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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 34

Charlie and his ever-expanding home audio system

In this episode:

J.R. and Eric are back for Season 3! This time, J.R. interviews Crutchfield legend, Charlie Pastorfield, who helps craft our online experience for mobile electronics shoppers. Charlie is also a well-respected musician with decades of experience in the music industry. He chats with J.R. about writing songs during the pandemic, his gear-buying addiction, and the philosophy behind his enviable home audio system.

Meanwhile, Eric grapples with his feelings about Steely Dan, and they guys discuss big questions like, "What makes an audiophile?" and "Does quality speaker wire really matter?" If you're into high-fidelity audio, this is an episode you won't want to skip.

Some of the gear discussed includes:

Polk floor-standing speakers

Elac amplifiers and speakers

NAD amplifiers

McIntosh amplifiers and more

Panasonic DP-UB9000P1K 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player

You can see some Charlie talks about in his home studio, including his Linn Sondek turntable and his guitar collection, in this video. Also, check out the story of his one-of-a-kind Telecaster guitar, made from the wood of a tree Thomas Jefferson planted.

Explore more episodes

Read episode transcript

Hello and welcome to season three of Crutchfield. The podcast we are back so back eric how are you better than I deserve sir. How are you? I am fantastic. We've had a great offseason. Yeah, busy. But yeah, offseason as far as podcasting goes. We, yeah, I've been, we've been recording interviews with people and preparing for this season of the show. That's been exciting. We've also been doing a lot more Crutchfield live on facebook and Youtube. And so that's become a very regular thing and we've actually been taking those and turning them into podcast episode. I think that's a great plan. We did one of those shows where we talked about oleds versus led TVs and that is actually our most listened to episode of our podcast. Did you know that? Wow, I did not know that we did without even thinking of it as a podcast, but we're like, hey, that was good content. Let's make a podcast out of it. Or most listened to. Am I in that one at all? At least you're probably part of it. I was supposed to be on that crutchfield live but I, I think I had a previous commitment and Francis stood in, did a great job, Francis is amazing. So that mm hm So the one without eric are most listened to episode. Thank you listeners. Hey, why are we here today? Why are we here today? We are going to be featuring an interview I did several months ago with charlie Pastor field. That name rings a bell for Yeah, it does, charlie is awesome. He's a a musician. He's a writer for us. That's his, I guess his day job, he's in charge of a lot of our presentation on our website. He's uh he's all around awesome dude who I've known for quite some time and I understand you've known him for quite some time here. You guys ever play in the same band you guys have ever jammed together together? I would like to uh I mean, he's sort of iconic in the Charlottesville music scene. He's been in many bands. He used to be back in the heyday in the seventies playing frat parties at U. V. A, uh some raucous parties. Uh He was actually featured in a documentary about the music scene in Charlottesville in the 70 and eighties. But yeah, he's sort of synonymous with Charlottesville music scene. And uh if you he was in a band that was, I think they toured regularly, that was called skip Castro. If you want to check out skip castro, there'll be a link to that band's website. We have featured him in videos here at Crutchfield. We've got one where we took a video of him, our video department went to his house and sat down in his listening room. It's where he plays guitar at the house. Uh and interviewed him there. We talked to him about his guitar that he had made out of a tree that thomas jefferson planted at U. V. A. Right. So he's got the one and only guitar made out of that kind of that, that wood from that tree. When I met him, it was when I started at Crutchfield, he was a sales advisor. Okay. So simply a guy taking calls like anybody else, uh, was like five or six years ago. Right? That was 1996 is when I met him. Okay. All right. So a little, I don't know if we want to date, you know, time stamp this episode, but that, that was longer than five years ago. I just celebrated my 25th anniversary at Crutchfield. Congratulations on not getting fired 25 years. I'm in my 26th year at Crutchfield and charlie's been here longer than that he is. Now, let's see what is his title. Currently, charlie is our senior Managing editor of mobile electronics. There you go. Mobile electronics kind of a big deal here at Crutchfield. Yeah, kind of our bread and butter. You know, the thing that started it all with bill back in the seventies mobile audio, mobile mobile electronics and the category that has allowed us to venture into other categories. Yeah, so he's really part of the team kind of steering the ship on the experience for our car audio video shoppers. So he plays a large role in what that looks like like when you go to the website and you enter your cars information into the website and we try to show you what speakers fit and what radios fit and we try to recommend the right speakers and radios and stuff like that for you. He is a major player in what that looks and feels like he has an eye for detail and he cares passionately that this website is easy to use is effective and that the end result is that people have better sound in their car, right? That's what he does on top of that. I think he's one of the few folks that I would classify as a resident audio file. Now I think, I think it's interesting is I don't think he would consider himself an audio file, but that's not really for him to decide it's our podcast. That's right. So I can tell you from talking to him and you've heard the interview now, he sounds like an audio. Yeah, yeah. I think, I think when people folks that are in the industry, you know, we always know someone that might be in the gear more than us that we would hate to hear, identify, you know, us identify ourselves to as an audio file. So to them we know Might not be. But come on Charlie, of people out there are going to consider you an audio file. You're going to hear Charlie talk about how he chose to buy the speakers that he has in his house, how he chose the turntable, how he chose his speaker wire and I think it will become clear to you that Charlie is in a different place than most of us humans that like to listen to music. I am not an audio file. I do not require the level of supreme quality that charlie is experiencing on a daily basis at his house. Do you think a neighbor or a friend or a family member of yours would, if you gave them the description of an audio file, maybe they haven't even heard of an audio file, but if you read them a description of an audiophile, would they consider you one? Yes, yeah, exactly. So it's in the eye of the beholder, right? My girlfriend recently called me a tv snob. There you go. Because I don't want it to look like a damn soap opera. Right. What settings? No, those are optional. Yeah, because because I don't want to listen to the TVs speakers that made me a tv snob for my girlfriend. So yeah, though there's absolutely, it's all about perspective for sure. And if you enjoy talk of high end listening, like really top notch equipment, audio gear and the experience of doing some critical listening. Like let's talk about that for a second because charlie does a lot of this, right? Yeah, there's the, the description I would use when talking to a customer is do you make time to listen to music because that's different than having music going, you know, I'm doing chores around the house cooking dinner, things like that, you know, and, and often I have music in the background and that is a much different experience than sitting down, you know, dropping a needle on an album and enjoying the music and listening for the fine details and noticing, you know, when I make an upgrade, oh my goodness, that that little sound that resonates a little better and and he's that type of person, you know, he takes the time to listen to music critically. He's paying attention to the little, he's not reading a book, he's not looking at his phone, he's literally doing nothing but paying attention to the sounds coming at him from these speakers and as a musician, what an interesting perspective to be into that, like yeah, really cool guy to talk to. So if you're into that, I think you're gonna be into this interview now eric and I are going to break in a few times just to make sure everybody's up to speed on some of the things that come up in this interview. But we're gonna let this thing roll, we'll be back after we're after we're done listening to this interview with charlie Pastor field going on here. Well, a friend of mine, Bill record owned these speakers and he passed away a couple of years ago and his best friend Carl came down to put a home theater system together for his wife and he called me up and said, hey Bill's got these speakers here, would you be interested in trying them out? And I said, you know, I really would. So I went out there, we carried these, each weighs £127 carrying a flight of stairs almost died and got him in here and Carl, who is a high end audio guy, you know, spent 2.5 hours positioning them and then he said, okay, I'm happy now. Why don't you come down and check it out and put on a piece of music that I know really well. And it was like I was hearing it for the first time. It sounded so completely different than what I was used to and when, when you hear them later, you'll see what I mean. Yeah, we're gonna do some listening here today. I hope uh you know, I was watching the video that the guys did here at your house when you set up your N A. D system and your linda lin san deck turntable and you explain then how you would listen to something and it was like hearing it for the first time again And you just described that here and you've been a musician, you've been listening to music music has been a part of your life ever? Always. Right. How many times has that happened where you've had that? It's like, I'm hearing this song. I know for the first time because of the speakers, the amplifier, the phono, pre amp the new piece of vinyl. Like it doesn't happen every time I make an upgrade, but it happens often when I make an upgrade. And I've got good friends who come over here, a lot of whom used to work for Crutchfield and they'll sit down and listen for a while and I call them my audio detectives and then look it up and they'll get flashlights out and poke around behind and go, why have you connected this like this? Have you thought about using one of these cables? They bring stuff with them and they switch it out to show me and you know, whenever they leave my system sounds better. And usually the next day I come down and I go, wow, you know, while it's going on, you don't know. But the next day that's when you go, wow, they really changed my system. And, and so that's when you hear things that you haven't heard before. Little things can make big differences, Right? I mean, you were describing in that video about just the, you know, subtle differences in speaker positioning and how important that can be for a proper stereo image and stuff like that. It's hugely hugely important and the amazing thing is not every speaker, like you get one set of speakers in your room and you find the perfect spot And then you're auditioning another set of speakers. That same spot is not the perfect spot for those, you gotta, you know, you've got to fool with it every time and with spikes and carpet, that's not always an easy thing to do. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take some serious work. So what are these speakers? They're called metaphor 2s and they were um made I guess in the early 90s. This these are the prototypes, this guy Carl who brought him over and set him up was one of the people who had the company that designed and built these, they designed these speakers and built the original version, took him to a trade show and we're really excited at the positive response they got. But the guy, the main guy in this company, Bill said, yeah, we're 90% of the way there, that's the easy part. It's the next 10% getting to perfection. That's the tough part and it was 3.5 years, it took them and that's working four days, four nights a week after work until three o'clock, four o'clock in the morning on and on trying different drivers. Those are all focal drivers in there, but they've modified every one of them and used some goop on them and done all kinds of stuff. They just don't sound like any speakers I've ever heard there. You put on a live record in particular and normally when I put on a live album, it takes some relaxation before my mind goes, okay. I'm at a live show. These, it's 40 seconds and you're just going, wow, because it's so lively and I think one of the reasons is, and I don't know if I've ever had a set of speakers, the midrange drivers reported. No kidding. Yeah, so it drives some of the mid range out against the wall into the room. That's unusual. And Carl said they tried it, I like the way it sounded, but then said, well let's do a sanity check, sealed it back up again and said, no, it's way better with those ports there. And I have to agree, I don't know, it's a it's a it's a different sound, but it's really lush and you know, those speakers are relatively close together for what I usually do and and uh they throw way out that way and way high either shocking how high they go to probably because of that angle and maybe. So I haven't figured it out, but is uh is sitting down and listening to music a thing you do pretty regularly, 34 nights a week. My wife's a schoolteacher, she's in bed at quarter of eight without fail and I'm wide awake at quarter of eight, so I usually come down and listen till 11 or 11 30 you know, a new record is a wonderful thing. Yeah. Um and I gotta say, you know, that turntable got me through this pandemic because I wasn't playing gigs. And ordinarily I think I would have gotten a little nutty, but just being able to listen to music at that level of sound quality really got me through this time, you know? Yeah. And you know, another thing and that people think I'm exaggerating when I say this, but listening to a lot of music, I'm convinced triggers something in your brain because I was in a songwriting, not a writer's block, but I was just sort of cranking out a song every five or six months or something like that. And once we hit the pandemic and I was listening to 34 hours of music at night, three or four days a week, I started writing songs at a much faster rate, you know, and I'm glad of that. How did it change your writing? Did you get happier? Did you get darker? Like, I paid more attention to the lyrics. I normally I write the chord pattern and then I write the words to fit the chord pattern and now I'll think of, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I'll think of an entire verse of a song and I'll come down and grab a guitar and I'll write the music to go to the verse of the song and write it, but recorded on my radio shack, cassette recorder. Oh my gosh, that's still how you record your thoughts and demos and stuff. Oh wow, I haven't quite figured the phone out yet. I was gonna say you're carrying around a pretty good recording device everywhere you go, but the radio shack, it's got that vintage sound. That's right. I say that, assuming, I assume you have a smartphone for all I know you've got a flip phone, I do have a smartphone and I've never taken a picture with it. I, I've probably used three features in it since I got it four years ago. So it's, did you get it under protest or my daughter's forced me to. Yeah, yeah. So, uh, I was looking at that video again and I saw your in your rack of equipment at that time. You had N A D. Yeah, and you've, I don't see any N A D over here anymore. Well, you know, the whole thing started my whole, I was never an audio person, like, as far as home audio goes. Uh, and in fact, I kind of openly made fun of my friends who were, you know, had really expensive home audio systems, but I was over in our employee shop one day looking for a set of car speakers and, uh, Dave Hall says, So what are you looking for? And I said, well, what I'm looking for is a nice set of home speakers and Simon says, points over to the corner, there's two gigantic cardboard boxes and it was a set of polK L S I 25 that they just found in the warehouse that they didn't even know we had. And so I picked them up for not much money and brought them home and I'd never heard those speakers but as soon as I hooked them up I realized that I was hearing something that I hadn't heard before you know big speakers, really nice drivers and powered subs built into them. So I realized my little Sony you know $129 receiver was not probably the greatest choice for powering them. So I went back a couple of days later and and Dave said you know we just got an N. A. D. Reading here somewhere and bought that, took it home and as soon as I hooked that up I went wow so then I got a better cd player and I got a turntable I hadn't had a turntable and 20 years. And did you have this I mean you got a pretty huge pile of records here. Did you have records and just no way to play them? Yeah. Yeah soon as I heard C. D. S. And that's for me you know and I I sold a few of my records but not much but and I'm not a you know I listen to vinyl most of the time now but I still love C. D. S. I don't have a thing like some people do you know you're not like analog only. No no. Um And in fact my friend Bill gave me a couple of thumb drives filled with D. S. D. Files, high risk files of records that I know pretty well and yeah you know that's that's some serious stuff right there and that's that's the next frontier for me. Have you been able to do a test where you listen to the same song in a very high res digital way compared to a very nice uh analog vinyl experience? Yes I have. What for you what's the difference? I I actually preferred the did the digital file. It was asia the steely dan album you know and and but one thing about the vinyl copy was that it it the base is a little more profound you know it's a little bit fatter and real sounding but past that no comparison you know like the digital file had a had a lot of stuff going on that you don't hear in the final I didn't hear anyway so like precision and detail, a detail. Yeah a lot of stuff that had never heard before. Right? Yeah we got a theme happening. So let's talk about what charlie likes to listen to. He seems to have an eclectic taste in music and it sounds to me like when he's really trying to put something to the test or really do a a test, listen to really hear the detail here things he goes to music, he knows he loves, he knows it was recorded well he knows what he's going to get out of and he's heard it thousands and thousands of times on different systems. So playing some steely dan, he is confident he's going to be able to tell how good his system sounds. Would you agree with that? You know, this is one of those times that I wish this wasn't a podcast that this was actually for Youtube because I wish the viewers could, could understand the, the stair that the eyes that I'm, I'm giving you right now. Yeah, yeah. You know my feeling on steely dan, really, no offense to them and I understand a lot of folks out there, I don't even know if I'm answering your question, but I know it's about steely dan and it's just totally just taking my train of thought and making me have to tell the story and however many times he's listened to steely tan, steely dan, I assure you that I've listened to steely dan more. Yeah, and, and so you're a big fan during the course of one year of my life, I listen to steely dan moore. Was this during your time working in retail? Yeah, this was a previous uh play, I used to work for twitter uh audio video and a boatload of, know how that was their motto. They are no longer in business. Um but it was a good company in the industry for many a year and we had, I think a steely dan live DVD playing on what I believe was a Bose 3 to 1 system, just some small little audio set up up at the front of the store near our registers and it was on a loop and it played nonstop for over a year of my life. I got that for like eight hours a day and I don't care what the song is, what song was it was. Yeah. No no I I've chosen ever since then you know you go through one december in retail in electronics where you're working those extra hours and this is just playing you know I would have loved some some you know christmas wrapping or some jingle bell rock or some other type of song in the background. But no we did steely dan nonstop. I love how we're just sort of reeling in the years here. Yeah. Yeah but it reminded me of a quote from 40 year old Virgin. Yeah I remember that. It was about a consumer electronics retail. It was about a bunch of things but it was based and it was so paul Rudd's character in there before paul like became you know ant man right paul said uh if I hear yama gonna be there one more time I'm a yama gonna burn this place down and that's exactly how I felt about steely dan. I love I love that quote, Do it again, Do it again. If I hear yama gonna be there. I don't think I said that right if I hear a Yamabe there. One more time I'm gonna yama burn this place to the ground. That's the quote, how old were you when this happened, hey 19 when that movie came out or when I worked at retail, sounds like a lot of dirty work you were into back then. You know what? I, I'm trying not to date myself, you're older than I am. But yeah, it was a while ago, I was fresh out of college and uh you know, living the dream but not loving steely dan, I'm sorry. So it's not because of the quality of steely dan's music or recordings like where you can probably agree that there's a reason charlie likes to listen to their, to steely dan, but you just can't stand it because you've been overexposed. Yeah, you can put it that way. Do you know how many steely dan song titles I just dropped on you without you seeming to recognize any of them? You just did to me what I normally do to you, wow, you know, I I just can't, I've got like this spot and I need to warm up to them because I feel like this has kind of become a me thing more than a them thing. Um I can't blame the company anymore because they're not around so I maybe I need to open myself up to listen to a little bit more of their music or at least give them a chance from a different perspective and um maybe someday I'll get there. So the N. A. D. Stuff is gone. And my daughter that I was gonna ask where is it? Somewhere else in the house? Yeah, well she's she's had a college and it's packed away here somewhere. The typical college students sound system is like a boom box or a bluetooth speaker or something. Yeah. And that was what my oldest daughter had. But my youngest, she is a musician too. She sings and she writes songs and she's a good performer and she, unlike, my oldest daughter would actually come down and listen to records with me at night and then she started going like, well I wish I had a system like this. So I surprised her on christmas, you know, and and she uses it, you know, she plays records a lot. So it makes me makes me happy. So and in place of the N. A. D. S. You have some L. Ac equipment, huh? Yeah. When um when L. A. Came that, when Andrew jones came that time with Peter mad nick. Who did, who was the guy who did audio alchemy, the company in the nineties, They demonstrated the uh they're preempt and amplifier. The L. Ac. I guess it bought audio alchemy by then. So it was a lack alchemy. And and that demonstration was I think one of the most impressive things I've ever heard in all the training sessions that I've done and that's saying something, you've been Crutchfield for almost 30 years, 26 years, 26 Andrew jones, that's the name. We hear a lot around here, right? We have heard it quite a bit right. He used to work at K. F. He worked at infinity, he's worked at Pioneer most recently, he worked at a lack the first time I heard his name, he was associated with some speakers that we had all of a sudden Pioneer was coming back with some really good home speakers and they had his name on the back of him and he's known for designing some great sounding speakers that are more affordable right there on the affordable end of the audio file world. And if you are invested in the whole audiophile experience, high end speakers you've probably heard of Andrew jones, if you haven't heard of Andrew jones, we just thought you might like some some context for who that is. Yeah, he worked for L Ac for a number of years. We loved that relationship because we actually got to meet him here. He loved to come to crush ville and present, which was really, really cool where we could ask the actual designer of the speakers particular question, why did you decide to go this way? Why did you make this decision? And he was really upfront and honest about with all those answers, really, really fun presenter companies come here all the time to do training, but they don't usually send the designer, they usually send the guy who does training right? But to be actually be able to talk to the person who decided the cabinet should be shaped that way and the driver should be mounted that way and why. Uh and in that cool accent that he had. Uh so yeah, we are eager to see where he pops up next. What his next big project is. Whatever you're doing. Andrew jones. We wish you well. Uh, so we've got here the black Alchemy series D. P. A. To that's the stereo power amp you're using which is 210 watts A channel I think. And it's a it's a class D. M. And you know, I got it. My my rule of thumb is don't ever make a decision until a week, at least a week has gone by and sometimes even a month. And so I got that and I plugged it in, turned it on. I was expecting this huge jump in sound quality but it wasn't a big jump really. And so after a few days of disappointment. I borrowed an anthem. Class A B. And a big horse of an ant that's like £65 or something like that from from our lending library, brought it home, hooked it up, run it for a couple of days and then did a switch between the two and and listened and I thought yeah the anthem definitely sounds better than the black eye. So I I screwed up, you know, I should have bought the other the other thing, but I kept on playing them both because that's my role. I keep keep on going and after about another week, all of a sudden the L Ax are going like, oh, this is a competition, I get it and it just upped its game over the course of a week. So that finally I thought, okay, I like it better than the anthem. So the amplifier sort of had a break in period. Yeah, it did. I don't know if it's just what you'd call it, a break in or a warm up since there's a, well, yeah, it's probably a break in period. So you can't listen to charlie talk without thinking about break in periods, right? Uh, and you hear that mentioned on speakers for sure. Uh, speakers having a break in period. It sounds to me like charlie is experiencing a break in period with more than just speakers. What are your thoughts on this eric? I see the look on your face. What do you, what do you want to say here? So, so the manufacturer is recommending a break in period on their speakers Yeah, than than than I'll defer to them. Right? Speakers have moving parts, right? And they might ship from the factory, a little stiffer than they are designed to be when they're fully operational. And so getting them moving, kind of like the break in of a car go a couple 100 miles before you go full out on the throttle speakers. That makes sense to do that. I get that. I'll just say this way, here's your disclaimer. You know, in my experience, the bigger part of that is, you know, when someone's adding something new to their system, there's a period there where they're still listening for their old stuff for better for worse. They're listening for those old speakers and it takes a little while for us to disconnect from that experience to allow the new experience to happen. And that takes time. So in some ways the break in period is not only beneficial for the speakers themselves, but also for the listener. I've absolutely heard it described that the break in period is as much for the gear as it is for your ears and your brain. Uh, and so this is not in any way to say that. It's not a real thing, It is a real thing. But is it, is it an actual change in performance by the stuff or is it a change in how you're perceiving or receiving maybe a little bit performance and it probably is something somewhere in the middle and it's a little bit of both of those. So then my friends came over to my audio detective friends and they saw that I was using crutchfield 14 gauge speaker wire, which is I think perfectly great speaker wire and they said, oh no, no, no, no, you gotta use better speaker wire. That was one of the questions I had written down to ask is what wires are you using and do you believe they make a difference? Well the guy Carl who brought these speakers over owns a, he makes cables, so he sent us out of cable sound, There's a bill and it says $1,000. So I call it bill man, You know, I love you, but I can't spend $1,000 on speaker cables. And he goes, oh yeah, he shouldn't have put that receipt it's 500 bucks, you get half price. And I said, well really? I said still 500 bucks for speaker cables. He goes, trust me on this, Do you hear a difference now? And I said I hear a slight difference, not a $500 difference. He goes within a month, you will call me and you'll call me out in the middle of the night even and say oh my God, it was about three weeks later I'd come down the night before and played a new record that I had and listened to it intently come down the next night, put on the same record because I had so much fun listening to it and just total change, No kidding. And and I called up carl and I said wow man, I'm totally blown away. You know, these cables really made a huge difference. I disconnected them and hooked in the crucial cables again and it's not my imagination, you know, it's at the beginning, it was a slight difference now it's a huge difference, like much warmer sound, much more detailed sound and bigger sound really. So speaker wire, let's talk wire, charlie is clearly invested. Now the opposite of today's trends with wireless speakers will never exactly, we'll never get him back to just hooking up speakers with just some lamp cord, some 12 gauge wire maybe. Or if it's you 10 gauge wire, his wire was definitely as thick as a garden hose. Like it looked that big like it could carry some signal the way a hose carries some water. And so it is certainly the knot is certainly not the weakest link in his system. For me, it seems obvious that you need wire thick enough to carry the current from your amplifier to your speaker. There needs to be enough copper in there for the power you've got for the length of the wire. Right? That is an absolute necessity. Anything less than that? You're, you're, you're costing yourself fidelity, right? But to get thicker than that. And to add special features, uh, like what do you need more than that? Will it actually help in charlie's case? Yes, absolutely. You need as much as you can get he's got a high performance gear all over the place. He's made small, subtle changes. We'll hear from him talking about placement of the speakers and how just little small changes in the placement or the angle can make a huge difference and the difference in the sound field in those cases when you're at that level, high end speaker wire, good speaker wire, yes, thickness is part of it, but yeah, all of that is important. All of that is, and a big part of it and this is not to say it's not absolutely true that it sounds better, but a big part of it is if you don't think it sounds good enough or if you think your system has a weak link and you don't fix it, that is going to bother you. That is going to distract you from your critical listening because you're gonna be thinking they're sitting there thinking man, this toots and the maytals album could sound better and it doesn't because I cheap out on the speaker wire and getting the right wire if you can afford it. Obviously now he doesn't have to worry about that. He knows he's got better wire than he could possibly need and that's not a concern anymore. He wants to get as close to 100% of the output coming from that amplifier to those speakers as he can get and in order to do that and he needs the good stuff, do you need to spend 500 or $1000 on speaker wire to have really good speaker wire. No, you don't, it needs to be thick enough to carry the current as long as it needs to be carried and uh, and you know, we've got some decent speaker wires so check that out if you want to eliminate any possibility of it being your weaker link, there's ways to upgrade, we carry some good stuff. Absolutely, I never would have thought speaker cables could make that much difference, but it was not, it was probably the biggest difference of anything I've done. No kidding. Yeah, oh no, the Macintosh is the biggest difference. I was so happy to see the Macintosh when I walked in. What what model Macintosh is that? Is that your, is that the pre amp C 47 pre amp and you know the guys at the employee shop unfortunately. No me, well I walked in there one day to pay for some speakers that I bought and as I walk in the door they go, do not turn to your left, do not turn to your left. So I turned, there's a big cardboard box that says Macintosh and they went, oh no, no, so they said it's a pre empt. So I bought it, brought it home and it made a huge change in the, in the sound of my system and it's hard to put into words like just running the cable, I have an oppo disc player, you know, which is a really got a great deck in it and I've just been running our CIA cables into my preempt so that you could use the deck in the apo Yeah, yeah, so my friend said, try the deck in the macintosh, I said come on, really, you think so, give it a shot, switch it over and like, wow, alright. Eric, what is an op Oh man, it's a sad story for a lot of us here. Uh it was a, an incredibly high end, what I would call disc burner because it played, you know, C. D S dvds, blu rays at least the later models did and it did it exceptionally well. And normally we would say, oh this is a DVD player and we would identify it as that when I say it was a disc spinner was because it was the best at doing that. Um It had a heck of a reputation for being both a good video playback platform and an audio playback platform with the emphasis on the audio audio for sure. And that's how charlie is using the oppo now, he's using it for its audio capabilities, its ability to accurately cleanly perfectly spin a disk and output that sound untouched unharmed as pristine as possible into his audio gear. We used to love the oppo, we sold it as our best blue ray player, it had its own built in d to a converters that even could be used for other, it had optical and co ax digital inputs. So you could use the built in dac for other gear that didn't have as good a dac. Uh And basically it was a digital pre amp in that case. Right? Because you're actually using that as you're switching device. You know if if you're bringing external digital devices into it, it was known for having really really good dolby digital surround sound processing built in decoding for that. So you could actually run out of analog outputs instead of a digital or H. D. M. I output. I mean it was crazy. It was regarded as the best for a number of years from a brand nobody heard of at least in America other than this this product they had like a $500 model and they had like a 12 $100 model so they're still around a little bit but they decided to get out of the disc spinner. It's like one day they just called us and said we're not going to make that thing anymore. That thing that you guys really really love that we do the best of Yeah we're just going to stop doing that. So if you're looking for today's best blu ray player that we carry it would be something like a Panasonic. It's very you know it's the modern day version of an oppo. It's the D. P. U. B. 9000 P. One K. Okay, it's quite the model number but that would be the nearest and best thing to an oppo if you are still looking for one and there are people still looking for a pose. And from what I can tell, the Panasonic model is actually maybe even a little bit better. On the video side. It did make our best of 2022 article for best DVD or blu ray players. So it's a pretty solid unit of the machine. Absolutely. When I trained sales advisors, uh, to talk about amplifier classes, I'll always, I'm always hoping that there's a guitar player in the class, write a serious guitar player and usually we have one or two that are serious enough that can back me up. When I say a guitar players amp usually is a class. A amplifier tube amps, you know, one of those always on really wastes away power as heat. Like there's no tomorrow. But you get that warm fuzziness that you just can't get any other way. And so I presume you're like that as well. I mean, I see your room and guitars. I see all your amps. Are you the same way? Class? A amps tube amps for your guitar. They're all tube amps. Yeah, I have yet to find a transistor guitar amp that I can play, you know live. But that's not true for bass amps. Like I, I have a really nice and peg to bass amp and I love the sound of it. But when I'm playing live, the transistor amps are so much faster. Like when you're playing a fast passage and, and you want enunciation and the notes to pop out as soon as you're playing, the transistor is just bam, bam, bam, bam bam where the tube amp is, it's a, it's like working in mud slightly a little. Um, and like I said, the sound awesome in the studio, I'll always use the two band, but live transistor ramp. And, but just for bass, just a bass guitar, when you're playing your stratocaster or any of your other many guitars where you're relying on pleasing distortion tubes, just do it. And I don't think transistors do personally. So class A amps and Class D amps couldn't be further apart and how they do what they do. And class D amps have come quite a long way, right? We've been selling them for cars for car subwoofers. And at first they were really, you know, you can't use these for full range because they didn't, they weren't clear enough. They didn't have the, you know, the signal to noise ratio wasn't where it needed to be total harmonic distortion, but now, I mean, you're using a pretty beefy Class D amp and uh, to power some pretty beefy speakers and you're pretty happy with it. I'm extremely happy. And I think about four years ago, maybe four years ago, an absolute sound magazine, they reviewed a class D amplifier and said the days of dissing classes are done because this thing is righteous and N A D I think was a big pioneer in that, you know like and still the thing about transistor amps in general, whether they're class A B or class D is that they're fast and what that'll do is like a tube and gives you a big full sound and lots of atmosphere and detail. But a transistor amplifier will give you speed. That, that speed makes you think that you're there. You know, it gives more of an illusion that you're at a show. Now I'm saying this never having had a really great tube amp in my system. So they're, they're pretty hard to find. Yeah, yeah, I've been really happy with that elects something. It's a preempt I'm using to the preempt preempt which is the same size as the amplified exactly, exactly that strikes me as larger than it needs to be. Whereas the amplifier is like, that's surprisingly small and but they complement each other, they look great together. And uh, and you have that phono pre amp connected to the lin sun deck. Yes, and I did try the phono pre amp and it's a very high quality pre amp in the Macintosh because they're known for having a pretty good phono pre amp built just like their dads are pretty great. The linn turntable has a moving coil cartridge and you have to adjust the load on that cartridge in the photo pre amp ah And the Macintosh has preset. Like you can switch from 400 to 500-5, or you know it's got places you can put the thing, This cartridge and these speakers and my whole system, it likes right around 300 homes or whatever the thing is down there and and the Macintosh doesn't give me that option. So when we did that video with you here, uh where you get to see this lin san deck turntable, you hadn't had it for long? I don't think right. Like you had three years I think now that you've had it three years since. Yeah, so, so how, how has that settled in for you? I mean is that, has that proven to be a wise purchase? I assume it wasn't a cheap purchase. Well, my friend bill sold that brand new in 1984 to a guy in northern Virginia and back then the basic LP 12 turntable was about two grand but they gave you all kinds of options for upgrading, which they still do. And so this guy, over the course of the 40 some years that he owned it went to a separate power supply, the upgraded suspension, um, the upgraded tone arm and cartridge, Uh, silver wiring, you know, like about $7,000 worth of upgrades and then he retired and decided he was going to move to Florida, and he. the linn turntable for all its wonderfulness is a very delicate machine you don't want if you just don't want to move it if you can avoid it. And even if you pick it up to take it to repair thing, you've got to take it all apart and put in all these, tighten all these screws and stuff. You know, it's really a delicate thing. So my friend Bill called me up, he'd just been over literally the night before. I had a very nice project. Turntable. There was, you know, debut Carbon a spree turntable with an upgraded cartridge sounded great. I was very happy and he calls the next day he goes, man, I hate to do this to you. But I got a turntable, you ought to buy. I got really, I have a really nice turntable already. This is a really nice turntable. And I said, how much is he says 1400 bucks. I was like, Oh my God, you're kidding. He said, I, if you trust me, if there's ever any trust in your heart for me as a person, just buy it, You won't regret it, it'll change your life. And that the more accurate words were never spoken. Let me that turntable got me through the pandemic and it completely trans transformed my opinion of vinyl, like vinyl through that thing is just whole different league. You know, it's, I don't know, it's hard to describe, but it's again, the putting you in the feeling of being actually at a place where music is being played instead of listening to music, you know, that's that's what I like to hear. Is that live thing going on? All right, So, let's take a moment and talk about cartridges real quick. Yeah, charlie mentioned he's got a moving coil cartridge on that lin san deck turntable. And for those of you that are vinyl enthusiasts, you can just fast forward like 60 seconds because you know everything I'm about to tell you if this is new to you or if you're thinking of getting into vinyl, you should know that there are two types of car, the ridges on the end of the tone arm where the needle goes down into the groove. That needle moves around based on the pits and the bumps in the groove. And it's going to move something that creates electricity and it's either a moving magnet or it's a moving coil. And that matters why moving magnets are durable and good. Right? Moving coils are a little bit more sensitive, but you're gonna get a little less voltage out of them. So they don't create as much electricity from that movement of the needle in the groove. So, you need a special phono pre amp that can take that very low level signal from your tone arm from your cartridge and amplify that so that the rest of your audio gear can work with that level of signal and it's generally considered a better phono turntable or cartridge also more finicky harder to deal with and more expensive as well, but, but it sounded, I can tell you I heard it at charlie's house, That thing sounded amazing, awesome. So does this experience of being able to listen to music like that, does it ruin you for listening to music in more convenient ways? Like if we go upstairs, do we find the ability to play music in every room of your house? Do you have bluetooth speakers? Do you listen to music the way you know, normal people listen to music or do you kind of have to listen to music like this? I will not listen to music on my phone and I don't like headphones. Um, so I'm kind of doomed in that regard, but I have no problem listening to, like my daughter's system sounds great to me, but her system is slightly above average. Even my other daughter's system though, she's got like, uh, I can't remember what it is, It's a nice bluetooth speaker, you know, power speaker. Um, I have no problem listening to music that both my wife has a Bose um, Sound touch or whatever it is. You know, I think it sounds great. It's like drinking wine, you know, a $10 bottle of wine is awesome. A $200 bottle of wine is awesome. I can't tell the difference unless I can come side by side, you know, I think it's the same with sound systems, you know, now some people their ears won't do that, you know, it's got to be a certain level or, or they'd rather not even listen Exactly, but I'm not one of those, you know, I have no problem, It's easy to get into that. I've certainly, we've, you know, as a sales advisor for many years, I've certainly talked to many audio files and there's plenty of people that it seems to them to be more about the gear and the system that it is about the actual music. And for you, it seems like you come at the, you know, you're approaching audiophile status, I'm looking at your gear here, this is, you know, entry level audio file, you know what I'm saying. You know, you're, you're, you're moving into that even though you never considered yourself an audiophile, but you're coming at it from the angle of being a musician first, which I think is a very different experience than being just someone who puts on a record and has only ever done that with music, I'm sure of that. And that's one of the reasons why I'm particularly impressed with these speakers and also the imagined that I have the bass response is just so massive and that's what it feels like when you're at a show standing on stage, the primary thing you're experiencing is massive bass response and when I hear a little bookshelf speakers except for some um, you know, bookshelf speakers that they don't have good low end I just you know, they don't really do it for me. So yeah let's talk about those, the black karina, the B. S. To 43.4 S. Uh There's two pairs of massive speakers here in this room and then there's tiny little pair of bookshelves on a stand on stands. Are they what are they being powered by? Are they coming off the same system? They're coming off a little paradigm amp over there, that pw 100 you know that? Um And I first heard those at that same training where I heard the black alchemy stuff when Andrew jones was showing off these karina speakers that he designed, I got to see those karina's when they released them at C. E. S. Uh but I didn't get to hear them because it was you know we're doing everything at CS. So we got to see them, we did a video, I talked about them uh and I don't think I've given them another thought until you mentioned that that's what you've got. So I've been pretty excited. I hope we get to listen to them at some point today. But what do you think of him? Well when I first heard them was at that training and I'll never forget. I mean like I said it was the most impressive training I've ever experienced at crutchfield. He put on a count Basie cut that starts with just piano drums and stand up bass and these speakers at the five and a quarter inch driver, there are tiny little speakers and as soon as the cut started the stand up, you know, I was five seats back and I just sat back in my chair because the base was so powerful that the sound of the stand up bass was so powerful, you could hear the whiny sound when he went up on the strings a little bit, you could hear when he hit a low note, you know, sound of the stand up bass. And I looked around the room to see if I was just hallucinating and everybody in the room you could see it was disturbed and sitting back and of course as soon as the cut was over somebody goes, alright, where's the subwoofer? And Andrew says no sub, no sub, that's just those speakers, Are you kidding? He goes now of course we got speaker cables, the size of a garden hose going to those things, but that's just that speaker right there, you know? And so it's been in the back of my mind, I need to get a set of those and whenever I get new speakers at home I set them up and break them in here. You know, I just take my other speakers down and put these up and I stuck them there and usually when I listen to a set of speakers after a day or two I started missing my old speakers because they're so great. I listened to the karina's for a week without ever having that enter my head at all. And the normal speakers are huge towers, big imagine T three, you know, Yeah, expensive, gigantic speakers with huge based response. There's something about those Karina's that you know, they're not hitting that lowest octave but what they're doing right above that lowest octave is so strong that it just satisfies your jones. You know, it's what it does and and that it's got one of those I guess ribbon tweeters or whatever you call them, you know that the folded motion. Yeah, yeah and it and the upper end of it is just beautiful and I'll be honest, you know, I'm old. The reason I bought them is because I went down and listened to them later that day, put some stuff in that I knew and sat right in the front row and listened and a low volume. I think they're the best sounding speaker I've ever heard. And I still think that no, they sound awesome Down low and sooner or later I'm gonna be in downsizing and I'm gonna need speakers that I like, that I can play at a lower volume and that's your office system which is kind of funny because we're literally 10 ft away from this massive two channel system were sitting looking at from the couch here but your desk, your work from home desk is here and your bookshelves are there. So how do you play music on those? Like what's your source over there? Is it a cd player computer, which a blue red player LG blu ray player that I picked up? That's really pretty nice. Blue ray player makes a good cD player just as a rule. And so I was trying to find, I know you've written a bunch of songs, you've been in a bunch of bands. Is your music available on digital platforms? Because I didn't find it at all. Why not? Because I'm lazy and also I just don't care. Yeah, I I just, I don't listen to music on a digital platform in any way. Don't stream music in any way. And when I hear artist after artist saying, you know, I I read an interview with john Hiatt who said I used to make enough in royalties, so I would just play gigs that I wanted to play. Now I make a couple 100 bucks, 300 bucks a year in royalties because those people just don't pay. Yeah. And so I don't want to participate in this system like that, you know, I just, and I don't know if they're all like that. I mean that seems to be the norm. Yeah. And you know, I'm the I'm the counter to your point on this one because I've been a Spotify users since Spotify was beta testing. So I'm all in like it's my main way of, you're always right into the new technology radio man and it's so convenient it's every single song except for yours that I could possibly want to listen to and I can listen to it anywhere anyway I want on any speaker I want pretty much it's so it's so convenient and I gladly pay the 15 bucks a month for the premium family plan, multiple streams etcetera. And I've said it publicly many times I would gladly pay double what I'm paying now especially if that money if I knew it went to the artist because I get that side of it as an artist. My bands have music on Spotify we have made pretty much jack spit from it so it's just it makes me feel good as a Spotify user to say yeah you can go listen to my music out there, it's on all of the streaming platforms but you don't care. Yeah I just I don't know you know part of it is also just I'm a Luddite at heart. I they asked for passwords and do this and do that and then take your device and do this. And I finally said you know what? Forget it, I'm not gonna do this, it's too much work. I've got a C. D. I'm gonna put it in and just listen to it. That's pretty awesome. So you have what I'm gathering is a is it a love hate relationship with our employees store because from what I hear you're there a lot. I love that place. If if for the listeners at home, the employee store, we've done an episode about the employee store with Simon, who is one of the main, one of the main guys over there. But this is a place in one of our warehouses where all of the products that are not going to get sold back to customers that we can't send back to the vendor for any kind of credit, but it still works right at varying degrees of it still works. And are they discontinued? Or sometimes we find old stuff that we've lost in the warehouse and we find it and we can't sell it. So we sell it there and it's a wonderful thing for employees that take advantage of it and some occasionally go over there, some have never bought from the employees store, but you might be one of their number one customers. I'm wagering, I am the number one customer and I would not have gone anywhere near this far if it weren't for those guys over there. I mean, and when, when it was really great because before they sort of formalized the thing and and made it available to more people and I was literally one of 10 people may be coming in there, they would just call me up and say, hey, we got, we got this over, you want to come take a look and I'd say absolutely right over you know, but and then they would go trust me give it a month. Yeah, you're gonna love it, yep. So you know that eric is our co host. Uh and eric takes a lot of the credit for how much stuff you've purchased from the employee store because he helped dave start the employee store. So uh and he deserves all the credit to and he was a particularly bad enabler. Like he would grab me and take me back to the back and say, yeah look at this, oh my God. And also he's a user. So he had already tried the stuff at home and it works fine. He just doesn't quite fit his system or whatever. So so yeah, I snagged a few quite a few things that he had recommended, you know, and I think you actually snagged things like out from under him at least once. Yeah. First his pleasure. Yeah. Right. Something he had had his eye on, but somehow you ended up with it. So uh one of my last questions on my list here is are you, are you done? Like you're good, you're good now you got a system you're happy with and you're finished upgrading. I think I am. I think the only thing that I might do just because I heard it done and I thought it was awesome is by another power amp and bridge and both Tamano, you know and run one speaker with one and one speaker or the other. Yeah, well if you did that with these black dP a two, you'd have six or 700 watts per speaker. Exactly, yeah, because what impedance are these funky speakers here? I think there's around six. But you know, he never really told me it doesn't make any difference. Really. Right. No, that amp is, I mean 210 watts at eight homes. So anything lower impedance than that, you're gonna get even more wattage out of that L. Ac. But Yeah, that's a that's a lot of juice. I mean that's more power than most people are putting to their speakers in most situations. I'm getting a new cartridge. That's one thing I'm getting. That's about, you know, I think my last major purchase, I'm getting a Sumiko starling low because that cartridges, I think about 15 years old it seems to be fine. But um you know, I just, I don't want to damage my records and I figure most of the audio detectives that come over go, yeah, you need to do that sometime pretty soon. So I ask you if you're done, you're like, pretty much. But here's the next two things. I'm gonna be thinking about. Another amp and a new cartridge. Uh And uh and so if you're done, I mean you're just, you're not gonna go back to the employee store anymore. You're you're done well. Yeah. And on the other hand, I'm always looking out for my youngest daughter who's, who's gonna get, you know, she's in Hawaii now, but she'll be coming back and getting an apartment and she's gonna need a nice system there. So, you know, I'm always kind of looking for stuff for her, spreading the love around, but you know, before I was on a mission, I'm no longer on a mission. I'm I'm very happy with what's here and you know, I could never make another addition to be totally fine, but I probably will charlie, thank you for doing this man. Thank you man, It was fun. Alright, so that's charlie, Pastor field, Crutchfield legend, Charlottesville music legend, steely dan lover. Uh yeah, he's still a good guy. I happen to notice uh that you, your ears perked up when we started talking about the employees store in. Oh yes, yes, my old, my old stomping ground. Yeah, and it seems like you and charlie sort of are vying for, who has bought more stuff from the employees store? Yeah, at this point, he's winning that for sure, but how many macintosh pieces do you have at your house now? That's just, I'm sorry, that's not in the cards from you right now, Maybe someday we're about to wrap this thing up, but we wanted to start doing something kind of fun here at the end of each show because we have so many reviews from customers on our products and it's such a wealth of entertainment actually, to read through the reviews, many of them extremely well written wealth, thought out, love them. Many of the customers are now uploading photos of their gear which is so cool to be able to see the end result of our work here at Crutchfield to see people's home speakers, their car, stereos, amplifiers and subs all of that stuff. And some of these reviews are also really fun to read. I love it when they show their passion. Yeah, they can come through a couple different ways. This one review we're going to read today. It's on a powered subwoofer. It is an SVS powered sub those, those don't come small. No, no, this is the SVS PB 2000 pro. So it's not even the biggest SVS sub, but still they absolutely pound but like pound in a good way. Yeah, unless you're, unless you're not into it. And I don't think this customer's wife is all of that into it. Uh, john from Boise Idaho says about the SVS, this sub is freaking sick. I am not a tech savvy guy who is gonna talk, hurts, decibels, lows or highs all I know is the wife is not happy, she yells at me for stuff falling off the walls and the whole house shaking all over the place and it's set up out in the garage, two thumbs up here, two thumbs up after that that I, I love this, I'm glad he is happy with it. We do encourage that kind of behavior here, let's be honest, we fuel that fire for sure. Because yeah, I mean, subwoofers make the world go round as far as we're considered. Do you know what's better than hearing music feeling it, baby? Uh, so thank you so much for listening to this episode. We're having fun getting back into the studio and getting rolling with season three will continue to be taking our Crutchfield live broadcasts and turning those into podcasts as well as coming up with some po'ed original stuff. We've done some really fun interviews. And again, we're working towards interviewing Bill Crutchfield. So keep telling people about this show. Go to crutchfield dot com slash podcast for all the information you could possibly want. Thanks for listening. We'll be back with another episode here pretty soon.

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