Country of Origin
I was born in 1952 in Chicago. I have been a lifelong Chicago resident except for a short time when I went to college in Michigan and after graduate school for clinical psychology when I spent time in New York City's Albert Ellis Institute. My professional pursuit has been a career of helping people deal with life's adversities in a healthy way by practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and being the director of The Chicago Institute for REBT for 32 years.
But since the age of 15, my avocation and passion for music led me to be an active seeker of live music along with collecting recorded music and equipment that would give me the greatest illusion of live music in my home. I also have been very fortunate because being based in Chicago, I got to hear some of the greatest blues/jazz musicians in the history of both art forms. Legendary artists like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Pinetop Perkins, Buddy Guy, Sam Lay, Willie Dixon, Big Walter Horton, Hubert Sumlin, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Eddie Harris, Art Hodes, Bud Freeman, Von Freeman, Gene Ammons, Eric Alexander, Patricia Barber, Johnny Griffin and Oscar Brown Jr are a few which I was privileged to hear in the Chicago clubs. This has led to a music collection of over 9'000 CDs in the jazz and blues genres.
My pursuit of stereo gear started with humble systems composed of different Dual turntables, Kenwood electronics and self-built speakers. I guess I later joined the 'big leagues' with systems composed of B&W speakers which were quickly replaced by Martin Logan Monoliths. Those led to an 18-year run with fully tricked-out Magnepan 20 bi-amped with a pair of great Threshold SA-1 monos and Pass Labs Aleph 1 monos. This system was fronted by numerous solid-state and tube preamplifiers. The turntable was an SME with a Signet moving coil cartridge. Because of my experimentation with input tubes, I amassed a large collection of NOS specimens that I use in my present systems to get the sound I'm looking for in preamps I audition and review.
As of early 2019, I have two systems which I refer to as my large downstairs rig and my upstairs smaller SET-based nearfield rig. I'm very lucky to live in a very large open post-and-beam home filled with wood which offers a great unrestricted acoustic which virtually any size speaker can optimally load and sound its best in. The large downstairs system contains an mhdtlab Orchid DAC, Jay's Audio CDT2 MkII transport, Linear Tube Audio reference preamplifier, refurbished Threshold S/550e amplifier, Running Springs Audio Dmitri power conditioner, MG Cable reference silver interconnects and copper speaker wire and Audio Archon power cords. This is all placed on a Tomo rack designed by Krolo Design. Speakers are Tekton Design Ulfberht mounted on Sistrum Apprentice platforms.
The SET-based upstairs system has a CEC TNL-3 belt transport, Lab12 SE DAC, LTA MicroZOTL preamplifier, Triode Lab SET 2A3 amplifier, Audio Surgeon reference copper cables, Audio Archon power cords and PPT isolation transformers. Speakers here are either Tekton Design Perfect SET or NSMT Model 50 placed on bamboo platforms.
Paramount to me as listener is that a piece of gear get the tonality/timbres of the individual instruments right. Otherwise I don't connect emotionally with the music. Yes I want transparency and micro detail, 3D imaging and extension on top and bottom but if a piece of gear or a system is dry, bleaches out color and lacks overall liquidity, it doesn't matter what else it might do correctly. I have sat in front of many systems that supposedly did all the 'right' things except make music. I also know how important system synergy is to get to the illusion of natural music. This can and does take time and effort to see if in the final equation you can get all the gear to mesh to reach this perfectly subjective goal.
I have professionally reviewed since 2013 and produced over 50 reviews on speakers, preamplifiers, power amplifiers and digital front ends for HomeTheaterReview.com. I would have loved to review power conditioners, power cords and cables but management did not support reviews on such items. I became somewhat known for my passion of finding small boutique companies that offer tremendous build quality and performance at sane prices. Yes I also reviewed better-known equipment such as five different Pass Labs components—Nelson Pass is a genius and gentleman—but my mission and pleasure are to uncover new talented designers who build outstanding musical pieces of gear, then pass this information to the next generation of music lovers.
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