Editor’s Note: Before we dive into Hubcon 2022 coverage, let’s take care of the elephant in the room—what the hell is Hubcon? Hubcon is a gathering of Part-Time Audiophile writers and editors. During our planning of this strategic-social event several exotic locations were discussed: those included Toronto, Hawaii, and Cartagena. Alas, we decided on something closer to home for our initial outing—the state of North Carolina. Home to both Dave McNair and Eric Franklin Shook, and within reach of Grover Neville, Graig Neville, and Jameson Mourafetis. In short, Hubcon is where love and audiophilia meet and shake hands.
The Dance of The Audiophile
Compulsive, neurotic, basket cases. The whole lot of us. That’s what it seems like at times. Moving things around, swapping one tube for another, trying to alleviate one compromise made for another.
Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook
Feeling the pressure. Possibly something more known to reviewers than to regular audiophiles. But sadly, that’s part of the deal. Even with seemingly minimal room treatments, the large and fluffy rockwool clouds on the ceiling make a substantial difference, Dave McNair‘s domestic listening space really doesn’t demand much of the aforementioned neurosis to get things sounding right.
Dave’s listening room grabs you from all around, without taking on boomy bass attributes or creating unwanted cancellations. No splashy reflections or echoes. It really plays nicely with everything we’ve put in it so far.
Once getting everything dialed into place with the help of The Audio Company and Leif Swanson of Von Schweikert Audio, we felt secure with ourselves, our mission, and that Hubcon 2022 would go off without a hitch. And for the most part, that was the case.
Running Up That Hill
Having a million dollar (or more actually) system in our possession for only a week’s worth of listening during Hubcon, many of us felt the pressure to be overly critical, overly analytical. And who’s to say that we’re not right in that aim considering the cost?
It wasn’t until the last day of Hubcon that I think most of us were able to relax and just enjoy what we had in front of us. All the shifting and tweaking, though gainful, what good were the results if not to be enjoyed without anxiety. Like the song says, we were running up that hill, and doing so every day of Hubcon.
Many lessons have been learned in this exercise of Hubcon, Dave School, and our general convening. Unlike most “audiophile-get-togethers” this wasn’t a dick measuring contest in the least, but more a think tank with lots of southern food.
Swapping out speaker components like the QLN Prestige Fives (reviewed by Dave McNair here) gave us the ultimate respect for what Kevin Hayes of VAC does, as his electronics really elevated everything we put at their end. Be it headphones or speakers, everything gained a substantial set of benefits from the nourishment of his superbly refined designs.
Don’t get it wrong, we did have lots of fun listening to music and diving deep into each other’s favourite genres and test tracks. Like, when Jameson Mourafetis takes the wheel, you better be ready for some seriously intoxicating heavy metal tunes.
And you also better have your Shazam app at the ready, because more often than not, he’s playing something in the metal genre that you’ll really like, even if you hate metal music like I do.
Listening To The Master
Dave McNair’s “tales from the console” are to die for. Dave is a humble man, so when a story is being told, the name drops aren’t done in any sort of pretentious way, as these tales are just the telling of another day of work. Like when Dave McNair told us about recording Bruce Willis’ first album, and how colorful and eccentric the whole process came to be.
It’s these moments where Hubcon really finds its value for Part-Time Audiophile, as we share our experiences and knowledge about audio, music, and life. Our mission becomes clearer, and our minds open.
Feeding The Brain Trust
Mountains of coffee were consumed every morning. Several late night trips to Cookout were taken. Exploring the local pizza scene became a new hobby. And no waistline will ever forget all the Bojangles’ we devoured.
Consider it all brain food. Though, none of us will be running up that hill again anytime soon.