This is The Sound Advocate!
“Another audiophile review site, you might ask?” Well, yes and no.
Yes, The Sound Advocate will be subjectively analyzing and commenting on the newest and most eclectic hi fi components available to the music lover today, be it at ANY price point! We also take great pride re-visiting and evaluating ‘vintage’ audio components from the early advent of high-end audio. There are a plethora of products that are available to audio enthusiasts as used equipment- including a few that are still considered benchmarks for which some of today’s best components can still be judged. I hope readers will truly enjoy this area of our site!
Our staff will also be presenting prolific articles and commentary on sound reproduction, digestible technical essays and the eminent music this hobby brings forth to us. Although classical music and its artists may be more predominant here, the sound advocate will also be featuring some of the best acoustically recorded pop music offerings, both past and present. We hope to reveal recordings of exemplary ‘CLASSIC’ style techniques in both digital and analogue formats.
On the other hand, we are, what I would describe in today’s world of the audio aficionados, “constitutionalists’ if you will. This being in the way we look at sound reproduction; particularly as compared to the abundance of journalists online and in print media who seem to believe that “sound accuracy” is relative and not of much importance in this day and age.
As opposed to almost every other Audiophile site, we adamantly still believe that high definition audio reproduction should always come as close as possible to an individual’s subjective remembrance of the sound of live music and acoustic instruments set in a “concert hall” venue.
Contemporary requirements often lead to recordings, of which the reproduction qualities may be good, have no real basis to judge the stereo qualities of a high end audio system, or indeed, its sound quality! This is particularly applicable to multi-microphone and/or multi track recording techniques where the final result is usually a combination of both the producer’s and engineer’s artistic temperament and may bare no resemblance to anything that may be heard at a live performance.
It is practically impossible, of course, to judge the reproduction of an audio system on this type of material as there is no reference from which to start. We try here at the Sound Advocate to use ‘live’ program sources when possible; including CD , analogue and digital internet downloads and rips from actual live performances as well as streaming from the highest quality program sources. In most cases, these will have been recorded with the fewest number of microphones thereby reproducing the characteristics of the hall or venue from which it was recorded. When reviewing high definition audio equipment, this can provide a standard by which to judge the vast amount of excellent audiophile components currently available to the consumer.
In today’s high-end audio world, we believe pushing the frontiers to achieve further progress is best left to the engineers. That’s what the creators of the program material do. It is a self-evident truth that with more capable storage/replay media available and the excellent electronics and loudspeakers being built today by the most prestigious manufacturers today, the limiting factor is often the original recording (including any processing and the microphone set ups used). This can often end with acoustically substandard recordings. Add to this, and of the highest importance are – room acoustics, rather than the replay chain – if the latter is of first-class quality.
Secondly, when some standard loudspeaker designs are placed in less than ideally acoustically treated rooms, subjective analysis can cause more havoc than one could ever realize! In the final analysis, the microphone set up, the loudspeakers and their placement along with the room interaction—will ultimately be the overwhelming — or limiting factor!
HOW WE DO IT
High Quality, subjective audio equipment reviews, notwithstanding their noteworthy technical aspects as such, should always try to tell a potential buyer something about the experience she/he can expect from the given component in their preferred system and therefore—whether they will appreciate the product in the confines of their own personal listening environment along with the types of music one may typically enjoy listening to. Unfortunately, this can many times be a huge boundary to leap.
Finally, reviews cannot always begin to convey to potential buyers the kind of emotional response a piece of audio equipment may elicit in an individual critic and how it may be portrayed to the reader who avidly follows the experiences of that critic.
Anyone who has truly been bitten by the “high end” hi-fi bug will know that some products, like people, can most certainly trigger impassioned responses. A loudspeaker or amplifier, for example, can be a mind-blowing, sensual, mesmerizing, haunting, jaw-dropping and heart-stopping experience or, conversely– innocuous, boring, or confusing. As such, when reading our reviews at the Sound Advocate, most audiophiles and music lovers should surely take the above into consideration. After all, these ideas and views always brings forth many diverse and/or conflicting responses from individuals and therein lies some of the fun of this hobby!
The Objective measurements of well-designed audio components are the ideal fundamental starting points. To what extent the designer subsequently takes the components parts, how the unit interacts with the system in full and his (hopefully!) trained, musical ears will ultimately determine the subjective differences audio enthusiasts hear in the finest high definition systems. The listener and/ or reviewer will then evaluate the final presentation in his home listening environment which gives us the icing on the cake!
Howard Milstein -Editor/Publisher
As editor and founder of this site I can proudly say that being an amateur pianist, I am a lover of classical (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn) and “oldies” pop music. I have had the hi-fi ‘bug’ since the mid -1970’s; this in and around the exact time that the surge of high-quality audio equipment and subjective publications truly came into its own.
As the 1980’s emerged, I started working with the N.Y.C importer of the Chartwell version of the BBC ls3/5a; this still being of reference quality for many with its highly accurate mid range reproduction.
In a true sense, I am returning to the audio publishing arena after editing my mail subscription magazine called “Sound News” from the late 1980’s, as well as contributing to some of the foremost wine periodicals.
For me, music is the all-encompassing aspect of this hobby and indeed, it is in my head almost half my waking hours! (They say Schubert went mad because of this—thankfully, for me, it kept me sane!!)
Although a native New Yorker for all my life, I am currently a contributor to my local Wine and Food publication, ‘The Napa Spotlight’ in the Napa Valley where my wife and I have recently moved. You would think that being an Audiophile would be enough in itself—-but no, I am an oenophile as well!
Manufacturers and/or distributors who would like to assign components for review please contact me at: Hmilstein8@gmail.com
The first time I saw and heard Marantz and McIntosh tubed gear, a Thorens turntable and some early Walsh and Presage speakers at a local hi-fi store, I was smitten.
As the trumpet was my instrument of choice, I was playing at Oakland University with a fabulous collection of musicians under the exceptional tutelage of Sam Rivers, Marvin “Doc” Holladay and Marcus Belgrave in a jazz band called the Afram Jazz Ensemble.
I began reviewing audio equipment in 2000 writing for Ultimate Audio, a Myles Astor hard copy magazine. From there, over the next nine years, I also wrote reviews part-time for Stereo Times (where I was also a Senior Editor), Sound Stage and Ultra Audio. I took a sabbatical from reviewing in 2009 due to the demands of my legal career.
Real music will always be my reference even if we may never attain that objective. That said, equipment reviews are a tool and a resource – not the ultimate authority on what equipment is right for you — as only your own ears and individual preferences can effectively help you make that decision.
Marvin Bolden/ reviewer ~~ I have been an active writer for the online publication “Stereomojo“. My forte is jazz, classical music, pop and female vocals. I am a passionate believer in discovering great sounding, “bang for the buck’ equipment that the average music lover can afford. Having said that, you’ll find that some of my reference gear is inevitably quite expensive. I have found with this hobby, most of the time , you get what you pay for!
Caslyn Anderson / news updates/reviewer ~~ Having recently moved here from England, I’m a Computer and Information Systems Manager by day and Audio Enthusiast by night! I enjoy all types of folk/rock music, vintage pop and particularly the English masters, including Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten and Edward Elgar. The fun is in the pursuit of the highest quality audio components to recreate my idea of a “live” musical event.
I am proud to say that I own a huge vinyl and Cd collection. I will also be helping the editor cover the latest audiophile news and events. Glad to meet you all!
Rachel Aragaki ~ Music reviewer/audio contributor
As a freelance music and blog editor, as well as a second-generation audiophile, I grew into a classical musician, but never grew tired of listening to all kinds of music just for the love of it. While most of my training is in classical music, I’m a long-time listener and admirer of jazz, rock, pop, folk, and a little bit of metal. I’m mostly interested in sharing my thoughts on new album releases, and their audio reproduction qualities, but I’m also a sucker for golden-age 70s and 80s recordings, so you can expect some of those, too. Cheers!