Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

To Hans Wetzel,

Spencer from The Abso!ute Sound here.

I read your article and I must agree with you that my December, 2013 article was hastily written, a little rambling, and might not have been your target audience. It was meant mainly for vinyl-philes who dislike sharing their systems because “everyone is so damn stupid and can’t possibly understand my hobby.”

It might surprise you that I’m younger than you are.

Maybe I live in an insular world, namely Austin, TX, where everyone fetishizes vinyl for myriad reasons. When people come over to my house, they go crazy for the thousands of vinyl records and all the stereo gear that fills the shelves and house. Dance parties ensue, all-night vinyl benders, iPod DJ parties, CD parties, et cetera. It’s less the medium that matters, rather the experience with a great stereo system. When my partner and I throw parties (she couldn't care less about stereo gear), the first thing her friends and my friends want is to play the latest vinyl from the latest release of band XYZ. In general, our friends are less interested in digital, though sometimes it’s more convenient (and safe) when too much drinking has occurred; don’t want drunk friends or myself making any careless mistakes.

I think I mention in my article that an acquaintance once left a record on my tube amp, and melted it into a Dali sculpture.

Anyway, good follow-up to my article. I will have a much better, more thorough version for 2014. You made good points, and I will take it to heart.

I will fully admit that I want more people to invest in quality stereo systems. It’s not about job security (though it would be nice to keep my job at TAS), it’s an attempt to help people realize the joy of music appreciation. $1000 buys a lot better sound these days, compared to even a decade ago. People can afford high-end audio; what keeps them away is the snobbery, not the price.

Nobody makes fun of the welder who saved for 10 years to build his hot rod. If he spent $45,000 on a stereo, they would think that was crazy. Again, it’s not the dollar amount spent on the stereo, but rather the sense of elitism that is associated with such stereos. We as audiophiles -- young audiophiles -- need to address this issue and make it clear that high-end audio isn’t about being rich, but rather passionate. My passion began when I rebuilt my first tube amp, a vintage Harman Kardon A500 tube integrated. By the time I was 20, I had spent well over $15,000 on my stereo (driving forklifts and working in the Texas heat and snow of Colorado paid for it), but nobody ever thought I was crazy, because I shared my passion with each and every individual who came to my place. Not once did I exclude anyone, but rather showed them the proper techniques, and then gave them free rein to play with the best system they had ever heard. Car guys take their friends for rides; we stereo enthusiasts should do the same thing. This was the point of my article.

Anyway, let’s work together toward a common goal. I’m here to change the audiophile world, not perpetuate the exclusivity so many people associate with the audiophiles of yesteryear.

Thanks, Hans. Your article was honest, well written, and full of great ideas.

Spencer Holbert
United States