The origin of 'music' the term is ancient Greek. It dates back to 'mousike techne', technique of or labor with the muses. Which bails me out. As long as technique is conjoined to the concept of music, I'm okay admitting that my first interest in hifi wasn't due a deeply felt, back-to-early-childhood connection with music but pure fascination with machines. This began during puberty and all manner of electrical and electronic items. Since I and the soldering iron weren't completely on speaking terms which had me lack the necessary ambition to learn what resistance values correlated to what blasted colored rings, I drifted to completely finalized electronics instead.

My hifi existence started out well sorted enough. Amp and speaker quality was measured in 'watts', the more the merrier. Further investigations added THD and TIM distortion and S/N ratios. Such knowledge of percentages and decibels and the fact that besides Schneider and Fisher, brands like Technics, Sansui and Yamaha existed had me a bona fide hifi expert. Or so I thought.

This happily simplistic hifi existence was rattled to the core when, at a friend's dad, I encountered my first real hifi system to discover brands like Accuphase, Denon and Rogers that heretofore had slipped my notice. As had the dealers which carried them. I guarded the Rogers' spec sheet which their proud owner let me have like a relic. Though I don't recall the model, I do remember the driver artillery to this day - a 200mm Bextrene woofer, a 38mm Mylar dome and a special Celestion super tweeter. Lasting impressions were made by the woofers' powerful excursions which pushed much wind through the bass reflex when Telarc's 1812 Tchaikovsky overture played, with the plainly visible "Caution! Digital Cannons" memorably on the album cover.

This burst all dams. All subsequent pocket monies and school vacations were invested into hifi kit acquisitions, a development whose details by model and brand I'll skip over since more important was how this growing obsession couldn't avoid dealing with what I encountered over my systems - music.

This approach from the machines to the music rather than in reverse modeled how I relate to music. I don't measure my music experiences against the live performance. While live music of all persuasions is great fun, it's fundamentally different from playback where I'm in the best seat of the house. People who understand a helluva lot more about music than I have labored hard for my enjoyment. And because I'm not crowded standing or sitting between others, I can more easily and deeper delve into the tunes.

So I vehemently disagree with those who claim that amateurs cannot tell a system's quality which, in the high-end, is left to the pros. I rather believe the opposite. The less one is acquainted with music and the fewer role models one has, the more vital it becomes to perceive the utmost in detail and nuance. Here I compare music to a foreign language. The less one has mastered a language, the more one has to listen and labor to make out meaning. Poor diction or background din undermine intelligibility. Mastery of language relies on far fewer acoustical data. I've often noted how entry into a previously closed musical piece occurred at the hands of a good system. Superior hifi machines make obvious those details which under lesser conditions cloud up to undermine appreciation and understanding of the music.

Listening to music led to my learning to play the piano. And while I won't develop into a star, I am ambitious to, once retirement hits, explore whisky and Jazz together. This will be supported by our politicians' trends to postpone retirement age further and further, giving me plenty of time to practice. I've already gotten quite good at the whisky part. Preferably of the Islay sort in cask strength...
redaktion @