President's Message
August 2001

1. I was at my optometrist for an eye exam. We were talking about laser corrective surgery and I mentioned I'd heard about a treatment that reshapes the surface of the cornea to achieve better than 20/20 vision. The doctor said "there's a problem with that I'll tell you about later." After the exam he said the people that have this treatment are often unhappy. They look at the TV and see every little dot. I said, "Oh, just like audiophiles."

2. Tower Records in Boston has been outbid for its building and will have to vacate the premises. It opened in 1987 to considerable buzz and had the Walk of Fame--brass stars in the pavement for 13 local music celebrities. The stars will be dug up and stored in a warehouse until Tower finds another location. They will not, as rumor has it, be auctioned off on ebay. (Brookline Tab, 10My01). In related news, due to overseas expansion not going well, Tower is in financial difficulty. They are asking (demanding?) 365 day terms on product--that's from sale of merchandise, not receipt. Several classical distributers have stopped shipping them. (As a dealer I get either 30 day terms or prepay; size does matter--DBH).

3. The Washington Post featured an article about the extreme high end, profiling Hugh Campbell and his $140,000 audio system in his modest McLean VA home. His latest acquisition was a $4000 power conditioner to cure an apparent problem with his refrigerator gulping power at odd times.

"You never hear anyone who buys a Rolex called a nut case, even though there are cheaper quartz watches that tell time just as well," says Michael Fremer, a senior contributing editor at Stereophile magazine. We've got a bad rep. People call us snobs. But usually that goes away when you sit someone in front of a really amazing system. They always respond to it. They might say 'I hear it and I don't care.' But nobody says, 'My $400 Bose Soundwave system is just as good.' "

Mark Levinson says that high-end audio today is just this side of crooked. "The business is moving toward complexity, when simple will do just fine. "How many people need a nine-foot grand piano to be happy with a piano? We have a system that when it's fully loaded costs $15,000, which is inexpensive in this market. It's very compact and very reliable." All very reasonable. Then he mentions that Red Rose sells a system for $90,000. And in the middle of the interview, he suddenly announces that CDs are harmful to people. Harmful? As in physical harm? "Yes, they adversely affect humans," he says.
How so? "I can't really go into it," he says. "We'll have a press conference about it soon."


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updated 11/11/04