While discussing audio equipment with a close friend, we both agreed that many audiophiles end up using their music as the excuse for buying better and better equipment. In my point of view, your gear should serve as the best possible path for conveying your recorded music. I admit having spent quite enough in my analog rig, but only because my vinyl collection is where I wanted it to be many years back when I fell for classic music.
Still, this is a faulty concept.
Take a musical journey.
Pick a big city and book your show tickets in advance, then go out and “see” if the recorded version is close to reality, if your system can be even remotely compare to the voices and instruments of your favorite artists, what influence the venues have on the recorded music, what instruments are actually used, and keep that memory of those concerts close to your heart and mind. That will be your reference for setting up your system.
Speaking of which, I had a terrific week in New York, with three memorable concerts. My audio journey started with Roy Hanes and Pat Metheny, the former celebrated his 91st birthday (yes, you read right, the man turned 91 last spring). What better way to blow out some candles than to throw in a concert at the Blue Note jazz club. The two, along with Dave Holland, made a better-than-a-classic record together, Question and Answer (Geffen records, 1989), and again the same trio with the addition of Chick Corea and Gury Burton, released Like Minds for the Concord Jazz label. I am quoting Chris May from All About Jazz magazine on this one as I could not out it better:
“Attempting to rate one of the trio albums as “the best” would be a meaningless exercise; such is the uniformly incandescent quality of the music involved. But anyone nominating Question and Answer would likely have in mind the contribution of drummer Roy Haynes, which is supremely powerful magic—sensitive, sophisticated and responsive but also fat, mighty and propulsive. The sound of Haynes’ kit is burnished to perfection on the remaster, and his performance fully justifies its inclusion alongside Metheny’s at the front of the mix. Whether driving the band, counterpointing Metheny’s solos or swopping quicksilver, viscerally thrilling choruses with him, Haynes is just heavenly.”
Off you go, pull the plug from your system and enjoy a musical journey.