Letters to the editor – Weeks #6 – 13, 2022

  • Kevin writes…

    I’m mostly a classical/acoustic music engineer by trade, which I would differentiate from other engineers by our skill in using large numbers of mics in an acoustic space and knowing how to keep phase and bleed issues to a minimum. But I think all engineers who excel have some focus like this in their specialty. I’m writing because, in the last year, Gramophone has interviewed two of my favorite engineers in my specialty, Simon Eadon and Hans Lauterslager, who engineered for decades at Decca and Philips respectively.

    I’m writing with a suggestion that, like you’ve done in the past with a couple mastering engineers, it would be super interesting to me, and hopefully to your readers, to know what goes into crafting more electronic focused discs, not just at the mastering level but at the conception and mix levels, in how they determine what the appropriate balances should be. In some ways, I think acoustic music is probably easier in this way, because you get what you get at the performance and everything after that is generally just patching up loose ends. For electronic music I imagine it’s very much an active part of creating the art in figuring out how to fit all the different, often pure synth and sample elements together.

    All that to say, If you’re ever feeling like that’s a direction you’d like to pursue, or if you have the opportunity to interview more mixers, artists, etc in the more electronic side of music, I’d be super interested in that, and I think a lot of readers would benefit from such a dive into how music and sound creation is conceptualized and executed. I think the more we as listeners can become aware of how the proverbial sausage is constructed, the more our purist preconceptions can be shed and we can just truly enjoy the music, as it’s been conceived, created, and delivered.

    Me: I’d love to do more of this but the pandemic has put the breaks on any one-to-one video interviews.

    Kerry writes…

    I know you are not into measurements, but you keep saying what a small room you have at 6x5m – I did the math and it is a third bigger than my living room here in NYC!!!! HAHAHAHA!!!

    Great job on the Vivid videos. I enjoyed the pair of them.

    Me: The measurements do not lie. Except if you have an L-shaped room. Or if it opens out through an arch into a kitchen or dining room. Or if the ceiling is pitched, only 1.8m high in the middle.

    Felix writes…

    Loved your videos on Plexamp and the Pi streamers! Recently in Plexamp’s 4.x release, they added the ability for remote control so you can use an existing iPad/iPhone/etc… as a multi-purpose streaming device. Do you have plans to cover the remote control feature in a future video sometime? Thanks and love your work!

    Me: I’ll cover this when Plexamp comes to the Raspberry Pi.

    Matt writes…

    This is a note of thanks. I’ve been watching your YT channel since the pandemic started, which restarted my interest in high-end audio. (In short, I parked it while flat sharing in London). Your how-to guides for RP4 and Intel NUC Roon builds have provided me access to high-end audio experiences without breaking the bank.

    I’m into separates, of the purest form I can afford. I currently have an RP4 & Roon Server (your YT videos were invaluable), a Chord Qutest and recently a Naim Supernait 3 (upgraded from a Marantz PM6007 that came as a package with some KEF LS50 Metas. Yeah I know… a big step up).

    Btw thanks for re-posting on Instagram the RP4 + touchscreen I built last week. Re. your podcast #32, the idea of seeing an album cover while I play something is what drew me to the touchscreen build. It’s great. Next, I’d like to try it with Volumio.

    Also re. podcast #32, when Michael mentioned someone suggested to him that RP4s aren’t ideal inputs for high-end. I agree with your point; They’re a great way to reveal the quality of high-end products. I’ve certainly noticed that with my Supernait amp compared to the Marantz.

    Finally, I completely agree with your general sentiment about a product’s functionality and ease of use, than simply finding what sounds ‘best’ (whatever that is these days).

    Thanks again. Big fan.

    John writes…

    I just wanted to offer a “thank you” for all of the audio equipment and music-related information I have found that you offer through various sources, including this site and of course, YouTube. I find myself coming back to you over and over again as I seem to have similar views on music and playback equipment as you do. I find your information very informative without the bullshit and snobbery so often found in many equipment and music information sites and from reviewers. I greatly appreciate your approach to the enjoyment of quality audio reproduction.

    João writes…

    I’m not sure if you are aware, because I’ve never seen you mentioning it, but there is a PC version of Volumio, which allows you to make a streamer from any old laptop most of us have laying around. Remember netbooks? They are tiny and mostly useless by now, but perfect for this application. Just burn Volumio into a USB stick, which most people already have by the dozen, and configure the laptop to boot from USB. This way you save 100 EUR on a Raspberry and help the environment by repurposing old electronics.

    There is also a plugin (YouTube Cast Receiver) that turns Volumio into a Chromecast receiver, which I have just found out about and also haven’t heard you mention it before. It feels like Squeezebox days again!

    I’ve enjoyed your vlogs around here in Portugal. I hope you’ve tried “choco frito” while in Setubal. If you need any tips, let me know. 😉

    Me: Of course, I tried Choco Frito — bloody delicious!

    Robert writes…

    I’m not sure if there is another way to comment on your podcast directly, but thought I would use this method.

    So much of the podcast was technically way over my head but I found every minute of it absolutely riveting.

    Many thanks, and thank you for all your free content.

    Best wishes from Glasgow.

    Antoine writes…

    Thank you for bringing the WiiM mini streamer to my attention. It’s the perfect addition to the powered speakers in the family room. It’s also a great march in terms of price for a $500 system where sound quality is not the first priority.

    After playing with a Raspberry Pi for a while I must say this product was much needed in this price range. It works consistently and has no problems switching between Spotify, Tidal and AirPlay which all have their use in my family.

    In contrast, Volumio was giving me trouble constantly with managing inputs. Same with Hifi Berry OS. Often a reboot was required to make it work again.

    My conclusion is that direct hardware integration of streaming protocols, which I assume may be provided by a third-party vetted by music services, is a superior approach to the homebrewed model of Pis (which uses unofficial versions of Spotify and AirPlay daemons).

    Being a software developer I would love to see official, open-source clients for streaming protocols but it looks like we’re a bit locked in into this situation (there’s nothing in it for Apple or Spotify).

    The only exception to this view is the Roon client which has worked perfectly for me with any pi OS I have tried.

    Anyways, thanks again.

    Stefano writes…

    I hope to find you well. Just watched your video about the Mojo 2. You mentioned problems with the stability of the physical connection with the Micro USB of Original Mojo. I’ve experienced those issues too and I’ve solved them with this cable:

    Dhruv writes…

    Hi John (and Jana),

    As an LRS owner myself, I really enjoyed the insight into how the speaker is designed and manufactured. There’s a lot to appreciate about the craftsmanship that goes into this little speaker. Much of what’s produced at this sub-thousand price point is designed to be produced at scale, and to be honest I had assumed the same was true about the LRS. Seeing the number of expert artisans that were involved in the process was quite eye-opening and really makes me appreciate my speakers (more than I already did)!

    I hope you continue this series with other small businesses in the audio industry!

    P.S. You wrote: “Be warned: Magnepan says that the LRS will need better-than-average amplification. That’s a departure from the anything-goes attitude that begat the MMG and MMGi. Steve Guttenburg has already fingered the US$699 Schiit Vidar as a decent-sounding and price-appropriate partner.”

    This is the real deal! When I bought my LRS, the good folks over at Magnepan asked me what I had for amplification. I mentioned my 175 WPC carver integrated, and they suggested that while the wattage might sound sufficient it may not be able to provide the current the LRS needs. I very quickly switched to a Vidar, which they’d called out as a reasonable alternative with sufficient power. Though Vidar only does 200 WPC into 4 ohms– only marginally more than that Carver– the greater current support let me fill out the midrange on the LRS.

    So to echo your warning: all watts are not created equal, and a low-current amplifier can lead to your LRS sounding hollow and empty. And another: sufficient may not be optimal. After two years on Vidar, I’m looking at upgrading to a higher power amplifier.

    David writes…

    I’ve been a beginner in hi-fi for 51 years. Only recently found you and I just have to say I get so much enjoyment and information from your podcasts/vids. I have particularly enjoyed your take on the hi-fi world with Michael Lavorgna. You guys are so listenable. I suppose it resonates with me.

    I have run a very small business for 30 years, so I appreciate the huge time you take to do your work on all your platforms. No need to reply, just wanted you to know I (and probably an army of like-minded people) appreciate it all. So, just thank you.

    Dan writes…

    Nice work, as always.

    You might be aware of Jesco from Acoustic Insider and his nice Youtube feed about room acoustics. It’s mainly targeted at the home studio community but of course, there’s a lot in it for anyone doing two-channel listening.

    It might be fun to see some collab videos from you two. I believe you’re both Berlin residents which could be handy. Basic room acoustic discussion, or practical acoustic treatment solutions, or DSP frequency correction, or some kind of studio listening vs listening for pleasure discussion.

    Just a thought.

    Me: Already interviewed Jesco on the YT channel. Top chap!

    Dan: Ah, excellent! I need to do better research.

    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.

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    Check out this new piece of Schiit called Tyr