23 March 2003
My interest in audio basically started some 17 years ago when I wanted to have an additional two loudspeakers for my mid-fi Akai system. Surprisingly (to me, at that time) just slapping two wide band drivers in a box didn't yield the desired results. From there on, the quest for better music reproduction started and has never ended. I have explored any link in the audio chain and became fed up with having to listen for "soundstage", "microdetail", "dynamics", "bass" and all that. I just want to enjoy music the best way I can and for that all items must fit in the equation.
For nine years, I have lived happily with a Marantz CD80 player, with an Electrocompaniet EC1 Preampliwire and ditto AW 65 poweramp and a set of Acoustic Energy AE1 monitors. This system played music and had an extremely transparent soundstage and detail, but virtually no bass. Especially at that time, large speakers sounded "large" with huge polycone drivers and muddy midranges and non-transparent soundstages. Only since the mid-nineties, with the introduction of aluminium, ceramic and magnesium drivers I was able to find speakers that had both good bass and a transparent midrange. I think my current speakers stand out in this combination. However, these more revealing speakers made me want to upgrade electronics again. I usually don't change components fast, changes in sound are obvious to me and I know what I like. I therefore have not bought many components that I didn't like. On the other hand, audio stores have a hard time selling to me through nice story's and a listening session alone. Too many people keep searching for new components and hardly find balance in their systems that way.
My current system resides in my living room of about 35 m2. One thing I have always looked for in audio is the reproduction of music itself. If a system doesn't make me want to sit back and be absorbed by what a particular artist wants you to experience, it's a waste of money. I have always been able to pass on the "Audio Virus" to others in my life, so WAF is really not an issue. Perhaps the time I spend on my system and surrounding hobby's is more of a problem than the system's size or influence on the room interior.
DIY has started this hobby, and still is the major factor in my audio life. On one hand it lets you experience the difficulties of making a good audio component, on the other hand it makes you aware of the overload of "should sound better than it looks, costs more than it should" audio components around. I design loudspeakers, though not many. I tend to go a long way before I actually approve on the sound of my own designed loudspeakers. And of course my designs are not done untill they run circles around commercial speakers in the same league.
I don't have a huge CD collection, some 300 CD's and ditto LP's. I try to improve the quality of my collection rather than its volume. There is always a disk that I feel like playing and only very good new releases I will buy. Of course now I wait for SACD releases. I hate jewel cases, so I have my cd's stored in CD carrying cases.... I listen to a wide variety of music ranging from (progressive) rock (20%), Classic (20%), Jazz (40%) and pop (20%).
Over the last years I basically had two tracks that I use for auditioning, because I know them throughout:
- Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush - Don't give up
Other than that, any disc has its
merits for auditioning.
Edgar's comments about his system:
AA: "Edgar, how would you describe your system's sound?"
EB: "Music. No seriously, there is no special noticable character except maybe for its bass reproduction. You'll be amazed how much better music sounds with a proper deep low-end without the boom. This is a system that doesn't want you to take notice of anything special, yet leaves nothing out either. That's the way I like it."
AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"
EB: "Sure. I haven't worked on room acoustics at all because my room is not that problematic, but I am sure there is improvement to be gained. Proper placement of the speakers is critical, which is a pain to do with 175 Kg per loudspeaker. There is still some work in that area too."
AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"
"The amps perhaps. I'd like to own
a set of Electrocompaniet NEMO power amps, because they
really leave the speakers no room for "own interpretations"
and still play music. Did I mention I love Electrocompaniet?
The SACD1000 could defenitely have a better low end. I will
probably have the power supply upgraded, which has proven to
be a nice improvement. I will keep playing with cables.
There is no doubt about the improvements that may be
obtained, the way to do it (DIY or bought) may be another