Is the day of the audiophile about to expire or is it our job as music lovers to educate future generations on what they might be missing out on?
If you are reading this, you’ve already established yourself as someone who has a discerning love of quality music, delivered through impeccable hand crafted, and meticulously manufactured audio gear!
I can still remember as a kid, growing up and admiring my uncle who was an accomplished dentist, listening to music through a gorgeous McIntosh amplifier, delivering a quality of music that I had never experienced before. He beamed when he invited me in to his music room to listen to his reel to reels tapes of Benny Goodman and other legendary bands and performers, and the sound that emanated from those German speakers he had were totally awesome and awe inspiring to me even to me as a novice being exposed to his world!
It was not only the sound that attracted me to want to know more about this great gear he had, but also the experience of watching him play his violin as he was accompanying the tracks and dancing around his room. His passion, fun, total immersion in the music, and unadulterated happiness just oozed out of him and was infectious to me. It’s the magic that only the gift of music can bring to you!
I was very lucky and blessed to have my “Uncle Doc” in my life as a beacon and inspiration, but if not for him, who knows when or even if I would have been bitten by the audiophile bug as I was just embarking on my musical journey?
The point that I’m making is that there need to be leaders and role models to inspire us to take the plunge, and get into the intricacies of the wonderful world of aural excitement and enrichment. You don’t just wake up one day and decide you want the best high-fidelity system in the world, indeed it is a matter of slowly being exposed to this world over time, developing an acquired taste for the best, which leads you on the quest to achieve the perfect sound system for you. There were once audiophile magazines galore and such a wonderful plethora of places you could go to listen to and experience what the benefits of extraordinary sound could provide you as a motivated enthusiast of music. Sadly today there are not as many, and that itself limits the reach of greatness to influence buyers.
Yes, there are those who reach the epitome of their expertise and height of their careers and decide they want the best, case closed! They are not always doing so because of any special reason, such as a lifelong passion to get into this arena and explore what audiophile sound is. They do not always become enthusiasts because they had a life long dream to do so, but merely because they have lots of cash and need a way to spend it to impress those who are the least likely to even understand what the benefits are, and do not know the difference between a cross-over and a cross-walk. This is sad, but true, and more disheartening is that top end gear manufactures are seeing music that is produced poorly and distorted when played on their systems. Sure they make a sale, but do they accomplish a long-term relationship with a customer who knows the difference between good and bad sound and the benefits of a great system?
Not every recording today is even worthy of being played on a sound system that can take the listener on a journey and the experience of a lifetime. Sadly not every record is Adele that was produced, engineered and mixed to make it worthy of the audiophile treatment and experience. 8 Million people have purchased her music on a physical format and that figure will be 10 by the time this article posts. This is deeply concerning because if the music that is coming out is not worthy of paying the greater costs of a full blown system, then why, except for home theaters, would anyone want to spend top money to hear low end productions?
This lack of music that merits a discerning evaluation is a real problem, and one that requires that we in the music community, and you as true enthusiastic lovers of music and sound, bring to the masses the same love and joy we’ve experienced in our lives when we first discovered it. We need to impact the benefits of great sound, and pass this passion on as it was passed on to us! If we do not get this next generation turned on to high end audio and video, then we will see the greatest manufacturers and innovators in the field fail one by one with a greatly limited audience or even worse, no Audience at all to sell their goods to.
There must be more focus placed on the A/Bing of music to explain what a great system can bring out of a wonderful recording. Indeed, more emphasis needs to be placed on the value of the creations of real Artists, musicians and great producers to show the next generation what an amazing benefit that top end audio offers them in the reproduction of their efforts in the studio. Great music doesn’t just happen!
When a top flight producer enters their studio world they first try to capture a vibe, and then do their best to use the best technology at their disposal to push the envelope of sound, and create something that is both spatially enticing, and sonically new and challenging. Believe it or not, most of these studio wizards and technicians don’t usually ever consider what their final product will be listened to on with some only checking on small near-field monitors that have nowhere near the reproduction capacity of a the gear and monitors that most of you reading this had before you became engaged in this endeavor of sound excellence. The key element in studios is the make sure balances are right, then the overall mix and sound come into play.
This is hard for me to actually say to you, but most of those that are in this industry are more into capturing a feel then getting the most transparent sound and separation that they can achieve. I used to have many conversation pertaining to the fact that quality still counts, as my obstinate contemporaries would play me a hit that had the sonic frequencies of sticking two Brillo-pads in your ears and expecting you to hear something great! If that is your benchmark, you are never going to make a great record or encourage highend purchases. Why would you spend tons of money to listen to Chicken Shit Recordings?
I say this to say that if you really love what you have as a system and want to keep exploring new advances ands systems that push the limits of sound and reproduction to the next level of audio excellence, then you’ve got to turn on others in the next generation to let them become aware of what they are missing out on. We have to turn on the future audiophiles to the fact that obtaining the best and most accurate system for your home should be a goal and not a casual possibility only enjoyed by those who have made it. Spread the good word and encourage true love and passion for music or watching a video as a connoisseur of the art of creation as you may just have more influence then you realize.
If we can somehow, along with manufactures, show people the benefits of true sound reproduction; prove that it will take a good experience and turn it into a truly remarkable one; then we win, and the future of high end gear and the next generations of headphones, in-ear monitors and anything that the techies can come up with will be preserved. The future, which now looks uncertain for the long haul, will start to show signs of recovery, and a brand new, reimagined and reinvigorated attitude towards doing more to push the sound envelope in the studio process, capturing all of the power, nuance and subtlety of the sessions, may be back on the front burner and the new topic of conversation around the studio world once again!
This is a hard business, but it’s made harder by watching out to make sure that those who will someday have the reins on it, do not blow their shot and allow a trend that incorporates accepting less of yourself and others to be allowed to proliferate. When I see someone buying a 45 RPM album that is re-mastered and re-envisioned by the original engineer it brings a smile to my face! I see the love of the craft by and end user and it makes me see hope and possibility again.
The hardest thing to do in music is to accept less and then attempt to see if you can pressure yourself to accept more. Somehow the habit of taking less then you should always comes back to haunt you and lazy is a hard habit to break!
Spread the word on your gear and let as many people experience it as you can. If the creators won’t give the people what they deserve, maybe we can get the people to ask for more and place demands on the artists and producers to make music that deserves to be listened to on a top end audiophile system.
Never stop fighting the battle for better and more high quality productions, and never allow yourself to be so secretive with what you listen on and deprive others of that same inspiration that you get each and every time you play your music or watch a film!
As always, make sure you love the music and respect artists who create it!
2010 to Present: President of John Luongo Management, LLC., a Full Multimedia Content Provider with divisions in Administration, Licensing.
1986 to 2000: Founded “The Office, Inc.” which works with all major labels to explore new technologies that enhance the future of the entertainment business and develop new artists.
1983 to 1986: Became one of the youngest Presidents of a CBS Associated Label with his term at the helm of Pavillion Records.
1980 to 1983: Began mixing records that were met with tremendous success.
1978 to 1980: I was tapped to head the largest Dance Promotion company in the United States, MK Dance (owned by Mark Kreiner and Tom Cossie of Chic fame)
1975 to 1978: Started the Boston Record Pool which was one of the first three record pools to begin the Record Pool phenomenon we know today.
1973 to 1975: Upon graduation from Northeastern University, obtained a BS in Civil Engineering and worked for AJ Lane Construction and became the head engineer on a project to build an 8 Story 175 Unit pre-cast.