Friday, May 7, 2010
Fit for elevator music
The music server with hires downloads will never be an audiophile component - thus declared the Master of Tubes Peter Qvortrup of Audio Note.
Music servers will be great for "elevator music, background music".
It is not a case of Peter defending analogue as the all-powerful medium that cannot be replaced - after all he does make CD players, transports and DACs - but he has a strong case against storing hires files in a hard disk drive.
"The file is broken into pieces and stored in various parts of the hard disk and later put back together again. Storing music files that way does not work. Music cannot be broken," he said.
Peter, who was in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday to meet his dealer,Wong Tatt Yew and several Malaysian hi-fi bloggers, at Plaza Mont Kiara, said if CDs were packaged in a nice way that would lure customers to buy them, there would be no downloads.
He said it is possible to store music files digitally but they must be continuous like in a CD, but files in a hard disk are broken up to enable the disk to store huge amounts of data.
"But they are lossless files," said one blogger.
"Lossless doesn't mean anything. There is no such thing as something without a price. There will be a loss of quality. We are breaking into the time continuum and changing things that we don't understand," Peter said.
"Look at the transistor. What is it? A semi-conductor. How the fuck can this be good when half the signal is missing?"
Peter, who is the proud owner of 28,000 LPs and 5,000 CDs, talks in a very animated way and hops from subject to subject like a spoilt CD laser skipping tracks.
During his two-hour chat with the hi-fi bloggers, he talked about C-core transformers, quality of silver ("there is no such thing as 99.99 silver"), watches, the rise of China and the poor quality of products by Chinese manufacturers, German hi-fi ("it's evil sounding"), dictatorship and democracy, the poor state of affairs in England where he lives, the possible outcome of the elections and the terrible anti-business policies of the Labour government, and Ferraris.
"With the trend towards downloads and iPods, what do you think will be the future of hi-fi?" a blogger asked.
"The future? I think the quality market will go back to LPs. Look, I said that 20 years ago and people laughed.
"The CD as a format to store music files will die in five years. There is this new thing concerning storing data in a liquid and it is apparently good to store music files in it," Peter said.
Then he switched to talking about Audio Note products and their astronomical prices. "Everything has a price. You get what you pay for. Pursuit of quality audio is elitist. Democracy is about mediocrity, about going to the level of the masses," he said.
He started talking about an author who wrote on the ideal size of a nation and about how democracy will eventually lead to dictatorship. His interest in politics has led him to enrol for a PhD programme in social political theory in a British university.
Then he revealed that he is working on a tube volume control and that Audio Note stopped advertising since 1998.
"If you have a good-sounding product, people will find it. You don't have to look for them," he said.
He revealed that Audio Note spends a lot of money buying testing equipment and sourcing the best materials like nickel for its transformer cores from various parts of the world and making some exotic parts like tantalum resistors so that the best sound can be achieved.
After telling us all the bullshit other manufacturers have said about balanced inputs, he said he considers Naim to be Audio Note's rival.
Naim is a firm he respects a lot not for their products ("I don't like how they sound") but their business style, philosophy and how they treat their customers.
Then he became philosophical and talked about his legacy. He brightened up and said: "I will be known for the rise of the SET and the rise of prices to stratospheric levels." All of us laughed.