Acoustic Sounds
Big Dipper Record Store, Oslo
By: Michael Fremer

September 13th, 2023


Editor's Choice

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.

—Jan Omdahl

 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). 

—Dave McNair 


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.

—Malachi Lui


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.

—Willie Luncheonette  


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 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.  

 —Mark Ward


 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!

—Evan Toth


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. 

 —Joe Washek

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…

—Ken Redmond 

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.

—Nathan Zeller


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.

 —Dylan Pegin

 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.

—JoE Silva

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.

—Fred Kaplan


  • 2023-09-13 08:59:52 PM

    NLak wrote:

    Here’s to 100 years more!!! The articles and reviews are top notch and well written. Keep ‘em coming Michael, and congrats!!!!

  • 2023-09-13 09:25:42 PM

    Anthony wrote:

    Congrats to you and your team Michael Fremer! I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy your contributions over the years in various spaces and places. When you departed from your previous endeavor and explained your new mission—The Resurrection of The Tracking Angle—I was left with a Big Country Kool-aid grin across my face. That’s because the first thought that popped into my head was LL Cool J - ‘Mama Said Knock You Out!’… “Don’t call it a comeback/I been here for years”

    • 2023-10-20 10:18:45 PM

      David wrote:

      💯. Well said Anthony. 👏

      As always Michael, we'll look for your individual acknowledgement of our duo sentiment(s) by reciprocating same with your traditional [secret] chin touch at the 7:37 minute marks of all your YouTube vids. 👍 All the best.

  • 2023-09-13 09:42:11 PM

    HANS SUSAN wrote:

    Congratulations Michael! You took the leap and gained the well-earned prize, supported by a great group of talented people who, like you, love music and share their gifts with others. Happy anniversary and many, many more.

  • 2023-09-13 11:27:52 PM

    RickS wrote:

    Happy Anniversary Tracking Angle!

  • 2023-09-14 12:42:54 AM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    Thanks to everyone here who has entertained me and added to my knowledge of audio, and especially the writers who have turned me on to music and reading material I wasn't previously aware of. It's a huge universe of sound to be explored out there. Onwards!

  • 2023-09-14 07:00:22 AM

    Come on wrote:

    Congratulations! I didn’t doubt a minute, that this will simply continue at another place. I rather was surprised, that the analog planet also continued positively. All this is good for us music nuts.

  • 2023-09-14 03:43:54 PM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    Congrats Mikey and to Malachi and all the truly great writers that joined. I am blown away by the detail and research that goes into each and every story here. I wish I had the patience for the same level of thoroughness! And I am truly grateful for the lack of trolling snarks that normally taint every single f'ing website out there. To find more 'non-experts' and get them passionate about music and playback, and see them contributing out of sheer child-like joy would be the absolutely heartening. I can only wish you all the best and grace to follow you.

  • 2023-09-14 03:59:14 PM

    Anton wrote:

    A non-audiophile thing about your path... I take heart from your jump out of the familiar and try something new. It takes some intestinal fortitude to be able to leave the 'safety' of one situation and move into something new, and remain, really, so optimistic and full of fresh energy. I also applaud Tracking Angle for covering the current musical scene and not simply exist as a reissue site - that is crucial for keeping the audiophile community dynamic. Time to start mentioning which wines you are drinking on these great audio journeys! Cheers!

    • 2023-09-15 05:07:14 PM

      Anton wrote:

      Phone typing is a bear. Apologies for those lapses in syntax.

    • 2023-09-17 01:32:45 PM

      JACK L wrote:


      "It takes some intestinal fortitude to be able to leave the 'safety' of one situation and move into something new" qtd Anton

      Nothing "new" for Mikey. He started his music journalism career back in 70s. He quitted to join back his previous employer: the Absolute Sound which values his decades experience bigtime.

      JACK L

  • 2023-09-15 05:49:33 PM

    airdronian wrote:

    When the site launched last year, Michael said there was more to come. And the Tracking Angle team has delivered. A really good mix of content here, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Fred Kaplan join the crew. I had always looked for his reviews on that other website.

    Keep up the good work !

  • 2023-09-16 02:23:06 PM

    Gaspard wrote:

    Joyeux Anniversaire à Tracking Angle.

  • 2023-09-18 07:23:05 AM

    Georges wrote:

    Yes happy birthday to you all (writers, manufacturers, readers). I always learn something when I come here. This site appears to be absolutely essential in view of information that cannot be found anywhere else and the censorship affecting the few where you can still express yourself. I am therefore extremely proud to have been banned from Stereophile, SHF and ASR. Who now appear for what they are.

    • 2023-09-18 11:22:36 AM

      Anton wrote:

      We are proud you have been, as well. Don't pull up short!

  • 2023-09-18 11:04:56 PM

    Jim Hagerman wrote:

    Congrats! It's a wonderful site. Let's make it a decade!

  • 2023-09-19 08:00:01 AM

    Georges wrote:

    We are now impatiently awaiting the description of Jan Omdahl's system.

  • 2023-09-19 07:34:55 PM

    tony a wrote:

    My best use for a mat is to dampen the vibration that is generated between the tonearm, LP surface and cartridge stylus system during playback. The goal being to have the cleanest, best quality bass and midbass such that notes are punchy and well defined and midrange is clear and uncolored by these vibrations and resonances- without losing any dynamics and transient responsiveness. If you listen with that in mind you can easily hear the differences among mats, especially if the volume is turned up to amplify those differences. The best mat for those purposes has consistently been with a design using open cell silicone foam of varying thicknesses, 4mm near perfect. Thinner, rigid, non-absorbing mats have not sounded nearly as good in my systems and neither have the closed cell hollow plastic varieties. Peace.

  • 2023-09-20 10:56:13 AM

    Clarke Skorski wrote:

    Any way I can get a job working for y'all? I'll do whatever ya need, I'm in Detroit but I can work from anywhere and if you need me in person I can travel, I'm currently on disability but I can't take this sitting around stuff anyway love the stuff you do Mr.Fremer talk soon!

  • 2023-09-20 10:56:15 AM

    Clarke Skorski wrote:

    Any way I can get a job working for y'all? I'll do whatever ya need, I'm in Detroit but I can work from anywhere and if you need me in person I can travel, I'm currently on disability but I can't take this sitting around stuff anyway love the stuff you do Mr.Fremer talk soon!

  • 2023-09-20 11:49:16 AM

    bwb wrote:

    Regarding reviews, editorial content, etc. probably the best on the web. Regarding the functionality of this forum, absolutely the worst. The inability to insert a paragraph break makes responding in a clear manner very difficult. The lack of formatting, the inability to insert links, and all of the rest of the things we have come to expect in a forum in 2023 is a serious hindrance to meaningful exchanges. Even this tiny box where you can't see your entire response is frustrating. Sorry to rain on your parade but the choice you made for this forum is seriously lacking. Otherwise keep up the good work.

  • 2023-09-20 02:51:01 PM

    Tomato Sandwich wrote:

    Easily my favorite website for analog content on the web. I don't always agree with the authors, but that's beside the point. The content is well-written, helpful and written with a genuine interest in the hobby.

  • 2023-09-21 03:35:55 PM

    andy wrote:

    Great site, well done all, will there ever be any female writers?

  • 2023-09-22 09:34:57 AM

    Scotty wrote:

    Congrats to the entire team and everyone involved! Really enjoy the music reviews even if I don't agree all of the time, but how boring would that be. Nice to see some records picked for review here that you won't see reviewed at other sites that much. I like the diversity that is served up here and look forward to more of what you good people have to offer. If I may make a request, would love to see you do a review of the Jazz Dispensary Top Shelf Series version of the classic from Woody Shaw "Blackstone Legacy", personally I think they did an awesome job and BG delivered big time here!

  • 2023-09-23 08:54:40 AM

    Andor Kiss wrote:

    I was beginning to think that this was never going to happen! Ha! Glad I was (am) wrong. Congrats on a great site (already).

  • 2023-10-09 08:22:17 PM

    Noble Bagheera wrote:

    Congratulations Fremmie!

  • 2023-10-10 07:04:49 PM

    Alexander Nutt wrote:

    ok, i’m hooked