Exactly the way it happened folks: Howard Popeck’s encounter with a serial killer

Some years after the demise of Subjective, and I can picture the scene even now, I was driving along the M25, listening to the lunchtime news. The lead story was the arrest of a person suspected of murdering at least one little girl, possibly more. I think she was either Susan Maxwell or Caroline Hogg. […]

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HELIUS DESIGNS: in conversation with Howard Popeck – part one

Geoffrey ….. why is there such diversity between audiophile values and the audio engineering establishment’s values? I’m not sure there is – indeed, I would argue that, more often than not, audio engineers are just audiophiles who have taken their interest to the next level and gone pro. Perhaps I should start by suggesting that […]

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HELIUS DESIGNS: in conversation with Howard Popeck – part two

Geoffrey ….. When it comes to listening to what you’ve designed, do you worry that you can find yourself liking something which is actually wrong? How do you keep yourself on track? In the context of tonearms it’s difficult to imagine what I could do to make it sound ‘wrong’. This part of the system […]

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RADFORD REVIVAL: Howard Popeck speaks at length to people with interesting things to say: Radford Revival’s Will Moores

Hello Will. Anyone with an iota of knowledge of Radford’s place in audio history could not fail the understand your motivation re Radford Revival. However I guess that the behind the scenes discussions, assurances re being the custodian of the heritage and related matters required considerable patience. Would you care to tell us the ‘back-story’? […]

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HELIUS DESIGNS: In conversation with Howard Popeck – part three

Geoffrey – what is your response to the statement ‘How many channels do you think it takes to make a music listener happy; One. Mono’s fine. I’ve never heard anybody bitch about Louis Armstrong, saying, “I would enjoy it if it were only stereo” Now this question is interesting from several perspectives and I’m going […]

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Howard Popeck speaks at length to people with interesting things to say: Geoffrey Owen, main-man at Helius Designs

Hello Geoff, and thank you agreeing to be interviewed about social media in our shrinking audiophile world. So …. my first question; what’s your perception of the importance or irrelevance of Facebook in reaching out to potential audiophile buyers? Ah. Hmm. Howard, I suspect that you’re interviewing the wrong person. When I started writing novels […]

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What is a good recording and does ‘good’ = appropriate?

I recently received a private email asking me “what exactly is a good recording?” Great question and here’s what’s interesting: we all know a great or poor recording the moment we hear one. At one of my recent demonstrations I was demonstrating a decent transport and DAC through the customer’s much loved and really rather […]

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From the archives: Yes – I was there – The Kinks, in Manchester in 1968 and then in London

I was fortunate enough in the sixties to see the Kinks live at Manchester University where I was a student at UMIST. They were indeed outstanding and it wasn’t just because of their strange and unusual stage presence, but they really could play their instruments and sing and of course wrote some truly wonderful tunes. […]

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Audiophile buying: How to make better quality buying decisions – by Howard Popeck (Part 1)

Those of you who know me personally probably know that I’m fascinated by the psychologies (or in simpler terms the brain processes) which guide people to make decisions in general and buying decisions in particular. Having made many seriously flawed commercial decisions (the demise of Subjective Audio being a case in point) I strive to […]

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Buying stereos and avoiding really dumb decisions #5 – for £16 or less

Hopefully: 1.  You’ll agree that it’s essential that your amplifier or amplifiers being auditioned should be as close to tonally consistent across the spl (volume) band as possible i.e. no bass, or mid or treble emphasis (or dropout) as the volume is changed. 2.  That the only fair comparison between any two components (amps in […]

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From the archives: Boothroyd Stuart Meridian: Their gimmick-free golden years of 2-channel music

Howard Popeck: Emerging phoenix-like or perhaps Cinderella-like out of the turmoil of Lecson via the short-lived Orpheus designs, Bob Stuart and Allen Boothroyd announced the arrival of BS Meridian in Hi-fi News 35 years ago. The series 1 system comprised initially the 101 preamp, the 103 power amp and the astonishing M1 active speakers with […]

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Exactly the way it happened folks: Douglas Adams buying his Subjective Audio Ltd system

Howard Popeck: Douglas Adams was one of our most gracious, humorous, gentle and fun customers at Subjective Audio. Coincidental with him getting a “serious” advance from his publishers for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, he commissioned me to put together “almost” the best system money could buy. It was, apart from the turntable, a full […]

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Howard Popeck ponders on what it is to be an audiophile and how to avoid being the proverbial ‘walking wallet’

Perfection is only a point of view. Moreover it’s only valid at the instant it happens and only if we accept the challenges of being ‘right there’ in the moment. By this I mean the listener being intimately (inextricably?) involved in that perfection. In other words, a perfect musical performance doesn’t mean the performer made […]

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MARK LEVINSON: ML5 reel to reel. His literally incendiary visit to Howard Popeck’s music room, a long time ago.

When the Quad 63 was announced, the makers had the foresight to anticipate a high level of demand. A carefully thought out waiting list system was introduced and dealers were warned that demo units were, initially at least, like gold dust. The clear implication being not to sell them, despite the ludicrously inflated offers made […]

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Ask our editor Neil McCauley: STAX: 5 and 6-pin interface issues via the SRA-14S preamp

Dear Howard. Grateful for your views as to whether the captioned extension cable (6-pin in/female & 5-pin out/male) will work with a pair of SR-3 earspeaker into the normal socket of a SRA-14s.Many thanks in advance. I am finding this a very difficult question to answer with any confidence. First, despite many years of intimate […]

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NAKAMICHI: PA-7 200 Watt Power Amplifier – a few thoughts

An inconvenient truth – rarely acknowledged I have a great interest in vintage equipment. From my retailing perspective it’s an inconvenient fact of life that occasionally, vintage equipment sounds every bit as good as brand new equipment and for far less money too! And then, the value. When you take into account the fact that […]

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From the 2009 archives: My small part in the Musical Fidelity story – by Howard Popeck

Hi Howard. What’s your part in the Musical Fidelity story. And what do you think of their current offers? Thanks. Ronnie Hmm. Interesting question. Thank you. In a nutshell … It’s all too easy to associate the brand with the man (or woman) behind the brand. Easy, but unproductive. The point being that currently, and […]

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MERIDIAN: Their 101, 103 & 103D amplifiers revisited and …. the elusive 102

Gentlemen – what can you tell me about the Meridian 101/103D amplifiers from the 1970s? They look like a bargain on e-bay. The 101 series preamps are tremendous value on the used market today fetching ridiculously low prices given the clarity and transparency of the reproduction. They use DIN plugs throughout, other than later versions […]

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