Giving thanks

  • Darko.Audio turned nine years old in September but an overloaded work schedule refused to make space for a celebratory post. Last year, knee-deep in video scripting, this site’s eighth birthday sailed on by without a word. I must do better at marking these anniversaries.

    Last night, I went to bed thinking about all the Thanksgiving dinners taking place in the USA…and I woke up in a thankful mood. Thankful for all the staff that support this publishing machine: video people Jana Dagdagan and  Olaf von Voss; contributors Srajan Ebaen, Phil Wright and John Grandberg; web developer Rene Erdzinger. Thankful for this site’s advertisers that enable my job as a full-time audiophile.

    I’m thankful for the readers/viewers who understand that my workload stretches to 6.5 days/week, that my experiences only take in 1% of all gear coming to market and that I’m not a private audio consultant (because there just isn’t the time). Thankful for the readers/viewers whose social media comments and emails seek to advance the conversation. Thankful for the 55,000 people that subscribe to our YouTube channel who, this time last year, numbered a mere 5000!

    Special mention this year goes to those who follow Darko.Audio on Facebook. Despite my serious reservations about the platform’s ethical conduct (and the slow dissolving of my private account), our little Facebook community continues to thrive. Starting over in January 2017 following the switch over from Digital Audio Review (RIP), we now have just over 3,000 Facebook followers. That might not sound like much but look at the post engagement: it consistently outperforms similarly audiophile-focussed Facebook pages with three or four times the number of ‘Likes’. Thank you.

    Another surprise hit of the past 12 months has been the Darko.Audio podcast. In particular, the episodes co-hosted with TONEAudio’s Jeff Dorgay. I think there’s something to be said for our looser, more off-the-cuff discussion about high-end audio. To wit, I think we’re succeeding in stripping away some of the snobberies that dog the audiophile world. A big thank you to the 7,000+ listeners who tune in for each episode. And a big thank you to Jeff. Did I mention that we’re now on Spotify?

    Why Berlin? I get asked this question a lot. The musically-minded answers are a) techno and b) David Bowie.

    The move to Germany was not only fuelled by a desire to be closer to some of the world’s best hi-fi/head-fi manufacturers and audio shows but to better connect the audiophile world to the world of electronic music. Having established a strong connection with Detriot in the nineties, Berlin is now modern techno’s epicentre. Many, many musicians move here to tap into its thriving scene – but it’s not only that. Electronic music in Berlin (and Germany) is seen as a legitimate – sometimes high-brow – art form. The biggest insult thrown around town isn’t the Boomer-friendly ‘doof-doof’ but ‘business techno‘ (ask yr Grandkids).

    In the past twelve months, I have sat down with: Michael Zähl, maker of studio consoles for Conny Plank; Stefan Betke, a highly-respected mastering engineer who has worked with everyone from Depeche Mode to Richie Hawtin; the camera-shy Mark Ernestus, founder of Hard Wax records and one half of the now-defunct Basic Channel; and Andy (nd) Baumecker, Berghain’s most audiophile-minded DJ.

    David Bowie lived in (the old West’s) Schöneberg during the late 70s during which time he recorded ‘Heroes’ and Low at Hansa Studios, which back then sat right next to the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz. ‘The Big Hall by The Wall’, located on the first floor of the Meistersaal building (see header image), is no longer a recording studio but an events space for hire; one that’s only occasionally used for music recording. Tours of this space and the building’s still functioning recording studios are available via Berlin Music Tours but in October I went in through the back door with a music industry pal to stand where Bowie, Eno and Visconti once stood. I can think of no better way to cement three years in Berlin. And for that, I am thankful.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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