Audiogon Featured Member – Read Albert Porter’s Audiophio!

You probably already know our featured member of the month, but maybe by name only. He’s a fixture in our Discussion Forum and has assembled some of the most beautiful listening rooms and equipment we’ve seen. Keen to help newbies, he’s also very generous of his time with old buddies, and definitely a friend to us. Albert Porter‘s knowledge, expertise, and wit are the reasons we chose him as our first Featured Member, and we asked him to put together a little Audiophio (audiophile bio) so you can get to know him better. 

In your opinion, what is the difference between a casual music lover and a true audiophile?

Albert Porter:  A casual music lover and audiophile may share an equal passion for music but the audiophile, usually though exposure to better equipment, has grown accustomed to superior reproduction.

What was the first item you bought that signaled you’d crossed the line into being an audiophile?  How did you become an audiophile?

AP:   My first audiophile item was a Thorens TD124 turntable shortly after being exposed to high end audio at a local retailer.  That was not too many years after high school and the purchase stretched my income to the limit.

My theory was high quality turntable first, so no matter what else I could afford and in what order, my records would be protected.   It took months to pay for the Thorens,  it sat unused until I could afford the Ortofon arm and Ortofon moving coil cartridge.   Many more months to purchase and build a (kit version) Dynaco amp and preamp.  When I finally got everything working I was extremely proud and thrilled by the sound the system created.

What’s your favorite piece of gear?

AP:   That’s a tough question.  Every component plays an important role in getting the best sound.   Perhaps the source, the piece that you must lay hands on every time you listen.    My favorite source is my turntable, the Technics SP10 MK3 because of it’s performance and the unbelievable amount of software available on vinyl. 

What new or new-to-you item are you looking to add to your system?

AP: Newest item is the Lyra Atlas cartridge.  Coming soon if I can afford it,  a super high quality loudspeaker that is not yet on the market.

Do you consider yourself to be more appreciative of the technology that goes into high-end gear or the sound itself?

AP:   Definitely the sound,  hundreds of pieces of equipment have been called “state of the art” or “breakthrough” but in the end the music is the only reason for owning the equipment.

Do you like to tinker with your “toys” or do you prefer to plug and play?

AP:  Tinker is a requirement for much of what I’ve chosen.  Complexity abounds with analog playback, both the turntable and reel to reel.   My system is almost 100% tube so that choice creates a bit more work too.  What makes it all worthwhile is the pleasure of superior music reproduction.

What is more aurally pleasing – big concert hall sound, small clubs, or recorded music on your system?

AP: I’m guessing this is asking about types of music and how they please the senses on my system.   My speakers are line array design and do well with large scale classical, creating an almost walk through image but with proper perspective.   My classical favorites are the old Decca and Shaded Dog RCA from that great period in the 50s and 60s.

For small club sound I think of Blues and Jazz.   Blues like Etta James, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Nina Simone.  Jazz like Myles, Ella and Billie Holliday.   My system is very solid on all of this music and that music makes up a great deal of my software collection.

To emulate live sound, regardless of the recording venue,  I believe in lots of power.   There are times when I turn the volume way up, where the sound pressure meter peaks to 105 to 110 DB.   Not measured at the speaker but at my seated position, fourteen feet away.  There is no sense of distortion or strain because of the excessive amount of power I have on hand.

Obviously this must be only on rare occasions and for very short periods of time for the sake of my hearing.  Still, It’s a treat to live with that amount of impact and energy emulating briefly what you would hear being live.

In your opinion, what’s the future of hifi?

AP: There are a few young people taking up the cause, people who care about quality reproduction but the majority have never experienced music on a high end system.  Today’s reference is typically a Apple iPod with MP3 files or listening to a car radio.

How do we get them on board when brick and mortar stores are closing?   There needs to be a place for them to hear high end music reproduction.   I wish I knew a way beyond the regional shows that are gaining momentum.   We also need an improvement in the economy, I wish I had an answer for that.

Do you prefer one music format over another? Why?

AP: The absolute best in my system is master dub played on my open reel tape machine.  However, master dubs are not only limited but also very expensive.  I guess my favorite format is vinly because it’s close to master tape and there are countless titles that are excellent quality.

What’s your day job? If you could have any job in the world other than your own, what would it be?

AP: My day job is commercial photography.  I’ve always loved my job but technology has put the ability to capture images into everyone’s hands.   Customers still need me for difficult photo shoots but much of the fun things that paid well are gone.   For example, not too many years ago I provided most of the images for Southwest Airlines travel magazine.  That alone was almost enough income to not matter if I had another client.   Today that SWA travel magazine is not even in print.  Other airlines in need of travel images get from stock houses or share from image banks.

What are your favorite recordings?

AP: Perhaps the most difficult question of all.   My taste in music is varied and my library is well into thousands of titles.  I’ll just list things as they come to mind but understand I will miss some of the most important.  I care for so many kinds of music, hopefully the point will be made.

Nirvana, Unplugged
Roger Waters, Amused to Death
Felix Leband, Dark Days Exit
Horace Parlan, Speakin’ My Piece
Bjork, Debut
Kate Bush, Aerial
Dave Brubeck, Time Out
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
Carmen McRae, For Monk
Daniel Lanois, Acadia
Beatles, Rubber Soul
The Doors, Morrison Hotel
Melody Gardot, My One and Only Thrill
Junior Wells, Hoodoo Man Blues
Billie Holiday, Songs for Distingué Lovers
Joni Mitchell, Blue
Allison Krauss and Union Station, New Favorite
Pat Metheny, Offramp
Black Dub, Black Dub
Massive Attack, Heligoland
Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
Steve Tibbetts, Yr
Crosby Stills and Nash, Crosby Stills and Nash
Eels, Electro Shock Blues
Charlie Haden, Golden Number
Charlie Hayden, Closeness
Duke Ellington, Jazz Party
Duke Ellington, Meets Coleman Hawkins
Gil Scott-Herin, I’m New Here
Fleetwood Mac, Original Fleetwood Mac

If time and money were of no concern, what would be your “dream audiophile evening?”  (yes, you can time travel)

AP:  As long as I’m dreaming, an evening that went on without hunger, thirst or fatigue until I met many of the creators listed among my favorites above.

Well, now that you mention it, who are some of the artists you’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years?

AP: Artists that I’ve met spans many years  The beginning was photo coverage of concerts for big promoters here in Texas.  Later, photography for Southwest Airlines Vacations Magazine brought me into contact with even more artists.  Most in New Orleans and Nashville.

List follows in no particular order.
Robert Plant
Jimmy Page
John Bonham
Jeff Beck
Justin Hayward
Mick Fleetwood
John McVie
Lindsey Buckingham
Keith Emerson
John Lodge
Joe Cocker
Johnny Talyor
Rufus Thomas
Boz Scaggs
Steve Winwood
Martina McBride
Alison Krauss
Willie Nelson
Peter Frampton
Elton John
Leo Kottke
Steve Marriott (Humble Pie)
Clem Clemson (Humble Pie)
Van Morrison
Jim Seals (Seals and Crofts)
Dash Crofts (Seals and Crofts)
Jack Casady (Hot Tuna)
Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna)
Andrew Litton
Paul Rodgers
Dave Mason
Paul Kantner (Jefferson Starship)
David Freiberg (jefferson Starship)
Steve Winwood (Traffic)
Jim Capaldi (Traffic)
Chris Wood (Traffic)
George Kooymans (Golden Earring)
Barry Hay (Golden Earring)
BB King
Randy California (Spirit)
Brian Auger (Oblivion Express)
Yusef Lateef
Jennifer Warnes
Mel Galley (Trapeze)
Glenn Hughes (Trapeze)
Kenny Loggins
Jim Messina
Peter Wolf (J Giles Band)
Billy Gibbons
Dusty Hill
Stephen Stills
That’s all I can think of right now, I’m sure I’ve forgotten quite a few.   I have photos of most of these people in concent or backstage where I typically had access.

Thanks Albert!

Now that you know a little bit about Albert, why don’t you give his Virtual System a look?

If you’re interested in adding your Audiophio to The Hub, you can do so by clicking on this link.

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