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March 2003

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Anybody Listening?
...With Photos From My Visit In Budapest
Article and Photographs by Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

 

  Unless you have been living under a rock, no one needs to be reminded of world conditions. This virtual uncertainty has caused the world financial climate to be trying at best. Naturally this situation has not been beneficial to the luxury good market, yet there have been slow, yet steady sales. Always one to keep his ear to the ground, figuratively speaking, it is great to hear about thriving sales in such a world financial climate. Sadly, there has been an ongoing feeling of manufacturers become more sensitive to who reviews their equipment for fear of a less than 100% glowing review.

It does not matter if a product is $500 or $50,000; there is no single system that perfectly reproduces music. There are always tradeoffs to be found. Some audiophiles may put priorities on achieving the utmost in imaging precision while others desire that romantic "rose colored glasses" sound. Like sports car enthusiasts, i find it interesting that you could generalize about someone by understanding her or his preferences.

While 100% of generalizations are not 100% correct 100% of the time (don't think too hard on that one), Porsche guys appear to love precision in engineering and handling while Corvette guys are all about their prized 'vette. The newest generation 'vettes are truly inspiring indeed! Will avoid describing Italian car enthusiasts as my opinion could seem tainted due to too much personal involvement. The main point here is that we each most understand our preferences and only then can we set a course on how to achieve them.

 

It is a long road uphill, or escalator as it were, to finding just the right synergy within various components to get closer to our ultimate goal. Some days everything from clean power to the alignment of the moon in the sky may make a system magical one moment, yet totally fall apart the very next day. What is going on? Could it be the electric companies fault, sunspots, the humidity within the air, the temperature of the chip within our DAC? Some days we dance with joy, yet other times we sit there perplexed wondering what happened.

 

There may be some audiophiles who seek out some form of divine wisdom for a solution. Could be someone from a discussion board or chat room... or their psychologist perhaps? Maybe there is some higher power we can turn to that will assist us in finding a solution? As they say, "Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant" (!). Then again a dog is a "man's best friend". What has truly inspired some music lovers is the do-it-yourself (DIY) projects.

Fairly recently we saw a convergence towards low-powered tube amplifiers and today it appears the DIY folks are coming on strong. it is generally easy to make your own cables and interconnects (and inexpensive to boot). The fun is in the discovering what works within your music reproduction system. Once a DIY'er finds nirvana with some special wire, connectors, and (humor) possibly some magic beans, they may tell all their friends about it. Sure enough it may become "flavor of the month" as many of us experienced with DAC reviews in various print publications from a decade ago. While many who try this new DIY project may love it, others will sit there scratching their head wondering what all the praise is about, as their results are less than positive. And this begs the question...

 

One person's "freedom" may be another persons "prison". Finding true liberation from the chains of the never-ending battle to acquire the ultimate in music reproduction is not found by just some scantily garbed symbol with four aces. The real secret, for some, is that audio ecstasy comes from within. Enjoying not just the end result, but the journey as well. For many of us this is a hobby with all the benefits thereof. Tweaking, fine-tuning, crafting parts with out own two hands... Naturally some of the DIY folks will scoff at the $35,000 pre-amplifier by Ultra-Fi Audio. They take a look under the hood and feel they have a way to better it with that transformer they found in the dumpster on 52nd street and some wire they found in a Macintosh Lisa (anyone remember those?) the week earlier.

 


Regardless of the outcome, the point is to enjoy the journey. Getting there should be more than half the fun! No, those expensive pieces set forth on the Alter of high-end audio are not by some evil empire and generally are not from some guy with visions of retiring a millionaire next year. Instead, DIY guys who have the ability to use some of the finest parts design most of the very esoteric brands. In fact many of them find off-the-shelf parts inadequate so they design their own and find a way to get them manufactured in small quantities (at commiserate exorbitant prices). Who knows, today's DIY person could be the Paul Klipsch, Henry Kloss, Ivor Tiefenbrun, or Peter Walker of tomorrow.

Just remember if you are a great DIY person listen... and listen again. Ignore the mass voices and find your own path. It is not an easy road, yet one that can be filled with many rewards. While generally they are not financial, instead, they are rewards of personal satisfaction of a goal achieved and a job well done. Eventually you may choose to market such things... and then you become what you possibly despised. A company that sells $35k pre-amplifiers! Oh how the world turns in such a poetic way. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...

 

Enjoy the music (Queensr˙che "Anybody Listening" right now),

Steven R. Rochlin

 

"You and I long to live like wind upon the water.
If we close our eyes, we'll maybe realize
There's more to life than what we have known...
I've just begun to see the light.

Long ago there was a dream, had to make a choice or two.
Leaving all I loved behind, for what nobody knew.
Stepped out on the stage, a life under lights and judging eyes!
Now the applause has died and I can dream again...

Is there anybody listening?!?
Is there anyone that sees what's going on?!?
Read between the lines, criticize the words they're selling!
Think for yourself and feel the walls become sand beneath your feet.

Feel the breeze?
The time is so near you can almost taste the freedom,
There's a warm wind from the south. Hoist the sail and we'll be gone,
By morning, this will all seem like a dream.
And if I don't return to sing the song, maybe just as well.
I've seen the news and there's not much I can do... alone.

Is there anybody listening?!?
Is there anyone who smiles without a mask?!?!?!?!?
What's behind the words?
Images they know will please us?
I'll take what's real!!!
Bring up the lights!!!

Is there anybody listening?
Is there anyone that sees what's going on?
Read between the lines, criticize the words they're selling!
Think for yourself and feel the walls become sand beneath your feet."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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