High End Audio - Oh the sound

In my previous pages on high-end audio, I focused on the facts and technicalities. One should not lose sight on how good the sound is from a high-end audio system. I pursued a high-end audio system not for the prestige of high-end audio or the technology of my ribbon speakers but for the glorious sound that I get from it.

When I was in the hunting stages for my high-end audio system, I was so interested in reading about other people's description of the sound. I would read expressions like "transparency", "dimensionality", "depth" and "palpable sound stage". I now know what those expressions are referring to. Unless one has heard it (experienced it), I do not think one can appreciate what those words really mean.

Dynamics is another attribute of a high-end audio system that is beyond description but here goes. In lower fidelity audio systems, dynamics is rendered strictly in the form of loudness. Although this is the definition of dynamics, a high-end audio system portrays dynamics with the scale of the musical content. For example, when the full orchestra is playing as compared to the first violinist playing a solo passage, there is a huge difference in loudness for sure but also a scale difference of a 60-member orchestra versus the sound a single violin. In a live performance, the distinction is dramatically heard. On a high-end audio system, that scale difference is portrayed with realism.

The high-end audio system is best experienced in solitude. It is so captivating that it does not allow for conversation while a piece of music is playing. Would you start chatting in the middle of a live orchestral performance in a venue with 2000 other people? (the Ottawa National Arts Centre venue is on the small side)

I have observed people listening to my high-end audio system who are totally absorbed and captivated by the music presentation. I chuckle when I think that I am like that when I listen to my high-end audio system. I have seen jaws drop when they first hear music coming from my high-end audio system. For those with discerning ears, it is quite an experience. For those who cannot discern the difference, it does not matter (I have witnessed this case as well).

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