Country of Origin


Frederic's Bio

January 2007: "I find writing about myself a lot more difficult than writing about gear; especially when it comes to telling 6moons readers about what I think they need to know to get the most from the reviews I will write. Because after all, this is what this bio is all about, giving you clues and hints on how to penetrate the portrayals I will make of a piece of equipment that you might never hear. I originally thought I would write a review about me. This 6'0" made-in-France reviewer, imported to the US five years ago, comes only in one finish, rough—mostly around the edges—but with a soft and warm core. But I'm not sure it would give enough insight. So I decided to switch gear completely and write a Chinese portrait of a slightly more musical flavour than what is customary.

If I were a concert hall, I would certainly be 'Le Theatre du Chatelet' in Paris. Even though I first discovered live concerts at Pleyel with my uncle when I was just a teenager (a very memorable concert version of Mozart's "La Finta Giardiner" with Dame Renee Fleming still unknown and Michele Pertusi in one of his very first stage performances), it is at the Chatelet that I experienced some of my most intense musical moments. Then there is Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" directed by Sir J.E. Gardiner or Kurt Mazur's electrified version of Schumann's Fourth Symphony. They remain in my memory forever. I love the warm feeling of this concert hall versus Pleyel's cooler sound. I love its clarity with voices and its slightly tamed orchestra emerging from the pit under the stage.

If I were a composer, I would certainly be Andre Ernest Modeste Gretry (1743 – 1811). Mostly unknown today except by a few aficionados, amongst them me, Gretry was a master of his time. During his life, Gretry composed fifty operas ranging in style from Rameau to Boldieu as he bridged music between Baroque and Romanticism, influencing many composers of the Classic era. Most encyclopedias call his music uninspired and contrived while I admire a composer who entertained the folks in the street of Paris for over 40 years, through the Revolution and multiple style changes without ever completely losing his own soul to adapt to the latest fashion.

If I were an event, I would be Rostropovich playing his cello in Berlin as the wall collapsed. Being sixteen at the time and glued to the TV watching the events going on a few hours' drive from home, I didn't realize that the world was changing forever in front of my eyes. I'm not sure I still fully realize all the ways in which this day changed our lives but when it comes to audio, I just have to think of all the brands coming from countries of the former Eastern European block, not to mention China, to see the magnitude of transformation born from this event where audio is just a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things.

If I were a country, I could probably be Botswana, a land of beauty and still preserved wilderness, a land of free men and women who gave themselves a democratically elected government in 1965 when everything around them was collapsing. I discovered Africa from Morocco to South Africa via Kenya through my love for wildlife photography and have travelled the continent tracking rare animals to finally also find people struggling through political instability and economical turmoil, brave and proud people with refined and elaborate cultures fighting to preserve a fraction of their heritage. Over the past fifteen years, Africa has become the repository of the most excess weapons in the world. As communist countries imploded one after another, the arsenals they hosted found their way illegally to tribal battle grounds, fuelling genocides of a greater magnitude than what humanity suffered through at any previous time in its history. During all those years, Botswana has remained peaceful and a beacon for democracy.

If I were a town, I would be Denver/Colorado. The Rockies just blew me away with their magnificent scale and it was a wonderful place to indulge in my nature photography and hiking hobbies. Denver is where a lot of friends are, a place of big skies and utmost clarity (at least in altitude, the plains can quickly turn brown with smog) and the day I find a speaker as clear and uncongested as the air on top of Mount Evans, I'll quit my quest, I promise.

If I were a speaker, I think I'd be a Sonus Faber Stradivarius because it certainly comes closest of all speakers I've heard to the stress-free midrange I crave. It's delicate and extremely refined but can rock and brawl like the best when asked to and doesn't take much to get it going. I could have said Rogers LS 3/5a, my reference for more than 10 years which is more than responsible for my musical bias of vocals; but I settled on the Strads instead because they sound amazing and are outrageously priced. I can at least have one unreasonable dream, can't I?

If I were an amplifier, I'd probably be an Ongaku because looks can be deceiving. The Ongaku looks fairly plain compared to let's say a Wavac but what matters hides inside. This amplifier is responsible in great part for my love of audio gear. I heard it for the first time almost 15 years ago at the Paris audio show in a Kondo no-expense-spared system. That  was so real and true and conveyed the intensity of musical emotions so completely that I decided that day I had to have that sound. Then of course somebody cruel and heartless gave me the price list. Since then I've heard other amps that I love, Wavac, Musical Fidelity KW, McIntosh MC275 and a few others but none had the same impact as my first  listening to an Ongaku. Okay, that's two very unreasonable dreams but nobody said I was a reasonable person.

If I were a cable company, no doubt it would be Zu, clear, fast and ruthlessly honest. They will tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not while preserving all the texture of the music. And they're a bargain for what they do. Zu Gede and Libtec are my reference cables. Buying them did more for my system than a component upgrade worth 2 or 3 times as much yet they won't get along with everybody and will irritate those who want a softening filter thrown over their music.

If I were a singer, I first wanted to say Bono for his humanitarian involvement but honestly, it'd be presumptuous. So. I would probably be Brassens, a big mouth weaving words and slang into poetry and having absolutely no respect for any established form of authority. Yep, Brassens is probably just about right and he played the guitar too. Maybe in my next life, I can be a reviewer with a guitar (some people say it's the only true kind).

If I were a brand, possibly Musical Fidelity for their dedication to rhythm and timing without sterility; a hand of steel in a velvet glove. And they're a bargain for what they do too. I almost answered AV123 because they're truly on the new frontier of audio, bringing highly acclaimed gear at highly disturbing low prices without sacrificing customer service or quality. Disruptive is probably what we have in common. But after consideration, MF seemed a better choice as their A5 CD player and amp are my current references. There is something magical in their tube and transistor blend that delivers fantastic tones and textures with almost limitless energy.

If I were an element of music reproduction, I'd probably pick imaging because the ability to see the performance is what allows me to be transported. But I also learnt over the years that proper imaging is a function of many factors like transparency, timing, bass extension, dynamics and tonal correctness since the best imaging can be destroyed if instruments sound wrong. So I'm not really choosing a camp, am I? Actually, I like to keep all those elements in balance as I find that leaning too far in one direction inevitably translates into losing some of the life of the replay. But if I needed to err on one side, it would always be towards a sweet and stress-free midrange. One can't undo years of conditioning that easily.

If I were a famous piece of music? Now that's a hard one. Why do I keep asking myself those hard questions? Anyway, I would probably be Beethoven's Ninth because it ends with an ode to joy and because people don't have to know anything about classical music to enjoy it.

If I were an unknown piece of music, I'd be Adolph Adam's Si j'etais Roi (1852). I told you it was unknown but if you ever make the effort to look it up, you'll be rewarded with some very elegant tunes from a 19th century French comic opera. Nothing fancy mind you—it is unknown for a reason—but enjoyable and fun. It will just take the extra effort to get to know it.

If I I were a regret, it would have to be having never learned how to play an instrument. It just wasn'tt on my adolescent to-do list and now there is just way too much on that list. I have also to admit to one very dumb mistake. I did sell my entire vinyl collection and Revox B795 turntable five years ago and have longed to getting back into black discs ever since.

If I were a Hi-Fi reviewer, I'd be Art Dudley because he will hopefully not care one way or the other; and I love Quad panels too. I've always been deterred though by their flimsy construction and a tendency to just shut off when the music gets really good – I mean loud. I need to go check on those new Chinese-built Quads though.

If I were a reason why you should not read my reviews, it would probably be the fact that I know nothing about electronics, can't play an instrument, can't read music, don't have a dedicated listening room or ugly acoustic room treatments, have to protect all gear against the inquisitive fingers of a 3-year old, consider paying for my kids' college degrees more important than buying very fancy gear, trust my ears to build an opinion more than any measuring device, absolutely, positively and unequivocally do not believe in definitive statements – and above all, want to have fun reviewing. Unless of course those are all the reasons why you might want to read my reviews after all. But don't say you haven't been warned.

Very many years later, Frederic's professional life got too busy so he stopped reviewing. Then the bug returned and so did he. Many years later again, a medical condition had made listening painful and no longer enjoyable. His long-term hobby was at an end and so was writing about it. Or was it?


March 12th, 2024. Hi Srajan, I keep following your audio adventures and it seems the last couple years have treated you well. I love the podcasts with Darko, they give your unique voice and perspective on everything audio a more human and personal touch. On my side, modern medicine has identified the cause of my ear pains and a solid regimen of anti-inflammatory and allergy med has given me back the enjoyment of music. The damage was mostly reversible and my latest audiogram shows a normal curve for a 50-year old guy. I'm no bat but I don't have to run away when music plays anymore, so that's brought back some joy to my life. With two of the kids out of the house now I've even be able to claim the basement guest room to setup a formal music room and although the room treatments are still a work in progress, the room sounds better than any other I've had before so I am quite pleased.

I also enjoyed reading the Tektron review. The way you describe the amplifier is what I have heard from most 211 with the notable exception of the Audio Note UK Ongaku which uses solid-state rectification and kilos of pure silver to give the 211 a bit more agility and sprite; but at a price that was never accessible and is now simply unrealistic for most. That's why until recently I had not been able to find a satisfactory upgrade to my 2A3 integrated. It has more similarity with a 45 without the same intensity of the 3D effect or quite the same treble magic but it has more bass and control than the 45 while avoiding the excess weight of the 300B or 211.

I said until recently because I finally upgraded to the best-sounding triode with my Ocellia. Hardly less holographic than the 2A3 but with so much more bass control without stifling the Ocellia, sublime dynamics and tones that are so real that they make a 300B sound like a caricature. Okay, I'm teasing. I actually bought an Enleum AMP-23 R. What a magnificent sounding piece of gear. I was always afraid to make the jump because I had not found any transistor amp so far that did well with the Ocellia. They are very finicky speakers. But I decided to take the plunge and it's been the best decision I've made in audio. I know it's not easy to convince a triode lover to switch (took me 15 years) but if one amp can do it, this is the one! I tried the Sugden, reissued Musical Fidelity A1, Pass INT 25 and even a used SIT3. None of them gave me better than the 2A3 integrated. The SIT3 gave me a lateral move but not better. The Enleum is in a different league. Just thought I'd drop you a quick note to let you know and thank you for discovering that gem. Oh, and I also use a Jay Audio CDT2 to spin CDs and that was also an eye-opening upgrade so you are 2 for 2 with me in the last 6 months! Cheers, Frederic 

Wow, best news of the month this far. That's splendid, Frederic. Congrats! Being purely selfish and self-serving, may I add that it would be even more splendiferous if I had you back on staff writing the occasional piece on audio, be it anecdotal and informal or a formal review. So should that bug bite, that bed is already made. Just say the word… Srajan

Yes, when the doctors told me that it was chronic inflammation due to allergies and treatable, I couldn't have been more overjoyed. It took over a year to get the swelling gone and the loss recovered but it was a gift. Outstanding on the writing offer. That wasn't my reason for reaching out but I do need an outlet in my crazy life and I spend so much time on flights these days, I have time to write. I'll be in Chile Wednesday, Argentina Thursday, Brazil Friday/Saturday and back home Sunday. I might find time to draft an extended piece and shoot some pictures next week. With Tidal I'm also getting more adventurous in music so can add some diversity. For a chuckle, Markus Philippe's Sax'n'bass has he best cover of the Pink Panther theme I've ever heard. Not that you'll be playing it in loops or anything but it's incredibly well recorded, too. A.R. Rahman's "Dacoit Duel" from his Between Heaven and Earth on the other hand could be more up your alley. Let me know what you think. I'm also catching up on the newer Renaud Garcia-Fons. He was getting repetitive but Farangi (not that new, I know) got me reconnected to his music. Cheers, Frederic

Ha, brilliant. That's a lovely surprise. Looking forward to your renewed presence on the moons. Really! Agreed on Renaud Garcia-Fons getting derivative, on himself. It's why I've not bought some of his later recording. A.R. Rahman I know well but not this recording. So I'll definitely give it a try. Same for the Markus Philippe. That's new to me, too. Thx for the recos. Much appreciated. You've got quite the travel schedule there. Long mileages, too. If you can write on a plane, it could be a good way to pass the time? Great to have you and your ears back, Frederic! Srajan