DON'T SETTLE FOR CONVENIENCE
WHEN IT COMES TO THE SOUND OF YOUR MUSIC

I've worked for great men, pioneers of music and high end audio. I'm honored and grateful that I learned so much from them.

I write about music and hifi for The Daily Swarm, Positive-Feedback.com, and Big Black Disc (vinyl blog). I've worked my ass off building a solid readership over the years....

Here's part of the reason....

 

What is the Future of the High End, Part IV ...Outside the Box

If I see or hear about another seminar at a Hi-fi convention that’s supposedly addressing “how to attract the youth” into Hi-fi culture without involving the youth in the discussion, I’m going to puke. The answer is very simple, and one we have been addressing here at PF for quite some time. If you can’t figure out how to bring the younger demographic into the fold, then step outside this little fuckin’ niche and take a big look around! See where that demographic lives, where it congregates, shops, eats, meets their friends, goes dancing, buys records, anything that can be attributed to high fidelity. We’re living in a world where, despite how you feel about it, we’re surrounded by more music than ever before. Even our phones play music! Think about how many ring tones you hear daily, outside in the real world, where phones don’t even sound like phones anymore! Sure, there are exceptions, but most people have customized their ringer because it expresses their personality. Shit, practically every gadget in the pocket of today’s youth plays music, stores music, and creates music!

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Stein Music Harmonizers, E-Pads, Blue Diamonds, Get U Closer 2 the MUSIC

I’ve been in Hifi since I was 19.  I’ve seen & heard my fair share on snake oil salesman.  Today I met a true gentlemen (which my wife and other girlfriends says is a rarity today): Holger Stein of Stein Music in Germany.  He brought over his bag of tricks, devices that are the result of 30 years in the study of physics.  He also builds amplifiers and loudspeakers as well, which is good to know.  Many what I would call “room tweak” products are designed and made by guys who’ve never built a circuit board, let alone an amplifier.

I wish I could tell you precisely how his products achieved such astonishing sonic improvements in my system, but I wholeheartedly have no idea about the physics of the devices themselves.  All I know is what I’m going to be writing about for Positive Feedback SOON (the change is so dramatic I can’t stop listening right now).

I will say this: Steins overall approach comes in various configurations and stages to suit any system.  He brought over his Blue Diamonds (pictured below on top of my Townshed Super Tweeter which sits atop my Zu Audio Omen Defs):

He also included his E-PADS and installed them on both my MacBooks (both run Amarra and are one of my main music sources), my Locus Design DampClamp on the VPI Traveler turntable (that was mind-blowing - what it did there) and my Audeze LCD3’s!  NOW THIS MAY SEEN LIKE VOODOO SCIENCE.  I assure you it’s NOT.  I can’t tell you from a physics perspective how they work, but Holger Stein can!  He’s also not one of these transparent as fuck characters that sell high end audio merely because it’s expensive.

The devices that were the ICING ON THE SONIC INTEGRITY CAKE were his Harmonizers (pictured below, in the corner of my room, behind my Zu Audio Omen Defs).  This little boxes are battery-powered (and you can run them with the light on or off - extending battery-life).  He said the batteries typically last two years.  NICE.

They’re not cheap, but if you can afford it, and you’re not into merely squeezing the best performance out of your stereo system - but you’d rather squeeze the Hifi-ness away and make the system more MUSICAL: Look into the Stein products.

After experiencing what they did in my system (in short for now: Better dynamic punch  and velocity, timbre sounds more natural (my system didn’t sound bad before, but the difference is WILD) and the soundstage is now far beyond the confines of my room walls!  Most importantly: They drew me more deeply into the music.  It was like somebody wired my brain straight to the music!!

Play on!!!

Full review to follow in Positive Feedback

Michael Mercer

What is the Future of the High End Part IV - iFi: the New Gateway Audible Drug & Personal Audio Explosion by Michael Mercer

I can’t believe that as I sit here typing this article I’m listening to music and reacting emotionally while it streams wirelessly to my office system from my Macbook. If you told me back in 1996 that I would consider my laptop a high fidelity music source, I would have accused you of being high. But here I am. Thanks to a five hundred dollar piece: the Audioengine D2 24-bit wireless DAC, I can stream all audio from my laptop to my beloved office system (please see associated equipment on the side bar) and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. The rate at which the sonic landscape is changing around us is staggering. The progression of personal/desktop and portable music delivery is perhaps the most exciting segment of the audio industry at the moment in terms of innovation (analog playback is evolving as well, no doubt). I remember addressing a crowd, at the request of Harry Pearson, at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in 2009 regarding iPods and the proliferation of high end computer audio. I just wrote the second installment of my What is the Future of the High End series for PFO (check it outHERE) and Harry honored me by asking me to speak as the result of that article….

PLS READ MORE HERE AT POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP review! by Michael Mercer

Release Date: September 25th, 2012

The Dum Dum Girls have delivered End of Daze, another outstanding EP. I’m not sure what’s behind the concept of releasing numerous EP’s as opposed to a full album, but it’s irrelevant. End of Daze is, in my opinion, their best work to date. I’ve seen their sound described as “noise pop” in more than a few webzines and blogs. While this phrase captures their sonic fingerprint I think it also sells them short. With a ton of bands releasing, and labels signing what I would refer to as noise pop these days, few of them offer up work that stirs emotions like the Dum Dum Girls do on this record. Now, with song titles like “I Got Nothing” and “Season in Hell” you might look at this and think you’re in for some early Joy Division-like darkness. That’s not far off, given that front woman Dee Dee is mourning the loss of her mother throughout this body of work. While those shadows hover over the musical landscape in End of Daze, by way of subtle guitar distortion and distant reverberating vocals, there is also a feeling of hope and discovery…

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SONOS Studios Throws Killer Parties - and They're All About the Music

I’ve been holding the SONOS brand up as an example of what an audio company needs to do in order to have greater impact since my What is the Future of the High End essay series started in 2009. I was impressed with their brilliant marketing strategies; aiming their products at the music-buying masses by way of advertising in music mags such as FADERUnder The Radar, and Filter. They began to reach outside the already-converted. A few years later, and their products are sold in monster retailer Target as well as Magnolia Hifisatellite stores located within Best Buy. Their brand has gained incredible momentum and it’s been a sincere pleasure watching them grow. I’ve been a SONOS devotee since I reviewed their ZP90 player for Sonic Satori in The Daily Swarm.com. Naturally, when I received invitations to two parties last week at the newly constructed SONOS Studios I was eager to find out what was going on there.

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