Were you an audiophile in the 1980s and 1990s?

If so you will probably recognize a lot of the anecdotes in my new book about the music, the equipment and behind the scenes in some of the audio journals.  It's "The Lucky Audiophile - Anecdotes from High End Audio".

"Mike Kuller’s book, part autobiography, part musical history, chronicles his life and journeys in the world of high-performance audio during the 1980’s and 1990’s with Harry Pearson and The Absolute Sound magazine. His reminisces bring back memories of what could be considered the “Golden Age” of audio. His concert lists document many of the important and influential artists of the last thirty years. If you ever wanted to peer behind the curtain of The Absolute Sound during its heyday, give Mike’s book a read."  Steven Stone, reviewer and columnist for The Absolute Sound and FutureAudio.com

"It's a fascinating and engrossing tale of the journey he has taken.  An enjoyable read."   John Atkinson, Technical Editor Stereophile



Harry Pearson definitely added to the hi-fi lexicon, raising the bar in hi-fi critique. But it irks me when I see him given all the credit for creating "high end" reviewing (Steve Guttenberg does so regularly). As the saying goes "He stood on the shoulders of giants". In this case, those of J.Gordon Holt. But it is my opinion that Art Dudley raised the bar even higher (if I’m allowed to speak his name).

Holt had his shortcomings (for one thing, his musical taste was pretty much exclusively Classical), but I found Pearson more than a little pompous (Dudley felt the same, and in one of his Stereophile reviews comically threw in an expression Pearson was known for, Dudley doing so as an example of the reason for his distain of the man. Dudley quit TAS when he could no longer stand to be around Harry).

As my momma useta say: "Each to her own, said the lady as she kissed the cow."

Unless you were physically at the mastering session you cannot know what the recording is supposed to sound like.  If this is true, then HP's absolute sound is effectively meaningless for most listeners.  Still HP's impact on home audio reproduction is immense.  He added to the vocabulary and got us away from primarily frequency response issues.  But truth be told, he lost me at continuousness.

At this point I’ll just make a few comments about the posts above.

The unique thing HP brought to audio writing was his insight from comparing the sound of his big systems with his regular seats at Carnegie Hall. I believe he was among the first to discuss “soundstaging” and 3D “stereo imaging”, among the terms he is credited with.

Yes HP had a big ego, was erratic and sometimes went on too long in his writing, but I always found his reviews very interesting. He also brought out the personalities of the designers of the best equipment. JGH in contrast was more humble, down to earth and more direct in his writing.

”Coninuousness” is a quality you can hear most easily with full range electrostatic speakers. All of the music seems to be “cut from the same cloth” since there are no discontinuities created by different drivers made of different materials, spaced differently or crossovers. All speaker designers strive to create it.

I met Kevin Conklin and Art Dudley at the staff meeting weekend at Sea Cliff. We are in the group photo I put in my book.

**** HP's absolute sound is effectively meaningless for most listeners. ****

Sadly, probably true.  Most audio enthusiasts seek little, if any, exposure to that sound.  They attend few, if any, performances of unamplified music.  Moreover, the more that technology becomes part of the fabric of music media as is the trend, the less that they will.  This unfortunate reality does not invalidate the concept which is still invaluable for some.

@bdp24  , interesting your experience of Sound Systems in Palo Alto - my experience was the opposite. I heard the Magnepan Tympani 1a's there in '73, but lived in LA at that time, so they would not sell to me. Which was highly ethical of them.

They referred me to Jonas Miller in Beverly Hills, and that too was the beginning of a wonderful experience.