About TAB


Roy Gregory - Europe

Roy has served his hi-fi time from every angle -- as customer, retailer, manufacturer's and distributor's representative, reviewer and editor. He was the founder and loudest (some say too loud) voice of Hi-Fi+, to which he continues to contribute. He brings his wealth of experience and unique perspective to The Audio Beat, producing far more than just straightforward equipment reviews.

Marc Mickelson - North America

A professional background in teaching, technical writing and information technology lost out to audiophilia more than twenty years ago when Marc became part of the audio press. Since then, he has written hundreds of equipment and music reviews and edited the work of dozens of writers. He began work on The Audio Beat in mid-2009, and the site launched on October 1. Marc lives northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, in a large listening room with a Spanish-style house attached.


Mark Blackmore

Retired after 31 years as a band director, Mark joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He and his wife Lisa teach trumpet at UMSL and perform with the St. Louis Wind Symphony and Compton Height Concert Band. A big fan of SET amps and high-efficiency speakers, Mark spends his free time listening to a watt or two with his two cats, Chet and Ella.

Leonard Bloom

Leonard is a retired professor and chairman of a university Modern Languages department. Since adolescence, he has been an avid listener to and collector of classical music and opera, and a lover of the theater and foreign travel. While a graduate student in Pittsburgh, he volunteered at symphony concerts and once appeared in a production of Turandot starring the formidable Birgit Nilsson. Leonard holds a doctorate in medieval Romance linguistics and spends much of his time with his wife, Barbara, in Sarasota, Florida, volunteering at a local opera company as well as for regional theater companies.

John Crossett

Early attempts at learning the viola ended in dismal failure, but music and its reproduction continued to play important roles in John’s life. He has always considered his audio system a means to an end -- listening to his favorite music -- not an end in itself. For ten years, John wrote music and equipment reviews for Soundstage. He lives in northern Vermont with his stereo and ever-growing collection of jazz, rock, classical, and blues LPs, CDs and SACDs.

Dennis Davis

Dennis gave up an unpromising career as a pianist in college when he avoided the practice room and began spending far too much time in the library reading back issues of High Fidelity and lusting after AR 3a speakers. By the late 1960s, he had saved enough money for a used pair of the speakers and never looked back. In the early 1990s, he founded the San Francisco Bay Area Audiophile Society, and later that decade he began writing jazz reviews for Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity. He has been a regular writer for Hi-Fi+ since Issue 31. He has been an avid record collector for decades.

Richard S. Foster

Richard began his career as an audio and music reviewer in the latter half of the 1990s, writing first for Ultimate Audio before moving on to Listener and finally to Hi-Fi+. He has special affection for classical music and early blues -- odd bedfellows -- and he has compiled a collection of vinyl that is extensive in its scope. He continues to broaden his music collection, especially into the digital realm. When not listening to music, which is rare, he enjoys watching films on his home-theater system.

Richard Freed

Richard Freed is a former music critic for The New York Times and Saturday Review, and contributing editor of Stereo Review, where his "Basic Repertoire" series introduced legions of readers, including some of The Audio Beat staff, to important performances in the classical-music catalogue. He has served as assistant to the director of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music and as executive director of the Music Critics Association, as well as record critic for The Washington Star and The Washington Post, radio host for the concerts of the St. Louis and Baltimore symphony orchestras, and program annotator for those orchestras as well as the Houston Symphony, National Symphony and Philadelphia orchestras. He has received two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for his concert and record annotations, and a Grammy Award for the latter.

Eric Hetherington

Eric is a philosopher and the associate chair of a Humanities department at a large research university. For years he wrote equipment, music and movie reviews for GoodSound, Home Theater & Sound, and Soundstage. His musical interests center around jazz (particularly Blue Note and Impulse! artists and albums), electronic music (from Subotnik and Kraftwerk to Burial and Ellen Allien), indie pop/rock, and what he'd call world music if the term didn't make him wince. He covets Gilles Peterson's house of records. When not lecturing on Plato, writing, or listening to music, he can be found climbing the hills of northern New Jersey on his bicycle.

Vance Hiner

After learning that life as a street musician in Europe was not going to pay the rent, Vance stumbled into broadcast journalism, where he worked for National Public Radio and its member stations as a reporter, producer and editor. Having access to public radio's vast music collections and hearing some darned good studio recordings at various radio stations ignited his passion for hi-fi. He now works as a communications teacher at a college in the Midwest, where his students help keep his perspective fresh.

Jason Kennedy

Jason has been reviewing hi-fi equipment since getting a staff job with Hi-Fi Choice in 1987. Having paid his dues, he went freelance in 2001, and he now contributes to a number of audio publications, including Hi-Fi Choice, Hi-Fi+ and HIFICRITIC. He resides in the town of Lewes, East Sussex, UK, onetime home of Thomas Paine and the most lively place to be on November 5th. Jason became obsessed with music at an impressionable age, but because he was unable to re-create it on an instrument, he became a high-end-audio writer instead. One day he hopes to get a proper job, but for now listening to great music on great kit keeps him off the streets.

Sue Kraft

Sue's passion for music and hi-fi began at an early age, long before she learned her affliction had a name -- audiophilia. Twenty years and many thousands of dollars later, she sent a note to the late Harry Pearson suggesting he consider hiring her as a writer. This landed her a ten-year gig with The Abso!ute Sound reviewing some of the finest gear high-end audio had to offer. Sue hails from the legendary frozen tundra of Green Bay, keeping her listening room toasty warm during the long winter months with the glow of a vintage 1950s fireplace.

Guy Lemcoe

Guy is a retired social-services worker who was exposed at an early age to music on his parents' all-tube Fisher system. By the end of high school, he was headed toward a career as a professional musician -- anyone remember "The Cheater" by Bob Kuban & the In Men, circa 1966? College and then graduate school beckoned, and Guy put down his trumpet and began writing about music and audio gear. He was a contributing editor at Stereophile from 1989 to 1996 and has had articles published in Dirty Linen, Opus and Spectrum. Music comes first for Guy with equipment running a close second. He prefers vinyl and spends much of his spare time listening to records. A resident of Delray Beach, Florida, with his partner, Barbara, and their cockatiel, Chigger, Guy looks forward to sharing his thoughts on music and equipment.

Ross Mantle

Ross is a Professor of Neurosurgery in the Great White North. He has formal training in piano, violin and jazz saxophone, the scars from which have never fully healed. He became fascinated with audio gear as a student, learned to assemble a credible audio system, and worked part-time for several years as an editor, audio reviewer and opinion columnist. During the format debate of the early 2000s, he predicted the demise of spinning discs in favor of non-physical digital media. Ross took a hiatus from audio reporting over the last ten years, but he wishes now that he had continued to write about audio back then, when he still knew everything. He has steadfastly resisted vinyl, believing that digital will eventually catch up. He favors mid-power tube equipment, fine digital, and plasma tweeters.

Jim Saxon

In 1979, Jim's first hi-fi system cost $2500 and elicited a typical critique from an audiophile friend: "Isn't it amazing how bad twenty-five hundred bucks can sound?" Since then Jim has devoted his life to "getting it right." After spending 33 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the pursuit, he all but abandoned hope of owning a system that he considered "right" -- so he became one of the most widely published online audio scribes instead. In addition to The Audio Beat, Jim has been published by Soundstage, Enjoy the Music and 6 Moons.

What We Do and Why We Do It

When I began talking with Paul Bolin about creating an online audio site, I settled very quickly on the idea that I would only build something I would value and want to read myself. Thus, while The Audio Beat will cover the entire spectrum of audio products, we will have no quota for the types of products we review or their cost. You will read about what interests us most -- great speakers, electronics and source components, along with the music we listen to and cherish. Paul put it well in one of his e-mail messages to me.

I think it would be counterproductive to try to be everything to every audio enthusiast. We have both focused on and had wide experience with the best of the best that the high-end world has to offer. There is a place for reviews of relatively inexpensive gear, but only where it offers extraordinary performance for the money. Our focus should be on the things we do best.

As much as is humanly possible, the publication should endeavor to speak with one editorial voice. I mean this not in terms of an unbendable orthodoxy or the squelching of dissenting opinions, but in terms of what is important to us and what is most desirable in the performance of components and systems.

Like so many of the best audio components, The Audio Beat is a direct reflection of the people who created it. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Marc Mickelson
October 2009

A Note on Navigating The Audio Beat

The Audio Beat makes extensive use of a JavaScript utility called Slimbox 2. This overlays graphic images onto the current page without changing the page's native layout. We use Slimbox 2 for photos, which we can display in groups, or galleries, without having to place them all on the page. We also offer its use to advertisers.

Be sure to click on thumbnails you see below photos. These signal that extra pictures or a gallery exists. Once the Slimbox 2 window appears, you can scroll through all pictures by hovering on the window and clicking the PREV and NEXT tabs. Any captions appear at the bottom of the window.

Older articles on the site will have a "Click" symbol in one of the upper corners. In this case, click on picture itself.


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