Livestream Tomorrow, November 30th on YouTube: Chad Kassem Moderates the "Stereo Mikes"—Fremer and Esposito In a "Lively" Lacquer Discussion

You axed for it: tomorrow, November 30th at 4 PM on YouTube, Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem will moderate a "lively" hopefully friendly and informative discussion with "The stereo Mikes" Fremer and "The In Groove"'s Esposito. The main subject will be our two videos regarding lacquer longevity and its appropriateness as a sellable format.

Please tune in and watch. The comments under the AnalogPlanet video from Mr. Esposito's fans border on libel and definitely are occasionally downright hysterical and not as in "funny". You'd think I accused him of overreacting to SuperSense announcement that it would be selling lacquers cut from copies of UMG master tapes by claiming the lacquers would disintegrate after a few plays. Well, I did, because he did! We'll also possibly discuss the ERC video controversy.

COMMENTS
javabarn's picture

you are the best man... :) ALWAYS informative, fun and professional... that is what this hobby is all about.. Thanks.... and yes, you have cost me some serious "bob" with your recommendations.. but i am grateful...

jazz's picture

we get some snacks and a beer to watch. Could be an interesting continuous format, two different takes on controversial audiophile topics (like masterings, comparisons to originals etc.) ;-)

audiomaniac's picture
kronning's picture

I like and appreciate all 3 guys. Thanks.

bkinthebk's picture

Please be a mensch. Lots of people are fans of both of you. Moreover, this just seems like friendly fire. You’re mostly on the same team.

jazz's picture

And they shouldn’t expect to agree at the end.
Interesting to observe, that the affected companies themselves are not involved at all and social media rules out its problems itself, as there are always followers and lobbyists for each camp. Finally we have more serious problems - even in audio.

Analog Scott's picture

It shouldn't be about teams. It should be about knowledge and understanding of all things audio.

Martin's picture

This is one I will be watching with a whole lot of interest!

Two people with a whole lot to say :-)

Seriously, this is the best this spat could have turned out.

JEB-42's picture

Great idea for both interesting content and information. I think it will be spirited, informative and genuinely pleasant for all. I think we will walk away with more respect for all parties....if not, there can be entertainment value in a good Monkey Shit Fight. HAHAHAHA

USCGRetired09's picture

Michael made it clear that his lacquers have suffered no audible degradation over the years. Fine. Agreed. Mike E's main point was that selling lacquers hurts the industry. He didn't really elaborate further on this, and I think that hurt him. He really cited no specifics, other than the item is overpriced, and its life expectancy is unknown. The ERC thing was pretty much the same thing. They are charging huge prices, that not everyone will pay. The consumer doesn't have to buy either if they don't want to, full stop. I support Mike E's point when he said there should be NO defects in 300 pressings. If I spent that amount, I would have wanted a personal inspection.

I say Mike E. Was the true winner because I'm sure it won't hurt his business. In fact, his store is located in my city, and I didn't know he existed. I do now, and I know he carries the same stuff I have been buying from Acoustic Sounds for years. I'm sure I will be paying his shop a visit on my next day off.

Michael Fremer's picture
However, ERC like every other record company has not. They stand 100% behind their records and replace defectives free of charge. I don't see what the problem is with that or why you think any record label can achieve perfection. Chad has issue with UHQRs and MoFi does with One-Steps. All of the pressing plants have issues and defects are not always visible. Eye inspection is done but that misses many defects. No one lost and no one won here. But of course he sells records and I don't.
gMRfk6LMHn's picture

Really enjoyed the conversation. What I took out of it all was the passion each of you have for the good old vinyl record.

I have had that passion all my life, never wavered in my love for the good old vinyl LP. Never switched to CD, just stuck with vinyl. I used to go to a hi-fi store on a regular basis and I got lambasted for being a dinosaur, for not getting with the times and fooling myself into thinking that vinyl would survive.

Thankfully the 'face-off' didn't come about, nobody got hurt and nobody won except the viewers.

Well done, Michael Fremer, Michael Esposito and Chad Kassem.

James, Dublin, Ireland

USCGRetired09's picture

I cannot remember what his specific gripes were, but if I remember, they seemed trivial, and possibly happened in shipment. Maybe I should clarify my point, and say that a run of 300 is not a large number, and obvious defects should be caught for that kind of money. I'm sure they are caught, but the small stuff slips by. Chad has always stood behind his sales with me, and I don't doubt ERC would do the same. I'm really beginning to understand how imperfect pressing plants are, but when they are on, oh man.

As for the winning, I just meant I was going to throw some money Mike E's way the next time I am on the other side of town. I thought it was great of both of you to appear with him. I live in Phoenix, and had no idea he was here. Appearing with two heavy hitters certainly won't do any harm to his business.

timware's picture

One would think that tighter QC could be applied to such a small pressing at an extraordinarily high price point. So, yes, I think ERC should be held to a higher standard.

Regarding who "won" or "lost" ... To the extent either of you impugned or questioned the other's motives or otherwise indulged in ad-hominem attacks, you lost points. Without the personal attacks, it seemed to boil down to semantic, rather than substantial, differences. You two are basically on the same team here. But it was an informative deep dive into lacquers and quite entertaining, as was to be expected :) So thanks...

Analog Scott's picture

And then emplode. Here are direct quotes. "after the fist couple of plays they get noisier and chunks of lacquer start falling off. They deteriorate rapidly, extremely quick. Laquers on their very own deteriorate, they chip, they spiderweb, I have seen countless lacquers come through the store. The lacquer is crusted and kind of flakey, you will blow the lacquer off the aluminum disc." "you are buying a medium that will self destruct on you, This is the equivalent of paying big time money for the little cassette recorder at the begining of Mission Impossible. You are going to listen to it a couple of times and this thing is going to implode on you"

THAT was the issue Fremer raised and called bullshit on. That is what started this whole debate. Fremer even said he wouldn't have commented at all had Mike E. merely pointed out that the medium is much more fragile and wears much more quickly than vinyl. But what Mike E. said as quoted above is bullshit.

So now Mike E is against this company selling lacquers because in his OPINION they hurt the industry. Perosnally....I fucking hate self appointed gate keepers of a fucking hobby. It gives me flash backs of episodes of The Simpsons with the comic book guy. If Mike E thinks these products are a bad idea. Fine. An opinion he gets to have and actually an opinion I share.

But that doesn't give him or anyone else a licence to pawn ridiculous assertions like you get two plays and it self destructs off as objective fact. *That* is the bullshit that Mike E shoveled on his Youtube video and the bullshit that Mike Fremer called him on. The rest is irrelevant

Elubow's picture

Can’t you let sleeping dogs lie? We’re done with this already. Only YOU seem to want to renew the debate with your vituperative comments and blame. Move on already!

Analog Scott's picture

You got a frog in your pocket? Cause you don't speak for everyone else.

Elubow's picture

As long as we both seem to be into animal metaphors, I’d like to add: STOP BEATING A DEAD HORSE!!

Analog Scott's picture

kicking the same horse.

timware's picture

Just read Fremer's follow up to this post. He's still hacking at dead horse. I'm certainly done with this. But feast on...

elmore244's picture

and therefore he can beat the horse over and over again. LOL. You don't have to read it. I personally am done with it too, but sometimes you have to come back to it when others continue to give you shit about it.

Michael Fremer's picture
His fairly summing it up. Esposito’s original claim is bullshit and he wouldn’t watch the demo at that URL because he wished to punish the presenter’s honesty.
superb-9's picture

Yeah .... Esposito is a MF!!

timware's picture

Let it go, man. I reflects poorly on you.

Analog Scott's picture

do you not see the irony of telling *me* to let it go days later?

timware's picture

I was responding to MF. And it was 24 hours ago. Just got around to watching it.

amarok89's picture

Fremer is known far and wide for his occasional hyperbole. It seems to me (my opinion) that anyone with passion goes there. You just did. Not a good form if you want to talk facts, right? Both Mikes overstate. If you can’t cut through that you are not being very objective,. Anyone honest with themselves can discard each hyperbolic statement that they both make. Then what’s left? For me it’s the realization that when all is said and done even the devoted fans of hugely expensive records (say $150 to maybe $450 or more?) admit that they can’t do better than all of those premium shops that sell theirs for $40.

Analog Scott's picture

After seeing that debate you think that calling Mike E's original claims about lacquers imploding after two plays bullshit is hyperbole?

amarok89's picture

I meant Mike E’s imploding lacquers was hyperbole and that Fremer does the same thing but you don’t notice that or just ignore it. You keep changing the subject to distract from the point. I was replying to your rant against the original exaggerated claim. Read it again.

Analog Scott's picture

I don't defend it, I explain that it was hyperbole. Mike E defended his claims numerous times.

jazz's picture

Both could make their points and the different perspectives both come from got obvious. Each one of us will have an opinion what serves his interest better or will just enjoy both. I think you kept a great balance of giving it a rest at the right time and filling in some quite interesting information.

I understood, you were the initiator of this live session, ending this unfortunate battle in a good way in the interest of us consumers. Great job!

timware's picture

For my money, Chad was the drag on the video. He spoke at length without really saying much other than hawking his products. He's got a great business producing quality vinyl but as a moderator of this debate/discussion? Not so much. I found myself groaning a LOT during his extended soliloquies. Fortunately, the two Mikes were articulate & informative.

Analog Scott's picture

an Analog Productions promo video? Sorry but Chad was the wrong guy to moderate that. I do like Fremer's suggestion that we do some comparisons between his $500.00 tape and some vinyl pressings of Love Supreme. It might be very interesting. I would never spend $400.00 on a 4th generation EQed reel to reel tape of anything.

My only suggestion is if comparisons are made they are done blind and level matched. Or level optimised if there are substantial spectral differences in play.

jazz's picture

but hey, he’s no professional but a hobby moderator and a proud and passionate producer and salesman. And in fact his turns relaxed the whole thing and he’s respected by both and truly did them a favor to save ‘em from nitpicking. I thought Chad is smart, but today he was even smarter, while by the way adjusting the whole matter his way.

Finally I think everyone in this video (more or less) agreed on the technical facts and the right of everyone to spend his money on what he wants. The main point and difference was, if those facts are a good basis to promote and strongly defend the commercial lacquer market (in view of the critical life span) and companies like ERC (in view of suffering from at least the same manufacturing problems as other labels, but offering at more than 10 times the price) to the common audiophile consumers. I think everyone of us consumers can decide for himself, if he’s a lacquer and ERC guy or not and favor the one or other arguments.

The fact that my impression was, no one except Micheal Fremer was the ERC and lacquer kind of guy and that probably the majority of the readers and watchers here aren’t, too, should not be generally rated against Michael. I understood he has the focus to tell people what’s possible in terms of best sound regardless of cost or unreasonability and (while talking straight if necessary), tends towards a rather positive than critical general focus on the industry (not unusual for professional reviewers).

Although I personally for the most part rather follow Mike E.’s arguments, I very much appreciate Michael F’s will to also support the unreasonable if it’s fascinating in a certain way. If those supporters wouldn’t exist, we’d just see common consumer gear reviewed, because no one except a small audiophile community understands why someone should spend 5 or 10k on a cartridge. So I like and need both Michaels.

superb-9's picture

... oh y'all, caint weez allz justs gets alongz.

superb-9's picture

Both y'all ... both y'all ... Both y'all
CHAD KASSEM: The BROKEN record. Fawk!!!!

timware's picture

Yup, interminable empty words... Grating

ChrisM's picture

Very high record prices do not bode well. I don't see any reason to think that it is "ok" to find new records at 500 usd, nor do I think it is realistic to think that these prices, as marginal as they are, do not pull up the overall market prices.
Prices are increasing drastically, even from reasonably priced records like Blue Note classics.
In other words, the question would be (since we have to be prepared for it): what future for vinyl with high prices?
Personally I buy 4 to 5 records per week and I won't increase my budget, so the answer is clear : buy less.

Analog Scott's picture

And get some titles for $15.00. Clearly high end audiophile LPs are not having that effect on the over all market. It IS OK for boutique labels to charge whatever they want. It's simple capitalism. If they cost too much the consumers won't buy them. If the consumers do but them then they don't cost too much. We are all free to choose for ourselves.

Did Blue Note increase their prices? I just ordered a boat load at $22.00 and $17.00 per title. This is an amazing bargain given how they are made.

ChrisM's picture

Mr Kassem warned, the prices will raise in the US next year.

"We are all free to choose for ourselves."
Not exactly, we are all free to choose what we are offered.
You're living in the US, in Europe we saw the prices of the Blue Note classics jumping from 22 to 27 + euros this year (30+ usd). The amazon retail price of the Acoustic/Verve Mingus Black Saint is 53 + euros (60+ usd).
This should give you an idea of the price increase margin for the US market.

Analog Scott's picture

But ERC isn't making Analog Productions raise their prices or preventing Walmart from selling records at $15.00. Along with the now defunct Classics, Analog Productions have been industry leaders when it comes to increasing prices and establishing new price points. ERC is barely a blip on the radar. Classics and AP were the two companies that established the $50.00 mark. Classics with their 45rpm series and AP with their top 25 Jazz series.

ChrisM's picture

We are getting to the point where prices are set according to what the customer is willing to spend, even if the selling price is only remotely related to the cost of production. If a fraction of the clientele is willing to put 500 euros on the table for a record, the other companies cannot ignore it, unless they live in a bubble. Tone Poet went from 35 to 49 euros in one year.
Verves/Acoustics went from 33 to 53 euros, sales probably did not drop.
Where is the limit? Is the question that redefines the rules of the game.

Analog Scott's picture

we have been at that point since the industrial revolution. It's basic capitalism. And on the other side is competition. No one player sets the rules or dominates the game. ERC is a very small player. Covid shut downs and other factors have made the supply side of vinyl short while demand has risen. that's the most likely culprit. I am quite skeptical that Tone Poet looked at ERC (which has been in opperation for what 7-8 years now?) and decided if they can get 300 people to spend $575.00 then we can get all of our customers to spend 49 Euros instead of 35 euros.

Price increases suck. Blaming ERC is misguided. They have about as much effect on the price of other records as Philippe Patek has on the wirst watch industry. Timex and Seiko ain't looking at Phillipe Patek to set their prices.....

ChrisM's picture

I'm not blaming ERC, or its customers who agree to pay their prices, I'm just making an observation. It is not a question of "blaming" as you are trying to make me say.
Covid has little to do with the reasons for the price increase, at least this is not the reason given by Warner to justify the increase of their own catalog they did last summer, but the increase in raw materials as they said, which is not correlated with the new price policy (much higher) of their vinyl catalog btw.

Analog Scott's picture

You don't think that is related to the work stoppages we had world wide due to covid?

I'm not putting words in your mouth either. You said "Very high record prices do not bode well. I don't see any reason to think that it is "ok" to find new records at 500 usd, nor do I think it is realistic to think that these prices, as marginal as they are, do not pull up the overall market prices." that sounds to me like you are kind of blaming them.

ChrisM's picture

I think the covid argument sounds more like an excuse for higher prices than an objective reason, and this is true in other industries. There is no doubt an impact of the pandemic on the price increase, but that alone is not justified. It's very strange to suddenly want to find an objective justification, when finding the price the consumer is willing to pay is accepted according to your little capitalist lesson :)
In reality, at 600 euros for a vinyl, we are in the middle of irrationality, but their customers have agreed, so they're right !

ChrisM's picture

Actually 600 euros is the price of the Marcelle Meyer's Debussy from the French Recording Company, two years after its release it does not sell out, maybe 600 € is the limit for a vinyl ? :)

jazz's picture

on this page makes me think you were not always so sympathetic for highly priced records ;-)

https://www.analogplanet.com/content/marcelle-meyer-plays-debussy-french...

Paul Boudreau's picture

Thanks for the video. I’ve shied away from playing the few laquers I have for fear of damaging them. Time to give them a spin since I’ve never heard them with the Rega RP-10/Ortofon Cadenza Bronze comination, starting with the Pretenders’ “Learning To Crawl,”

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