- Published on 03 December 2007
About The Staff
The Secrets team is made up of technical analysts from wide and varied educational backgrounds and interests, who provide unbiased reviews of product and in-depth technical articles.
We have writers worldwide to reflect the enormous array of interests that pervade the field of Audio/Video. Developing the diverse staff membership has always been a top priority since Secrets first started publishing in 1994. Our writers include electrical engineers and computer programmers to compliment the need for a working knowledge of the high tech industries.
John E. Johnson, Jr. , Ph.D. John has published numerous textbooks and dozens of scientific articles on biomedical research topics as well as imaging technology. He holds several patents, including one on high resolution image analysis. Dr. Johnson has been affiliated with NASA, National Institutes of Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Stanford Research Institute, The University of California at Berkeley, and is Managing Editor of a Neuroscience book series called Neuroscience-Net, published by Elsevier (Denmark), as well as Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity. John has been involved in audio and video for 50 years, having built radio transmitters, amplifiers, turntables, and speakers from scratch. He is President of the consulting firm Scientific Design and Information, Inc., which is based in Redwood City, California. He is also the founder of the Northern California Audio Video Association, which is now called The Bay Area Audio Society. Here is a list of the Editor's equipment that he uses in product reviews.
Ms. Cynthia Johnson is responsible for Operations, Marketing and Public Relations. She holds degrees in Business Administration and Visual Design. She is currently based in San Francisco, California where she shares her home with a fat puppy and two well fed cats. Cynthia was introduced to a wide range and ever-changing array of audio and video equipment in her earliest years and has been involved in SECRETS from its inception almost 20 years ago. She enjoys the quiet side of music listening, and her equipment includes Sony CD player, OPPO Blu-ray player, Yamaha receiver, Krix speakers, Velodyne subwoofer, Sharp and Vizio displays, and Denon HTIB. Cynthia devotes much of her available time to animal care and is an avid practitioner of Bikram yoga.
The Senior Editors
Jim Clements has been an audio nut since childhood where you could find him underfoot at his local high end store on most weekends. (This particular shop was within walking distance of Jim's home, much to the chagrin of the owner and his staff.) Jim's audio journey started early because he loved great music of all kinds. And he still does. Like most audiophiles, Jim was not particularly inspired by a vast majority of the audio systems he encountered. So his quest grew through his efforts to recreate a live listening experience in the home. This has proven to be a never ending quest. One major offshoot of all this is that Jim has become something of a cinema enthusiast as well. So now he's working on the video and surround sound conundrums too. Since perfect recreation of sound and video is a goal to be pursued but never attained, Jim derives his pleasure from the journey itself. He wants to help our readers on their own personal quests by reviewing products thoroughly and objectively. On a personal note, Jim is a Professional Engineer, licensed in California and Texas. He currently has his own engineering practice in San Antonio, Texas. Jim is also part owner of a small chain of craft beer growler stations in South Texas.
Chris Eberle's passion for audio began when he took up playing the bassoon at age 12. During his third year at the New England Conservatory of Music, he won a position with the West Point Band where he served over 26 years as principal bassoonist. He recently retired from the Army and is now performing as a freelance musician in Central Florida.
As an avid movie lover, Chris was unable to turn away the 50-inch Samsung DLP TV that arrived at his door one day, thus launching him irrevocably into an obsession with home theater. Dissatisfied with the image quality of his new acquisition, Chris trained with the Imaging Science Foundation in 2006 and became a professional display calibrator. His ultimate theater desires were realized when he completed construction of a dedicated cinema/listening room in his home. Chris is extremely fortunate that his need for quality audio and video is shared and supported by his wife of over 25 years. His other interests include yoga, running, and working on (and driving) his extensively modified Mazda Miata. Chris enjoys bringing his observations and discoveries about every kind of home theater product to as many curious and well-informed readers as possible. He is proud to be a part of the Team and hopes to help everyone enjoy their AV experiences to the fullest.
Brian Florian has been entrenched in Home Theater since the early 90's, though his interest in motion picture and sound technology extends back to growing up in a musically inclined family and watching movies the old fashioned way: at the cinema. The technical side of high fidelity movie picture and sound presentation are his passion. Articles on the subject and in depth reviews of associated equipment are his focus here at Secrets. Currently employed as an IT Sales Consultant, beyond watching movies some of his preferred diversions include working on scale models or doing some light mountain biking."
He also contributes regularly to the graphic art and design of our site.
Piero Gabucci, a native of Alberta, Canada, is an architect living in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. Receiving his architectural degree in Michigan, Piero was heavily influenced by the modern masters like Saarinen at Cranbrook, Louis Kahn, and of course Frank Lloyd Wright. His love for art and architecture is a natural transition to his enjoyment and passion for music and movies. His taste in music is eclectic from rock, traditional jazz and classical music. But if Piero is not designing architecture or reviewing equipment, he's probably playing or watching ice hockey.
Writing for Secrets the last several years, Piero believes that a reviewer's duty is to inform and involve the reader into his audio experience rather than preach absolutes. With potentially so many factors involved in the evaluation of audio equipment, the results cannot possibly be "correct" for everyone - making the art of high fidelity extremely subjective. Whether you believe in capturing the quality of the original live performance or the reproduction of music, matters not if the end result is the pure enjoyment, and that's the goal.
Chris Groppi is a radio astronomer and electrical engineer working as an assistant professor at Arizona State University. He received his Bachelor's degree in astronomy from Cornell University in 1997, and his Ph.D. in astronomy with a concentration in electrical engineering from the University of Arizona in 2003. He studies how stars and planets form, and designs and builds millimeter-wave and terahertz receivers for radio telescopes. He became interested in HiFi during high school the first time he listened to a real high-end system (B&W 801s with Mark Levinson electronics). His first system in college was a Headroom headphone amplifier powering Sennheiser HD 580s, and graduated to a real HiFi system in graduate school. His first love has always been 2-channel audio, although his current system has added home theater capability.
Chris Heinonen's Chris Heinonen is a former software developer who now covers the AV and Computer industries while raising two young boys. He is both an ISF Level II Certified Calibrator and a Control4 Certified Installer. Chris covers all areas of home theater and audio, but specializes in displays including flat panels, projectors and computer monitors. He also maintains an active presence on Twitter under @chrisheinonen.
Ross Jones is an intellectual property lawyer in northern California's Telecom Valley, where he works with technology companies and manufacturers. He has a background in music theory, and has played bass guitar for 30 years in Los Angeles and Bay Area bands (which explains why he has five subwoofers in his home). "
Robert Kozel is a veteran IT professional, working as the Chief Technology Officer for a marketing services company in Cleveland, Ohio. He has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics from John Carroll University. His interest in home theater began with the purchase of a Yamaha Dolby Pro Logic surround sound receiver and an unassuming CD player. That receiver sparked a passion for music and movies that has lasted over two decades. Robert has since pursued opportunities to upgrade his gear whenever time and budget allow. He prefers solid performance and quality in his equipment and is not easily won over by the latest marketing feature. Reading the Secrets' DVD benchmark articles inspired his appreciation for the analytical side of home theater.
He takes his reviews for Secrets very seriously and offers the readers a detailed description of what it's like to install and use a product. To provide an empirical perspective in his reviews, he adds analytical measurements to his personal observations. The analytical measurements provide a baseline for comparison between products. Ultimately for Robert, home theater is about enjoying the beauty of music and movies. He hopes that his reviews offer readers an understanding of what they might expect from a product and whether it might be a match for their current system and unique personal preferences. When not working with technology or enjoying music or a good movie, Robert enjoys hiking, cycling and travel.
Jim Milton has been interested in high fidelity since his college years in the late 70's. It was there that he first became interested in classical music. He has been part of choral music, both in opera and oratorio and is an avid collector of classical music from the Baroque through the Romantic periods. He enjoys an occasional night at Boston Symphony Hall or attending an organ concert at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, ME. Currently he is the director of Nuclear Medicine at the North Shore Medical Center, located just outside of Boston. He also serves as an adjunct professor for Salem State University where he teaches a course in nuclear instrumentation. During his leisure time, he enjoys listening to his music collection and an occasional movie with his wife of 30+ years. Living on the longest stretch of sandy beach north of Boston offers him plenty of opportunities to take a relaxing stroll or soak up some sun. "Remember, acquiring good A/V gear takes lots of time...but doesn't necessarily take lots of money."
David A Rich received his MSEE from Columbia University and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University of NYU. He specializes in analog and mixed-signal integrated circuit design, with a portfolio spanning from audio ICs for Air Force One to RF ICs for wireless cell phones. Holder of fourteen patents, David's industrial experience includes ten years at Bell Laboratories where he rose to Technical Manager. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in integrated electronics and electro-acoustics. David's interest in audio began very early under the influence of his father, who was a recording engineer during the halcyon days of RCA Records. He gained an early understanding of electronics building Echo, Heath, and Dynakits. At the start of quadraphonic sound, David was building decoders based on designs in Popular Electronics. During his teen years, he spent more time in the back of TVs than watching movies at the front of the set. He still has limited interest in things video.
David has been a professional reviewer of audio equipment for more than two decades, serving as Technical Editor for The Audio Critic and Sensible Sound. He is a member of the Audio Engineering Society High-resolution Audio Technical Committee.
Collecting classical recordings has been a passion that has run concurrently with involvement in audio hardware. David has a special interest in early- and mid-20th century American tonal composers. He is an avid fan of chamber music and leads the Selection Committee for the Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Chamber Music Society Concert Series.
The Secrets Writing Staff
Michael Galvin - Michael is an attorney based in Los Angeles. He is an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP, the largest law firm in the United States devoted solely to business litigation. A 2007 graduate of UCLA School of Law, Michael's work thus far has focused on intellectual property, representing clients such as Mattel and Nokia. Prior to law school, Michael produced classical music. He enjoys the local music scene in Los Angeles and can be found most weekends at live shows. He is originally from Chicago.
Jared Rachwalski - Jared has worked as a Hearing Instrument Practitioner for the past 5 years. This has provided him with a great understanding of the human hearing system and room acoustics. He has been fascinated with music reproduction and stereo equipment since his father allowed him to mess around with his Pink Floyd records and HiFi setup as a child. His musical taste is often described as weird by his wife and has been greatly influenced by his three older brothers diverse musical selections. He is probably the only reviewer ever to use bothand in the same listening session. His includes DIY open baffle speakers from RAW Acoustics, by Paradigm, a DIY Adire Audio subwoofer, Marantz surround sound processing and amplification, an Optoma DLP Projector and 92" screen with a Oppo Digital player for both multichannel music and movies.
Rick Schmidt - Rick has been into audio ever since 9th grade when he commandeered a Pioneer receiver and Celestion speakers that his dad received in trade for a rusty station wagon. The stereo's original owner was forced into the deal by his newly pregnant wife. Hopefully that kid was re-exposed to hifi at a later date. Rick went on to make many extravagant stereo and home theater purchases of his own, not to mention LP's, CD's and DVD's. All financed by Rick's job as an engineer and engineering manager deep in the computer industry (ASIC design). When he's not listening or watching he might be working on the next screenplay for GenerosityFilms or painting.
Kieran Coghlan - Kieran first got into home theater around the age of 12, when he would take his Dad's "good" speakers, pre-amp and amp from the living room, and hook them up in the TV room to watch movies in hi-fi stereo on the family's Sony Betamax. He also developed a love of music at a young age, and as a classically trained tenor has performed in numerous choirs and stage musicals throughout high school, college and beyond. Kieran's interest in science and technology led to a career as a mechanical engineer in the aerospace and telecom industries. He enjoys explaining science and technology to people, and is now back in school working on a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, which may lead to a career in teaching. When not studying, tinkering, or being a husband and father, Kieran loves to ride bikes (mountain and road) and to row crew boats competitively.
Cory Potts - Cory is a graduate from Texas State University with a degree in microbiology and has worked at a major pharmaceutical research firm for about 5 years on multiple infectious disease projects for big pharma as well as with NASA and the U.S. Government. Cory worked in home theater sales in college which started him on a life-long quest to discover the best bang-for-the-buck home theater equipment and this fascination for unearthing "Giant-killers" in home theater continues today. Other passions include travel, spicy food, movie marathons, craft-brewing and hunting with his bird dog. Cory lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Crystal and German Shorthair Pointer "Kate. "
Tyler Stripko - Tyler's interest in music started at a young age. He began instruction in classical guitar at the age of 7 and gradually progressed towards rock in his early teens. He expanded his musical horizons in college, earning extra cash as a DJ spinning house and trance music and learning the basics of sound reinforcement. Starting with a humble 27" Sony Trinitron CRT television, a Pioneer DVD player, and just two channels of sound, his home theater system has continued to evolve over the years in an effort to recreate the sense of energy and emotional excitement that comes from attending a live performance. Tyler holds a B.S. in Business Information Systems from Lehigh University and will be completing his M.B.A. at the University of Massachusetts in 2009. He is currently employed as a Systems Analyst for a large health care organization in northern New Jersey where his primary specialty is in the area of digital cardiac imaging.
Gabe Lowe - is a Data Storage Professional residing in Durham, NC. Upon first getting a taste of surround sound in the late 1980's, Gabriel was hooked. He pieced together his first system shortly thereafter with hand-me-down speakers, a 20" CRT TV, and a HiFi VCR, and has had a passion for gear ever since. Using various internet and print resources, along with the help of a friend, he built his first dedicated custom home theater in 2003. Apart from home theater, Gabriel also loves spending time with his wife and 2 children, watching and playing sports, and staying up to date on the latest trends in technology.
Brian Alvarez - Since the age of 14 Brian has built countless hi-fi and home theater systems to get closer to the music and movies he loves. This desire to connect with the artist's vision is what drives his passion in hi-fi and home theater. A passion that led him to create his own artistic works. First, as a DJ/Electronic Music artist and later as a sound designer and music producer early in his career. While studying industrial design in college, Brian became deeply involved in digital imaging and video, sparking a life long passion for all things video. After working in the audio industry Brian re-focused on the emerging field of digital video and compression. During the past nine years Brian has been involved in the world of video production and post. His experience includes everything from working on Sundance indie productions, to highly technical R&D positions in the area of video and image compression. Currently Brian is the CTO for Los Angeles based Dogma Studios, a company specializing in digital compression and IP media delivery.
Jason Crawford, aka "Georgia" - Jason Crawford is a freelance writer from Georgia currently residing on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Some folks find it odd that his hair grows sideways. His interests are far-reaching and varied, from horseshoes to whole foods. He does not like lettuce. Jason may have little formal training with regards to writing, but he talks a lot and writes like he speaks. (Editorial Comment from the Editor of SECRETS: we are honored to present the work of a musician who not only knows of what he talks, but who can put-it into-words"¦. . ) He is also a songwriter who sings, plays guitar, piano, mandolin, bass, and harmonica - not simultaneously. Jason is a dedicated fan of rock 'n roll, and would rather remove his ears with a rusty, dull blade than subject himself to what is on the radio today. He also enjoys traditional country, old jazz, big band swing, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and gospel which he listens to on Sunday while he cooks breakfast. Feel free to contact him through this website any time if you would like to talk about music. He'd love it if you did.
Stephen Hornbrook - Stephen was introduced to the seductive world of 2 channel music reproduction at an early age. He has an uncle who shared with him the joys of a quality system - Quad ESL 63's powered by Audio Research tube gear. That experience got him interested and with the help of a part time job, allowed him to build a decent 2 channel system. He was most likely the only student at University of Oregon with a set of Chapman T-7's (small speaker company from Vashon, WA) and Jolida integrated tube amp. Stephen graduated from U of O with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in fine arts. He loves painting in oils, or just about any medium he can get his hands on. Stephen also loves to compose his own music on piano. Currently, Stephen keeps busy working on web applications written in PHP and MySQL, and also .NET and SQL server applications.
Mark Vignola - Mark is a full-time research scientist at the Duke University Medical Center and almost full-time video enthusiast, golfer and skier. He can still remember the first Pioneer Elite CRT display he saw playing a laserdisc of Batman at a store in his home town of Manhasset, NY. He is interested in video display science and acoustics of home theater. Mark holds a BS in biology from Boston College and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Duke University. He currently lives in Durham, NC with his wife Katie and Siberian Husky Samson.
Yongki Go – Yongki considers himself as an aerospace engineer by day and an audio/home-theater enthusiast by night. Yongki earned his Sc.D a number of years ago and was a member of the Secrets Team, before returning to Singapore for a number of years. He has now returned to the US and is a professor in aerospace engineering; he has published more than 60 technical articles in various aerospace-related journals and conferences. Although known to be an expert in the field of unmanned aerial systems, audio is always his passion. He was involved in reviewing equipment for SECRETS in the early year, and his continued passion for audio has brought him once again to the SECRETS team. Welcome back Yongki!
Travis Allanson - Travis has been interested in home audio since he was a university student but he distinctly remembers the day he saw a high definition television broadcast for the first time. It was during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics when he saw a hockey game in high definition on a 65" Toshiba wide screen rear projection TV in a local audio/video retailer's showroom. The experience was mesmerizing and after watching a full period of hockey on the wide screen high definition television, he knew he had to have one. Since then, his passion for home theater and home audio has only grown. Travis has an Honors Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Windsor and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. After working for over a decade in the automotive industry, he transitioned into the financial services industry where he currently enjoys helping his clients with all of their financial planning needs. Travis and his wife Katie live in LaSalle, Ontario and when he is not enjoying movies and music, he is probably out golfing.
Chuck Barger - At the age of 14, while everyone else had the infamous Advent speaker and Pioneer receiver combo, Chuck opted for the more musical and revealing Yamaha receiver with Norman Lab speakers. A young audiophile was born. Years later, the videotape boom created yet another cinephile, with an insatiable hunger for all things film.
Working in retail stereo electronics stores for many years, Chuck opened his own home theater and electronics store in 1995, Audio Visionaries. In 2012, adapting to the new market realities, Chuck founded Radical Sound Vision Lifestyle, a custom integration company specializing in home automation, theater, stereo systems and whole house music and video distribution.
Focusing on low brass instruments, he started playing music in junior high. He has performed with Phillips University Symphonic Orchestra, as well as their jazz band. He currently performs in the all age High Country Brass drum and bugle corps, playing baritone.
Chuck had also been President of Home Entertainment Source (HES) an independent specialty electronics dealer association with over 700 storefronts, as well as served on their board of directors for five years. He currently serves on the board of directors of High Country Performing Arts Association.
Douglas Seth Brown - An extremist to the core, Douglas approaches life via an Epicureanist philosophy: what he knows, he seeks to know with an immense depth and passion. Driven by adrenalin, his boundless energy and insatiable curiosity have led him to seek his true spiritual Dharma through: A), a maniacal jol in 2-Para & SF in the British military; B), matriculating with honours through graduate degrees in History, Molecular Biology, and Endocrinology; and C), a lifetime of enjoying music and movies.
When not at the gun range, deftly racing snowboards, or furiously lifting free weights, DSB's employed in various capacities by a Quantity Surveying construction engineering firm. He also works for an Audio Distributor in the Toronto area actively selling, designing, and installing higher-end two-channel stereo and multi-channel home theater systems. Douglas brings over 15 years as a CE 'industry insider' to the table and owns a half dozen different two channel and multi-channel set-ups, all of which are used on a regular basis for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of new(er) gear, cabling, and ancillary products.
Don Disbennett - Don acquired his love of music from his Mother, who always had the radio playing in the house while she was doing housework. He acquired his interest in electronics from his Father who built tube radios when radio was a new phenomenon and they were expensive pre-built. Don became hooked on hi-fi when he got his first phonograph player and an Elvis album from his Grandmother. After obtaining his B.A. degree with a major in Psychology, and minors in Chemistry and Math from the University of Texas, Austin, he worked briefly on a subcontract for NASA with the Apollo 11 mission. After Air Force service, Don obtained his Master's degree in Healthcare Administration from Trinity University and embarked on a 30-year career in that field, managing various hospitals, hospital districts and health organizations. He is now on his second career as a Workforce Analyst doing statistical reports and forecasting. Although he loves electronics, he believes that the music comes first and must ultimately be served by whatever devices are used to play it. He specializes in digital audio, streaming and networked audio. Don is a firm believer in the principal of equifinality with respect to music reproduction: this principal simply means that there is more than one way to skin a cat or to achieve high quality sound. Don is a charter member of the River City Audio Society (RCAs).
Robert Ebeling III - Robert's passion for audio was awakened at an early age by his father's purchase of a pair of original VonSchweikert Audio VR-4 floor standing speakers. Much like wine lovers (himself included) remember that first "Ah ha!" moment when they try their first "great" wine tastes a wine icon, this was his "Ah ha!" moment in audio. From this point on he was on a quest for what he considers "Audio Truth", a belief that the ultimate reproduction of sound is to produce the identical auditory experience as if it were live, without coloration, enhancement, refinement, or other influence imparted by audio equipment. As he has not found this "Audio Truth" yet, he has decided to share this quest with others by writing about it.
Robert's reference setup includes a custom built "floating" room using the Cardas "Golden Ratio" for dimensions specifically designed for audio evaluation. His gear includes an Oppo BDP-105 Blu-Ray player, Jolida Glass FX tube DAC, Marantz AV 8801 pre/pro, Marantz MM 8077 multi-channel amplifier, Sony 1080p VPLVW60 Projector, and Stewart Filmscreen 130 Reference Screen. For home theater speakers, he has Definitive Technologies CLR2500BK 150 watt speaker for the center channel, Definitive Technologies BPXBK speakers for side and rear surrounds, and Definitive Technologies 1,500 watt SCIBK Super Cube Subwoofer all connected via 14AWG x 4 speaker cable. The front two channels are heavily modified Von Schweikert VR-7SE MKIIIs, with 4" thick cabinets, custom milled speaker isolation spikes powered by a Channel Island Audio D-500 MKII monoblocks on dedicated 20 amp lines direct to the breaker box. The VR-7's are connected to the Marantz pre/pro (in Home Theater bypass mode) via Mogami quad star balanced ICs, and to the CIA monoblocks via "shotgun" Master Built cables.
Robert attended Baylor University where he met his wife (who beat him at fencing). He attended medical school at UTMB in Galveston, TX, served his Internship in Internal Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and completed his residency in Radiation Oncology at Tufts Medical Center. He is currently a practicing Radiation Oncologist in the Greater Atlanta area and enjoys fly-fishing, cooking, playing with his new daughter, and of course pursuing "Audio Truth". (and somewhere in there he went to culinary school)
Jay Haider - – Jay is an attorney by day, and a musical omnivore by night. Jay approaches audio from a music-first perspective. At home, Jay spins SACDs, DVD-As, Blu-Ray Audio, concert disks, and vinyl, and streams losslessly-compressed 2-channel music over AirPlay. He seeks out multichannel recordings of good music, with or without video accompaniment. Jay appreciates not only gear that advances the state of the audio art, but also gear intended to bring listeners high fidelity reproduction on a modest budget, as well as gear designed to provide enthusiasts well-balanced sound in spaces where an optimally set-up audio system is impracticable. Jay has designed speakers and subwoofers for himself and for others, and has a special interest in correlating subjective impressions of speakers with acoustic measurements. A Washington DC native and die-hard Washington football fan, Jay lives in Atlanta with his wife, Hiba, and their two ferocious mini-lions, Nawabsahab and Superpants.
Sean Latham - Sean has been intrigued by music and audio since the mid 70's, when his father introduced to a Sony reel-to-real player and many weekends were spent watching movies on a film projector in the basement. His experience (and ears) were fine-tuned in the early 80's with introduction to his first Marantz tuner and a set of Leslie home stage speakers. His interest only grew when Pioneer introduced surround sound and brought home theater capabilities in the late 80's. Sean's interest of music varies from Heavy Metal to Classical, but mostly enjoys blues and classic rock. To pay for his music hobby, Sean is a business consultant to automotive dealerships throughout Western Kentucky. His current reference system includes 60" Sharp LCD, Anthem Preamp and amps, Mirage OMD 7.1 System, Oppo Blu-Ray, Windows 8 HTPC with Cambridge Audio DAC, and has most recently reintroduced himself to vinyl listening using a Stanton turntable. Fortunately, he lives in the deep in the hill country so he has no problems with neighbors while listening at (or above) reference levels.
Francisco Licon - Francisco grew up in the west Texas town of El Paso and developed an early crush on audio systems when he was a young teen listening to the great masters (King Crimson, CNS&Y, Jethro Tull, Blind Faith, and of course the Beatles). He built his first pair of good loudspeakers in his family's garage during high school as part of a drafting project (a large bass reflex enclosure for Electro-Voice 12" coax). Francisco's higher education was nourished at UTEP (where he received a BA in Drama) and later in life at UTSA (he received a Masters in Educational Leadership). During his college years he discovered theatre and worked as a teacher and performer in improvisation and mime and also DJ'd for a Jazz and Classical radio station. Francisco resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, son, and dog and teaches Theatre Arts at Tom C. Clark High School. In his spare time he plays guitar and harmonica and sings. Thanks to the River City Audio Society of San Antonio, Francisco's passion for High Fidelity and music has found a new outlet. As always though, music is what matters and to that end he has enjoyed the LP renaissance especially with so much now available to the music lover in different formats. You know, it makes an old guy feel young all over again!
Carlo Lo Raso - A native of Toronto Canada, Carlo's interest in audio began at a young age when, unbeknownst to his mother, he started taking apart her transistor radios to see how they worked. As he grew older he would spend countless hours in stereo shops, listening to all manner of gear and picking the brains of the store owners. His first equipment that he purchased with his hard earned part-time job money was a Luxman R-117 receiver and a pair of Image Concept 200 speakers which, in hindsight, he wishes he still owned. Carlo has a wide variety of musical tastes and as a freelance illustrator; music is often heard coming from his studio while working on his latest project. Carlo currently lives in Granville, Ohio with his wife, two boys and a pair of "yippee" Weiner dogs.
Mike McGann - Mike has worked as a professional writer, reporter and editor for nearly three decades, starting his writing career at 16, writing recreational sports recaps for a local twice-weekly newspaper in Butler, N.J.and eventually covering all manner of sports including NASCAR and Indy Car racing.
Mikes's editorial career has been extensive and varied, including Senior Editorial positions with Dealerscope, Home Theater, E-Gear and Home Entertainment.
Mike lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and twins and is the founder of Brandywine New Media (BNM), which owns and operates a number of Web sites, including The Unionville Times, The Kennett Times, and several other publications. BNM also does Web design and hosting, as well as specialized content for clients and Mike has written for various print and Web publications on a freelance basis.
Mike has been active in local politics and coaching children's sports. Mike enjoys playing guitar (poorly), singing (even more poorly) and is a graduate of the Bertil Roos Grand Prix Racing School at Pocono Raceway.
Richard L. Wainwright - Richard is a long-time professional programmer, network engineer, and database administrator. He was always the "button pusher" in his family of 5 children and was tasked with "dialing-in" the color on his parents' 26" Magnavox TV from the age of 7.
His father and mother always enjoyed good music and Richard quickly became interested in hi-fi and quadrophonic systems as a teenager and he built a Heathkit AR-15 receiver at the age of 12. The family's first quad system comprised a Marantz 4270 receiver, Dual 1229 turntable with stereo and CD-4 cartridges, a TEAC 4-channel open reel deck, and 4 Jensen 6 speakers. Richard researched and made all of the purchases for the system - using Dad's money, of course! This system was supplanted by a Sansui 9090DB receiver driving 4 JBL-100 loudspeakers and using Dual 1249 and Garrard Zero-100 turntables. This was top-flight gear back in the day and he remembers the system fondly.
Richard's love of audio led him to positions with Audio Associates and AudioKrafters, hi-end audio-video retailers, in Maryland and Washington, DC. These jobs fed his craving for top-quality sound and he spent literally thousands of hours setting up, listening to, and selling hi-end audio systems.
He currently has an all-Gallo Reference 5.1 surround speaker system with an Emotiva UMC-1 7.1 preprocessor, an Emotiva XPA-5 5-channel power amp, and an Oppo BDP-93 universal disc player. A Mitsubishi 60 inch DLP HDTV is used for the video portion of the system. He has also amassed over 3TB of hi-res and surround sound recordings on multiple hard drives which are played thru the system using a hard-wired Ethernet connection and he continues to be an avid collector of such music. He is, however, running out of drive space rather quickly!!
Glenn Young - Glenn became involved with audio electronics and speaker building under the tutelage of the station engineer for the local public radio station in Baton Rouge, LA. During college, he earned pocket change by modifying Dynaco and other vacuum tube electronics.
When the compact disc came out, he (foolishly) sold his vinyl collection and spent the next decades trying to recover the magic that was lost. Finally, with the implementation of hard-drive based digital music files, the joy of music has been "recovered".
Glenn's daughter inherited his love of music and completed her bachelors and masters degrees in violin performance!
Glenn is a safety consultant and continued to pursue better and better home audio and home theater performance. Although he has not enjoyed vinyl for many years, he is still of the opinion that only the very best digital systems can compete with a good phonograph record.
Glenn's musical tastes are very broad…. electronica (Lords of Acid, Republica, & African Head Charge), popular music (including Lady Gaga, Katy Perry & LMFAO), small ensemble music (Atlantic Brass Quintet and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields), large orchestra music, vocalists, jazz, rap and anything not heard before. His A/V environments are constantly changing, but include multiple brands of speakers, power amplifiers, preamplifiers and DACs along with his Oppo BD93.
The Secrets Contributors
Sumit Chawla -Sumit received a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1997 and has been working in the software industry in Silicon Valley ever since. He currently works on implementing image processing algorithms for Foveon, a startup company that makes image sensor chips for digital cameras. Prior to joining Foveon, he held engineering positions at Shutterfly and SGI, where he developed software for digital image enhancement and video capture respectively. Sumit enjoys retreating to his A/V room to listen to music or watch movies. He lives in San Carlos, California with his wife and two children, who he hopes will grow up to be audiophiles! Sumit has been a contributor and Senior Editor for Secrets for over 10 years.
Kevin Lichterman - Kevin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science. To finance his home theater, Kevin is currently managing a software engineering group in the automotive electronics industry. He is a fearless do-it-yourselfer and has tackled many projects including: building speakers, furniture making, assembling computers, remodeling kitchens and baths, and restoring classic cars. His current project is a 1969 MGB. His tastes are eclectic and he usually sees a raised eyebrow or two when his music and movie collections are examined. Kevin is married to a very tolerant wife and has 2 beautiful girls who are determined to get their fingerprints onto his HDTV.
Nick St Denis - Musician: Guitar, Bass, Drums; Photographer.
Scott Wilkinson - Scott has enjoyed 25 years as a journalist and author in the fields of consumer electronics and music technology. He has served as a senior editor of HomeTheater.com and Home Theater magazine, UltimateAVmag.com, The Perfect Vision, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Audio/Video Interiors, Electronic Musician, and Home & Studio Recording.
Scott hosts a weekly podcast called Home Theater Geeks on the TWiT online-TV network. He also appears as a regular guest on The Tech Guy radio show with host Leo Laporte, and he is privileged to fill in as the host of the show when Leo is out of town.
As a professional musician for 40 years, Scott has played tuba, euphonium, trombone, recorders, and other wind instruments in such diverse ensembles as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and Rakia, a Balkan brass band. He can be heard playing Tibetan temple horn, alphorn, and shofar on the soundtrack of the movie Gladiator as well as conch-shell trumpet on the soundtrack of White Squall.