Tracking Angle Celebrates One Year Anniversary!
seventeen contributors (more on the way) plus behind behind-the-scenes website developers and business associates add up to an excellent worldwide team
(Photo: editor with Jan Omdahl in the kitchen of noted Norwegian photographer Dag Alveng, last October in Oslo, Norway)
Tracking Angle went live on September 12th, 2022 with a "welcome" post that from that day until today has been pinned to the top of the home page. It's now retired to its correct timeline position. So much has happened this past year, I do know where to begin: with a grateful "thank you" to our reader/subscribers, many of whom found their way here from the previous website I developed and built, and of course every day we are continually welcoming new readers and subscribers.
The reader comments under our stories are always informative of consistently high quality and refreshingly free of the "snark" found on too many sites. One of our writers says below, "...the readers here are very informed and their comments are always interesting. Compare their comments to comments on other music sites and you'll see a big difference." I agree!
Next, a big thank you to my partners on the "back end", Groovy Collectibles LLC co-founders Nick Despotopoulos and David L'Heureux who built and administer this website, bringing to it decades of experience in web design and of course both were partners in the print version of The Tracking Angle magazine, the contents of which over time are continually rolling out here. Nick also handles advertising sales. His efforts have allowed our site to pay writers at rates that are competitive with or exceed what many other sites pay—and that includes some very well established ones.
And finally and really most importantly big thanks to our esteemed and growing international team of contributors, some industry veterans and some young and on the way up, with more soon to come on board. We welcome a diversity of opinion and of musical tastes sometimes outside of the usual audiophile "mainstream". It's like going to a hi-fi show and hearing the same predictable tunes from The Eagles, Diana Krall, Stevie Ray Vaughan etc.—not that there's anything wrong with those artists—but it's always refreshing to walk into a room and hear something new whether or not we end up liking it. Embedded music videos in our reviews give you a great opportunity hear what a writer claims so you can judge for yourself.
I placed the writing team third in this post only because they get to have the final word. I asked each for a comment about their experience contributing here and many responded. A few haven't and of course that's fine too. In my request for comments I paraphrased something supposedly said by Steve Jobs. True or not, I fully agree with the sentiment. Steve supposedly said that when he held a meeting he was more than comfortable being the least talented person in the room. When as editor I read incoming stories that's how I feel. I'm in awe of everyone who writes for Tracking Angle, whether or not I agree with their musical tastes.
The big problem for me here is how to order the comments so no one feels slighted. I've decided to start with our Norwegian correspondent Jan Omdahl. I was having a difficult time finding an appropriate photo for the top of the page when he submitted a good one with his comment. It was taken last October when I visited Oslo not sure where the site was headed but eager to do turntable set up seminars at a record store that was becoming a hi-fi store too. All I asked for in return was that the store cover my expenses. What I got back was so much more including getting him as a contributor! But let him tell you. There's no particular order to the other writer comments (and let me also add, I didn't ask anyone to write about me).
Last year, Michael visited my hometown of Oslo, Norway for some setup seminars and a live interview session hosted by yours truly at the Big Dipper record store. Afterwards, we met for food and wine at my house and played some records. I subjected Michael to a round of "Afric Pepperbird" by the Jan Garbarek Quartet, which I had just published a book about. To my immense relief, Michael was far more interested in my record collection than in the quality of my system. At least, he was polite enough not to «review» it – surely from hard earned experience with that kind of awkwardness.
The meeting resulted in a gig as Tracking Angle contributor. It's been an honour and a privilege to share web space with such excellent and knowledgeable writers, and to see the site come into its own. Writing as a Norwegian for an English-speaking audience of fellow analog heads and audiophiles is an interesting challenge in and of itself, do bear with me If my native tongue betrays me once in a while.
I’m genuinely honored to write for Tracking Angle. It’s fun to contribute to a site that I myself enjoy reading.
On reflecting, I had a blast attending shows, meeting people, and listening to great music on some of the best gear the HiFi industry has to offer. This made the year swoosh past in my mind.
Much thanks to Mr. Fremer for having me be a part of what has become a great group of writers, in my not so humble opinion!
Tracking Angle: Long May Your Stylus Ride (In The Groove).
In the age of clickbait and endless hyperbole, Tracking Angle has already established itself as an outlet for thoughtful, nuanced, and reliable writing. I’m incredibly grateful to contribute to its diverse range of music and audio coverage, and to be alongside other writers who motivate me to even further improve my work.
Writing for Tracking Angle has been one of the most pleasurable undertakings in my life. I am a filmmaker, not a professional writer, and I owe my appearances in Tracking Angle entirely to Michael..I had corresponded with him over the years on music related subjects but never thought of writing articles for a magazine or on the internet. One day, out of the blue, Michael asked me if I'd like to write something for him. Of course I immediately accepted. So thank you so much, Michael. (BTW, he is an excellent editor and his suggestions are always right on the mark.)
I must say the writers for Tracking Angle are all superb. They dig deep, which I really appreciate, and their long articles, filled with valuable information, are especially appealing to me. Also, Compare their comments to comments on other music sites and you'll see a big difference.
When, almost a year ago, I first saw the out-ot-the-blue email in my inbox from Mr. Fremer, inquiring whether I would be interested in writing for “his new endeavour” (ie. this site), I thought it must be a joke. As in - who, why, what, wherefore, and I beg your pardon? (I am English - apologizing is our default setting, even when asking a perfectly reasonable question). When his reply travelled through the ether, saying - No, this is not a joke or spam or some other wayward AI prank, it’s a genuine inquiry - I had but one question: “Are you okay with me getting into the weeds?”
“Absolutely. I welcome it.” (Or words to that effect).
I was sold.
This is not the kind of reply you are going to get from most editors in the field of music journalism, or, frankly, any kind of journalism or broadcasting or anything these days which relies on clicks and advertising dollars and dwindling subscription bases for its survival.
These days it seems like anyone with an opinion and a blog, or a YouTube channel, is an “expert”. Doesn’t matter if that opinion is founded on fact or fantasy, reasoned or unreasonable thinking, Socratic method or shooting the s**t with your pals, so long as it gets those clicks. The result is, alas, that often what passes for arts criticism more closely resembles a pile-up on the freeway or - in extreme cases - a drive-by shooting.
So the possibility of a website publishing a 17,000 word (or thereabouts) piece on a more than 60-year-old recording of Wagner’s Ring - as TA did with my survey of Decca’s classic cycle - is not an everyday occurrence. But when it does happen it is an opportunity - and a wonderful one - for both a reader and a writer, to explore our cultural heritage. Which, as far as I am concerned, is far more important than what most newsprint, both physical and virtual, is dedicated to nowadays. And much more fun.
Writing in all its forms has been an integral part of my academic and professional life since I can remember - and maybe even before. I’ve done every kind of writing you can imagine, both critical and creative. At the beginning, when I was studying music at university, we were firmly channelled towards critical thinking (a good thing) and that dry, jargon-laced style of writing about the humanities that the academic world adopts to lend itself the patina of intellectual respectability and authority. This is a bad thing. Making the humanities sound like science does justice to no-one, even if it makes those grants roll in - which, ironically, they no longer do, to our society’s eternal shame. I never could get onboard with that pseudo-scientific kind of writing about the arts. Who wants to read something which reduces the passionate, existential struggle of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony or the slippery sexuality of pretty much any Rolling Stones song to a series of sentences so dry and, frankly, indecipherable, that their meaning seems to scatter like sand the moment you run them through the fingers of your mind?
Back in the 90s when I discovered the Wonderful Wacky World of audiophiles and audiophilia (I love how that sounds ever so slightly naughty because, let’s face it, it kinda is, and - again - the English thing), there were two writers I felt immediately drawn to. One was our esteemed editor, who wore his considerable knowledge lightly, and was not afraid to make his content personal - and funny. The other was Art Dudley - late of his own Listener magazine, then Stereophile - whose prose I could disappear into even if I was struggling to fully comprehend the technical stuff he was talking about. His meaning was always crystal clear, and was expressed oh so eloquently.
Before I was asked to write for this site, I was a reader, and already a fan of several of the other writers you will find here, since they contributed to MF’s “previous endeavour”. I still click on trackingangle.com several times a day, to read about music both familiar and new, about equipment I can only dream of, and some I can actually contemplate owning. I continue to be amazed at the knowledge and quality of writing emanating from the younger members of our writing crew. And I love reading much of the feedback from you, our readers, who bring your own perspectives and knowledge to our shared obsessions.
If I can get even 50 percent of the way towards the quality of what’s being written by all these fellows I have mentioned I will be most happy. Contributing to this site has allowed me to write in a way that I don’t think you can often do easily elsewhere these days: to be personal, passionate, accurate (hopefully), and to tell the story of this amazing art form we call recorded sound - music we are privileged to experience at home on systems large and small; music which, for me, makes life worth living.
And - to get into the weeds.
Writing for The Tracking Angle has been a fabulous experience! Readers should understand that the writers on this page are often - if not always - choosing the subject matter that they care to write about. This means, of course, that the page noblely supports the passions and interests of its writing staff. It's not the other way around. Needless to say, when you have a writer who writes something they want to write about, those words are bound to find a pleased reader (If you build it, they will come. Right?). I'm very proud to see my work in context with the other fabulous writers on this page, each of them charting their own course and following their love for music and the vinyl discs that we all love. Of course, I'm also constantly learning whenever I pull up The Tracking Angle page as I'm sure many readers of this page do as well. No matter how much we've heard - or purchased - there's always something else to uncover, isn't there? In fact, that's what makes this hobby of record collecting and listening so enduring; it's an endless excursion to parts unknown, and when Michael Fremer is at the helm, you can be sure that you're in for an exciting ride. Cheers, and on to year two!
When Michael first pulled me aside at the AXPONA 2022 meet and greet to reveal to me his "new endeavor", I was excited, primarily because he was excited. Throughout our first year of publication, Michael has maintained his enthusiasm, not just for the Tracking Angle, but for the writers that fill its pages. One year on and I'm exceedingly grateful to be in an environment with such talented and knowledgeable personalities, and with encouragement given for our work and passions, however eccentric they may be. I can think of no other publication as eager for me to submit articles on Brahms Piano Concertos as Japanese Post-Punk, Jazz-Fusion, Melodic Black Metal and/or many other genres yet to be coined or defined. Only here at this little digital domain of analog bliss, do we feel so freely connected to a community of intelligent and passionate readers and listeners, and for that I am thankful. Long live Tracking Angle.
—Michael L. Johnson, DMA
As we celebrate Tracking Angle's one year Anniversary, the improbable vinyI resurgence continues. "Inconceivable" or "Impossible" would have been more accurate back in those dark days when CDs were introduced. They were perfect sound forever and only the hopelessly ignorant could dispute that and no one did publicly. Still there were a few weirdos who were unconvinced that CDs sounded better than vinyl and a tiny few, extremist nut jobs, like myself, who even believed they sounded worse. But we doubters lacked confidence and learned to keep our opinions to ourselves having been met with mocking disbelief so many times. Michael Fremer was the first writer I ever read that made the anti-CD case and did so tirelessly. He made CD skepticism if not respectable, at least, tolerated. The winners get to write history, so Michael is writing it on Tracking Angle and I'm fortunate that he lets me help. Thank you to Michael Fremer and thank you to the Tracking Angle readers.
My arrival at The Tracking Angle is the culmination of over four decades in the Audio Industry that I could easily write a short novel about. What a blessing to be involved in an industry that gives so many people so much pleasure. I am humbled to be associated with such a talented group of writers whose love for what they write about is apparent in every article.
Confucius said…. “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Thank you Michael…
Compared to Tracking Angle's other brilliant contributors, I'm somewhat a newcomer. Though I wrote alongside many of these people at Michael Fremer's previous endeavor, I only published my first Tracking Angle piece a few months ago. Nevertheless, I feel exceptionally welcome amongst this community. I feel fantastic about putting my name beside all these creative people. Above all, I'm grateful for the dream Tracking Angle offers its writers: to freely voice one's observations, perspectives, and verdicts.
Tracking Angle has proven to be a fruitful platform for me to express my passion for music and the vinyl format. With only two years under my belt as a music journalist, joining the roster this year was as humbling as ever. It’s even more prestigious to be amongst the great company of extremely talented like-minded writers. In order to give where credit is due, it’s many thanks to Michael Fremer for his guidance and taking me under his wing to be the best writer I could be.
I had been following Michael’s work on YouTube for a while, so once I heard about what he was going to do with the Tracking Angle, I knew right away that I wanted to be involved. The level of knowledge that goes into the pieces are not only well-written but they give you a sense of confidence about whatever product or record is being covered…opinions you can trust.
Fremer and I met almost 40 years ago, soon after we’d both joined The Absolute Sound. Several years later, after having some “editorial differences” at TAS, I followed Michael to Stereophile. And last year, though I wasn’t having any troubles with Stereophile, I left to join him at his revival of Tracking Angle. Writing about music, or the sound of music, is not my principal professional enterprise. My main gig is national-security columnist for Slate. I also write freelance pieces, also mainly about war and peace, for various publications, and I’ve written six books, five of them about military matters. But music and hi-fi are among my passions, I have been lucky to find forums to write about them over the years, and I pour as much thought and care into my pieces for Tracking Angle as into my other pieces because it’s clearly a magazine where the editor, other writers, and readers care as well. It’s a pleasure to be here.