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Harry Pearson 1937 – 2014

Harry Pearson Tribute

I am sad to read that the founding editor of The Abso!ute Sound magazine, Harry Pearson, has passed away at age 77. In his revolutionary journal-cum-magazine, ‘HP’ quite literally ‘wrote the book’ on how the experience of owning and listening to the best high fidelity equipment should be reported – a tradition that continues amongst the best audio critics to this day.
For me, HP’s writing in the 1980s was the first to describe the experience of listening to these pieces of good quality hi-fi so articulately that I actually felt as if I, myself, had also heard the products that he was describing. In benchmarking unamplified live music – or “the absolute sound” – HP would base his reviews on how the sound of his famous reference system, resulting from the component in question, brought him closer (or farther away, as was sometimes the case) to a credible three-dimensional performance; occurring vicariously right before my listening chair. A hi-fi component’s ability to conjure music and the musicians’ performance became, quite rightly, the benchmarks against which product performance would be judged rather than ‘bass’, ‘midrange’ and ‘treble’. New phrases frequently adapted words like sound-staging, transparency, liquidity, and ideas like yin and yang, and musical notations like ppps and fffs into a connoisseurs’ language to describe the auditory experience.
I can never, after all these years reading The Abso!ute Sound and similar texts, separate the experience that I expect from listening to good hi-fi from what Harry Pearson has led me to expect… a lifetime of entertainment. Thank you for everything HP. You will be missed.
Ken Bennett

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