Whenever I go to an audio club to speak and explain what we do I am always worried about expectations. For example, at the Arizona Audio meeting on Wednesday, the expectation of the group was for me to demonstrate to 40 or more people, in a hotel meeting room, all that they’ve been missing on their CDs.
That’s always a little daunting to me: I am playing music most are not familiar with, the room is usually suspect, the system unknown and really, what would one expect other than “eh” results?
But sometimes you get lucky. And in this case, I have Dave Wilson to thank. I haven’t heard a Wilson speaker in a number of years, but I know he makes great devices. I also know they’re traditionally a tough setup that requires a lot of work. Much to my surprise, when one of the audio club members totes in a small pair of Wilson Cubs on stands, we connected them up and they were wonderful. No setup at all.
We added one of the older Genesis Servo 12 subwoofers to the mix, powered the system up with DirectStream feeding a NewClear power amplifier directly through MG Audio Design balanced interconnects and whoa! The system sang wonderfully. I don’t think anyone attending failed to have their jaws drop when we played good old CDs.
Hats off to the Wilson design team for a job well done.
Tom came by the office the other day to hear Music Room One. We had a good time together playing lots of music through DirectStream. Hearing music in Music Room One is a real treat for most people. Tom wasn’t disappointed.
A couple of tracks we played were too loud for him, he asked I turn down the system from where I have gotten used to listening to it. Tom was very particular about the level (as we all should be) and when we reached the perfect level his hand went up and a smile was on his face.
A few days later I got a note from Tom asking about what he’d heard. The cut in question is one most everyone likes: a 1959 recording of Buddy Holly singing True Love Ways. It’s amazing this is on a CD and recorded so long ago and when played through DirectStream it sounds like you’re in the studio. Most high resolution audio doesn’t sound this good. Tom said “I have never heard a 35 foot tall Buddy Holly.” What intrigued Tom even more was when we reduced the level, Buddy Holly regained his 6 foot height in perfect proportions. The volume control acting like a height distortion lens.
Of course Tom was right and I have written about these issues many times before. There is a perfect volume level for each recording that differs from system to system, room to room. In the past I have been rather scrupulous with these settings, to the point of writing down the correct level setting for each track to make sure.
Since most of my time in Music Room One has been spent listening to DirectStream and all its development, I have found myself turning the level up to a higher setting than is appropriate to the music. Why? Because turning the level up past its perfect point is like looking through a microscope at the music, searching for tiny little details that might need attention. In fact, I had gotten so used to doing this that I’d forgotten that wasn’t what Tom was interested in.
He did remark that a 20 foot Shelby Lynne, a 35 foot tall Buddy Holly and an 8 foot Chairman of Board (old blue eyes) was an experience he will never forget.
Thanks Tom, appreciate the help and reminder.
I’ll be speaking tonight at the Phoenix Airport Marriot if you’re in the neighborhood. Come on by.