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INTERVIEW | “The Editors” |28|


Position: EDITOR
Title: “Part-Time Audiophile”

Publication type: ONLINE PORTAL
Publishing frequency: IRREGULAR
Year of establishment: 2012


THE EDITORS is a cycle of interviews with audio magazine editors from all over the world – both those in charge of printed magazines, as well as online ones and portals. It started on January 1st 2012 and 27 interviews have been published so far – the one below is No. 28. Our aim is to familiarize our readers with the people who usually hide behind reviewed devices. It is the “WHO IS WHO?” of specialist audio press.

arranged to have an interview with Mr PANAGIOTIS KARAVITIS – Παναγιώτης Καραβίτης, the editor of the “PART-TIME AUDIOPHILE” portal who also cooperates with “THE OCCASIONAL MAGAZINE” quarterly, when we ran into each other at the backstage of the event in Munich. Panagiotis lives and works in Greece, and he is a doctor specializing in ophthalmological surgery, as well as a zealous music lover in his free time. Let me remind you that we already know the editors-in-chief of both abovementioned publications – Scot Hull ( and Mark Phillips (The Occasional Magazine).

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Tell us a few words about yourself and your passion, please.
PANAGIOTIS KARAVITIS: It all started when I was in elementary school. I usually listened to my grandfather’s records, but one day I was introduced to my uncle’s reel-to-reel tape recorder and that was IT. I knew from that moment on that such a thing as high fidelity exists. At the time, I was unaware of the consequences of that session, but I developed a quest for better sound quality, for faithful recordings and so on. A few years later I was hosting a radio show while listening to dozens of live concerts each year. The rest is easy to guess:)

The “Part Time Audiophile” team: Panagiotis Karavitis, Scott Hull and Marc Phillips

Do you have any other hobby?
I do have several hobbies, but not so much time. Working as a surgeon ophthalmologist doesn’t allow for many other things, but from time to time I get to work on my knife-making skills (I have created a small forge and hit the anvil whenever possible :) I also do photography, enjoy horology despite rarely wearing a watch and I try to stay as fit as possible, so swimming in the open sea is on my daily schedule.

When did you join PTA?
I joined “Part Time Audiophile” in 2013, if memory serves me well. After a few years we launched the “Audio Traveler” which is now absorbed into PTA and in the last two years we have been working on the “Occasional…” magazine. Somewhere down the line I wrote a couple of pieces for “Enjoy the Music” as well.

What is the market position of “Part Time Audiophile”?
“Part Time Audiophile” was launched by Scot Hull some ten years ago and it was more of a personal blog. After a few years of relative growth, it became obvious that he needed to bring in new writers in order to keep up with demand for more reviews and show coverage. I was among the first to sign up, many other followed suit. The site steadily ranks among the top positions in the US (data from Alexa) and it focuses on gear reviews and show coverage, just like it used to do since the original inception.

Not that long ago, we decided to launch a “magazine” styled effort, free of charge and downloadable in PDF format with exceptional image quality and subjects that go beyond typical audiophile banter. That is our idea of an innovative offer that one day we hope to have in a printed version as well. Personally speaking, I have no goal, this is a part-time hobby for most of the crew, despite taking the review and coverage part seriously. We are having fun because most of us still maintain their day time jobs. Scot is currently preaching in Chicago’s Unitarian church while I work as a surgeon ophthalmologist. Fun is our goal.

What kind of gear do you review most often?
Moving coil cartridges are probably my favorite pieces of audio gear. I also cannot turn down a good phono stage. Speakers, amplifiers and DACs are in the menu as well, along with headphones but with no in-ear monitors. In-ears don’t fit me, so those are a no-no.

Do you think that the “vinyl bubble” is a lasting trend?
It is a bubble and I do hope it bursts. Record prices will go down for us, true vinyl lovers, while the quality of pressings will rise again. At some point in the not-so-distant future, records produced between 2015 and 2020 will be considered as the worst quality records ever made. There are some bright exceptions, but what several labels are now offering is cheap re-editions usually made out of digital masters.

There is of course a need for people to own something physical and this kind of magic vanished into thin air with streaming. So, some people, probably many, will continue buying physical formats and vinyl is the king in this regard. As for the sound quality, an original Decca FFSS is still the best sound money can buy, not considering R2R tapes which are extremely fragile and have a limited repertoire.

What kind of audio articles do you read in other magazines?
I use coverage articles as a calibration file. I read what other reviewers wrote about a room that I also covered during the same show and I immediately know if they know what they write about, if they spotted the same things I did and if they are reliable. I used to read the measurements John Atkinson used to do on “Stereophile” and I love interviews, a window to the mind and heart of a designer.

Our interlocutor’s audio system

Which element of an audio system do you find to be the most important one and why?
The most important part, or the two most important parts, if I may, are the music and the listener. These are the extremes of this chain with audio gear sitting in between. I pay particular attention to the source – being early in the chain, it must insert as little distortion and coloration as possible. Speakers are obviously crucial, they usually tend to have the highest distortion of all other system components and impact the sound more than anything else. Tell me your speakers and I’ll probably guess half the system and your musical taste :)

How about the source? An analogue or a digital one? If the latter – do you prefer streaming, CD or perhaps SACD?
Mostly and up to a few years ago, I have been an almost completely analog guy. I have a few thousand LPs and that is what I consider as my main investment. Gear comes and goes, and it’s the records that stay and say who you are. It took me a few years to find a properly well-sounding digital front end. I have a few DACs, but I usually listen to my favorite one as it is the less fatiguing for long term sessions.

I prefer true high res tracks and have a NAS with some 6TB of selected files, but I have stopped listening to CDs since early 2010. Streaming became an option when Qobuz started offering high resolution files. I think it is pointless to build up a gorgeous system only to listen to compressed files. As for SACD, it makes little sense as most of those recordings start as PCM and then get converted into DSD. If we had true native DSD files, it would have been a different story, but those are very few and more often than not from relatively unknown artists, unknown to me at least.

Garrard 401

What is your opinion on the amp/loudspeakers combination – low power/high sensitivity, or vice versa?
In high-end audio, you can find quality amplification and quantity amplification, while the problem is having both at the same time. I use solid state amplification most of the time, I enjoy the sound of MOS-FETs in particular, but I also have several hand-built triode amplifiers and phono stages which make up for my secondary system. Obviously, matching the speakers to the correct type of amplification is a must.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of online audio magazines?
Their strengths include immediacy and the possibility of posting several high resolution photos. Commentary is also of high importance, I enjoy the two-way communication more than old-fashioned printed magazines.

What are the advantages of printed magazines?
Paper, in the first place. Holding a magazine in your hands, keeping it in your archive and shuffling the pages again after a few years, re-reading articles. In some ways, a printed magazine is the best way for preserving memories.

What audio magazines do you read?
I am more of a “Stereophile” guy than an “Absolute Sound” guy, but things are running fast and many of the old guard writers are stepping out, so I am less keen on reading lately. There are too many class-A components and the “refresh” rate is too high. Generally speaking, too many awards are given, there are too many “this is the best” or “highly recommended” products for my taste, so I ended up reading less and less.

The Kuzma 4point on the Garrard 401

Do you believe that active speakers are the future of audio?
Headphones and car stereo will become the main course in audio. Actually, headphones and car stereo are the main course and main source of revenue, especially now that autonomous driving is almost a reality. Infotainment will be the next big thing for decades to come, reason why everyone is pointing in that direction.

Tell us about your audio system, please.
My main system is designed around my passion for classical music. In order to properly listen to a big-scale orchestra, one needs huge amounts of headroom, excellent imaging and natural timbre. Colorations and distortion must be as low as possible. Full range speakers are also a must.

I’ve been using ATC monitors for years now, they are quite faithful and amazingly transparent. The 100s that I own have one of the best, if not the best midrange driver on the market paired to a 12" massive woofer. I drive them with the ASR Emitter and the pairing is fantastic. I also use ASR's Basis phono stage along with a tube design by Lab12 named Melto II.

As for my analog rig, it consists of the humongous Garrard 401 with a custom-built linear motor controller, an aftermarket bearing and a birch plywood plinth sitting on top of a 60 kg piece of limestone rock. My two favorite tonearms are the Kuzma 4point and the SME V-12. I swap cartridges often, but a ZYX and a Denon are always on the menu.

My digital front end consists of a Synology NAS, a Linux streamer built on the Odroid C2 (with the efficient Amlogic S905 processor: quad-core 64-bit ARM-8 Cortex-A53 1.5 GHz) with Archphile headless OS and a few DACs. My favorite is the first gen Rockna Audio Wavedream, the one that was using the MSB modules. I also use the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ and the Chord Mojo, both excellent value-for-money products. In the entire system, there is not a single switching mode power supply, everything (even in the router) is low-noise linear.

Panagiotis Karavitis’s listening room

As every reviewer that respects himself, I also have some exotic cables. Despite using studio grade ones in the past, I have found a few brands that give me that extra bit of tuning, namely Signal Projects for their power cords and power distributors, Black Cat interconnects (the Indigo is, simply put, the best IC I have laid my ears upon), Nordost ethernet cables and Das Klang USB.

Last but not least, I have a headphone system that is to die for. I am fortunate to own a pair of the Abyss AB1266 first gen and a pair of the Hifiman Susvara which I drive with the Trafomatic’s Primavera headphone amplifier. I use aftermarket cables by Double Helix and, again, Signal Projects.

Tell us about 10 albums that “High Fidelity” readers should buy right now and why.
Oh well, you really don’t want this kind of advice from me. I listen to classical music most of the time and I do my buying in the form of digging through crates of old LPs, many of which come from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. A newly printed/ recorded gem comes out every now and then, I could mention Justin Hurwitz’s La La Land score, Ludovico Einaudi’s In A Time Lapse and pretty much anything from the Daft Punk who have been publishing one amazing recording after the other.

From my typical repertoire, I would suggest Maurizio Pollini’s Well Tempered Clavier and Theodore Currentzis’ take on Mozart’s Requiem, this being one of the most impressive recordings of late and one of the most innovative ones at the same time. Ivan Fischer is doing an amazing job with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, I would suggest listening to Mahler’s Resurrection symphony.

Thank you and see you!
See you!

“THE EDITORS” series: