YouTube Vloggers: Hi-Fi Over Wi-Fi
The internet is a vast frontier, ever-expanding, and ever filled with noise. But somewhere deep within the recesses of the chatter, the opinions spilling forth like Biblical fact, is a small solar system called hi-fi. And the hi-fi system (see what I did there?) is like a high school cafeteria. Lots of different groups sitting at various tables. (Okay, okay, we went from interstellar to lunchrooms. Follow me here, I'm going somewhere with this!) There are the vinyl junkies, the vintage fiends, the tinker-ers, the digital folks, the analog folks, the "give me tubes or give me death" group, the budget folks, the high-end audio folks, and probably a few more tables I haven't yet graced but plan on perusing through. What I can tell you, from attending a ton of audio shows (not to mention running one — T.H.E. Show) is that there are four common threads that get knotted up, and occasionally connect us all. And those are:
1. There's no good music out there anymore.
2. Music is a means by which to test my system.
3. My system is a means to enjoy my music.
4. Social media is where I go to post about or look up information about hi-fi systems.
Enter The Influencers
There's no getting around the fact that the majority of us are still sitting on our keisters at home, riding out this pandemic, like munchkins waiting for the house to fall on the wicked witch. And there's also no getting around the fact that most of us are on the internet all day long. I'm guilty as charged. But I'll tell you what. When I'm not hunting for rare vintage audio pieces or planning my next piece of video content, I'm getting notices for more and more hi-fi podcasts and talk shows (of which I host one of my own, called T.H.E. Talk).
My push notifications are also burgeoning with So-and-So just posted a new video, So-and-So is going live in 10 minutes, So-and-So posted a new photo, and the list goes on and on. More and more, people are creating content around hi-fi, their experiences, and what it means to them. I follow these folks and they follow me. We trade stories and cheer each other on in our respective journeys. People email us with questions or chat to us via our social platforms. And so, I thought it's about high time we bring some of them into the spotlight. I had the pleasure to sit down with them to hear their stories.
Jiles McCoy: Home Theater Fanatics
And so much more than that he is. He's a lifer, having been into hi-fi since he was nine years old (though he is, by no means an "old" man - he and I are similar in age, thank you very much) and he seemingly has an affinity for creating content that is relatable, informative and funny. With literally tens of thousands of subscribers on his channels, Jiles consistently posts valuable content that always has a solid takeaway. It's because of this I was surprised to learn that it was his wife who convinced him to start posting online with the reasoning that if he was going to spend money on this hobby, he should at least make videos to educate others who are on the journey as well. I have to say, kudos to Jiles's wife for that, and kudos to Jiles for taking her advice! That being said, these days Jiles creates content because he says, for him, it's a creative outlet. And he goes on, "If I end up influencing someone I hope they got a chance to learn something or at least be entertained in the process!" I can say, I am both entertained and always educated after watching one of his videos.
Currently, Jiles' system looks like this:
The first side:
Acurus Act4 Processor
Zappiti 4K Pro ACE
Kaleidescape Strata S
Nvidia Shield TV Pro
Starke Sound A7
Starke Sound A8
Starke Sound IC-H5x2
Starke Sound IW-H3 x5
Starke Sound IC-H2 x 2
Starke Sound Iw-H5 x4
GSG Audio Marty Cube x2
Velodyne DD+ 18
Silver Ticket 127" 2.35:1 AT Screen
The other side:
J-Pi Streamer running Volumio for quboz (mostly)
Topping E30 DAC
Schitt Freya +
Crown XLS 1502
Starke IC-H5 Towers
Clarus Cables Power Conditioning
Sewell Direct Speaker Wire
Audition Power Cables
Sewell Direct XLR Cables
The media room:
Hi-fi Rose RS150
Nvidia Shield TV
Vava UST Projector
100" ALR motorized Vividstorm Screen
Alta Audio Alec Towers
Shunyata Research Venom Power Distribution
Shunyata Research Viper Power Cables
Clarus Cable Aqua bi-amp speaker cables
Sewell Direct Interconnects
Jiles McCoy can be found at:
Mike Perez: Audio Arkitekts
Do I love Audio? Yes, absolutely! Do I fall into the stigma and cliché that the word now embodies with some? No. I love the music. Period. If being an audiophile is a clinical diagnosis of enjoying my sound system and being an avid hobbyist within the industry, then I suppose people will assume that I am an Audiophile. However, I don't like labels, I feel that kicking back and enjoying the fruits of your labor is one's own decision and doesn't require a title or designation."
Perez, relatively young on the scene (he's in his mid-30s) is by no means green. He has family ties in the hi-fi world and worked as a tour photographer for an extremely well-known music group before making the leap to hi-fi full time. With a background as a concert and studio photographer, I was admittedly surprised to find out that Mike's favorite way to listen to music is to "lay in bed, plug into my phone and discover new music through my headphones or in-ear monitors. Just like I did when I was a kid.
I can blast the music as loud as I want without anyone complaining and utterly lose myself in thought while listening." It stands to reason that his commitment to his originality and character shows through in the way he likes to help people who are new to hi-fi. He says he makes most of his connections online, through social media, some of who are new to this journey, some who are looking for fresh new perspectives, and even brands who are looking for new ways to promote their gear.
When I asked him what he felt were the best things about being a hi-fi influencer (of which, for the record, he does not consider himself, saying "I enjoy what I do. I like sharing my findings with the amazing audience I have built thus far. I love seeing comments where I can help others on their journey for the holy grail of audio as well. I don't see it as influencing, more as guiding") he replied, "I feel it's a great platform to ask and answer specific questions that you might not have found answers for by doing a simple Google search. There are many questions in this hobby and so much experience and knowledge within the community.
I feel that social media has helped create friendships, express opinions, and share experiences with one another on a level playing field. Lastly, I believe it's a great opportunity for businesses and companies to get themselves seen in an otherwise very niche market. Before social media, you had to go to a convention, show, or high-end store to see and learn about new products. Now, with the power of Instagram, Facebook and YouTube you can consume more information to make better buying decisions."
Currently, Mike's system is "ever-changing with all the reviews and features I do for various companies and agencies. If I would answer this with what I have right now at this moment, by the time this gets published it would have changed completely. However, I do like to consistently keep a preamplifier, an amplifier, a set of floor standing speakers, a source, and of course a subwoofer in the rotation of gear" but here are some photos of what he's working with presently.
Mike Perez and Audio Arkitekts can be found at:
Teddy van den Broek: Vinylkiddoreviews
I know my speakers could be wired up better, it is better for my speakers to be off the ground etc, but music for me is more than just the clarity of the sound." That being said, he did go on to explain that he would consider himself a "Music Romantic. Most of the time I use phrases like... "they don't make stuff the way they did it 40 years ago" If you look in my house you would think you stepped into the 1960s or 1970s. My record collection is a part of that." And just like his daughter, he's been into hi-fi since he was 10. (He was kind enough to let us know that he recently turned 40.)
When I asked him what prompted him to start sharing his love of hi-fi on social media, I was touched by his answer, "It started out by having some quality time with my daughter. Creating an account so we could goof around with records and music. I used to have record players with built-in receivers but in 2019 I bought my Thorens TD 160, a record player that I have been wanting for many, many years and once I got it I was so proud haha, so it is a bit for showing off as well lol!"
While Wesley fervently believes himself to not be a hi-fi influencer (I'd beg very much to differ), he is clear in is position that he considers the hi-fi community on social media to be one big family (I would't disagree with that) and that he and his daughter post for no other reason that"... joy. If somebody sees my post and gets inspired in a particular record player, song, or album then our work is done." And you can't ask for more than that.
Wesley and Teddy can be found at:
Currently, Wesley and Teddy's system comprises of:
Record Player; Thorens TD 160
Needle; Ortofon M15E Super
Receiver; Scott R 327
Speakers; Wharfedale Linton 2
Ray: Hi-Fi Turtle
Ray is a relative newcomer (if decades count as any sort of standard by which to measure) to the hi-fi community but his offerings on his social media accounts are always measured, engaging, and considerate. I was very surprised to learn during our interview that he has his very first system (we should all be celebrating this) and I asked him to share it with our readers:
"I was always a headphone guy dreaming of becoming a speaker guy once I had space. So currently I have a pair of Focal Kanta N°2 speakers, Hegel H20 power amp, Benchmark DAC3L pre-amp/DAC, and a Bluesound Node2i. I think it's also worth noting I have a ton of acoustic treatment in my room, most of which I made myself, but some are by Vicoustic. I still have my headphone system as well which consists of a Focal x Massdrop Elex and Audeze LCD-2.2 all going to a SimAudio Moon HAD230."
Always quick to reach out and connect, I've seen Ray support and encourage, time and time again. Of his mission on social media as an influencer, he says, "I want to make this thing we call high-end audio fun. In the COVID world we currently live in, it's hard to execute the video ideas I have that fit that fun category, but I certainly have them chambered. I also want to have thought-provoking and educational interactions with my fellow audiophiles," and he was quick to follow it up with three great reasons why he's committed to continuing his posting.
"At the end of the day it's the people. I've made some friends along the way, yourself included! I also love to interact with people who comment and it's even better when they can teach me something. There's also the discovery aspect where you can see how other people are setting up with audio systems. Seeing someone who had Kanta 3 speakers with a Hegel H20 is what made me demo the H20, and then actually buy it. Last but not least, just seeing all the great pictures and videos of hi-fi gear."
Ray can be found at:
Trevor Dale: The Album Divers Podcast
While Trevor may not consider himself a hi-fi influencer, he does note that through his podcast, his cohost and he are influencers of intentional listening. Hi-fi can absolutely be a component of that. He dove deeper (as he would, being an album diver.) "The premise of Album Divers is my cohost and I alternate between discussing an album that was released this calendar year and one that has stood the test of time. We give history, track by track analysis, and delve into the music and lyrics. Our goal is to never stop discovering the music of all genres and eras. In this way, our content is our own analysis and impression of art that already exists."
What struck me as tremendously remarkable here is that Trevor is constantly on the hunt for new and current music. As long as it's quality and has substance, he is game to share it with his followers. "My mission in sharing my love for music is that hi-fi can be viewed as a vehicle to that end and not an end in itself. With the format of our podcast I also hope to influence both younger and older music and hi-fi lovers to recognize that there is great music of every era and to never stop enjoying and discovering new music," and I do believe he is correct. There is great music in every era, and presently, social media is a great place to find it.
I have to give Trevor some credit for his courageousness here. He's openly taking on "Aja" and went on to say, "...though social media can be an essential tool to bridge the generational gap within the hi-fi community, it can also be an anonymous vehicle of division. I can't count the number of times I've heard an older audiophile declare that there isn't any good music today while they put on "Aja" for the umpteenth time. By no means am I trying to diminish the music of the baby boomers generation! They are the Rembrandts and the Picasso's of pop music and they influenced countless artists that are creating music today.
But that spirit of creativity is alive and well (though sadly it isn't found on many AM or FM dials anymore) and more plentiful than ever if one just looks a little deeper. As continues to be my goal in creating the Album Divers podcast, my hope for the hi-fi world is that older and younger generations can find in social media a community that can share great music through a mutual love of great equipment."
To this point, when I asked him for the best three reasons he's in the hi-fi space on social media, this one particular point deserved amplification: "Social media is traditionally a younger interest while hi-fi is traditionally an interest of an older generation. Social media hi-fi communities represent an opportunity that hi-fi desperately needs to connect these two generations if this hobby is going to survive and evolve."
Trevor Dale and The Album Divers Podcast can be found at:
Trevor's system current is:
Project Essential turntable
Ortofon MC-3 turbo cart
Pro-Ject tube box phono stage
Jolida 202 tube-amp
Limited-edition California black walnut Klipsch Forte III speakers
Summing It All Up