Beyond Just Good Sound - Leaning into Wisdom
As you may have noticed, the audiophile portion of the A/V industry is VERY fragmented. There’s an almost infinite number of speaker, DAC, amp, pre-amp, cable, etc. providers, all claiming technological or outright superiority over their competition. The overwhelming number of choices, with few objective comparators, greatly complicates the purchase decisions of any aspiring audiophile, let alone the pursuit of a “better than good” system.
Earlier this year, I shared in “Aesthetics: Should they matter to the Audiophile” a somewhat cursory description of how I acquired my first audiophile system. In Chicago (where I lived at the time), there were several audiophile stores, with a variety of products to audition and purchase. In this purchase process, I was a “taker” of recommendations provided by the various salespersons.
- I gave the salesperson a budget
- The salesperson recommended a system
- I repeated this process at a few different stores
- I auditioned, compared, and contrasted the recommended systems
- Finally, I purchased the system I preferred….success???
A decade after this initial purchase, I was ready to pursue BETTER. During this period, I was living in the twin cities of Champaign & Urbana (home of the University of Illinois). Fortunately, there were a couple of A/V stores where I could audition products for a potential purchase. After several auditions, I was able to discern DIFFERENCES in the available components (and relative to my Naim “Olive” system). However, I wasn’t able to discern that these perceived differences indicated superiority. Confused…I studied the A/V magazines, specifically their reviews and recommendations…and found myself even more confused and FRUSTRATED!
Then, I happened upon an advertisement for “The Audio Perfectionist Journal”. I contacted the Editor-In-Chief, Richard L. “Dick” Hardesty via email, sent off a check (still used frequently back then) and received my first journal, Issue #9. After “devouring” the issue, I sent Dick another check and received the back issues (i.e. #1, #2,… #8). Now, I had knowledge of….
- how certain design traits impacted the sound
- what design traits favorable impacted FIDELITY to the source
- names of manufacturers producing components with favorable design traits
- a reasonable definition of HIGH FIDELITY…
Now, I could identify purchase targets INDEPENDENTLY. I was no longer a “taker” of recommendations from salespersons and/or the A/V magazines.
After reading Issue #11, I acquired a VSEI modified Sony SCD-777es SACD player and a pair of Meadowlark Audio Swifts. These were the first of almost a hundred incremental steps toward “better than good” sound and high fidelity!
Richard L. Hardesty called out to me in the audiophile wilderness, empowering me with wisdom on my audiophile journey. Similarly, I hope to empower audiophiles through The Audio Dork’s offerings and The Truth Hertz Blog. And though Dick passed away years ago, his Audio Perfectionist Journals can be found on the Vandersteen Audio website. These Journals still contain valuable information and wisdom for the audiophile pursuing “better than good sound”.
The Audio Dork