I looked at the cover of the new issue of Stereophile, an audiophile (think hi-fi) rag that many music and audio fans, both obsessives and normal, read each month. On the top was a banner that said “Henry Rollins: I am an audiophile”. Another reason why I like Henry, even though our musical tastes often differ markedly.
“People can hurl any epithet they want about the snobbishness they think
audiophiles retain.Let them drink ther wine from boxes.The sound of my Bob
Ludwig-mastered pressing of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy
comming through my system cuts through their contempt like Toshiro Mifune’s
katana blade!” – Henry Rollins
In an age of 192 bit files, MP3’s and Ipods, there’s something heart-warmingly old school about the sight of audio tubes glowing. My monoblock amps use vintage Russian television tubes. Henry’s classic American McIntosh amps most likely use KT 88’s, which were developed back in USSR days in the navigation systems of Mig 15 and 23 supersonic fighters. How cool is that?
For me and for Henry, high fidelity—the high-end of audio—is all about hearing everything there is in a recording. It’s about knowing which label, which decade, which engineer, did the original recordings. It’s about hearing Nina Simone’s lips part when singing ‘Little Girl Blue”. It’s about the glorious sound of analog, which people are still discovering. Putting the needle to the groove. And it’s about reading liner notes, looking at the pictures of the sessions, about feeling like you’re three rows back in a club or concert hall.
And it’s a search for musical intimacy and authenticity. It’s about really listening without people talking next to you, getting deep into the music. Henry and I are melomanes—the French have a word for music lovers. And, yes, as Henry would say, we are fellow fanatics!!! Fanatics in search of what audiophiles term ‘the absolute sound’!