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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's so bad about it?

I have an entire room in my house that is devoted essentially to the arrangement of a series of medium to small-sized black metal or wooden boxes that plug into the wall, each other, or both. From time to time, perhaps more frequently than one ought, I sit in one of the two chairs carefully placed in the aforementioned room and wait for the collection of boxes to do something. I've told people who ask about it that the something I am waiting for is the reproduction of music and some of the sharper characters I know figure that out for themselves. Even though I tell that to those interested enough to ask, I know better. I have been to the Philharmonic, rock concerts, musicals and open-mic nights. What's going on in the room with all of the boxes is something very different altogether from music. Getting to the bottom of what IS going on shall be one of the alleged purposes of this online experience.

Just a casual Google search demonstrates that I am not alone in this peculiar practice, but as of yet I have not discovered a sensible explanation for a very important part of the box-listening act. I am listening not just for music to happen in the room with the boxes, but I am also listening for something else, and I expect the boxes to deliver. What is this something else? How will the boxes provide it, and when? Why do I occasionally think I'm gettting "it", only to later know as certain as I know my own name (at the moment) that I absolutely am not? More questions come quickly to the fore, such as:

"If I am unhappy, why should these simple objects be to blame, and could more booze be a quick fix?"
"How long is my wife going to put up with this nonesense?"
"Why must the cat insist on sitting on that?"
"How much is this going to cost me?"

Readers who have not already navigated away, of course know that this odd introduction is in some way trying to describe the relationship between an audiophile and his stereo equipment. I would like however, for this to be the first and last post in which the term "audiophile" is used, at least by me. I would think that the term "audiophile" should refer to someone who likes sound in general, not just the sounds that stereo equipment makes, and more specifically as far as reviews of stereo equipment are concerned, the sound an audiophile prefers is the sound of his or her own voice as it is played back in his or her own head (digital, analog or otherwise) while writing his or her latest review. We'll have to leave that topic for now for to expand upon it would certainly require more time and space to do it justice than I am currently willing to commit. We'll return to it, in a similar sense as MacArthur meant regarding the Phillipines, no doubt. For now though, let's agree to not to use: "audiophile", okay?

So now to the bad. As I look at the post title, even I am not so sure whether "bad" refers to a particular quality of review, a particular quality of audio gear, a particular category of either, neither or some combination. Seeing that I, for the moment at least am in charge here, we shall have to agree on "all of the above," which unfortunately is the most time-consuming of all multiple choice answers. It will have to do though, as we are early on in the process and should avoid commitment if we can. As a first step let me provide that I hope and plan (certainly not in equal amounts) to write a little bit about bad audio gear (for reasons that will become apparent) and a little bit more about bad reviews of both good and bad audio gear. Should anyone at all worry whether or not I am qualified to do so, they should console themselves with two facts. The first is that I was raised in an educational system that saw fit to bandy about the ill-advised adage: "You can do or be anything if you just put your mind to it!" with all of the associated multi-axis behaviors and conditions that come with it, AND I have a small badge indicating that I am qualified. It's on my desk as I type, and I promise to keep it in a safe place and take it out every time I so much as THINK about making and entry. I promise.


  1. Is this why you forgot to scoop the clumps?


  2. My Wife is kidding, of course. Both of our cats use the toilet.

  3. Whattya mean......?