Riley: Great Audio Geek

audio geek riley from houston

Describe Your Current Gear

I am somewhat new to the HiFi world, so my setup is simple (for now): Focal Clear headphones driven by an Astell & Kern Kann player (purchased from Moon Audio, of course). Although not as sophisticated as many setups, it delivers consistent joy, in every room of my house, and I couldn't be happier. Grey on grey looks fantastic too.

Musical Moment

Ghost has an extraordinarily catchy song called "Square Hammer" and the first time I heard it live was pure, unadulterated magic. I was working in Houston at the time, and I had to sneak out of the office early so I could drive three hours to Corpus Christi to attend my first-ever Ghost concert. As the lights dimmed, and the band's pre-show organ music began to play, the anticipation in the crowd was almost palpable. After 15 excruciating minutes of waiting, the opening riff of "Square Hammer" tore through the darkness and kicked off the most impactful musical experience of my life. Standing there in the middle of the crowd, with everyone singing along passionately, I was in awe. I have listened to "Square Hammer" hundreds of times since, and it has never sounded as good as that night. I left that concert with a renewed belief in the magic and majesty of music. I went to that concert alone, by myself, but I left feeling part of a community. I suppose it is somewhat cheesy, but I remember thinking to myself "THIS is why people travel for music." The following morning, I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and drive more than three hours back to Houston for work. Even running on negligible sleep, I found myself as energized and excited as I've ever been that day; no coffee needed (okay, maybe just a little coffee).

Favorite Bands

1) Ghost: Although their image isn't universally appreciated, they make great music and have something for everyone. The fans are incredible and the live shows are uplifting, happy, and engaging like no other. The band is committed to not just producing sounds, but to fully exploring the narrative and theatrical elements of musical performance. This is the band that really got me into music. (2) Jesse Cook: In great contrast to the other two artists here, Jesse Cook introduced me to the magic of acoustic guitar at a time in my life when I was all about Metal and EDM. This was a major stepping stone on my path towards appreciation of more traditional audiophile genres. On a personal note, my grandmother (of all people) introduced me to Jesse Cook. I was initially skeptical but we eventually bonded over our shared appreciation. To this day, I think of her when I listen to "Double Dutch." (3) Savant: Savant produces "high effort" electronic music, which means you need to put in effort to enjoy it. At first, his unique style might seem grating or discordant, but if you listen critically and carefully, you may come to realize that the man is a genius. His music is complex and immensely rewarding, yet never takes itself too seriously. I don't listen to electronic music as much as I used to, but after many years, Savant remains near the top of my playlist.

Hi-Fi Intro

The city where I grew up had one HiFi shop of significance. I went there on a Tuesday afternoon to look for headphones, but the salesman was keen to show off some new two-channel equipment. He brought me into the room with Focal Sopra tower speakers and sat me down in the listening chair. He played a few snippets of songs that were somewhat impressive but totally unfamiliar to me. My interest piqued however, when he decided to play a song well-known to me called "Poison" by Astrix. Although far from a traditional audiophile selection, I was blow away by the clarity. It was crisp, controlled, and powerful. In my ignorance, I had assumed that "powerful bass" = "bloated bass" but the Sopras proved just how wrong I was. At the time, I couldn't decide whether I was more blown away by the sound or the MSRP. Nevertheless, the experience sparked something inside me that has led me to pursue higher quality sound ever since.

Audio Passion in One Sentence

Hearing high-end audio is like seeing color for the first time. It's the difference between looking at pictures of the Pyramids at Giza and actually being there. There truly is no way to do proper justice with mere words; it must be experienced firsthand. If you love music (of any kind), you will enjoy high-end audio.

Great Audio Geeks love discussing and sharing pictures of their high-end audio gear, favorite music, and all the latest innovations. For most great audio geeks, their taste in audio gear exceeds their budget. They are never satisfied. Hearing something new in a favorite recording thanks to a new DAC, headphone, or cable fuels their desire to learn, discover, and experience more great sound.

Great audio geeks live on the higher end of the audio gear spectrum, but they may have cheap earbuds too. Everything has a purpose and proper use.

Great Audio Geeks read Stereophile and Absolute Sound, and they probably have an account at so they can read, debate, and learn. Just as the thirst for new gear is never fully quenched, Great Audio Geeks can never know enough.

Music and gear change quickly. Audio geeks are committed to lifelong learning. Come learn with Moon Audio.

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