The State of Sound

AUDIO EXPERIENCE FROM FRANCE

Preface


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The Next Best Sound to Silence

I remember the tall man who delivered the hi-fi system to my parents; it was the 70’s and we lived in a small town in southern Burgundy. I remember how the package was unwrapped with care, cardboard box after cardboard box, and how surprised I was to discover the silvery face of the impressive Japanese amp and the number of buttons! My childhood was steeped in music – I would creep out of my bed on Sunday nights and quietly don headphones to clandestinely listen to the celebrated, late-night modern jazz program broadcast on Radio France. Later, my father invested in large tape recorder. He « hunted » sounds and set up his studio in a reconverted attic. It was almost like listening to the radio! As a teenager, I particularly marveled at the records produced by the ECM label, whose amazing quality I could appreciate even using my family’s modest sound system.

Later, when I was a young student in Paris, I occasionally went to the public library in the Pompidou Center to listen to some vinyl records over whose choice I had agonized. However, the best part was next to come. I was, in fact, sitting in front of it: a Revox B790 turntable with a tangential tone arm whose workings fascinated me. Those who rarely have the opportunity to attend concerts have to find musical gratification elsewhere and are drawn, inexorably, to the machines that can offer the musical experience they crave. A few decades later, the search continues, as does my passion for music. I have often reflected on the brilliant slogan of the ECM record label: « the next best sound to silence ». I honestly believe that this thought has never left me.

Today, we need music for than ever, not just the solitary music we experience with headphones in our ears and our gaze lost in the distance, but also the music that we share together. Given that hi-fi systems are frequently considered to be luxury products (often justifiably so), this blog will attempt to propose a reasonable and rational alternative way to experience high-fidelity sound, to explore the latest offerings from the dynamic, constantly-evolving French market.

Although France is typically known for its cheeses and high fashion, the country also possesses a true savoir faire when it comes to the high-quality reproduction of sound. Many French artisans, belonging to both large and small companies, are generating durable and innovative solutions to hi-fi challenges. This blog also invites you to meet all the people who work in the service of music to deliver an audio experience that is « made in France ».

Here is the crux of the matter: music, and its uninterrupted flow of emotions, in constant renewal. We should never forget that a quality hi-fi system is self-effacing – we should be led to forget its existence even as it delivers original musical compositions, interpretations, and recordings for our ears to savor !

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