I’m only half-kidding. High-end audio is deadly serious for many passionate audiophiles. Some measurement types defend their turf without thought—without mercy—and often deride subjectivists, like me, who believe if you like what you hear, then that’s what counts, enjoy. Objectivists say if you can’t measure it, then it doesn’t exist. Well, goes the retort, you don’t know what to measure, your instruments aren’t refined enough, and on and on.
The struggle continues to this day for some reason, and boy-howdy is it ferocious, especially regarding cables.
People, please, you want to grow our industry? This isn’t productive. It drives music lovers away from a potential joy of a lifetime. Which, given the circumstances, is a crying shame, as now you can buy so much quality for so little money. Check out Herb Reichert’s Gramophone Dreams column, or Steve Guttenberg’s Audiophiliac YouTube channel, for reviews of affordable systems that make music the high-end way. Dealers, retailers, please realize that these people are out there and need their music, especially as we’re all still suffering from the pandemic. Be imaginative and find ways to reach them in this new environment.
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The magnificent eight
The Story of the Grateful Dead, a 14-LP, 8-album collection of Grateful Dead recordings with booklet and deluxe packaging, from Vinyl Me, Please (VMP-A006, 2020), is intended as a curated sampling of the high points in the Dead’s extensive catalog. The first seven albums were cut from analog tape, while Without a Net comes from the original digital master. The sound is breathtaking.
T+A Solitaire P headphones and HA 200 DACheadphone amplifier
What I categorize as mainstream, dealer-based, fancy-pants stream-ers and big-speakers audio is actually only the gold-plated tip of a gigantic asteroid-like monolith that extends (underground) from New York to Hong Kong, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica. This immense audio-social mass is mostly invisible to the Madison Avenue mainstream, but simple Google searches expose millions of proletarian audio-gear constructers (DIY’ers) working in shops, basements, and garages, scratch-building everything from turntables to tonearms to phono cartridges, to capacitors and vacuum tubes, to amplifiers, headphones, ribbon and electrostatic speakers.
MAKE MORE NOISE!
The title of this set—4 CDs and a book—comes from British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst’s call to arms for women to fight for their rights: “You have to make more noise than anybody else,” said Pankhurst, who died in 1928.
EDITOR’S PICK - RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Landscape into music
It says something about the power of music that some individuals fading into dementia can still recognize the music they knew earlier in their lives. Not to denigrate new music, or music one hasn’t heard before, but our mental jukeboxes award top chart numbers to music that we have lived with over time. Those DJs making their playlists in our brain are the toughest of critics. They don’t care what anyone else might think, “Close to You” is staying in the rotation. Music and memory are linked.
Some great new reissues
For jazz fans, a new batch of releases in Blue Note’s Tone Poet series—vinyl reissues remastered with care and cut from the original analog tapes—is the reason for celebration.
PS Audio Stellar M1200
MONOBLOCK POWER AMPLIFIER
Marantz Model 30
KEF LS50 Meta LOUDSPEAKER
6 apps that take you to a VR world
Grab a headset and jump into virtual reality
LAWMAKERS CALL YOUTUBE KIDS A ‘WASTELAND OF VAPID' CONTENT
A House subcommittee is investigating YouTube Kids, saying the Google-owned video service feeds children inappropriate material in “a wasteland of vapid, consumerist content” so it can serve them ads.
2-10 PLAYERS | 60 MINUTES | AGES 8+
The Preteen's Guide to Getting Rich Off YouTube
Ryan Kaji’s video empire makes most of its revenue from merchandise, not ads
Sawyer Sharbino is going to put you first
Maybe it’s the fact that he grew up with two big sisters (hey, Brighton and Saxon). Or maybe it’s his star-studded BGF squad (think: Txunamy Ortiz, Piper Rockelle and Elliana Walmsley). Whatever it is, 15-year-old singer and YouTuber Sawyer Sharbino just want to treat a girl right.
DEMI LOVATO: DRUGS SAVED MY LIFE!
DESPITE a near-fatal overdose in 2018, songbird Demi Lovato still insists drugs also saved her life! The former Disney darling said drug abuse prevented her from turning to suicide.
The Receipt Keeper D'Angelo Wallace always knows how to cut through the chaos.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW what’s going on with YouTubers or anybody else with a modicum of influence online, you’ve got two options. You can watch their videos and scour Instagram—or you can get thee to a YouTube drama channel. And no one does a channel quite like D’Angelo Wallace. The Texas-based 22-year-old packs his superlong explainer videos (many of them run over an hour) with timelines, charts, and commentary—a hybrid model that perfectly encapsulates the messiness of the influencers he covers. He now has more than 2.18 million subscribers. “I will say it’s not necessarily a case of me always striving to have the best research, or I’m always going to be 100 percent correct,” Wallace said. “I just am obsessed with the storytelling of it all.”
Ralph Macchio Talks Tech, the Switch to Netflix, and Season 3 of Cobra Kai
Razer Cynosa V2
A $60 keyboard from Razer?
Woodworker, content creator; a lesson in contradictions