Confessions of a female audiophile

Female audiophiles are news, it's kinda as crazy as man bites dog.

Margery just wants to have fun. Steve Guttenberg

Women sometimes buy quality audio, but that doesn't make them audiophiles.

With rare exceptions, all the audiophiles I've known are men. The unifying mantra for audiophiles is that there's always something, maybe an amplifier or speaker just out a reach that might get them a little closer to the music. Audiophiles are gear junkies. They want to have Aretha Franklin or the New York Philharmonic or their favorite music sound like it's in the house. Audiophiles crave an emotional, visceral connection with their music.

That pretty much sums up Margery Budoff's audiophile urges. Like most audiophiles I know, Margery had an unusually strong affinity for music at a young age. She described herself as "A child musician with an industrial design fetish." Even as a little kid she loved the look of stuff, especially older, big and clunky 1950s and 1960s record players.

The first record Margery bought was "Telstar," then Dionne Warwick, then the Rolling Stones. The record player was the thing that could "Decipher the secret code encrypted in the records. I wanted to hear the sound in all its glory. That's how I became an audiophile."

Margery's seriously large Bozak speakers and DJ turntables Steve Guttenberg

Even as a young teenager Margery was into jazz, and even though she was a musician, jazz mystified her. She had to learn how to appreciate jazz and came to adore John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis. So merely listening to music wasn't enough, Margery wanted to feel like she was in the studio where the music was being recorded. The LP was as close as she could get to that.

CDs never did a thing for Margery, "They're as exciting as plumbing fixtures, CDs sounded like going into a meat locker." She eschews drawing empty conclusions as to either format being "better" per se, but CDs don't interest her as "things." I know what she means; vinyl just seems to have more substance to it.

Margery has bought and sold a long series of hi-fis, including a fold-out turntable/speaker combo; later a Dual turntable with a B & O phono cartridge, Large Advent speakers and an Acoustic Research integrated amplifier. That was just a build up to her first full-on encounter with a real high-end speaker, the Quad 63 electrostatic, used with a Gradient subwoofer. Later it was Martin Logan 'stats; after that, big Snell Type A3 dynamic speakers, and Aerial 10Ts. Like a lot of audiophiles, Margery churns through gear.

Right now she has a VPI Aries turntable, Audio Research SP 10 vacuum tube preamplifier, solid-state Sunfire amp, and giant Bozak Grand speakers. The speakers are custom built models, made by New York City dealer Lyric Hi-Fi in the early 1960s. Margery says of the Bozaks, "They're even too ugly for me, but I wanted to have the experience of owning them." She's owned other humongous Bozaks, but the Concert Grands are a good 4 feet tall and nearly as wide. Margery loves big speaker sound. Bless her.

She has a huge music collection, I'd say maybe 3,000 LPs and 500 45s. There's lots of jazz, Latin, R&B, and soul. We listened to a bunch of things, including something new from Brooklyn label, Daptone Records. The band Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens' "What Have You Done my Brother" LP pushed a thick, rich groove out of the Bozaks. You could feel the band in the room.

The sound of the system and the LP were perfectly in sync with each other. Margery's hi-fi sounds like an idealized 1960s jukebox: Bassy to be sure, and vocals were very upfront and passionate. The sound makes you want to get up and dance.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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