LET­TERS

Sound & Vision - - CONTENTS -

The big­ger pic­ture. Stream­ing is a step back­ward. Lux­ury au­dio.

I have a few thoughts on Thomas Nor­ton’s test re­port of the Elac Adante AS- 61 speak­ers. First of all, most of us don’t have the lux­ury to po­si­tion speak­ers 44 inches out from the back wall. One foot, maybe.

So, what’s the point of test­ing them, or any other speaker sys­tem, in po­si­tions that most of us can­not use? Would I spend $5,600 for speak­ers plus sub and stands to use as a stereo sys­tem? Prob­a­bly not. There are ex­cel­lent tower speak­ers— Gold­e­n­ear Tech­nol­ogy comes to mind—that of­fer in­cred­i­ble sound for less with­out the need for a sub, es­pe­cially one that re­quires ex­tra real es­tate and an app on your phone for proper setup. Keep things sim­ple, that’s my motto. Fi­nally, why den­i­grate peo­ple who shop at K-mart? That low blow was com­pletely un­nec­es­sary. Francesco Tenti Hunt­ing­ton, NY

Tom Nor­ton re­sponds: Francesco, I ap­pre­ci­ate your sit­u­a­tion, but plac­ing loud­speak­ers well out from the wall be­hind them is a com­mon au­dio­phile setup. Apart from that, the lay­out of my room and (im­mov­able) pro­jec­tion screen makes po­si­tion­ing speak­ers a foot from the back wall im­prac­ti­cal. I made this clear in the re­view to ex­plain why the ELACS were re­ally at their best with a sub­woofer. Not all speaker re­views even bother to de­tail setup. Close wall place­ment can be a plu, but can just as of­ten de­grade re­sults. Gold­e­n­ear Tech makes some fine speak­ers. We’ve re­viewed many, and I’ve never heard them sound less than ex­cel­lent in show demos. Tastes do dif­fer, how­ever, and I have the feel­ing that if I had re­viewed a Gold­e­n­ear pack­age, some­one would write that we should have in­stead re­viewed the new ELACS! It can also be ar­gued that plac­ing the sub in or im­me­di­ately next to

the main speak­ers isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the best lo­ca­tion ei­ther. It all de­pends on the room, the setup, and the use— or not— of room EQ. Sorry about the K- Mart com­ment— is that the lat­est no-no in our cur­rent PC en­vi­ron­ment? I might have said the same about Wal­mart— and I shop there of­ten!

Stream­ing is a Step Back­ward

I have read enough Mike Met­tler ar­ti­cles and in­ter­views to de­velop re­spect for his knowl­edge and opin­ions. I am cer­tain that the facts stated in his “It’s a Stream, Stream, Stream, Stream World” ar­ti­cle (Septem­ber 2018) are ac­cu­rate. But what a shame that mu­sic is headed in a di­rec­tion that will deprive mu­sic lovers of the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire phys­i­cal me­dia. There is more to the is­sue than just con­ve­nience ver­sus qual­ity. I have been col­lect­ing and ap­pre­ci­at­ing recorded mu­sic longer than most of your writ­ers have been alive. For years, it was next to im­pos­si­ble to find in­for­ma­tion about who was ac­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing what I was lis­ten­ing to. Stu­dio mu­si­cians and guest artists were rarely ac­knowl­edged. It took decades for things to change to the point where liner notes in­cluded (over)due credit for the many bril­liant mu­si­cians whose work meant so much to so many. As much as I want to know the name of the artist, I also want to know de­tails about what went into cre­at­ing the prod­uct. Writ­ers, pro­duc­ers, en­gi­neers, mixers, stu­dios, and all the per­form­ers in­volved are of in­ter­est to me, and I have no doubt that Mike Met­tler feels the same. Streamed mu­sic doesn’t fac­tor this in. Af­ter the years it took for proper credit to be given, stream­ing will cre­ate a gi­ant step back­wards for many in the mu­sic in­dus­try by elim­i­nat­ing easy ac­cess to this in­for­ma­tion and com­pli­cate find­ing it. I’d much pre­fer read­ing the liner notes that come with CDS and LPS than hav­ing to search the in­ter­net to find out who played bass on a par­tic­u­lar song.

Tim Ober­lies

Palm Desert, CA

While I agree with some of your points (check out this is­sue’s Track One, page 10, for my per­sonal take on phys­i­cal me­dia), I don’t feel that stream­ing is a step back­ward when it comes to mu­sic ap­pre­cia- tion. Ser­vices like Tidal and even Spo­tify pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the song­writ­ers, mu­si­cians, pro­duc­ers, and en­gi­neers who con­trib­uted to a spe­cific record­ing. And there’s also Qobuz (check out Mike Met­tler’s re­view on page 23), a new-to-the- U.S. high­res­o­lu­tion mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice that goes be­yond what Tidal and Spo­tify of­fer when it comes to list­ing pro­duc­tion cred­its. For se­ri­ous stream­ers, there’s also Roon, a mu­sic library and man­age­ment soft­ware app that lets you not just view pro­duc­tion cred­its, but browse stream­ing con­tent based on them (e.g., a menu of jazz al­bums fea­tur­ing the drum­mer Philly Joe Jones, or rock al­bums over­seen by Bri­tish pro­ducer/ en­gi­neer Glyn Johns). Roon even now sup­ports stream­ing to Chrome­cast de­vices, which will let you browse menus and con­tent on a TV or pro­jec­tor while lis­ten­ing! Be­fore you dis­miss stream­ing out­right, I’d sug­gest at min­i­mum sign­ing up for a free trial of Tidal, Qobuz, Ap­ple Mu­sic, or Spo­tify to see what it’s all about.—

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