Author Topic: New Member Tom4  (Read 2290 times)

Offline Tom4

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New Member Tom4
« on: March 11, 2019, 12:37:29 PM »
I have been interested in and purchasing audio equipment for some 55 years now. I grew up in the heyday of AR--Acoustic Research--speakers. I vividly remember my older brother taking me at age 12 to the AR demonstration room in Manhattan's Grand Central Station where visitors could hear the same material played first through the AR 4x, then the AR 2ax, AR 5, and finally the top-of-the-line AR 3a speakers. I could fully appreciate the gains in clarity and extension of each costlier model even then. Oh, how I yearned to own those magnificent AR 3a's! But my first component system was comprised of an AR XA turntable, Shure M91E cartridge, AR 4x speakers, and a Dynaco SCA-35 integrated tube amp, the best I could afford (or at least the best my parents thought I could afford) from my meager earnings and savings at age 14.

Since then, speakers and other components have come and gone, one usually being replaced by something more expensive or at least of a very different design in a never-ending quest to narrow the gaps between reality and reproduction. Understand first that, unlike most folks these days, I still use the absolute sound of live unamplified acoustic instruments playing (usually classical) music in the hall in which they are recorded as a standard against which to judge the sound of audio equipment.

Over the years I've heard such music regularly, both as a performer in choirs and choruses and from the audience at all sorts of unamplified classical music concerts. The venues where I regularly hear such music vary from ordinary living rooms, to churches, concert halls, and opera houses.

For 12 years I also miked and mixed live PA audio and made recordings of music and speech for one of the largest churches in our area using professional sound equipment valued at more than a quarter of a million dollars. Most of the music I have been involved in miking, amplifying, and recording has been of the pipe organ, piano, instrumental ensemble, vocal ensemble, orchestral, choral, and solo varieties typical of traditional services in large churches.

Also understand that tonal balance, dynamics, and the ability to play large orchestral works at subjectively realistic levels are quite important to me. While I fully admit to the synesthetic joys of a visible auditory soundstage populated by firmly placed three-dimensional images, great imaging and soundstaging will not distract me from serious deficiencies in tonal balance, dynamic contrasts, and dynamic range.

When judged against this standard, to my ears, most serious modern (as opposed to vintage) audiophile speakers, even with most recordings having audiophile aspirations, sound tonally more than a bit thin (meaning lacking tonal weight from the bass through lower midrange) and more than a bit bright (meaning exaggerated upper mids through lower highs), and often these days too "airy," meaning an over-emphasis in the top octave. Most such speakers are also totally unable to compass the dynamics of live music at any frequency, much less with the effortlessness of the real thing. And especially in the bass, most such speakers just don’t move enough air to at all resemble the sense of tremendous power and scale one hears from organ, bass drum, tympani, lower strings, and the lower brass in a hall.

My first published work writing about things audio was a long letter I wrote the The Absolute Sound back in 1992. It was published in issue 77, the one with the rock canyon on the cover. In it, I talked about how a "Rosetta Stone" recording might be made to help audio equipment reviewers know when a reproduction system was getting close to accurately reproducing its input.

In the late 1990s, when the Internet started to take off as a place where consumers could voice opinions, I started writing reviews of equipment I owned at Audio Review. My Audio Review comments about the Legacy Audio Whisper loudspeakers caught the eye of Clement Perry, publisher of The Stereo Times. I then did a review of the Whispers for that on-line publication.

Around 2002 I became a regular contributor to the original (not the current) Harbeth Users Group (the posts of which are no longer on line). It was there I first learned about Harbeth loudspeakers, which have been among my favorite references ever since. Robert E. Greene, REG of The Absolute Sound, was also a frequent contributor there and wrote the first published reviews of Harbeth loudspeakers. Comments by Greene and others on this group led me to first audition Harbeth speakers and then buy a pair of Monitor 40s in the early 2000s.

Thereafter, in 2005, Robert E. Greene started his own Yahoo group forum at I have been a frequent (some might say too frequent) contributor there from the start. I have enormous respect for REG. Yes, by his own admission, he can be curmudgeonly--so strongly opinionated in a direction contrary to the current audio tides--as to turn some people off. But, on things audio, it seems to me that he is most often correct, or at least has very well-thought-through reasons for the strong opinions he holds.

Condensations of many of my own posts from the original Harbeth Users Group, as well as many of my comments from the first few years of REG's Audio Forum, now can be found online in the Tom's Corner section of What's Best Forum at I've been publishing my audio thoughts there off and on since 2010.  The more recent posts there detail my ever-evolving audio system.

Offline S Clark

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Re: New Member Tom4
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 01:19:28 PM »
Welcome Tom.  You have some interesting reading on the What's Best Forum.  I'm looking forward to your contribution here as well. 

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Offline Triode Pete

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Re: New Member Tom4
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 04:03:47 PM »
Welcome, Tom!

WT Reference/Lyra Titan i
Vinnie Rossi Signature L2 Preamp, w/ DAC & phono stage
Innuos Statement Server
BorderPatrol P20 EXD w/EXS PS
Klipschorns - Volti hot-rodded
TWL Loom!

Offline tmazz

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Re: New Member Tom4
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 07:29:34 PM »
I'll have to check out your archives.

Glad to have you aboard.  :thumb:
Remember, it's all about the music........

• Nola Boxers
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• ARC SP-9
• VPI HW-19 Mk IV/SDS/SME IV/Soundsmith Carmen Mk II ES
• Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC/Rasp Pi Roon Endpoint
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Offline Nick B

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Re: New Member Tom4
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2019, 09:29:29 PM »
Very nice introduction, Tom with quite an interesting history. Haven’t been over to the What’s Best Forum in ages, but it’s always interesting and enjoyable.
Welcome aboard!
Nick B
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