Holy Grail of Audio Systems

I hate wine.

This is probably largely due to an old roommate of mine while i was in the military. My first night in the barracks we got drunk, drank a whole box of it. I got sick.

I cannot tell the difference between a Merlot and a Chardonnay, heck i probably cannot even spell it.

However, there are people out there who can take a sip of wine, taste it, and be able to tell you approximately when it was made, weather or not they used oak barrels, the general geographical location where the grapes were grown, and possibly even the brand and batch.
Most people cannot, instead they know if they like it, or dont. They might remember the brand so they can get it again, but everything else is irrelevant.

I Love Audio.

Most of my friends are blown away by my audio system. It took years to get everything, and to them it is the greatest audio system they have ever heard.
Its not that they are uneducated, or inexperienced, or inferior, to them if it sounds good, it is good. Why improve?

Unfortunately i am not like them. I recognize all the major brands and i know what they would best be suited for. I also know alot of the more obscure brands as well. I understand the entire process of how a CD works, the path of the information, how the receiver / preamp get the info and how it handles it. I understand why the CD is inferior to the vinyl. I understand and can explain analog to digital, digital to analog. I understand exactly how an amplifier runs a speaker, the principles and fundamentals of sound, the speed, the pitch, and exactly how the brain processes it.

As well does everyone who reads this.

The bad thing about it, is that this is a very costly hobby. To have a decent entry level system you have to spend as much as somebody might for a slightly used Honda.

And After dropping that much of your financial resources in a system, it is still not yet complete. There is another speaker that sounds better, a cable that promises better sound, an amplifier just out of reach that would give you cleaner power, solid or tube?. And dont forget the line cleaners. Certainly, if you spend this much, you might as well spike your speakers and components. Now its time to do more research in acoustics, and to design and built acoustical treatments.
Dont forget the power, you cannot simply use the sub-par wall power, now its time to buy a stage 4 power filter. But not any filter will do, you need the best filter you can find, or all the money you spent on your setup is wasted because it will not reach its full potential!!!!!
Now you have the amplifiers, the power, the cables, the speakers, the processor, the spikes, the acoustical treatments, the calibration test sets, the noise meters, the tape measure, the paper and equations, how far is the speaker? what's the angle? Shoot! My processor does not offer the increment i need in order to set the delay up exactly where it needs to be! Need to reposition the furniture! No wait, that will change the acoustics, and I spent too much time setting those treatments up just perfect, time to dish out several thousand dollars for a new processor, unless I can find something to delay the signal in the speaker cable itself, no, I will go for the new processor.
Now my music sounds brighter than I like. What happened? This processor is superior in every way that last $2000.00 piece of junk! Time to work with the acoustics of the room. Nothing works! Remove the spikes, put the spikes back on, adjust the angle, remove the grill, replace the grill, remove the bi-wire replace the bi-wire. Maybe new speakers. If I'm going to get new speakers, ill get a higher quality/price model, Static? Horn? Full Range? Electrostatic? Bipole? Dipole? Ceramic woofers? Titanium or silk tweeters? Hows the range? Will I need a subwoofer? Should I get rid of the old subwoofer if I don't?
Do I have the power to drive a larger speaker? Should I get a new amp? Go with tube? How about Solid state? 50W on this is more powerful than 125 watts on that?

Meanwhile, the Wife, Girlfriend, Buddy, whatever the case may be says "Your CD player sounded just fine five thousand dollars ago."

But of course, they don't understand. It is possible to create the perfect system. The stereo that is balanced, and true. Where you close your eyes and you are in the room with the performers themselves. Its possible isn't it?

Is it?

Is it possible to ever 100% perfectly recreate an analog sound? With speakers that provide the sound impressions from multiple sources? The percussion of the drum through the speaker means that the analog twang of the guitar is distorted, because that speaker is not dedicated to the exact noise that that one guitar string makes. And by producing that percussion hit, it will ever so slightly distort the twang, let alone the fact that a speaker is not a guitar sting.

Does it make any difference?

When does this hobby become the proverbial quest for the holy grail?
"Your CD player sounded just fine five thousand dollars ago"

They cannot tell the difference. To them it sounds good.
There is no concern about the oak barrel, the region the grapes were grown.

Can audiophiles really tell? Or does their paranoia of not having the perfectly balanced system play with the ear?

I believe there gets to a point where the inadequacies of our audio systems are more imagination and envy than anything else. A very difficult hobby for those of us without strong financial means.

But when we do get things set to where we are finally satisfied,
we can sit back and listen. And we taste the oak barrel, the cedar mulching, the age?..
Well said. Take a few deep breaths, say a few oms (not to be mistaken for ohms). Put on some music and try to relax and enjoy what you have. I am listening to the new Steely Dan CD through a Marantz Changer and Denon Receiver with Totem Dreamcatcher Speakers. It does not sound as good as my reference "listening room" system, but it sounds pretty darn good, very enjoyable.
I think sometimes we all need to step back and look at (listen to) things a little less critically.
I agree with Muzikat.
And I don't know anyone *on earth* that knows "exactly" how the brain processes sound.
enjoy your music.
wow! i thought i was the author of this rant because this is my story about 13 years chasing "Holy Grail" and he
appeared in my listening room for the first time yesterday
06/14/03 did not know if there was such a thing as "holy Grail" but dedicating uncountable hours of listening and
studying various products tweaks and cables he has surfaced. my combination includes audio note dac and pre-amp and virtual dynamic cables room analysis is essential not to mention lots of Benjamins my tip dont keep buying things hoping to improve parts of your system get the best you can afford all @ once and be done with it so you can listen to the music and enjoy
Wow! You need therapy!! I suggest you follow this multi-step program immediately:

1. Take a deep breath.
2. Get something to drink immediately - it doesn't matter whether there are grapes or not.
3. Go sit down and listen to some music. DO NOT listen to the system, LISTEN TO THE MUSIC.
4. If it doesn't sound good, and you can afford it, upgrade your system, but only to make the music sound better, NOT THE SYSTEM!!!!

Seriously, this hobby is about the music, not the gear. When the tunes sound good all the time, stop worrying about the gear.

If you are more worried about the gear then sell all but 10 great sounding CDs, and buy the absolutely coolest gear you can find. Upgrade it every 3 months at least (you have to stay on top of these things), get yourself a nice big line of credit, and sell your home.

There is no perfect, you can only get closer, and after a while the cost of incremental improvement will be shocking - I think you are already at that point. You'll be much happier if you stop obsessing about the electronics and remember why you like this hobby to begin with; because good gear makes the music sound so good.

If you want to really be frustrated, get rid of your audio equipment and take up golf.
Hello All!
Me again

Yeah, im really not that bad, more of anything i just wanted to write. That was not specifically about me, but just the general feeling that whatever you have is just now quite enough, because there is always something better out there.

The products that are far beyond the price range are great, because there is no way i could afford them, its the ones that are obtainable that are frustrating.

Something to do on a sunday morning during a very slow period at work! :)

I will just be happy when i get rid of my reciever and get an amp/pre amp set. actually, im starting that process here soon by possibly purchasing 2 of nOrh's Le AMP II silid monoblocks. only $195 untill the end of june!
Still researching these though, seems like too good of a deal!
The search for The Grail is more about the search, than it is about the finding. None of us have perfection. It is the use of our skills in assembling various items in certain configurations and rooms, that is the crux of our hobby. How close can we get? And how much did we learn from the last try at it? It is rather like a personal expression of our abilities, and it shows how well we understand how to get the closest to real-life sound as we can, while working within the boundaries of our flawed surroundings and products. There are several approaches, and they all have their "poison pills" that are inherent in each approach. Selecting the path that provides your particular needs and tastes, while sacrificing the fewest things, particularly in the areas that you are most sensitive to, is almost an art form in itself, with some significant technical knowledge also applied. If everybody could reach the perfect Nirvana with little skill or effort, this wouldn't be much of a hobby. It has do be deep and complex to maintain the attention levels needed for a hobby.

I love fine wine.
There are a lot of holy grail's out there Audiophanatic, mine stay with me about 5 years, then it's time for a new grail. I'm thinking of finding a new holy grail as I type this, 5 years are up and it's about time for a new sound in the old house. I always start with the speakers and go from there, full range ribbons could sound nice for about five years maybe, lets see: I'm 53 and if I live to be 83, thats only 6 more systems! Yea, I think the wife could handle that ok.
If one does a search for "Words from the Wise" here, there is a great amount of hard earned knowledge from those whom have been in this hobby for many years. I printed it off and it has helped me in keeping perspective.

Just out of curiosity because my folklore is rusty, did Lancelot or Perceval, or whoever, ever found the holy grail? If not, case in point I guess. It would be quite boring if you've found it, won't it?
It was Percival.
Audiophanatik -

If nothing else, you're a helluva writer.

One comment, regarding "Is it possible to ever 100% perfectly recreate an analog sound?"


But what a good system can do is convincingly mimic some aspect of a live performance. It might be the dynamics, it might be the soundstaging, it might be the timbre, it might be the nuance, it might be the rhythm. Whatever it is, that one magical element is our passport to an altered state, so long as the system doesn't distract us with some glaring coloration in another area.

Since I'm a speaker junkie, my philosphy is that in order to be a contender a speaker must do something magical, and then (just as importantly) not distract you from that magic.

I agree with Duke. Someone offered suggestions regarding different "gons" catering to different hobbies. I was thinking about a writer's gon. Audiophanatik certainly would be a proponent for such a gon.
Audiophanatik, the key word in your post is "hobby". It's not just "purchase and forget about it" if it's a hobby.

Well, Duh.