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Position: Editor in Chief (Šéfredaktor)
Type of magazine: WEBZINE


t was inevitable, like taxes and falling in love - Daniel Březina, who organized the Audio Video Show Praha 2017, had to become part of "The Editors Series", in which we present selected audio magazines editors from all over the world. It's quite symptomatic that I visited this show only for the first time this year, despite the fact that Czechs are our closest - culturally and geographically - neighbors and yet it is the first time for me interviewing an editor from this country. This is an obvious negligence, but maybe in this way I can, at least partially, make up for it.

As I mentioned, Daniel is the organizer of the exhibition in Prague but also the editor-in-chief of the largest Czech (and Slovak) audio magazine, the The difference between a web-zine and an online magazine is not clear, but one may define a 'magazine' as a portal where materials are posted cyclically. Using this definition the is - as it turns out - a web-zine, despite the fact that Daniel calls it a magazine.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Tell me about your carrier.
DANIEL BŘEZINA: Well, there´s not much to tell – I grew up as a child of an author and later the editor of the most important audio / video magazines in Czech republic in 90s, so you can probably say I got audio in my blood since 1985 I was born. I really like music, movies and books and I´m a bit shy – perfect combination to become and audiophile.

How did you become an editor-in-chief?
I actually worked few years as a web-designer and started a small project for one of my audiophile friends, a small website about hi-fi, some kind of personal blog we can say. That way in 2008. As you can tell from my background, I had some basic hi-fi at home, but purely as a fan of music, I didn't want to get any deeper. But when putting my friend´s articles at his website, I found myself interested more and more in the exploring of a hi-fi sound and world. And since he got bored with the reviews in like 3 months, from the beginning of 2009 I started to take over the website and got more and more involved. In about two years this after-hours project turned a part time job and in another year or two I found myself doing it full time. And here I am now, ten years later, with the biggest audio/video magazine in Czech and Slovak republic. One thing that motivated me in the beginning was also a nonexistence of serious reviews in Czech or Slovak language, it all was too mainstream or even plain advertisement. I just wanted something different...

What kind of publication is it – a monthly or weekly released, or do you use some other release schedule?
As the magazine is online, I actually don't have „issues", like I would publish every second week or every month. I just do it whenever I have something to say. But I try to do my best to publish at least one industry news every other day and one to two reviews a week. So in the end the website just is updated almost every day – and I feel that´s what people want today.

How many readers do you have?
It depends very much on the weather outside – during winter with its short days when people stay inside it's up to 55 000 readers / month, during the summer it's usually half of that.

How do you choose products for tests?
Well, I'm basically opened to anyone interested in being reviewed. I got few regular partners who are guaranteed a one review from their portfolio every month, but the rest is plainly a question of free time – when I have some, I'm glad to review anything anytime. The product has to be in production form (so no DIY) and should be available for purchase in Czech republic (or at least available to be shipped to).

How are Czech and Slovak audio markets different from others?
Well, both of the markets are small, but the Slovak one is even way smaller, dominated by few brands distributed by big and stable companies; in Czech republic there are small studios, small distributors and so on, that Slovak market lacks. We have about a hundred (!) distributors and dealers with couple hundreds brands (so almost as many brands as consumers you might say ), our dear neighbors have something like ten to fifteen places where to buy hi-fi. That´s the main difference. The taste and the passion for sound seem to be almost the same.

Are there any other important audio magazines in Czech Republic and in Slovakia?
There´s pretty much a very small amount of magazines – as far as I know, my Hi-Fi Voice is most read (as it's online and free), there´s also the „Stereo&Video” which has existed for almost 30 years and is the only printed one around and beside those two there´s also the Slovak „HIGH&Style”, a very nice printed magazine, but small and published only every three months. The rest people probably take from Stereophile, 6moons, Mono&Stereo and of course especially people in Moravia read your magazine as many of them speak Polish.

What are the pros and cons of printed and web-based magazines?
The advantage of web is definitely the ability to publish fast, continuously and whatever is needed (like many photos, videos, long texts,....), for publisher it's great that it can be one man show with quite low monthly costs.  The advantage of print I see is that you have something in your hands, nice paper and large scale just feel good. The disadvantage of print is the enormous cost, the fact it does not have to be available everywhere and so on. The weakness of web based magazine is definitely the fact – I think – the readers take it a little less seriously in general because it seems just like some personal blog. But that should change in some time, as new generation will grow up used to web-based reading.

Is the technology related to playing music from audio files already good enough to treat it seriously?
What a question. I think the best ones are good enough (just look at EMM Labs D/A converter with USB and similar level of equipment from Total DAC to MSB, all great), but I feel there still is a way to go. But the ultimate comfort and easiness of use are a great thing even today. But I believe it´s most important to balance the whole system with the media player – and that´s harder to do than with the turntable or CD player.

Is there still a future for Compact Disc? What about vinyl records?
For sure. Tubes have future as well. Maybe not as a main thing, but those still have their moments. I think not until the current CD collections will turn to ash (it´s said to be 100 years, isn't it?), people will use them. There´s not everything available online and not everything sounds as nice streamed as from a CD; actually I think especially in the mid-class systems the CD´s still work better. And the vinyl? Well, it just brings you a very different kind of experience, that won´t let you get out of it – you have to be fully focused and every few minutes flip the vinyl, so it will not turn into background playing like it may happen with CD or especially with streaming. It´s the best to have all the options – like sometimes you´re in the mood for silky red wine, sometimes you need whisky and sometimes you want a great home made lemonade, don´t you? So why shouldn't you switch the audio sources as well...

Are audio components too expensive?
The best audio today is extremely expensive, yes. I´d call it overprices, yes. But you have to have in mind that it´s not just audio – look at the cars or basically any other „toys", everything is getting way more expensive. The problem in audio is the fact there´s not much to change and high end companies are pursuing the very last limitations (like in speakers or even in transistors and so on...), which costs time (and therefor money). I like to say that if quality is a linear curve, the price related to it is at least exponential. Every small increase in sound quality costs enormous amount of money.

Do you have any suggestions for people only getting into audio?
The basic advice I can get is to find what you like and right after that think 1) about your budget, 2) about the room size (I think most people tend to have too big speakers in their room), 3) about the limits of what you like to listen (metalhead shouldn't probably have too bright and analytical system due to the usual quality of the recordings and so on) and 4) go out and listen before purchase. If you hear „life" inside the sound and you just almost sing with the music, that´s where you should go. And I have an experience that if you stick to one brand, it usually does the trick if you are not ready to „tune" the sound or if the company does not offer complete setups. And you definitely should start spending your time and money at the beginning – the power, the audio source, the amplifier and after that the speakers; what you lose at the beginning will never come back, despite the fact the speakers change the sound character the most, it's the beginning of the chain that makes the real difference.

Name 10 albums you'd like to recommend to „High Fidelity” Readers.
10 albums to buy right now – I omit those that everyone has already like Pink Floyd and so on ;)

1. Patti Smith – Twelve, because that´s how life and sparkle should be preserved in every single album, it´s just pure passion and love for music itself

2. Oskar Rózsa – Under My Spell, because it's a great combination of electronic sound and classical music with awesome voice

3. Almost any release by Denon „One Point Recordings" from the 90s, because that´s how classical music should probably be recorded; you have two ears, so they use two microphones and you feel like you're in the hall with musicians and it doesn't matter the resolution is not that obvious as in modern recordings with dozens microphones

4. Aneta Langerová – Na Radosti, because of how intimate it's recorded and how you can feel the life again/p>

5. The Modern Jazz Quartet – Concorde, because it shows how even simple classical jazz can sound great and give you the right feeling about the presence of instruments

6. Mark Isham – Blue Sun, because that´s how modern „chamber" jazz should sound like, those guys just play because they want to and they know how to

7. Lindsey Buckingham – Live at the Bass Performance Hall, because despite it's almost one-man-live-show, it has so much raw energy it's almost unbelievable

8. Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny – Beyond the Missouri Sky, because of how impressive and warm the Haden's double bass sounds, I love the signature of his instrument

9. Mike Oldfield – Amarok, because it can be boring at some systems, aggressive on some others, but if you have really good setup, it will drag you into dozens of layers with unlimited amount of ideas in every second

10. Soundtrack from Pirates of the Carribean, just because of it's pure dynamic and juiciness of the sound

Describe your own system please.
I actually have three different main systems I use, so it's a little bit complicated. None of it is pure top high-end (simply because of money), but I think all three setups are just easy to listen to.

1. My main system is OPPO BDP-105D (about to be updated to UDP-205) / Naim Nait XS with Naim FlatCap XS (for heights) and NAP 250 (for bass as I prefer bi-amp) / Harbeth Monitor 30; that is a typical British, musical, warm and decent sound you can listen to hours and hours and hours without any troubles.

2. My near-field setup at the office table is Pioneer BDP-LX71 with ASUS Xonar Essence One MUSES MKII DAC (that allows me to use USB from nearby computer), the Norma Revo IPA-70B powers Xavian Premio monitors and when sometimes I feel those are too big and powerful for near-field, I switch to Xavian Perla for more intimate listening.

3. And when I need to relax, there´s a simple setup with excellent budget transport Cambridge CXC with decent Cambridge CXA80 amplifier and Fischer&Fischer SN70, really excellent compact speakers made of very heavy slate.

I also use VPI Scout with Jelco SA-250 arm and HANA EH cartridge in my main system, all together with recently addend phenomenal Grandinote Celio phono. And of course I use some IsoTek filters and different cables from pretty low cost to expensive ZenSati as I feel those also make a great difference and you have to choose it as a final spice for each setup.


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