Executive Team Member Profile – Laurent Heller

So here’s what we were wishing for: An audiophile, music lover and financial guru who loves number-crunching, bean-counting and setting up systems to make running a non-profit organization easy and efficient. Well, miraculously, from a single question posed by Leslie during our Phono Stage Smackdown event, we got so much more than that!  It is my pleasure to introduce our latest addition to the SFAS team, Laurent Heller.

For those of you who attended the Phono Stage event, Laurent was the one who brought the popular and great-sounding Nagra Battery-Powered Phono Stage for us to compare and audition. Not knowing what he was getting himself into, he impulsively volunteered to become Treasurer for SFAS while attending his first society event! His rational was simple: “Setting up the books sounds like fun!” Wow, is that a dream come true or what? When not digging through bins of LPs at his favorite record stores, Laurent is Vice-Chancellor of Finance at UC Berkeley.
Laurent headshot
Here’s a bit of Laurent’s audio history in his words:
My love affair with music and hi-fi began at a young age, curled up on the shag carpeting in front of my father’s Pioneer deluxe reverb receiver, listening to Doors records.  I would switch the reverb circuit on, even though I hated what it did to the sound, just because you could…  Hours of experimentation proved that playing with the tone controls actually made things better on occasion, as did moving closer or further or more perfectly between dad’s rosewood clad Pioneer three-way speakers.  My own first system came later, but the die had been cast by those formative experiences — I knew I needed a Pioneer receiver and huge, wood-clad three-ways from Best Buy.  I loved what that system did to my cassettes and CD’s and I spent countless hours rocking out to classic rock, punk, and alternative albums.
My love affair with vinyl had similar roots in my parents’ collection, but achieved practical expression when I was poor and young in the early 90’s.  I would reward myself for showing up for work every day by buying a 25 cent LP at the “CD Cellar” next door…  They even started to sound good when I finally ditched that first system and bought a dusty old Rega and B&W bookshelf speakers for a song at the local hi-fi haunt.  Twenty years later, I’m still buying LPs and searching high and low for my next component or pair of speakers, but audio prices have skyrocketed by several orders of magnitude since then, meaning that despite all that’s changed, I’m still poor and young (at heart anyway).



Leave a Reply