Interview with Paul Ryder
For some audiophiles no digitised music can ever match the satisfaction of listening to a quality analogue sound. John Vandyke talks to an enthusiast whose passion has always been vinyl.
This interview by John Vandyke was originally published in Sound Travels (reprinted with permission of nextmedia Pty Ltd).
John Vandyke: Do you have a first memory, a first unforgettable musical impression?
Paul Ryder: Probably a couple. The first would be when I was 4-5 years old. I was listening to Johnny Cash on my father’s Hi Fi system which I wasn’t allowed to touch. I also remember as a kid being taken to see John English in Jesus Christ Superstar. I wasn’t that much interested in John English but the performance of Mary Magdalene was a very memorable experience.
JV: What started you on the Hi Fi quest?
PR: I have an old school teacher to thank for that. In junior high school years I joined an electronics club. The teacher had a Bang and Olufsen system. He invited a bunch of kids aound to listen, and whether it was the look or the sound, probably a combination of the two, I was very impressed with that. So he was definitely the catalyst.
JV: Where do you think your system is going, or has it arrived?
PR: My wife would say it should have arrived some time ago! Most would say that hi fi systems are in a permanent state of evolution, so no it hasn’t arrived yet. I would very much like to add some tubes to drive the electrostatic panels of the Martin Logans, to just sweeten the sound a little, although the Krell’s do sound very smooth.
JV: What’s your favourite piece of equipment at the moment? What is the component that you would not sell?
PR: It’s a no brainer really – the Goldmund Studio turntable. I dreamed of owning one of these for years. Found this one on EBay, and was able to negotiate with the seller when the item did not sell.
JV: What do you see as your next hi-fi purchase or upgrade?
PR: It should be a good set of speaker cables. I am using some Monster cables at present which are fine, but I could do better. But, in all probably, the next upgrade will probably be a MacIntosh tube power amp for the electrostatic panels.
JV: What’s the most memorable pair of speakers that you have ever heard?
PR: I have to put that in the context of the most memorable sound that I’ve heard. Everyone has probably heard a sound in their hi fi journey that has remained a reference for them. When I was retailing high end hi fi as a student, one of the customers bought a Goldmund Studietto turntable with a Koetsu Black that had been re-tipped by the Garrott brothers. His amps were Audio Research I think and the speakers Gale 401’s. These speakers have a reputation for a slightly bloated sound, but they sounded striking in this system.
JV: What component do you regret selling?
PR: I sold a complete system once when I moved overseas. The anguish of that separation lasted for years! I also sold a Linn Sondek with Ittok arm and a Koetsu Red lock stick and barrel, including a Goldmund record clamp with the Goldmund platter mat. When I bought my current Goldmund turntable, I could not buy a Goldmund clamp for a long time. With a lot of luck, I finally tracked down a gentleman in Texas who was a fan and had two clamps. So the component I most regret selling is that original Goldmund record clamp.
JV: Do you use the same music for comparing components as you do for listening pleasure?
PR: Yes I do, because that’s the music I am most familiar with. In my collection (like most audiophiles), there are a few albums that have a remarkable dynamic range or other attributes and I use these to gauge the calibre of a system
JV: What genres of music do you listen to mostly and who are some of your favourite artists?
PR: I’m probably a progressive rock fan, of the ilk of Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan. I also like country of a certain variety, so Johnny Cash is a long time favourite. The Cash American albums have become a reference as the timbre of his voice is remarkably revealing of both good and poor systems.
JV: In what ways does music affect your life, your emotions and the way you feel?
PR: Music is vital in helping me to wind down. Like any professional person, to be able to come home and enjoy some very good music and enjoy quality sound - that’s a great pleasure. Busy people find time for relatively few pleasures, and music is one of mine.
JV: Where do you see the high end audio industry going in the future?
PR: Inevitably it’s going to head even more into the digital domain. I am however delighted to see that the growth of vinyl is outstripping CD’s. Unfortunately, I don’t see analogue ever replacing digital again. So, I expect to see a lot more in the way of music servers and high resolution formats in the future.
JV: Where would you like the audio industry to go or to evolve to?
PR: I would dearly like to see a massive reinvestment in analogue technology – my own view is that you cannot get a more satisfying (if not a more exacting) sound than analogue.