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Reviewer's Bio


Rick Becker


Rick Becker


  Conceived in France and born in 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, Rick is a cutting edge Baby Boomer. His parents met during WW II in France where they both served in the Signal Corps. His father became a highly respected ham radio operator and small business owner. His mother preferred the newfangled medium, television, and eventually became a successful real estate agent. Neither of them cared for Rock 'n Roll.

Rick experienced the birth of Rock on a little tube radio he kept in his bookcase headboard, and regularly recorded the Sunday Top 50 radio shows on his father's Voice of Music tube powered reel-to-reel tape recorder. His first exposure to High End Audio was in the basement rec room of a grade school classmate. A huge coaxial Altec driver was mounted directly into the wall, using the laundry room behind it as an infinite baffle. The front end was an impressive Garrard turntable. Monaural, of course. We weren't allowed to touch it.

The first concert he attended was about 1958, probably at the Eastman Theater in Rochester, and very definitely, Ray Charles. Joey Dee and the Starliters, fresh up from doing the twist at the Peppermint Lounge in NYC, was the second. Followed by Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Terry Riley, The Rolling Stones and a few others. He skipped Woodstock because he didn't like large crowds.

At Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, he majored in philosophy, minored in art history and took courses in every department except Classical Languages and Music. Yet he would frequently reserve time in the music room to record tapes that he sent to his younger brother who was studying in Germany.

While at Trinity he was exposed to the avant-garde film scene, Beat poets, the real Andy Warhol, and quadrasonic new music. After graduation he started to make a music film (of course there was no portable video or MTV back then). The song was Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". This led to a motorcycle trip to the University of Iowa, where he studied film and multimedia for a year.

After his grandfather's death in 1969, he returned to Rochester, NY, to help his dad in the family retail furniture business, and to make a feature length experimental film. This film, "Heroes", was critically acclaimed at avant-garde film festivals in Europe and was shown at the Museum of Modern Art and other museums in this country. While this was going on, he completed a feature length multimedia presentation for his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Visual Studies Workshop, then affiliated with the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He spent a year in broadcast TV production at WXXI-TV during which they produced the At The Top jazz series that aired nationally. He also participated in their pioneering effort in electronic newsgathering using reel-to-reel color videotape equipment, before the camcorder became a reality.

Following a disastrous year attempting to teach radio/TV/film to mostly illiterate children in the city school district, he moved on to the School of Medicine at the University of Rochester where he produced educational videotapes with world-renowned professors in the Department of Psychiatry for 23 years. Most of this time he maintained a dual career in the family furniture business. He left the University to run the family business in 2000, after his father's passing.

Now, sprinkle this history with 55,000 miles of hitchhiking in this country and Europe, another 55,000 miles on various motorcycles, numerous cross-country car trips, a lifetime of athletic pursuits including bicycling (favorite rides being very high mountain passes), XC skiing (backwoods in the Adirondacks), and mountain hiking (Adirondacks and the West), and buying trips to the International Home Furnishing Center in High Point, NC, twice a year, and you begin to get the flavor of his life.

High End audio is a rather recent interest. Back in the early '90s, while visiting a local stereo shop, he picked up an issue of Stereophile magazine. A subscription card fell out and hit him in the foot. An audiophile was born. This, followed by the discovery of rec.audio.high-end on the Internet, led to attendance at trade shows, and show reports on rec.audio.high-end, until Steve snapped him up for Enjoy the Music.com to cover the Montreal and New York shows, which he has done since 1999.

While he is fundamentally thrifty, his roots in fine art and the furniture business have taught him to appreciate quality and the complexities of manufacturing and marketing. Most of his gear has been bought used, and his main rig approximates what an average audiophile has invested. 

On the software side, he was influenced early on by the writings of Corey Greenberg to investigate vinyl. He started out buying records at flea markets, but quickly moved up the supply chain to garage sales where the selection was vast and the prices more negotiable. This has allowed him to explore musical genres he would otherwise ignore. Among his most recent acquisitions is a floppy LP included with a National Geographic magazine entitled "Sounds of Space: From Sputnik to the Lunar Landing."

He remarried in 1999 to a lovely woman who also loves music and has deep spiritual values. In January 2002, they moved from their townhouse to a home that includes a magnificent listening room, a family room for home theater, and a large kitchen with a gas stove on an island for Linda. The new listening room provides a spacious environment for reviewing equipment, while the family room and home office have additional systems for comparisons.

Cut from the same stock as his grandfather and father before him, he hopes to remain productive and adventurous throughout his life. And, G-d willing, live long enough to enjoy to all his LPs.


Linn LP-12 Valhalla turntable with Sumiko MMT arm and Boston Audio Design, Mat 1; Dynavector Karat 17D3 moving coil cartridge; on Boston Audio Design TuneBlocks on a wall mounted solid oak shelf; Harmonic Resolution Systems Analog Disk. Currently undergoing modification.

Coincident Speaker Technology Statement Phono preamplifier.

Sony CDP-X77ES player with ERS shielding as transport on TubeMagic Canada AOS platform; Audio Sensibility Statement digital cable; Calyx DAC 24/192, on Synergistic Research MiG footers, with JPS Labs Digital power cord. Audio Sensibility Statement copper, balanced interconnects to line stage.

Sony ST-S550ES tuner with AVM circuit dampening and ERS shielding inside and the tuner on Synergistic Research MiG footers, on a wall mounted solid oak shelf. Fanfare FM-2G antenna. AuDIYo.com silver interconnects with locking RCAs.

Coincident Speaker Technology Statement Line Stage on Synergistic Research MiG footers on panzerholtz plywood shelf; power supply on solid oak amp stand on floor. Synergistic Research Tesla SE T3 power cord.

TubeMagic Canada M23SE monoblocks, 18wpc, single ended, Class A. On Synergistic Research Big MiG footers on floor mounted amp stand. With Synergistic Research Tesla SE T3 power cords. Also, Manley Labs Mahi Monoblocks on Boston Audio Design TuneBlocks on Symposium Isis Platforms on architectural slate, with Balanced Power Technologies power cords.

Kharma Ceramique 2.2 loudspeakers on Kharma stands. Also, Tekton Designs OB4.5 open baffle monitors with Tekton Designs open baffle subwoofers.

JPS Labs Superconductor+ speaker cable

Kharma Neo 1.0 interconnects; JPS Labs Superconductor FX interconnects and Superconductor+ power cords.

Synergistic Research PowerCell 4 with Synergistic Research Tesla SE T3 active power cords.

JPS Labs Power AC In-Wall cable dedicated line on a 30 amp circuit. Also available is a 20-amp Romex dedicated line; buried power lines throughout the neighborhood.

Room: About 42' by 18' with the loudspeakers on the long wall. A vaulted ceiling is lowest behind the speakers and high above the listening position. The side walls are 9' to the left and 15' to the right of their respective loudspeakers. The volume is about 6000 cu. ft. with large openings to adjacent rooms. Lots of plants and neutral reflective surfaces. Wall to wall carpeting. The room is not too live, and not too dead.





















































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