The LA&OCAS 25th Anniversary Gala

Dec 27, 2018

We Came, We Saw, We Were Impressed or How The Other Half Lives. By David Hicks It’s a bit inaccurate to reference the Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society as the other half.  A more accurate reference would be to call them the other 10/11ths.  With more than 2400 members they have over ten times as many members as are counted in our own SFAS.  Their ever-expanding membership total has Robert H. Levi, their President, and CEO, proudly proclaiming their audiophile society as the World’s largest.  And, while we are happy to get around forty members to attend some…

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018 – Write Up by Kevin Olson

Nov 29, 2018

My wife, Karen, and I attended this years’ Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. Our first stop was at Kyron Audio. Kyron Audio hails from Australia and they make loudspeakers that are similar in design to Linkwitz Labs Orion, but very modern in look. They use active crossovers and amplify each driver. This is an open baffle design. The sound is dynamic, natural and very inviting. Sound staging is superb. Our next major stop was at Vandersteen Audio. They were showing with VTL electronics. Richard displayed the Vandersteen Model Sevens with subwoofers and as is the norm with Vandersteen rooms,…

Jana Dagdagan Pays a Visit, by David Hicks

Nov 26, 2018

Jana Dagdagan was on The West Coast.  She had asked Michael Fremer if he knew anyone out in the San Francisco Bay Area who had a “vintage system” that she could video record for her EarSpace YouTube channel (  Jana is probably most famously known from her time as a writer for Stereophile as well as the creator of the Stereophile YouTube channel.  The full story of her departure in 2018 can be found online in numerous blogs by everyone who thought her dismissal by the magazines new owners was a loss for Stereophile and the industry as a whole,…

One Reason Streaming Doesn’t Sound As Good As The Source Material

Nov 04, 2018

A very interesting article on the Roon Labs Community forum (Roon Labs) discussed a "watermark" added by Universal Music Group (UMG) and the watermark affects the sound quality of the music being streamed.  UMG makes up approximately 25% of the content in online catalogs and its labels include Interscope, The Island Def Jam, Universal Republic, Verve, GRP, Impulse!, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Geffen, etc.  UMG uses the watermark for copyright enforcement.  According to the post by Matt Montag, a software engineer at Spotify (mattmontag): "UMG uses a spread spectrum watermark, a technique explained in detail in this Microsoft research paper. The watermark scheme modulates the total energy…

Copper Weights for Headshells, by Joe Hakim

Sep 20, 2018

If you are into vinyl playback, it's likely you will eventually run into the need for a headshell weight to improve the low frequency resonance point of your tonearm/cartridge combination. For those of you not familiar with this mechanism, a brief primer is presented below. In vinyl playback systems (TTs), the tonearm + cartridge acts as a sprung mechanical system with a given natural resonant frequency. The "springiness" of the system and resultant resonant frequency depends on the effective mass of the tonearm, weight of the cartridge (+ mounting hardware), and the compliance of the cartridge. The compliance of a cartridge is defined as the amount of…

SFAS Cited in Audiophile Aesthetics paper

Apr 20, 2017

One of our club's surveys was cited in the American Philosophical Quarterly Volume 54, Number 2, April 2017:  "A 2014 survey by the San Francisco Audiophile Society characterized a mid-level system at $10,000 for the amp and speakers, and a high-priced system at $50,000 for amp and speakers.  Above that is cost-no-object." Abstract What little work has been done on high fidelity/audiophile aesthetics uniformly agrees that the aesthetic aim of high fidelity is to achieve maximum transparency—the degree to which the listening experience is qualitatively identical to hearing the live instruments. The present paper argues that due to modern recording…

Recording Bloopers on Famous Albums

Feb 23, 2017

Do you listen deeply into your music? If you have one of the albums on this list, did you notice these recording anomalies  or mistakes? Listen to some cool examples of what these recording engineers missed (or was it on purpose?). I love the behind the scenes stories from the front lines of  recording studios, especially when the artist and album is in my collection. Years ago, while listening on superb headphones driven by a great headphone amp, I discovered an anomaly on one pressing of Yes's Fragile album where about a minute before my favorite solo guitar piece Mood for…

SF Old School Analog Recording Studio

Feb 06, 2017

What I love about our city is that it never fails to surprise me with some hidden gem. Like this analogue only studio run by John Vanderslice. This studio has been busy every day since 1997, so I'm going to check out their client list of AAA pure analogue performances. Notably: Kronos Quartet, Jolie Holland, Death Cab For Cutie, Rogue Wave and Spoon. Click on the cat to watch the 10 minute mini-documentary. Enjoy! Alón

Audiophile Wisdom – Ported vs Non-Ported Subs

Dec 10, 2016

A question asked by SFAS Sr. VP Leslie Lundin and answered by member and audio engineer Manny LaCarrubba. Subwoofers: To Port or Not To Port? Ports are used in loudspeakers to extend bass response.  Woofers and the boxes we put them in form a resonant system.  A sealed box has natural roll off below its primary resonance of 12dB/oct.  When you add a properly designed port to the box you have now added a second resonance below the first one.  This extends the low frequency output of the system.  At the port resonance, virtually all output is from the port…

Review: Shelter 501 II mono moving coil cartridge, By Larry Deniston

Dec 01, 2016

This effort, and it was more of an effort than I believed it would be, began after reading some reviews of mono cartridges and stereo magazine contributors having opined on the benefits of playing mono records with mono cartridge. So, I thought I'd like to check this out as I have some nice mono albums and assumed it would be a relatively easy comparison to make: purchase a mono cartridge and a second arm tube for my VPI Prime to simplify cartridge swapping and have a listen. After some research of reviews on mono cartridges and searching Audiogon and eBay,…