My ears lost their innocence in 1990.
I used to be a person who was just happy listening to music on whatever medium was available – – the car radio, my home stereo system, the loudspeakers at the mall – it didn’t really matter to me. Although, I am a musician – and a classically trained one at that – my ear was never really very picky when it came to consuming music for my entertainment. My ear only seemed to be MY worst critic, not anyone else’s. That is until 1989, when I married a true audiophile geek. If there is one thing to be said about my ex-husband (we divorced in 1993), it’s that he has an amazing ear for reproducing music and sound as close as possible, if not better, than the original performance. His talent for mixing up sound to produce an absolute feast for the ears is surpassed by none, really – – at least no one that I’ve come across yet. And, man, I really hate to compliment the guy – but he is good. I guess that comes in handy in the studios, producing music. It’s one thing for him to be OCD about it in the studio – but he carried it with him wherever he went, and that applied to our own home entertainment system. He is picky to an absolute fault and is absolutely obsessive with extra special attention paid to sound quality and enhancements – and was especially picky about little things I never could really hear – – until he pointed them out to me, now I hear them in low quality systems everywhere I go.
It wasn’t until after I divorced him and spent some pretty lean years raising our two kids on my own that I realized my once beloved sources of music – – my car radio, my home stereo system – – pretty much anything that could reproduce my favorite tunes… those sources just weren’t good enough any more. My once lazy ear had been trained after years of marriage to an obsessive compulsive audiophile (to the nth degree!). But, those were some pretty lean years and there’s no way I could afford the system we once had in our living room (now in his possession) – – the Altec Lansings were clearly way above my pay grade.
Very recently, I purchased a recording of 100 of my favorite classical piano pieces. Classical piano is a part of my (almost) daily life – – I listen to it a lot, mostly while working and writing – – much to the dismay of my teenage children. There’s almost nothing I love more than to turn it up as loud as my system can handle it and then sit back, close my eyes and take it all in. I could do it for hours…and have.
The first day I played the recording on my PC with its 5.1 Logitech speaker system I’ve had in place for several years – – I queued up ‘La Camponella‘, adjusted the EQ so the treble, bass and mid-tones were just perfect (to suit my ear) – and sat back for a listen…and came up sorely wanting. My years of marriage to the audiophile geek were coming back to haunt me. The mix wasn’t right – – the speakers couldn’t handle the volume – the mid-tones muddled – – I was in sound quality hell, thanks to my ex-husband. No wonder I divorced him! (Actually, there were other reasons for the divorce that I just won’t go into here – – the snobby, elitist way he approached our home entertainment system wasn’t actually one of them.)
One day, I whined to my (current) husband about the curse of the audiophile, who is no longer in my life, but whose influence lingers on by way of my ears! I vented my frustration that morning and returned t my office, resigned to the less than stellar sound coming out of my Logitechs – – and then, on Christmas morning, when I unwrapped a box of the brand new Bose Companion 5 speakers system for my PC . . I knew I was headed for piano heaven. He listened to my woes and cries of dissatisfaction with my current sound environment and solved the problem on Christmas morning!
I set those speakers up on my PC and immediately cranked the volume on Chopin’s 27 Etudes, Op. 10, No. 25 in C Minor, ‘Revolutionary’, Op.10, No. 12 and knew immediately that I was in love — with the speakers, and with my (non audiophile geek) husband who acknowledges how my past continues to haunt me in ways that his ears cannot comprehend.
I’m enjoying how my classical piano recordings sound through these speakers just as much as my favorite Metallica albums (pre-St.Anger, naturally).
The Bose Companion 5 speaker system are affordable (I peeked!) and the sound quality is really amazing for what they are – – and they suit me perfectly. I don’t claim to be an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination – but my former husbands picky ear did wear off on me a little bit — even allll these years later. I guess I shouldn’t complain at all – there could have been WAY worse things that could still be lingering from that particular relationship – – a (somewhat) picky ear isn’t the worst thing in the world!
Hope you all had very happy (and safe!) holidays and are headed for a fantastic new year in 2010!