Some Serious Listening
So, I figured I should sit down and do some serious listening. [Hee hee. That cracks me up.]
Alright, I need to make comparisons. But I'm not going to use the Magnavox. That would just be silly. There's really no point. Everything sounds better with the DeVore speakers and Arcam Solo. Sometimes the immediately discernible difference is subtle, simply a matter of volume. But then there's also greater presence I mean that I can feel the music, I can sense the musicians and their instruments in the space before me. If you were sitting here with me, I could point them out to you. I could tell you where the guitarist is posing, where the bassist is hiding, where the singer is gripping the mic. And then there's higher resolution I mean, not only can I tell you where the guitarist is standing, but I can offer guesses at what kind of guitar is being played, and how the strings are being strummed, and then, the drummer: I can tell you if he's using sticks or brushes but you probably don't need me to tell you that, you can hear it for yourself and I can almost see him switch between the two. And isn't that cool?
Let me stop. I've gained a bit of vocabulary in my five years at Stereophile. It would be impossible for me to have missed; I've read every single review we've written once, twice, three times, maybe more over the last five years. How many reviews is that? I could tell you, if you gave me a few minutes, but what's the point? It's a big number. I've gained a bit of vocabulary, and I almost wish I hadn't. I'd like to feel strained even more than I feel now I'd like to be crippled into use of only emotions, colors, sighs and grunts. Instead I talk about presence and resolution. Soon I'll throw a soundstage and a deep, black background at you. Before you know it, I'll hit you upside the head with some snappy transients. Watch out for the outstanding low-level microdynamics. They'll get you where it hurts.
I remember walking into the Aural Acoustics room at Home Entertainment 2005 and asking VP John Miller to play track four, "Missing," off of Beck's Guero. This was a favorite song of mine back in April in the long gone days of the Magnavox boombox but, through Aural Acoustics' large, floorstanding Model B speakers, the song sounded horrible. There was this blanket of crud crackly, annoying distortion floating above all the music. It actually drowned the music out; I couldn't concentrate on anything but the floating wave of distortion. I hated it. It was so bad, in fact, that I asked John Miller to turn it off. I wondered if something was wrong. Was something broken? "The speakers are very revealing," he explained. It was the recording's fault. It was Beck's fault. What was he thinking?
Sitting at home, now, I wondered if the DeVore speakers would be just as revealing.
First, I played the track in my Magnavox, just to remind myself of what was there. Nothing. The song sounded good. No blanket of crud. I immediately transferred the CD to the Arcam Solo, sat back down, grabbed the remote and pressed Play.
Well, hello there, blanket of crud. Where ya been? How's it going? Okay, take it easy. Check ya later. Nah, don't call me; I'll call you.
The crud actually introduces the song; it comes in even before the music. The DeVores allowed me to hear it not that I wanted to but it didn't sound as harsh or oppressive as I remembered it being in the Aural Acoustics room. Perhaps the DeVore speakers were a bit more forgiving? I stopped the track and transferred the disc back into the Magnavox. Now, if I listened really hard, closed my eyes, and used my imagination, I could hear the crud as, I guess, it was meant to be heard: old, dirty LP noise. The thought that this noise might have been added to the song intentionally didn't occur to me at all when I heard it through the Model B speakers. It just sounded wrong or, again, broken. Were the DeVore speakers telling me something? Were they, at once, allowing me to listen to the music and gain insight into the recording process?
making any sense?
help me out here?
Audiophiles are standing by, waiting to take your calls. Thanks.