Words somehow feel inadequate right now re trying to sum up the life of the man (1) who helped define subjective audio reviewing, who gave us both the methodology and terms to do so and a rich vocabulary to help express what Harry heard. Those words and methodology filtered out to the wider audio world and these days form the foundation of most audio subjective reviewing around the world.
Back in the mid to late 80s I began my first tentative steps into the world of music listening, appreciation and collecting. Initial interest in classical music, film soundtracks broadened to include pop, rock and other genres. In and around this time I became aware of quality audio equipment but it wasn’t until I became a Saturday boy in a local audio store that I saw my first copy of TAS, The Absolute Sound.
I was reading UK magazines such as HiFi Answers, HiFi News and Record Review, but not the American magazines, which at that time were not available in Northern Irish newsagents. After reading a copy of TAS I fell in love with the prose, the review methodology, the amount of information contained within the pages – often lacking in UK magazines – the often published three opinion reviews where a product was reviewed by multiple reviewers in different systems, the unique look of the magazine and the magic that was Sea Cliff, Harry’s home, review base, and TAS’s base of operation. After reading a few copies sitting around the shop I subscribed to TAS via a UK audio distributor, Moth Marketing and grew more and more thrilled by what I read.
Sea Cliff was this magical place where, or so this reader felt, the very essence and soul of American audio resided and Harry Pearson sat, finger on the pulse, conducting the unamplified orchestra that was TAS.
I cried when I read of the fire in Sea Cliff, feeling Harry’s pain and I was thrilled that Sea Cliff was rebuilt but a sudden and unexpected redundancy from full time audio retailing mean’t I was forced to not renew my subscription and I didn’t renew for quiet a few years.
On returning to TAS it wasn’t the same, TAS was under new ownership, and well Harry wasn’t Harry, the magic of those 80s issues was missing. I very much felt Harry was just a figure head, a nod to the past and nothing more, it showed. Eventually Harry left TAS (2)
TAS was never available in newsagents in Northern Ireland but Stereophile was and while I preferred TAS in the early days to Stereophile, the latter TAS was not as good as Stereophile, being a pale shadow of its former glory.
A few years ago, thanks to an audio buddy and occasional contributor to AIHFA – Barry Hunt – I was blessed to receive from him the entire early TAS up to those late 80s magazines I had first read. I treasure them, an audio storehouse of knowledge and opinion forged during audio’s formative days, into the golden age of High – End audio and beyond.
In recent years I stumbled across Harry’s online blog/magazine (3) and subscribed to it, enjoying Harry’s writing once again.
I can’t begin to thank Harry for the influence his writing, his passion, drive and TAS had on me in my formative days. I never met Harry in the flesh but when I learn’t today of his death I felt the loss, as if Harry was a close friend, in away he was – an important presence in my life, and as I write my reviews (4), many of his words grace them. As long as subjective audio reviewing exists Harry will live on in those words, phrases and terms he created and pioneered and the massive legacy and resource that his TAS was and still is.
My sincere condolences go out to Harry’s family, friends and all those who feel his loss.
Rest in Peace Harry Pearson your’e labours now complete, God Bless and Thank You.
(1) Michael Fremer’s Obituary http://www.analogplanet.com/content/audio-legend-harry-pearson-passes-away, Jonathan Valin’s thoughts http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/harry-pearson-january-5-1937november-4-2014/ and here http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/harry-pearson/ and Neil Gader http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/recollections-of-harry-pearson/
(2) The High Fidelity Report http://thehighfidelityreport.com/ which combine HP Soundings (Harry’s first online work after leaving TAS) and High Fidelity
(2) I am painfully aware of the limited output this year, personal circumstances again, but I have a number of reviews in the early stages, and hope to publish them fairly soon.
© Text and Photos Copyright 2014 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio. Except HP’s Portrait (first image) taken from The High Fidelity Report.
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