Monday, September 16, 2013

Living la vida reservada

Quiet times at our house as my amp is being repaired and my Von Schweikert VR5SEs are somewhere between Texas and California, en route to VSA HQ for upgrading to the Anni II level. Sure I have other speakers in other rooms but it's not the same. Even the SVS Ultra Towers I had in for review have been returned so I got to thinking about what I would do if I had to start again. It's actually a nice thought experiment as I am relearning what my living room looks like when it has space in the front wall instead of cables, towers, and associated clutter.

Rather than spend good money on speakers that would only be replaced when my Vons return (I always wanted to try a pair of the Revel Salon2s or Studio2s, many of which are finding their way to A'gon these days at attractive prices), I've started to wonder about headphones. And of course, when an audiophile wonders, he finds himself on line reading the collected wisdom, ramblings, and gibberish of other audiophiles. Turns out, head-fi folks (for that is what they sometimes call themselves) are as mad as the rest of us. In fact, given the demographic, I wonder if this sub-group of listeners is even more afflicted. Am used to people with no experience of expensive gear trashing the idea of cables or exotica making any difference, but when I read that the one pair of headphones that I do own (a basic Sennheiser EC350) is described as very detailed, balanced, and high end, I wonder if the warm, mid-bass heavy sonics I hear when I wear them are what these people could possibly be describing, and if they have ever heard  a great stereo or even live music?

And why do owners of one type of headphone seem to act like it's a competition? I know audiophiles love the idea of a bargain, and are susceptible to the suspicion that most high end companies (save the ones whose products they've bought) are out to milk customers, but really, it's possible to like more than one pair of speakers. In headphone-land, such largesse seems seriously disruptive (unless you are selling). And what's with the idea of selling old stuff that's been sitting on your head.....thanks folks, but why does nobody mention the sweat/oil and general unsanitary nature of phone usage when selling their 'barely used' old phones? Is cleaning never an issue? Thanks but no thanks, I think I'll get something new myself.

So, am hoping RMAF has enough samples to give me a taste of the high end phone world (and a selection of wipes). Yes, a dedicated amp is required, I expect this, but I really do want to experience the differences between STAX and the top of the line Beyers and Senns or HiFiMan etc. It's the Stax that have me most intrigued, but then, I am intrigued but yet to be very impressed by Martin Logans or Maggies too, despite their supporters' zeal. just have to give in and go with the flow.  Meanwhile, those warm 350s are beckoning....

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