Older Ears?

Older Ears?

I receiver a reader letter just yesterday asking whether reviewers' judgments can be trusted as they get older.

I'll cite two examples of individuals in their 70s who are doing their best work—work that relies on their hearing ability. Those two individuals are William Johnson of Audio Research (late 70s) and Keith Johnson (72). Johnson designed the reference-class ARC 610t power amplifier (TAS 2007 Overall Product of the Year), and is reportedly working on a reference-grade phonostage.

Keith Johnson (no relation) continues to engineer one spectacular-sounding orchestral recording after another (Rachmaninoff's Symhonic Dances on Reference Recordings is jaw-dropping, particularly at 176.4kHz/24-bit), and his Spectral SDR-4000 Pro CD player is, in my experience, the state of the art in CD playback.

So perhaps this 51-year-old has a few more reviewing years left in him.

As Editor-in-Chief, I take the view that the magazine should represent the range of opinion held by our reviewing staff. This isn't the Soviet Central Committee in which all ideas contrary to my own are censored. I greatly respect Robert Greene and value his opinions, even though I may on occasion differ with some of his views.

This approach makes for a more interesting magazine. Besides, I have enough confidence in my views on blind listening tests to subject those views to public scrutiny, publish reader letters that make cogent opposing arguments, and allow colleagues to express their own ideas within the pages of The Absolute Sound.

I have detailed my objections to blind listening tests in my Audio Engineering Society paper "The Role of Critical Listening in Evaluating Audio Equipment Quality." You can read the paper here: