Common Sense Audio Equipment Blog
for a Changing World
(Site Under Construction)
Why Green Hi-Fi?
This site was originally created to talk about how Hi-Fi could be more green. The idea was that since most high-end audio equipment was large, heavy, and energy-consuming, I wanted to champion clever engineering that sought to be the opposite of that: small, light-weight, and energy-efficient. Before I started the project, I had spent 25 years working in IT, where greening up the server room was the end-goal, so I thought that surely, Hi-Fi would follow suit.
As the site languished a bit, I did learn a few things. One of these was that my equipment reviews were the most visited posts. I also learned that having generous, good quality photos was something that visitors liked as well. Finally, I realized that Hi-Fi did become more green over time, but perhaps not because of the reasons I had expected.
Therefore, I have decided to re-boot GreenHiFi.com and do more of what the visitors were asking for. I am focusing my attention on reviews of products both old and new, especially those for which reviews are lacking. I will also be taking more photos than I did before, and I will try to provide some confidence for people looking to buy equipment second-hand.
This is not going to be a review site with measurements, comparisons, and opinions about how something sounds. Fact is, it will sound different in your home with your equipment. It will not sound more “airy”, with “deeper blacks”, and more “Pace, Rhythm And Timing”, than the specific model X I have in my home. Do you own the exact model X I am comparing it to? Probably not. Most people don’t do comparisons anyhow. If you’re looking for that kind of review, there are plenty of other places online to to find that. Better, yet, go to an audio show and you can bathe in the audio-gaga all day long.
If on the other hand, you can about how something connects with the equipment and how if looks in a home, then you’re in the right place. If you want to know it’s relative size, how it is packed when new, and whether the was some common-sense thinking in how it was engineered, then you’ll find that here. I’m not a videographer, but I do believe that most people are highly visual, so I’ll be posting lots of photos. I’ll be using a professional photographer, too, so you don’t have to put up with my amateur iPhone photos, either.
I’ll certainly plug up the equipment and give it a quick listen, but more for fleshing out the ergonomics and the ease of use than anything else. About the only opinion I’ll give you on the sound is if it plays full and loud. It’s amazing how few reviews mention that something can play loud - and for me, that matters …a lot. As it turns out, it also happens to be a good measure of how well it is made. Next time someone brags about some fancy amp that they aquired, ask them how loud it can play. You’d be surprised how many people will look at you with an embarassed and puzzled look on their faces and say: “Gee, I hadn’t really tried that”.
Why I Am Doing This
I have been collecting audio equipment for the better part of my life. I use the word “collecting” intentionally, because that’s what most of us in this hobby do. Sure it may have started as a quest to improve and upgrade the equipment so that it would sound better, but that elusive goal fades over time. We eventually reach a point where a piece of equipment doesn’t necessarily sound better anymore, but just sounds ever so slightly different. Since we don’t want to admit this - it’s an expensive hobby after all - we begin to just collect equipment that we are not sure about. As the denial progresses, we begin to amass more and more equipment and we slowly become collectors.
Like car collectors and art collectors, it is not possible to keep every piece in a state of readiness, so it starts to pile up on extra shelves and in shipping boxes. When I ran out of room, I began to sell it off. However, much of it is somewhat exotic, so I started to receive all kinds of questions. People wanted manuals, descriptions, photos, and original boxes I no longer had. To deal with that, I did what everyone else does: I started searching online only to find that there isn’t much. Manufacturers tend to be rather closed-lipped about anything that isn’t current, and magazines spend most of the page pontificating about how good the thing sounds rather than providing photos.
This got me thinking that there should be more info online for people. After all, if you’re going to place $8K speakers in your home, which in audiophile circles is rather cheap, mind you, then you should probably know as much as you can about them before purchase.
Starting from Something Simple…
What makes Beethoven symphonies so engaging? He was able to take a very simple melody and develop it into a whole symphony. Few composers since have been able to emulate this. When I look at things that others rave about, I always wonder if it does the same things as a Beethoven Symphony. Does it take something simple and make it great.
When it comes to Hi-Fi audio equipment, it has really one of two functions: produce music or pass it along. So in essence it is a very simple thing. Does it then develop this simple task into something great? That is the question, but unfortunately, I am of the opinion that few products achieve that. Of course, marketing folks will argue otherwise, but it is up to the consumers to determine what is in effect a product that offers something new from one that just produces or passes music on.
I hope that my blog posts will help consumers make that determination for themselves.
Sincerely, Michael K.