note: I highly recommend listening to the music provided while you read. This thread will be updated randomly with new life experiences, so keep an eye out for any new updates!
LOVE, LIFE, WINE and Audio
The Audiophile Equation
AE = SqMt² / SigP + CPa / EA
I've loved and I've lived. I've drank and I've enjoyed many things life has tossed my way. I've studied marketing trends and have watched the rise and fall of companies around the world. Hell, I've even designed some headphones and consulted for a more than handful of audio manufactures. Audio has changed. For the better, or for worse? I really can't say, but I what I can say is that the past few years have been remarkably tantalizing. I can almost taste the looming nuclear explosion of Audio innovations on the horizon. It beckons and allures me into its embrace, ceaselessly tempting me with promise of something better just out of reach. If you look at the technology boom of the last 20 or so years, you can't help but to wonder when or how the next major advancement in Audio will take place. What could it be? How drastic of an improvement will it be over something like an Orthodynamic? These questions keep me enticed in an almost erotic sense. Certainly something is coming, can't you feel it?
As I sit here sipping my red wine and listening to Mr. Govan play riffs on his electric guitar, I can't help but to envy. One of my favorite songs - Guthrie Govan - Hangover. What a fantastic representation of how some of us feel when slightly inebriated. Just one of the many tracks that I feel tell the tale of my life and adventures in the audio realm. There have been many ups and downs, many returns and many repurchases in my short time here on this Earth. Yet, I always seem to come back to the basics, back to my roots. The simple things make me happiest and it doesn't take much to get the job done. I'm a bit of a sound stage nutcase, if said piece of audio gear doesn't have a spacious sound...well...I don't care if the clarity literally melts your face clean off your skeleton, I won't use it. Without immersing qualities, I am simply not interested in owning it. Oh sure, I will review it for the community but odds are strong it will be resold for a profit loss after I am done with it.
I'm a Djangophile.
Definition: One who enjoys the sound of Django Reinhardt or Gypsy Jazz music.
With this title comes a unique perspective on what is possible through music. A man far ahead of his time who considered by many to be the modern Mozart, He who spawned all modern music. For without Django, there would be no string bending, without string bending there would be no rock and roll. Django was unquestionably The Musical Genius of the past century, widely considered by Gods like Hendrix and Joe Pass to be absolutely untouchable. Jimi was so infatuated with Django, he traveled to France to live with Gypsies to learn how to play like them, to better understand this type of improvisational based Jazz. Hendrix failed in his quest for knowledge, he returned home saddened and with a new found respect for on the fly improv. Soon after, he wrote his famous Band of Gypsies album. He later pioneered and lightly touched on the beginnings of Fusion Guitar. I give this brief history lesson to you because I invoke the essence of what Django is all about and braid it into the way I live my life, as well as how I listen to audio. I keep an open mind, I never take things too seriously and I always hope for the best. I constantly look for ways to improve what gear I have and do my best to help others. This is what Django did with his music. A true master of life and music.
I've come to learn that price tiers in Audio mean nothing to me. I've owned the best there is, I've owned the worst there is, the popular, the overhyped, the widely regarded and the most sought after. It isn't about price anymore, it used to be, but now it is something different. Perhaps I've grown up and have quested to find that which is right for me, not that which the most listeners own. Sets like your pick of the high end Orthos are gold to some, lead to others. I found that the more expensive they got, the more I couldn't enjoy them. Some required too much power, some were uncomfortable or geared only for a genre or two of pure bliss, but couldn't step up elsewhere. Price matters not, I've only recently come to learn this.
Then it happened. I embodied Django and found my roots, went back to the old days of just trying to enjoy the music over owning the best gear imaginable. Mid-Fi, not Hi-Fi. I am happiest there, it seems. Earbuds seemed to be my passion, sets like the Sennheiser MX980 or the Hisoundaudio Paa1 Pro, or perhaps the Blox M2C. All sets I enjoy for hours every waking day, cheap, affordable, comfortable most of the time and excellent performers. I have a problem with the congested IEM sound. I also hate things sticking into my ear canals, so unnatural for me. Which is why I prefer earbuds to anything else. They are usually easy on the ears and I find their architecture absolutely enthralling. I think I became Head Fis resident Earbud Crazy Person. I love earbuds, so sue me!
Mid Fi gears like the Fischer Audio FA-011 really floor me in the best of ways. I prefer a warm texture to my headphones, I really dislike neutrality or a cold, monitor like sound. Sure, most of these companies should really learn a lesson from Django and go back to their own roots, rethink some of their designs, designs like the headbands for instance. I won't name names, but its clear who needs a swift kick in the pants and who doesn't. I butcher my headphones to make them look less Satellite dish-like, less Radar station looking, all at the expensive of potentially ruining them. Why? For fun I suppose, maybe I am an agent of Chaos and the few users who notice my improvements make me feel good enough to want to do it again on another set. Its all in good fun, as a designer myself I can't help it. I want what I want and when I only get 2/3 out of the deal I am willing to mutilate my gear to achieve a higher state of perfection or comfort. Once again utilizing the Gypsy Jazzist way of improvising. I want to be unique in this respect.
Its a lot like Mr. Stochelo Rosenberg ( as seen in the above link ) Improving at light speed with an end result that is tonally balanced with an almost unreal texture and precision. That video is not speed up by the way...
About a month ago, my worst fear manifested itself into my reality. As if some monster from a dream had somehow punched a hole into the fabric of our space and time, flowing through like a vaporous dark figure, looming at the edge of my bed as I lay sleeping. Watching me, sadistically laughing on the inside as its eyes burned with the fury of 1000 stars. I had been listening to a new set of headphones, one I very much enjoyed, when the life of the left driver met its end. I ended up with significant hearing loss, muffled and muted as a child plugging its ears when something bad is happening around him. Not 10 thousand wild animals stampeding towards me, ravenous and driven by a primal instinct to kill could shake me to my core as this event did. I truly was lost for a short time. Alone in the void. My hearing eventually returned to an acceptable degree over the next few weeks but ultimately won't likely ever return to normal. There is a metaphorical scar, so to speak. I personally have lived each one of my worst fears during my 26 short years on this planet. Years ago, I had been an active athlete, many awards, many shining moments until I learned in 2006 that I had a genetic bone disorder in my lower legs, one that is immensely rare, eventually carrying me on its event horizon for the past few years and into a place I never thought I would ever see. I've been very immobile since this occurred, I can never play sports again, I can never feel the crack of the bat and the bases under my feet again. Until some new tech comes out that can swap limbs for bionic parts, my one true love outside of Audio will never be experienced again. So believe me when I say, I have a very unique perspective on life. I've experienced levels of pain no human being should ever experience, and to potentially lose my grip on the one thing I could find happiness in was beyond gut wrenching. I was terrified. One of my favorite video games was called Metal Gear Solid 3. It has an incredible soundtrack, so emotional. So well written. For obvious reasons, I latched onto this track. It spoke to me on the same level as Guthries - Hangover. It may seem like the wrong song to listen to when you are sad, but listen to the lyrics closely. Tell me you something doesn't spark inside you when you hear it, when you indulge in it and allow it to sink in. Truly a remarkable track.
After my accident, I took a very long holiday and wound up, randomly nearby another Head Fi'er. Yet, in another country? I had previously mentioned I would be vacationing to this location. This user emailed me and said I should stop by. I did. During that day, I got to listen to a few new pieces of audio gear that changed my outlook on life completely. As if my soul had been lifted to such an immense height, I'd never have to worry about falling. I got my first listen to the JVC DX-1000. A very expensive headphone, one that is not especially clear, but one that smack me in the face harder than anything prior. It stabbed me in the heart, piercing cleanly through flesh and emotion. After forgetting about all my favorite tracks during my first hour with the DX1000, allowing my Studio V to shuffle through my collection automatically, the V started to play The Flying Sequence by John Williams off the Superman The Movie Original Soundtrack...one of my favorite songs of all time and one that holds immense emotional ties to me. As if by magic, or perhaps a Deity passing its will over me and the surrounding area I was sitting in, the wind died down and the temperature dropped a little just as the Sun finally began to set into the distant horizon. The Stars sparkled a little brighter as the last remnants of light passed through the sky, the air became calm. I put my hand up to my mouth, absolutely defeated by the DX1000. I stood no chance. Mid song, the mood of the track itself takes on a sudden and unexpected tone, one that slows down and invokes a sense of extreme ambiance during the scene in the movie when Superman lets Lois Lane truly feel what its like to Fly. Losing his grasp on her high above the clouds, he allows some space between them and only holds onto her with one hand as both moved through the sky. Their hands slipping ever so slowly from tightly locked hands to the very edges of their finger tips. He loses his grip on Lois during their flight into the night sky, almost dream like and euphoric, so distant from reality. Lois plummets through the clouds, screaming, as Superman effortlessly accelerates downward and saves her. They locked gazes for a moment as the music completely envelopes you. I thought of someone I onced loved and felt tears well up inside me alomost immedaitely upon that music cue. I struggled, but admited defeat within seconds. At that moment, I knew these headphones were "That One " set for me. Nothing else even came close. Not one set of headphones in all my years had truly sparked some type of emotional response out of me,I may have said this was true, but I did not at the time fathom the depth at which this was possible through a piece of musical gear. This set simply meshes wth me more than any piece of gear I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. It just does something for me, something nothing else to date has done.
So where does this lead me, what exactly is this topic about? Well, its about life and new experiences, maybe helping some realize they've forgotten where the music is, like I have. Maybe its to shine a light for anyone who may have lost their way. I know I have, there must be someone else out there who feels the same. Where did the music go? Where did that passion for the song fade away only to be replaced with a passion for elite gear? My heart breaks and has had a hole ever since I was lured into some elitist view on owning as much gear as possible. Its been years since I've sat outside with a glass of wine with my headphones on, enjoying the seclusion as the wind blows through the tree line just beyond my favorite area to loom around. Something happened to the Audio World in recent times and its not where it should be in my view. I've noticed a lot of gear being produced that is neutral, cold and dry. Maybe this is the type of sound some users find to be fun. All I know its thats not for me. I've come to appreciate Head Fi and feel like its my second home. Back in October of 2011, I lost all my audio gear in a fire at my new apartment, some head fi'ers really made me feel welcomed and part of the family so to speak. I guess losing everything you have gives you a unique perspective on your hobby or passions in life. If you woke up tomorrow with only one set of headphones, what would you want that to be and why? Its an important question I had to ask myself, which one out of everything I have ever experienced would I want to keep. It is the first question I had to ask myself to find the road back to true happiness, the road in which I can reconfigure my brain to accept the musical factor as the most vital and important element in my gear. Which one is the most fun? What defines you?
As a musician, I've come into contact and made friends with an insane amount of other musicians. Out of thousands, I've found 2 who had an appreciation for high end gear. The rest were caught up in their own world, enveloped by their own musicianship...and thats how it should be. Its something I have forgotten. I don't mean to preach but I did need to vent something, anything really. Years of enjoyment lost in the endless quest to own the best. I've been there, done that. There are many expensive pieces of gear that are good enough to change your life, I know a few did that to me. Sets like the Sennheiser HE60 for instance. Insanely expensive, but pure sonic bliss when matched up with the right gear. So good in fact, its saddening to know everyone can't have it.
All I can say is that I am an audio addict for life, but I am also a music enthusiast for life as well. Music first, gear second. Thats my path. I've owned so many headphones of all types, so many amplifiers and so many sources. The path to finding your golden setup is marked with pitfalls so be careful. Once you do find it, let me know, as I want to experience as much as I can before my time is up.
I am an Earbud Man. I've loved, I've lived...and I listened. :)
Edited by swbf2cheater - 6/10/12 at 7:27pm