Welcome to the twelfth installment of our Meet the Audiophile Style Community series. All previous installments can be found here, in the series index.
Please send me a message, email, or telegram if you'd like to participate. The response so far has been wonderful. It ranges from hardcore audiophiles to those who are more interested in numbers and graphs, and even people in the industry are eager to participate. This series is all about getting to know everyone and sharing a bit about yourself that others will find interesting.
Thanks for participating. I look forward to publishing more of these in the coming weeks and months.
Thanks to Audiophile Style community member @kirkmc for participating in volume twelve of this series. I've been a guest on Kirk & @DougAdams podcast The Next Track several times and enjoy it very much. It's one of the only podcasts that respects the listener's time by getting straight to the point and skipping the discussion of what the dog had for dinner last night.
As always, I love reading this stuff even more than publishing it. I say to myself after reading each one of these, you guys are so much more interesting than me.
1. General area of the world in which you live?
I live a few miles from Stratford-Upon-Avon in the UK. I live in an early-19th century house next to a farm, on the edge of a village of about 100 people. My landlord farms about 200 acres, and rents holiday cottages. I'm a lapsed New Yorker, and have lived in Europe since 1984.
2. General description of what you do or did for a living?
I'm a freelance tech journalist; I've been working from home for 25 years. I write about Apple products, computer security, music, and more. I am also a podcaster, co-host of several podcasts including The Next Track.
3. What are your hobbies?
I don't particularly like the word "hobby," but my interests include learning to play the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute), photography, reading, cooking, and I'm a student of Zen Buddhism. Over the years, I've played a number of instruments (at varying skill levels), including the guitar (rock, blues, and classical), viola da gamba, and (digital) piano.
4. When did you start this wonderful journey into music listening?
Probably when I got my first AM transistor radio back in the late 1960s.
5. What was your first “album?”
I seem to recall that one of the earliest albums I owned was Abbey Road, but at the time I remember having albums by Three Dog Night, The Guess Who, and others. But the first album that really stood out for me was the first Chicago album, Chicago Transit Authority. I bought the album for the hits, but I was particularly blown away by the range of music on the record.
6. What does your music collection look like, number of physical records, CDs, etc... and number of “favorited” albums streamed?
About 70,000 tracks in my digital library (in the Apple Music app), and another 50,000 in a second library that I rarely listen to. I long wrote reviews of classical CDs, and ripped hundreds of them, but no longer listen to most of them. I've sold all but a few hundred CDs, though I don't count the Big Classical Box Sets in that number (such as the recent Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven sets, with together include a few hundred discs). I also have hundreds of official live Grateful Dead releases, in various guises; the Dick's Picks collection, Dave's Picks, Road Trips, and many box sets the band has released.
7. What was your first audio component / stereo?
When I was about 12, I got an after school job in a Carvel in my neighborhood in New York City. Next door was a Radio Shack, and I put money aside every week on a layaway plan to get a record player and speakers. It was probably pretty crappy, but it certainly sounded great at the tame.
8. Is there one component that you no longer have that you wish you wouldn’t have sold or that you wish you still had?
Nah, they're all just vehicles for me; music is much more important to me than sound.
This said, there was a time when I had a job in a Sansui warehouse in Queens, New York, for about six months in the late 1970s. I regret not buying a receiver back then. I love that vintage look with lots of knobs and dials, and, of course, VU meters. :-)
9. Is there one current component that you wish you had in your system?
10. How much time do you spend listening to music each week and on which systems does this listening take place (main system, car system, mobile system, office system, etc...)?
I mainly listen in my home office, where I have two pairs of speakers (see below). I also listen in the bedroom, in the kitchen when cooking, and sometimes in the living room, but my main listening area is my home office. I don't listen to music every day, but some days I listen for many hours; a lot depends on the work I have to do. If I'm recording or editing podcasts, I obviously can't listen to music.
11. What’s the first concert you ever attended, best concert you’ve ever attended, most interesting concert venue you’ve ever attended?
I won't say the first concert, since it's often a security question for online accounts. :-) Some of the best concerts include Yes in the round in 1978, at Madison Square Garden; Genesis, July 1978, MSG; Pink Floyd, The Wall, at Nassau Coliseum; Dire Straits, at the Bottom Line in NYC on their first tour; Lou Reed at the Bottom Line; the Grateful Dead at Radio City Music Hall, 1980. Steven Reich and Ensemble, at the Guggenheim Museum, in the early 1980s. Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1984. Murray Perahia, playing Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata in Birmingham, UK, 2016. Andres Schiff, Bach, Goldberg Variations, Birmingham, 2016. Anner Bylsma, Bach Cello Suites, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, late 1980s. Sigiswald Kuijken, Bach, Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, in a church in Tours, France, mid 1990s. And many, many others.
12. What components are in your current audio systems and can you provide a photo?
Sonos Amp, with a splitter to two pairs of speakers in my home office: Kef Q350 (facing a comfy chair; this is my relaxed listening area) and Q Acoustics 3020i (on my desk; this is how I listen when working), with a Warfedale subwoofer. A pair of Sonos Ones in the bedroom. And Apple HomePods in the kitchen and living room.
13. Anything else you’d like to say?
I love music, but unlike most people here I'm not searching for perfect sound; music is more important to me than sound. I've spent far more money on the many different types of music I enjoy than on gear. I do have fairly high standards, with the equipment that I buy, but I don't have the cash to go much further. I'm particularly interested in minimizing my systems these days, which is why I opted for a Sonos Amp, and use the Sonos Ones and HomePods.