Born in 1956 Jerry graduated from his degree in astronomy and then did 3 years postgraduate study in astrophysics… at which time he met his long suffering wife. He then followed a career in the IT industry in operational research study and later project management and account areas.
From the age of 3 or 4 he has been a classical music “aficionado” and drove his parents mad continually playing their Wagner Lps.
Jerry’s first venture into Hifi was at the ripe old age of 14 with a Philips “all in one” affair and he has been a dedicated upgrader, some may say box-swapper, ever since.
As well as Hifi and music Jerry also enjoys cycling and hiking.
Paul’s background includes 25 years as a Chartered Engineer, which has taken him all over the world working on varied multi-disciplinary projects before deciding that he would like to do something for himself and decided to create his own hifi business – Reference Fidelity Components. Music matters to Paul! “It lifts the mood, tells stories, paints pictures in the mind and allows the senses to embrace some wonderful work with timeless qualities, be that some classical score written 200 years ago or a new talented young band on the block.”
He first got into hifi as an engineering student back in the late 1980’s. He couldn’t afford to go to many live gigs (particularly the classic concerts) so entered the wonderful world of hifi. His first hifi was second hand bits and bobs, “which were probably pretty awful in reality”, but gave him the bug and started him on a long journey.
Today, that 25 year journey is ongoing and he remains just as enthusiastic about music and the high fidelity playback standards needed to make the most of it. Paul owns and runs Reference Fidelity Components, specialising in custom built audio cables and hifi accessories.
His system has grown and matured over the years and he’s settled on some fairly individual pieces of hifi which have been assembled to maximise the quality of what he hears in his own listening space. He has a soft spot for well engineered, high-efficiency loudspeakers and valve amplification but is by no means a valve purist. Paul appreciates any piece of quality hifi that allows the music to take precedence over the kit, “as that’s what it’s all about.”
” Music matters, and I believe we all owe it to the next generation not to allow hifi and musical appreciation to be relegated to horribly compressed recordings and equally horribly distorted playback systems, which is why engaging with the young is vital if we want the beauty of music to persevere and therefore the true hifi industry to persevere.”
As well as hifi and music Paul enjoys spending time with his family, motorcycling, photography and shooting.
With almost 20 years in journalism and PR, including a 5 year stint on a recently deceased Sunday tabloid (he tells us he knows where the bodies are buried) Rod has also had a secret 25-year obsession with hi-fi, with stints working for an iconic UK brand and co-founding another somehow failing to dampen his passion for high fidelity sound reproduction.
Having started his hi-fi journey with an Ariston turntable, QED amplifier and Mordaunt Short speakers, his systems have followed trends, from the huge power amp/mini monitors vogue of the 80s, through to the low output valve amp/high sensitivity renaissance of the 90s, though his refusal to fully embrace the digital revolution of the last few years,(muttering inanely about ‘gramophones’ ‘bandwidth’ and ‘resolution’ whenever we mention servers and streamers) has earned him the title of resident luddite here at Pig Towers.
Carefully avoiding membership of either the silicon or glass camps by using valve/transistor hybrids to power electrostatics, he’s obsessive about tight, well defined bass with no overhang (yet argues that ‘pace, rhythm and timing’ don’t exist) and insists on treble purity (while boring us all to tears with his regular rants about conventional tweeter distortion figures).
He’s also rather addicted to boron cantilevered cartridges (and tea…)
Tom is something of an old-time vinyl and valve lover who can nevertheless appreciate the best of modern hifi design. He studied Music at Glasgow University, focusing on notation and performance of early music as well as Baroque keyboard performance, particularly organ, while earning cash playing the organ at weddings, teaching classical guitar to O Level students, and playing bass in assorted bands including, for a period, a professional swing band.
Conscious of how little most of the musicians round about him were earning, he decided after graduation to make a career not in music but in journalism, spending a decade and a half working for various daily and Sunday newspapers plus freelancing at many other titles including a couple of magazine start-ups, writing occasionally about music as well as business and technology (he has an MBA to go with the B.Mus), alongside working as a senior sub-editor in charge of editorial systems.
By the mid-90s, finding himself increasingly engaged in rolling out new newspaper technology rather than in writing or editorial decision-making, he jumped ship full time to the IT world to work as a publishing and information management specialist, initially at Apple, later at the BBC and subsequently at a major systems integrator, and is a published author in these fields.
But the music never went away. He has been building a substantial record collection since student days (unlike many he never abandoned vinyl for digital) focusing on German Lieder as well as baroque and classical chamber, vocal and keyboard music, much of it in mono for which he is a serious enthusiast. He is still a performing musician and likes to play some Bach at the keyboard every day to keep the juices flowing.
Tom’s hifi passions have a distinctly retro feel – big 15in vintage Tannoys, idler turntables with SPUs, AN-J Io and Kondo SUT, valve pre and output stages. Alongside a long-term on-off affair with Tannoys, he has had flings with Quad ESLs, full-range horns and open baffles, before returning fully to the Tannoy fold with his current much-beloved Monitor Golds.
Something of a vinyl specialist, has owned many turntables – Linn LP12, Townshend Rock Reference, Voyd, Nottingham Analogue, Garrard 401, Lenco 88, Thorens TD124 to name just a few - and many many arms, cartridges, phono stages to go with them from Lyras to Koetsus and all shades in between. What he looks for in a system or component is neither measurable accuracy – to paraphrase Nelson Pass, you don’t evaluate a fine wine through chemical analysis! – nor any particular trait such as ‘detail’ or ‘slam’, but rather whether the feel of the music is there or not. Whether this is achieved is as much to do with overall system synergy as with the competence of individual components, meaning that assembly of a satisfying system is not a science, but an art.
Ive always been a creative person and a creative thinker. From a young age i always enjoyed art and music, being an 80′s baby i grew up with what I believe to be one of the greatest eras of music ever. Memories of being at at home watching my mum dancing around the kitchen listening to the radio, my grandad having his own band and all the family going to gigs to support him. He had a studio in the garage and I remember being in there beating on the drums making the most awful racket but loving every minute!
My first personal system I had was when I was 12, my Dad found a Technics receiver in a skip and spent days cleaning it up and repairing it for me. He then managed to find a kind man at work who donated a three way pair of pioneer speakers and then spent the foreseeable future telling me to turn it down!
I was always a great fan of art throughout my teenage years and used to spend my evenings drawing, painting and listening to music, which was mainly 90′s pop at the time.
Continuing my love for art after ‘A’ levels I went on to art college to study fine art and eventually found a calling in graphic design and printing which led to a job with local newspapers and magazines.
My music tastes are hugely varied but i have a passion for acoustic and vocals, I find it so relaxing and it seems to just touch my soul. After a busy day or if I have a lot on my mind I love to unwind with the simplest of music, stripped down to its very essentials, it just seems to calm me so much.
I was inspired when in the mid 90′s after the death of my grandad’s brother who played the drums he went on to gig himself. He would load a set of MIDI files onto a laptop and place speakers all around a stage in the positions of a ‘ghost band’ and whilst he took centre stage singing and playing his guitar or clarinet, his ‘ghost band’ would be performing with him via the laptop and if you closed your eyes eyes the music felt complete and real.
I believe this is where my connection to computers and music first came from, it was beyond what I knew to be possible at that time and thought you clever sod!
I am completely convinced with the format of streaming and having music located in one core location, be it on a server or nas drive which can be utilised by a number of devices around the home or on the go.
To compliment the convenience of digital recordings I love the sound of valves and to feel the balance that can be achieved between a digital front end and a valve amplifier in conveying a wonderful and realistic insight into the music.
The way we are listening to music is changing and educating the next generation is a must for it to keep evolving, compressed mp3′s for convenience is not foe me but lossless through a good system, essential!
Hi, My name’s Stew. I hail from Melbourne Australia and will be doing album reviews for Hifi Pig.
Hmm…how to summarize my musical life…I was raised by my parents on a steady diet of classic rock; Hendrix, Beatles, Stones, Cream, Floyd, Zep, AC/DC, that kind of thing, which was all well and good, but in the ’80s something happened…like many adolescents, I discovered metal and punk! I couldn’t get enough of them and it was those genres that gave me my musical passion and an enthusiasm for dedicating a large portion of my life to music. Just as importantly, the aforementioned styles gave me an appreciation for dissonance, timbral distortion and an ear that could appreciate not only mind blowingly fast and complex music, but also music of utter simplicity.
In the ensuing years, (thanks in no small part to the genre-bending likes of Mike Patton and John Zorn), I’ve broadened my stylistic boundaries to incorporate just about any genre you care to name. I own thousands of albums of widely differing styles and have been subjected to countless live gigs.
In addition to my musical appreciation and critiquing, I’m also a musician. I play guitar, bass, keys, drums and have dabbled in the odd bit of brass. I love creating tunes in my home studio and it takes up quite a bit of my time! I’ve an advanced diploma in audio engineering and sound production and have worked as an audio visual technician in the entertainment industry for years.
I’ve read loads of music press and biographies, but certainly not just that. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever, I’m quite a bookworm! All these factors combined to spur me to begin writing about music on my Facebook based blog “Sensitive Stew’s Music Blog” which, pleasingly, people seem to like.
Hopefully this all stands me in good stead to be an effective contributor to Hifi Pig and I look forward to the challenge and to e-meeting you all!
Hifi Pig (Stu Smith)
Hifi Pig (Stu) has a background deeply rooted in both playing and listening to music. In the dim and distant past he hosted the infamous “Midnight Train to Doomsville” show on the Sony award winning station “Wear FM” and has DJd at clubs, parties and festivals around the UK, where he’s been known to play sets of eight and nine hours.
As part of the dub reggae band “Roughneck Sounds” Stu toured the UK, cut an album and even got a tune played by the great John Peel. He has owned a vinyl only record store, a recording studio and finally ended up working in newspaper and magazine publishing.
Stu got the hifi bug in his mid-teens when he was bought a Hitachi separates system and was immediately hooked. In the first term of university his grant was blown on an LP12, Crimson Eclektrik amps and Wharfedale Diamonds and he survived on little more than swill and beer. These days quite a bit of kit goes through the sty and he has a bit of a fetish for unusual loudspeakers.
Stu lives in NW France with his long suffering wife and two teenage sons. He is, for the moment, T total – though this status can change without warning – and he is a bit obsessed with making Hifi Pig the very best it can be. His musical taste is eclectic and most things get an occasional spin, though classical music is a species rarely spotted in the pig pen he calls a listening room.
Stu is the only person to take any income at all from the Hifi Pig project which is derived from advertising you see on the site. He has been hired to design websites for a small number of hifi related companies (G-Point Audio, Epiphany Acoustics and also Paul’s Reference Fidelity Components), a handful of non-hifi related enterprises and he also carries out some editorial and sales work for the website AngloInfo. He is solely responsible for the design and creation of all advertising copy on the Hifi Pig website unless supplied by the advertiser/sponsor’s own design and graphics department.