Here we are in the afterglow of the holiday season as many of us in the world are celebrating a new year. This past year, 2002, has been filled with great joy and also less than ideal moments for much of the high-end audio and music industry. The events of September 11th (and talks of an impending war with Iraq) combined with declining stock markets are still having their way with both the economy and how consumers are spending their money. Luxury goods tend to suffer greatly as conservative types tend to hold on to their money versus feeling confident in buying extravagant items. While reports of sales were mixed throughout the year, many consumers are enjoying some very impressive, value priced products.
This And That
Within this issue yours truly reviews a $750 vacuum tubed OTL headphone amplifier while Ian White takes a close listen to the $1,499 Cain & Cain Abby loudspeaker. While i have asked our reviewers to keep a close eye on high-value-for-the-dollar items, we have not forgotten about top notch gear. Rufus Smith gives us a blow by blow account of the $5,495 GamuT D-200 stereo amplifier. We can also expect a jaw dropping price, and sounding, statement turntable review by Rufus to appear within our pages in the upcoming months. The main point is that high-end audio is not just about statement pieces nor bang for the buck. It is both none of those and all of those.
The enjoyment of music can be a very personal experience. As such we all have our preferences. Some love to experience the deepest bass notes of techno or pipe organ at high volume levels while others may prefer a nice stringed quartet (or everything in-between). Due to this fact, virtually no two music reproduction systems are exactly alike. This is akin to those who enjoy high-performance cars. Some may find the precision of a $100,000+ Porsche twin turbo enticing while others may go for the new, and impressive for the money, $25,000 Nissan 350Z. Neither car is "right" or "wrong", they simply fulfill the desires of sports car enthusiasts. The same can be said with my close friend who owns a Hyundai station wagon while another owns a Jeep... To each their own and viva la difference!
What is interesting about what many find enjoyable about cars is not just the specifications. Is the styling enticing? While driving on the road does it feel like you are on a comfy couch or hard-backed chair? Furthermore, some might place more importance on straight-lined speed versus how the automobile handles the twisty bits. My point here is that i may prefer the overall joy of a Ferrari while you would be in heaven driving a Hummer. Understanding your personal preferences, and those of certain reviewers, are just two of the many keys to reach audio nirvana.
Attitude Of Gratitude
As discussed in the beginning of this article, high-end audio is a luxury. We do not need it to survive (though many of us would find life much less enjoyable without it). During this holiday season and New Year, my hopes are to personally keep an attitude of gratitude. Having the ability to enjoy music through a high-end reproduction system is a blessing. Make no mistake about it, there are people in the world who are happy simply to have a roof over the head and food in their stomach. We are the fortunate who are able to have time to relax and enjoy music. With so much going on in the world today it is good to remember how lucky we truly are. So i hold up my glass to all you out there and say, "It's a miracle!" Of course in the end what really matters is that you...
"...We got warehouses of butter
She said meet me in the Garden of Gethsemene my dear