The Future of the Part-Time Audiophile

I just got back from a great weekend at AXPONA in Chicago, and two things stood out. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Lots of things stood out. Lots and lots.

Like this — I really don’t understand why people pay $40 for a steak. Dude. Seriously. Do you have a $15 cast iron skillet and an oven? Then you can make better steak than Gibsons, Mortons, Lewnes’, Ruth’s Chris, or any other steak joint on the planet.

So, while that stands out, it’s not really what I’m talking about. Or want to talk about. Whew. I’ve had a couple of cups of joe this morning, can you tell?

Anyway, what I wanted to say is this — Part-Time Audiophile isn’t going anywhere just yet. No one has offered me piles and piles of cash and incentives to yank all my content under their umbrella, so here it sits, loud and proud, a vortex of spinning sound-bytes greedily sucking at the … hmm. I think that might be a good place to edit in a break. Ahem.

SO — as I was saying — this site will continue on, even as I contribute to The Absolute Sound and whatever/wherever. I like working on this site, and as long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it. I mean, if someone did want to buy it, I’d have to consider it … I’m not getting any younger (I should never have wasted that money on that damn painting), the twins will eventually need to go to college … and mama needs a new pair of shoes … come on, seven! Seriously though, I just don’t see it happening.

What I do see happening is expansion. A couple of kind, clever gents that have offered to start supplementing my feeble efforts here — should that pan out, Part-Time Audiophile will get busy. And that’ll be really cool. Stay tuned.

But circling back around to AXPONA and what I learned … having the words “The Absolute Sound” printed on your show badge is really interesting. I got a lot of “congrats” from some old friends, which was nice, but much more so was the number of “regular” show goers who stopped me in my tracks and told me where I “had to go to” (and surprisingly, it wasn’t to Helen Waite). In fact, I spent about 4 hours during the show just chatting with other audiophiles about what they heard and liked, and what they wanted to know more about. For me, it was the best part of the show. To all of you — it was great to meet you all.

You might be surprised to learn that it didn’t mean that much to the exhibitors. I’ve heard some hallway chitter about how exhibitors are rude to “regular attendees” and obsequious to reviewers. Guess what? I’ve found that most exhibitors are routinely helpful — to everyone — assuming that they can actually help everyone, which they usually can’t. Badge, no badge, it didn’t matter — what mattered far more was simply being polite, enthusiastic, smiling, and waiting my damn turn. No one cleared a room for me, and no, I didn’t get ushered right to the front — except by a couple of wiseasses performing experiments on exactly how bright a shade of red I could turn, and how fast. No, I still had to wait for, or fight for, the sweet spot — or even a seat! It wasn’t exactly a Kathy Griffin moment, but lettering on my badge or not, in most of those rooms, I was just another joe.

So much for me and my big britches, eh? Ah, well.


  1. Damn, dude, that steak I had at Gibson’s might’ve been the best I’ve ever had! But congrats for the TAS gig, you deserve it. And you’ll always get the sweet spot in our rooms.

  2. For those who truly know steak and how to properly cook it, we appreciate the analogy and head nod. An old seasoned cast iron skillet glowing crimson is the only way to go. Hold the self-deprecating humor and humility dear, for that is how one can continue to be smart without being a smart-a$$. Keep it coming, and be sure your clever teammates complement, but don’t dare try to duplicate, what you do.

    (Allen Brothers steaks, highly recommended, online, expensive, worthy)

  3. Just curious, was the $40 steak, and all that went with it, i.e. being served, the ambiance, enjoying the company of your colleagues, etc. worth it?

  4. $40 for a good meal is cheap. If your first thought of the meal ( after having finished and paid for) is price, then the restaurant is to blame. I’ve eaten great meals in a restaurant that have cost more than that, but when thinking back remember how good the meal was and would definitely go back or keep on a list for future use rather than the price. I’ve also eaten great meals in small diners (that have been “old”, but impeccably clean) that have cost less than $10. Perhaps my expectations are lower, but I don’t think so.

    My point is that there are “expensive” things that fail to impress, but the ones that do may certainly offer great value. There are also less expensive things that exceed one’s expectations and thus offer great value, but perhaps are less on style and more on substance.

    For any that doubt this, go look for a GREAT chair. A recliner or similar. Seek out an Ecornes Stressless Chair, sit in it and relax (all their chairs come in three different sizes to accomodate different body sizes). Now compare that to a less expensive, typical recliner (and this is not intended to trash Laz-y-Boy or Barclay or any of the countless others). They are simply different in terms of fit and finnish. The fact of the matter is, both may be comfortable, but which might offer better value? A more expensive chair or a less expensive one? I suggest that a more expensive one might, if the manufacturer has used better materials, construction techniques, and workmanship/craftsmanship as the rationale for a higher price.

    Someplace in my past I worked in a typical “hotrod” shop. Our ethos was “price, convenience, quality…you pick two” when building a motor or doing mechanical repairs. And it holds true for pretty much everything. Oh, as an aside, many Stressless chairs are priced lower than aLaz-y-Boy recliners.
    Congratulations on your first show attended as a member of TAS.


  5. Sheesh! You can’t figure why someone would pay $40 for a steak but think $4000 (or more) for a power cord is fine and dandy. Get a grip dude.

    • Pptphpthtphthph.

      All I’m saying is this — I make better steak. Routinely. Or did, before The Diet changed all that. As for power cords … I don’t make those, routinely or otherwise ….

      • I think you would find that making a good power cord isn’t a whole lot more difficult than making a good steak. Although perfectly good power cords generally come with electronic equipment so why bother, right?

  6. Imagine that, Being polite, patient, and smiling works, sometimes old school is best.

    • Isn’t that thought refreshing? I once walked into a very high end shop and was sneered at by the three salesmen who were enjoying their freshly made expresso at the store’s expresso bar. I noticed some water dripping from the ceiling, and sought out the store manager.
      When he attended to me, I introduced myself as an audio enthusiast (I was wearing typical summertime holiday garb) and commented on what a beautiful store and what great gear was there. I also suggested that if those $10,000 (CAD, when it was trading against the US dollar at approx 1.50:1) speakers over there (Wilson Audio CUBS) were mine, I’d move them so they wouldn’t get damaged. I’ve never seen any salesman move so fast in my life! In my mind knowledge, “class” of products and performance can never replace old fashioned courtesy and manners.i

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