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The Savvy Audiophile | R. Nattrass
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Audio Blogs
Sour Notes Curmudgeon's Paradise by E. Leopold
I’ve been writing this column since 1986—that’s 68 times in 20 years. The first piece in the series, titled “Sonic Frustrations,” examined and equated the many personalities of men and loudspeakers. It identified attributes people share with loudspeakers: aggressiveness, placidity, sprightliness, irritation, politeness, rudeness and so on. I mused at the time that perfect men are as difficult to find as perfect loudspeakers and reflected, tongue in cheek, that—like few men—only the Acoustic Research Model AR3A loudspeaker had attained immortality. (Many of our current readers may not remember the AR’s heyday when my opinion was based). That was the start and the column soon developed into “An Industry Perspective” giving me the opportunity to air my frustrations, my likes and dislikes and my general preoccupation with audio.

I have often rambled on about the industry’s shortcomings, its politics, its failures and its successes. In case you’re a new reader or have missed my tone in the past, fact is, I often get indignant, because of my concern for the audio industry.

Periodically, of course, I have talked about audio’s benefits and suggested techniques for learning how to listen more attentively. In other articles, including those which described my annual walks in the woods, my intention being to help increase listening awareness among readers. Other notes about the “healing power” of music were written in the hope of turning some folks on to audio. My exposés of retailers, wholesalers, charlatans and “good guys” were meant to alert consumers to both the good and the bad in audio land.

Don’t misunderstand: I respect those industry’s players who contribute something beneficial to audio enthusiasts, but detest those whose actions deprecate the industry’s repute. For example, I don’t like trickle-down technology, and I don’t like cheap gear passed off as hi-end, such as some Chinese-made components. I like women, I like a good bottle of wine, I like XO Cognac and, of course, I like high-end audio. I appreciate good company, though I often find myself content with good sound, a cigar and an XO.

I’m getting older, fussier, more impatient, and, like so many other folks of advanced age (I did the research), I resist change, almost subconsciously. I am therefore a bit sorry that the Industry Perspective column I had in the past is no longer. Instead, look for me in this, the new “Sour Notes” column. I didn’t get the boot, I didn’t get a raise and I didn’t get a reprimand. I did get the promise of this new column and I’m looking forward to continuing to criticize, evaluate, praise, ramble and report about everything audio.

As home theatre doesn’t interest me very much you’ll not see many comments about it (although it will continue to receive a share of the coverage in The Inner Ear). Do expect to continue hearing from this old, fussy, but experienced listener who is intolerant, impatient, a bit short-sighted, but also infinitely curious about what the future will bring. I’m looking for easy-to-understand and easy-to-live with improvements to enhance my life, not complicate it. Hopefully, the future can simplify and enhance my life with great audio. Whatever happens, I intend to continue as the bug in the (inner) ear of everyone who loves, hates, appreciates or loathes the industry I love to talk about.
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