Significant Bits | 3.31.19

A completely random, not at all comprehensive, compendium of audio nuggets we’ve seen this week.

Schröder Tonearm from ΩMA

John Darko talks to über tonearm designer Frank Schröder. Darko (a must read / watch for me in the realm of RealFi*) unearths Herr Schröder’s take on what creates the magic (tonearm/cartridge interaction), world’s best cartridge at the intersection of sound + how you would feel if your cleaning woman destroyed it (Denon 103, Audio Technica AT95), and why many prefer vinyl even when cut from a digital master (we have no idea). Darko.Audio

*As I define it, RealFi, like it’s distant cousin Realpolitik, concerns itself with assessing sound reproduction using “practical rather than moral or ideological considerations”.

This notion encompasses such audiophile third rails as the aesthetics of integration into a living environment, active speakers, equalizers, component mounds and wire nests, cable risers, non-native room treatments, and I could go on. At length. Basically IMHO everything should look as good as possible, sounds as good as is reasonable and do so if necessary by chucking dogma out the window.

Darko, along with other lights like Herb Reichart, Art Dudley, Michael Lavorgna, and the ‘bergs (Corey Greenberg, Steve Guttenberg, and the late, great Harvey Rosenberg), gets something that most writers in this dying tribe forget – this shit is supposed to be FUN. If there’s hope for the future it lies in the hands of those like Darko who at least evangelize in today’s house of worship (YouTube) and focus on growing denominations (headphones, digital audio).

DIY OG Joseph Esmilla (JE Labs) shares his latest creation, an interpretation of the classic Western Electric 753A. While he has experimented with variations on this configuration for years, putting all the pieces together in a manner closely related to the original 753A has taken the results to new heights. Cabinet, driver, and crossover details abound. I feel a project coming on. JE Labs Altec 753A

I’ve been hearing from friends about the Dutch & Dutch 8c and the rumblings are universally positive. I have yet to listen for myself. The nature of these transducers couldn’t be more thematically different than my current high efficiency speaker / low power single-ended amplifier set up. They are self powered, DSP controlled monitors whose superpower is the ability to negate placement issues via a design that produces a cardioid dispersion pattern by manipulating the rear wave. As someone who needs to maintain domestic harmony, the ability to stuff a speaker against a wall and still find the magic is very alluring. Worth seeking out for a listen if you are so inclined towards such adventures. Dutch & Dutch

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