Extreme Hi-Fi Buff.
May 28, 2002 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Extreme Hi-Fi Buff. "...A further modification to loudspeakers that I found well worthwhile is to fill the cabinet with sulphur hexafluoride gas, SF6, in place of the air..."
posted by Spoon (18 comments total)
Yes, but remember:

Having covered your loudspeaker in lead, do not now be tempted to now try UF6 gas instead of SF6 as the shielding against ionising radiation is in-sufficient for full radiological protection.
posted by piskycritter at 7:41 AM on May 28, 2002

Ah, removing your glasses to eliminate the reverberation between the glass and your eyes! Why didn't I think of that? I'm hearing nuances on "Nuggets II" I never dreamed were there...
posted by Faze at 7:45 AM on May 28, 2002

Um, like...wow. And stuff.
Now I feel kinda bad for still not having replaced the screwed up speakers in the back of my car.
posted by Su at 7:46 AM on May 28, 2002

Now I suddenly have a need for a box of condoms.
posted by password at 7:59 AM on May 28, 2002

You guys are easily trolled. :) Using copper pipe as speaker wires? Removing glasses to eliminate reverberation between your eyes? c'mon.
posted by benh57 at 8:05 AM on May 28, 2002

check his beer filter.

what a cool guy.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:14 AM on May 28, 2002

Jeepers, we get the joke, benh57. But I'm sure that you and everybody else knows people who are only a shade less nuts on the topic of sound reproduction than this brilliant dude pretends to be. What I never understood is that the people who are most fanatic about hi-fi sound quality are often the least discriminating about music. In fact, they usually like the most appalling crap. IMHOP, sound revolution that has taken place over the past 35 years has had an inverse relationship to the quality of popular music. In other words, as sound reproduction (and live concert sound quality) has gotten better, the music has deteriorated to the point where... well, look at the charts. As if to verify this, the best music out there today has a deliberate lo-fi ambience (Strokes, White Stripes, Beau Hunks [who record with one mike], and I'm sure any MeFier could name many more). Doncha think?
posted by Faze at 8:20 AM on May 28, 2002

Trouble is - going by his pictures and the rest of his site - he could be serious about this. I'd be willing to bet that he's actually tried these things.
posted by Spoon at 8:55 AM on May 28, 2002

I see audiophile ignorance is rampant in these parts. Pick up a copy of Stereophile magazine sometime, just for a small taste.
And for anyone who's never experienced a vivid stereophonic image (Wus dat...3-d glasses?) of a live performance, perhaps a visit to the nearest High-end audio shop for a demo.
posted by HTuttle at 9:27 AM on May 28, 2002

I knew someone who attached small pieces of tin foil to the corners of his speakers in order to “absorb excess high frequencies”. Even better are directional cables (you have to make sure they're the right way around as the electrons flow better in one direction).
More essential audiophile products (fictional this time) here.
posted by chrispy at 9:45 AM on May 28, 2002

> I see audiophile ignorance is rampant in these parts.
> Pick up a copy of Stereophile magazine sometime, just
> for a small taste.

I can think of two strategies that beat anything any hardware can duplicate.

First, learn to read music, read along in the score as you listen, and supply from your aural memory all the timbre, spatialization and ambience that you know is there. (I learned this one from two friends at Harvard, music majors both. Both got summas; one of them then at once got a tenure-track faculty position; the other got a conducting job in Europe (as a kappelmeister, like Bach.) Imagine any flavor of European hiring any American into a professional artistic position -- but it happens. Both these consummate musicians had stereos that sucked rocks -- boom boxes, basically, and cheap ones at that. It eventually dawned on me that all they were getting out of recordings was tempi and pacing.)

Second, make live music yourself. The transducer or reproduction system isn't made (and never will be) that's as transparent as nothing at all between you and the musicians. I have done this for many years with a medieval/renaissance consort, amateur level of course and with revolving-door performers since I'm heavily dependent on music majors at the local U as players/singers, and these have a habit of, like, graduating. Nevertheless I know what live instruments and voices sound like better than anyone who ever tried to learn this from a stereo, no matter how expensive.

Sorry -- compared to musicians, "audiophiles" are trailer trash.

posted by jfuller at 11:05 AM on May 28, 2002

jfuller -

Except for those of us who don't have the stuff it takes to make our own music. I've tried, many times, but my voice isn't up to it and my brain simply does not have the power to hear the fine deliniations between notes that you need to be even a hobbyist musician. I don't have the native sense of rythm that it takes to be a drummer or a guitarist, and the tutor I went to told me it would take upwards of three years of dedicated study to learn to sense rythm before I could move on to actually learning to play.

I'm not an audiophile by far, but I can hear and I absolutely abhor distortion, which is why I have audiophile-grade equipment.

I don't like being called trailer trash. I love music, I simply can't reproduce it or create it with the tools that nature has given me.
posted by SpecialK at 11:53 AM on May 28, 2002

> I don't like being called trailer trash.

Sorry, Fuller officially eats words, that was uncalled for.
posted by jfuller at 1:48 PM on May 28, 2002

> ...my brain simply does not have the power to hear the
> fine deliniations between notes that you need to be
> even a hobbyist musician. I don't have the native sense
> of rythm that it takes to be a drummer or a guitarist,

But, having eaten that scraggly serving of crow and pulled the forelock several times, I'm curious: if you can't perceive fine distinctions between notes (do you mean between A and A-plus-a-few-cents, or between A and Ab?) or perceive rhythms well enough to bang a pail along with Vinnie Appice (which is plenty enough for amateur status,) what do you listen to? Ambient? Trance? Xenakis?
posted by jfuller at 2:02 PM on May 28, 2002


Anyone - *anyone* **ANYONE** can learn. Sure it takes time - Upwards of three years? I've been playing various instruments since I was three, I did a music degree, I've played in many varied "groups" - orchestras, jazz bands, big bands, pit orchestras, popular beat group combos and I still have a long way to go. Ask any musician - you never get as good as you want to be. You can always be better. That's the joy of it - you always have somewhere to go.
posted by Spoon at 2:25 PM on May 28, 2002

> Anyone - *anyone* **ANYONE** can learn.

There are actually people who are tone-deaf, just as there are people who are color-blind. My father, an architect, was totally red-green colorblind; all he saw was shades of grey -- BUT in his color renderings he learned to use red and green pigment well enough so that nobody could tell. His bricks were brick-red; his trees looked like green trees, not pink or mauve or lavender.

I'm not sure whether there are any tone or rhythm analogues to the color tricks Dad used -- or, even if there were, whether someone who had to use them could have any fun making music. But Karl's description of his musical limitations don't sound insuperable; at any rate, I wouldn't trade the ability to read standard notation for an "audiophile" stereo of any price, any more than I'd trade my legs for any car made on Earth.
posted by jfuller at 2:53 PM on May 28, 2002

creating music and building a great stereo system are very different pasttimes. I don;t think compairing them does justice to either.
posted by Hackworth at 6:44 PM on May 28, 2002

jfuller - My biggest problem is that what I hear one day I might identify correctly as an Ab, but the next day I'll identify it in a completely different register. I can't hear the difference between A and A-plus-a-few-cents at all and be able to identify it as such. I think the first teacher that I talked to identified that as 'musical memory'... I have an auditory processing disorder as part of my suite of learning disabilities and I'm a high-functioning autistic, so that's a very likely diagnosis. It's most noticeable while I'm singing or attempting to reproduce something by hearing it.

I'm probably talking out of me arse here because I tried producing music and got frustrated. It took me 3 months of piano lessons to be able to play, reliably, the fourth song in a book of piano lessons. And that was learning by finer- position indicators around a middle C register -- The equivalent of playing the baseline to chopsticks.

Building a Hi-Fi stereo system is something that someone with a basic knowledge of electronics (which I have) can do. I can also enjoy it, because hearing the sound in that kind of detail (even if I can't identify it reliably) lifts my spirits. Hearing a pin drop over a scratchy AM radio just isn't the same as hearing a pin drop on a system that has the ability to reproduce the tonality accurately. Hearing the 3 minute fiddle solo in Dave Matthews' 13 minute "Jimi Thing" track (off of Listener Supported) is not the same over a scratchy boom-box as it is over a system that can reproduce each scrape of the bow. Being able to sit back at the end of the day and letting waves of sound massage your soul back into the shape it's supposed to be may be a poor excuse for the ability to create the music yourself, but it's a comfort, a skill, and a fanatical hobby for many.
posted by SpecialK at 8:28 AM on May 29, 2002

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