Letter of the Week – “These records are all making clear that I need bigger speakers. Much bigger. Twice the size.”

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One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently [bold added by me]:

  Hey Tom, 

Goddamit Tom, these records are all making clear that I need bigger speakers. Much bigger. Twice the size. In a bigger room, with treatments. Your stuff makes the path forward very clear. They need the dynamics I’m sure you’re getting. I can hear what is missing.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing, since I was generally unaware of this previously, and can’t afford that level of upgrade for a while. We’re talking a few years out to buy a house (we’re in an apartment on the corner of the building over a garage, so no neighbor noise problems but the room is only 15×14.5 with average height ceilings) and some big upgrades.

Dear Sir,

You and I seem to be on the same page. The vast majority of audiophiles never get to the higher levels because of all the compromises they make in their rooms, speakers, wires and everything else. They end up with a collection of crap heavy vinyl because their systems don’t let them hear what is really going on with the best vintage pressings.

Call it a breakthrough of a sort. The long road ahead is an expensive one, but I’ve always been of the belief that the money you spend on audio — if you do it right — rewards you a hundred times over in listening pleasure, and it does so for as long as you live, which I hope is many more decades, at least.

These are records that need to be played loud. Until you have a bigger room and bigger speakers, they are not going to be easy to get to sound right.

I ended up building a playback studio that is 17 by 22 with a 12 foot high ceiling, a concrete slab floor and six inch thick double drywall for walls, and dedicated electrical circuits, but it took a lot of work to get it to sound right.

Oddly enough, what made the biggest difference was getting the electricity right: computers and cleaning machines on isolation transformers, stuff unplugged, stuff left plugged in that made the sound better, lights hooked up to batteries rather than plugged in to the main circuits, etc.  Night and day better that way. (More on unplugging here.)

This work is not hard for me, I’ve been doing it for decades, but you have one advantage over everyone else: you have good sounding records to test with.

You have Hot Stampers! The records are correct. If they sound wrong, it’s not their fault. They are not the problem.

I used But I Might Die Tonight from Tea for the Tillerman for weeks and weeks, very difficult to get all the parts right, but in the end it was glorious. And that made my little shootout with the 45 2 disc set from AP a piece of cake. So obvious what is missing or wrong. But who else can do this kind of work?

Will keep listening… bottom line is it’s sounding ‘too’ great, i.e. ‘threshold’ great.

That’s good news, it only gets better from here!


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