Seriously: Still denying the "paradigm shift" in consumer culture? Forget that I used the damn terminology. Forget that I have some sort of twisted-back-door stake in being right about this shit. I'm merely an observer, and I actually put effort into spreading the gospel of great-sounding music, not merely by flappin' my lips and punchin' these keys - and yeah, like some of my young brothers, I'm a lip-flapper - but I back it up with action...
Sure, the picture above isn't the clearest, it's been messed with, and forget about that for a second too: That's Jade, my nephew. He's fourteen-years old. When he expressed interest in better-quality headphones to my sister and brother he originally asked for a pairs of Beats. Now, even the most-dedicated Head-Fiers can thumb our noses at that (and MANY of us wouldn't do so) but Beats had/has the marketing dollars. Just like Bose. We can also hate on Bose, but their shit is everywhere. Now, back to Jade: One of the coolest things about Jade is that he's not attached to any one brand, and whether you believe it or not, he's not the exception amongst other young people I've met and played my headphone systems for. He came up imbibing his music, his gaming, his portal to the world, via headphones. Now, again, we can poo-poo that all day long, but it's truth - and it's also true for millions of young future-end users out there. So, what are you doing about it? Me? I put all that I have into this music and sound game. I try to reach people through my writing, and whenever possible, in-person as well. About a year ago I started a column in a similar way, and a few fellow audio journalists (all of em' a bit older than me) told me that, basically, it wasn't their job to also be an "evangelist". They were right. My intent in describing my dedication and desire to turn people onto better sounding music came from a pure place of expression. I know I'm a maniac. I'm a manic-crazed-music-addict. I don't give a shit. I'm proud of it, and I'm honored to do all of this for a living!
Things could be worse. But lately I've felt like I had to take a second, and a third, even a fourth look at some of the articles I've written of late - because some editorial responses that manifested as the result of those articles: Frankly, I found some responses mind-blowing in their misinterpretation of my words, but more importantly, my honest intent - hell they're my words! Or, perhaps, it's more accurate to say I was blown-away that they could think, even for a second, that I was somehow willingly signing my own death warrant! What I mean is: Some peers took my last Occupy HiFi piece at The High Fidelity Report personally. Like I was firing-off at certain people in our industry. If they actually read what I wrote with their hearts AND their minds they'd see I praised people like John Atkinson (whom, and I love this about John - his magnificent humility - realized after we explained some things that I was giving him high praise) and Larry Archibald. Sure, some can say it was immature language. And? Do I give a F___? NO. The point was to stir things up a bit...
I believe, partially due to the urban vernacular I used in that Occupy column (it's where I was mentally at the time - and as one of my mentors and dear friends Dr. David Willson Robinson said to me: "Write from whatever language is flowing through you at that time") some peeps completely misread the intent from the gate it seems. I didn't claim that banner ads were dead because I wanted it to be true, and I never offered ANY absolutes either. It's ALL my opinion, based on observation and experience. Yes, THFR (The High Fidelity Report - which belongs to Joseph Weiss, Chris Sommovigo, and myself) has ads on the site. That was another reason, I believe, for some of the venomous commentary that ensued following the article on my Facebook page (where I shared the piece - on my Timeline). There I was, sayin' things like that way of advertising is a thing of the past, and the site that hosted my words was made of the same ol' structure I claimed was in-collapse! Uh huh. Again: Don't give a F___!
I didn't have a completely independent spot then like I do here at OccupyHifi.org. To be brutally honest: I HAD to write that essay and publish it at THFR because it was the only site, at the time, where I could just spit, finish the piece, and hit "publish"! Meaning the other sites I write for - I submit my articles to my editors (who are terrific - and wholeheartedly supportive) but there woulda' been a delay in the articles publication! I wanted it out in the ether FAST. Now, I was lucky enough to catch Joseph Weiss (my dear friend and amazing editor at THFR) early-morning, and he gave it a quick once-over, but he said go for it! So I unleashed it quickly, because I felt so strongly about the message - which was, at its very core: We ALL need to not only recognize the changes in the way our readers/hobbyists/audiophiles/end-users interact with our reviews and editorials - but we need to find a way to be guides for them, and do it without those imaginary pedestals we used to be comfortable sitting upon when the distance between us critics and the audience was far greater. It's time to recognize that we're all alike. We're also aligned, in our passion for great sound and great music! That's not something to get pissy about - I don't think. But forget all that BS. Bottom line:
The reason I have to throw it back to Jade (my fourteen-year old nephew) is that all the words I just wrote above are bullshit! And I'm admitting that to myself as well as to you, in this very moment. I don't mean to say I was lying or being dishonest when I expressed myself above. I mean I'm just realizing all of that represents short-term thinking, rather than long-term. Here it is, spontaneous prose straight from the heart: Turning kids like Jade onto greater fidelity, through their music, however delivered, or their gaming system, is at the very heart of what we do, and, I believe, an essential part of our collective mission: Showing people how their music delivered with greater fidelity heightens the musical experience, and therefore can enrich their lives!
When I'm experiencing my music like I am now - through this lil system:
TIDAL streaming as source
ALO International+ OPT Edition battery/USB-bus-powered headphone amp/DAC
Audeze EL-8 closed-back planar headphones
Double Helix Cables w/ Zinc connectors for EL-8s
And I'm flowin' - it reminds me why I'm so driven to turn people onto better sounding music: Because music is a lot of things, but what strikes me about it more than anything else is its capacity for healing. I realize that's also very vague, but I'm talkin' about musics ability to do, as one of my favorite quotes said lately from Spirit Science:
Music just has this power to, as I've said time and time again, transport me elsewhere. It's a cliche, and a terrible one at that, but music, when delivered in a way that fuckin' enraptures me, is as good (no, I won't say better than...) any drug. And when I see Jade and his pops (Jay - a bass guitarist) experience something wholly new sonically, like trying the new SubPac S2 Tactile Bass System strapped to Jades chair today, in his system with his sources, and they both love it - their eyes light up and they get lost init' immediately - I know that this new audio frontier: Personal audio, has, quite possibly, the best overall possibility for impact on the masses than anything previous in high fidelity.
Millions of these kids, and even many people Jays age and mine (the big 40 now) have experienced the majority of their music through headphones. Lets stop wasting time with masturbatory debates about loudspeakers vs. headphones - like analog vs. digital, it's a waste of time and mental energy. I love in-room Hi-fi, and it isn't going anywhere for awhile, but it also isn't landing in the majority of families homes anymore! My generation may have been the last with parents that owned big hi-fi systems. Now parents have a SONOS system, and it gives them all the features they need. But when you're Jades age, well, you're not kickin' it w/ your parents no matter what kind of hi-fi system they got! With the digitized virtual world becoming such an immersive experience, so many of us, and these kids, are glued to our web portals all the damn time! And Now, because we can blast our cans and not disturb our parents - and apartment dwellers don't drive our neighbors nuts, more advantages to headphone culture are being embraced all the time. Plus: Like I said above, there's plenty of room for great ol' skool hi-fi, but some of us got a mission with this new frontier.
It's an exciting time to be a music and sound freak. Lets keep sharing these experiences. I've been pleasantly surprised at how receptive young people are to better-quality sound demos. One of my first glimpses of that was when I asked Jade if he trusted me enough to pick headphones that I felt would suit him (I got him a pair of V-MODA M100s) as opposed to the Beats - and he was totally open to it. Now, he loves his V-MODAs, and he also got a gaming mic from them! I didn't even know they made mics for gaming. But the more people we turn on, the better, for ALL of us....
More thoughts on this SOON -
Gotta finish this article on my current favorite portable systems for EnjoyTheMusic.com ASAP:
Part II of Mercers Winning Combo (originally written for Part-Time Audiophile) being featured there this week.