Home  |  Audio Reviews  Show Reports   Partner Mags News 


 

November 2012
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
In This Issue....
These Are My Confessions...
The high-end audio industry needs a good 'civil war'!
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Room Photo  High-end audio is beginning to bore me. In the past two years my home system has been modernized to the point where even today's youth think it is cool. The whole home audio system is easily controlled via phone/tablet thanks to Sonos. All zones, five in total for now, can be selected individually or in groups and you can easily change my home's heating/cooling system via Wi-Fi too! Lights via Wi-Fi you ask? Sure, that is planned yet am looking for an NFC-enabled or some other system that automatically IDs someone and thus their presets/preferences will automatically happen into their surrounding environment. This is available now of course, yet am waiting for a price drop as these things always get better and cheaper over time. So why am i bored you asked? At times the equipment @ RMAF 2012 reminded me of how prehistoric many audiophile $20,000 devices are. It is like those $5000 SACD players when they were first released, now easily beaten by $500 units today and i bet you those $40,000 music networked preamp/DACs on the market today will be worth around $10,000 in a handful of years too. That is what i love about technology!

So all these things going on inside a preamp/DAC would usually mean the signal's purity is being compromised, but far from it. Finally we have enough computational number crunching to handle, modify, room correct, equalize and many other things while still retaining the original signal's quality. No longer do we music lovers have to worry about down-rez'ing due to limited headroom, and thus mucking up the sound.

Meanwhile some in the industry lament "Why oh why can't we get more 'normal people' to relate to a solitary, and perhaps sedentary, lifestyle?" Today's kids are more social than ever via FaceTwit and various apps. And have you heard some of the music being played at high-end audio shows? Do you really think affluent people in the 20's to 30's (and even me in my 40's) would walk into a store and ask to hear 'audiophile' music? By the middle of day two at RMAF i was looking for a chair and some rope to hang myself. Swear to god or on whatever imaginary all-powerful friend with a plan you may have been brainwashed to believe in that if i had to listen to Gwendolyn DuPree and her Magic Singing Lute on another $40,000+ system just to hear the delicacy of her breath and mystical air that floats around her voice one more time... someone... is... going... to... die!


Your Audiophile Music Sucks!

There, someone had to say it and i'm just the guy to do it too. If you think my music sounds like crap, you should hear what runs through my head when you request to hear that chick singer disc for the umpeeth time during the same day. You know, to compare systems and all that, which does make sense actually but i'm on a roll here kvetching on and on so just go with it for now. Thanks.

Now that i have your attention, yes indeed am just as guilty of being a 'music racist' as the old farts who love Gwendolyn DuPree and worship her entire catalog of music yet hate 'modern music'. Many of these same old people seem to worship the same really old reviewer guy. That's cool with me, but what about those who still have their second half of life to live? 

BTW, i hear they are remastering Gwendolyn's back catalog in 24-bit/192kHz from the original analog master tapes, with 180 gram 45rpm 4-LP set being released a month later. Order yours today as these are a limited vinyl release of only 5000 box sets! Oops, got off track there for a minute.

Ok, maybe the term 'musical racist' is a bit extreme, so how about we split it down the middle and call it 'Musical Bigotry'.

One very astute reader had a really big set of balls and dared to e-mail me after my NYC show coverage and complain about my harsh criticisms and less than positive comments towards Gwendolyn DuPree's music. He pointed out that i always say "Enjoy the Music" and yet am being a Musical Racist, ooops, Musical Bigot. How dare Steven R. Rochlin show hatred towards a certain genre of music! And guess what, he is right! Sure i can hate Ms. DuPree's music, yet disliking something and completely closing my mind to it is stupid. Of course there is a possibility that a certain performer's music may offer something others may enjoy. Heck, it may even have a few redeeming qualities to it that are great at testing and analyzing high-end audio gear and how dare anyone say bad things about that!

How about i reprint an e-mail exchange that literally happened only days ago between myself and a major and longstanding manufacturer of high-end audio. Here is something that happened during the recent RMAF event:

Hi Steven,

Hope you are well. It was good to see you at RMAF.

Thanks for the kind words... It's interesting (and a bit aggravating) how judgmental people are about the musical selections playing at any given time in any given room...when you came to our room (while playing Nirvana), a couple from Boston who were there for some time asked for Rock music. Actually, the wife asked for Nirvana if we had it. So, I obliged. I think she had an orgasm in the chair, and they are now MBL fans....they had never experienced anything like it. They are now pushing Goodwin's High End to become MBL dealers...a great outcome for a public, consumer-oriented show.

Then I see this from your "colleagues" at (removed magazine name):

This is the MBL "Reference Line Combination D" system. For only $260,000 you get a CD transport, a DAC, preamp, a pair of monoblocks and a pair of 101E MkII Radialstrahler loudspeakers. They were playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at about 110 db. Idiots. We couldn't wait to get OUT of this room.

I am an "idiot" because I played an attendee's request and they wanted to hear it relatively loud? Oh, and I didn't see anyone come in with a calibrated microphone to measure the SPL, did you? I don't know who these (deleted magazine name) clan are... friends of yours?

Have a good weekend.

Jeremy

----My Reply Below-------

Jeremy,

I have ZERO connection with (deleted magazine name), did they ever tell you they had any relations with us? If so, I need to have a legal (with my lawyers of course) talk with their legal representative. They have relations with me as much as I have with Home & Garden magazine. In other words, nada. Of course you know I LOVE that you play Nirvana, Rush, etc and even say so in my reports.

So please, just because Enjoy the Music.com is a web magazine we have ZERO affiliation with others UNLESS EXPRESSLY SAID on the site.

Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin

 

----Their Reply Below-------

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the mail. Sorry for the confusion. I was not insinuating that you were affiliated (other than you both come up in a web search for RMAF 2012). It is just a contrasting view from the same event (we only played the song the one time at the show). And a crappy attitude on behalf of the "press" over at (deleted magazine name). I'd like to know how they define "mojo."

They did not identify themselves when they come in the room which I think "press" should be obligated to do, especially at a public consumer show like RMAF. Cowards.

It's frustrating that professional people are so fast to judge "sound" or "value" when they have emotional problems with the music genre or volume and can't get past that (or they don't have the courage to simply ask for something they want to hear). I always will play a request, at least for a few minutes, especially at a consumer show. We are there for the consumers!

At every show some ass makes a comment such as "can you please play real music?" Who defines "real?" It doesn't seem to matter the genre either. I tell people we don't get into judging people's taste in music (or art) and play a wide variety of styles always. And of course, if requested, we also play what someone wants to hear, even if it clears the room.

I find most audiophiles to be snobby and easily irritated about what they consider "real music." Rather than promoting the fun, emotional connections with all types of music possible, improved quality of life, etc., our industry sometimes collapses on itself with the name calling and judging. Really? Is this going to help us all grow and reach wider audiences?

Nirvana is meant to be played loud. It's raucous visceral music. (And no way it was 110 dB. Maybe 95 dB.)

Isn't the point if a High quality system to convey all the "mojo" the artists intended, whatever the genre and price of the gear?

Sorry, this political season has me torqued up. 

See you in Vegas?

Jeremy Bryan
MBL North America, Inc.

 

First, thank you Jeremy for allowing me to reprint our e-mail correspondence for all to see and learn from. Second off, what is amazing is that i was in the room at the exact same time as the other reviewer! Lastly, you are 100% right in who is to truly say just exactly what is and is not 'good music'. This reminds me of the edgy adult cartoon series South Park where this subject was covered.

And again for the record, it just so happens that i was in the mbl room at that exact time period that one reviewer panned the room while i loved it. Sure Nirvana's 'music' may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is not total crap. Ok, it is 50% crap, but it rocked back in the day and am sure many people have very fond memories associated with that music. After all, don't we all have certain music that takes us back to a fond memory every time we hear it play? Yes the room was loudish, but some of us enjoy our rowdy music at SPL levels above 87dB at the listening chair. Who cares about so-called realism when you can dance, smile, laugh and jam out air drumming to your fave tunes? Is it a crime to, eh hem, enjoy the music?

Watch the below episode of South Park if you dare!!!


South Park: It Sounds Like Poo!!
Season 15: You're Getting Old
Randy bumps his first Tween Wave album, while the rest of South Park shares their opinion on the trend.

Am sure more than a small handful of Enjoy the Music.com readers may be less than happy by the above South Park episode. Hell, they probably already feel offended at my article and the above cartoon will only cement their opinion. Sure some music sounds like total crap to your (or my) ears, yet someone else likes it. In my youth as a drummer (1979) many felt that Rush Hemispheres sucked and in 1982 what the Fripp are those guys in King Crimson playing during the song "Neurotica"?

 

 And if you hated that, am sure you'll really hate The Game's song "It's Okay (One Blood)". Who cares if he sells many millions of albums, has repeatedly reached the top of the music charts time and time again and has many millions of fans worldwide, his music really sucks!

And if the above offends you, the below will enrage you enough to send me a nasty e-mail. Here is Lapdance by N.E.R.D. and yes politicians nowadays do indeed sound like strippers to me (and i don't want to hear it). 

Am sure no one reading this feels that the high-end audio industry should only cater to musical bigots who demand you only listen to acoustic music; preferably with female singer of course. i'm cool with that.

So were you musically offended yet? Many times over the years my father has been mentioned as, yes, he truly is my role model. Here is a man who has seen some of the world's best singers, songwriters, violinists, orchestras, etc in the best halls all around the world. He loves pianists as well as big and bold classical numbers with percussion. Yet here is this 40-ish guy with three kids in the late 1970's, two being drummers, who listen to Rush and other 'modern bands'. Instead of putting us down, mom and dad not only supported us, they even went to a 1980's Rush concert (and got tear gassed before the show too!) Ahh yes those crazy the early 80's and unruly rock and rollers at a concert. My father embraced the new music and allowed us total freedom of musical expression. Some call it 'fearless music'.

Let us face the facts, generally speaking any music three generations from your prime probably sucks. This not only pertains to new music; ask yourself when was the last time you listened to ragtime? Perhaps one of the cruel jokes played upon man is that his children will listen to crappy music and rebel against said parents to listen to it. Those crazy Gen X, or is it Gen Y now... or Gen ABC-123 baby you and me? And now with all that newfangled recording studio technology it doesn't even sound like music anymore! (To your ears) Sure you'll accept Kraftwerk as 'music' even though there is not a single 'real' instrument there either, but this aural junk below truly has got to go, right?

 

Reality Time
Ok, now that the horse has been beaten to death, please allow me to expand on this in another direction. As many of you Facebook friends know my fiancé is a bit younger than i. Not sure what she sees in an audiophile like me quite frankly. Big speakers in the livingroom, a monster drumset taking up a large portion of the other side of the room.... For those curious, large amplifiers and other items are neatly kept in the basement just under the gear seen here. This way said gear is kept away from vibrations, electrical interference, etc. 

Back to my fiancé and how that pertains to my life. Before we met, found myself pseudo 'stuck' in the same musical genre varieties for about five years. The new music 'those kids' were listening to used vocoders and phase shifters and all sorts of electronica sound effects. How are we as audiophiles to know what the absolute sound is when nothing is real? Can anyone here tell me exactly how Kraftwerk should sound? Now think back you folks over 50 and ask yourself what did your parents say about rock and roll? Those damn screechy electric guitars and electronic keyboards. Why back in my day we had real orchestras and jazz bands with talented singers who never screamed like Roger Daltrey of The Who.

And then i attend RMAF and here we have the cool kids in CANJAM having a great time. Smiling, laughing, being jokesters and all that versus in the other sections of the show's hotel where we see the typical audiophile guy.... So who is having more fun is anyone's guess <cough>, yet if audiophile companies want to stay in business they might want to pay attention to these kids as they are your future customers. Forget the kids; 45-ish year old guys like me don't want your old crap either.

Nice DAC/controller you have there, you got an app with that to control it? No, then no thanks. NEXT! You have a great 32-bit all-digital preamp but it doesn't have digital room correction? What, no multi-band EQ either? Are you trying to tell me that for $20,000 this digital unit has plenty of processing power yet you never made it more flexible for those who bi-amp and want to use a digital crossover. The reason i say this is here is my confession (finally).

 

The Past Two Years
Even wonder why i have not been reviewing gear, big $$,$$$ gear mind you, during the past two years. Remember that i was the first, and only reviewer, to ever own the Audio Note Ongaku and this was years before single-ended triode became mainstream. My lifestyle has virtually always tended to be very forward-thinking per se. So why have i not been reviewing $$,$$$ gear you ask. It is because an Onkyo receiver (audiophile blasphemy!) has been here as a toy. It does all sorts of things too. Just for argument sake, let us take the Onkyo TX-NR3009 (see owners manual PDF here)  for a spin. So what do you get for a mere $1500 according to Onkyo's website:

The TX-NR3009 sports a huge array of digital and analog connections, including eight 3D-ready HDMI inputs, 9.2 multi-channel pre-outs, and a USB input for connecting flash drives and digital audio players. An Ethernet jack, meanwhile, supports networked content in the form of internet radio and streaming audio from a PC or media server. Processing, too, is top-class. Audyssey MultEQ XT32 achieves optimal balance for movie soundtracks and breathtaking realism for music sources. Along with sophisticated surround-sound technologies from Dolby and Audyssey, the TX-NR3009 employs DTS Neo:X to create an immersive nine-channel soundscape from any audio source. Video sources also get the red-carpet treatment, thanks to HQV Vida processing, independent ISF calibration, and 4K upscaling via Qdeo technology. Onkyo’s dedication to build quality is reflected in the low-resonance chassis, multiple transformers, three-stage inverted Darlington circuitry, and high-grade audio terminals. All this and more earns the TX-NR3009 coveted THX Ultra2 Plus certification — your guarantee of an ovation-worthy performance every time.

Special Features
•Eight 1080p capable HDMI inputs (V1.4a repeater) including 1 Front with 2 outputs
•THX Ultra2 Plus Certification
•isf Certified
•4K scaling via Qdeo by Marvell HDMI
•1080p video upconversion by HVQ Vida
•Wireless ready with optional UWF-1 wireless USB LAN adapter
•WRAT technology and discrete amp construction for cleaner sound
•TrueHD/DTS-HD decoding to support the latest Blu-ray technology
•PC Input
•Front-Panel USB Input for Memory Devices and iPhone®/iPod® Models (Enables Display of Album Artwork)
•Optional iPod Dock / HDradio module via U.Port
•4 DSP Gaming Modes: Rock, Sports, Action, and Role Playing
•Audyssey MultEQ XT32w/ Dynamic EQ & Dynamic Volume

 

What is not said is the unit handles bi-amplification and an array of digital tweaking. And yes there is an app to control the unit too. Looking at some of those $20,000 digital units at RMAF it was obvious the digital signal processing power was there as was high-end analog output, yet there is plenty of 'wasted' processing power that could have been used for room correction and other duties. Worse still, how do you expect to sell these $20,000 widgets to modern up-and-comer 30-somethings who have a tablet or smartphone glued to their body yet there is no app for that? Do you really think someone hip and cool and young will want to buy your device versus a more flexible and easily usable Onkyo receiver?

"But the Onkyo sounds like crap!" you shout at the top of your lungs. Actually it sounds pretty good, and damn good value for the money. Now what if we can take all the digital goodies and app/phone/tablet control capabilities and yet mate it with higher-end analog and amplification. Ahhh, here is where we get NAD, Rotel, Emotiva, Marantz and others. i believe it was a NAD rep at RMAF who told me they do not plan on having an app to control their units. Of course i told him something along the lines of that was stupid and the competition will be eating his company alive in a year or two.

So good music, bad music.... whatever. The point is that the high-end audio industry better wake up and realize their 40-ish and under customers are demanding more and have the money to procure it. And yes, if you plan on sending me a pre/DAC unit you better have an app for that. i'll probably just let the other guys handle the old school stuff, as my life is progressing far too fast and simply refuse to allow 'high-end audio' to pull me back by limiting and inflexible hardware/software and lackluster old school simple dedicated wireless remote control.

 

And by the way, if you agree with the above article to some degree, are young (at heart) and cool, phat, hip, righteous, down with the sickness or whatever is the current proper terminology plus a good writer looking to play with expensive and cutting-edge audio gear and gadgets please contact me ASAP. Thanks.

 

Enjoy the Music (a day in the life of me working on show coverage ;-)  ),

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc

Superior Audio Archives
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

Videos
Enjoy the Music.TV

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Show Reports
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest RMAF 2018
KL International AV 2018 Show Report
High End Munich 2018 Show Report
AXPONA 2018 Show Report
CanJam SoCal 2018 Show Report
CanJam NYC 2018 Show Report
Capital Audiofest CAF 2017 CanMania
TAVES 2017 Toronto Show Report
CanJam 2017 Denver RMAF
LAAS 2017 Show Report
Click here for previous shows.

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty

Resources And Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions
High-End Audio Manufacture Links

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

Partner Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
NOVO (CANADA HiFi)
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

Contests & Join Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

Our Social Media & Video Channel
      

 

 

       

Home  |  Sitemap  |  Industry News  |  Equipment / Music Reviews  |  Press Releases  |  About Us  |  Contact Us

 

All contents copyright©  1995 - 2018  Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.