's enough for me to make a judgement.
Like you and vinyl, I have decided it ain't worth it. Two out of 3 lenses I bought need maintenance (CLA) at ~$!00 each, developing film can be expensive and requires ~2week turnaround, and from the 72 photos taken, I have been reminded that 1) film is grainy, 2) you need a bunch of filters which I gave away years ago, 3) without filters landscapes look strange, especially with cloudless CA skies, 4) architectural shots remind you how you used a view camera for perspective control, 5) controlling exposure and contrast is tricky.
I'm not ready to pack it in yet - I still have 3 more rolls of film to shoot, but maybe like I walked away from vintage cars some years ago, the thrill is gone....
PS: I sold my vinyl collection more than a decade ago and got some big bucks from some 60s albums - first albums from Linda Ronstadt, Janice Joplin and Rod Stewart in perfect condition. Now I listen to classical music on my Como Audio radio.

To paraphrase Treebeard (Lord of the Rings)...”Let’s not be hasty”...

Why the CDs? Streaming services are the ways to open your ears. They have everything.

Including stuff you could never have imagined you would end up listening to. I've discovered Karlheinz Stockhausen which, oddly, I find soothing. I must be the only one.

The way I rationalise it, is that when I was young, I listened to high speed punk and new wave. Now I'm not so young, I still like music with a bit of "edge" but the data rate has had to reduce considerably due to much slowed processing speed between the ears. So now I find I like really slow music - with long gaps between notes to allow the brain to catch up. I have wondered how slow music can be played and still count as music. How about 1 note per hour?

On the amplifier thing, not much has improved since those glorious '70s. It's might be surprising to those not in the industry just how often old designs get re-used - but maybe not for the engineers who know that nothing has really improved that much in years despite all the new tech and CAD/CAM and marketing.

I've just souped up my 1980s Naim gear by replacing the nasty cheap plastic knobs with shiny new modern ones. Very classy upgrade and a worthwhile use of lockdown time in my opinion.

But talking of Naim, I've been doing some research. This famous British brand of the 1980s and 90s (still going strong today) based all of its original amps from entry level to top of the range on the same circuits - borrowed from 1950s RCA designs intended originally to make up for lack of availability of a certain type of output transistor. That design and minor tweaks of it was used for decades. And no one seemed to notice. And why not, it got the job done, impressed the reviewers and a ton of customers, who cares it's practically Victorian design! The audio industry must count as amongst the most BS overloaded consumer industries of them all but solid, reliable engineering still counts. My Naims may be 35 years young but I expect them to keep going for many a year yet (without needing repairs) and the simple and venerable circuitry ought to be repairable forever. Likewise my second system based around a 30 year old Onix OA21s. The relays on that might be needing some care and attention and the thermal paste may need replacing but everything else still looks good. Old can still mean great! Enjoy your listening, however you do it.

My obsessions cycle between photo gear, audio gear, cars and sailboats. Sometimes interspersed with bicycles or motorcycles. I am currently deep into an audio gear trip, specifically speakers. This time it's so bad I believe I can build a better speaker than can be bought - except for the crossover - someone would have to design the crossover for me.

Luckily my wife and I are raising two boys so spending money on audio gear is out of the question. Last month I ordered two sets of Koss KPH30i headphones (you know, "for the boys") based on this advice: https://youtu.be/bcSa8MOz8. Zeos Pantera is the last word on audio gear for anyone under 35. After a month of listening the the Koss KPH30i I understand why.

The consensus among youtube audio reviewers seems to be that audio tech has advanced so much (especially where speakers are concerned), to the point that new audio gear provides better dollar-for-dollar performance than vintage gear. That does not invalidate vintage audio gear as a worthwhile pursuit.

Anyway, when this is over I'll be back to obsessing over cameras or lenses.

Jeez. I just saw how much a used ten inch Delta Unisaw with 52 inch Beisemeyer fence goes for. Like the one I bought when I thought I wanted to make fine furniture. The one that's been in the basement for 15 or 20 years.

It's much bigger and a lot heavier than Mike's Accuphase.

"Unisaw For Sale. Bring your own rope. And a mule."

I'm a Stereophile reader and I won't say how much is invested in my system. Chasing audio nirvana is a pursuit all in itself and people do it in lots of different ways, including via vintage audio. While none go my current system is vintage, I still have a 40 year old pair of KEF 104aB speakers sitting in a wardrobe, They served me very well for over 20 years, they're still in good shape and were refurbished some years ago, and they're not worth trying to sell. They're still here because of nostalgia.

While the cost of chasing nirvana has increased, the cost of good basic gear hasn't increased and the sound quality of it has kept improving. You can easily build a musically rewarding system for a quite reasonable price these days.

I'll echo Dave Miller's comment about streaming services. They provide extremely good value for money and I can get access to most music I like in CD quality or better from Tidal for the cost of 1 full price CD a month. That's a bargain. I still buy most of the music I really like, however, because it delivers more to the artists who made it than royalties from streaming do so I tend to use streaming mostly as a means to audition new music rather than as my main music source.

These days, however, I tend to buy most of my music as downloads and play it from a server. Lots of integrated amps these days have an internal DAC and a USB input, and some amps even accept ethernet or wifi network connections as well.

Actually the coronavirus pandemic has revealed an unexpected advantage to downloads and streaming, neither requires an actual store to visit. I used to really enjoy buying CDs, and LPs years ago, by browsing in a record store but those stores have largely disappeared with only a few specialty stores, none in my area, stocking a good range of jazz recordings which is my main musical interest. For a long time I bought CDs through on line stores but many of those stores are not currently shipping internationally because of the pandemic. I browse now by streaming, an activity almost reminiscent of the record stores I remember in the '60s when you could take an LP to the counter, ask to hear a bit of it, and they's play it for you on headphones in booths. It's been impossible to audition a record in a store before buying for decades now. As for buying downloads online, I pay at the checkout and download immediately, instant gratification just like walking out of a bricks and mortar store with an LP or CD in my hands. In a way modern technology has given me back a bit of those 'good old days' we all like to talk about. Sooner or later everything old comes back in a new guise.

Mike, may I recommend a recumbent trike. I ride on a regular basis with two friends. We are all older, 65, 73, and 74. Both friends have had back surgery, one has rheumatoid arthritis and the other has an apparatus implanted in his back to inject at regular intervals micro doses of pain medication. A typical ride is 15 to 18 miles with an occasional rides up to 45 miles. The friend with the implanted pain medication marvels that he can hardly walk across the street but can ride 40 miles. We cannot go up hills at the speeds reached on our bicycles but can safely slow down to a comfortable speed and be patient. If you get tired on a long uphill stretch, just stop and rest. With three wheels, there is no problem getting back on the bike and getting started again. Overall, we do not go fast, but it is so much fun and comfortable, who cares. We all ride Catrikes which are made in the USA in Orlando. You can learn more at the Catrike web page or check out the Catrike Group on Facebook.

Two words for a man of maturity and taste. Magne pan.

I've taken a bit more interest in hi-fi lately having let it lapse for too long. I was pretty serious in the '70s and '80s with B+W, Spendor, Thorens, Yamaha, Nakamichi, SME, Ortofon, Stanton and so on. I could afford good stuff then.

But as you say, the cost now! Who can afford real hi-fi any more? I read Hi Fi News and Record Review and it seems the lower limit is GBP1,000, with most items priced at GBP5,000 and upwards. Most loudspeakers are GBP10,000 and up.

Who pays these prices? Currency dealers? Hedge fund managers? CEOs? Not you or me. Someone must be buying them, or the companies wouldn't stay in business.

But the other thing I notice is how blank and bland equipment is now. The '70s and '80s produced some truly beautiful designs, especially from Denon, Technics, Yamaha and Sony ES. It's all gone. They're all just black boxes now, "all made out of ticky tacky, all just the same".

I've made a few second hand buys recently on eBay and locally, a Sony ES AV amp, a Denon SACD player and a Sony upper end MiniDisc recorder. Total A$1300. It's '90s gear but I like it.

However, I made the mistake of talking about it on Facebook's group Hi End Audio for the Passionates. I soon discovered the snobbery. When they found my new amp is an AV model, I was flamed and told to note the 'Hi End' in the name of the group. It soon became obvious that unless the cost is in the $thousands, it isn't good enough for them. One guy even told me that I would notice the biggest improvement in my sound by investing in high quality and high cost mains cables. I left the group.

Steve Biro: Since I've been shopping for a new system myself lately (not audiophile, just better than I used to have), I came across some videos where that was exactly the topic:
Complete systems for 2000$, 1000$ or even less. Here are some links:

And here's a long forum thead about 1000$ systems:

"Alexa, play Giant Steps".

You can get a perfectly fine stereo system from somewhere like B&H. CD player for $300 or less. 150 Watt amp for $150 and some speakers (pick your price). The whole thing for $1000 or less. Not up to audiophile pickiness, but certainly good enough for me as a musician. Most people I know have gone the streaming route with powered monitor speakers, which is not as good as "basic Hi-Fi approach" I have taken, but more convenient if you want to play from your workstation. My old giant "hi-fi" amp and preamp from the early 1990s sit on the same shelf unused. I can't get rid of it, and think one day I'll use it again, but of course it's got no remote...

You wrote, " I think I'll feel better once it's all gone and the decks are cleared once and for all." I think that is true for most of us. Getting rid of the surplus in life frees up the brain and imagination. (However there are plenty of hoarders in USA society who are emotionally unable to dump anything - just watch American Pickers once in awhile to see examples.) But please, don't sell the Rolleiflex 6008AF - use it to take some real photos in B&W.

Why do you have to get rid of records just because you can't "play the game"? Does the inability to buy more vinyl somehow taint the music in your existing collection?

I also don't get the jump from being priced out of "high end" to going vintage. Reasonably priced modern hifi is arguably better than ever, and certainly better than most vintage. Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but it's like saying because you can't have a Leica S you naturally have to use film gear from the 70s.

" ... After Mike comes up for air with the bends ... '

I'm glad I could help.

A number of years ago I discovered to my surprise that the soulful, toe-tapping sort of sound which I had always sought was in fact the sound of well engineered electronics and speakers with smooth frequency response which behaved nicely as one moved off-axis. The late Siegfried Linkwitz (yes, that Linkwitz)designed such speakers. Perhaps you're already familiar with some of these more science-oriented sites?




Science rocks!

I remember reading, years ago, that, at the age of eighteen, we can hear from 20-20,000 hz. Then, by the age of thirty we lose some of the top end, and by the age of fifty we can be down to 20-12,000 hz.

A. Is this true?

B. If it is, then doesn’t chasing the most accurate tweeter to capture those high end notes sort of a waste?

C. Do “Golden ears” somehow retain more high end sensitivity?

I hear you on the (endless) cycle of repairing vintage audio components. When I got back into high-end audio in 2008 after a 20 year lapse, I bought my first-ever amplifier, a Harman-Kardon Citation 12. And then spent 2.5X what I paid for it getting it repaired. It now has developed another problem. This last summer, a good friend of mine spent a fair bit of money and a lot of hassle effectively "chasing his tail" with his 36 year old Conrad-Johnson tube gear that was failing, originally the preamp, but then a paper & oil cap on the pre blew up and took out some components on one of the power amps. Needless to say, his gear spent much of 2019 in repair. Moral of the story here? Don't mod your gear. If you think you know more that CJ about audio gear...you don't.

Now on to the matters at hand: If you want to buy great-sounding and affordable gear that comes with a real, 5 year warranty, buy Schiit Audio.

So...rather than buying some esoteric DAC made in China, just do yourself a favor: buy a Schiit Bifrost 2 for $699. You'll get a killer multibit DAC that will outperform DACs at many times its price. It will just work, it will sound fantastic, and it won't break, and...it is upgradeable.

As for CDs....forget those. You'll need a disc player that will just break at some point. Get yourself an affordable network bridge, like an Allo DigiOne Signature or used Sonore microRendu that functions as a Roon endpoint, get a subscription to Roon & Qobuz and call it a day. Seriously. If its all about making your life easy and great quality music and no hassle, this is the way to go. Feel free to contact me offline if you need guidance.

Talking of vintage gear, I found a 30 year old Polaroid Image 2 in the attic. A bit dusty but if memory serves, barely used.

Polaroid folded in 2008 but some enthusiasts called the Impossible Project have apparently been making independent versions of some of their films for a few years.

I recently discovered they discontinued films for my model last year but I found a B&W pack of 8 shots on Amazon UK.

I'm about to give it a go - it will represent the first ever pack of B&W film to go through my Image 2 camera (and likely the last ever film to go through it).

I didn't really know about Amazon HD until I read your column. I signed up for a trial membership (I'm already a Prime member) and I just jacked up Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" through a couple of desk top speakers I think you recommended for me (did you recommend AudioEngine 5+?)and anyway, sitting on the other side of your desk, that combo will definitely put some hair on your chest.

I on the other end of the scale. Photography has steadily given away to the iPhone but Audio is my current and likely last passion. Just received my new TT yesterday and am in heaven. I've completely gotten out of the vintage stuff I loved for a modern (if tubes can be considered so) equipment. Good luck with the potential transition. I sure wish you wold have told us which speaker that was however. I've often wondered about that. I have listened to much less TV and much, much more music these Covid months, and am infinitely better for it.

"This self-imposed isolation is aggravating one of my bad tendencies, which is to isolate and get lost in my own head."

I can totally relate to this. But, to be fair, it's one of my favorite places to be.

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