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Meet Robert Pincus - Mr. Record

01-01-2023 | By Robert Pincus | Issue 125

Robert Pincus joins PF as a writer of music and other topics of interest.

Telling a story about myself is always a challenge, so I will start by telling you my name. My name is Robert Pincus, but some people call me Mr. Record. Some of you may know me from my ten-year tenure at Cisco Music. If you attended CES you may have visited our booth, and maybe I sold you some records, or maybe you and I talked about phono cartridges. Or, maybe, we never met, and it’s through this website that our meeting will be facilitated. 

I was born in 1959, and my dad, who was a DIY audiophile in the 50s, introduced me to the joys of home music reproduction in the early 70s. Although my dad didn’t assemble a two channel stereo system until 1973, he taught me many valuable hifi lessons, such as avoiding 45 singles because they sound bad, AM radio is low fidelity, and how much better drums sound when you crank up the volume. He also taught me to love the violin.

In 1971, when my parents divorced, my mom, my brother Dan, and I moved into an apartment. One of the perks of the upheaval was the new stereo system that my dad put together for our new residence. It consisted of a Garrard changer, a pair of 12" Jensen coaxial speakers, and at the heart of the system was a Fisher X101 integrated amp. At the time, I didn't know that the amplifier was only 15 watts per channel, and yet the system had no problem rocking my teenage brain, and hooking me, for the rest of my life, on stereo gear. Although my brother has never taken an interest in any of my audio systems or my record collection, my mom did use the stereo, albeit occasionally, to play Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, and Peter, Paul and Mary, which explains why I have so many damn folk records!

Ten years of working for Cisco Music brought me into contact with a lot of interesting people, some of whom are now my friends. I also met a number of hard-core gearheads, people who got into and out of, and sometimes back into high end equipment, and when they got rid of their equipment, they also got rid of their records. Back then, I could not understand how anybody could do that, but, despite the fact that I find this kind of behavior disturbing, I now have a clearer understanding of where they were coming from. That’s not where I’m coming from. I've also never been a gearhead, and that’s probably because I couldn't afford the habit, although I bought, sold, and auditioned a number of 70s-era receivers in the 90s. However, what I did get completely hooked on was vinyl. I love love love records, and from 1986 to 2020 I killed a lot of brake pads going to garage sales and rummage sales. I’ve also knocked on  doors in older well-to-do neighborhoods, asking complete strangers if I could see their records. I could even spot a potential LP conquest by the way they dressed. It was insane, but my fanaticism paid off, because, 4000 LPs later, I have an absolutely incredible LP collection. 

I’ve never been a tweaker, but with the recent loss of my close friend Frank Pernice and the inheritance of his fabulous Audio Research power amp and Legacy speakers, I’ve been forced into the crazy world of power cords, aftermarket feet, and interconnect swapping. It’s not like I didn’t experiment with these things before, but my old system never needed so much attention to make it sound correct. Right now, I feel like I’m finally close to where my current system needs to be, but I’m afraid that Frank's gear may have been laced with the dreaded tweak bug.

I am thrilled to be a part of the Positive Feedback family. It’s my hope that PF readers will find pleasure in reading about my eclectic vinyl collection. I’ve grown tired of always being on the receiving end of high-end journalism. I want to be on the other side. Thanks to a combination of parts from my old system and the best parts of Frank’s system, I now have one hell of a great system. Frank gave me 37 years of friendship, and I need to give something back. This is how I’ve chosen to do it.