In this weekly series of articles you will discover what are the business insider’s favorite albums and tracks. We have contacted a broad selection of industry experts and each Wednesday you can discover one of those guy’s favorite albums and why this is so. Check out our previous “Favorite album of” articles here: https://headfonia.com/category/fav-album-of/
This week’s honor goes to Dr. John Moulton from Noble. Those of you who have been reading Headfonia of course know Noble as we have reviewed several of their units already.
Wizard Perfection: https://headfonia.com/picture-sunday-noble-k10-wizard-perfection/
Noble Savanna: https://headfonia.com/review-noble-savanna-special/
This week’s article is not just a short overview of Noble’s favorite bands, it is an insight into Dr. John Moulton’s work and life. He’s a very interesting guy and I ended up talking to him for about an hour on Skype.
Who am I:
I’m many things; a father, a student (always learning), and a fan of all things audio. Before I could even drive a car and I worked at Radio Shack in high-school installing car stereos at age 14. After obtaining my doctorate degree in audiology I practiced audiology for around 5-7 years and then eventually became a lecturer in audiology. I did just about everything in audiology and even worked as a surgical assistant for cochlear implants. My father is dual certified in Audiology and Speech Pathology, so I’ve been around the field of hearing science pretty much all my life. The part that fascinated me the most in audiology, which wasn’t really audiology per se, was manufacturing of hearing aids
Now I’m the President of Noble focusing primarily on product design and production. We have four different production facilities in four different countries, so we have to coordinate efforts.
Why “The Wizard”?
I think it was in 2008, I was posting pictures of CIEMs that I would build out of our hearing aid lab. (I worked for a hearing aid company in Thailand and had a lot of time on my hands). At the time a lot of my work involved hardwood that would be glued down on the CIEM and shaped into a faceplate. I would post photos of the finished work on Head-Fi and at one point a forum member came forward accusing me of working for a CIEM company and posting as I didn’t have a MOT status attached to my name on Head-Fi. Another member responded, “FullCircle (fullcircle is my Head Fi name) has been practicing his ‘wizardry’ for some time now.” I also built a 20 driver CIEM back then as well which further bolstered the moniker.
I just took “Wizard” and ran with it.
Usually the pieces that I connect with the most involved the use of natural materials, such as wood. I’m not a city boy, I grew up in the country. My grandfather loved working with wood as did my father so I have garnered an appreciation for fine woodwork. The man I was named after, John Thomas Tilby Rostron, was a sheep herder and as the sheep ate up in the mountains he would carve figures of horses and other animals out of wood. My mom is also kind of an artist as well, paintings, oils, charcoals etc etc. so I guess it could be said I was exposed by my upbringing for art and audio.
I enjoy taking things people would never expect to be used as art and turning them into art. I took some chopsticks, glued them together and made a faceplate. I have even used jeans and a dinner place mat. Back when I couldn’t find wood, I’d buy rose wood salad spoons and carve faceplates with those.
We used to do a lot of gold work and started that by trying to lay a piece of gold leaf across the faceplate. The gold leaf would always break up or form creases. It looked so bad I decided to quit fighting the gold leaf and mix it into acrylic resin. The gold leaf broke up, remained suspended in the resin, and that began the “gold nugget” in CIEMs that you see across the industry today. Fact is, I was the first to use wood in CIEMs designs, and the first to use gold leaf suspended in the shell as well. First to do a lot of things really and most of those designs have been copied but a few still remain exclusive to Noble as people haven’t figured out how to copy them (yet).
Well, I like U2 as they have some powerful songs and have set a positive example as to what people can do with considerable fame, fortune, and power. They have given tons to charity and I like to think that I would follow their example if I ever find myself in a situation with a lot to give. In the meantime, wife and I give to the community here where we live in Thailand.
Another band is Blue October, the stories told through his lyrics are from the heart. Unfortunately a lot of his songs are about drug abuse and the divorce of his wife. The drug thing I can’t relate to, but the divorce I can.
John Denver is another artist I admire. He was born in the US, moved to Canada as a young kid, and was given his grandmothers guitar at age 12. He learned to play guitar and wrote songs about life in America while not even living in America. He played his grandmother’s guitar throughout his career and was largely considered an outside. The country-western community initially didn’t want to accept him and he eventually experienced a lot of success.
Memories, released in ’75 (I was born in ’72).
It’s an album by Doc Watson that my dad exposed me to when I was probably 8 years old, I think it was a collection album. I had Brannan buy it for my parents last Christmas as really it’s pretty much the first musical experience that I can put my finger on. My dad had a “Fisher” amp, and a Toshiba record player, large cabinets, 12 inch subs and he would play Doc Watson.
Memories is the title of a studio album by American country music artist Doc Watson, released in 1975. It was originally released as a double-LP by United Artists Records. It peaked at No. 47 on Billboard Country Albums charts and No. 193 on the Pop Album charts.
With or Without You, U2 – People today are still trying to figure out the meaning behind it
Fear, Blue October – The song addresses confidence which isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I’m not a confident guy, wasn’t born that way, wasn’t built that way, so when I was trying to decide to go commercial I was scared and in some respects still am. It’s hard to build something, especially something that is judged subjectively, hoping it will be accepted.
There are a lot of armchair experts eager to critique and pleasing everyone is impossible. Right or wrong, it’s the way things are.
Usually I use a portable DAP instead of my phone. I probably reflect what goes on in Asia: keeping things simple as possible, as lifestyle demands it (small dwellings, multiple generations living under one roof). I don’t have a “listening” room or listening station.
I have a Cowon J3 of which I owned four and have given away three. It still works but I’ve gotten used to larger screens now. I alos have two Onkyo DPX’s and a Cowon Plenue (first Plenue). I got the Cowon Plenue, as it was the best at the time and because Cowon is fairly obscure compared to other brands. The Onkyo I acquired as growing up Onkyo was a brand I aspired to own.
IEM wise I use universals and don’t even own a set of CIEMs. Not all ears are CIEM candidates and not all ears are universal candidates. My ear canals feature some really sharp bends so universals suit me better. It’s a life style choice as well: I have kids and I have to be able to unplug from my gear quickly which is one of the reasons I build Wizard universals. Still hand built, still beautiful, and since this is a hobby for most there will be those that want beautiful universals as well.
If you want to check out the songs on Johns’ favorite album, you can do so here:
Youtube: Not available
Thank you John for being on the series and for giving us a little insight in what you like to listen to. If you have suggestions of who we should feature in this article series, let us know in the comments!
Up to next week…