Musical interests: Traditional jazz, modern jazz (Chick Corea, Steps Ahead, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Roy Hargrove, Jack DeJohnette), chamber music (Bach, Handel), orchestral (Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff), piano (Chopin), contemporary classical (Philip Glass), jazz-oriented fusion (Return to Forever, Weather Report, Jean-Luc Ponty), rock-oriented fusion (Dixie Dregs), Zappa, virtuoso guitarists (Steve Morse, Zappa, John McLaughlin, Joe Satriani, Robben Ford, Stevie Ray).
1. Realism triggers – transparency, timbral purity, dynamic contrasts
2. Realism inhibitors – bass overhang, midrange colorations, glassy treble
Built from ground up. 14.5’ wide, 21’ long, 9’ ceiling (dimensions chosen for modal distribution—see graphic). Concrete floor, drywall on stud walls and ceiling. 2x6 construction with additional bracing between studs. Three separate dedicated 20A circuits. Electrical ground separate from house ground, copper rod in dirt just outside listening room.
Room computer modeled by Norman Varney (then of Acoustic Room Systems, now of AV RoomService). Treated with Acoustic Room Systems. Panels of .125” sheetrock backed by 1.25” of fiberglass cover most of room. Absorbent side (fiberglass) faces out at first reflection points. Reflective side (sheetrock) faces out all other locations (about 10% absorbent side out). Areas behind and above listening seat are diffusive (convoluted plastic panels). Acoustic treatments then covered by cloth. Measured RT60 is 0.34 seconds from 125Hz–8kHz (see graphic). House is in semi-rural area on three acres and is very quiet; measures better than NC20.
Current reference equipment
Fan-less, drive-less PC music server with Lynx AES16 card. Berkeley Alpha DAC. dCS Puccini/U-Clock. Basis 2800 Signature turntable with Vector 4 arm and Air Tight PC-1 Supreme cartridge. Basis fully loaded with Calibrator Base and Syncho-Wave power supply. Aesthetix Rhea Signature phonostage. Pass Labs XP20 preamp. Pass Labs XA100.5 Class-A monoblock amplifiers. Classe CDP-502 CD/DVD player (AES out feeds Berkeley Alpha DAC; analog output feeds Pass preamp for DVD-A playback). MIT Oracle MA and Oracle MA-X interconnects. MIT Oracle MA loudspeaker cable. Classe SSP-800 multichannel controller. Anthem P5 five-channel power amplifier (center and four surround channels). Wilson WATCH center channel speaker. Revel Embrace surround speakers (x4). JL Audio Fathom F113 subwoofers (x2). Runing Springs Audio Dmitri AC conditioner with HZ power cord. Shunyata Hydra V-Ray V2 and Hydra-8 V2 conditioners, Shunyata Helix CX-Series AC cords throughout system. Main speakers change with review samples; last three weeks: Volent Paragon; previous three months: YG Acoustics Kipod Studio; previous 18 months: Wilson Alexandria X-2.
Video system: Sony VLP-VW50 SXRD projector, Stewart Filmscreen Grayhawk 92” wide 16x9 motorized screen, Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player, DISH Network HD dish and DVR.
Built speakers and amplifier kits as teenager. Worked in hi-fi stores during college. Degree in recording engineering. Designed, built, and ran recording studio in early 1980s. Engineered albums on national jazz charts. Taught degree program in recording engineering at college with 24-track studio; oversaw first CD project by a college music program (1986). Worked in CD mastering in late 1980s. Wrote or co-wrote three Audio Engineering Society papers (“Recording, Editing, and CD Mastering Entirely in the DAT Format,” “CD-V Signal Optimization,” “The Role of Critical Listening in Evaluating Audio Equipment Quality”). Member (junior) of a six-man team that designed and built a CD mastering machine (laser beam recorder); later wrote the machine’s operation and service manual. Wrote two chapters of the McGraw-Hill CD-ROM Handbook (1987). Technical Editor of Stereophile from 1989 to 1997. Technical Editor of Fi: The Magazine of Music and Sound from 1997-1999. Audio Technical Editor of The Perfect Vision 1999-2000. Editor-in-Chief of The Perfect Vision 2000-2006. Editor-in-Chief of The Absolute Sound September, 2001 to present. Author of The Complete Guide to High-End Audio, Home Theater for Everyone, and Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems. More than 150,000 copies sold to date in four languages.