It has been a few days now filled with solid listening with the BDP-105 directly connected to my power amp. Initially, my reaction was that of disappointment because the sound added a metallic texture reminding me of first-generation CD players. I overstated this from a perspective of a knee-jerk reaction and not one from the unbiased position of the ultimate observer. My experience was not really THAT bad, but the change was so dramatic that it did remind me of how completely unmusical that first generation of CD player's sounded. Putting it another way:
Her reaction was very different from mine in that she really liked the way it sounded. Now you must understand that each of us has different ears and we hear things in different ways. What she heard was appealing and her focus is primarily on deep bass. However, she also explained that the upper midrange showed more presence and the sound stage was quite a bit larger. As usual, she was correct.
As every audiophile knows, this is a classic pattern when a new piece of gear comes into your system. Initially, you are thrilled with your investment and then you begin to notice the little things that have changed, sometimes for the good and sometimes, well not so much for the good. It is probably because of the expense involved that you subconsciously WANT to hear the good points but after time you realize you may be fooling yourself. You do not want to entertain the possibility that huge investment you just made was a really big mistake. Or was it?
The challenge is to rise above all engrained and biased emotion and figure out which piece of gear is now the weak link in the chain. From the position of an ultimate observer, your task is to calmly consider all possibilities. To get to that calm state of an ultimate observer is a difficult thing to do for many people since it involves going within to find answers instead of looking externally. Being an ultimate observer means getting to a “blank slate” state of complete honesty with zero biases. Until you get to that point, your mind will play tricks with you leading you to believe that what you hear is something other than what is really there.
Being completely honest with yourself and dismissing biases is a tough thing to do but when you have done so and find that calm place within you can locate your weak link. Until you do, you will put Band-Aids on Band-Aids until you throw up your hands in frustration, maybe even starting over completely. The trick in getting out of your head is to listen to the music and compare it to what an instrument actually sounds like as opposed to what you THINK it should sound like through your system. In other words, you have to dismiss what you perceive to sound “better” and think about what actually sounds “real.”
How you do this is to NOT go to someone else's house and listen to their gear, what you do is to go to a live performance and listen to what music sounds like without amplifiers or artificially induced emphasis. What you should do is to listen to a solo acoustic performance preferably in your own listening room. This should resynchronize your perceptions just like a CONTROL+ALT+DELETE is sometimes needed for your computer.
With the OPPO, it revealed things that were wrong with my system and I was just unaware of the problem. I became comfortable with what my system did and lived with its short comings. Eventually, I ignored its perceived deficiencies and appreciated my system based on its assets. I trained my consciousness to be happy.
Now, a monkey-wrench is thrown into the mix and I must think about what the OPPO is telling me. I must displace my biases and divorce my opinions and listen to the music. Is what I perceived as an edginess really not there, it is just a clarity that was muted by the problem with the preamp? Is the change something that sounds "better" or does it sound more real? Such is the quest.
What this logically pointed to was a deficiency in the Dared preamp, one where the same sonic characteristics SHOULD be apparent but was not. In fact, what the preamp should do is essentially pass exactly what it was given and just make it louder. From the position of the ultimate observer, I realized that this was not the case. So now I must investigate what the heck is going on inside of this preamp, one with which I was very happy until the introduction of this new piece of gear.
So it's back to the drawing board again and soon I will choose parts for the preamp. Much must be considered since there is not a lot of room inside in which to implement what I have already discovered. I may want to do this and that but may be forced into compromising on only one solution based on the fact that this capacitor is too big to fit or that I would better benefit from making this change instead of that one. For now, I will listen to the OPPO and ponder the changes I am considering for the Dared. I will entertain what is possible and calmly make my choices.
Regardless, the OPPO sounds wonderful when connected directly to the amp and the more I listen to it the more it pleases me. Even Pandora sounds pretty good but the high resolution recordings streamed from the USB drive are pretty darned stellar.
Choices, choices, choices. This is the gift of being human and the one that can be the most maddening – if you make choices from a place where you are not centered. I choose to move one step closer to audio nirvana instead of backing up, but this is part of the fun of being an audiophile. Each time you make a change to your system, you have the opportunity to understand more about who you really are rather than focus on what the change does to the sound. Choose wisely – choose to become the ultimate observer.
Also, see the simple FRED diode modification to the BDP-105 here.
Yours for higher fidelity,
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