If you ever get tired of the way I choose to express the strange, wonderful, and occasionally morose journeys in my Hi-fi life here at Occupyhifi - I'm sorry I can't be more straight-up and editorial-like for ya. There are plenty of solid Hi-fi magazines and websites out there full of that. I even write for a couple of em, and I love that too. But OccupyHifi was meant to be something different. Like our beloved, yet long-gone Audio360.org (MAYBE coming back - update coming ASAP) OccupyHifi was launched as a place to cut loose from any pre-conceived notions with regard to decorum, guidelines, basically the status quo when it comes to music, hi-fi, and personal audio journalism. I wanted this to be the spot where I connected with my readers on another level: Beyond the audiophile buzzwords, specifications, and flowery sonic adjectives. Sure, I do a bunch of that here too (mostly in the Sonic Satori section - based on my column that's been featured in HiFi+ Magazine and Positive Feedback) but sometimes I just need to flow. THIS is what Mic Drops is all about: Just flowin' without fear of the reaction. A place where I spit from the heart and the dome: Givin' the reader a look into what's on my mind with regard to music and audio without caring about political or grammatical correctness. This is about the rawness, the emotion, the fire that burns inside and keeps me as excited today in my forties as I was answering subscriber phone calls at 18 years of age, behind the doors of the also long-gone Pearson Publishing (previous home of The Absolute Sound, The Perfect Vision, and Films in Review).
I'm also here now to apologize for the lapse in fresh content here. As I've said on the Occupy Hifi Facebook Page: Life throws us curve balls sometimes, and we all fall. But, when it comes down to it: It's how we get up that matters right? At least that's what I hear in all those damn documentaries I watch. Life just gets in the way of the things I wanna do! I'd rather write for HiFi+ Magazine, Positive Feedback and OccupyHifi and do nothing else. You know why I can't settle for that? It just doesn't pay all the bills.
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE what I do, and the people in this community! I'm grateful for the gigs I have. It's just that the days of becoming a highly-paid (or even average-salaried) staff writer for an audio publication are just about gone, unless you've been doing it longer than I have it seems! Many of the fellow writers and manufacturers in Hi-fi that I respect so very much have literally watched me grow-up! I've known most of them since I was a teenager, and sometimes that's just mind-blowing to me. I've been thinking about all this a lot more lately than in years past. I'm sure a huge part of that is the fact that I'm also living alone for the first time as an adult. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but I met Alexandra (my ex-wife) when I was barely 21-years old, and we moved in together within a year of our first date! So obviously I've spent some time reflecting lately, even though life's been as hectic as ever. I took a full-time gig as Director of Brand Support for Questyle Audio - OccupyHifi readers know of my love for their products. That gig ended during the final day of T.H.E Show Newport last weekend. The new installment of my Behind the Booths and Back goes over the event in-detail - and will be published at Positive-Feedback.com by next week.
In the meantime I'm considering moving OccupyHifi.org to Patreon. Why? Because I'd rather be supported by my readers, fellow artists, and others that find my site than going directly to manufacturers for advertising. This way I'll try to avoid the trappings that come along with accepting money for ads, and creating the content! I think, perhaps, that while I'm in my forties, I came up under Hp and the old school world of publishing: Where editorial and advertising were kept apart from one another so the people creating the content didn't feel any pressure when they were expressing themselves. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those things being intertwined nowadays. I have friends that manage it, and they do an excellent job of keeping everything above board while creating stellar content (Mr. Darko at DAR for example, or Brian at Audiohead). After all: We should all get compensated for the hard work and dedication we put into our blogs. I've made the mistake in the past of joining the heated debate with regard to some of the supposed "conflict-of-interest" stuff when it comes to advertising and such: But the rules of engagement have changed so dramatically, I think that as long as the writer/reviewer has righteous intent, and they've figured out how to get paid for their work - who the hell am I to judge, or anyone else for that matter? So check out Patreon folks!
I wanna know WHAT YOU THINK!!!! PLEASE COMMENT BELOW AND LETS DISCUSS.
Meanwhile, there's a ton of stuff in the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab that I'll be discussing in the coming weeks - and I've been looking forward to it. From my extended time with Astell-n-Kern's amazing lil' AKjr DAP (I love this thing - it NEVER leaves my backpack) to the AR-M2 by Acoustic Research! That's right: Acoustic Research has apparently entered the DAP market, which came as a surprise to me. I've had it for awhile now, I'm sure much to their dismay - but I couldn't write about DAPs while I was working for Questyle Audio could I? That's an area with pretty clear boundaries I think. So the timing was all screwy: I got the thing weeks before the QA gig was even offered, and I've been sharing about it through my social media hubs - loving it, but I was stuck. No more! I think they maybe asking a bit too much for the thing, but I dig the AR-M2! The UI is Android-based, the screen is the largest I've messed with thus far (plus its responsiveness is spot-on)and I've been streaming TIDAL, Spotify, and Amazon Prime music through it! Their Hi-Rez player app could use some work, but it's functional. I'll go into the player in deeper detail at Positive Feedback SOON! I'll say that I can drive my MrSpeakers ETHER-Cs or Oppo PM3s with it - and both make for splendid sonic marriages. It's also got a dedicated line-out, so when you get home slap it on your equipment rack and you've got another component in your system: Voila! More on that to come...
I also got a pair of Teak E-MU headphones while we were in Georgia for Canlanta - and they've been super-sweet! I'm not sure if its because of their Bio-cellulose diaphragms, or some magic formula he's put into these cans: But their transient speed and attack is so fast its almost planar-like (I know I know, let the hater-fire rain on down). I thought they mighta' been planars when I got em. They're also light and comfy, so I can rock em all day long. I can't wait to have Drew at Moon-Audio.com do his "headphone hack" on em so I can swap out the cables! I was considering doing a sort of before-and-after piece about that: We'll see. I'm also PUMPED about the SINE from Audeze! I can't say when exactly, but lets just say I got to hear the prototype some time ago and I've been drooling for these ever since that night. SINE are the worlds first on-ear planar-magnetic headphones - and I took em on the plane to Canlanta to test their seal and fit for extended listening: Mamma I can rock Audeze on-the-go!! With the new headphone leads I got from Peter at Double Helix Cables for em - the SINE and Astell-n-Kern AKjr are a fantastic combo for peeps lookin' for high end sound where ever they roam. I'll be dedicating a column to the SINEs here at Occupy (with impressions using multiple DAPs).
Also coming up: I remember how proud I was of Dan Clark and Co. at MrSpeakers when I received my ETHER for review (their open-back planar - shout-out to the Quartermaster). They soon became my top all-around reference cans, and they remain so to this day (even though, at times, I prefer my ETHER-C: Their closed-back version). Well, Dan and his team have since updated ETHER and I'm excited to dig into that here at OccupyHifi. I'll also be traveling down to sunny San Diego to kick it with Dan & Peter, and spend some extended time with their new ETHER Electrostatic headphones! I got to hear em at Canjam SoCal and I can't wait to engage in another listening sesh with those magic cans: Especially on Clarks system! I've been talking to Dan about a column covering the trip - so that'll either be published here or at Positive Feedback (and, as many of you know - if its published here it gets featured at PF - thank to my Fam there). So there's lots of juicy personal audio to cover! I also plan on bugging Woo Audio for the updated version of the WA7 Fireflies (surprise fellas)! My beloved WA7 + WA7 tube-power-supply's always fired-up - so I wonder how the new DAC sounds! Jack and Michael gotta fill orders in the meantime, so I'll head down to The Source A/V here in Torrance and check it out! That's another topic I'm gonna be discussing here: We finally have an experienced high-end audio (and home theater) dealer here in LA who's embracing personal audio culture in a major way. I mentioned Jason Lord and his brother Steven of The Source A/V in my 1st installment of Behind the Booths and Back - CanJam SoCal 2016 over at PF. Cavalli Audio is sponsoring multiple headphone events there called the Summer Series - so look out for that coverage as well. It's awesome, having a place to meet fellow Head-Fiers and geek-out on headphone stuff. My buddy Dan and I (Stillhart - his Head-Fi handle) even checked out one of their theater systems using this live surround disc he brought along. That was dope! I've also got some sick-lookin' universal IEMs from Echobox: Their titanium Finder X1s (some readers remember Warren Chi and I were a part of the video for their crowd-funding campaign) which also stay in my backpack. I dig the simplicity of their design, and the sound of the music through em is dynamic, transparent, and engaging. Plus: They've got a great mic for cell phone calls, and come with a sweet lil' carrying case. This new enterprising company looks to make a splash with the Finder X1s and their up-coming Explorer DAP - it's the player that looks like a flask I was sharing about via my Twitter and Instagram feeds. I only got to play with a prototype - but I really enjoyed it and can't wait for a production model! C'mon Echobox, bring it on! So there's been alot goin' on since my last post here, to say the least! It's been amazing watching the personal audio space blossom. Manley Labs is also gettin' into the game! They've got a headphone amp prototype they've been showing off. I'll be buggin' EveAnna Manley for some time at the factory with it! Life's wild, thinking back just three years to my first Headphonium event at T.H.E Show Newport (Miss You Richard Beers) - how much has changed...
Speaking of personal audio: It's been, perhaps, the most challenging year of my personal and professional life. When I consider where I was, mentally and physically, at this time last year it frightens me - breaching a level of honesty perhaps bordering on stupidity. But it's not the fall as I've said (and heard a million times) it's the "get-up". While the world spins I'm fighting the good fight, as Harry Pearson used to say, and thanks to dear friends and family things are starting to settle down. Well, I thought so until last weekend! But that's for another article. For now:
STAY TUNED. The time for excuses is OVER. And: THANKS FOR ALL THE ENCOURAGING MESSAGES AND ON-GOING SUPPORT!! without you I'm not sure where I'd be - but I don't know any other way than to give it my all and wear my heart on my sleeve. Where's it all heading? Stick with me and see...