Some of you may know that I health walk most mornings. I am always listening to something during these walks, which average 2-3 miles a day. Often, I’m listening to music. (Did you know that I was formerly a professional musician?) But I also listen to several different podcasts, and today I want to share with you one that I enjoy and I think you will too. That podcast is Audio Unleashed.
See why I like Audio Unleashed…
Audio Unleashed features the powerhouse duo host team of Dennis Burger and Brent Butterworth – two renowned audio reviewers as well as respected editors and freelance writers. Both of these guys have been, and continue to be, prolific contributors to a veritable plethora of well-known media properties in the audio/video, automation, and music industries.
Dennis Burger is currently Senior Editor at Soundstage!, a contributor to Cineluxe, and a contributor to The Wirecutter (the New York Times review site). Brent Butterworth is a Senior Staff Writer at The Wirecutter.
Wide-Ranging Smart Discussions
Audio Unleashed offers an interesting, intelligent, wide-ranging discussion between two smart guys on an incredibly expansive range of topics…all centered around the world of audio. Here is the official show description:
This is Audio Unleashed: the world’s only totally unfiltered, freewheeling, fearless discussion about the latest events in the world of audio, featuring veteran audio reviewers Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger. With decades of experience, a modest grasp of science and logic, and a marginal degree of financial security, they can tell the good from the bad, and the proven from the preposterous — and they’re not afraid to tell you what’s what.
AI and Jazz
Each host has a distinct personality – one leans geek and the other leans musician – but they are both geeky musicians. It is not uncommon for them to tell funny self-deprecating stories, and it is not uncommon for them to poke fun at each other. Like I said, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
A freshly baked episode of Audio Unleashed is published approximately once every other week. What makes the show work is the obvious mutual respect the hosts hold for each other…along with the quick and witty back-and-forth between two venerable writers that helps to make sometimes deeply technical topics easier to absorb.
Methods That Can Be Extreme
Audio Unleashed is at its best when the two reviewers share the process they pursue when reviewing different types of products. Sometimes, in order to chase ultimate accuracy, it is necessary to employ test methods that can be extreme. As each of them reviews a wide range of products from $500 ukeleles (in Brent’s case) to $50,000 300-pound reference tower speakers, there is no shortage of topics…or opinions.
Take this week’s episode for example, titled (“Tay Tay and the Prince of Darkness“). There are three stories in this hour-long episode: #1) We learn of an internet rumor that in one of mega-star Taylor Swift’s recent albums (a re-recorded version of her previous “1989” album) there is a high-pitched hum or buzz whenever Taylor sings. What?!?! The team chases down whether the noise exists and suggests possible causes. Then, #2) Brent talks about devising a system to properly and accurately measure a microphone for a review – and reveals a YouTube channel of a guy who pursues a homegrown scientific approach to testing his own music gear (such as what is it that makes a microphone sound the way it does) in an incredibly entertaining way. And finally, 3) Dennis and Brent reveal a new earbud model from JLAB that is the first commercial model to be voiced in accordance with the Knowles Preferred Listening Response Curve…something, I must admit, I have never heard of before.
Methods, Products, Music, and More
But the show isn’t just about reviews. Audio Unleashed also covers the audio news of the day, breaks down the relevant audio show product launches, talks about music, and much more.
You get a real blend of information from the geeky measurement methods they employ which changes dramatically depending on the type of product they are reviewing…to the need for the reviewer to employ his ears for a well-rounded review. I have learned a lot about what reviewing is all about and how they go about their business.
Elements I like about Audio Unleashed:
- FEARLESS – These guys are fearless – they share honest opinions and aren’t afraid to poke holes in industry conventions. For example, they tell us that more expensive doesn’t always mean better sounding. Some product philosophies are just dumb, and they’ll name them. Some products are snake oil and some executives are shady. Brent and Dennis aren’t afraid to name names and call out lousy reviewers. I really respect that.
- EDUCATIONAL – I learn a lot from Dennis and Brent and appreciate the time and energy they put into this podcast.
- PULL BACK THE CURTAIN – Dennis tells the story about a time he was asked to review a product and the magazine publisher made it clear it needed to be a really good review. So Burger puts his all into it, spending more time and taking great care to thoroughly test and retest parameters, spending extensive time in listening tests, rechecking all his data, and fully explaining his results and observations in the review of the product. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very good product and the review revealed that. The publisher was not happy as he was angling to have that company become an advertiser. This is something that we all suspect exists in the industry, but Dennis pulled back the curtain of an industry reality and revealed it. That is something that only happened once in his career. The review stood as written.
- PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION – The podcast is professionally produced and the guys do a good job of keeping the discussion moving and the episode interesting. The audio quality is good…as you would expect. And most of the music is original music from accomplished musician Brent Butterworth.
- PULL NO PUNCHES – When they learn of someone giving out bad advice, these guys pull no punches. They cannot abide by bad reviewers or those who sell snake oil…and they pull no punches.