AOM Logo February 1999

A Book from the Fringe
The Search for Musical Ecstasy
By Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg

"There is no genuine musical experience without ecstasy."
- Glenn Gould

Blair Roger
Book Cover

The world of high-end audio is populated with extraordinary people and you are one of them. I say this confidently because I know that you wouldn't be spending time reading Audiophilia if you didn't share our passion for music and audio gear. I also know that each one of us has a special story to tell that is his own, describing how we became interested in music and audio, and what it means to us. The most eccentric of us all, Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg, has done just that: written an autobiography entitled The Search for Musical Ecstasy that incorporates the philosophical and metaphysical foundation for a new way to experience home audio.

Harvey Rosenberg is probably recognized by the majority of our readers as the founder of the now defunct New York Audio Labs (NYAL), a company that manufactured the incredible Futterman OTL tube amplifiers more than fifteen years ago. He has known the hellish life of the audio manufacturer and evidently feels great relief at having escaped the labyrinth.

Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg

Going further back, we see a portrait of a man who has been fascinated with the way things work since childhood. As a boy, Rosenberg was constantly playing with, well, gizmos, as they were called in the 1940s, and that's how he came by the moniker of "Gizmo". Harvey grew up, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in the early 1960s as a "compressed, repressed Preppy" who lived in New York City and was very unhappy. The story of how Mr. Uptight becomes the Thermionic Techno-Shaman and Guildmeister of the Triode Guild, the man who makes public appearances dressed in a Scottish kilt and feather headdress adorned with vacuum tubes, is highly entertaining and full of wisdom. The tale is woven around the cogent and hip explanation of his philosophy of audio hedonism. In Rosenberg's world, the audiophile has been replaced by the audioxtasist, the techno-shaman. The trip from here to there is explained in words that are variously funny, personal, searingly critical, and poignantly moving.

It took a great deal of courage to write this book. Much of what Rosenberg predicted about triode amplifiers in 1993 has come to fruition. But there is much more here than tech talk and speculation. It is a scholarly work by a prodigious autodidact that combines philosophy, metaphysics, a bit of Harley-Davidson worship, some group therapy, the madness of Zorba the Greek and a lot of passion for life and music. There is a message in the gestalt of this work for all of us who, consciously or not, are searching for a deeper meaning and context for everyday existence.

This is not a good read, but a great one. I recommend it highly to those who are ready to expand their aural experience.

The Search for Musical Ecstasy by Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg
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