Barry Willis

Barry Willis  |  Jul 07, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1995  |  6 comments
Most audiophiles are aware of the modification and add-on aftermarket. A few have learned the hard way that modifier competence varies from primitive magic and sales hype to real engineering skill. Some modifiers are serious audiophiles who are also good technicians; others are scam artists whose only goal is to make a quick buck on the latest fad. If you have only a rudimentary understanding of electronics, you may not be able to make a distinction. Even the most jaded and battle-hardened among us can still be hooked and reeled in by a slick sales presentation.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 01, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1989  |  3 comments
There are some standing jokes in the audio industry about the qualities a piece of equipment must have in order to be truly "high-end." One definition is that it must be unavailable, unreliable, and dangerous. Another is that it will sound great, break, and its manufacturer go out of business. By meeting at least half of these variables, the Spatial Coherence TVA-1 preamplifier qualifies as a classic audiophile product.
Barry Willis  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1994  |  5 comments
One evening late last summer I took the most expensive workout of my life. In my hurry to meet a friend at the gym, I left the house, leaving my computer and hi-fi on despite the ominous look of the sky. In the South, experience teaches you to dash about disconnecting everything at the first sign of a thunderstorm. Usually I do, but this time my mind was elsewhere.
Barry Willis  |  Dec 19, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1998  |  0 comments
666systemau.1.pngDenmark has probably contributed more to loudspeaker technology than any other country in the world. Vifa, Dynaudio, ScanSpeak, and Peerless drivers—used in a huge variety of speakers—are all Danish. Products from companies such as JBL, Spendor, Linn, B&W, Celestion, KEF, Audio Physic, ProAc, and others are partially or wholly made in the little Scandinavian nation.

System Audio originated in 1984, when guitarist and electronics technician Ole Witthoft grew dissatisfied with the lack of realism he heard from most home audio systems and figured he could do better. He built some speakers for himself and for a few friends, with encouraging results. It's a familiar story: we all know competent hobbyist speaker builders. A few of them gain a bit of local notoriety, but most never venture further than making a few units for friends and relatives.

But Witthoft's reputation grew rapidly, and so did his business. Fourteen years later, his little startup has become a serious player in the loudspeaker market, with annual production in excess of 18,000 units.

Barry Willis  |  Sep 14, 2012  |  First Published: Nov 14, 1997  |  3 comments
Nothing at 41 E. 62nd Street in Manhattan offers any clue as to what sort of business that takes place inside. The waiting room feels vaguely monastic: straw mats on the floor, a row of shoes near the door. Like a day spa offering acupuncture and shiatsu. There's no corporate name, no logo, no mission statement.

A clock running six and a half hours late hangs above a receptionist's unoccupied desk. An enormous white dog is asleep under framed pictures of old blues artists: Son Thomas, Etta Baker, Pernell King, Cora Fluker, Big Joe Williams.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 06, 2010  |  First Published: Feb 06, 1995  |  0 comments
Wandering through Tower Records the other night, I was struck by the amazing diversity of music available to us. There's music from every part of the globe, for every taste and interest, from "show-me-the-good-parts" compilations of classical highlights to obscure releases by unknown artists. There's music for the ecstatic, music for the angry, music for the straight, the gay, the bent, and the twisted. The subcategories replicate like rabbits, as if in a demographer's nightmare. Genus spawn species, which quickly mutates into subspecies, race, tribe: cult begets subcult.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 19, 2007  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1997  |  0 comments
Dear High-End Dealer,
Barry Willis  |  Jul 13, 2007  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1998  |  0 comments
Stadium rock is my idea of the inner circle of Hell. I hate crowds. I have zero interest in the rich and famous. And I've never been much of a Rolling Stones fan. Give me a choice, and I'll take Weslia Whitfield at the Plush Room 10 times out of 10: a cushy seat, some witty companions, a little Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Heavenly.
Barry Willis  |  Jul 03, 2005  |  First Published: Oct 03, 1999  |  0 comments
Most speakers don't come in heavy wooden crates—they come in cardboard cartons, two per box, light enough to be tucked under one arm and carried out to the car. Not so in HighEndLand, where the smallest minimonitor can test a healthy man's strength. There are plenty of good reasons for this cult of robustness, foremost among them structural stability and the suppression of resonances.
Barry Willis  |  Jan 31, 2005  |  0 comments
Media conglomerates have long hedged their bets by consulting demographics experts and marketing gurus. Now, music executives have real science to bolster their sometimes unreliable instincts about what will succeed and what will fail. It's an audio analysis program called Hit Song Science (HSS).

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