How do you capture the essence of a person?
Along the twisting paths that are our lives, we meet many different people and share many different experiences. These occurrences, that often seem to be of pure happenstance, forever shape who we are. Whether it’s the fortuitous timing of running in to a kind soul or a hard lesson learned, we are the sum of these experiences.
Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ll share time with someone who is one in a million; someone who traverses this earthly world selflessly helping all those who cross their path. From the very first instant this person is forever your friend, forever your mentor, forever your confidant, and, when you need it, can deliver one swift ass-kicking. This person knows when to encourage, when to push, and when to listen. This person’s only wish is for you to be the best you can be.
Ten months ago we lost such a person. Only he wasn’t one in a million, he was one in a billion.
I met Barry Knittel for the first time twelve years ago, near to this very day at AEI Music. I felt like I already knew him, for he was so revered in the organization that I’d already heard so much about him.
Barry would freely give of his time, wisdom, and knowledge to anyone who would take advantage of it. He would also give freely of his criticisms, while stern and at times stinging they were always fair and always to your best interest. I look back upon my time with Barry fondly; I know he only wanted me to do the best I could and I know I’m a far better person because of him. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time with him.
So, we set out to build The Knittel Lounge at our corporate headquarters in Austin, TX to honor Barry’s legacy. Just as Barry always gave us the best he could, I set out to honor him by building the best analog playback system I could.
In my opinion, there is nothing like the pace and rhythm of a vintage idler drive turntable spinning vinyl through the warm soft glow of vacuum tubes. This is purest and most honest form of music reproduction that I know; uniquely suited for the purest and most honest person I’ve ever met.
Since we’ve opened the lounge I’ve found great joy in watching people rediscover music. We’ve shared smiles, laughs, giggles, and tears. I’ve watched people reflect and I’ve watched people dance. We’ve discovered new music and we’ve discovered new friends.
I don’t know how to capture the essence of a person like Barry. What I do know, is how to help share the things he held most dear: family, friends, and music.
– Submitted by JP Jones, CTO
It really is. We appreciate the amazing words, JP. And all of those that made this possible.
The blog links were great. However now the guys in the NJAS would like to know what equipment you selected for the lounge. Are you at liberty to tell us?
I wish I was at liberty! It should be known that the DMX CTO designed and BUILT that system. If it had been ME, I would have used a Technics SL-1200 running through a Marantz 2600 receiver! It might have sounded o.k., but what JP built puts my equipment choices to shame!
The only contributions to the lounge I made were a few vintage LP’s from Aretha Franklin and Isaac Hayes.
John: an honor to participate in such a heartfelt endeavor
your northern friends
John P: I wish I had the skill to design every aspect of the system, but alas my ventures in to analog reproduction and vacuum tubes started 11 short months ago.
Hence the major circuit blocks, while not commercially available (that I know of) were gifted to the DIY community. The phono preamp is Stuart Yaniger’s His Master’s Noise, the line preamp is John Broskie’s Aikido, and the power amplifiers are Bob Latino’s M-125’s (actually, these are commercially available).
The turntable is a vintage Thorens TD-124 with a Jelco 750D tonearm and an Audio Technica AT33PTG/II cartridge. I performed a full restoration on the turntable, keeping as many things as original as practical.
Chris and Dave from Planet10-HiFi did the speakers, though I’ve the scars to prove the rest of the woodwork is mine. Metalwork is my design but was machined by Front Panel Express in Seattle.
Basically, I was lucky enough to have found designs that have good synergy, and I’m not half bad at soldering! 🙂
Jose: With some small modifications, that SL-1200 can put out respectable sound. I’m actually using one currently while I finished the restoration of my Garrard 401.
Chrisb: Thanks to YOU for participating! Without your help we wouldn’t have finished this on time.
Barry lives on because of your hard work in creating The Barry Knittel Lounge. You have honored him with a living memorial, and one he would so love. I felt his presence during the dedication, as did his children. Your words captured the very essence of who Barry was both at home and at work. You have made me laugh, you have made me cry, but most of all you have made me proud. Thank you JP, and to all of you who made this honor possible. You have touched the deepest part of my heart with your goodness.
I worked with Barry years ago at AEI and am thankful that he took me under his wing. I was new to the industry and I’m sure that I took far more of his valuable time that he wanted to spare me, but he would always make time toward the end of the day to discuss the industry and where he thought it was going. Our discussions ranged from music to sound systems to what he thought would be the innovations in the industry. His insight was remarkable then and I don’t think I truly understood how much those simple moments of back and forth challenged me to think beyond the day to day work and look toward the future. I find that when I meet the next generation in our industry that are eager to learn I try to pass on what Barry was able to share with me. Not just information, which is important but transitory, but that drive to discover how to be insightful and how to use that insight to grow your future, your company’s impact in the world, and your imprint on those around you. Barry will be missed but you have created the perfect way to remember him.
Very impressive looking setup.
Awesome tribute to a wonderful man. Thank you for dedicating this space to him