Baby Boomer Box-Set Bonanza

SoundStage! UKAfter hi-fi became populist in the 1960s, thanks to Japanese imports bringing down the prices of hi-fi separates, an unfortunate “disconnect” manifested itself. It was the creation of a chasm between the two elements of music playback that should never have exhibited anything other than total cooperation. I am referring to the massive gap between the major music labels and the high-end audio community, the latter consisting of both audiophiles and manufacturers.

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Days of Future Past

SoundStage! UKDespite the best efforts of certain brands, and in the waning years of our beloved hobby/passion/industry, high-end audio remains one of precious few fields with zero respect for its history. There are museums for peanut butter, rubber bands, sex toys, and shoes, alongside the obvious motorcar, aviation, watch, and other museums. Hi-fi’s lack of regard for its own achievements isn’t simply a disappointment; it’s a worry.

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Speaking of Sad Bastards

SoundStage! UKUnless one is an active member of an audiophile club, like the Boston Audio Society or a similar group, it’s easy to feel detached from anything approaching a “high-end culture.” Unless one works in the audio industry, whether manufacturer or retailer, regular contact with fellow hi-fi enthusiasts might be limited at best. Isolation is fine for components -- not so much for anything else.

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A Short History of the High End

SoundStage! UKEvery year at the Oscars, there’s a film tribute for the motion picture industry notables who passed away in the previous year. Inevitably, they leave out one or two, probably through human error, but I suspect because of politics, too; one can only imagine if they’ll include Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and the like, once they shuffle off to whatever level of Dante’s Inferno awaits them.

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Munich's Mini-Tapefest

SoundStage! UKMuch as I love saying “I told you so!” I will resist crowing about what transpired at the recent Munich High End show. It was only a mini-tapefest, not a veritable flood, but I saw enough reel-to-reel machines and pre-recorded tapes to be able to argue that the format -- if not back so strongly that Maxell, BASF, TDK, et al., are reopening their factories for it -- is enjoying enough of a renaissance to create a dependable cult.

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Franco-phile

SoundStage! UKAs one grows older and witnesses the passing of one’s mentors, there’s a sense of deprivation not a million miles removed from the loss of a parent. No mentor, however influential, can provide the same impact as those who brought you up from birth to adulthood, but the specificity of a mentor’s guidance in his or her area of expertise can attain similar importance to, say, your mother teaching you how to roast a chicken, or your father showing you how to get that dimple in your necktie.

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Long Live FM

SoundStage! UKAs I am long-domiciled in Europe, a geopolitical area almost as bizarrely snowflake-y as Canada (your PM is such a deluded putz), I am never surprised by idiotic decisions. As has always been the case, whenever governments get involved with consumer technology, they usually screw it up.

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Soul-Restoring Vintage Hi-Fi at the Audiojumble

SoundStage! UKAnother February, another Tonbridge Audiojumble . . . but this time it was an eye-opener. According to the founder and father of the current organisers, John Howes, it’s the best attended yet, and none would dispute it. But why, all of a sudden, is the world’s finest hi-fi flea market enjoying a new audience? I kid you not: there were plenty of people in attendance who 1) weren’t over 40, and 2) didn’t have prostates or beards.

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CES 2018 -- I Told You So

SoundStage! UKIt is with no joy that I exploit the opportunity to use those dreaded words “I told you so.” As I feared last month, CES 2018 was as grim, as dire, as soul-destroying, as joy-robbing an event as any I have attended that wasn’t a funeral, a prostate exam, or a dinner in a loud restaurant. What’s so utterly depressing about it is my sympathy for the 50 or so high-end stalwarts who did appear.

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The Death of CES -- a Mercy Killing

SoundStage! UKIt’s that time of year -- as recent history demonstrates -- when high-end audio visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show feel a sense of doom, of foreboding that “It Will Suck Again.” Unlike this organ’s esteemed editors, who will not waste the time nor money for the Vegas trip, which Doug Schneider described as “too dick-all of a show” to be worth attending, I have contradicted myself by visiting it once more.

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