Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experiences

Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

Google’s Music Genre Timeline

Google’s Music Genre Timeline is very interesting.

Note how the popularity of Jazz has grown lately.

Note how there is not a single mention (that I could find) of classical music.

I wonder if the problem we have with music today [i.e. little innovation] is reflected in that there is no massive new genre – everything is kind of balanced in popularity these days.

The iconic albums they feature for each genre could use work, IMO [but, alright Dean Martin! :-)].

Anyway, something to while away a few minutes during this rainy day…


CAS 2017: Best System Performance and Ultimate Cost No Object Design

CAS 2017: Best System Performance and Ultimate Cost No Object Design was just awarded to our California Audio Show 2017 room by Richard Austen on his final Dagogo show report.

I will say that CD sounded better here than anywhere else beating other rooms with vinyl or computer audio playback

I know, right? For many turntables and nearly all which are not setup perfectly [like at a show] this Audio Note U.K. digital is just better. Kind of awesome – convenience AND sounds good [less calories, more alcohol. Something like that]

Richard (aka RGA) got a chance to play his non-audiophile-approved CDs while the rest of us were not paying any attention, trying to figure out if Pink Floyd was the best rock-and-roll band ever and if so for which Albums and years [yes,  and from 66 [relics] to 73 [dsotm] or 77 [animals], depending on mood. Many people hate the animals LP but they are wrong-headed 🙂 as were the majority in the room who disagreed and voted no :-)], and other monumental decisions music-lovers have to debate whenever they first meet [ok, yeah, it only took 1 minute to debate this, but this set the tone for the rest of the 4 hours. you readers know what I mean].

So Richard got to hear the system well over the course of many hours, both Saturday [and Sunday, I might add, us not wanting to pack up for several hours – getting out of there, on our 3rd and final trip home that night, at 11:59 sharp before the ‘deadline’ at midnight].

Frankly, these [Acapella Cellini High speakers] were rather easily the best sound at this show. It took a couple of tracks to begin to appreciate what these speakers are capable of doing. And unfortunately show-goers tend to try and cover as many rooms as possible over stopping to smell the roses

I know, right? And there were quite a few good speakers at this show.

We were so happy that we got to spend time listening after hours with many different people – it has been awhile since a show felt like ‘home’, and the people and the music were just awesome this year.

Thank you, Richard 🙂

The Joy of “Different”

The Joy of “Different”. The absolute joy of hearing an often very, VERY familiar song with a different sound than what we are used to.

This drives so much of the commerce in our industry as well as providing so much of the pleasure [for me anyway] but it is not talked about much.

Yes, it is related to ‘upgrading’ and certainly ‘better quality sound’ is one of the ‘differences’ that are very enjoyable. And, of course, a different pressing, a remastering, a different technology, these also provide these wonderful experiences.

But there are also lots of differences that are just slight improvements and sometimes more just changes in ‘flavor’ – and these are also quite enjoyable and should not be ignored or disparaged. They are healthy and help us both understand music and our preferences as well as just plain fun. And many of them do not cost a lot of money. A change of cables or powercords. Using better isolation feet. Putting spikes under the speakers. Moving the speakers a little. Moving the rack from between the speakers. Cleaning the CDs or LPs better. Cleaning the ends of the cables. Etc.

And, of course,these changes in ‘flavor’ can cost some serious coin, like swapping one $11K powercord for another $11K powercord. Yikes. But, wow, whatever the price point, this can be soooo much fun. 😀

[And even downgrades can be enjoyable. For example listening to a lower-end system at a friends house, or changing out a speaker for a less-expensive but higher efficiency one, or less-expensive but higher resolution one, or whatever – these can be so much fun and invigorating.]

Some of these ideas are disparaged by some people as not being pure. “There is a right way something is supposed to sound”, and any variance from pursuing that precisely defined [in their minds] sound makes you a ‘lesser audiophile’ or something. Then again, just look at what system these people have and when we stop feeling sorry for them and the bad decisions they made we can go back to having fun. Yes, there is a Path, but as long as we stay near the Path, to the best of our pocketbooks capability and to some degree luck, then we are OK, in my opinion.

A long, long time ago, we talked about The Path. The path from whatever modest system we start with, near the bottom of the mountain, to the Ultimate System on top of whatever mountain peak we can afford which suits our basic preferences. The idea of that post was to talk about how some systems were close to the Path and others were not so much [that these others were sometimes found cul-de-sacs, which required backing out of quickly, or we risk getting disenchanted and leaving the hobby – or worse, pissing off our house partners :-)].

But once you reach your mountain peak, or even before then as we make our way up the Path, a fun way to pass the days, and years, is to try something different every so often and wake up our ears and our soul again – to shock it into listening deeply with the attentive mind and open heart again.



Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks and Why am I posting these?

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks and Why am I posting these? (you might ask. Well, Neli did 🙂 ).

Neli doesn’t read comments when she is out-and-about on the Internet. But I do. Sometimes. And on YouTube, Stereophile, and many other places, sometimes over half of the comments have some very aggressive troll-like anti-audiophile sentiment.

The average person, a member of the general public, reading these, must think WTF? These angry nuts are so passionate with their attacks – can they be right?

Considering how often people believe ridiculous things these days just because the messenger is outrageously aggressive, this is a real worry if one has hopes, like we do, that more of the general public should join our hobby.

Some people [for example Michael Fremer and Myles Astor], counter this by publicly responding to the trolls – replying to their comments using either common sense or the troll’s own expletive-laden language.

Their responses help but the energy required to do this, by me anyway, would be difficult to sustain over time.

I am trying to weaken the trolls in a different way here by helping dispel any doubts about whether these trolls have a clue [they do not], and make sure that the readers of these Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks posts know exactly why what the trolls are saying is ridiculous and nothing but trolling.

Another purpose here is that when an audiophile reads these, it is upsetting. Here we are just grooving to the beat with as much fidelity we can afford, checking in what our friends are doing, seeing what’s new out there, and these angry haters show up?

One way to deal with this upset is to have seen these troll’s attacks before – and seen it dealt with in a calm, reasonable, logical, factual manner. Then, when we see these trolls, we can think “oh yeah, THAT one. Not just jerks but unimaginative ones at that”.

I am hoping these posts here on the Blog help do just that, but examining each of these class of troll attacks in the light of day and putting them to rest.

Perhaps we should go one step beyond and list copy-and-paste audiophile-approved pre-written responses that, if enough of us automatically post these as comments to the troll’s attack comments, might actually tire them out and make them go away.

Who are they? I think half of the trolls are just envious[who isn’t? we all want all the goodies, right? :-)] and the other half are dysfunctional men (or boys) who see another group they can bully.

[Personally, I also consider extremely negative anti-cable, anti-tube, anti-solidstate, anti-analog, anti-digital etc. comments as evidence that there is a troll about. There is overwhelming evidence that each of these technologies have a great deal to offer, albeit each with their drawbacks, that a reasonable person with adequate funds might indeed be making the exact right decision purchasing them. enuf said].

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks #2 – “You have no business being an audiophile if you do not have perfect ears”

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks #2 – “You have no business being an audiophile if you do not have perfect ears”

This troll takes several forms:

“Since people start losing their ability to hear high frequencies as they age, they have no business listening to fine audiophile gear they can’t appreciate (i.e. if they can’t hear to 20K Hz)”

With this logic males have no business having sex after the age of 18 and no one over 30 can appreciate a sports car [their reflexes not being what they used to be].

So, bad logic, obviously, but a more important point is how this does not take into account how being better educated / skilled / experienced adds to the level of appreciation of many things in life compared to experiences when one is ignorant of the subtleties and nuances.

What a true audiophile is able to hear, whatever the range of frequencies, whether it be limited by their ears or by the playback equipment, far surpasses what the unskilled listener can hear.

If you spend years and years and years studying and practicing something, whether it be listening carefully or yoga or mathematics or a popular sport, whatever, you get much, much better at it than someone who hasn’t.

Some people are experts at, say, sports statistics and trivia. Just because they are old and their memory has been declining for decades do we tell them that they have no business being an expert? No we do not 🙂

[I use this ‘sports trivia’ expert quite often in my hypothesis when I try to place people in context. Everyone is a genius at something, but often people do not realize this about themselves. One of the first examples of this I encountered in my life was someone who thought themselves stupid by was a whiz at sports trivia, statistics, sports psychology and other related skills. At this this person was pure genius]

An ongoing series of posts where we debunk common comments made by trolls. Because trolls are quite unimaginative, this will not be a very long series of posts. I use the world ‘stupid’ to be charitable – these trolls are bullies seeking attention through their aggressiveness and they just so happen to choose audiophiles to pick on.

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks #1 – “All cables sound the same”

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks #1 – “All cables sound the same” (or “Cables Have No Sound”)

An ongoing series of posts where we debunk common comments made by trolls. Because trolls are quite unimaginative, this will not be a very long series of posts. I use the world ‘stupid’ to be charitable – these trolls are bullies seeking attention through their aggressiveness and they just so happen to choose audiophiles to pick on.

This particular stupid comment is often used to insinuate that, because, if true, our industry would then be lying about cables having a sound [which they are not], so they must be lying about most everything else as well and much if not all of high-end audio is therefore ‘snake oil’.

This is easy to disprove.

We start  by assuming they are right, that cables really do have no sound [or all sound the same]. Then no matter what the electrical properties (capacitance, inductance or resistance) of the cable, there is no affect on the sound.

But the cable is just another [albeit important] part [extension] of the electrical circuit consisting of the source, preamplifier, amplifier and speaker – so if the cable has no sound, regardless of its electrical properties, then nothing else in the circuit has a sound either no matter its electrical properties. All those capacitors, resistors, transformers, they have no sound. That, because cables do not have a sound, no matter how low or high its resistance is, for example, that we can just put resistors in any circuit, no matter how low or high the number of ohms, and it will sound the same.

Hopefully this is obviously untrue to most of you, and so it is obvious cables do indeed have a sound. And if cables do have a sound, there will be those that sound better and those that sound worse. And the ones that sound better will cost more if their manufacturer has any kind of understanding about how capitalism works [which most do].

Of course, most of us just need to use our ears to hear the difference in how one cable sounds versus another

One can also get a cheap sound meter, or sound frequency analyser, and see a visual report on the differences in SPL or sound frequencies if one cannot trust one’s ears.

[you do need a hifi system that is resolving enough to reveal the differences in sound. If you have a very inexpensive system, then cables may not make a measurable of a difference to you and you should spend your money on getting a better system, not cables].

*sigh* Feels good to write this but don’t expect the trolls to go away anytime soon :-/




Registration for CES 2018 opens

Got our mailer in the mail yesterday. Guess it opened September 6 [it usually opened early / mid Summer]. It is still free if you are an ‘alumni’ [otherwise $100… before it goes up to $300]. We registered, but not sure if we are truly going to attend. It is so small compared to what it was, but it is only 8 hours to drive now from Palo Alto, CA instead of 13 hours from Boulder, CO 🙂 And it won’t be snowy and icy [it has sometimes literally been minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit going over Vail pass [which has a nice rest area that we almost always stopped at. :}].

They still do not have a map of what is going to be at the Venetian so we can see who is going:

Interactive map of the CES 2018 show floor coming soon.”

You can search by exhibitor name, but that gets old quick. To attend CES 2018 register here.


Mike Fremer welcomes us into his home on YouTube

Mike Fremer welcomes us into his home on YouTube. Went up day before yesterday. We liked it. 🙂

A few comments:

So many records!

Here is somebody who listens nearfield to large speakers, people. Everybody with small rooms [us too, now], take heart!

Comparing analog with digital on that system is somewhat disingenuous – his analog stack is significantly superior to his digital stack. The best digital comes MUCH closer to the best analog than his digital.

The uncomfortable cautionary tale about the stroke victim really is some sage advice to us all to tell our significant other to hire an ‘expert’ friend-of-the-family’, or at least a ‘trusted expert’ to sell the records [and gear!] after such a tragic incident [assuming we did not want to listen to music after a stroke, which you know, is so WRONG].

I presume the making of this video, and Mike’s mention of each component he has bought and paid for, was prompted by a rash of reviewers whose whole system is on semi-permanent loan [and saying good things about that gear, and only that gear]. This says something about his sincerity when he says he likes these things, and lends authenticity to his recommendations. These sort of distinctions seem to be beyond the ken of many people these days – as we grow more and more accustomed to consuming bite-sized opinions on FB, Twitter and YouTube as facts – but glad someone is shining a light in the darkness.

Stereophile is not paying Mike enough. And the weird thing, for me, is that people seem to think that being an ‘underpaid journalist’ is to be expected, even for someone who is at the top of his game as the preeminent journalist in all of high-end audio. Stereophile, the top publication in high-end audio, should pay their top journalists enough to afford a mortgage on a modest home / apartment [in Joisy, of all places] and to purchase tools-o-da-trade like this level of system, which, seriously, is not all that outrageous of a system [the analog signal path seems quite well designed, in fact]. Certainly over the course of his tenure at Stereophile, just his salary should be enough to cover this level of investment in gear and more, IMO.

So many records!



Greatest Audiophile Voices (close-mic’d female vocals)

Greatest Audiophile Voices (close-mic’d female vocals), from the album “Greatest Audiophile Voices” Vol: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4

On YouTube. Several of these are unfamiliar to me, so I enjoyed learning about, and hearing, them. [Everybody does know, of course, that most ‘Audiophile Music’ is just music that sounds good on any Hi-Fi, no matter how bad the Hi-Fi is, right?]


01 • 00:00:00 • Light My Fire • Lisa Lovbrand
02 • 00:04:58 • Somewhere Over The Rainbow • Julian Kuchocki
03 • 00:11:03 • When I Fall In Love • Karin Melchert
04 • 00:14:12 • I Wish You Love • Juliet Kelly
05 • 00:16:52 • Don’t Know Why • Adreinne Hindmarsh
06 • 00:20:54 • Lover Man • Jessica Lee
07 • 00:25:32 • Shiny Stockings • Sue Giles
08 • 00:29:25 • A Fool To Believe • Andrea Reichhart
09 • 00:32:53 • The Day You Left • Yvonne Walter
10 • 00:35:43 • Send In The Clowns • Julian Kuchocki
11 • 00:42:33 • Wait For Me • Juliet Kelly
12 • 00:47:25 • I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face • Katrine Madsen
13 • 00:53:03 • At Last • Maci Miller
14 • 00:57:28 • The Way You Look Tonight • Dani Thompson
15 • 01:01:56 • Cry Me A River • Gail Marten
16 • 01:07:46 • Besame Mucho • Sofia Laiti
17 • 01:14:34 • Fever • Maci Miller
18 • 01:18:43 • What A Difference A Day Make • Svante Thuresson/Katrine Madsen
19 • 01:23:03 • Dream A Little Dream Of Me • Tipitina
20 • 01:26:20 • Fly Me To The Moon • Nashi Young Cho
21 • 01:29:53 • Don’t Want To Fall In Love Again • Tammy Weis
22 • 01:33:27 • The Girl From Ipanema • Arienne Hindmarsh
23 • 01:36:04 • Moon River • Ida Landsberg
24 • 01:39:54 • If I Were A Bell • Irene Atman
25 • 01:43:29 • Night And Day • Lisa B
26 • 01:49:00 • Surely • Virna Sanzone
27 • 01:54:35 • Neither One of Us • Trisha O’Donnel
28 • 01:58:54 • Walk On Bay • Lee Engele
29 • 02:01:44 • When I Fall In Love • Lisa Lovbrand whit David Foster


San Francisco Opera in the Park

We attended the San Francisco Opera in the Park yesterday. Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park.

Sharon Meadow was filled up…

We were up-prepared for it to be so unnaturally sunny (for SF) and unnaturally warm (for SF), so all by itself, that was memorable.

The quality of the performance…  was shockingly good. I mean, we listen to a fair amount of opera and classical music here. In my opinion, the sum total of the performance, the musicians taken together as a whole, was better than just about anything I have heard before. Perhaps many albums focus too much on ‘stars’ as opposed to performances?

The quality of the sound… it was amplified. A lot. It was perfectly loud back where these were taken. So, not very high fidelity. There was good immediacy, but the midrange sometimes had a ‘falsetto’ washed out color to it, and the upper bass had minimal decay and sounded more percussive and dead than it should. Similarly the upper mids could not handle much complexity at volume, which is somewhat familiar as many classical CDs have this problem – maybe to do with the microphone being overloaded?

Copland’s arrangement of “At The River” sung by Jill Grove, San Francisco Opera in the Park [sorry about the abrupt start]. There were many others I should have recorded, which are more my cup-o-tea, but this is what we got.


The view from Hippie Hill. We *love* San Francisco! [and the air was better here than in Palo Alto. What’s up with that? There wasn’t much of a breeze at all from the Pacific either, but maybe it was just the proximity to the ocean that made the air a little more human-friendly].