Welcome to the first edition of Roger's Corner.
To further the Foundation’s education initiative, we are introducing a new section to The Muse called Roger’s Corner. Each month we will feature articles, papers, streams of consciousness, and other content from the mind of Roger A. Modjeski, the inspiration behind the RAM School of Audio. In addition, this content will be incorporated into the school’s digital library that will exist on the Foundation’s website under the RAM School section.
When Roger first moved up to the Bay Area from Santa Barbara, CA in 2014 one of his objectives was launching the Berkeley School of HI-Fi which he did that same year. Over the next few years students attended classes and received tutoring from one of high-end audio’s top designers. Also, with the assistance of Foundation member Peter Truce, Roger developed what he hoped would become a curriculum to be supplemented by a companion book that would serve as an introduction to audio. Roger spent many hours transferring his knowledge via dictation which was later transcribed to electronic format. All told there are eight chapters (each at various stages of completion) and each month a new chapter will be published in The Muse and archived in the digital library for continued reference.
For some additional background, here are some thoughts from Roger himself: “I believe education is the key to better sound. Members expend significant resources of time and money in developing their audio systems. In many cases components are mismatched and techniques misunderstood. A great deal of this is due to the misinformation on the Internet where technical information is unvetted and often inaccurate.” Roger concluded by quoting the playwright Tom Stoppard (from the tragicomedy, Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead): “We only know what we are told, and even that isn’t true.”
Sadly, the curriculum was never incorporated into the Berkeley School of Hi-Fi and the book never fully realized. However, with Roger’s Corner we will attempt to revive the initial efforts of Roger and Peter, while taking things to the next level as I curate Roger’s personal collection of notebooks, interviews, letters, and other writings in the hope that we can continue to learn from one of the top experts in his field.
Lastly, for The Muse’s first ever Roger’s Corner not only will we present Chapter 1, but we also have a little bonus for all of you. Think of it as some sort of Introduction or Forward to the book, which was originally untitled, but from here on out will be referred to as, A Beginners Guide and Other Thoughts on Audio. Roger was an avid reader of Stereophile and he especially enjoyed reading the Letters to the Editor and equipment review sections (specifically John Atkinson’s measurements of the reviewed components). In one of the first issues of 1994 Roger was reading John Atkinson’s review of the YBA 2 HC power amplifier. Intrigued or perhaps even amused by what he read; Roger took it upon himself to write a letter to the editor to relate some stories and set the record straight. What follows is the content of that letter. Prior to reading the letter I would first recommend reading the original review which we have linked for your convenience. It will provide the background and context for Roger’s letter.
Stereophile YBA 2 HC Amplifier
Feb. 12, 1994
I was torn between writing a "letter to the editor" or to you personally. Upon reading the staff page I see that you are one and the same. I read your magazine religiously always starting with the "Letters" section. It is a window to the public that I enjoy. I admire your publishing the good, the bad, and the ugly letters that come your way. Include this one if you like.
I enjoyed your introduction to the YBA Amplifier in the January issue. My Maserati is turbo charged and there is indeed a throttle lag. That is not the least of my problems as I rarely get to drive it other than to visit my mechanic to have something else replaced. I am studying its unreliability much as I have studied the unreliability of many amplifiers that are often compared to high-performance race cars. So far, my theory is that neither inherently must be unreliable to perform. What the Maserati lacks is the engineers desire to make it reliable. Given that Maserati is a racing marque and that racing engines are torn down after every race I am not surprised at the frequency at which parts must be replaced. The Maserati Club which I joined to obtain parts and service tips recommends replacing the timing belt at 15,000 miles. While you are at it might as well do the water pump (which rides on the timing belt) and the tensioner bearing. I learned the hard way after having a belt fail at 26,000 miles (then the recommended interval was 30,000) and soon after having the water pump start leaking. I must say that my driving pleasure is decreased after experiencing a timing belt failure accompanied by 18 bent valves and a major head job. Had I known all this ahead of time I probably would have kept my Honda Accord, a car obviously designed with reliability as a high objective. I also see that Honda has recently combined reliability and performance.