Sound Advice: Nothing Sounds As Good As Good Sound
I’m an audiophile; always have been, always will be. I wake up to music, listen to it throughout the day and turn it on as soon as I get home. When I was a kid growing up in Southfield, my mom would have to navigate miles of speaker wire running all around my bedroom door, window and closet just to make the weekly laundry delivery. I had an intricate wiring support system which consisted primarily of thumbtacks and Scotch tape.
By the time I was bar mitzvahed, I could just barely see over the top of my massive floor standing speakers. I would spend hours in my bedroom recording top hits from the old WDRQ onto cassette tapes; headphones on, finger ready to press record. A good stereo back then was cool. Well I am happy to report that high end two channel audio is making a comeback in a big way. Turntables, big amplifiers and bigger speakers are all in fashion now.
Two channel audio has roots that go back to Paris 1881, but it wasn’t until British electronics engineer, Alan Blumlein, (I know what you’re thinking … his dad was Jewish, his mom was not) patented a method of reproducing sound that seemed to be heard from various directions. This was called binaural sound, which we know today as stereophonic sound or more commonly, stereo.
In the late 50s, vinyl and turntables were making the scene which eventually gave way to the CDs of the 80s and the ushering in of the digital age of music. This high quality audio gave depth and dimension to studio recordings and sounded fantastic when played through a good amplifier and a pair of stereo speakers. There were no internet connections on these systems and they were not very portable. Change was coming though.
Unless you’ve been working in the Manischewitz factory counting matzah boards for the last 10 years, you have probably heard of the Ipod. Apple has had a lot to do with changing the way we listen to music since the ubiquitous Ipod got its start in 2001.
People wanted a way to carry their music collection with them and listen to it whenever and wherever. Apple achieves this through Itunes by compressing music files. To do this, the highest highs and lowest lows of your music are deleted, decreasing the file size. Although we are used to it now, the music really does sound flat when compared to a high-resolution uncompressed recording. Thankfully, companies like Dynaudio and NAD are making super high-end stereo speakers and amplifiers which, when combined with downloaded uncompressed audio files from companies like HDtracks,com, is music to my ears.
So if the idea of turning a barely used room into an incredible music listening sanctuary appeals to you, then the time is right to dig out those old vinyl records, close your eyes and imagine those speaker wires running all over the place … .of course the thumbtacks really do help!
By Neal Check, owner of SoundCheck LLC in Southfield which specializes in custom home theater, audio, lighting and automation. www.soundcheckllc.com