When I first rejoined the audiophile community around 1989 after a ten-year hiatus, the two largest audiophile magazines in those pre-internet days were "digest-sized". My friend and I used to joke that it was small to make it so one could slip a copy in one's smoking jacket when not reading it. Or perhaps their lab coat. More seriously, I felt like the odd man out; as my perception of an audiophile back then was a wealthy retiree with little to do other than listen to music when not working in their basement electronics shop. One of the ways those audiophile magazines made me felt like an outcast was because all the musical examples in the reviews were classical recordings.
There were rarely any exceptions, mostly because how close a system could come to reproducing "real music recorded in a real space" was an adage that was irrefutable. I realize that all of the above might be an exaggeration (other than the smoking jacket part), but in my mind, I felt as I was just a little kid watching all the grownups play with their expensive toys. I'm older now, and so I'm the one with many of the expensive toys. Even so, I feel like I would have felt lots more comfortable reentering the audiophile community now than when I did, as it is much more inclusive community.
I realize we still have a very long way to go before the audiophile "hobby" is a totally inclusive community, but it sure seems like there are so many more affordable options than there once were, and a large percentage of these lower-priced gateway components sound fantastic. Technology is moving at a ridiculously fast pace, and I don't just mean 5G cell phones and Wi-Fi 6 speeds, but high-end audio is bringing lots of those who are into that evolving technology with them. Plus, as the former young audiophiles from my generation have grown up (sometimes only chronologically, of course), the meaning of that adage of real music in a real space has expanded to mean just about any instrument, acoustic or electric, and that was recorded just about anywhere.
The quest for "real" sounding reproduction continues, of course, and I still think that classical pieces recorded in an empty concert halls are excellent ways to judge equipment, as well as a great way to spend a weekday evening. And so, alongside Georg Solti's excellent version of him conducting Mahler's 5rd Symphony on Decca, I feel that it is just as valid to include The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Electric Ladyland as a musical example. Plus, you're as likely to read about a $500 wireless speaker in Enjoy the Music.com as a five-figure monoblock power amplifier. No smoking jacket required.
With that in mind, this month Roger Skoff tells how to bring new people to our hobby in a Viewpoint article. I hope he agrees with me that because of at least one of the reasons I cite above, as I've found it is easier than ever to do so. Of course, as Senior Editor of Enjoy the Music.com I like many different aspects of the magazine, and this includes everything from the massive amount of show reports that appear, and the pieces such as Roger Skoff's article. But closest to my heart are the equipment reviews, and since I have at least one review appear each month, I guess that make sense!
This month are two world premier equipment reviews, plus an excellent review by Jeremy R. Kipnis of two Schiit components, one solid-state and one powered by tubes. The World Premier reviews include a speaker by MarkAudio-SOTA Viotti that are available for a relatively low price, especially when one considers their size and how impressed Clive Meakins was with their wide frequency response and dispersion. The other World Premier was written by yours truly, of a fantastic sounding Symphonic MC phono preamplifier by the UK audio manufacturer Chord Electronics. This phono preamp is made for the serious analog audiophile, and it's nice that Chord feels that a component's appearance is important, too, as this phono preamp looks almost as good as it sounds!
As an added bonus this month, I hope you've been like Enjoy the Music.com's new website design and its layout that not only shortens the width of text, making it easier to read. Even though I know that the redesign (an original design by the way) is due to the hard work of Enjoy the Music.com's Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin. I can't help but be proud of it. How could I not be? No only have I been writing equipment reviews for Enjoy the Music.com for over twelve years, was promoted to Senior Editor a couple of years ago, this month I have two equipment reviews plus was asked to write this month's editorial intro.
Have been told by some that I seem a bit obsessed with writing for Enjoy the Music.com. But they're wrong. I'm obsessed with music! Yet one does not have to be obsessed with music, as I am, to attempt to reproduce it within one's home the best way possible, and with a bit of guidance from one's friends and online reviews of course here on Enjoy the Music.com. And so, as Steven R. Rochlin always says, in the end what really matters is that you...