Einblicke – Hifistatement in High Fidelity

10.09.2013 // Wojciech Pacuła
Der Beginn unsere Kooperation mit dem polnischen online-Magazin High Fidelity war ein Interview, das dessen Chefredakteur Wojciech Pacula mit mir führte und in Polnisch und kürzlich auch in Englisch veröffentlichte. Da sich eine Reihe von Gedanken zu unseren Magazin darin finde, die wir an dieser Stelle nie äußerten, sollten wir es Ihnen nicht vorenthalten, meinte Kollege Helmut Baumgartner. Er kann manchmal sehr überzeugend sein.
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Some of our actions don’t seem to bring immediate results, no matter how hard we try. Even if we bend over backwards, nothing comes out of it. In such situations it’s worth remembering the ripple effect principle – a stone thrown into water produces concentric ripples that spread out in all directions. If it hits other ripples, they get amplified and grow bigger. Apparently, something like that happened to me and to Dirk Sommer. He was born in 1957 in Dortmund, a German city that's well know because of its football team Borussia Dortmund with three Polish football players. He studied electronics for one year and switched to German and Latin language. He graduated in 1988 as a high school teacher and taught German language to adults for some years before he began further studies to become a technical author. After finishing it he was offered two jobs: one as lecturer for technical documentation in the northern part of Germany and one as an author for a high-end magazine in Bavaria. And although he preferred the sea to the mountains, he decided to turn his hobby and passion into his daily job and started working as an editor for the German magazine “HiFi Exklusiv”, which, at the end of 1994 was transformed into the leading German high-end magazine of that time, „image hifi”. Following the launch of issue 01/99 he became its chief editor.

We are cutting the originals session tapes to assemble the master tape. So we can avoid a tape copy which lowers the signal to noise ratio – like any copy in the analog world
We are cutting the originals session tapes to assemble the master tape. So we can avoid a tape copy which lowers the signal to noise ratio – like any copy in the analog world

And this is how I met him during, as far as I remember, the first or second Munich High End show, fresh after it moved over from the Kempinski Hotel in Frankfurt. Dirk caught my interest straight away when I saw his magazine and heard the vinyl records he produced. He was already a recognized sound engineer and producer of technically refined and perfectly realized LP records. The magazine of which he was the chief editor could have been described in a similar manner: stylistically refined, superbly edited and intrinsically coherent. It was then one of the best looking magazines in the world. And although much has changed since and Dirk has nothing to do with it anymore (except for past memories, experience and some friends he made during those years), his former magazine can be still regarded as the symbol of elegance. Something evidently had to go wrong in that perfect machinery, as was once hinted at by Cai Brockmann, another refugee and now a chief editor of the printed magazine “Fidelity” (see HERE). Dirk left in 2009 and started his own web magazine “HiFiStatement”. That’s how we met again, in a wholly new situation. I asked him about what’s changed since then and what happened to “image hifi”, and about his work as a music producer soon before we decided about our collaboration – the exchange of published materials, meetings, etc. This is really a new beginning and we have some pretty interesting ideas that have been brewing in our minds.

Charlie Mariano and Dieter Ilg perfoming in the chapel of the Castle Solitude in Stuttgart. Birgit Hammer-Sommer and Dirk Sommer of sommelier du son (in the background) are recording the session
Charlie Mariano and Dieter Ilg perfoming in the chapel of the Castle Solitude in Stuttgart. Birgit Hammer-Sommer and Dirk Sommer of sommelier du son (in the background) are recording the session

Wojciech Pacuła: We’ve met a few years ago when you were the editor of “Image Hifi” magazine and it was in full swing. What happened?
Dirk Sommer: In 2009, the publishers wanted to change the focus of Image HiFi: The products reviewed should be more affordable and there should be more computer hi-fi. I don't have anything against computer hi-fi, as you will notice when you take a look at “hifistatement.net”, my new online magazine. But I was convinced that the quite conservative subscribers, readers and advertisers of Image HiFi won't follow the new direction. So I refused to make the change and left the magazine. By looking at one of the actual issues everybody can decide for themselves how much Image HiFi succeeded in paying more attention to affordable gear and computer hi-fi.