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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 27

Aaron, his McIntosh amp, his MoFi turntable, and more

In this episode:

J.R. catches up with Aaron Cochran of Balaton Marketing about the mountain of gear he owns and the select pieces he allows to take permanent residence in his home. A manufacturer's representative for companies like Yamaha, Klipsch, and Sennheiser, he's a familiar face in the halls of Crutchfield, thanks to his popular training sessions on the latest and greatest gear. 

J.R. and Aaron talk about his history in the industry, the pleasures of listening to vinyl, some awesome benefits of streaming high-res content, and audio gear that's made in the U.S.A.

Some of the gear discussed includes:

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Read episode transcript

Hello and welcome to Crutchfield the podcast. I am your host, J. R. I'm the training manager here at Crutchfield in my spare time. They let me hang out with my friend ERic and record Crutchfield the podcast. How are you today? Eric I am doing great. You've you've been better. I have been better. We'll talk next episode about why ERic's not in the studio because I'm sure you want to know but we just don't have time for it because we've got too good of an episode here and we want to kind of get right to it. Yeah, absolutely. You get to talk with erin erin Cochran is our special guest today. He is not a Crutchfield employee, he comes here on the regular, he's here many times a year under normal circumstances to do training for multiple products and we'll get into all of the products that Aaron trains us on on the regular in the episodes. We're not gonna spoil all of that right now but Suffice it to say we see Aaron at least 10 or 15 times a year. Some I would say we see him more than a lot of our coworkers. Yes. Yeah. No kidding what I like about Aaron's trainings is that it's always clear no matter what the product is that he has spent quality time with that product, he didn't just do it for work, like he took it home with him, he really experienced the magic of whatever it is he's train us on that week uh and as a result he's always able to answer every question we come up with. he's able to consider all of the, you know, interesting and unique ways to use products and so he's able to anticipate those out of the ordinary situations and questions and I'd say he's one of our best trainers at doing that and providing the training crutchfield needs and uh, and we all know him and like him kind of as a friend in addition to as a trainer, so yeah, it just made sense to talk to him. I think we're really fortunate to have a bunch of great trainers and Aaron uh, is definitely one of those. Yeah, and, you know, some trainers come in and it's clear that they're into the gear, right? Others come in and it's clear that they're into the music. It's rare, it's rare to find somebody who fully understands the gear and has a love for music. And we get to talk in our interview about not only the gear, he plays music on, but the type of music he likes to listen to in different situations, the parties that he has, the situation, like it's just, it's just fantastic. It was fun talking music and Gear with Aaron, I, I definitely don't wanna give away anything here, but my favorite part about the interview and learning about what kind of gear he ended up with is, it's not just the gear that he supports and that he reps for us, he went outside with his own money and purchased other products, which really lets you know that, you know, he loves the whole industry, you know, he's really got a good feeling of what's going on. Uh, you know, throughout the whole industry and not just the products that he supports, which are some great ones. Yeah, no kidding. And there are products that we happen to to deal with ourselves. I'm gonna, I'm gonna tease, I'm gonna, I'm gonna reveal just enough, right? Because because you know, I've been here a long time, I get a decent discount. I still can't afford a Macintosh stereo amplifier man. There are a few brands out there that, to me strikes just such a, it's just such a name in the industry, right? Macintosh Like that's, that's pentacle, like that's, that's right at the top of the heap of, far, as far as brands that are out there that, you know, we're lucky enough to be able to carry here across field wasn't always the case. Um, and uh, yeah, he doesn't represent McIntosh in any way, but he found himself some macintosh, didn't he? Yeah, he, he knows a guy, so he was able to get a better than, you know, civilian price, but he still had to fork over probably several thousands of dollars to buy this piece of equipment that I'm very jealous of and he's got a turntable that I really want and he's got some speakers that I really want, I need to go back and really up my game here because Aaron, erin's got us pretty sweet system, we're going to hear all about it, we're gonna talk about training, we're going to talk about his gear, we're going to talk about the music and we're just gonna have a fun time doing it. So here you go. It's my interview with Aaron, so I'm a manufacturer's representative and I own a company called ballot in marketing and we specialize in representing many of the brands that you guys sell uh in our industry. So I have a little bit of an interesting take on the industry and where things are going and that's because I get to see it from the manufacturer side as well as get to interface and work with uh you know, Crutchfield, train your staff um on new product, new technology and how it all works together, so that's kind of what I do and I've been in the industry now for 23 years, so over half my life before I was a manufacturer's rep, I worked um with a a big electronics reseller you might have heard of before, I think it starts with the best, but I'm not really sure. Anyway, I worked for that company for about 10 years before I got into this side of it. I've known you for a while, I had no idea you had any affiliation with with Best Buy, we can say it, How did you get involved with? Best buy, like did you start in as as like a salesperson on the sales floor or what? Totally, yeah, totally that um actually I went to work in the computer department because I was really big into computers uh and um they didn't have a spot for me there, so they put me in home theater and um we opened the store and basically, you know, I worked there for 10 years, I left in in 2007 to join balance and marketing, um my current company, but yeah, I did a lot of different jobs for best buy, but the love and appreciation for all things audio video and home technology was kind of born there and then of course developed on, you know, after I left, so it became something of a happy accident and then, you know, really what is now a passion, how long have you been coming to Crutchfield to do training on the products you guys represented balloting, like it's been a while now, how many years has that been? You know, I think I remember my very first training which actually was in Norton first, which is the southwestern Virginia call center. So I guess I would say that that was 2008 or nine driving to Crutchfield call centers and training you all. And just the, the closeness that I have come to feel for you all over the years is amazing and and again, it's just the thing that gets me excited and up um, in the morning when I know I have a Crutchfield training week, it's like I'm so happy, you know, I love it. So anyway, so that's in a nutshell. One of the reasons we thought of you to be a guest on this show is because we have come to know you so well, you, because you are at crutchfield regularly many times a year to train us on the different brands of products that you represent. And as a result of you doing so much training for Crutchfield advisors, it seems like you have found that sweet spot in, you know, we, we only give you 50 minutes at a time with our advisors, right? You get 50 minutes and that's uh, that's not a lot of time. So a vendor trainer like yourself has to figure out what is the most important stuff that we need to convey. And our advisors are trained so much more in depth and have so much more, you know, ability and acumen and just, you know, knowledge that you can skip the basic stuff and go right into the really important stuff and you seem to have found that sweet spot. How'd you do that? Well, I'm gonna be honest, I think it was trial and error a little bit. Um, but one of the most valuable things is the feedback that you guys provide after the trainings. I think it makes a really big difference. It also means that they're giving feedback and I'm listening to it and tweaking it as we go along to better serve the training needs of Crutchfield. Uh and I think that that's really cool because I have to tell you, I train a lot of people and a lot of outfits and you guys are one of the only companies that does that. Uh and I think it makes a big difference. Yeah, the training feedback is critical. We've we've been doing that for years and it's always nice when we can tell that the trainer takes our feedback and puts it into action. And I think people may not really have a sense of just how much training crutchfield employees get? And this is my absolute, when I talk to people from other companies in the industry, they're like, you know, what's crutchfield secret? Of course, loose lips sink ships. So I don't wanna give away all the secrets. But but my thing is, is, man, I tell you what, they train all the time, you know, after you get out of the holidays, february two, you know, early november, I mean, I swear you guys have almost two trainings a week, but because there is so much training, there is so much information, How do you make sure that the folks who attend remember what you had to say, you know, and, and that's my thing, every time I walk in there, my goal is to make sure that you remember you know 3-5 things. Um No doubt you know that there's no question about it that basically they're gonna walk away from that and and remember it six months from now or a year from now. You know that's that's what I want totally less is more when it comes to that right? They're not going to remember 25 bullet points from your power point. They are going to remember how the speakers sounded or how the product performed when you demonstrated it for us and the one or two most important things. Right? So less is more and quality over quantity certainly makes a lot of sense. And and you have to do this for a wide variety of brands and products like when we when we know Aaron Cochran is coming to Crutchfield to do training. What we often don't know is which brand is he bringing with him today? How how many brands of products do you represent that we sell here at Crutchfield. Yeah so we've been uh you know with Yamaha forever. It's in our D. N. A. It's a keystone brand of course. Um uh but we also represent clips um which has become one of your top selling speaker brands if not the top selling. We also represent Sennheiser and we also represent rust sound. Um So multi room distributed audio as well as audio engine um powered computer speakers high five speakers which has been just a fantastic company to work with. So it's fair to say you've got a lot of exposure to a lot of pretty cool products. I mean just the brand you just mentioned plus, I'm sure there's more that you've had exposure to over the years and now we're getting down to it. Like the point of this podcast is to talk to people mostly crutchfield employees, but people like yourself who have exposure to some of the coolest products on the planet and, and you get to take a lot of them home and set them up. But they also usually have to be returned at some point. What we want to know about is the products that you have chosen to keep in your house and use on a regular basis. And I think we should start at the top, which I think is probably that Macintosh power amp. Sure. Yeah, Well, I mean, I guess before I get into that I'll just say I have a problem. I have so many amps. I have so many receivers have so many speakers. I have a storage unit, um, that is just packed from floor to ceiling with, I mean, it's like a museum in there and sometimes I get, you know, samples and yeah, I get to send them back. Sometimes they don't want them back. Sometimes they just give them to me, uh, in other cases, one of my favorite parts is, you know, I also do a lot of beta testing, get equipment in early, you know, versions of the product, prototypes, get to play with that stuff, give my feedback, uh, in the same with software, early versions of software apps that would control equipment, that sort of thing. So, you know, I've got a lot of exposure to stuff before it even ever sees the light of day from a marketing sales side. Uh, point of view. But um, yeah, in my, because my beautiful wife tolerates and even enjoys my, my hobby and my passion, my problem. Um, you know, I do though, try and keep the amount of equipment that's in active status, um, pretty minimal. Uh, and so to have a spot in there means that in my opinion, it's the cream of the crop. Uh, and so yes, McIntosh, you know, I've been a Macintosh fan well even before my best buy days, um, my, my grandfather had a Macintosh integrated amplifier and, and I loved it. I thought it was so cool to look at the dials, just very eye catching. But of course, you know, there's the heritage and the legacy of the product. You know, it's one of, of the most amazing american electronics manufacturers. And I feel like we're lucky in this industry to have somebody, a company like that that's still actively producing goods that is still, you know, very kind of boutique and boy, their stuff just sounds amazing. So yeah, I have, I have an integrated mostly because of space and and also I like to have it up front, so it's sitting on top of a piece of furniture, but MAC 6700 is what I have. There's a newer version of this product which I think you guys carry, I'm pretty sure, I think it's the 7200 maybe, but at any rate. Um Yeah, it's a it's a really powerful, beautiful, warm sounding integrated analog amplifier. It does have some digital capacity which I don't use. So I keep everything uh analog on that particular piece of equipment. So um yeah, that was kind of one of those pieces that over the years, you know, you collect ants, you sell amps, you know, this is one that I was like, all right, well, it's as good as I thought it was gonna be, if not better. So it is now in in permanent status um uh in in in in my equipment stack. So now did you acquire this somehow through a relationship with Macintosh or did you actually go out and purchase it or do you not want to share those? You did you went and paid paid like, like some crazy discount because you're in the industry discount price or which is okay, which is fine. Yeah, I have friends uh who who work in the industry, you know, that that might have given me a little bit of a deal, but I tell you, um let's say that I didn't, and, you know, I paid full retail for it, which by the way, you know, there's some brands that offer crazy, you know, accommodations, industry accommodations. Macintosh was really, at least from what I've heard, not one of them, So, you know, it was a modest savings, but even if it was full retail, I would have bought it anyway because it's really something that I have wanted for a long time and, you know, once you kind of get to a certain spot, at least this is true for me. Um you just go, wow, you know, why am I switching this amp in and this amp out and all of that, why don't I just get the one that I really want and enjoy it, you know, and really, frankly, I've had this one now for maybe four years. Um I just, you know, it's a game changer, it it changes, changes everything. Um so yeah, it made a huge difference in how my system sounded uh and just the overall satisfaction level with it. Um and there's really nothing quite as fulfilling as turning the lights down just a little bit having a glass of uh, you know, some type of whiskey or scotch or I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about that sort of thing, but nonetheless, you know, making a little drink, putting on a record and sitting back and just forgetting about the stress of the day and everything else that's going on, everything fades away and it's just there, that moment, it's transcendent and, and, and that's the thing that I look for, especially during covid, that has been a lifesaver, really, a lot of ways, otherwise I'd be climbing up the walls. Yeah, no kidding. I'm guessing you've hooked up quite a few different pairs of speakers to that Macintosh Oh yeah, Now I probably have about 45 pairs of speakers um, right now, uh, in, in, you know, in storage or I have a little spot across the street that I keep some sort of like on deck stuff. But yeah, no, I, I have from bookshelves, two big towers, two huge, you know, huge towers. Um, really every flavor of speaker and you know, the other thing too is manufacturers send me stuff sometimes to test like if we don't represent the brand yet and they are interested in working with us, you know, they'll send some samples for us to listen to. And you know, that's one of the first things I do is I put it on my, on my full time regular system and test them out. Yeah, So that being said, how did you decide on that beautiful pair of clips? Forte speakers that I can see in the background there because I know they know they sound good, I can see how great they look. So I'm not really surprised, but how did you land on those? Well, so we clips brought Forte's? I say we a lot when I talk about the brands I work with because that's kind of how I feel about it, that we are literally on the team with them. So anyway, we um uh so we clip ended up resurrecting the Forte. So the Forte was launched in the mid eighties I think 1985 and did fantastically well for them and you know, as kind of clips morphed and changed in the aughts happened, some of the speakers started to kind of drift away clip has always kind of kept a stock of what they call a heritage product. So many of these would be paul clips, the founder of clips, his original designs and these products are handmade in Hope Arkansas at the clips factory there still to this day, so one of the most famous speakers is the Klitschko Horn or the clips Horn, Which will actually turn 75 years old this year. So eclipse is celebrating their 75th anniversary. Uh and that speaker, the Cape Horn has been in continuous production for 75 years. Um so anything that's in that heritage lineup of goods is sort of kind of like really iconic speakers in our industry. So you have Heresies and cornwall's and La Scala's and K horns. And so it's a big deal when a when clips decided to bring in a new speaker to the party and that speaker of course was the Forte. So why Forte's? Well, first of all it was a little bit of an outlier because the Forte was not actually designed by paul. So that's one of the only speakers in the heritage lineup that wasn't actually designed by paul clips. Um paul had a hand In the design of the speaker, he had final approval on the speaker. But you know, by the time the mid-80s were happening, you know, uh clips had grown quite a bit and there was enough development and people on the team that could design speakers and you know, he could he could approve them. Um so it was a little bit of of I don't know, risky move, I think for some people, some people's thoughts on it to bring a speaker like Forte into the heritage lineup that wasn't a paul clips design. However, the reason why the speaker has done so well and it turned out to be a great idea because everybody has been loving the Forte. In fact we just launched the new Forte four february first. So we're just coming hot off the heels of the launch of the new version of this speaker. But the Forte here's why I love the Forte. The Forte, you know, it's a it sounds like a bigger, it is a bigger speaker, but it's not big by comparison to what it sounds like in other words, you have bigger speakers like horn walls or la scala's orc horns that are legitimately very large speakers um you know, and they sound like it, but the Forte sounds like a very large speaker, but it actually has like the square inches of space that it takes up on the floor is really no different than like a deep traditional tower, skinny towers. So all it's doing is is taking that cabinet volume and instead of going deep with it, it goes wide with it. And what that means is now we get to put a 15 inch passive wool fur on the back of the speaker. So there's a 12 inch warfare on the front, a 15 inch passive on the back. And boy, it just sounds big, has a lot of energy, it can move a lot of air, but it doesn't take up a lot of room um in a space, I feel like it's a speaker that almost anyone could have in their home um and get that, wow, really big speaker feel without having to sacrifice the room to do it. Um so yeah, the Forte, as soon as I heard we were coming out with it, I was vying for one and this pair is actually a limited run. So it was the California black walnut special edition and this was one of the very first players that they made from that run. So I'm not getting rid of them anytime soon. I'm very attached to them. I'm so jealous. The the difference between those speakers and what seems to be a more modern design of speakers is to go more modern speakers seem to be narrow, smaller drivers, maybe more drivers, but smaller ported cabinets, all of that stuff. And to just have a nice big fat wolf fur on the front uh and supported by a passive radiator on the back and then if I'm not mistaken, that's got a horn tweeter and a horn mid range to very clip, she sort of things to do. Oh it's pierre, it's pierre clips. Absolutely. Um yeah, amazing midrange, amazing twitter. Um So it's funny over the last uh since we introduced the Forte's, which I think was 2017 clips has also then revised every other heritage speaker in the lineup. So heresies got a revision, cornwall's got a revision, Las Calles, que horns and the like. Um and a lot of those revisions um new new horn, new horn style, new compression driver, new crossover network, new internal wiring a lot of things like that were kind of started with the Forte because when we introduced the Forte, a lot of those things had already been done to it. And then because that made such a big difference in overall performance, we started making these revisions on the rest of the heritage lineup. So, So yeah, it has a really nice, wide but focused soundstage, very lively and dynamic that, you know, I tell you, you know, like I said, I've been in the industry for 23 years, obviously I've heard a lot of clip speakers. It's funny there was a time, although that time is really not now, there was a time that clips was sort of seen as at least in the rare air audiophile grade world of sort of a lesser than and um me being someone who you know um had and sold a lot of really high end speaker brands over the years. High end comparatively speaking clinch when we started working with them. I'm not going to say that I took, I had to take a minute to kind of drink the kool Aid so to speak. But I tell you that there is something profoundly different about the clips listening experience that I now um and really, you know, as soon as you start listening to some of these heritage products and you listen to what they can do and just how live and natural everything sounds, there is no going back for me. I mean I am, I am all in, it is amazing how good they sound, how natural and how lifelike they are. Um It's just um it makes such a huge difference. It's really hard to kind of pin down until you listen to it A B and then you're like, wow jeez that I mean the specs on paper on one tower to a clips, Forte might look similar frequency response range and the like, but you play them side by side. And I'm not just talking efficiency right? You know a db volume, volume level difference. They just sound completely different and they sound amazing and it's totally my cup of tea man, I'm like all about it. So I'm still looking at the system that's behind you over there. And the next thing I want to ask you about is that turntable? Is that a mof? I it's a mof I it's a mof I. Ultra deck. Um Yeah which this is one man's opinion. Um But I think dollar for donuts just maximum sound quality, performance level, ease of use, ease of setup. It is in my opinion bar none the best turntable. Uh Dollar for dollar. Uh It just is amazing. Um I cannot um There are so many things that make it fantastic. But the thing is, you know, it's not an inexpensive deck but it's not an expensive deck. So the jump from like uh an entry level $100. You know buy it at you know target turntable to like three or $400 deck. Um Manual. It's a huge leap, right? I mean it's like it's like worlds apart. Okay And then like the $4 or $500. Price point to like a mo fee. It's like worlds apart. Once you kind of hit like a level of of of growth. I feel like what happens is the jumps become smaller versus the money that is spent. Um The other thing is how good is it playing old records versus new records because sometimes it can be cut different, the materials might be different, the weight would be different. Um mono versus stereo. Um You know how dirty the record is. Uh what condition is that record in? How does it handle things like static um You know that sort of thing. So these are all things and then you know when you start to get into higher turntables, you really do need to pay attention to how that deck is set up, how the stylist is oriented. Um Counterweight may change what I feel like mo fi is really done here. And the reason why I love this record players so much is because you they've done all the heavy lifting for you on an affordable design. That brings a lot of the tech and sound quality results of much higher end turntables, down to a lower end price. And it just sounds freaking good on like almost anything you can play on it. I mean it's amazing. I can have old warped wobbly ones that like my dad had that are nostalgic to me that I want to play. It handles those masterfully without having to have a big fat heavy needle, you know crank down the the counterweight, you know, to kind of get it to stay in the groove. So it dances in the groove beautifully. It sounds really wonderful on pretty much anything. And, you know, it's just built really well. And again, when you get it out of the box, you can plunk it down on the table, put the anti skate on. Uh and they've done all the work for you. Everything's ready to go pre tested. I don't sell, I don't have any relationship with mof. I I'd like to kind of also say that right? It's easy for me to love on clips or love on, you know, Yamaha for example, because, you know, those are the people I work with closely on a daily basis. This mof I deck. It's just something that I heard a demo um from Uh yeah, I heard a demo, I guess three years ago, four years ago on it. Something like that. And I was blown away, blown away by it. And so then I bought one and I tell you, I probably have 12 or 13 record players right now. And this is, in my opinion, the best all rounder. It just sounds good. It just sounds good. It's so easy to use. And mo fei doesn't just make the turntables right there. Also into like, remastering, remaking vinyl. I mean, they sell records as well. Well, yeah, long before they made record players. Um that's what they were known for. But mobile Fidelity was known for uh studio masters or remasters um for for for cds and vinyl, uh and have some of the best sounding, I mean, that's the thing, right? Your source material matters a lot. You know, uh Maybe most of all if you start with the bad end, you're going to get bad out and um their deal uh you know, for a long time has just been trying to produce the best sounding version of a classic album uh that they possibly can. Um And you know, of course they are well known for their accessories, their vinyl record sleeves. Um which I use and love huge fan of. Um But yeah, so when I heard that they were working on a turntable, I was very intrigued. And then when I heard, you know how it was made, how it was produced and I talked with some of the folks on their team, I was just more than piqued interest. And then once I heard it, boy, I tell you again, it sealed the deal for me. Um I have record players that cost four times as much as that one. And this is the one that I use every day. So let's talk about what you're playing on it. I assume you have a small collection of vinyl. Yeah. Small. Yeah, I probably have about 2500 records I guess. Um I guess by someone standards that might be small. Not by mine. That's uh that's three or four times the number of records that I have. Yeah. Now, um like all things in this and I'm a collector. I like to collect things. So some of these things are are like duplicates where I have the one that I actually play. Um uh and then I have the collector's item, you know, the first pressing, the one that sealed, you know, something like that. Uh things that I've been listening to recently, like I said with Covid, I've been buying a lot more because I haven't been going out to eat, you know, or doing social things like you used to do, like I used to do, and all of a sudden I'm like, jeez, I haven't spent any money this month on anything, so I'm like, well, treat myself by by a new record or two. So I've just been doing a lot of that and I found a couple of really cool things, but um some recently, actually, my wife just got me um Sam Cooke Mr Soul first pressing mono. So yeah, which is really a big surprise that she went out and found it on her own. Um So that was really cool. So I've been really enjoying that. But yeah, I mean, I've been gotta jorge been um africa, brazil record that just been absolutely loving because it's got this fun, upbeat tropical vibe. But yeah, I've been collecting a lot of, I've got a first pressing of mob deep, the infamous um so hip hop album from the mid nineties hard to find era of records because records were kind of like not cool then. So then it was like really like DJ records, so then they're just like worn out, you know what I'm saying? So this was like one that was uh you know, in great condition and sounds amazing. Um So yeah, I've just been doing a lot of hunting and cleaning and, you know, reorganizing and kind of keep, you know, sort of like maybe 200 records of, you know, sort of ones that I'm listening to right now, or kind of more consistently like on hand, because again, I can't have everything in my living room because, you know, my significant other would kill me. So do you pretty much exclusively listen to music in an analog format vinyl, or do you also throw in some digital stuff in there too? Oh no, I digital as well. Um you know, I have, yeah, I have a music problem. I mean, almost everywhere I go, it's actually kind of weird right now because we're doing this podcast. Normally I would just have music on all day, like in the house all day long, it's always music different music in my office or, you know, throughout the house or whatever. So yeah, absolutely. That, so I'm, you know, I'm a big fan of Cobra's entitle um you know, as it would relate to higher resolution streaming music, which I listened to quite a bit as well, and those and those are ones that, you know, I can like, I can just listen to, you know what I would normally listen to, that might not be in vinyl format, you know, um that's not always like newer music, I may not buy on on vinyl because part of me kind of wants to have a specific era of music that was intended to be recorded that way, you know, new records that are cut, you know, I mean, they're digitally recorded in May. The worst is sort of this like era of time, you know, as digital recording became the norm, so nineties, you know, and records became passe ninety's aughts, you know, before the vinyl resurgence that we're kind of in now. Um a lot of records from that era or that are now being cut because the original master is not really well suited for vinyl, they're just not, in my opinion, great ones to buy, even though you might love the album, right? Or the or the musician. So, and there's a big difference when an album is or was recorded and mixed and mastered knowing that it was going to be primarily listened to on vinyl versus today's world where everything is digital, it's mixed and mastered for Spotify for headphones, for earbuds, not for, not for the vinyl listening experience at all. That's very true, but again, the good news is that, you know, like I said, you had services like title and co buzz that are a little bit more invested in, not necessarily just calling everything hi rez but actually having vetted content that is high resolution and is intended to be listened to. You know what more, I guess more discerning li but there are some things about title in particular that you know, I kind of prefer, which is um I think that the selection is excellent. Um I think that the ability to find mix is one of the things that I've really found from them recently that I love is that they have master quality audio recordings, um radio stations. So basically you kind of pick a genre or artist and then it will only select master recordings um sort of in a similar, you know, music vain Olla pandora, but it's all high quality audio, which I think is really cool. The other thing that I like about title is that on my home system um and not in its current configuration but on my, you know, main system where my tv is my home theater. Um The Apple Tv. Title app supports Dolby at most and they actually have a pretty nice selection of music that is available in Dolby at most pre formatted. So you just pick it from the title interface on the apple tv. There's a whole section for at most music and you listen to it concerts, you know, and then re master recordings mixed in Dolby at most and it really is very enveloping, very exciting to listen to. So I've really been digging on that. I did not know that existed. That's awesome. I do have my apple tv. I don't have title and I don't have Dolby at most. So I don't know if I can take advantage of that at home. I would I would love to experience that. That could be pretty cool. Yeah, so it's pretty fun. Um you know, I definitely back when I was working heavily with the Sennheiser angio sound bar. That was a big thing where you know, you I live in a house that is super old, you know, it's over 100 years old and it's just not easy to, you know, get at most speakers wired up top and of course I have forte. So you know, I don't want to stick just a regular speaker topper on it because I think it takes away from the look. So you know when I was testing the ambient sound bar, which is part of, it was part of my main system for a while and it sounds amazing um that has at most speakers in the top of the sound bar and you know, uses it really effectively. So I was listening to a ton of music um that was recorded or rerecorded or remastered for dolby Atmos. That was really super fun time. It changed, I got R E. M. Automatic for the people in Dolby at most and it was one of those things where I've listened to that album, I don't even know how many times but hearing it in in Dolby Atmos, it changed it, you know, it brought a whole another element to it. Um It was really fun and exciting that Sennheiser MB O sound bar is amazing. I've heard it multiple ways, I've heard it at at C. E. S. When Sennheiser was introducing it back when it was pre production, I've heard the demo that you did. In fact we just, we just redid a video for that product on our website where I talk about the time you uh you brought that Sennheiser and Bose sound bar and tricked every training class into thinking they were listening to a full on home theater sound system with separate speakers and a home theater receiver and then you pulled the, pulled the cape off the sound bar. That was that's an perfect just to bring this full circle. Now, that's a perfect example of how effective a vendor trainer you are. And and it also speaks well for that product that Embryo is just incredible. It's one of the best at most experiences I've had. Yeah, I mean it that's that's the thing, it it basically makes, you know, it's funny because it's it's a sound bar in its shape and its size, you know, but it's not really like a sound bar, you know, it was the first product that was like a home theater system a real cinema system just, it happened to be in that format, right? Because again, you know, I feel like there are a lot of people who have weird shaped rooms or, you know, construction wise, it's just not going to work to get, you know, a compelling at most or even surround sound experience. And yeah, I can count on one hand, probably um the number of demos that I've had that I just was like in disbelief and that was definitely among among the list. When I heard it for the first time, I was like, wow, this is lightning in a bottle. This is, this is not like anything I've ever heard before from any sound from the thousands of sound bars that I've listened to, Just a game changer. I mean it's big. I mean, you know, here's the thing, it's big, it's heavy, it's £45, you know, it really kind of needs to go on a piece of furniture, but I'll tell you what, it'll sound like you have a real wired serious home theater system in your space, all from that single bar. Um, so yeah, really, really amazing. But again, like how do you convey just how good it is? My thought was? Well, we already had a full dolby at most 7.1 point four system in the training room using clips, speakers, I believe, um, uh, in your training rooms. So why not set up A and B. O. Cover it up and then do a little fib to a little fib in to you, you know, play you guys a demo and then right. Uh that was not the regular system that you guys here all the time in your training room. That was the M. B. O. Sound bar. I mean, how cool is that? I don't know, you hate to be tricky, but at the same time, you know, I feel like your brain, your brain, you need to like hear it to understand just how significant it is. And if it could, if you would believe that that was the full, you know, 7.1 point four system set up, powered by a powerful A. V receiver, you know, typically you guys have, you know, a $1500 retail or plus a V receiver for your demo or empowering your demo room. So, you know, you've got, you got a pretty substantial outlay in terms of retail investment for a customer versus this one sound bar. Um pretty impressive stuff. So yeah, that was super fun. That was, that was a lot of fun to do because you kind of knew you had, you know, it's almost like you could be babe ruth and like point out to the stand because you know that you're gonna hit it there. You know what I'm saying, because that's how good it is. Yeah, and it's pretty rare. We let a vendor trainer get away with lying to us. But that is a perfect example of the way to do it. If you're gonna lie to us make it make it really good. Exactly. Uh, I was just noticing that the three main things we've talked about here, your macintosh integrated amp, your mo fi deck your clips, forte speakers, those are all three made right here in America, had you considered that when you bought them? Is that important to you at all? No. Yeah, I mean, those are all things that of course, I know and talk about, you know, at least with cliff obviously, um, from the marketing side of things and I think it's really important as well. You know, I've had the privilege of working for other speaker manufacturers that exclusively make their speakers in the United States and I think that there is something to be said for just the, the homegrown pride, but also the pride of manufacturing something of working in a factory like that. I was on the phone with another speaker manufacturer recently who makes all their products in the United States as well. And you know, just asking how is it going? What's it like during Covid, how do, how do you manage that? Um, you know, I think it it is not the easy path. Right? It's not the easy path. It's a conscious decision. I think that these manufacturers make either, it's in place like with clips because we have the factory and it employs, you know, a good portion of the town in Hope Arkansas where you'll have multiple generations of the same family working at that factory. I mean it's it's really, really amazing um clips um because there are so many huge clips, fans and paul clips fans. There is what they call the pilgrimage, which happens every year, although I don't believe that it happened last spring because of Covid. Um so I'm sure they're gearing up to do it again this year. But the pilgrimages where people from all walks of life all over the country come to Hope Arkansas to visit paul clip's grave and to visit the factory in Hope and to meet with the people who make the speakers and have that and they get to meet, I mean paul Jacobs the ceo went a couple of years ago and I was talking with him and it was a amazing experience for him. Um but just to meet folks from all walks of life. Um all you know, collective collection, You know, passion levels, getting into audio, been into audio their whole life, you know, stories about, you know what those speakers meant to them or the time that, you know, a clip speaker change the life. All these things are the things like that happens in Hope every year because of clips and because of the people who worked there in that factory and it's just really important and um just a really cool thing, you know, I I just can't Think of many other examples of something like that, that happens every single year because people love it so much. I definitely desire to go on one of those clips pilgrimages once I heard, I just found out that they are a thing just a couple of years ago and was looking, was looking into potentially going last year, 2020, obviously that didn't work out. But yeah, I think I would love to uh in some way, shape or form represent crutchfield at the clips pilgrimage and if that can happen, maybe I'll just go on my own. Either way. I was gonna say, man, well you're gonna let me know because it's my, it's my plan to go, I'm making it my beeswax uh, to go, um, you know, when it's safe to do so. Um so whether that's this year or or next, but nonetheless it's, it's on the horizon, man. So you know, hey, we can do a little cheers. He's out there like, you know, face to face even. But yeah, I guess just circling back to the, you know, was it a conscious decision? No, it wasn't. But I guess, you know, on a subconscious level, these are all things that I've grown to really love and appreciate and there is something to be said for, um us design engineering and manufacturing capabilities. That's why they keep turning up in my, my collection um cool, then the last question, we're gonna wrap it up with this uh you're gonna finish your work day. It's a friday as we're recording this and you're gonna sit down on that couch and you're gonna grab your favorite scotch or whatever and you're gonna put a record on and you're gonna relax, I presume. Right, what, what's that record gonna be? Hmm, that is a good question. Mm man, you're really putting me on the spot here with this one. I feel like I got to come up with a cool answer, but I'll give you the honest answer. The honest answer is I want to put on that old shoe that I love. And so it's probably gonna be grateful Dead, Working man's Dead. Uh probably that. And just, you know, totally relaxed. I feel like that's going to be, I actually ended up getting a couple of Grateful Dead records not that long ago. And frankly, I feel like any of the studio albums are almost like I could insert that in there as well as what I'd want to do. So probably that even though I'm not like, I think people who know me would be like grateful Dead, that's an interesting pick because I like the Dead. But you know, I'm really into like Soul, I'm really into jazz. You know, R and B. You know, all of that. I mean those are huge passions and but I feel like that's what I'm in the mood for man, I want to, I want to get that warm hug and I feel like I get that with that music. So that's awesome. And the fact that, you know, your musical tastes are not, you know narrowly focused on one genre that you can kind of expand your horizons and enjoy. I mean if it sounds good, it is good. It doesn't matter what kind of music it is, right. If it sounds good, it is good and I have no doubt yours is gonna sound good. Alright, so that was my time with erin Cochran of balloting marketing. Uh he uh we we see him all the time. We actually haven't seen him in person in a while. I actually saw him about a week or two ago back when I was in the office. How did you do that? Was he here? Yeah, he came by, he was just kind of checking things out, stopping by to say hi. We had actually talked about um coordinating an in person demonstration, uh maybe in the fall, you know, we'll keep an eye on things, make sure it's safe to do so. But we talked about setting something up. He was going, he was offering to clean records for employees, so that was really cool. I am so bummed. I missed an in person erin Cochran visit. He and I were speaking over Microsoft teams which worked just fine, but it's good to know that he specifically and a lot of our vendors are making plans to get themselves back in here to do some in person training because there's just no substitute for actually setting up your equipment and playing music for Crutchfield employees. That's how we learn exactly how your speakers sound, your receivers work, all that stuff. So I can't wait can't wait for that to start happening again, especially with erin Cochran. So um did you, did you learn anything which was was their new information in this interview? Because you know Aaron so well, but was there was there something new for you there? Yeah, I've known Aaron for years now, of course, you know, through work and you know, he has presented so many amazing demos with eclectic music and audiophile music. It was really surprising to hear him say that at the end of the day, if he was just going to sit back and you could tell he was struggling with that, that question. But you know, he would sit back and listen to some grateful dead. I would never, in a million years have picked that. No, I didn't picture him as a dead head and I don't know if he is right, He doesn't he doesn't he doesn't present, he doesn't present as a deadhead for sure. Like he seems to me like one of those guys who's a closet into like hardcore rap or something. Really? Okay, Alright, sure. So you think he's like, he's about the right age to really like Eminem or something that I think we're dating ourselves, I think. I don't know, I mean, I don't, the most rap I listen to is Hamilton's. So, you know, hardcore hardcore hardcore rap is not that's not what Hambleton is, but I just picture Aaron at home getting down uh to some hardcore rap, but instead he's sipping scotch and listening to the grateful Dead. So thank you so much for listening to Crutchfield, the podcast we're gonna call it. This is a that's all we need is a fantastic interview with a fantastic guy eric and I don't need to really add much more to it than that. If you're enjoying this podcast, please subscribe to it, tell your friends about it, get the word out. Go to Crutchfield dot com slash podcast. You can interact with us there, you can post questions, comments, we'd love to hear them, we'd love to address them on a future episode. Uh So please, to work with us have fun, let's let's make this an interactive experience for everybody out there. I am jr thank you so much for listening. We are over and out.

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