(Hi-fi) herder in the red barn

  • “…there’s nothin’ strange about an axe with bloodstains in the barn,
    There’s always some killin’ you got to do around the farm
    A murder in the red barn, murder in the red barn” — Tom Waits

    Maybe it’s true – or maybe I’ve misremembered it – but there’s a live recording out there of Tom Waits replying to a heckler’s holler of “Where you been, Tom?” with a “Where have you been? You still working out near the airport?”. And I recall this as Michael Lavorgna makes a return to hi-fi reviewing.

    Lavorgna and I have a lot in common. After cutting his teeth at 6moons, Lavorgna kickstarted AudioStream in 2010 — a website that would sit under Stereophile’s umbrella and would be dedicated to the then-nascent digital audio scene. AudioStream’s focus would be network streamers and DACs with the occasional detour into products that featured a DAC or a streamer as part of a broader feature set. Sound familiar? πŸ˜‰

    This American isn’t just a colleague but a close friend. He and I spend much of Munich High-End each year walking and talking, swapping notes and sharing stories, including some funnies that I’d very much love to share here but won’t because their punchlines pivot on some New Jersey-accented expletives.

    And whilst being big fans of Tom Waits, we also share the undeniably bold-but-regretable opinion that the online conversation about audio – the one that takes place across Facebook groups, forums and website comments sections – is constantly being waterboarded by a loud but persistent minority of over-sized egos all too ready to tell you in two sentences why something is sh*t and why you’re an id*ot for choosing it. The late Art Dudley more eloquently explored the phenomenon of duelling egos in his ‘Listening 196’ column for Stereophile:

    “Less harmless are those audio enthusiasts who are least secure: those whose toxic rage at a world that does not accept the authority of their opinionsβ€”a world that persists in enjoying recorded music in ways of which they do not approveβ€”accomplishes nothing other than making our hobby seem repellant.”

    Thankfully, in the real world, at hi-fi shows and product launch events, bolshy attitudes and know-it-all posturing are checked at the door. Eye contact humanises us all.

    Back to Lavorgna who remained editor-in-chief at Audiostream until March 2018 when he was ‘let go’ in the wake of AV Tech Media’s acquisition of Stereophile and its sister websites. (AudioStream would close two years later without ceremony or formal announcement). Undeterred, our red barn dweller started his own website in the Autumn of 2018: (named after a Paul Klee painting). It ran for a year before Lavorgna bowed out to lead a quieter life.

    Twelve months down the line and the quiet life is apparently over (and overrated). Lavorgna is rebooting Twittering Machines as a full-time concern. And with no day job to derail his thought processes and workflow, Lavorgna will also contribute reviews to Darko.Audio, the first of which goes live next week. Welcome, Michael. And welcome back. Where have you been?

    Further information: Twittering Machines

    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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