Sunday, May 6, 2012

Distance makes the heart grow fonder

In my last post, I talked about vacations and that was because I was off to visit family and friends. Now a mere 3 weeks later, I'm rejuvenated and wanted to pass on some acoustic observations.

First, my rig was unplugged for the whole time gathering dust. And the whole time I was forced to listen to the full-range 6x9 stock speakers in our car. At first, it was much like listening to fingernails on a chalk board but when no other tunes were available, my acoustic memory faded and I actually began listening to them.

I'm not making any excuses for how abysmal they sound (they are indeed missing the boat), but when one has no other source of sound, you make do. Twiddling the EQ parameters proved to be only marginally satisfactory since for some reason Dodge has put its acoustic budget into making deep pass from a driver that should only go to 80Hz or so. As a result, one gets what I call the "boom chink effect" where the midrange has gone bye bye. Now if the top octave were still there, it would have been called boom chink but since it was pretty much gone, it was more just boom.

I digress...tweaking the system's EQ did tame the beast but the point was that as time went on, the sound became less and less objectionable. Finally after 3 weeks and 3,100 miles, it did not even annoy me. This fact is what I found interesting.

FAMILIARITY is what we all judge our systems on; when we go to another, we hear what is different about it with respect to the one we now have.  Audiophiles are like CSI agents who scrutinize all details to find the truth, here audio nirvana. But when one focuses on just one system, good or bad, one's mind begins its own EQ tweaking and adjusts for the quality or lack thereof.

Yes, the longer you are away from a good system, the more your ears adjust and make what you have sound better.  Somehow, your brain remembers what you heard in the good system and applies filters to extract that from the bad system, but it takes time - literally weeks.

THEN - and here is the big reveal - THEN, when you finally return to your reference system and listen to it, you hear what your mind has done and it too sounds weird. When I cranked up the gear, after waiting the appropriate burn-in time for the tubes, the system sounded strange - great but not how I remembered it.

Slowly, my sonic discernment awoke from its long sleep and I turned my old set of acoustic filters back on and heard everything. I'm sure that the loud relaxing exhale I made near Tampa could be heard in Cleveland.

But the fact that I actually started to enjoy the crappy car speakers made me wonder what filters your mind imposes on you?  Are you really hearing what you think you are or is your mind turning its EQ filters on so that you can hear what you want to hear?

As Mr Spock in the SciFi Star Trek series would say...FASCINATING!

Something to think about the next time you audition a friend's system.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

My other titles include:

No comments:

Post a Comment

To comment on this blog, you must first be a member. All comments are moderated.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.