A New York City native whose seventh floor two-channel rig masks the evils that blast from the hip-hop spewing, B&T seating, falafel-smelling automobiles that cruise his tourist-ridden block, Ken Micallef has been writing about music and audio for more years than his chin has doubles. Originally an artist, musician, man of the cloth and Detroit area tube thief, Micallef has written for such publications as JazzTimes, Rolling Stone, Blender, SoundStage.com, Musician, Time Out New York, and Interview.

Micallef's desire in the audio nervosa realm lies in his dream of entering the studio with his favorite musicians. Not physically, like he means to stalk them and steal their underwear. No, he wants to be in that original recording session, listening as the music was put to tape, aura intact, cigarettes burning, romance extended, history being made. Playing a CD or SACD by The Beatles, Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Laika, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Steely Dan, The Orb, Frank Zappa, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Airto, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dom Um Romao, Missy Elliot, Jorge Ben, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra is to be transported to that moment in time; be it a Blue Note session in Englewood Cliffs or at the Village Recorder with Brian Wilson. For some, the concert performance is the benchmark, but owing perhaps to his 15 years of experience as a jazz drummer, what matters most to Micallef is the audio intimacy that can only be had in a small club or in the recording studio. The closer one can get to that original recording session -- the deeper one can go in understanding each stroke of Elvin Jones' triplet rhythms or the incandescent throb of John Lennon's hearty guitar strum -- the closer he is to audio nirvana.

Of course that means tubes.)

Only the finest high-end audio can get any of us there - wherever that personal 'there' may be. But boogie factor is not all about $$$. It's about synergy. Reproducing beautiful, time-traveling music is about romance between special components. It can also be had from a 1960 console stereo or a perfectly matched stereo system from the 1970s. SACD is, of course, the latest and greatest way to time travel to your personal image of audio nirvana.

Born in Detroit/Michigan, Micallef showed an early aptitude for art, and line drawing became a passion. High school Scholastic Art awards led to his enrolling at the University of North Carolina/Charlotte where he earned his degree in graphic arts and worked for a corporation for a year before dropping out, tuning in and growing a goatee. A former Berklee School of Music teacher then took Micallef under his arm and taught him the secrets of Tony Williams, Lenny White, Mickey Roker, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette and Kenny Washington. That study and experience instigated a life-long love of jazz and jazz drumming. After several years playing in the NC area -- big bands, trios, fusion ensembles, bar-mitzvahs and pool parties -- Micallef moved to New York where he studied at Drummer Collective by night and worked at the now- defunct Cash Box Magazine by day. Suddenly writing about music became more rewarding than performing it.

Billboard magazine's first world music article was written by Micallef in 1990. In 1996, he penned Rolling Stone's first drum & bass and electronica reviews and articles. Later that year for Musician Magazine, he reported that a member of a popular Australian band had died. He had not. Undeterred, Micallef soon began covering trendy music for Spin, Ray Gun, Sky, New York, Stereophile and Modern Drummer before settling into a life as a freelancer, which continues to this day.

Micallef began writing for SoundStage.com in 1998, penning dozens of reviews and perhaps just as many turkey recipes for that worthy site. Currently, he writes an SACD hardware and software column for esteemed jazz journal Downbeat while continuing to scribble for MOJO, Remix, In Tune Monthly, and his own White Trash-praising site, Holy Roller Roundup. Micallef is currently working on his first book, 25 Drummers: Rhythm Music and the Future of Drumming [Holy Roller press].

Micallef’s rig:
Digital Source: Raysonic CD 128 [on loan]
Analog Source: Kuzma Stabi/Kuzma Stogi turntable/arm combo, Denon DL 103 cart
Preamp: Shindo Allegro
Amp: Art Audio Diavolo
Speakers: DeVore 9s
Phones: Goldring DR 150, BeyerDynamic DT 770
Cables: Auditorium A23 speaker cables, Shindo ICs
Stands: Salamander rack, 2" Mapleshade platforms (8" x 15" x 2"), Blue Circle custom amp stand
Powerline conditioning: Shunyata Hydra 4, JPS Labs Kaptovator, Shunyata Black Mamba and Anaconda Vx Powersnakes
Accessories: Mapleshade Maple slabs, Mapleshade Surefoot and Heavyfoot brass points and IsoBlocks; (8)

Now for some samples of Ken's work in various sundry publications:

Big Band Jaco
Scofield Band Plots Future
Atmasphere M-60 MkII.2
Atmasphere MP-3 preamp
47Labs Digital System
JPS Labs
Shunyata Aries/Lyra
Blue Circle BC-21 preamp
Monarchy SE160
NPR Jazz
Joe Lovano
NPR Jazz
Marcus Miller
Beebop Beat Juggler
Where's Your Club At?
Time Bandits
Heart From Darkness
Everything Must Groove
Trance Jammers
Boston Phoenix
The Apes OddEyeSee
Portland Phoenix
P.O.D Payable on Death
Modern Drummer
Stubblefield & Starks
Cake's John McCrea
XTC in Ecstasy
Ray Gun
Ken Micallef
Freelance writer