The Myth of Magical Audio Components

Sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. -- The White Queen

Sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

-- The White Queen

A true audio lover seeks ever-increasing musical fidelity and audibly improving sonic performance in their listening room.  This quest tends to define us.  Our drive for audio perfection means more than simply greater musical enjoyment.  The respect we want and our standing in our peer group depend on how far we are willing to go to have great music.  

Sleek, classy marketing that audio companies feed us creates an aura of magic around shiny new gear.  The ads constantly train us to expect technology advances and product innovation to satisfy our lust for an ever-improving audio experience.   We mistake getting new components for what we are really after -- hearing musical improvement.  

That’s a lazy, ineffective, erroneous, and costly habit.

By no means am I immune.  I, too, seek the best possible performance from my system and love to hear about new developments and better gear.  But let’s face it, by depending on component upgrades too much, we can easily degenerate into abject stereo sluts, continually lurking for the next positive review touting some magical component with better performance.  Or we may fall prey to voodoo-like, black box tweaks and become tweak sluts.  As in -- so many interconnects, so little time.

Let’s fantasize a bit.  Say you fell down a rabbit hole and discovered you could not only have that next preamp, or DAC, or speakers you’ve been dreaming about -- you entered an enchanted realm where any piece of gear you want, regardless of scarcity or cost, instantly becomes yours.  Finally, you can pull together the super-system of the ages that marries all the best component technology around.  Can this total slut-out guarantee you’ll finally and forever hear the finest music possible in your listening room?  

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. -- Cheshire Cat

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

-- Cheshire Cat

Sorry, Alice.  Disappointingly, the answer is no, unless you also attend to performance factors that component selection and audio systems can never affect.  Perfection-by-components is only a dream because everything happening in your listening room affects your music.  Resonances, echoes and vibration that you can easily eliminate take a constant toll when left untreated.

You also have to deal with your room and audio furnishings (Drat!) since what you have is a system.  As the first law of general systems theory instructs, everything affects everything else.  What reaches your ears is the summary acoustic behavior of your room’s entire contents.  This may sound like bad news but it’s actually good news in disguise -- a reality wake-up call.  Systems principles indicate audibly better performance from whatever gear you already have if you work on everything else that’s going on with your room and furnishings.  

You can’t row the audio boat with only one oar.  You have to set up right, add acoustic conditioning, and install anti-vibration to achieve the best performance any given set of audio components can achieve.  Without proper setup, good room acoustics, and vibration damping, you’ll be passing up a significant portion of the performance magic possible from any components you already have and any you get in the future.  

The measures suggested here produce astounding improvements for comparatively small costs.  A hundred dollars worth of anti-vibration treatment can chase away acoustic devils that usually plague an untreated system and improve everything we listen for across the board.  I’ll spare you the usual litany of arcane audiophile adjectives.  Put an end to acoustic disruption and you’ll hear better music from your old components and any new ones you get.

ASI -- Twenty thousand happy customers can't be wrong.

ASI -- Twenty thousand happy customers can't be wrong.

If cost matters, and you spend typical amounts on components, no worries.  Just skip one component upgrade and apply that investment to “everything else.”  I predict you’ll be glad you did and you’ll enjoy a new plateau of musical delight.  Achievements with setup, room acoustics, and anti-vibration will continue to enhance performance of any and all components you acquire going forward.  In the end, the reality is far more satisfying than any magic-component fantasy, especially if you already have good-to-great components in your present system.

Presently, iHi-Fi offers the best available approach to acoustic correction and conditioning -- Acoustic System International’s whole product line -- along with the free consulting you need to get it all right.  Since inception over a decade ago, ASI has shipped over 20,000 units worldwide.  One European dealer has sold over 150 Basic Installations.  The Acoustic System success is well documented.

If you want to explore another, newer approach that has driven respected reviewers gaga lately, iHi-Fi also offers the music-enhancing resonators from HighEnd Novum, in two sizes.  Everything iHi-Fi offers comes with a money-back guarantee and a month to audition.  How could you go wrong? 

Tenderfeet from Herbie's Audio Lab block vibration from components and install in seconds.

Tenderfeet from Herbie's Audio Lab block vibration from components and install in seconds.

To cover anti-vibration, I’m rapidly developing a beautiful, affordable, optimized audio rack and matching custom speaker stands for studio monitors.  They come with anti-vibration built in.  If you like to fiddle and customize, these devices are designed to make that easy.  This is the beginning of the Masiv product line, which includes two dozen optimized furnishing concepts already.  I continue to give form to these ideas and make my own dream-performance audio furnishing designs available going forward.  

Why not think different?  Un-focus from habitual lazy attachment to component upgrades.  Apply some proven engineering and materials science to your listening environment.  I predict your ears will be delighted and your friends will be astounded.  They may be a little jealous about what you accomplish while they wait around for the next new component.  No worries, iHi-Fi has plenty audio perfection available for all.

Click to Comment is your online high-end audio store.  Shop from anywhere in the USA without leaving home.  Receive expert advice and audition whatever you buy with return and refund privileges. All the computer audio gear at delivers exceptional to stunning performance at value prices. Authorized Dealer for Audioengine, Acoustic System International, Bravo Audio, and HighEnd Novum.