This review page is supported in part by the sponsor whose ad is displayed above

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 am not sure it would give enough insight. So I decided to switch gear completely and write a Chinese portrait of a slightly more musical flavor 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 was collapsing. Being sixteen at the time and glued to the TV watching the events going on a few hours' drive from home, I did not realize the world was changing forever as it was happening in front of my eyes. I am 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 - and 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 have discovered Africa from Morocco to South Africa via Kenya through my love for wildlife photography and have traveled 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 most excess weapons in the world. As the communist countries imploded one after another, the arsenals they hosted found their way illegally to most 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 the closest of all speakers I've heard to this stress-free midrange I crave. It's delicate and extremely refined but can rock and brawl as the very best when asked to and it does not 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 in favor of voice reproduction; 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 is hidden 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 which 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 - and then of course somebody cruel
and heartless gave me the price list. Since, I've heard other amps that I love, Wavac, Musical Fidelity KW, McIntosh MC275 and a few others but none had the same impact on me as that first time 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 in my mind 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 – but they won't get along with everybody and will irritate all who want a softening filter thrown over their music.

If I were a singer, I wanted to say Bono originally for his humanitarian involvement but honestly, it would 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 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 serve 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 are 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 reference gear. 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 probably would pick imaging because the ability to see the performance is what
allows me to be transported. But I have also learned over the years that proper imaging is a function of many factors like transparency, timing, bass extension, dynamics and also tone correctness since the best imaging can be destroyed if instruments sound tonally wrong. So I am 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 reproduction. 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 actually 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 were a regret, it would be to have never learned how to play an instrument. It just was not on my to-do list as a child 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 all 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, do not have a dedicated listening room, do not have 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 up an opinion more than any measuring device, absolutely, positively and unequivocally do not believe in definitive statements ... and above all, I 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.