High on Fidelity

The ultimate man cave is an audiophile’s digital laboratory
by Staff, Utne Reader
May-June 2011
Add to My MSN

Courtesy of Richard Burwen

Content Tools

Related Content

Government 1.0 Set to Upgrade

Walking through wooded hills of the University of California-Santa Cruz one day, I happened upon a s...

Sherman Alexie Cries Foul

The alternative press is not typically the province of kickass sports coverage. Imagine my delight, ...

Not-So-Great Writing? Ten Books Not to Read

Richard Wilson can’t be arsed to do a lot of things, among them reading “essential” books he dismiss...

Iranian Protesters, Web Censors, and the Falun Gong

Iranian bloggers who went online to protest the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad owe a debt ...

Ask any audiophile and, if you can get him to take off his $1,600 Grado headphones, he’ll tell you the quest for sonic perfection is not just an obsession, it’s a lifestyle. Take Richard Burwen, a retired engineer profiled in IEEE Spectrum (Jan. 2011), who in 1962 started designing his house around what has become a $500,000, 20,000-watt hi-fi system. Decked out with disco balls that reflect the light tossed off by racks of carefully calibrated computers and audio components of “varying vintage,” the ultimate man cave is, according to IEEE, an “enormous resonant chamber with an Alice-in-Wonderland feel.”  

The space, which contains strategically placed snare drums to accentuate reverb, is also a digital laboratory. Since CDs hit the mass market in the mid-’80s, musicians and listeners like Burwen have complained about the format’s sound, variously called static, screechy, and small. The technology, they argue, wasn’t ready and its development has since stagnated.  

In an effort to simultaneously enliven and warm up the listening experience, Burwen recently started using his sound studio to develop a CD-remastering software suite (yours for just $14,000) that Rob Fraboni, who produced Bob Dylan and paid Burwen a consulting fee, says finally makes “music listenable again.”

Cover-165-thumbnailThis article first appeared in the May-June 2011 issue of Utne Reader.

Post a comment below.


Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!