Movements are too big for ANY one website, online publication, forum, show/convention, person, or group. A movement is about the power of the many (or the few) that make up that community: The people whose ideas and passions are so aligned their power is gained together, organically over-time. There's serious power in a tribe of people united by passion for something they all share. Whether it's great-sounding music on in-room hi-fi gear or headphones, model fuckin' airplanes or slot cars. When there's a large pack of impassioned people, and there's a common denominator for all of them despite their individualistic characteristics - you've got the power to actually invoke Change.
Especially when the common-thread is the power of great-sounding music. Music has been an instrument for change longer than my shoe gazey stoner-scholastic brain can tell ya: It long fuckin' time how's that? Many call it the worlds only universal language. Well, high quality or not, listening to music has never been so interwoven into the fabric of our daily routines as it is now. Yeah yeah, I know: Rumblings of "Mercers broken record", again! But this damn pendulum keeps swingin' towards headphone culture as the audible gate-way drug (one of my earlier columns covering this) for high-fidelity! I realized something else while speaking with my buddy Josh last night: Many of us consistently engaged in the hi-fi arts, whether via the website we pack with content, the community we live amongst, a forum site we patronize, or even simply as a hobbyist, fellow music addict, sound-seeker: blah blah blah: Many of us are missing the big picture. Yeah yeah, broken-record and all that. Whatevs... We're missing it IF we want high end headphone culture (a.k.a personal audio) or high end audio (in-room stereo) to reach more people. Look: I know I've said these things before - but for any new readers finding these words: We're not reaching what my friend Vince called "mass consumer culture". Now, neither Vince nor Josh are experts on consumer electronics. Josh worked at Magnolia Hifi, but he's not nearly as enmeshed as me or any of my peers in our industry built around our collective passion for great sounding music. So, you may say they're not "credible sources" as the impetus for this blog, but fuck it. They inspired me to cop to this and I'm doing so:
Hey, it's great that Neil Young was out there bangin' the drum for high res audio via Pono. WTF happened to all that hype? Is that a Toblerone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Seriously, any exposure for higher-quality sound is a positive thing. Frankly, I don't care what he said about "redbook CD being high resolution or full resolution"; on Letterman or anywhere else. Is that statement correct? No. Those of us who've dedicated our lives to the pursuit of great-sounding music through high-fidelity already know that. However, and I'm admittedly takin' a leap here: If that message gets more people thinking about resolution, when it comes to the SOUND of their music, and not just the PICTURE on their 1080p flatscreen (I probably already sound dated in the video world) it's a good thing, period. However, IMHO: We gotta figure out how to arm people like him, and the other artists attached to his cause with the correct intel first. He's an artist, and a great one, so he needs to be focused on that. How do we educate great artists like Young about our communal passion for high-fidelity? I'll tell ya one thing: It ain't by bitchin' about what he's NOT sayin'! We've got other legendary artists and producers already engaged in high fidelity - whether that be via headphones or loudspeakers, DSD or PCM - and they could be BANGIN' the drum too. Stevie Wonder's rockin' Audezes (you're welcome - on behalf of my cousin K Gould) and was, at least through the grapevine, doin' things with DSD that only he can do. Grammy-Award winning producer/engineer Frank Filipetti also uses Audeze LCD-Xs in his studio sessions (again - welcome! - there's NOTHIN' wrong with evangelizing for something you believe in: Whether you're an end-user or critic), Erick Labson as well. These men, these brilliant musical minds, they know more than we give them credit for. I know Franks been recording at 24-bit (and various higher bit-rates) since we worked on projects together with Arif Mardin when I was at Atlantic Records years ago.
So lets GET TOGETHER ON THIS! Dr. David Robinson, one of the leaders of the Positive-Feedback.com tribe, is leading an amazing high-end audio community-based charge with DSD and double DSD. So check out any article he's written on the subject lately. Mr. John Darko of DAR has a terrific handle on the music, digital, and, thankfully: (no more Digital Music Review) Analog domains. My former editor-in-chief and friend Scot Hull at Part-Time Audiophile does as well - not to mention my other boy Brian Hunter at Audiohead. Now, those are just a couple of friends in this game that have been spreading the gospel of high-quality sound for years now. Some of us can also discuss higher resolution audio with music that doesn't make us sound like we're DEAD. There are FAR more - and I'm not excluding anybody - these fellas just came to mind first because I know them, and their aim is true; as Elvis said. So I propose an idea, and as far-fetched as it may sound: How about we form our own sort-of consortium? Like the old governing body of the DVD standards (unfortunately I forget their name) - we could get together, whether physically or via Google Hang-Outs (tip-of-the-cap to Brian Hunter, as we discussed Google Hang-Outs a long time ago), Skype, who gives a shit as long as we can get it online, and the discussions be enjoyable! We published our online IM Chats at Audio360 as live Round-Tables and the readers enjoyed all of em. It's cool, watching and listening to multiple personalities with differing perspectives, opinions, and sometimes straight-up different ideals on particular topics. When it comes to hi-fi, we've got more avenues to discovering, playing back, purchasing, streaming, and anything-ing else you can think of with regard to music consumption TODAY. We've just got more posssiblities than ever before, so the time for perhaps more of a tribal messaging campaign might be in order. Just flowin'. Don't hate on me cuz I wanna do something about all this shitty sound filling Los Angeles! What's the downside? We continue to preach to the already-converted + maybe pick up a few new high-fidelity zealots-in-training? Let's try somethin' new, from presentation through delivery. That was our ONE EDITORIAL RULE at Audio360: We didn't do anything like it had been done before. Pretty damn simplistic and lovely.
But we could brainstorm TOGETHER about products, new formats, getting our message heard, anything. Why am I thinkin' this way again? Time for us to transfer our words onto action, and that includes yours truly. Head-Fi.org has proven how powerful a large community can be when the members share a distinct passion for great sounding music, and the gear that reproduces it. It doesn't matter if Head-Fiers are headphone enthusiasts. That irrelevant. What matters is that the community is so dedicated, so loyal and so driven, that some small personal audio companies can maintain their businesses by merely catering to the Head-Fi online community alone! That's a model that's working for some of them, and I think it's safe to say many of us would agree on that. So, I'm not saying we need another message board - we've got plenty of those. SBAF, for example: Super Best Audio Friends: Offers another outlook when it comes to headphone culture. Lets call it more objectivist-driven, and I love the damn forum! I know that sounds crazy, but hey, the Grand Puba of the headphone hobby's there - Mr. Tyll Hertsens in Innerfidelity (and Founder of Headroom - the manufacturer of my very-first battery-powered headphone amp/USB DAC - the Headroom Total Bithead). Tyll and I couldn't be more different when we're diggin' into reviewing cans and personal audio gear. He's like the Harry Pearson of personal audio: But also the anti-Hp! He's got all dat' test equipment and lab stuff Harry didn't let into the pages of The Absolute Sound. But Tyll and I both love headphones and good tunes, and I've been honored to build a friendship with that guy. He's a good egg - and I'm pumped I got to know him better this year. I look forward to some fun times in Montana Ty! I gotta connect with him about perhaps bringin' T.H.E Headphonium (my headphone show at T.H.E Show Newport for three years)to the LA Audio Show. I think it's time for something fresh, that includes some of us working together in other ways in order to reach back outside the bubble world that is high end audio: Both personal audio and in-room two-channel!
It comes back to my boy Josh: He loves music, and, as I mentioned above, even spent time working at Magnolia hi-fi - but just like my boy Vince (who, despite not wanting the tag "audio nerd" placed upon his good name - he has been fully bitten by the personal audio bug) and other receptive friends: None of them ever heard of any of the audio brands many of us covet before they met me! Whether we're talkin' Astell&Kern (who's DAP ALWAYS comes with me out-the-door), Questyle Audio, or even Audeze: Who's on-ear planar magnetic SINE headphones and CIPHER Lighting Cable in-line USB DAC/headphone amp/DSP are sittin' lookin' pretty in the Apple Store - my friends who aren't audiophiles have never heard of any of this amazing shit. Wouldn't it be FUN to change that, or, at the very least, make enough of an impact that we all earn some scratch and spread great sound to the masses? I'm down for that. Bring it!