Monday, October 19, 2015

The Path to a High-End System

You probably started out in your quest for the ultimate high-end system as an infant in your car-seat by listening to the stereo in your family car. One day, you got an MP3 player, probably in your cell phone. Swapping earbuds helped you to appreciate the quality or lack thereof in your player and one day you strolled into Best Buy (or a friend''s house or another big box store or a THX movie) and seriously listened to a good system. The lights came on: you heard something and found there is more art in music than a beat and words to a song!

Details never heard before began to appear and (possibly with the help of some medicinal ingredients) your appreciation for quality music took off. Soon, that MP3 player of old just didn't hack it anymore and it was time to get serious about tunes. With your driver's license came freedom and the opportunity to deck out your ride. Before long, thumps and tinkles captivated your commute to/from school or that job you got to help pay for that amp.

Down the road, probably after your second or third REAL job (flipping burgers doesn't count), you decided to take the plunge and get a decent system for your digs. A simple receiver, possibly multi-channel surround, showed up next to the Samsung TV and entertainment bliss was on its way.

This lasted for a while and then things started to sound not quite right or just a little off. Your ears matured and you began to listen to the decays and silence between the notes. "Mr. Scott...we need more power...NOW!" or something like that ran through your mind. Off to the new audio salon in town; time to spend some serious bucks.

Ever since that day, things have moved in and out of your listening room. Speaker sizes grew, you discovered that cables and wires do make a difference, and CDs just sounded a bit off. That old receiver found its way into your office (or garage) and separate components lined the shelves. Esoteric DACs and high-res software showed up as if by magic on your desktop and you were off to the digital races.

But then, on a chance meeting, you heard an old analog system. Something else came from the speakers you never heard before. What you thought was audio nirvana was now reformed. Tubes, vinyl, and turntables may have crept their way into your rig as did your constant comparison between the two sources. One was more convenient but one was more real. Quite the dilemma.

And then came along DSDs and higher quality recording techniques. The difference between old school and new narrowed and you may have questioned whether old school was worth keeping. But you were too busy moving your speakers around and adding acoustic treatment to the room to seriously consider selling your turntable

But regardless of your choice, new gear rolled in and out of your system and the evolution continued. Some diverged into the DIY realm and others found happiness in off-the-shelf gear or hiring folks to do upgrades. Power conditioners, equipment footings, speaker spikes, and other accessories each contributed to that tiny improvement that pushed forward the state-of-the-art.

Today, you are happy, at least until you hear your friend's system or something blows up. And then the search for that next step in upward spiraling audio nirvana continues including your never-ending expansion to your software library.

Such is our hobby and so is our happiness. Eventually a balance is struck between funds allocated to your rig and your other monthly bills, but that piece of the pie dedicated to your hobby never really gets completely cut from your budget. Your dreams of a better system and your enjoyment of just listening to a good performance never changes, NEVER. Even when life demands your attention in other directions, you find yourself still enjoying the magic and mystery of you ears.

The path to a high-end system is a long one, one that never ends. Sometimes it takes a while for technology to become affordable and other times you just settle for "good enough." But deep down inside, you hear that old refrain from your first venture into the audio void, "Mr. Scott...we need more power...NOW!"

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 by purchasing one of my eBooks or through a PayPal donation, 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 (like that of the Discovery Channel), it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

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Copyright © 2015 by Philip Rastocny. All rights reserved.

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