I typed these two pieces from _Audio_, the latter being more
fun, a pointed attack on some real idiots.  While normally I am
loathe to kick sick puppies, these are so destructive of a hobby
I hold dear that they may need some pummeling.  But I thought the
first piece was interesting, too.


	"Front Row" by Corey Greenberg, _Audio_, 1997 August

		The Return of Mr. Microphone

    "One of the nice things about being an _Audio_ columnist is that
I can not only strongly encourage but also grant full diplomatic
immunity to any reader of this magazine who suddenly lunges forward
and violently karate-kicks the next audiocreep who repeats that
age-old hi-fi lie about how only people who regularly attend live
music events can accurately judge the sound of audio gear.

    "I've been hearing this elitist line ever since I got into this
hobby, and it's time to put it to rest once and for all.  Because it's
just plain wrong.  If it weren't, then all the reviewers in the high
end who get up on their hind legs about how they regularly `condition'
their ears with live music would be at the top of their game, and the
fact of the matter is most of these guys are clowns.  Earnest, yes,
but a clown can be earnest, too.  He's just got to paint a frown on 
his mouth instead of a smile and carry a wilted, oversize prop daisy
in a cracked pot (at least according to some carnies I run with).

    "The fact is, simply exposing yourself to live music on a regular
basis does not enhance your listening ability one iota.  You can
attend all the live music you want and never get any closer to being
able to tell if a piece of hi-fi gear is accurate or not.  I've been
going to hear live music of all types since I was the proudest owner
of the fakest ID you ever saw, but while that love of music fueled my
entry into the hi-fi hobby, it never `conditioned' my ears to be able
to tell whether or not a component is accurately reproducing the
audio signal that's being fed to it.  All my years of steady live
music attendance didn't save me from making the same errors in
judgment that I see so many self-professed Super Audiophiles make time
and time again, labeling less accurate components superior because
they color the sound in ways that remind them of what they *think*
live music should sound like.

    "What did educate my ears and brain in a big hurry was recording
live music and then comparing the sound of the recording to my memory
of the original event.  I cannot overemphasize this point enough:
Making recordings of live music and then hearing these recordings
played back was the turning point when I started making much more
accurate judgements when listening to audio gear.

    "There's just something about being present at the original
acoustic event and then hearing a good recording of that same event
later that dramatically schools your ears for good.  It's like you
cross a threshold, and henceforth you're a much better listener.  And
this isn't just my experience:  The reviewers over the years whose
listening and judgment I've respected the most, Gordon Holt and the
late Peter Mitchell, were lifelong amateur recordists who've pointed
to that experience as being not merely beneficial but essential to any
audiophile's development as a reliable arbiter of sonic accuracy.

    "Now, making your own recordings of live music was a pretty common
thing back in the olden days of '50s and '60s hi-fi, when that good
ol' do-it-yourself spirit was in full swing.  It wasn't unusual at all
for an audiophile back then to own a good open-reel tape deck and a
pair of decent, semi-professional microphones.  And later on, many
upmarket cassette decks even came packed with a nice pair of mikes so
you could plug 'em in and start making your own recordings right away.

    "It's too bad that kind of thing went away, because making your
own recordings is some of the best fun you can have with hi-fi.  And
you don't have to rent a hall and an orchestra, either.  If you've got
a friend who plays acoustic guitar, or sings, or even belches the
alphabet, for that matter, you've got live sound to record.  Once you
take that step of making a recording and then hearing it over your
system, your perception of what is and isn't accurate when it comes to
hi-fi-gear will never be the same.  Not to mention the thrill of
hearing your own recording efforts on the hi-fi rig you've spent so
much time and money on in order to make other guys' recordings sound
so good."


(My own opinion of Bryston is high, although not as high as Corey
Greenberg's.  But he articulates the fluffery of post-modern hi-fi
reviewers so well, I have to love this article's preamble.)

    1999 June, _Audio Magazine_, Auricle, by Corey Greenberg.

          Bryston 9B-ST Five-Channel Power Amp review

    "As we wind up this millennium, we've come to a point in the
half-century history of hi-fi where most reviewers are so much dumber
than the vast majority of their readers that their opinions are
actually taken to mean the *opposite* of what they're supposed to.
So instead of reading hi-fi reviews nowadays, we mostly decode them.

    "Like it or not, we're living in the era of the `Bizarro
Review.'  The term takes its name from the Bizarro World, a
time-warp zone in the Superman comic books where everything is
bass-ackwards:  Bizarro dogs meow while Bizarro cats bark, Bizarro
rain falls upward and Roberto Benigni wins the Academy Award for Best
Actor.  `Me am so happy!' a sad-faced denizen of the Bizarro World
will pout, displaying not only the opposite meaning of many high-end
reviews these days but also their unique prose style.

    "I mean, it 's gotten to the point where I read certain reviewers
raving about a product and I know automatically that if *they* love
it, then it 's got to suck. And if they're *not* so hot on it, nine
times out of ten I'll listen to the same piece of gear and it'll be
drop-dead fantastic.  (I have to admit it 's taken some of the fun
out of truffle-pigging the good gear each month.)  The fad for
single-ended triode tube amps helped flush a lot of these guys out of
the woods for me.  Anyone dumb enough to fall for such aggressively
colored and distorted sound and then go on the record as fawning over
it as somehow being more `real' and `soulful' than the sound of a
good modern amp, whether solid-state or tube-based, is a guy who
really knows what he am talking about.

    "I bring all this up because there is no brand of hi-fi gear that
audiophile reviewers so consistently go Bizarro over than Canada's
Bryston, Ltd.  The company's amps are so utterly clean, neutral, and
ridiculously better-sounding than 90% of what passes for high-end
these days that, as with the speakers of its like-minded compatriot
Paradigm, it's no wonder the *Life* *Am* *Beautiful* crowd just
doesn't get this stuff.  Reviewers in the high-end mags almost always
seem to go out of their way to temper a Bryston amp's outstanding
measurement graphs and their reluctant admission of its excellent
overall sound with half-assed gotchas.  Such as:  `A very capable
performer with lots of muscle, but regrettably, a shade less of that
elusive see-through transparency I enjoy from my reference
single-ended triode amp that am so musical and soulful.'

    "As for me, I know that every time I've heard a Bryston amp
powering a set of speakers, I know I'm hearing those speakers at
their very best.  I've always come away incredibly impressed by how
clean and neutral these amps sound.  They take the audio signal and
amplify it, and they don't seem to do anything else to it at all.  And
that's really *all* you should ask a great amp to do.  I know some
audiophiles look for an amp to add `life' or `bloom' to the
sound, much in the way that MSG does to food, oak does to wine, and
Viagra does to overtenderized meat.  But the smart boys know better,
which is why so many pro studios, mastering houses, and film
soundtrack mixers rely on Bryston amps to get the clearest possible
picture of what they're doing with the sound you eventually get
served up at home."