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.
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.—