Audiophilia And Its Discontents

Sasha Frere-Jones at Harper’s Magazine:

For most of my adult life, I believed in the implications of the phrase “non-stick pans”: other pans must be unmanageably sticky. During the pandemic, as I began to want my own listening room and wrote every day across from a stove, I started to cook. I bought a Lodge cast-iron skillet that cost about forty dollars. It heats up quickly and evenly and can be easily cleaned. Our non-stick pan, by comparison, sheds its coating, and the handle keeps coming unscrewed. This is like the history of audio gear. The cast iron was sufficient, but an imaginary quality—stickiness—was being “solved” by new technology like Teflon. The new gear is fine, and works well in a couple of settings, but seems largely like an unnecessary innovation.

One day, I brought Weiss a copy of Comet Meta, a record by David Grubbs and Taku Unami that features the sound of two electric guitars playing at relatively low volume. When we put the vinyl through his Imperia speakers, we heard the guitar lines ring and hang and interlock—and then something else happened. I felt a presence, as if someone had entered the room.

more here.