In her final blog entry, Kristina asks for your expert opinion. The girl needs a new pair of speakers. I think she's looking for something "wicked cute," as they say in Boston.
Over the past few days, I've thought about what I'd like to say in my last blog entry. I wanted to lend some words of wisdom to audiophiles, but all of you already know more than I ever will about audio components. And so, it seemed, a daunting task lay ahead, until I finally realized that I could make my lack of expertise work to my advantage...for once.
In my time at Stereophile I've spoken to a lot of manufacturers and distributors, and have kept my eye on the message board for 10 weeks. One thing that is constant is that audiophiles know their stuff annoyingly well. I recall countless times being on the phone simply wanting to verify a model name and price and the person on the other end of the conversation insisted on telling me about his company's new tweeter material or the frequency response of a particular electrostatic loudspeaker. In the end, I got an overwhelming amount of information because people answered questions I'd never asked in the first place.
A few weeks ago, I read an article by Wes Phillips about how difficult it is to offer people his expert advice. I understood fully what he meant. Experts know too much. The same subject was brought up again briefly yesterday and I overheard Stephen and John Atkinson discussing just how relevant that article is to audiophiles who know their stuff, but don't know how to articulate their suggestions without scaring people to death with Ohms, kHz and impedance.
So in my final blog entry, I am volunteering myself to your expert opinion. I am looking for some speakers to put in my apartment when I move back to college. But I must warn you, I don't know a darn thing about speakers and I don't want to.
Now, I know it's not uncommon for someone who is passionate about something to discuss every intricate detail as a measure of their qualified opinion. Rarely does anyone want to stick to the Audio-Components-101 description when they are clearly capable of the graduate-level Output-Stage-Configuration-575 description. But when push comes to shove, jargon only works with your peers. As I am not your peer, the impact of an audio conversation can fly over my head. I get lost in the babble of numbers and start to daydream when terms like "output stage configuration" and "crossover frequency" are mentioned.
So, I am asking for a tiny bit of guidance and I apologize for needing a watered-down suggestion. Shakespeare once wrote, "More matter, less art," and in this case I could not agree more. My only words of wisdom are to be straightforward and keep the language simple. You will be more effective in leading non-audiophiles, like me, to the speakers we want. The last thing I want is to be overwhelmed and later ask a random store assistant for the cheapest pair of speakers he has and then run away with them unsatisfied and bitter. Perhaps a brand or style of loudspeaker is all I need?
So here we go...
I live in a studio apartment and I haven't the faintest idea of what the ideal speakers would be for a room my size. Last year I had exceptionally high ceilings, but this year I've settled for a basement apartment with poor lighting so that I can have my own bedroom. Next year will be something different altogether, so I don't want speakers that would sound amazing in my basement this year but horrible in a regular house next year. My bedroom is tiny, so I won't even go there, but my living room...eye-balling it, is maybe 20x20??
The college life is a humble one and, although it would be awesome, I can't buy expensive speakers or a pair for each room. My price range is roughly $150–$300 (my mother would laugh). I would need a pair that can be moved relatively easily from my bedroom to the living room for the occasional house party (but let's not tell BU anything about that). And, although I couldn't get away with playing them full volume, I do want a loud pair that can be engulfing, emerging me fully into music/movies and drowning out the sad speakers on my roommate's desktop, just for my own inner gratification.
My more superficial side is craving something different. Small speakers are all I have room for, but cute ones are a must (yes, adorable if possible). I'd like to steer clear of a black pair. Everyone on earth has black speakers. I have to set myself apart. Bright colors would be nice, but for my price range, I throw up my hands and say, "Whatever, man."
Having done some research, I came across three sets of speakers, each of which caught my eye based on affordability and adorableness: Energy's RC-Mini in cherry ($200/pair), Monitor Audio's R180 ($229/pair) in red and Tannoy's Mercury F2 in dark brown vinyl-ish ($185/pair). John tells me that the JBL Studio L880 [reviewed in our September issue] would probably be the ideal speaker for house parties, and they only cost $1,400.
I laughed. Although those are clearly within my price range (cough), I will put away my hopes of the JBLs until a few years down the road. In any case, I can't quite put my finger on it, but the other three speakers make me warm and fuzzy inside even though I have no idea of what they are capable. I don't even know if they're offered at reasonable prices.
My last day here is August 22nd and, although it's been fun, I am anxious and excited to go back to school to be with my boyfriend and my friends. I have, however, come to the realization that I cannot go back to school and say I interned at Stereophile for two summers in a row and don't own a pair of speakers. That's just embarrassing.