The approximately 400,000 people worldwide who call themselves audiophiles are ravenous when digesting information about every facet of our avocation. In the past, other than the original word of mouth, print was the favourite, which became the legacy press, then as the internet overtook all in its path, the computer and mobile phone became the weapons of choice.
One medium on the internet has eluded the audiophile information stream. Video. YouTube, specifically. The same as TV, video brings to it the antithesis of what audiophiles require and are best at. The obvious drawback is the sound with 'on air talent' and video technical cost/expertise second. Listening for minute differences in equipment sound does not transfer well to TV speakers. Even listening on good earphones does not give the audiophile an accurate depiction, important when watching the videos for research rather than entertainment.
YouTube superstars like Casey Neistat (over 10,000,000 subscribers) and Marques Brownlee (6.5 million subscribers) have become very powerful, mainstream names in popular culture. They are the movers and shakers in technology, lifestyle, you name it. Gamers and comedians who appeal to teens also carve out huge followings. And with subscribers come views. And with views, lots and lots of views, comes YouTube cash. For the real cheesecake, though, millions of views are needed. That's where audiophiles and YouTube part company.
I've narrowed it down to six or seven YouTube audiophile channels that may be worthy of your time, or even better, your subscription. Except for two or three, most are haphazard with their camera work (hand held video cameras, without stabilization, it seems) and some feature way too much face time—show, don't tell. Professional lighting and sound? Forget it. A green screen backdrop, a few light boxes and a good microphone are way cheaper than you'd think?
Another problem is content. Content is king. Strike that, quality, timely content is king. Many YouTubers run out of ideas very quickly after a frenetic, inspired start. The ones I'll discuss are pretty good at posting content.
The Stereophile, John Darko and New Record Day channels by far have the best production values. Creative videographers, quality lighting and sound, good scripts and editing. HiVy Nyws is very entertaining and based in Singapore—a charming host with a lexicon of unorthodox audiophile descriptions. But fun. With subtle differences in sound between cartridges and other analogue kit, it's difficult to match his words with the sound you're hearing, even on my full blown SONOS system. Yet, he throws his heart and soul into the reviews.
Analog Planet is analogue master Michael Fremer's video lovechild. Fremer's video skills are basic, but he's such a fountain of knowledge, his videos are a must see for all audiophiles. Ignore the corny jokes, but enjoy the in-depth tours of legacy companies like SME, Rega, Audio Research, and others. Excellent record reviews and glimpses of his amazing reference system, too.
I find the Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac and Thomas and Stereo channels far too wordy. Again, show, don't tell. But they upload regularly and may be discussing gear that interests you. Check them out.
Stereophile has its considerable resources to rely on and outstanding writers (and charming personalities) like Herb Reichert and Art Dudley to contribute. Some of the audio show videos suggest the viewer use earphones for best sound. These videos are excellent as are the inside look at the reviewers' listening rooms.
New Record Day is the brainchild of Ron Brenay. Excellent production values and a charming, folksy approach make his videos very entertaining and informative. Ron reviews all types of equipment.
My personal favourite is a recent discovery, John Darko. Darko is an Australian transplant to Berlin where he now makes his living writing and listening to primarily digital audio. He's very knowledgable and has a very pleasant demeanour on screen. Good 'talent', as they say in the biz. I noticed his videos are edited by the extraordinary Jana Dagadan. Jana is tops in editing. And it shows in Darko's videos. Highly recommended.
So, looks like we have a winner, at least in my eyes. Your mileage may vary. But with John Darko, Stereophile and New Record Day, and with HiVy coming in right after, it's a good start. Combined, all the channels noted have, as of Sept 1, less than 100,000 subscribers, many of whom subscribe to more than one channel. As such, 300,000 to go. Lots of room out there for quality, well-produced audiophile content.
Let me know if you have a favourite channel or you have your own discovery in the Comments below. Thanks.