CAS INTERVIEWS

J. Gordon Holt

September 15, 1990

by Art Tedeschi

Though Gordon may not care to affirm it, his name conjures up in every red-blooded stereo enthusiast the ultimate personification of the word "audiophile". He is unique in that he is comfortable in both the technical and subjective worlds of this wonderful hobby of ours. Gordon can be credited as the first audio journalist to notice sonic differences between components and the first to provide a working vocabulary to distinguish those differences. In my opinion, we might not be enjoying the wonderful audio systems we do today, were not it for Gordon's contributions.During the past several months, I've come to know and enjoy Gordon's humor and charming wit. More than once Jennifer and I have enjoyed his company over dinner, entertained by his brilliant conversation and knowledge which seems to encompass almost every subject mentioned

As many may be aware, Gordon has recently been recovering from an illness which has kept him under the weather for a while, but I'm happy to report that his physicians proclaim him 100% cured. For anyone who's been locked in a closet for the past 20 years, I should probably mention that he is the founder of Stereophile magazine and remains near the top of the masthead with the title of Chief Tester (in whose ears we trust). He also offers his own publication which deals in subjects visual, "Video Theater", which is available by subscription. I highly recommend VT to anyone interested in video. It exudes much of the spunk and enthusiasm which the "underground" audio publications enjoyed in the early days of Hi Fi. Gordon also recently published a book "The Audio Glossary", which is recommended to all audio enthusiasts.

AT: Gordon, when did you first become interested in audio and music recording?

JGH: Oh, gosh, sometime, I guess, in the late 1940s. I think that would be about it. I suppose the thing that did it now--I was messing around with audio before then. I really don't remember when I started getting into it, but it must have been around 1940, I guess. And the thing that really got me into it was buying one of the first tape recorders that came out into the market.

AT: What was that?

JGH: It was a Brush Sound Mirror. Actually, it wasn't even a ceramic unit. I think it was a crystal microphone. It looked like a round ball with mesh on the top of it and really lousy quality. There's a recording that was made with that on the Stereophile's demo disc. Have you heard the disc?

AT: I don't have a CD player yet, but I will.

JGH: It's a recording of my high school band. They were not very good. Let me put it that way. I mean the performance is so bad, that I have seen people double up and fall off the couch. So, that was essentially what got me started, and I don't remember the definite chronology of building a phono system--that sort of thing. I got hooked on classical music, I guess, when I was 14. And most of my record buying has been classical stuff since then, and still is.

AT: When did you start noticing that there were differences in the recording devices you were using?

JGH: Not until I tried another one. Actually--wait a minute. Come to think of it, the Sound Mirror was not the first recording machine that I had. The first one that I had was a wire recorder. Webster Corporation, Webcor they called it. I don't think I ever tried any music recording at the time. It was a toy. According to the instructions, in order to edit the tape, you would cut it with scissors and remove it and tie a knot in it. I think I stayed with that recorder and microphone until my sophomore year in college, when I broke down and actually--I brow-beat my parents into buying me a Magnecord PT-6, which was a professional machine. That was when I started collecting microphones. That was about the time when I really started to become aware of how different microphones were, actually.

AT: How did you get involved in the business of audio? How did it become an occupation?

JGH: Well, since I was messing around with all these electronics, I figured I must be cut out to be an electrical engineer. So, despite the warnings of my high school math teacher, I went to Lehigh University and took a crack at E.E. And by my sophomore year, I had the choice of either switching majors or flunking. So, I switched to journalism. And one of the courses I took was called Magazine Article Writing. And the instructor's policy was that we had to write three articles, of course. And his policy was that regardless of the grade that he gave you, if you sold the article you'd get an 'A' for it. And, of one of his admonitions was, "Write about something that you know something about." So, of course, I wrote about audio and I submitted it to High Fidelity Magazine and it worked. They bought it. So I thought, "Hey, I figured onto a good thing here." So, all three articles were about audio, and I sold them all to High Fidelity Magazine. And I don't know whether I did any stuff for them after that, between the time I graduated. But, after graduation, they invited me up there for a little visit. And a bunch of us went out and got bombed and enjoyed this marvelous dinner. And the next thing I knew, they invited me to join the staff. So, that's how it started.

AT. Is it true that you left High Fidelity because you were dissatisfied with their non-discriminating approach to reviewing audio equipment?

JGH: Pretty much. Obviously, one of the things was they would never publish an unfavorable review. Well, that irritated me, because I felt they were doing a disservice to their readers. But then, on the other side of the thing, if I ever came across in my testing something that was outstandingly good, I couldn't say that either. In other words, the reviewing process was a great leveling. So, finally, I just got tired of butting heads with the publisher. I'd write a scathing review of something and he'd call me into his office and say, "We can't print this. These people buy four pages of the magazine." So, anyway__,

AT: It still goes on today.

JGH: Oh yeah. Not in Stereophile. Anyway, I took off one weekend and went down to the Philadelphia area and visited a manufacturer whose product I had admired; a guy by the name of Paul Weathers.

AT. The Weathers' cartridge?

JGH: The Weathers' cartridge, yes. He'd seen my name and the reviews in the magazine. So I asked him if I could get a job with him, and he hired me on the spot. He said he needed somebody to communicate with dealers and with customers and things like that. So, anyway, I went back to the magazine on Tuesday (and missed Monday), and I hadn't even called in. And when I walked in the door, the publisher was waiting for me. And he said, "I want to see you in my office." And I walked into his office, and he followed me; he slammed the door, and I sat down and he sat down. I don't know who spoke up first. But, anyway, I said, "I quit." And there was this brief pause, and he said, "When are you leaving?" So, I think he was delighted to lose me. So, anyway, I just went to work for Weathers Industries doing dealer stuff and regular dealer bulletins. And the first thing we noticed was that we were sending out more of these bulletins than we had dealers. And some of them were ordering four and six and ten of them. They were handing them out to their customers. And a little light began to go on, and I figured, "Gee, maybe it was sort of like a magazine format." It was newsletter format, but we had some record reviews and a little editorial in the beginning and review of some products which did not compete with Weathers stuff. So, anyway, I got this idea that maybe there's a demand for a magazine like that, and I left Weathers Industries on good terms to start Stereophile.

AT: Why did you move to Santa Fe?

JGH: Because it was there. My wife and I went out to visit in '78, I guess it was, and we liked the place, liked the feeling of it, and we loved the climate. And since the magazine was operated essentially through mail and all the equipment came by U.P.S. or freight and all our communications with readers were through the mail. I figured we could live anywhere. So, we figured that there was no reason why we couldn't move then. So, we did. Actually, what happened was, we got there and we didn't know a soul and we said, "Who would be best qualified to show us around Santa Fe?" A real estate agent. So we went out to dinner, borrowed a phone book and went, eenie, meenie, minee, mce and decided, "Let's try this one." And we called this lady and she said she'd be delighted to show us around Santa Fe if we'd look at a couple of houses that she had for sale. So she showed us this one and we looked through it, we looked at each other and then we looked at her and said, "We'll take it." And then, on the way back, we said, "My God, what have we done?" But that's how we came to move.

AT. Gordon, what were the differences you were hearing in equipment that no one paid attention to at the time, and what was the reaction of the audio community to what you were saying?

JGH: In the early issues of Stereophile?

AT: Yes.

JGH: Most of the audiophile community did not recognize the need for any such magazine. And most people who were buying equipment were apparently oblivious to the sound of it, just as were most of the people who were reviewing for most of the magazines. So, the differences I was hearing at that time were essentially what we're still hearing now; two amplifiers that measure exactly the same in frequency response and one of them will sound as if it has a tipped-up low end, and the other one may sound rolled off at the bottom. Or, if there is a little bit of distortion, it will sound tipped up at the top, or whatever.

AT: So the audiophile discussions that went on really didn't center much on sonics back then?

JGH: There were a few--I mean, there were enough people to keep the magazine going, although marginally. And they, of course, used to get into the same kind of discussions people still get into today. It would be a matter of two people acknowledging the difference between this component and that component. But one would say, "I prefer this," and the other would say, "I prefer that." The only thing that's changed is that we're picking much smaller nits than we used to, because in those days, the differences between two amplifiers were awesome. And today, they're moderately awesome.

AT: When Stereophile was founded were you confident that a market existed which would really care about the sonic differences between equipment?

JGH: No. I hoped such a market existed.

AT: What was your readership back then?

JGH: Oh, maybe a thousand, I guess; maybe less than that. It grew very, very slowly, because I really didn't have enough money to dump into promotion and stuff like that. And I was living off what I'd saved while I was working at High Fidelity Magazine for five years and sponging off my mother. Actually, it didn't really take off until 1976, I guess, which was more than ten years after 1'd started it. Then, word of mouth started carrying, and the circulation started. I think it topped around 4,000, something like that, when I moved to Santa Fe. And then, for various and sundry reasons, we weren't able to put an issue out for four months and, essentially, my income stopped. And I didn't have the sense to see what was happening. What I should have done was gone to the bank when I still had the money and said I needed some money. But, by the time I tried looking for loans, it had just about run dry. And, of course, a bank won't loan you money if you need it. So, Larry Archibald was writing for the magazine then, and he was really gung ho about audio and this sort of thing. And he had a fairly prosperous business repairing high-performance automobiles. You know, one of these--what do they call them? White glove places? Where you go in there and feel as if you can safely eat your lunch from the floor. And he bought the magazine and saved it. And then, he had the wherewithal-apparently, his father, I believe, put some money into the thing also, to start really promoting the pants off of it. And the circulation--to my recollection, it went from about 4,000 to over 10,000 in one year.

AT: Where would you say it's at today, approximately?

JGH: I'm not sure, but I think it's in the vicinity of 45--, 47,000.

AT: Quite an improvement over those old days.

JGH: And that may be a ceiling. In other words, it may be at a point beyond where it's going to be hard to push it. It's still growing. The renewal rate on it is still very good, which means we won't have that attrition to worry about. We can just keep building on it.

AT: Audiophiles often speak of "classic" equipment. What equipment truly deserves the title of "classic?" The best equipment you've run across over the years?

JGH: Well, it's not just the best equipment. Some of the stuff that I thought was very good never lasted. It disappeared from view, and nobody ever heard of it again. But, I would say, probably, the truly classic" stuff would include the original Quad ESLs. Let's see--the Marantz tube equipment and, strange to say, some of the Dynaco stuff.

AT: Stereo 70?

JGH: The Stereo 70, in its day, was a very good amplifier. Today, it is a very definitely mediocre amplifier. And yet, the things are in high demand. Perhaps, because there are a lot of modification schemes that you can do to improve them. As a matter of fact, they're so popular, I understand, there's some outfit who is planning on manufacturing them again.

AT: That's what I read.

JGH: Let's see. What else? (A loud crash is heard in the background.) I told you we should have put that cat out.

AT: It'll check whether we're getting a surround sound recording.

JGH: That's true. So, let's see. Any other "classics"? There's the Audio Research D-150, which was the last of his humongous amplifiers. Two meters on the thing! Probably the SP-3, which a lot of people still love. The Weathers FM pick-up is legendary, even if probably no one any longer has one that works. For damping it, you used some kind of plastic material. It had to be glued, hand glued to both sides of the stylus. And whether it was a result of air pollution or just oxidization or something, that damping material would harden up over time. So, what would start out as a gorgeously sweet, smooth cartridge would, in about nine months to a year sound pretty harsh. So, unless someone found out what that plastic was and learned to replace it themselves, all of the existing FM cartridges would sound like
garbage.

AT: How did the FM--the pickup work? Was it kind of like the Stax capacitor cartridge?

JGH: It was, as far as I know, essentially the same thing. And what it was, I believe, was a tuned oscillator circuit. And the capacitor was across the coil on it. As the distance between the stylus and the fixed pole piece changed, it would shift the frequency of the oscillator. It was a fairly simple demodulator, similar to what was used in the first FM tuners.

AT: Interesting.

JGH: And they had endless problems with those. It's funny, there was a continuing problem with the FM pickup, and if there was a prolonged, drastic change in humidity, it would go sour. And you could never get them to work right. You'd have to retune them and they'd act flaky. And then the weather would dry out and stay dry for a while, continuously during the winter. The system would sound beautiful. And it wasn't until he had just about finished manufacture on those things that he found out what the problem was. He was sealing the coils in some kind of enamel. I don't know what it was. And it turned out that the people in his assembly line were never instructed on how to hold the coil with the tweezers. When they [the coils] were immersed into the stuff, instead of holding them by the ends of the little bobbin,
they would hold it by the coil. And they would dip it in and it would come out with two little patches which were not sealed. Apparently, the insulation for the wire was hydroscopic. It would absorb moisture, and that was what was doing it.

AT: Would you bestow the honor of "classic" to any of the tuners of yesteryear?

JGH: Oh, gosh, yes. I was having this discussion with someone awhile ago, and we both knew what we were talking about, but neither of us remembered the names of them. There were two. I think one was made by Browning, who was making an FM tuner which was held in pretty high regard. And then there was another one made by a gentleman who is still around, but since that, got into speaker design. And I cannot--oh, what's the one? I cannot think of his name.

AT: Sequerra?

JGH: That was it.

AT: Okay. What about the old Macs--Mclntoshes, like the MR-78?

JGH: Those. I think those are more popular. Actually, a lot of the stuff which is--almost has cult status now, was not terribly popular when it first came out. I mean, Mclntosh equipment then was considered inferior to the Dynaco equipment. And in retrospect, for some reason or other, all of a sudden, the Mac stuff has been elevated to "classic" status. And I never cared for the sound of the Mac tuners that much. Another one, of course, was the Marantz.

AT: Right.

JGH: One thing a lot of people now are seeking out are the last of the Ampex tube-type tape recorders; the 350, 354; maybe it was just 350 was the last model.

AT: Would you care to speculate about the types of equipment audiophiles will be listening to in the year 2000?

JGH: Types of audio equipment? Well, for one thing, I think it's very definite at this point that it's going to be digital from stem to stern. And it will probably stay that way until either the loudspeaker or right before the loudspeakers. And all the signal processing is going to be digital. Like it or not. What else? I would hope by then that the audio community will have come to grips with surround sound and recognize that it isn't really the worst thing that ever happened to audio, which most people seem to feel today. But, after all, listening to two speakers only represents half the space that we normally listen to.

AT: I agree.

JGH: Let's see. What else? Software. I think probably-- we'll still be listening to compact discs ten years from now. I don't see anything on the horizon which would be likely to displace that. But, I think probably we're going to be seeing a drastic increase in storage capability on the disc, which would probably mean--are they three and a half?

AT: Three and a half, I think.

JGH: Three and a half, I think, will probably become the defacto standard for most music use. I mean, who needs four hours of a recording on a music disc. I think we're also going to see a trickle-down to the technology of the laser disc field, with the probable result that we'll have high-definition video for laser disc, and which may actually play an hour per side. Of course, with the regular laser disc you could be getting a whole movie on one side.

AT: Sure. And then, the big problem would be what you back up Batman with.

JGH: Do you have a flip-side, which would be a B-grade film?

AT: Batman '66 maybe?

JGH: Yeah.

AT: Well, on HDTV, do you think it will ever be a broadcast medium, or will it be confined to cable?

JGH: Eventually, it will. But right now, I think we're going about it the wrong way. I mean, this business of broadcast high-definition being compatible with existing television. It's a terrible mistake. I mean, no one, when FM radio first came out -- no one insisted that it be compatible. And in no time flat, there were receivers that would receive both FM and AM. There's no reason we couldn't do the same thing with high definition.

AT: I agree. So what do you think of your new house, as far as a listening room goes?

JGH: Well, one room, I would say, has potential; yes, the living room. But, it does have one wall which is not exactly rigid. The room is open at the back, as you've noticed. The dimensions on it are pretty close to what I'd like, even to the eight-foot ceiling, or almost eight-foot ceiling. but I think its going to be hard to predict what's going to happen until I get the speakers up and running.

AT: Do you think the SoundLabs will do well there?

JGH: Who knows? They do well practically anyplace I've heard them.

AT: My A-1s sound pretty good in my little 14 by 16 room.

JGH: Uh-huh. Yeah. I think this room is going to work out, particularly when I get the fiberglass on the ceiling.

AT: ???

JGH: You know, actually, that's not so ridiculous, because if you are serious about surround sound, the room should really be as dead as possible.

AT: Just dead, dead dead or-

JGH: Dead, dead, dead, yeah.

AT: All right. And you wouldn't say that about stereo, because stereo needs a little bit of a liveness?

JGH: That's the thing. I mean, here again, we're dealing with two channels which we're trying to reproduce a dimension--you know, in line with you and the speakers. And inherently, they're having a hard time doing it. And the idea of the surround thing is that the depth that you get is real.

AT: And you're saying, with stereo, it's enhanced?

JGH: With the stereo, you need the reflective surfaces, particularly behind the loudspeakers, particularly to get a sense of depth.

AT: And then, you're not really recreating the recording site, you're --

JGH: That's right. The old Bose argument. Making a listening room into a little miniature concert hall.

AT: A lot has been said about the marriage of audio/video/computer technology; i.e., multi-media. Can you envision serious audiophiles embracing video as they have high end audio?

JGH: It depends on the reason they got into audio in the beginning. People who came into it from a real love of music, may not ever--you know, incorporate a video system into their room. The people who got into audio from a love of technology have probably already married their audio, video, and maybe computers, and everything else. So, I think that's what the determining factor is, pretty much. A lot of people, for instance, are getting into high end audio now the other way; they started out in video. Their primary interest was in watching movies at home. And as they started to learn that a lot of the sound they hear in movie theaters is actually on the stereo soundtrack on the movie that they rented, this has gotten a lot of people started looking into the audio end of the thing. People who were never into audio before--but these people tend to be far less critical of audio quality than people who came at it from music. Because for one thing, just the fact that you have the visual aspect, I think, in there, draws most of your attention away from the sound. So you're not nearly as critical of the sound as you would be if--even if you listened to a video program with the picture turned off, you'd hear stuff that you never noticed before. And a lot of it is stuff that you realize that you never wanted to hear. I was listening awhile ago to--I think it was Alien. Was it Ridley Scott?

AT: Yes.

JGH: And in some sections in that film when certain sound effects come on, you can hear surface noises; little ticks and pops, riding through the thing. There are other sections in there where the orchestra is playing in stereo, and superimposed on it are what sounded like two other soundstages. And some of the sound effects may have been recorded in stereo. I'm not sure. But, what you have, essentially, is what sounds like three shells. They have the dialogue all-panned to the middle, and then, some of the sound effects are off the side. And then, there's this big space on the orchestra, and that stuff you really don't want to hear. As more and more film directors get into recording in stereo, we're going to have more of that disparity. The soundstage where they do the shooting, of course, is a different size from the studio from where they record the music and all this kind of thing, and stereo will show up the differences even more.

AT: So, if you were a film producer, how would you do the sound in a film for somebody who had a quality audio/video setup?

JGH: I wouldn't. This may change as time goes on. As of right now, most directors are primarily interested in putting their best foot forward in theatrical presentations. So that's what they mix for. And, if they are critical of sound, they will be thinking of THX movie houses. But if theatrical presentation becomes a relatively small proportion of total income from the film and is supplanted by home video revenues, then I could see a possibility of people starting to think more and more in terms of targeting their productions for home systems. And I think that would be a real mistake.

AT: Do you?

JGH: Yeah, I do. At least at this time. Because what we're talking about, essentially, is anarchy. The only saving grace is that enough people may end up with the home THX systems, hopefully, properly installed. You can still have, dssentially, the same frame of reference that the theater THX gave to the industry--you know--from the movie theaters, which was simply the ability to be able to assume that what you do in the mixing studio is going to be determined by the audience in the theater--mixing theater, I should say.

AT: So, let's make an assumption that you'd produce sound on a film for a video-room setup. How do you handle left and right when your monitor is -, say a maximum of 30 inches from the back wall sitting five feet in front of you, and your speakers are kind of in the corners of the room. And you have action eight feet behind the monitor?

JGH: I think as far as the director is concerned, if there's going to be an additional mix-down for home video, my inclination would be to just ignore that completely, because there's so much variation in the home-viewing situation. There's no way you can peg it. So, the best thing you'd be able to do is to make it reasonably good in one particular situation and worse on all the others. I think if people are worried about that discrepancy, I'd say go out and buy a big-screen set.

AT: You're saying that that one situation should probably be for a front projection large-screen type situation?

JGH: Of course. Another problem, even with a big-screen, is that a lot of the movies, particularly on cassette--a lot of them are what they call panned and scanned. And, unfortunately, usually they don't bother to do that with the set up. So, very often what you'll have on these movies--you'll have a nice panorama of stereo sound and then, the view on the screen will change and the sound stays put. There was one section in Invasion--the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where there's a garbage truck that pulls in way at the side of the picture. But it wouldn't be visible if they didn't pan the camera over to it. So, on the screen, that truck is in the middle of the thing, but the sound of the truck is way hard left--that kind of thing. So you can't worry about those discrepancies.

AT: Right. So are you kind of saying that the marriage of audio and video is going to be fraught with difficulties?

JGH: No, I don't think it's difficulties, but there's a long way to go. The thing is, the picture quality that we're able to get in the home now is really abominable in comparison with what we get from audio. And I don't think too many directors are aware of the fact that, in the home video release, of how much the sound carries the picture. I mean, you watch these films through a typical TV set with a little speaker on it--or something like that--and you're much more aware of how rotten the picture is; then, you have this magnificent sound.

AT: True. Top Gun would have never scored without the soundtrack.

JGH: I don't know whether that's ever been shown on commercial TV. But, I would think it would be pathetic. I mean, it would be like trying to do Earthquake through a three-inch loudspeaker.

AT: You've already intimated that video has a long way to go to catch up to the sophistication of audio. Where do you see it going in the next few years, as far as projection units. You know, obviously, we're going to have NTSC for quite some time.

JGH: I don't know. NTSC will be around for a long time, because any improved system is going to cost enough that most people aren't going to be prepared or able to buy into it. Everyone is talking high definition television right now out of one side of their mouth, and the other side-they're talking about compromising it severely. The capability thing being one aspect; the fact that the apparent aspect ratio of a high-definition thing is not what is going to be used in most movie theaters. It's going to be like half way between regular video-I think 1.7, 1.66, or something like that, instead of 1.88, which is sort of the defacto standard for a movie. There are also real problems now in delivering any high-definition system, simply because of the awesome bandwidth requirements. I mean, you read articles about high
definition, and they say, "It's going to be just like 35mm film." And I think the resolution capability of 35mm film would be the equivalent of something like 2800, maybe 3,000 lines. And none of the proposed systems comes close.

AT: They are around 1200 1ines, aren't they? The best ones?

JGH: Well, 1200 scanning lines. Which means that the maximum number--the maximum resolution you get in the vertical direction is half that. But, as far as resolution along a horizontal line, you're bandwidth is the limiting thing. But, none of the suggested delivery systems are offering the kind of bandwidth that would really allow you to, say--probably, even come close to film. And, apparently, I read recently, Kodak has proposed some system, which I think is something like 3800 lines of horizontal resolution. And they figured, this is something which would take a little while for film to catch up to. But no one is taking them seriously. You know, the whole idea, the American TV industry, is really, basically, only interested in selling commercial time. And that's it. So their feeling is, quality shmality. Anything which will bring us--which would get us back our viewer base is dandy. All that the industry is looking for is something which is sufficiently better than what we have now, that most people can't mistake one for the other. And that's a far cry from what the idealists of the business want to see.

AT: I know this is kind of Buck Rogerish, but, can you foresee the day when we might have holograms of movies in our living room with the sound emanating from the point in space where they appear visually, or is that too Buck Rogerish?

JGH: As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing too Buck Rogerish. We don't know what the limitations of technology or even the physics are at the present time. I don't see anything on the horizon that could serve that purpose. But that doesn't mean that someone won't come up with one in the next five, ten years. Maybe 50 years; although, if we're talking 50 years, we will probably be thinking more in terms of thought transmission. First, you put on a helmet and play some sort of signal and it stimulates your brain directly. And you experience what's happening. There was a movie based on that idea, and it was called Brainstorm.

AT: I guess that's the ultimate.

JGH: That would be the ultimate entertainment.

AT: Just plug directly into the old noggin.

JGH: Exactly. Record other peoples' sensations. So, predictions? I don't know. I wouldn't hazard a guess. Everyone who has tried to predict the direction that the sciences will take beyond 10 or 15 years, has been pretty much off the beam. So I would be, too.

AT: One last question. The thing that's driven all of us audiophiles in the past is that quest for more perfect sound, more realistic reproduction of music and the soundstage, and the sound of the instruments, and-

JGH: A pet peeve.

AT: Well where do you see all that heading right now?

JGH: Down the tube. More and more people will come along who never get the opportunity, or never avail themselves of the opportunity of hearing live music--and actually, I guess that's the ultimate. There is probably going to be a diminution of the availability of live, unamplified music. In other words, from acoustical instruments, I think the concept of realism and reproduced sound is going to fade with it. And the name of the game will simply will be to produce the most luscious, gorgeous, exciting sound that you can. So I don't see anything is going to turn that around. At least not in the U.S. Maybe some of the European countries which have--you know, where acoustical instruments are much more a part of their whole culture. They may preserve it a lot longer than we do.

AT: So you see us moving toward more of a stylized euphonic, artificial sound that people like?

JGH: It's pretty much happening now.

AT: Versus the sound of live instruments?

JGH: I know a lot of supposedly very serious audiophiles who talk up the word "accuracy" like a storm and yet really don't give a damn about it. I know someone who swears by the SME Model S--I think something like that--tonearm. He uses it without the viscous stamping. And the reason he loves this arm without the viscous damping is because it gives him this great, fat, billowing low end. Now, he knows its wrong, but he won't change it because he likes it. You know, that's what I'm talking about. I'm not saying this is bad. I'm not saying it's wrong. But what I am saying is that one result of this is-basically, it removes one of the incentives for trying to improve reproduced sound. And it removes any semblance of a standard for evaluating it. And the thing is, you can say, "This sounds good. Sounds good to me." It may not sound good to anyone else. That's hardly a standard. That's like, if it feels good, scratch it.

AT: You're probably right.

AT: Gordon, thank you very much.

Great thanks to Jennifer, my lovely wife, for transcribing this interview from the video tape.