Guest writer and contributing editor Howard Popeck get interviewed by Neil McCauley. Part 1 of 3

Editor's introduction

Mr. P has been around the block in this industry since 1976. Behind his occasionally abrasive stance he’s got a treasure trove of memories, anecdotes and opinions. I managed to prise a few of these out of him in this 3-part series. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Thank you / Neil McCauley / OLC editor


So Howard – what do you stand for?

Where? Can you tighten the focus please?

The industry.

Well . . . I'm not an advocate of the eccentric facets of political correctness – which means that I believe that candour is both rare and undervalued. Moreover candour is in short supply in this industry.

Which means what?

Separating myth from reality and truth from hype is a continual task and I'm happy and enthusiastic to contribute to this, however small the value of my contribution might be.

Are you opinionated?

Possibly. Probably. Yes – I guess. However … I'm not comfortable with the negative associations of the word, but it'll have to do – for now. The fact is that even though I strive to be sincere all the time, my opinions are only opinions – albeit based on many years of experience.

And so …?

I'm not always right


Of course!

Carry on.

Well, regarding right and wrong, we didn’t define the parameters did we? So you’re talking about me as a specialist audio retailer it seems. Outside of that narrow band I don’t think my opinions have any relevance to the readers here.

So what about prejudices?

I have prejudices both  for and against some types of technology and some makers and certainly some music. If through this I and / or the buyer find I've made a mistake, then I put it right quickly and calmly. Any opinion I offer is predicated on the thought that it's the visitor's money I'm spending, not mine.

So, for example … ?

I don't like the sonic character of modern horn speakers. I appreciate some of the advantages such as ‘speed’, ‘attack’ impact, ‘efficiency and so on – but these aren’t enough to make me even think seriously about them, On the other hand I do love well-designed transmission line speakers. I'm aware of their restriction – but I'm not concerned about these. Mind you – I don't represent either of these technologies.

Anything else on this subject?

Personally I'm not a Linn enthusiast even though a few of my customers use them in preference to anything else. I think Pink Triangle (despite abysmal construction in the 1980s) produced music from vinyl that is very hard to match even today.

Is that a prejudice against the sonic characteristics of Linn, or the way they treated retailers during the ‘turntable wars’, or both.

There’s no simple answer to give you. First as a retailer I found the attitude of their enforcers to be reprehensible – but I resigned the agency many years ago and possibly that’s changed. I was never really taken with the sound of the LP12 as it evolved although a couple of years back I did hear it perform magnificently through a true state-of-the-art dealer in the USA. Interestingly he didn’t use any other Linn equipment in that breathtaking system.

So, truly garbage in – garbage out then?

Oh I see – the Linn mantra from the computer world? Well in the Colorado situation yes, true. But I've heard many systems where a LP12 was ….. Look, do we have to go into all that? My view is that Linn the company as I perceive them are sliding into irrelevance for an increasing section of the buying public.

Continues tomorrow

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