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Obsession - a cautionary tale


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I suspect many of us who read this article might just see a little of themelves in Ken Fritz??

 

The article starts of rather predictably, but takes a dark turn.     Truly, a cuationary tale.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/style/interactive/2024/ken-fritz-greatest-stereo-auction-cost/?itid=hp-top-table-main_p001_f007

 

 

 

 

Edited by AJL999
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I was able to read the article for free without creating an account. 

 

The article talks about how Fritz's obsession building his hifi and a caustic communication style caused rifts in his relationship and with some of his children. 

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Here's a gift link to the article. Read it for free. And you can copy the link and share it it you want:

 

https://wapo.st/47ErwZI

 

Interesting piece for the Washington Post. The author obviously knows a bit about hifi himself.

 

The subject, Ken Fritz, was likely diagnosible with a mental illness but it sounds like he built the system he wanted.

 

Missing from the story is the hours he spent enjoying the music it made, even before it was completed. A whole huge room in mini-concert hall dimensions, with concrete filled walls all sound-treated? A 35,000 watt amplification system? Three speakers, each using 24 drivers and 40 tweeters? If he got it all working together it must have sounded amazing.

 

Yes it's sad he got a rapidly terminal illness just after he finished it, and that reminds us of the temporary nature of life. But that was also bad luck. 

 

 

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I have a friend who does not care to collect and/or play too much with his gear. He has a nice system (but not high end) and when looking for a piece of equipment to add to or replace an existing item he spends time researching products and will ultimately make a decision. He is far more interested in listening to the music and will be quite happy to listen to the same song on an iPhone, his car radio or his home system. It's the song that make him happy (I think). I was becoming a little bit Fritzy and recently woke up to the fact that I could listen to the same song on pretty much anything and am now in the slow process of reducing my collection of hifi equipment to what I will actually use. At one time prior to the pandemic, my amplifier count alone was up around 30 odd pieces. While my path was a bit different to that of Mr. Fritz, I find it a little sad that by the time he had finished building his (rather ugly) empire state building, his hearing would have been well past it (regardless of any other illness). I'm now happy to spend my free time listening to music on Spotify with my desktop PC through a pair of  headphones or on my main system. It's a shame Mr. Fritz didn't as they say.... stop to smell the roses.

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47 minutes ago, Moronic said:

Interesting piece for the Washington Post. The author obviously knows a bit about hifi himself.

 

I think this is a hatchet job from the Washington Post by an author who writes like an entitled millennial. My parents are about the same age as Ken Fritz (RIP) and it was normal for kids of my generation to have to do odd jobs around the house. Whatever our folks were doing, we had to help. Mowed the grass, washed the car, help mum and grandma in the kitchen, clean the house, fold laundry, everything. And what's more, I would feel guilty if I saw my parents doing something and I wasn't helping. Can you imagine watching your father pour concrete and slave away in his workshop by himself, and you not offering to help? Why should mum prepare dinner all by herself when there are 2 kids around watching TV? Maybe it's a generational thing, or even a cultural thing. 

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@Keith_W I agree about the tone - the author could have been much more generous. 
 

OTOH it sounds like Mr Fritz demanded a fair bit more than odd jobs around the house.
 

My own father was a multi-faceted hobbyist and home handyman, and often my brothers and I enjoyed helping him do things when we were of school age. But there were times when he couldn't see that we didn't share all his interests with his intensity, or that we had interests of our own that were as worthy as his. 
 

There is a point at which the children need to stand up for themselves. 

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6 hours ago, metal beat said:

$156,800 return on a 1 million system.

 

  Seems about right. 

 

Yep, I think some people get crossed up between investment spending versus hobby & lifestyle spending.

 

If I got that return on a house or super, yeah a joke. On the other hand I don't expect anything back from my spending on travel, restaurant dinners, shoes or 10yo kitchen renovation. 

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1 hour ago, Keith_W said:

 

I think this is a hatchet job from the Washington Post by an author who writes like an entitled millennial. My parents are about the same age as Ken Fritz (RIP) and it was normal for kids of my generation to have to do odd jobs around the house. Whatever our folks were doing, we had to help. Mowed the grass, washed the car, help mum and grandma in the kitchen, clean the house, fold laundry, everything. And what's more, I would feel guilty if I saw my parents doing something and I wasn't helping. Can you imagine watching your father pour concrete and slave away in his workshop by himself, and you not offering to help? Why should mum prepare dinner all by herself when there are 2 kids around watching TV? Maybe it's a generational thing, or even a cultural thing. 

Yep, get those millennials out pouring and shovelling cement, I had to lick the road clean before breakfast when I were a lad.

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12 minutes ago, Phill451 said:

Yep, get those millennials out pouring and shovelling cement, I had to lick the road clean before breakfast when I were a lad.

Luxury! When I was a lad I had to......

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13 hours ago, Keith_W said:

 

I think this is a hatchet job from the Washington Post by an author who writes like an entitled millennial. My parents are about the same age as Ken Fritz (RIP) and it was normal for kids of my generation to have to do odd jobs around the house. Whatever our folks were doing, we had to help. Mowed the grass, washed the car, help mum and grandma in the kitchen, clean the house, fold laundry, everything. And what's more, I would feel guilty if I saw my parents doing something and I wasn't helping. Can you imagine watching your father pour concrete and slave away in his workshop by himself, and you not offering to help? Why should mum prepare dinner all by herself when there are 2 kids around watching TV? Maybe it's a generational thing, or even a cultural thing. 

Completely the opposite IMO. I reckon the author painted a very sympathetic picture of a guy you wouldn't piss on (if he was on fire). I bet he also writes nice articles about DJT.

Okay, Karma, you made your point...

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Have to say I've started to wonder how good the system really sounded. A quick google didn't turn up any raves from independent sources.

 

Can you really design such a complicated and powerful passive system from scratch, as a hobbyist, and get a frequency response in-room that's superior?

 

Here's an earlier piece on what went into it.


https://www.psaudio.com/blogs/copper/5400-hours-of-fun

 

"I used 16 15-inch metal cone drivers, sourced from Krell, from 60Hz on down. They were built for me by Thilo Stompler, who suggested using a surround with an Xmax of 2 inches rather than the 3 1/4-inch surrounds they used for Krell. Dan D’Agostino was gracious enough to allow me to purchase them directly from TC Sounds. I also used: 24 7-inch ScanSpeak kevlar cone mid-bass drivers per channel, going from 60Hz to 200Hz; four BG RD50 drivers from 200Hz up to 6500Hz; 40 Panasonic EAS-10TH 400A leaf tweeters from 6500Hz up, 30 tweeters to the front and 10 to the rear, out of phase from the front, for a dipolar pattern.

 

"The surround speakers use six 8-inch ScanSpeak Revelator bass drivers up to 500Hz, six 3 1/2-inch ScanSpeak Revelator mids up to 3500Hz, and six ScanSpeak Revelator dome tweeters from 3500Hz on up.

 

"The electronics are from Krell: five KBX active crossovers, three FPB 600s, four FPB 300s, and one EVO 403. I’m using four Crest Audio 6500 watt stereo amps to drive the 16 bass drivers, as they require that amount of power to perform properly."

 

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https://web.archive.org/web/20240114235707/https://www.washingtonpost.com/style/interactive/2024/ken-fritz-greatest-stereo-auction-cost/

 

The link is to the internet archive copy of the newspaper article. A sad story of an obsessed audiophile.

 

Quote

building the world’s greatest stereo would mean transforming the very space that surrounded it — and the lives of the people who dwelt there.

The faded photos tell the story of how the Fritz family helped him turn the living room of their modest split-level ranch on Hybla Road in Richmond’s North Chesterfield neighborhood into something of a concert hall — an environment precisely engineered for the one-of-a-kind acoustic majesty he craved. In one snapshot, his three daughters hold up new siding for their expanding home. In another, his two boys pose next to the massive speaker shells. There’s the man of the house himself, a compact guy with slicked-back hair and a thin goatee, on the floor making adjustments to the system. He later estimated he spent $1 million on his mission, a number that did not begin to reflect the wear and tear on the household, the hidden costs of his children’s unpaid labor.

 

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100% Moronic.      And the burning Q I have.....what sound do the grandfather clocks make, and how did he integrate them into the system??   I guess they are an in-phase stereo pair???

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1 hour ago, Moronic said:

Hadn't noticed them TBH.

 

But yeah, wtf are they doing there? 
 

spacer.png

 

(Image linked from Mr Fritz's post cited above.)

Reclocking for the Lake Audio DACs?

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2 hours ago, Moronic said:

Can you really design such a complicated and powerful passive system from scratch, as a hobbyist, and get a frequency response in-room that's superior?

Yes.... but that isn't to say he did.

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19 hours ago, Keith_W said:

 

I think this is a hatchet job from the Washington Post by an author who writes like an entitled millennial. My parents are about the same age as Ken Fritz (RIP) and it was normal for kids of my generation to have to do odd jobs around the house. Whatever our folks were doing, we had to help. Mowed the grass, washed the car, help mum and grandma in the kitchen, clean the house, fold laundry, everything. And what's more, I would feel guilty if I saw my parents doing something and I wasn't helping. Can you imagine watching your father pour concrete and slave away in his workshop by himself, and you not offering to help? Why should mum prepare dinner all by herself when there are 2 kids around watching TV? Maybe it's a generational thing, or even a cultural thing. 

 

I disagree, and in fact the author, Geoff Edgers, is in his mid 50s and was born in 1970.     A look at his bio indicates he has long history of writing about music and musicians, including an attempt to bring The Kinks back together, which was documented.

I think he's quite sympathetic to Ken Fritz, who actually seems like something of a self-obsessed pile-driver.   I can't imagine deciding to formally disinherit one of my kids over a disagreement!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoff_Edgers

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