The road to insanity...
A Long and Painful Sharing of the Shocking True Events that Have Landed Me in this Insane Boat, Along with the Rest of You Loonies, Looking for Moral Support of Like Suffering Individuals Who Would Like to Share Their Tales of Sorrow.
I thank Perkadin for his post, which brought back these memories.
It all started like this...
I though all CD players simply had to sound the same
I could not imagine otherwise.
After moving to a new place, I ended up with my old 'top of the line' pioneer changer, my wife's Kenwood changer, and my mother in law's JVC. All were changers.
I loaded them all up, not to do a comparison, but because I wanted to access over a bunch of cd's at once.
Each was plugged into a difference source in my old Akai (remember them?) receiver.
Well, I started to notice that the three players sounded different. I though, well, it's just the cd's that are different. But it became a rather noticeable difference. The older 'top of the line' Pioneer was clearly the worst, while the $200 JVC seemed to be the best.
So... I found cd's that I had dupes of (from my wife's or mil's collection). Then I realized that not all cd players sounded the same.
Then I decided to see what could make such a difference. The first thing that I found out was... the CD players each have a different DAC (I know, common sense now, but at the time I had given this zero though).
Eventually, I picked up a used Denon changer, which blew all the others away (still in use in the bedroom).
(now, skip forward a couple of years, and I'd now just made my semi-accidental first high(er) end buy, a pair of NHT 2.5's.Tried several other, like Boston Acoustic, and they all sounded very weak.)
These replaced 10 year old Cerwin Vega -gasp you say? let he amongst you who has not owned some "cool" crappy speakers throw the first stone!
This let me to the next (miss)step.
I though all amps/receivers sounded the same. I had read as much from 'professionals.' Frankly, I though only speakers made a real difference, and that speaker freq.. response figures were all I needed to know.
I replaced the Akai with a Marantz, simply because I wanted to listen to movies in surround.
Well, I'll be damned if it didn't sound better than the Akai.
Now, this was something. Hum, well if Denon made a decent CD player, the must make a decent receiver.
Picked up a Denon 5600dts receiver (still thinking 'hey, it does stereo AND HT!, plus -signs of learning- it has a built in DAC, Burr Brown and all).
Now, I was not longer surprised. The Denon blew the doors of the Marantz. Much better, tighter bass was the first thing that jumped at me.
OK, so now I'm beginning to get into music again (it'd been years) but... I started getting tired quickly. I found myself thinking "gee, these speakers sound good." Well, that's gets boring very fast. I wanted to hear music.
So a few months later (notice gravity taking me down the slippery slope?) I decided to get something less "clinical."
Now I went to the web. I bought, sight unseen and hearing unheard, a pair of VSR VR-3's. I bought these because one of the recurring themes in the reviews (both pro and user -I now had little faith in 'pro' reviews) was that these were "musical" speakers.
Well, they sure were/are. Much better than the 2.5's. I was now listening to music, not speakers.
OK, now we start getting into serious insanity, and if you've put up with my ramblings you are more patient than I.
When I bought the VR3's, I received free of charge a pair of unterminated AQ Type 4 cables. I looked at them, said "cable is cable", and tossed them aside.
I was at this time using Monsters (see Cerwin Vega comment above).
One day, I was getting ready to go to work. I had a burst of energy and I decided to take a bit of time and hook up the AQ's (yeah, it's good to be the boss). They were a pain in the behind to install, since the were not terminated but once I start something, I will finish. I expected to hear no difference.
I turned on the system, and played some Ruben Gonzalez.
Oh man, did it sound good, so airy and smooth!
I though: "Hiram, you silly fool, it's not the cables. You just spent half an hour making these things work, and it's a sunny Miami afternoon, it sounds good because you feel good and because you want it to sound good, and that music was made for days like today."
Cable is cable.
Fast forward to November of 2001, we have just moved to a new house, with tons of room including one for... HT.
One of the first things did when we moved was set up the audio. But there's no way I was going to go through that trouble with the AQ's again, so out came the Monsters.
One night my wife sits down next to me and we listen to some Beatles (first time since we'd moved she had a chance to sit and listen).
While listening to A Day in the Life she tells me that it sound "wrong", as if it was "struggling."
"Well", I say, "it has to be acoustics." So she goes to do something, I move the speakers, call her back. Nope, still sounds wrong.
OK, I could only think of item that was different between the two homes: the speaker cables. Out come the AQ's, and I put them in place (only took 10 minutes this time). Called her back... "yes, now it sounds like it did before.'