Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Listener: The Often Ignored Hi-Fi Component?

With a myriad number of tweaks already in under evaluation – and still growing, isn’t it strange that the most often ignored component in the hi-fi experiential chain is the listener?

By: Ringo Bones

Surely, this is yet another topic that won’t become a perennial bone of contention in the annual meeting of the Audio Engineering Society anytime soon. But do we – in the enthusiast’s side of the hi-fi community – find it just a bit strange that we, the listener, is the only major component in the hi-fi experiential listening chain that is not subjected to extensive tweaking. After all, our audio / stereo systems will not be listening to themselves anytime soon, right?

During the past few weeks, I’m beginning to wonder whether those “out-there” kind of tweaks – also referred to as advanced tweaks - are really nothing more than health and wellness tweaks, though not all of them, aimed specifically at us – the hi-fi listener / system owner. These “exotic” health and wellness tips are often referred to as alternative medicine by the Madison Avenue marketing men and they too are often dismissed by staunch objectivists as too “New Age”. Like those advanced tweaks that inextricably works to some degree in improving the sound quality of one’s audio gear. But what are they?

Drinking Polarized Water – a hi-fi tweak often attributed to Peter W. Belt. Polarized water in hi-fi tweak parlance is a drinkable water produced by placing a bottle or glass of water contained in a non-magnetic container to the north pole of a moderately-strong magnet - like loudspeaker and guitar pickup magnets - for 2 to 5 minutes. The listener drinks it in order to notice a marked improvement in sound quality of one’s audio gear. I think it works by relieving the stress of the listener. Allowing him or her to be musically more perceptive. As preliminary research by Professor Eshel Ben Jacob, a physicist from Tel Aviv University, have shown that stressfully purified water can make anyone who drinks it stressful. Maybe I’ll try drinking water purified by gamma radiation via cobalt-60, which is probably the most stressful water purification method that I know of – and has access to - in order to find out if this has a detrimental effect to the sound quality of my audio gear.

The Dreaded Pattern 5 Acupuncture Treatment – this is probably the most extensive and painful of all acupuncture treatments that’s offered to us – i.e. those of us without any lineage to mainland China’s great emperors whatsoever. But this particular acupuncture treatment has the greatest potential to restore the body’s energy and balance, although each one of the 47 or so needles that the acupuncturist had stuck into me felt like a 440-volt electric shock. The treatment did made me feel tired and sore, but after several minutes relaxing while listening to my audio rig, I’ve noticed that I’m hearing details that I never knew my systems lowly price tag had any right to produce.

A Vigorous Workout – it does work so well, especially after sever minutes when your body has assimilated all those endorphins produced during the exercise regimen. This not only makes you feel good, but it makes you feel as if you are listening to a much more expensive audio gear as you relax while listening to your favorite tunes. Better consult your doctor or GP first to find out if your body is up to it though.

A Several Days Fast From Your Audio Gear – this one is a perfect cure to those obsessive-compulsive tweakers. Try “vacationing” or “fasting” away from your audio gear for three days or more by hiking or fishing or doing any outdoor activity on your favorite spot as far from your audio gear as possible. You’ll be surprised how this one improves the sound of your audio gear and reduces your tendency to be an overly compulsive hi-fi tweak.

Of all these hi-fi / health and wellness tweaks that I tried, probably the most transcendent is the Pattern 5 Acupuncture treatment. It is transcendent in a way that it kind of makes you feel more contented of your possessions and the people around you. I wonder if the members of Grateful Dead have tried the Pattern 5 Acupuncture treatment? Anyway, all of them will not only improve the sound quality of your audio gear to some degree, but it also gives you – the listener – a much needed tweak to be better at all the other things that you do.