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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
AT: Why did you move
to Santa Fe?
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
JGH: In the early issues
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?
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
AT: When Stereophile
was founded were you confident that a market existed
which would really care about the sonic differences
JGH: No. I hoped such a
AT: What was your readership
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.
Audiophiles often speak of "classic" equipment. What equipment
truly deserves the title of "classic?" The
best equipment you've run across over the years?
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.
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
AT: How did the FM--the
pickup work? Was it kind of like the Stax capacitor
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
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
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.
JGH: That was it.
AT: Okay. What about
the old Macs--Mclntoshes, like the MR-78?
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.
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,
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?
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
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.
JGH: You know, actually,
that's not so ridiculous, because if you are serious
about surround sound, the room should really be as dead
AT: Just dead, dead
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?
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
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
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
JGH: That would be the ultimate
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
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
AT: Versus the sound
of live instruments?
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
AT: Gordon, thank you
Great thanks to Jennifer,
my lovely wife, for transcribing this interview from
the video tape.