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Perfect Sound Forever (Again) - January 2023

I would like to wander into the world many of you are considering: Streaming.

Hold onto your hats and open your ears. This all began after I visited the owner of another dealer who is out of state. He presented to me his best system using both Audio Research and Wilson Speakers using exceptional cables. When he streamed what he wanted to play, it was truly excellent. However, things went quickly amiss when Debbie and I started to choose the music we wanted to hear. Dreadful, actually. I do not fault either the dealer or the equipment.

I have done multiple comparisons with my LPs (original pressings) in the store with what is available via streaming. I have been investigating this and repeatedly found the LP far more musically satisfying. I proceeded to purchase a personal favorite rock album from the 70s, a new reissue, to provide further demonstration material to drive this point home after hearing how terrible this had sounded on the other dealers system. Much to my staff's horror, the reissue LP sounded absolutely dreadful and was easily crushed by the Bel Canto streamer.

It was at this point that I realized that it wasn't so much the format used, as it was that the quality of the source, the music itself, was the answer. Much like when CDs first came out, they did not bother to go to the original master but rather grabbed any version, however many generations later, to make the product. Some of you may recall the early days of photocopiers and what happened 6 or 7 generations later. Same thing. So, in the case of my LP, it was the exact same problem: some miserable digital remaster of lord knows what generation copy. I now have a 1975 pressing in bound to show that not all is happy in LP land either.

I think, as well, that there are fundamental differences between our interactions with the music itself. Without question, the use of LPs requires a decision, an intent, to sit down and enjoy it much like a fine meal. The blind assumption given to streaming is that the meal presented is equally so. Like meals, we have come to learn there can be quite a difference between restaurants. Convenience does not always satisfy. It may be a trade-off you are willing to accept and I have no problem with that as long as it is an informed choice. It’s sorta like cutting the air conditioning belt on a car. Yep, better mileage and pep as long as you are willing to sweat.

Marketing is also a funny thing as CDs were marketed for years as "perfect sound forever." Well, they were not perfect and I also have plenty of examples of CD rot (the deterioration of the metal). So, here we go again and now it's hard to find a nice player for those CDs. We are doing what we can.

There's not much point in arguing this and we have chosen to merely present the reality of the formats and if they insist on demonstrations only by streaming, then they need to be made aware that depending upon their choices, the better the system the poorer results may and will likely occur. As for many other stores, who rely solely on streaming, I consider them to be lazy and that you, the buyer, are not likely being given proper demonstrations nor do they either care or know. The truth be told, the better the system, the worse it will either sound or leave you pondering why should I spend that sort of money. I TOTALLY AGREE. If only steaming is available, everyone may become a victim of what I call electronic scoliosis (everyone hunched over a phone or tablet) served on a dish of mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong, there is some excellent streaming available but is what you want streamed any good? Oddly enough, were are now challenged with the old two source rule which use to be used in reporting.

So don’t be surprised if Audible Elegance simply takes a few moments to alert you to this situation as you try to make an intelligent investment in your life and home. Rarely do the educated take the easy and simple path. It's our lot in life to understand and, if possible, to teach others.

And so it goes, again.


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