RALEIGH, NC (PTA) — This is a tale that takes place in the daily life of Part-Time Audiophile. A tale which differs little from the usual show reporting in the sense that I being the writer of both, begin each and every article with the same mental starting place — “Dear Diary.”
Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook
This all started with a guilty pleasure that I choose to indulge in often, an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Driver-Ins and Dives. “Triple-D”, as the show is known by both fans and host Guy Fieri, often dedicates an entire episode to one city, and in this event of inspiration it was Chicago. With a few Facebook group chats and a phone call later, everything came to the result in my buying of an airline ticket to visit my audio industry pals, Jameson Mourafetis and Grover Neville, who live in the Chicagoland area.
The day finally comes in late December, just nine days before the Christmas holiday, and I am on my way to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). Which a couple of asides if I may, there is no such thing as Raleigh-Durham, there’s Raleigh, and there’s Durham — that’s it — but that’s another story for another time. Also, arriving substantially early to airports is something I strongly recommend. The reasons are many, but foremost it would be to lessen the stress affects of the tedium. With a few extra hours to spare one can relax and stroll through the sludge-like processes of air travel. Along with time to catch up on work, explore the beauty of airport architectural design, and occasionally do some shopping.
The Bose Frames
Enter the Bose Frames, which are sunglasses that offer a movie-like experience with the accompanying soundtrack that complements your daily routine without invading the world around you. The experience of blending sight and sound is purely yours and yours alone. The Bose Frames deliver an experience that I’ve only dreamed of in my childhood. Using their AR (augmented reality) technology to not only deliver personal music experiences, but also become a tool of daily living. Lessons learned over the past thirty-years, society has discovered that video screens aren’t just for mindless entertainment, and thus here we are on the brink of a new augmented reality that incorporates the missing audio component from the fully connected lifestyle. Instead of going into all of the cool apps and uses for such things, I’ll just link you to the AR technology page HERE, as it’s worth exploring.
The Bose Frames come in two aesthetically different models, ALTO (available in S/M and M/L) and Rondo (available in only S/M). Each model sounds exactly the same, and incorporates the same features and technology. Retail pricing for each pair of sunglasses is $199.95 ea. at the time of writing this article. The only on-body interface I found was a single metalic (gold tone) button on the lower side of the right temple arm which advanced music from the Bluetooth connected source to the next track. I find that single interface perfectly acceptable, and would also assume that the metal button would also provide dual-function as both power-on and power-off. Each of the two Bose Frames models is surprisingly comfortable and lightweight, as I did my critical listening with both.
From this point on, I’ll just tell you about my tactile and sonic impressions of the Bose Frames. Firstly, they are solid. Being a glasses wearer for medical reasons, I often find the build quality of most sunglasses to be laughable. These Bose Frames are not laughable at all, and with further research the reason revealed itself. The Bose Frames are also available for use with prescription lenses. This is a game changer for me. With my interest needle pinging the rev-limiter, my skeptical ears are soon activated.
My personal bar for audio quality is high, and my expectations for most things widely available in the consumer audio marketplace are accustomed to being low. But with Bose, I’m approaching this with slightly higher expectations, as the marketing and public opinion of Bose products is typically regarded as ‘state-of-the-art.’
Instead of the usual taking-of-seats for a listen, I’m placing the Bose Frames sound system upon the bridge of my nose and resting the speakers on my ears. How’s that for a weird change of habit? I press play as marked on the Bose Frames display. The music begins with an unnamed acoustic guitar track intro that sounds remarkably live. But not live in the recording, but live in the reality of my being. Though I don’t expect to feel the bass from Bose Frames, nor would I expect that of any hi-fi headphones, the presentation of the music in this particularly well recorded track is convincing of the space and soundstage enough, that through the lenses of my imagination, maybe I did have a pair of speakers out in front of me. That my friends, is where this childhood dream comes true.
In my youth I was a day-dreamer. Awake in elementary school, thinking about how much I’d rather be at home listening to music and playing with my stereo or boombox. Wishing in thought that I had a speaker-driver facing outward from my chest, and music being sourced from some internal — well, who knows where the music came from, I was a kid and hadn’t given much thought to the mechanical details. All I know is, I wanted music playback to become a part of my body.
Here we are now, on the brink of year 2020, and Bose has brought me something that I suspect will not only be fun to listen to, but also a new way of looking at sound reproduction as part of my body and daily life. As it was the prescription frames that have become my eyes, the Bose Frames will someday soon (I hope) become the audible enhancement my ears have been listening for since the days of my youth.
Now for something different…
The BurgerFi Wagyu
How do I make this about audiophilia? I draw the connection between Hi-Fi and Burger-Fi — the burger chain that understands fidelity and experience go hand-in-hand. Are the founders audiophiles? Did they abscond with the Hi-Fi concept and re-purpose it for the BurgerFi company name? I do hope so.
As much as the audiophile lifestyle is about indulgence, so are the many pleasures of life, which as this article indicated earlier — food also fits in with the practice of the indulgence lifestyle. Nothing screams indulgent like Wagyu beef. Which if you are not familiar, ‘Wagyu’ is a Japanese beef cattle breed – derived from native Asian cattle. ‘WAGYU’ refers to all Japanese beef cattle, where ‘Wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means cow.
Wagyu were originally draft animals used in agriculture, and were selected for their physical endurance. This selection favored animals with more intramuscular fat cells – ‘marbling’ – which provided a readily available energy source. Wagyu is a horned breed and the cattle are either black or red in color. In Japan there are four breeds that are considered Wagyu and those are the Japanese Black (the predominant Wagyu exported to the U.S), Japanese Brown (In the U.S. referred to as Red Wagyu), Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn.
The chefs at BurgerFi have a few menu options that offer Wagyu beef, and for our testing we chose The CEO model of burger. Did I say “our?” I did. That’s because a close friend of mine (Mikaela) happened to be in the airport that day, and spotted me for company. She too had time to spare before her flight, and was in need of sustenance. I recommended BurgerFi to her, and off we went to see the burger wizards of RDU.
Mikaela Brez is not only a friend and avid burger connoisseur, but also a maven of high-end pizza (yes, that’s a thing) as she once worked with Raleigh based pizzeria Lilly’s Pizza, which coincidentally is also where Mikaela and I first met. During our first meeting (socially) she informed me of how to ‘correctly’ build a pizza and also how to experience it. I followed her lead then, and I do so now.
The burgers arrived and we’re as quiet as a church mouse. It’s moments like this where you know I’ve hit upon something really extraordinary. If you know me personally, you know I’m a talker. I don’t shut up. I even talk too much during sex. However, if the food is something special, the business of mastication takes a seat, front and center.
The CEO burger from BurgerFi is simply built, but doesn’t skimp on quality. It starts and ends with the two ‘Wagyu + Brisket Blend’ patties which remain the star of the show throughout the eating experience. The two Wagyu patties are separated by ‘Homemade Candied Bacon-Tomato Jam’ and multiple layers of ‘Aged Swiss Cheese’, then topped with a smearing of ‘Truffle Aioli’, finally to be placed between a single bun. It’s a simple construction, but the result is teeming with more complex flavors than you can shake a stick at.
Smokiness abounds. The rendered fat content of the Waygu is to die for. The ‘Homemade Candied Bacon-Tomato Jam’ eats five times better than the description reads, and if something were to rank most underrated as a component of the sandwich, it’s the ‘Truffle Aioli.’ At one point early on, I actually had to take the burger apart and dab a little of the Aioli to double-confirm it as the source of my savory lust. The ‘Aged Swiss Cheese’ did take a back seat to the rest of the components in this burger system, but even as I personally am not a fan of Swiss, the many layers of Swiss cheese did not take away from this burger design, but instead added a salty balance to the sweet jam.
Airports can be a fun place to relax, explore, and enjoy a meal with a friend. This is only the beginning of my three-day journey into indulgence, with many more reports to come. Mikaela is on her way to Los Angeles, and I am on mine to Chicago.
Bon Voyage, Bon Appetit, and Happy Listening.