As a former HI FI and car stereo dealer I know people spend a lot of money trying to get the perfect sound. To be honest I haven’t looked into the business so much since the 90’s, but after several months back in the segment, and a few exhibitions later, I see that little has changed since then.
People are still spending just as much money on cables, contacting, racks, and turntable weights as ever. Why do they do this? For sure it’s for the love of music. That and the pursuit of the most ultimate listening experience they can afford. I’ve been there myself— changing cables and pickups, and trading in old amplifiers and speakers for the new and improved ones.
But a lot of things have happened since the 90’s. Today, for instance, it’s accepted that sound can in fact be improved digitally— not only destroyed, as everybody said back then. Sure, the analog vs. digital debate lives on, but with almost everyone on the planet having access to all the music they want all the time, digital is fast becoming the norm.
With this change in attitude I suggest you do as I did: Discover the fact that most amplifiers, active speakers, and headphones are post-processing the sound. Meaning that, except for turntables rest assured, in most cases there is a DSP somewhere in there optimizing the digital signal and converting it to analog. Most also have a tuning part to ensure best output and correction of the hardware itself. Once you realize that, you can forget about the all-analog of old. For sure, a digital solution of today can do a lot better than a turntable invented in 1877.
One of my biggest wow music experiences happened just recently, when I tried out the room correction system Dirac Live. Apparently the room I’ve been listening to music and watching TV in has been adding a lot of extra coloration to the sound. Something I didn’t even realize before.
Yes, I’ve tried cables that cost $5,000, and even amplifiers that cost me more than my car. But to be honest, they didn’t present nearly as big a difference as room correction did. To quote my wife, “The difference is as great as opening a door.”
The evening I first used Dirac Live, I ended up spending four hours listening to music, going through old favorites and even discovering new things— and that I haven’t done since B.C. (Before Children). The experience made me realize just how much music enriches my life. And it also reinforced my latest discovery. That is, (to steal a slogan from the Hi-Fi Club in Sweden), “Bad sound kills good music.”
- Niklas Thorin, Strategic Account Director at Dirac Research
Learn more: Dirac Live