Ask Mr. H: MICHELL ENGINEERING: Synchro versus Mycro turntables

I was reading your observations on The Michell Synchro. Did you ever hear the Mycro? How was it by comparison? At one time Subjective Audio stocked the entire range of Michell Engineering turntables including the Prisma and the twin-platter Prisma. Sonically we heard little difference between the Mycro and the Synchro. This was pretty much […]

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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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Ask Mr. H: The golden era of Apogee + Krell; the KSA 80 and the pursuit of RMS quantity over RMS quality. And in passing, the Boothroyd Stuart Meridian 107

  Dear Howard, I purchased a Benchmark DAC Pre from you some time ago – it is the best purchased I have ever made. My question relates to power amplifiers. Can you suggest power amplifiers which will be suitable for Apogee Scintilla loudspeakers which present a 1 ohm load. I should be grateful for any […]

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“Okay, fine. So which piano is the more accurate – the Steinway or the Bosendorfer?” – a deliberately illogical question (to make a point!) by Howard Popeck

Stupid question of course that doesn’t warrant consideration, let alone an answer. Unless of course it is useful as a basis for pondering on the well-intentioned but ultimately futile debate about accuracy – within the current meaning of the word. Only a cretin would fail to recognise that the reproduction of a piano on even […]

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Forum bashing – The practice of ‘bigging-up’ a brand on some audiophile forums

Hi Howard. I know your opinion that when it comes to forums your advice and personal practice is to ‘look and never, ever touch’. I understand where you are coming from. Your comments re the obvious and less obvious ‘bigging up’ of chosen brands by the genuine and those in the ‘pay’ of those makers […]

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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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Exactly the way it happened folks: A small piece of education, at the hands of a customer

Howard Popeck writes as follows: It’s with considerable embarrassment that I recall both my musical ignorance and my inverse snobbery about musical styles. Styles that I neither understood nor wanted to understand, for no good reason at all in the early days of Subjective Audio. I call those days my irrational time. They’ve been a […]

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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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A POINT OF VIEW: A new route to market for beleaguered and/or greedy audio makers? Part #1 of 3

Howard Popeck ….. I don’t claim to be a futurologist. However sometimes it’s possible to read some signs and occasionally form a view of which way the commercial wind is blowing. And I mean the way that wind is blowing, but not necessarily the speed and strength of that wind. My belief is that with […]

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PAUL BURTON: Howard Popeck speaks at length to people with interesting things to say: Burton Somervell – marginalised magnificence

Howard Popeck writes: This is, as far as I know, the final interview with the late Colin Howard, former production director of BS Meridian, founder of London HiFi Services, innovator, designer and the co-founder of Burton Somervell speakers. I conducted this interview some years ago and only discovered it yesterday. It has never previously been […]

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A new route to market for beleaguered and/or greedy audio makers? Part #3 of 3

So now you know my views. Are they interesting views? How do you feel about them? While you are pondering this, given that I’m far from infallible it’s worth considering that although I might be right I could also be wrong: The direct marketing strategy has already worked in the case of Eastern Electric in […]

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Akai GX-747, Phillips N4520, Tandberg TD-20A, Technics RS-1500US, Technics RS-1800 and Teac 7300 – by Howard Popeck

These are notes I made for a letter to the editor of Hi-Fi World after a particularly interesting feature re Reel to Reel machines in the February 2008 issue. I didn’t get around to sending it. Dear David. The Neville Roberts feature “The Reel Thing” ( February 2008) was a joy to read. Not only […]

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NAKAMICHI: CA-5EII + Nakamichi PA-5E (and the Nakamichi ST-7 FM tuner, in passing) test review

NB: This was originally published in 2010 Hello, and welcome to the next of my series of reviews of vintage equipment. First, I only write about equipment that I have had extended, direct and personal experience of either as an end-user or retailer – or both. I don’t get involved in measurements. During 34 years […]

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William Andrea, the driving force behind Mimetism Audio

William – how did your interest in music reproduction start? Since I was young I’ve always been in the world of music. My uncles were jazz guitarist and bassist. For my part I’ve played Fender bass. I have no preferred style of music. I can listen from Mozart all the way to Deep Purple and […]

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Ask Mr. H: “I love classical music, but I don’t have a real understanding of it in terms of the emotion. I’m not looking to learn about the composers and I don’t want to learn an instrument, but I want to know more about how what moves me moves me. Does that make sense? Can you recommend a book or books?”

Howard Popeck: Certainly. Now forgive me for saying this, but it is possible to over-analyse the wonder of music, the magic and the emotion. It’s a danger, but somehow I sense you aren’t going to fall into the trap. The most wonderful book on the sheer unadulterated joy of classical music without the usual patronising […]

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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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HARBETH: ” …. mind you we would be remiss to remember the true designer Dudley Harwood.”

A true and little known fact regarding all of DH’s designs was that his strong religious conviction (Plymouth Brethren) precluded him from listening to any music of any form through his designs. Apparently all his designs were quite literally “voiced” using playback of very high quality analogue tape recordings of his beloved wife. Once the […]

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Ask Mr. H: JBL: I have a pair of JBL L100 Century loudspeakers. They claim they are bookshelf size. 37Kg and big. Are they kidding?

  Howard, I have a pair of JBL L100 Century speakers. They claim they are bookshelf size. 37Kg and big. Are they kidding? First – 37Kg per pair, not each! Well, sort of. Blame JBL’s over-enthusiastic marketing department in the 1970s and the studio environment from which these speakers, the domestic version of the JBL […]

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Live performances – Howard Popeck wonders if audience expectations are realistic, unrealistic, reasonable or unreasonable? (Part #2 of #2)

And then – ladies and gentlemen – The Who: So what about The Who’s ability or indeed inability, to reproduce note-perfect their more well know tracks? How about speculating on their prerogative to interpret the tracks as they see fit –notwithstanding how they and bands like them must surely strive hard not to be bored […]

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Live performances – Howard Popeck wonders if audience expectations are realistic, unrealistic, reasonable or unreasonable?

Me, as part of an audience: I’m not talking here about the performer turning up on time, or indeed not turning up at all. Actually what I have in mind is more prosaic than that! I tend wherever and whenever possible to attend live music. Among many other genres such as classical, folk-rock and grunge […]

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From the archives / Dear diary – Borders bargains, The Temptations, valves and ribbons in perfect harmony, no new Buddy Guy and just too many magazines!

An unexpected pleasure this weekend! Found time to sit and listen to music, and to start making inroads into an ever increasing pile of magazines. Record Collector magazine, music mags (Mojo and Uncut), science mags (Focus), car magazines, New Statesman, Spectator and more. Come to the conclusion yet again I’m a magazine junkie. Reflect on […]

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The customer as a dealer-groupie aka am I just one more on the list?

Normal, counter-intuitive – or what? If in the normal course of events you engage with sufficient people, then inevitably you’ll get to experience a wide cross-section of attitudes and behaviours. And so it is, in the audiophile world. And yes, I do from time to time encounter perverse (well, perverse as far as I’m concerned) […]

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TONE CONTROLS: Howard Popeck in conversation with Neil McCauley about his SAE 2800, Cello Palette, Yamaha C1, Carver 4000 and the Daniel Hertz

This is the next in an occasional series of recorded brief conversations between Howard and myself during snatched time between deadlines and other time issues. Neil: Howard? Howard: Yes! (faking irritability) N: it’s that time again! (faking sarcasm) H: Oh …… good (faking sarcasm) N: So, whatever happened to tone controls? You know, the bass […]

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