**** FROM THE DESK OF THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****Tues. Oct4th- So we back to BIZNEZZ!!
1st Order of The Day: We averted catastrophe! No need to get into the mess that MIGHT've been! We put correction to the bullshit. Mercer will be at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest as-planned!
----I'm in the process of doing this update, which includes some pretty insane shit, regarding RMAF, the bizness, all sorts of stuff--- SO CHECK OUT THE REST BELOW & COME BACK PLEASE!! YOU DON'T WANNA MISS THIS - ITS 11AM PACIFIC - BBS -
Let's get back to my Crazy Hi-fi Life:
**** FROM THE DESK OF THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****Sat. 10.01.16: Well OccupyHifi Army: I gave it my very best yesterday, after a LONG day doin' social media (updates, and mostly maintenance) for RMAF and bunch of other busy-work too. I passed-out on my MacBook Pro last night for the first time since, well, last week? LMAO. No, the last time I actually fell asleep on my laptop, before closing it. See - usually when I get the nods I close the MacBook right away cuz I know I'm about to work myself to sleep! The last time I can remember fallin' out onto the freakin' keyboard was actually Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014! I remember waking up in the wrong bed after a long night of DJing at the CanJam Beer Social - then kickin' it in our hotel room afterwards. That's when me and Alex Rosson (my roomate for the event and dear friend) met Headphone Princess (a.k.a Harmony Hicks)! Headphone Princess is vital to OccupyHifi.org. She keeps the kids in-line. Well, when she can! YOU are also VITAL: my READERS & SUPPORTERS! YOU are why I'll write til' I drop if have to. So: Speakin' - I got a few hours R.E.M sleep last night, which is a good thing: Because I mighta' gone on for another ten or twelve paragraphs here! But no need. Time to flow... Let's get back to my Crazy Hi-fi Life: ****THIS CONCLUDES OUR BROADCAST FROM THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****
**** FROM THE DESK OF THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****Thurs. Sept. 29th (NOT when this blog post was initially shared): Unlike my friend Scot Hull: a fellow audio scribe, web journal owner, and some kinda Priest. Can a Unitarian be a Priest, and do the Priests answer to Unitarian Unicorns? Holy shit, that was silly and stupid - so who's on first? - (This is ALL JUST a Quick Distraction for those of you confused by my web-banter - sorry, I'll cease - this is far too serious a matter to be playin' around). Scot's a better man than most that I know, including me most likely. He also earns his living through means other than his website. That, alone means he's smarter and more responsible than me. He's also been telling me to shut-up and monetize already. That's also great advise. I'm not sure why I'm such a dumb-ass. But the cool truth is: I am no Part-Time Audiophile (Scot's site - which I used to write for, is actually really damn good). I'm a full-time music addict and sound-seeker; and I live (yeah, not too well morally perhaps) working in the hi-fi, music and tech industries as a freelance journalist, social media strategist, and brand culture consultant. Sounds fun doesn't it. It can be amazing. On the days it's not - I just want a "do-over". But this ain't no video game. Oh, my utmost apologies for the dated terminology. Let's get back to my Crazy Hi-fi Life: ****THIS CONCLUDES OUR BROADCAST FROM THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****
CEntrance DACportable - $349.99
The DACportable could be Michael Goodman's greatest sonic achievement to-date. I'm already a huge fan of Goodman's design and engineering chops (so much so, I went to work for him - by the time he approached me at RMAF years ago, I was already making a marketing plan in my head. We did some amazing things together. If this still holds true I'm not sure, but at one point his original DACport had the lowest jitter measurement John Atkinson ever recorded at Stereophile Magazine. Not bad for a $400 item! Well, DACportable takes things to a wholly new level: Sonically, ascetically, functionality, and almost ever other "ality" you can possibly imagine! Think battery-powered DACport , take all those rhythmic attributes, that CEntrance "house sound" (shit, can't stand that term, but what can I say: I've been infected) which many personal audio enthusiasts consider CEntrance a more "nuetral-sounding" brand: But they're also known for resolution. Take all that, pepper-in Bass and Treble switches, gain adjustment, and the freedom to take that little powerhouse anywhere anytime - and you've got the recipe for a fantastic product in the battery-powered/portable headphone amp/DAC space. As a matter of fact: I think with the right positioning in the market via the various media outlets, and making the right moves in order to galvanize the original DACport tribe (seeing how many would check out DACportable and evangelize) CEntrance could turn this into their new DACMini: The $800 headphone amp/DAC that put them on the personal audio map (and on the cover of Stereophile, and something that affordable didn't get on there too often - at least back then). Why do I think all this? Because frankly, since I got the damn thing I've been glued to it! The sound is astonishingly dynamic and weighty considering the small-scale of the uni itself and it can drive the sorta' cans that I pulled out for laughs, never expecting to end up in all-night listening sessions with em! It's a beast, and Goodman got me again. This time it's much cheaper however (just-kidding conflict-of-interest police, remember: I said I went to work for CEntrance because I loved their stuff when I wrote it for the highly-missed The Daily Swarm). In case you didn't know: Goodman's a jazz bassist. He also used to run production at Sennheiser! So he knows what a musician needs, and he sort'a knows what an audiophile wants. This, unfortunately, forced him to, in the past, lets call it design-by-committee, which you can't do. This came true with his revolutionary HiFi-M8! If Goodman and co. had stuck to their guns, and built the HiFi-M8 (a component I still rock today) following their vision, as opposed to asking Head-Fiers what features they'd like to have (resulting in like 8 different versions of the thing: Uggghhh) he would've been the VERY-FIRST to-market with a battery-powered full headphone amp and DAC for iDevices and Android! But, alas, he was beaten as it took forever to make all those damn versions! However, DACportable represents the reason I love CEntrance: It works magnificently, it looks and feels good, and the damn thing sounds like MUSIC! Shit, it's so good it turns my iPhone6 runnin' TIDAL into a high-fidelity source! I don't care what anybody says: I could live with this little gem alone if-needed! As its micro-USB input-driven (wink wink, for all of you surprised by Apple's latest headphone jack announcement). So I can use my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro with it... Good enough for me! Now, just drop a tiny phonostage in there Mr. Goodman (think Ray Samuels Nighthawk) and I'll have the PERFECT audio companion. Eh, maybe in the next one??
Now the fun part: The sound...
The DACportable is one of those rare products that not only celebrates its original version, but vastly improves upon it. The component demonstrates the companies technological capabilities TODAY: Not what they used to be known for. Goodman and Co. have managed to find a winning formula for consistently cool, forward-thinking personal audio products. Admittedly (this is precisely why I accepted the job of Director of Marketing for them years ago) they've been experiencing a bit of an identity crisis over the last couple a' years, while, ironically, the personal audio industry and community have seen rapid growth during that time. Michael Goodman must've known this (doubt it, he comes outta his lab less than I do - Only to goto some far-away land looking for parts, ideas, and, well, I could say but I'd have to...) as the DACportable (you don't wanna know what the name was gonna be) represents, sonically and aesthetically, a new direction for CEntrance.
Why new? That's pretty straight-forward for those of us familiar with CEntrance products. Goodman has become known for designing playback gear that leans towards neutral. I prefer to call it "flat." Not flat as in lifeless or unexciting, but flat as in flat-frequency response. Because Michael is a bassist and a recording engineer, he'd like his gear to be as "truthful to the music as possible." Whether or not anyone can actually achieve that is up for debate FOREVER. Who give a shit right? Except: that I don't usually enjoy equipment voiced that way. I, admittedly, like things with a little more soul. Whether that means the gear's "warm" or more "textural" - basically: I don't like hi-fi gear that sounds like great hi-fi gear! Some philes do, and many of them because they haven't heard much live music, and probably never been in a studio. I'll never forget something Producer Arif Mardin told me when we were discussing audiophiles and hi-fi magazines. He'd been interviewed by my first mentor, Harry Pearson, Founder of The Absolute Sound, earlier that day at Right Track Recording Studios because of Dusty Springfields death. Harry loved Dusty in Memphis (also, as an aside, it's also one of my mothers favorite records). Watching them go back-n-forth was pretty sweet - two masters of their crafts, exchanging laughs. After Harry left Arif and I started talking about the love of sound and the audiophile community - and the industry built around it. He said to me: "Music is meant to be enjoyed Michael, if you wish to dissect it, OK." "But we do not have time capture devices here." And he laughed. He went on to say "Once the sound of an instrument enters a microphone the sound is altered forever." "As long as you enjoy your music system, it shouldn't matter what other people think about it." I know, it's not profound or anything, but hearing that from the man that not only co-produced, but wrote the string arrangements for Dusty's "Son of a Preacher Man", and gave the world Bette Midlers "Wind Beneath My Wings" and Phil Collins "Against All Odds" (Produced em both) - hearing that, all I can say is this sort-of competitive edge I had on me, with regard to my reference system, in the days and weeks following that talk, I really began to enjoy MUSIC again! I wasn't pickin' it apart. I was letting it wash over me more easily. It ended up being pretty significant in my audio career.
Now, I'm not saying I started settling for shitty sound. No. I wanted resolution, I wanted dimensionality - air and space between the notes and the players. I wanted that imaging to take me there. But I also wanted something else. Something almost intangible. I no longer enjoyed systems that I considered "too polite" or, "too perfect". Grammy-Award Winning Producer Frank Filipetti told me "the magic of music sometimes lies in the imperfection". And I think he's right. Why does all this crap matter when we're talkin' about the CEntrance DACportable battery-powered headphone amp/DAC for iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android and computers? Because this is the first CEntrance product, and I've enjoyed them ALL, especially HiFi-M8 before this, that I actually love. and I mean I'm addicted to this damn thing! This is going too far I'm sure: But my buddy laughed at me this week because I was bringin' the DACportable & Meze 11Neo universal IEMs into the bathroom. I wanted my music with me! OK - TMI?
Well: The bottom line is that the DACportable gives me that Goodman-clarity that I've become accustomed to with CEntrance products, but I also sense a bit more oomph. Or, as Hp used to say: Gestalt. There's an extra kick to the kicks, more air movin' when that peddle smacks against the drum-skin. Do I mean the components output is EQ'd slightly hot? Actually not at all: One of the coolest things about DACportable are it's bass and treble adjustments. They're just straight-up dip-switches - but it's nice to be able to slightly customize the sound signature depending on the style of music I'm listening to. There's also a gain switch - which makes the unit ideal for over-ear cans, on-ears, and IEMs - another nice touch. At it's asking price of $350 - I can't imagine another unit that gets close in terms of sheer musicality, dynamic range, and; I can't believe I'm sayin' this about a CEntrance product (sorry Michael - usually too industrial for me) but its aesthetics are also simple and modern: Precisely what I look for in my portable audio gear. Some people have asked me if I think the DACportable is "better than the Mojo." As most of my readers know, I don't typically compare products side-by-side, as system synergy ALWAYS plays a factor, amongst other things. However: Because I have played with the Mojo for awhile - and I'm not a fan of its headphone amp or those bubble-gum-like buttons sitting in an uber-modern chassis - they just, it just irks me. It's that simple. I prefer the DACportable to the Mojo Hands Down - but lets always remember that's based on personal taste. Though I will say this: I haven't been more proud of Michael Goodman and the team at CEntrance as I have been since the DACportable started blessing my days with music! If you got your iPhone, Android, or tablet ready - to be straight-up: All you need is TIDAL and a decent set of cans (it drove everything from my Audeze LCD-2Fs to my ENIGMAcoustics Dharma D1000s) the proper cable, a charge, and you're ALL SYSTEMS GO. The CEntrance DACportable gets my highest recommendation. I'm about to rock it now!
**** FROM THE DESK OF THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****Sun. 10.02.16: DAAAMN! How'd it get to be almost 10PM on Sunday night already? Where am I? Just Kidding (maybe). Time is flyin' by and there's so much to do before RMAF 2016! Today just got away from me. Too much of it on the phone - texting! Now, I'm just over forty years old, and for the peeps the next generation down lemme tell you somthin': TEXTS SUCK FOR EXPRESSING ANYTHING BUT "Hey B, wanna go for a taco?" "Yeah sure" "See ya soon" We're not meant to carry-on conversations via text! You can't hear the tonality of someones voice, or pick up on social queues, all sorts of things/ways that we communicate are lost via the whole sexting generation. It's kinda' similar to what happened with music consumption. Buying an LP used to be an event. You goto the record store (thank God we still have a few) buy the album and go home to listen to it. We had artwork to flip through - the whole thing was part of the experience. Now, with the vinyl resurgence we've seen a small return to this - but not (I don't believe) on the scope we think. It's because too many poeple are communicating without actually saying anything. It's like listening to Classic Records Kind of Blue on a Crosset turntable you just bought from some big box store. You don't get the meat, the soul. Try to truly connect with someone this week - or, at least connect to your music! We gotta un-plug sometimes! I'm about to dig back into the new Meze IEMs that I'v been rockin' lately. Both the 11Neo and 12Classics have been blowin' my mind. At 60 bucks? Just do it. My impressions coming below. And hope to see you at RMAF!... Let's get back to my Crazy Hi-fi Life: ****THIS CONCLUDES OUR BROADCAST FROM THE SONIC SATORI PERSONAL AUDIO LAB****
Meze Headphones Universal IEMs
Antonio Meze and the team he works with on his Meze headphones should be proud. As of this moment, I can speak of three specific reasons Antonio Meze (pronounced me-zay) should be very proud and excited. Meze is an industral designer, and since The widely embraced 99Classics over-ears cans (written bout HERE at OccupyHifi) have been winning everybody over from suburban-nightmare soccer moms to teenage boys, even some hardcore Head-Fiers and members of Super Best Audio Friends. I loved those cans the moment I put em on. I started following Antonio Meze stircly because of his industrial designs! He's got his own site of course, but I caught a few things he designed elsewhere on the interwebs. Talk about variety in design, philosophy and execution: The guy's done everything from an uber-modern egg-beater to a FreeRider Skatecycle (yeah, I had no idea what that meant either). Then I saw Meze Headphones on Instagram, I think around a year ago. Again the aesthetics of their earlier universal IEMs, and the 99Classics over-ears immediately caught my eye. They had modern, edged, wavy lines, with a contrasting color of gold (on the outside of the ear-cups) which I don't typically like, with wooden cups. At the time, I believe they were only available in one color. Now you've got choices. Now's the time to drop the Beats and get with the Meze. I mean, when I wrote about these cans I didn't know much about the product itself. I'd been in-touch with Meze Headphones directly via Instagram. However, and I love it when shit like this happens: Before I even got a pair for review my buddy Bruce Ball, President of Questyle North America, asked if I knew about Meze headphones, he'd heard them and when I told him I'd been following them via their social media channels (as many readers know: I also rock the hat of social media strategist in my daily grind) he handed me a pair. The following week we were at a small-scale live acoustic show featuring singer-songwriter Dannielle DeAndrea at Prohibition Studios in LA. The engineer forgot his cans, so Bruce offered him a variety of headphones to choose from.
That was kinda' funny - once the guy heard the Meze 99Classics he just grabbed em and took off. I asked him "why those" and he said they sounded "closest to his studio cans". I think he said AKG but I'd hate to be wrong and another conspiracy theory raised. This lil' company's on fire. I'm not sure how many egg-beaters or FreeRider Skatecycles Meze sells. But if I'm him - I'm puttin' most a' the eggs in the headphone basket right now. I'm pumped to see where he takes things, as he's been able to achieve a level of musicality, emotive engagement, and dynamic capabilities at a price-point that should hopefully light a fire under the collective asses of many manufacturers battling down there. With the right moves he should practically own that end of the market in a year or two! And I just have to say this for the record: I have enough respect for Antonio Meze that I let him take third place (thus I suffered 4th) at the Schiit Audio/Head-Fi Go-Kart races at CanJam SoCal this year. So I hope that's says somethin' to the man. In the meantime, lets dig into what I was sayin' with all that bullshit (it's not bullshit - I was just flowin' - well, maybe a small percentage is bullshit - whaddya gonna do). Nonetheless - These universal IEMs are just sick (and yes, boomers and older: That translates loosely to: They sound far more musical than anything similar that I've tried. Here's some of the reasons I dig em so much:
OTHER IMPRESSIONS COMING... workin' on it
Questyle Audio CMA600i -
Schiit Jotunheim -
IT'S A WORK IN-PROGRESS! - You didn't see that last message, and if you did, hold it! Or comment below-
What can we say? The price for keeping Occupyhifi.org FREE of ANY FEELINGS Of OBLIGATIONS TO ANY ONE BRAND - The Price isn't actually all that steep really: Mercer just has to work his ASS OFF at other things involving Hi-fi and music. This time around it's RMAF (a.k.a Rocky Mountain Audio Fest). Mercer specializes in social media engineering & strategy as well as brand-building and brand culture. Mercer's built and maintained all of the social media infrastructure for Marjorie Baumert there at #RMAF2016 - and so the past couple of weeks had been pretty intense to say the least!!
And, well, sleep deprivation can be entertaining for the friends of the sleep-deprived. But, if you're the one who hasn't been hittin' the pillow much lately (yeah, guess who) it's not only the stress of the lack-of-sleep that actually bothers Mercer. It's the HATERS, WANNA-BES, & NU-JACKS spreading rumor and innuendo!! He's waiting for one of them to actually say something to his face.
If you're one of those pieces of shit, who passes judgement on a man who's dedicated his entire professional life to music and great sound, well, everybody's entitled to their opinion. We'd never deny anybody that right. But why don't you keep your hate born-out-of-ignorance to yourself? We're trying to enjoy the fleeting moments that come our way! We're OccupyHifi - it's time to shake some shit loose... In the meantime: Mercer's comin' outta his slumber and has been trying to finish this damn thing for a few days now... After all, he's got his annual pre-RMAF article to write!!!!
STAY TUNED... GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT ------- We think that's a bunch of bullshit, but it sounds good & peeps been sayin' it for decades right? So, why not? Mercer will be back in his Directors Chair in the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab shortly!