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A Beginning

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This article was originally published in November, 2006.

This is my first of what I hope will be a monthly column where I share my 40 plus years of loving music, and yes, I admit it, equipment too. It’s been a great journey so far, and I look forward with great expectation to where it’s going next. So let’s get started.

It’s the fall of 2006 and just a few months ago I turn 52. This means I’ve been in love with music for over 45 years and an audiophile, whether I knew it or not, for over 35 years. Along the way I have found several ways to help pay for my audio fix. In college, I worked for two different “Hi-Fi Stores”. Later, I did mailings and computer work for a high-end dealer and later still, I worked part time for a very high-end store.

I have always been careful to never let any of these become real jobs and steal the joy out of my hobby. All I really wanted was to buy at a salesman’s discount and make a little extra to pay for my fix. Along the way I have met some great people and made some good friends. I also picked up a few great stories I will share with you later. Sadly, I also learned a number of things about the business side of the hobby that both blew my mind and sometimes disturbed me.

Still, the 40-year road trip has always been about the music, and anyone in my family can tell you how important listening to music has been for my sanity. I have a very eclectic taste in music, and if you divided my 1000 plus CD collection, about 25% of it is instrumental jazz, almost no smooth jazz, 25% female vocal, among it about 2/3 jazz and 1/3 rock, 25% classical and the rest divided between rock, blue grass, show tunes, and other stuff. If the math doesn’t add up don’t worry, because I didn’t even try for it to.

Now, I’ve started down a new road in audio. I find myself a reviewer; again, my first goal is to never let this interfere with enjoying music. So far this has not been a problem, but I am very surprised at how difficult reviewing is! It’s not so hard to write a review for a product that you just fall in love with, like my first review for Dagogo, the Shindo “Aurieges-L” preamp; even then, finding the vocabulary to both described the sound and the emotions that this preamp delivers was quite a learning experience. But, what about the products you don’t fall in love with? You know, the ones that sound so good they might be better than what you’re use to or maybe they’d be even better in a different system but for some reason they just don’t touch you the same way. How do you listen to a tube amp with a power tube you have never heard and trying to convey its strengths and weaknesses compared to more familiar a tube?

The best example so far is the Audia CD player I reviewed a few months ago. It uses upsampling, which I had already decided this was the wrong way to do high-end digital, yet this unit is one of the best I’ve ever heard, including some $25K plus dacs and transports. What does this say about my previous beliefs about the pros and cons of upsampling? To be fair to the readers, I need to go back and listen to some of the dacs that don’t upsample or use digital filtering. I need to be sure how it sounds compared to the SACD format that I was pretty sold on, and where am I going to find the technical answers to my whys? The truth is, I probably won’t, but I sure would like to. Well, I told you this is hard, but dear read I promise I will work hard to share what I learn in each and every review.

Keep bop’n

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