High End Audio - What to do?

After a hiatus from listening to recorded music, I wondered if there was an answer to tap into the many wonderful performances of classical and contemporary works. In the 1990s, I embarked on a journey which took several years. I would say the journey was as enjoyable as achieving the end result itself, although I am by nature a person of the latter ilk.

I spent considerable time online searching and discussing high-end audio. Back in the 1990s, the web browsing experience was nothing like it is today. In the early 1990s, I indulged in Usenet newsgroups for my many discussions online (not through a web browser). I had a presence in the Usenet group rec.audio.high-end. Today, there are various ways to access Usenet groups including the use of Google Groups. I find it amazing that long-ago archives are still available on the Internet (including Google servers). Here are my rec.audio.high-end Usenet postings of the past. I subscribed to Stereophile magazine as another source of information.

My main motivation was to arm myself with as much information as possible so that I could make an informed decision on acquiring a high-end audio system. I also hung out at high-end audio stores listening to and bringing equipment home for listening evaluation. After all, it is only through the ears that one can (or can not) tell how an audio system sounds. An interesting area and source of debate centers around the use of double blind abx testing.

There are endless debates that continue today on whether or not a high-end system sounds better than the mass market consumer products. Some contend that if specifications and measurements are the same, then the resulting sound will be the same. That is assuming the measurements are indeed measuring everything that qualifies the sound. I suspect there are deficiencies in the measurements but I leave that to a separate technical and theoretic discussion. If it sounds good to your ears, then buy it if you wish.

My high-end audio system search was never about technology but first and foremost the sound. It had to produce sound that appealed to me, especially for extended listening without the system getting in my way. With lesser systems where there is more distortion, the ears get tired of hearing the noise and eventually there is listening fatigue which pushes the listener away. With less distortion in the high-end sound, listening does not lead to irritation and fatigue due to distortion (noise).

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