A matter of degree
Now that PS Audio has moved across the street to our new facilities our old home is vacant. We’ve got to search for a new tenant to lease the space. In the meantime, we have plenty of big, empty, rooms to put stereo systems in.
We’ve set up Arnie Nudell’s reference audio system in the room that once was our entryway and admin area. After a lot of work getting the speakers back to operational status we’ve finally gotten a chance to listen to them again. Wow. I played the San Francisco Symphony Mahler 3d and felt like weeping. It was one of Arnie’s favorites and I was reminded of him and the sound he liked—there it was again, in the room, just the way he demanded—as if the orchestra was in the room. Extraordinary.
I played a few other pieces and wasn’t quite so happy. The bass was wrong: too much, too big, and then the woofer amp croaked. Sigh. The Mahler loves a bit of overblown bottom end, but Shelby Lynn’s Just a little lovin’ not so much and Boz Scaggs Thanks To You was the straw that broke the woofer amp’s back.
The Mahler was still playing in my head when I walked through our home front door to the music of The Allman Brothers live vinyl on Sprout and KEF LS50s. Meh. The difference was so stark as to make me cringe just a bit. But then, the Allman Brother’s music is so good…
It’s all a matter of degree.
The sharper our focus the narrower our view. We often miss seeing the forest because we’re focused on a single leaf. More than once I have been so pleased with a new audio setup that I never noticed the channels were reversed.
I remember back to the 70s when PS Audio’s co-founder Stan Warren and I used to go out to lunch together to discuss circuitry. We’d pack up in Stan’s little VW and head west from Santa Maria to a little turnout halfway to Guadalupe. There, we’d roll a nice fat one and smoke it down before starting our discussions on building new circuitry.
One of the problems with this design approach is we reeked of pot when we came back to the office. Then I found a miracle cure called Ozium. This slender white and blue aerosol spray can was effective for the elimination of some pretty nasty odors like those in a dentist’s office when that drill smoked out tooth decay. The general wisdom of the crowd was that once applied in a reasonable dose, the smell of marijuana smoke was completely eradicated.
Armed with our trusty can of Ozium and a bag of the good stuff, we headed for our usual spot confident we’d not be discovered back at work. An hour later, following an intense design discussion on how to lower noise in a moving coil amplifier circuit, we stopped at the local market to put an end to the munchies. As I walked through the checkout stand the cashier raised a single eyebrow and smirked.
“You boys must have had quite a lunch.” She waved her hand back and forth to clear the imaginary smoke.
We were caught! How could she have known?
Certain the Ozium had eliminated any trace of our misdeeds I told Stan about the incident and shared my frustration over our new found miracle not working. Stan shook his head and reached over to pull the tightly rolled plastic baggie full of pot out of my shirt pocket.
It’s true. Sometimes we’re looking so hard in one direction we miss the Mack truck that runs us over.