It is a bit long, but I thought I would past in here a section of Srajan's review of the Zanden that for me captures why we seek after a more natural sound from our equipment, and points to why a more musical sound can lead to an end of the seeking and an increase in enjoyment. I was off the seeking path for a while and just enjoyed my setup for several years, and then I got curious again as to what was out there that was better. I am hoping to find a new equilibrium, and it has been the descriptions of the Tera that speak about the listener simply enjoying their music more that inspired me to order my own Tera.
Anyways, here is the relevant section of Srajan's review:
"Heart Space Stuff:
How do you define, or better yet, describe naturalness? In the esoteric wisdom traditions, one Japanese Zen master cracks up laughing like a madman when he rediscovers his 'original face' (that's how their language refers to permanent enlightenment - becoming yourself). He sees how ridiculous his entire search had been, for something that was already the case all along. The searching itself had covered it up. Others talk about how mountains become mountains again -- referring to a state of ordinariness that sees things as they really are but is nevertheless always fresh, always tacit, always thrilling -- or joining the market place to abandon the incubation cell of the monastery. The search had been for the extraordinary, the psychic, the samadhis and satoris and unusual powers or siddhis. Alas, the final realization goes beyond all that. It shows the intermediate displays of otherness to be extreme breakthrough manifestations similar to fasting - you deny yourself long enough and something's bound to give. Stare at your navel long enough and you'll have visions of the extraordinary. But what if you eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired and fornicate when you're hot - after you've expanded your scope of perception through exploring the extremes for decades of introverted practices and purification rites?
The traditions are filled with glowing attempts of explaining this state. Yet anyone who falls in sync with it confesses how the living reality and the descriptions are worlds apart. To some, this dichotomy is so overwhelming that they simply practice silence thereafter - or laughter. All this by way of hinting at the strange double nature of naturalness. It's ordinary and extraordinary simultaneously. In audiophilia, the search for aural nirvana revolves around siddhis as well - extraordinary bass, otherworldly treble, heavenly soundstaging, magical attributes that all lack staying power because they're ultimately unsatisfactory. They get boring to those who have them but maintain a nearly hypnotic allure to those who don't. Seeing auras, having predictive dreams, healing over the distance, knowing things, going into ecstasy, communing with higher beings ... if the esoteric accounts of those who've travelled the whole distance are to be trusted, these flashy attributes are still modified versions of reality. Unusual, addictive even but not the final cigar.
In audiophile terms, anything flashy, extreme and readily qualified or explained smacks similarly of intermediate and short-lived fascinations with secondary stuff. The proof that the attainment and embrace of ordinariness isn't merely putting up with leftovers lies in its ongoing transparency to freshness and true nourishment. When something becomes truly satisfying, day in day out, it undermines the fascination with the extraordinary and becomes - normal. It's normal in how it rests in equilibrium, free of striving, free of the need to impress, free of the desire to be a big deal. But there's magic aplenty in how it regenerates deep satisfaction in all the ordinary attributes of living a simple life. That's its self-validating proof - nourishment, satisfaction. Translated into audiophile terms, you no longer need to play things loud. You're no longer interested in analysis. You no longer take things apart. The music hooks up with you to create a loop of emotional energy and you come out refreshed without any notes on how this came about.
Needless to say, the closer a system delivers this state, the less you can talk about it in the usual ways. Those ways all center on extraordinary attributes that make the outcome -- listening -- different. Different you can weigh and measure. But what to say when all those differences relax and begin to dissolve and lose shape and substance? What's the opposite of difference? Not indifference! This is a constant well of rejuvenation you step in to forget your differences. When you come out and feel one again, you've really lost anything detail-centric to talk about. That's why the wisdom traditions all stress that real realization speaks for itself without words. Those living it teach through their presence. Words become entirely superfluous. When in their presence or energy field, you either get some deep soul nourishing beyond explanations or you walk away shaking your head in complete miscomprehension what all the love-struck accounts by others were about.
Trying to describe the Zanden Audio Model 2000p/5000Sig tethered together via Yamada-San's unique I-squared-S cable with locking modem-like connectors is like entering these strange realms of religiosity. They are obvious to the one enjoying the experience yet become excessively laborious, wordy, esoteric and 'other' in the verbal descriptions. The most honest way seems to describe physical reactions in the listener more than attempts to dissect things into external sonic constituents. Something inside relaxes. Attention remains with the music without effort or doing. The need to mess with the volume just so to lock in the magic goes away. A little louder, a little softer - the emotional feeding doesn't care or distinguish. Mental attempts to understand the process are like cloud shadows when you're out in the hammock sunning. They diminish the experience and you let them drift away because they disturb. That's pretty strange New Age Dada language for an audio performance review, isn't it?
But think about it. In the end, that's the proof of the pudding - emotional satisfaction free from the feverish tension of infatuation, free from the pathological need to hunt and chase, search and experiment, fret and be concerned over. It's like the quiet contentment of a mature marriage. It's deeper than young love; more normal but still very self-evident to outsiders."