About a year ago, I was asked by a fledgling Audiophile: “Josh! What is the best speaker out there today!?!” What? That’s like asking what your favorite cheese cake is! What is the “BEST” Ben and Jerries’? What is the “BEST” Ferrari? Better yet, who is the “BEST” Jazz band? I asked him, “If you had to choose between listening to Miles Davis Kind of Blue on a bed side Sony Dream Machine (circa 1982) on an AM station, who’s transmitter was 300 miles away, or A Flock of Seagulls on a dCS Debussy front end, followed by all Ayre’ gear, powering through a set of burned in YG Acoustics Anat III Pro towers, What would you choose?” You could cut through the silence on the other end of the line. “The answer Grass Hopper is the ones you are enjoying right now.”
The point is this: There are so many machines out there. They come in all shapes and sizes. These days, they also come in every color of the rainbow and more. Do you want the cutting edge of a tweeter that has such a high frequency reach that you could open your garage door with it? Perhaps you are looking for the subtle glow of the silk dome. Mid bass punch? Perhaps a more delicate kiss with the tweeter is more you style. Sub terrainian reach from a set of fat subs? For me, I prefer the “NON-SUB” approach from my subs. If I can hear them, they be too loud and simply are not natural. Horns? Planers? Domes? Paper or carbon fiber? MDF or aluminum? Let’s not forget Beryllium! (Anyone out there had a chance to hear those diamond inverted domes in the Avalon Isis?) You get the idea. All are the “BEST”, for what they were designed to do. All were designed by someone. All have what that someone thought was closer to the actual performance in a given listening environment.
Yes, we crazy audiophiles are always looking for Nirvana. We spend hours upon hours searching out the gear that gets us closer to, well, “THERE”! We want to experience that performance in our own home. Yes! That’s it! “THE PERFORMANCE”! This is all about the performance. If you don’t love music, what is the point? We love music with such a passion; we try to hear more of it. We strive for that “LIVE” sound we heard at the concert last night. We want to hear the woman in the 13th row with the sniffles. It brings the performance texture and a sense of realism. We want to hear the soft pop and tickle of dust on the record. It makes it sound like there is a woman in the 13th row with the sniffles! Sounds strange to most, but this is what it is about. Live music. MUSIC!!!
So, back to my friend. We had a long discussion of this approach to audio. MUSIC! Being that this kid is half my age, he always thought good sound came from little silver discs, or more recently, bits streamed to an IPhone. Well, it was only recently that he discovered those bits BYTE! I can’t tell you the joy in my heart when he said all his recordings sounded compressed and dull after getting a taste of the 180 gram pressing of Tool-Lateralus. (Which should be in every audiophile’s, err, tool kit) ”Hallelujah!” Not only that, he heard it on a $350.00 second hand Techniques SL-1200 fitted with a Shelter MM cartridge, (roughly $175.00) Bellari tube phono pre-amp, ($250.00) Musical Fidelity X-A1 ($400.00) and a pair of Silverline Minuet Supreme speakers ($600.00) I think the cables were Audio Quest. His excitement was through the roof, so I couldn’t make out what he was saying to well. This was a guy who actually thought you needed to spend 100K on a system to run an IPod packed full of compressed crap to move the soul. (For-mentioned system would set you back a cool 380K) Nope!
I made these suggestions to him, for I knew he was on a budget. Also, I have heard, and own some of the same gear. I just knew through experience, they would sound good together. When you submit to this thing called “Audiophilia”, you will understand, all gear has a sonic signature. The trick of approaching “Nirvana” is to create a synergy between all the components own characteristics and build that “LIVE” experience. As for my friend’s system, sure nuff! I also know what he likes to listen to in his tiny little room he rents in Makiki. When you are sleeping, eating, studying, dating, and whatever else in the same 12x12 space, there is no need for a huge set of Wilson Alexandria XLF, or even a sub for that matter. The system fits the space and the “MUSIC” the owner loves most. Simple…
A few months later, I asked my friend, “What is the best set of speakers you have ever heard”? After a long pause,,,,,,,, “mine!” he said.
Enjoy them my friend…