This review page is supported in part by the sponsor whose ad is displayed above

"I don't know much about science but I do know what I like." Martin Amis
I was always drawing, both sides of any kind of paper I could find. Pink, yellow, green - nothing mattered to me. Though black was tough, it didn't slow me down. People, places, things, animals - anything was up for grabs. That's not really unusual for a child but I never did stop. High school saw more mark making than a polygraph at a Senate hearing.

So it only seemed natural for me to study art. I couldn't wait to get to the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Within a few months of my first term, I couldn't wait to get out. I had become more involved in other disciplines. Those informed my art making as much if not more so than art itself. After some time off taking stock and making money, I attended NYU for one day as a film major (no joke). I ended up at Bennington College in Philosophy (no joke neither). I graduated from Bennington College with a degree in Fine Arts, a painting major and a drawing minor.

Like any self-respecting would-be artist, I moved to NYC and got a job as an IT consultant for JP Morgan Chase. Well, it wasn't really called IT at the time (it was telecom) and it wasn't JP Morgan Chase but Chemical Bank. But who wants to unnecessarily date themselves?

Interests: Guitars
My grandparents had a house at the beach where we'd spend our summers. One rainy day when I was about 7, I found a plastic ukulele tucked into a closet. It was a beauty, manufactured by Emenee and endorsed by none other than Arthur Godfrey. The Flamingo came with a sixteen-page booklet and Arthur's "Uke player", a button device that connected to the neck of the uke, allowing you to make basic chords by simply pressing buttons. The booklet explained that "you won't become an expert on the instrument but you will be able to play thousands of your favorite songs." After a few weeks of pressing buttons, I took the thing off and figured out how to make the chords with my fingers (a novel idea) to play "five foot two eyes of blue" with abandon.

After a few years, my parents broke down. They bought me my first steel-string guitar, the throbbing threat of another 5'2" rendition on Ukulele patently too much to bear for anyone. I don't recall the guitar's brand, Marquis de Sade perhaps. If I stood on the strings long enough, I could almost get them to touch the neck. Kidding aside, I developed some real hand strength from that guitar and a great appreciation for good action. Today, I have a 60s reissue sunburst Japan-made Strat (mid 80s production), a Blackface Fender Princeton reverb amp, some fun effects (fuzz included) and my main squeeze these days, a small-bodied Depression Era Sterling.

Interests: Music
The first album I ever bought with my own money was Are You Experienced. I never looked back. Tommy -- whom we called Fred -- turned me on to Jimi Hendrix. That was all I needed, Jimi and headphones. A number of years later, I was the proud owner of a mid-60s white Strat which I eventually sold. If I were to compile a list of regrets, that's one of 'em. Early Dylan, the Doors and Cream followed and I never really strayed into the popular music of the 70s thru 90s.

Guitar-driven bands led to a brief exploration of fusion. Classic jazz and blues followed, working my way backwards for a while. College was mostly industrial: Zoviet France (loved the packaging), Einstürzende Neubauten, Front 242, Ministry, some Hank Williams and Patsy Cline for when I was painting. While living in NYC after college, I explored 20th century classical music nearly exclusively. A book called Notations, complied by John Cage and containing many wonderful examples of 20th century graphical notation, sparked my initial interest.

The Vienna School, Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono, Giancinto Scelsi, Elliot Carter, Morton Feldman, Alfred Schnittke followed. I basically lived on the 2nd floor of Tower Records in the Village when I wasn't rummaging through the used bookstores on 18th Street. After that, it was exploring backwards once again, through the classical racks as far as I could go. I'm still going, albeit in a bunch of directions at once.

With the Internet, I'm enjoying access to a world of possibilities. I am not a fan of downloading music especially as individual songs. I'm still rooted in the concept of the composition or the album, so downloading a single track makes about as much sense to me as reading one chapter from a book.

Live music is down to a few times a year, not counting our daughter's piano playing and trumpet practice. Whenever Tom Waits or Nick Cave are in town, I'm there. Some highlights from the past include Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble InterContemporain at Carnegie Hall; sitting front stage for Roy Buchanan performing in a bar/adult entertainment establishment and his amazing Hendrix tribute; Verdi at La Fenice in Venice (felt like I was sitting in a jewelry box); Sonic Youth a number of times (once from the curb at CBGB's so I could live to listen again); and the Kronos Quartet at Lincoln Center including their Purple Haze encore.

Interests: Film
I hate television programs. Yes, hate is a strong word but I checked with Emily Post and it's okay to hate television programs. I do like television as a vehicle to watch movies though. Any country of origin -- New German film, French New Wave, Bogart or Bogarde -- I love a good flick. Like good music, a good movie can play tricks on the psychological passage of time like nothing else.

Interests: Books
In NYC and TV-less after college, I became a voracious reader and book collector. Certain used bookshop owners dreaded my weekly visits. I'd spend hours scouring their inventory. More times than not, I'd be finding mispriced treasures: An inscribed copy of Henry Cowell's New Musical Resources; a first edition of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch; the first two editions of L'Art Brut edited by Jean Dubuffet ... it got to the point where I considered wearing a disguise. Instead, I took road trips into New England mostly as a man obsessed. The collecting has thankfully slowed as has the reading - unfortunately. Obligations, ya know? But it certainly hasn't stopped.

Interests: Audio
There's no doubt my interest in audio came from my dad. An electrical engineer by trade and solder slinger from way back when, I experienced the joy of listening to music -- ol' Blue Eyes and cool jazz mostly -- through a series of great systems. My first real plunge was my post-college rig. It consisted of the Nelson Pass-designed Threshold SA3/FET10 pre/power combo, a CAL Audio Icon CD player and Thiel CS1.5 speakers.

This lasted for about seven years until I moved. Looking back, I find that the typical progression is to move, buy speakers to suit the new room and then find the pre/amp to suit the new speakers. The next permanent installation was the Von Schweikert VR3s, Sim Audio Celeste W-4070se, Melos SHA Gold and CAL Alpha/Delta combo. Another move roughly seven years later and a very excited phone call from my father, about his new Odeon speakers, led to the Odeon 66s which I purchased from Déjà Vu Audio and more importantly, low-powered SET amps. My first foray into flea power was the Sun Audio SV-300BE. The Rega Planet 2000 handled front-end duties at the time. I lived with this setup happily until we moved again, with the horn-loaded Odeons being too shouty in my new and current digs.

My current system has morphed into the plural. I have a bunch of gear that I enjoy in a few systems setup around our house. A house filled with music is all pluses in my book. Since I've been following the single-driver, single-ended amp thread for a number of years I'll start here; I own the Auditorium 23 SoloVox; a single-driver, open baffle speaker which use a proprietary 8" driver made by PHY-HP. I also regularly enjoy the DeVore Gibbon Super 8s. A pair of Altec Valencias from 1967 and an early iteration of the Horn Shoppe Horns fill out my speaker crew. I also have a pair of Stax SR-5s for silent listening.

The Shindo Laboratory Cortese F2a is my main amp of choice. At the system nerve center sits the Shindo Monbrison full-function preamp. A prototype Auditorium
23 Nouvelle Verdier turntable (only available in Germany), Shindo Mersault RF-773 12-inch tonearm, Shindo SPU cartridge and the Auditorium 23 Hommage T1 step up transformer provide analog front end duties. A first generation Sony Playstation spins my disks and a Voice of Music tube tuner from the 60s brings in the tunes from the airwaves. All this gear sits on a custom rack I designed (with input on the main design principles from Jonathan Halpern) and had built by Anthony Abbate of Box Furniture Co. who offered some wonderful suggestions for the end and support joints. The rack sits on footers from Ligno Lab. Cabling is all Shindo interconnects and Auditorium 23 speaker cable. Power cables are stock and plug into a Wiremold outlet strip.

Jeff Day's article on the Fi monos led me to ask Don Garber if he'd be interested in building an amp optimized for the 45 tube. He said yes and I am the proud owner of the Fi 45 Prototype. Other gear in-house includes a pair of J.C. Morrison 6B4G monoblocks, the mighty mini SAC Thailand Minute single-ended EL-84 integrated amp, McIntosh MAC 1500 hybrid receiver, Sansui AU-555A integrated amp, Rega P3/Denon 103/Auditorium 23 stepup, OPPO DVD player, a bunch of spare Playstations, SilverStone Ensemble EB01 USB DAC, iPods, MacBooks, a few terabytes worth of storage/backup, Audioengine A2 speakers, Audioengine W1 wireless audio adapters and PHY-HP interconnects.

Interests: Writing about the enjoyment of listening to music on a Hi-Fi
If you spend more time on Audiogon trying to find a deal on 2
nd hand equipment than on Amazon looking for music, there's a problem. Getting off the perpetual upgrade path is a worthwhile endeavor. The more informed I became (by reading reviews by Art Dudley, Herb Reichert, Srajan, Jeff Day and Jules Coleman to name a few) and listening with my own ears, the more the wheel slowed enough so I could eventually jump off. That's not to say I'm done. It's just that the fever has subsided.

Most days I have the luxury of working from home (make a left after the barn) where I listen to music all day long surrounded by books, some guitars, some art and a sketch book I occasionally make marks in. My work involves graphic design and website development and as things go my audio interests have merged with my profession to the point where I've done work for audio companies; manufacturers, importers and dealers. To avoid any perceived conflicts I decided to skip writing formal reviews and focus on less formal topics like show reports, thought pieces and road tours.

Understanding and appreciating why people enjoy listening to music on their hi-fi sits at the beating heart of this hobby for me. The way I see, feel and hear it, the definition of a musically engaging presentation varies from person to person and is dependent on matters of personal preference. In other words, these differences are decidedly not rooted in science or an objective standard or ideal. This necessarily means the complete absence of judgmental or critical listening impressions on my part, making the Road Tours anti-reviews if you will. You could say I'm working on honing my skills relating to sharing the pure enjoyment of listening to music on a hi-fi.