Category Archives: My Own

Old Music #01


A late-70’s composition, here re-recorded in the mid-80’s.

softhearted superman

One of the first structured songs I wrote, late 70’s.

reassuring sign (excerpt)

Short excerpts of early tape and radio compositions, ca. 1980.

vl-tone experiments

london symphony

london coda

(Note: these recordings are taken from old and questionable cassette tapes. The fidelity is degraded.)

RAIN (Beatles Cover) Kantor Kirschmann Bassey


Parts is Parts.

No one will believe me, but I have to call it like I see it: I am convinced that how a driver is used, and how it fits the system requirements, has at least as much to do with sonics as the make and model of the parts.  Sure, there are tweeters that I have come to like a lot over the years, but this has mostly to do with consistency, reliability, ease of use, cost-performance and well-thought out specs. Just as with cars and drivers, and chefs and food, average components in the hands of a pro will almost always sound better than expensive, fancy parts in the hands of a someone without training and experience.

I used to judge various amateur speaker building contests, and got to listen to the best efforts of both first-time and well-known amateur designers, year after year. Submissions invariably used very well-regarded drivers, yet it was very rare for any of the judges to find a submission that was of sufficient sonic quality to make it commercially at any price.

I’m not meaning to be snobby. Anyone can learn to be a great speaker designer. But, you have to learn, and you have to try dozens and dozens of different designs, over and over.  Most importantly, you have to hone the skills to listen very quickly, analytically and brutally, and then understand exactly how to correlate the listening to engineering, without philosophical biases.

If you think that the finest drivers make the finest systems, you aren’t paying attention!! Ingredients are only a start.


Like Factoids, but not….



Audio technology is different than any other type of engineering I know of. In normal engineering, we start with a certain problem, and then try to invent a solution to this problem. But, in audio, most of the time, we start with an invention. Then we try to discover what it might be good for. However, just because one has a cool invention does not mean that the invention is useful or any improvement to the art.


Been There, Done What?

I guess I was in an insecure mood when some hostile internet creep recently took my hearing and lack of proper equipment to task for comments I made about the audibility, or lack thereof, of the sonic differences between similar amplifiers.  This was my rant.  Embarrassing.

Since I was a young kid, I have been obsessed with music and audio. I was 7 when I attempted my first amp mod. (It failed.) When you were playing touch football in junior high, I was in my garage building a tube amp and a guitar multieffects box. When you were learning to drive, I was building and modding Dynakits, and my first self-designed turntable and arm, and a really crappy speaker using parts I pulled from my Dad’s console. Learned to play three instruments; played (poorly) in orchestra and band. When you were out dating, I was tweaking my stereo, and trying to improve the Hafler surround extractor. Learning recording. I earned college money doing design work for a dozen Boston companies, and took every audio-related course I could. Worked summers in an audio research lab. Got a “minor” in music. Played in an early art punk band. When I graduated, I did not follow my peers into the emerging world of digital and computers, and worked for local audio companies. Went back to grad school to study music, art and performance. Did my thesis and post-grad fellowship on the historical impact of telecommunications technology on music and art. By 30, I had the corner office at what, at the time, was the largest speaker company in the US. When you were starting a family, I was starting an audio company. Still love my work, and have taken two one week vacations in 20 years.

I’ve released two albums of original music, and mastered four commercial records. Recorded perhaps ten. Designed the monitoring system for the San Francisco Symphony and worked in the studio with many classical and rock artists. Was a contributing editor at Audio and High Fidelity, technical editor and columnist at Etown and Audio Video Interiors. I have spent countless hours listening to the home systems of Gordon Holt, (who also visited me), Larry Archibald, Julian Hirsch, Michael Fremer, Bob Harley, George Peterson, Corey Greenberg, Alvin Gold, Martin Colloms and many others, including most key high end reviewers and audio clubs around the world. I have heard experimental systems at ATT, BBN, NASA and Delta that would make you weep. I spearheaded International Jensen’s efforts to buy high end brands, and so visited with several of the most esteemed smaller brands in the US and Europe. Over the years, I have built midfi systems for myself and the tweakiest high performance systems, too. Oh, and at one year’s big AES convention, I won the prize at a listening competition sponsored by TDK to try and distinguish between a music source and a recording of that source done on their best tape. Got all my trials 100%.

I am >not< posting this as an appeal to authority, or to suggest it makes me correct. I am posting it so you will have a better idea of my, “frame of reference.” … I put food on the table by the quality of my listening decisions.

An old friend.

I discover

An old friend.

is now dead.

Long out of touch, I suddenly realize how influential he was

on my life.

Poetry is the Exploitation of Inefficiency.

Poetry is the Exploitation of Inefficiency. Thus, in a certain way, it draws out from its subject the nutrition it requires, leaving the efficiently digested, and mundane, in its wake.

I used to argue with him incessantly when I was an undergraduate. But, then, what else are undergraduates really good for?

We are the highest power.

I can think of no enticement, threat or torture that would make me allow the existence of a “high power.”

Lollie and Lily and Jacky and Billy.

It’s a human conceit to say that, “Things fall apart.”  In reality, things rise apart, grow apart, only to fall together.