On becoming an audiophile

The Audiophiliac talks with fellow sound-lover Beau R. about how he fell in love with the sound of music.

I've always had a lot of audiophile friends, based in part on our shared common fascination with the sound of music. Sound appreciation and owning a great hi-fi definitely aren't essential to enjoy tunes, but the connection to music can feel stronger when you focus on the sound, the sound the musicians worked on for weeks or months to get just right.

Beau R. with one of his Tannoy Glenair speakers. Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Beau R. is a kindred spirit; we met a few months ago and I was impressed with his relaxed attitude. Over the years he'd assembled a hi-fi that made music sound the way he wanted it to sound. He wasn't seeking perfection, just the right sound, and he knew it when he heard it.

His father was an audiophile, heavy into McIntosh Labs electronics and custom-made Klipsch speakers, so Beau grew up hearing the good stuff, back in Louisiana. His father has 15,000 LPs, and Beau remembers music was always on, and when he was a little kid he couldn't get enough of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," he played it over and over again.

Later on Beau moved to New York, became a regular at Earsnova (a high-end audio store), and eventually bought a little British amp, the Naim Nait, a Marantz CD player, and Linn Kan speakers. It was all older, traded-in gear, so the system was affordable enough for a guy just out of college. Like a lot of audiophiles he was restless and went through some changes before he settled down with an all-Linn electronics and speakers system. He enjoyed that system for more than 10 years, until a flood in his loft apartment destroyed the hi-fi.

At that point he decided to try tube electronics, and went around to all the stores in the city. It was a long journey that stretched out over a couple of years, but when he met Steve Berger of Aprilsound, Beau found the sound he was searching for. As for speakers, he bought a pair of 3-year-old Tannoy Glenairs, the ones with the big 15-inch drivers. His turntable is a highly modified Empire, and Beau's system sounded best playing LPs. His Brooklyn loft is spacious, and the Tannoys do a great job filling the room. We listened to jazz, Jimi Hendrix, Nouvelle Vague, a quirky French band, and all sorts of things. The music always felt right.

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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