Ron Resnick - Senior Contributing Reviewer

Ron Resnick

Senior Contributing Reviewer


I was for many years a business executive at a hedge fund in Manhattan, New York. I quit that job to move to Beverly Hills, California, and to enjoy life more. Now I trade stock options, but I am not good at it.

High-end audio became my primary hobby after graduate school. I was working in Manhattan at the time, and one afternoon I strolled into Lyric HiFi. Michael Kay ushered me into his big listening room in the back. He played for me the Infinity IRS V loudspeaker system driven by Jadis JA200 amplifiers and fronted by the Goldmund Reference turntable. Listening to Reference Recordings’ Symphony Fantastique on that system was a religious experience of the audio variety! I was hooked!

To better understand my reviews and the context in which I make my comments I want to explain my high-end audio philosophy, my musical interests and my sound preferences and listening biases. By so doing I hope that my reviews and my descriptions of what I hear will be more valuable to you. By enabling you to understand my preferences, and by helping you to calibrate what I like versus what you like, I hope to enable you to triangulate meaningfully on, and better comprehend, what I describe in my reviews.


I believe there are four primary, but not mutually exclusive, alternative objectives of high-end audio:
1) recreate the sound of an original musical event,
2) reproduce exactly what is on the master tape,
3) create a sound that is subjectively pleasing, and
4) create a sound that seems live.
I subscribe to the first and the fourth objectives. I want my audio system to recreate as realistically and as believably as possible the sound of an original musical event. In a slightly different formulation I want the sound coming from my stereo to sound like it is live music. 

I do not care how a piece of equipment measures. I do not care about the theory behind the design of a component. (Actually, I do care, but only because I find theory and component design very interesting. But, ultimately, I care only about the resulting sound. I believe that implementation trumps theory.)

I am somewhat open-minded about tweaks. I have a teenage background in amateur radio, the United States Federal Communications Commission license for which required me to pass a test in elementary electronics and grounding theory, and I used to build Heathkits. I am comfortable with basic electronics terms, and I am competent with a soldering iron and a voltmeter. This slightly technical (and now, admittedly, stale) background makes me skeptical of a lot of tweaks and manufacturer claims, but I remain firmly in the subjectivist camp. If my ears tell me that my stereo system is better able to recreate the sound of live music because I have plugged into an outlet in my listening room a thin twig of special Woo-Woo Wood found only in a remote jungle and which has been soaked in Good Sound Oil, then I am all for it!


I have loved music since almost as early as I can remember. My father worked in the record business all of his life (first at Columbia Records, then at Arista Records and then at Atlantic Records). He took me to many concerts while I was growing up. Shortly after Arista released Whitney Houston’s first album, Whitney Houston, my father took my mother and me to hear the singer perform the album at The Bottom Line, a small club in the West Village of Manhattan. I wish I had a better aural recollection of Whitney Houston singing her debut album to only about thirty people!

My main musical interest is female vocals with simple acoustic instrument accompaniment. Examples include Sarah McLachlan singing while playing the piano on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Jennifer Warnes on Famous Blue Raincoat and Amanda McBroom on Growing Up in Hollywood Town. I also like male vocal recordings such as Bill Henderson’s “Send in the Clowns” and Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.”

I like certain jazz albums such as The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out, Bill Berry and His Ellington All-Stars’ For Duke and Bill Evans Trio’s Waltz for Debby. I like classical pieces including Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 - “Jupiter” and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I am a big fan of direct-to-disc recordings by Sheffield Lab and M&K RealTime.

I also enjoy a lot of perfectly ordinary rock and pop songs (e.g., Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac), and a lot of 1970s and 1980s songs from “one-hit wonders.” 


"Bird on a Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” "First We Take Manhattan,” and “Song of Bernadette” by Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat (Rock the House Records/Classic Records)

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, Grace (Columbia)

”I’ve Got the Music in Me" by Thelma Houston, I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffield Lab 2)

"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac (MFSL)

“Pictures at an Exhibition” on The Power of the Orchestra, Rene Leibowitz, RPO, Chesky RC30

"The Rose" by Amanda McBroom, Growing Up in Hollywood Town (Sheffield Lab 13)

"Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records)


I listen for the believability of a solo vocalist with acoustic instrument accompaniment being present in my listening room and singing to me. I value most highly transparency, no artificial edginess, true-to-life corporeal and instrumental "body," true-to-life dynamics and true-to-life harmonic richness and decay. I listen for a "natural" sound.

By transparency I mean that with respect to having the sense that a live person is singing to me in my listening room there is nothing "between" me and the singer. I conceive of the recreation of a vocal performance which makes as easy as possible the suspension of disbelief. I want to feel that I hear no electronic adulteration, no artificial “carrier" riding on the signal. Transparency to me means listening to a vocal performance with no electronic neutral density filter of any kind between the singer and I.

I have a sensitivity to auditory brightness. The sound of a screeching brake on a bus gives me an instant headache. I find unappealing any audio system, and any component, which sounds edgy or fatiguing or unnaturally bright or which over-accentuates the leading edge of a note. This bias inclines me toward tube electronics over solid-state electronics.


I listen primarily to analog — vinyl and tape. If, in the future, I acquire a streaming music capability it will be for the purpose of allowing my friends and my wife’s friends to play their favorite songs on the big stereo.

Digital recording and digital playback have become undeniably good. I prefer to listen to digital recordings (e.g., Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing, Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat) on digital playback systems. But even today the residual hint of "dryness" I hear on most digital recordings and from most digital playback systems turns me off. That dryness alone is enough to send me back into the natural and organic sonic embrace of analog.

I am fascinated by the various non-traditional loudspeaker technologies: electrostatic, ribbon, planar magnetic, horn, omni-directional, bending-wave. Planar speakers in general have always interested me because I like what I consider to be their open-ness and see-through transparency. But I also like and require the oomph and impact (i.e, the cone excursion impact) of dynamic driver speakers and subwoofers.

Certain horn loudspeakers can reproduce jazz music with greater instrumental body and weight, greater “jump factor,” and greater overall realism than any other speaker topology I have heard. I believe there is something about the way horn speakers move air and reproduce the sounds of brass instruments which is consonant with the way brass instruments themselves produce their sounds. To my ears horn loudspeakers driven by single-ended triode amplifiers generally reproduce the sounds of brass instruments with a greater suspension of disbelief than do other types of loudspeakers driven by higher-power amplifiers. But I have not heard a horn loudspeaker reproduce vocals with exactly the same singer-in-the-room presence and transparency to which I am accustomed from electrostatic, from ribbon and from planar magnetic loudspeakers.


I have never been an equipment swapper. I attempt to identify the components which I enjoy the most and to purchase them, even if they are expensive, and then take extremely good care of them so that they last a long time.

Starting initially with Magnepan MG-IIIAs I progressed over many years from Martin-Logan Monoliths to Monolith IIIs and then to Prodigys. My system during this period was very static, and also included the VPI TNT Mk. IV turntable, the Graham 2.2 tonearm, the Benz-Micro Ruby 2 cartridge, the Aesthetix Io phono preamplifier, Vacuum Tube Logic MB-750 amplifiers and Transparent Audio cables.

Presently I am in the process of renovating my listening space and my whole stereo system. I am putting together the last two-channel audio system of my life. This new system will have the following components:

— Vintage Audio Specialties American Sound AS-2000 turntable
— Vintage Audio Specialties Nothing racks
— Bergmann Audio Odin tonearm
— SME 3012R tonearm
— Air Tight Opus 1 cartridge
— ZXY UNIverse Premium X-SB2 cartridge
— Studer A820 tape machine
— Aesthetix Io Eclipse phono preamplifier with two power supplies
— Vacuum Tube Logic TL-7.5 Series III line-stage preamplifier
— Vacuum Tube Logic Siegfried II amplifiers
— Gryphon Audio Designs Pendragon loudspeakers
— JPS in-wall wire, dedicated sub-panel, chemical ground
— cables to be determined
— self-propelled cocker-poo dog sound absorber

My listening room is 20 feet wide, 24.5 feet long and 14.5 feet high. The exposed wall surface is 3/4 inch solid walnut, behind which is one inch of SoundSense Acoustic Thermal Insulation. The front third of the floor is walnut planks, and the rear two-thirds of the floor is wall-to-wall carpet over a carpet pad. The ceiling is plain drywall. The listening space opens to a kitchen on the rear left side and to an equipment room on the rear right side. The turntable, tape machine, preamplifiers, record cleaner and LPs and tapes are located in the adjacent equipment room.