A U D I O... P A P E R


ARE WE ALL CRAZY?

by Steve Deckert
Oct. 1997


Living in the smack middle of the USA surrounded by corn in a society where audio is whatever they tell you it is, and high end audio is an incomprehensible psychedelic concept too ridiculous to be taken seriously... an audiophile could feel a little lost.   Around here, high end shops sell mid fi - that to the encompassing miss informed local mass, appears to be hi fi. 

I guess keeping this in perspective, I would think that possibly say what... 95% of this entire country fall into the same category of perceived audio nirvanaphobia, where an appreciation for the emotional / spiritual intercourse with music does not exist. 

I would argue that this is not the fault of the individual, but the fault of our society, somewhat aggravated by marketing.  I can support this with the observation that the majority of "common" people who I've exposed to the experience of musical euphoria left with a clear understanding.   

I don't think it's popular in this society to spend money and time creating a spiritual transducer that really works.  If it did really work, it would probably be ugly or at least considered on the fringe of abnormal.  I wonder why it is when a man dedicates a room of his home to become his sanctuary and spends thousands of dollars on gear to make it all happen, he is considered so odd.. Foolish even perhaps?  I don't know about you, but I can answer that question in 500 pages or less. 

Don't worry, these primarily men are basically harmless. In fact we have categorized this strange behavior with a special word that the effected parties are tricked into telling everyone who will listen.. That they are in fact an (the word is) "audiophile".

In this intensely market driven country, it seems the audiophile community has been contaminated with performance.  I would like to know exactly when and who it was that decided performance was the criteria for judging audio.  We should all go to Japan and wake up.  Everyone in Japan knows that the superior cone material for GOOD SOUND is paper pulp.  In Japan, it is common to find the arguments over magnet materials and the best sounding pulp fibers being some of the dominate issues.

Over here we're so concerned about about being serviced by everything that we lack the ability to comprehend what it is like to commune with our high end gear.  Part of the reason for this is the simple fact that most of the stuff I've listened to in this country sounds bad enough to stand little chance if none to invoke any sort of spiritual response from the listener.  Trust me, high technology and injection molded graphite and kevlar cones are not going to do it.

In fact lets think about it for a minute...  small speakers, convenient little boxes, big amplifiers, high tech cones and speakers to handle the added stress of a culture that thinks driving a boat 70 mph around the lake is easier than crossing the bridge to the other side.   

Let suppose you have a small box speaker 87 dB at 1 watt, probably the standard in this country.  You want one that will handle as much power as possible so you can play it as loud as possible with God forbid, no distortion.  This leads to overly complex multiple driver arrays, subwoofers and has set the stage for a marketing feeding frenzy that most audiophiles have fell for hook line and sinker.  Wouldn't it have been just a lot simpler to listen to a larger speaker that was efficient so that just a few watts was too loud?  Wouldn't it be a lot better for your amplifier to driver something that didn't make it see red all the time?  Only large speakers can deliver this.  You see, in real life, sound waves cannot be scaled to fit your life.  Low bass waves are 80 feet apart and expand like waves in a pond when a pebble is dropped.  To reproduce life like sound, you need a large speaker, preferably with only one driver in it.

To accomplish this means commitment and desire.  The desire to make communion with music a priority in your life, to involve your mate and friends in it and then the commitment to  do it.  Since in this culture we, men, typically don't involve our mates in our audio quest for truth, it's no wonder they won't tolerate large speakers in their face.  Oh I know, we've tried, but they're just not interested, or impressed.  What you don't realize is that they, uncontaminated by the hundreds of hours reading about audio, can still hear objectively.  What they hear is a usually dry, grainy,overly bright two dimensional sound that makes it impossible for them to take you seriously.

Go to Japan, or some of the enlightened ones in this country and have a listen to single ended triode amplifiers on masterfully built sexy looking horn speakers and you will see where I'm coming from.  Don't be surprised if the softest rug in the house is on the floor in front of those speakers because the kind of listening done there often involves a mate and often leads to much more than just listening.

It would be so nice in this country to see audio lifted from the materialistic wannabe plague that it is, to an experience that promotes a more spiritual mind set .  If only people could realize how to do it, or more importantly why to do it.  We'd have to watch less TV.  We'd have to spend more money on our stereo instead of things that pollute the earth.  

 

 

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