I’m standing in a room in my house looking at shelves full of memories and emotions. I go into the room every month or so and with the hope that I can engage with them again. I can’t let go of them and am ambivalent about their future. I think about what would happen to them if I needed to downsize or if something happened to me. Who would look after them? I’ve since moved on and they’ve been replaced but out of respect or a fondness for what they’ve done for me in the past, I hang on. My hope would be to someday make them useful if not for me, for someone else.
Broken gear plagues every audiophile. Can’t fix it, can’t toss it. Today’s disposable society isn’t designed for longevity. With the belief that newer is better, why fix, why save. So, we put it out at the curb, it disappears and in our minds, it’s gone. It’s not gone though; our burden has now been passed on to the society that has to process it. Problem is, our society doesn’t process anything, it’s not economically feasible to repair things nor would anyone put the thought into reclaiming or deciding what is worth repairing. The parts shortages and supply chain issues we’ve experienced over the past 2 years have brought this into the spotlight and made us rethink this philosophy. Why do we throw things away when we can fix them?
Even if we wanted to fix vintage gear, what would the cost be, once we put the money into it, what would it be worth, would we really be happy with the sound, and would it again end up on a shelf and fall into disrepair. There really is no ready resource to answer these questions…. but there can be.
The mission of the San Francisco Audiophile Foundation (SFAF) is far broader than SFAS. The goal is to provide educational resources as well as services to the community of music listeners at large and to preserve the legacy and the gear of the past. As we are about to kick off SFAF, we will also be kicking off the SFAF educational initiative. Led by Tony Chipelo, SFAF is forming a school where you can learn to fix your own gear, build gear and donate gear so it can be used for parts. We will be reaching out to the audiophile community and manufacturers for donations of items needed to create this school.
This is not an easy goal, but it’s needed and if we don’t do it, fear nobody else will. We have the opportunity to become the model for other programs around the country and put a dent in the broken gear backlog. Now here’s Tony to talk about our kickoff event and the inspiration for the school.
Many knew Roger Modjeski for his contributions to the audio industry. While he designed for reliability, Roger understood the probability for repair and so he also designed for ease of service. It’s been 2+ years after Roger’s passing and I still hear stories about how he taught customers to diagnose and repair their own equipment. Members may also recall his educational presentations for the SFAS. More so than audio design, Roger’s passion was education. He moved up to the Bay Area specifically to start the Berkeley School of Audio. In addition, Roger also taught classes at The Crucible in Oakland. When I started working with him in 2015 the goal was for me to focus on the traditional business so that Roger could spend more time teaching. As he approached the end, Roger made it clear that he wanted the education to continue. However, there was only one Roger, and while I learned a lot from the man, it was not nearly enough to continue the classes. So when Leslie contacted me recently about leading the SFAF school I immediately saw it as an opportunity to honor Roger’s wish. The SFAF could provide various resources to make the school possible again. Not only would the members benefit, but the community at large would as well. This perfectly aligned with Roger’s vision and to celebrate this achievement we are planning a kick-off event for May of this year where we will gather at Roger’s memorial in East Bay, followed by a party, to formally introduce the school. As the inspiration for this new endeavor, I know somewhere Roger is smiling. A challenge it will be, but one that has a tremendous upside and is inspired by a man who not only is renowned in his field, but was also bestowed with the SFAS Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with our society.