"...his senses were overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined, and he fell into a deep, deep sleep." – Rip Van Winkle
I feel like Rip Van Winkle. No, I haven't been asleep for 20 years yet my soul has been dormant for a long, long time. Must admit to being a bit confused, too. When I wandered off my path and sedated my passion for music with the holy pursuit of the perfect sound, I knew things. I felt like I knew every acronym for all sound processors developed. I knew the vendors and model numbers. All those fancy tips, tricks, and tweaks too. Oh yeah, I knew it all.
Today, it feels like I know nothing to some extent. When I fell asleep, big speakers, big amplifiers, big cables and big sound were all you ever wanted and needed. Vinyl was relegated to the hobbyist basement and big, foam covered headphones were buried in a box next to your father's old Playboy magazines.
Today I am troubled. When I fell asleep, the Terminator and Jurassic Park were fond movie memories collecting dust as Criterion Collection Laserdiscs within my basement rack. This past weekend, Jurassic Park broke box office records... again. I must be dreaming. In the fall of 2007 the recession hit my area hard. The job and the housing market were devastated! That wave of depression crashed upon my small, high-end custom automation company like a tidal wave. It smashed everything within its path. My wealthy "buy whatever I want" clients were now shopping at Wal-Mart, or ‘worse', online. Within a matter of months my little electronic empire had crumbled beneath my feet.
Having a family to support, I had no time for pity. Grabbed with both hands at every job I could get including some bad deals I felt forced to agree to. Go for every dollar one could find. Filed for every extension, every program, every legal loophole I could just to hold on to our house. It's called survival mode. Slowly my toys made their way to eBay, and one by one they were gone. A pair of 4B-SST Bryston amplifiers... gone!. My Wadia DAC... gone! One by one nearly everything was gone. A piece of me, a slice here... a slice there... shipped off within every box. My (once) stunning system was now ravaged. My house was saved, yet my soul became silent, dark, and asleep.
Time passed. Years went by. Survival turned into sustainment. I went back to the corporate world. Back to the grind. It provided a paycheck and then some. Also managed to patch together a bit of a working audio system here... pick up a used piece there. Once again there was good sound and a good picture. Sustenance, yet perhaps no true excitement. I even managed to get married on a beach in the Bahama's! A nice respite, but it ended all too soon. Back to robot mode and make the money, pay the bills... wash, rinse and repeat.
I never smile...
"The Child" mentioned that a few months ago "You never smile." She said, as a point of fact and "The Wife" agreed. I thought about it, and yep I rarely smile. Point taken, moving on. But do I I want to smile? You know, that moment that every self-aware person has. It is the one where you look in the mirror and think.
"WHAT THE #$#$#$.... WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!!!!"
No? Never done that? Good, because I don't recommend it. It's not for the faint of heart. I did it and was not pleased. It wasn't the physical changes that bothered me. We all have issues with that (although the grey hair thing will not stand). Nope, not the gut either. I looked in the mirror and saw nothing. Just a shell of who I was. Hollow, vacant... nothing. I was not pleased!
Jake: We're putting the band back together.
Mr. Fabulous: Forget it. No way.
Elwood: We're on a mission from God.
– The Blues Brothers
I did what had to be done. Sacrificed for my family for my home, yet it exacted a terrible price and, eventually, the debt has been paid. It was time to wake up. Stared at what remained of my gear. A 65" Samsung Smart TV (my only real purchase in five years), a 105 wpc Onkyo receiver (poorly) driving a pair of Martin Logan Summits and an assortment of Blu-rays, Apple TV and Roku device. My Home Theater didn't fare any better. It was utterly pathetic. You see, as a musician and sound engineer, and even a bit of a recording artist, I know what good sound is supposed to, well, sound like. This wasn't it. If you've ever spent 12 hours in a darkened studio agonizing over the perfect snare drum "hit", then you know what I'm talking about.
I must rebuild, but how? Haven't looked at high-end audio audio gear in years. Perhaps it would be best to start slowly and logically. Color me bit confused. Grabbed one of the few remaining audiophile magazines I could find. The first six pages are filled with ads for... headphones Turntables? USB DAC's and headphone amplifiers?
I sit down, check my phone, and it says May 16, 2015. I look around. I look back at the magazine and begin to read an article about vinyl pressing plants that are operating at maximum capacity?! Am I dreaming? As I flip through page after page of this magazine, the reality hits that I know none of these brands or model numbers. Heck, to be honest I don't even know what most of these devices are used for.
I am awake...
You know that moment in Las Vegas where you just start to feel a little bit better as one recovers from the night before? You've had a big breakfast (lunch, actually), you aren't dry heaving anymore and you're hanging out by the pool trying to piece together the night before. Well, it feels like that.
Like a child, am staring over from the beginning. I have nothing, know nothing, but am determined to find my soul again. Years ago a young man named Steven R. Rochlin was kind enough to let me write music and equipment reviews for his new e-zine called Enjoy the Music.com (perhaps you've heard of it?). I was whole, then. I had music in my life and a smile on my face. Well, Steven has been kind enough to allow me to write for him again and I am truly honored and humbled. Had an Awakening and now the difficult journey must begin. Am on a journey to re-discover music and my soul. I will be rebuilding my system, piece by piece, cable by cable, and song by song.
This will be an interesting ride. Please join me in this newfound excursing in high-end audio.