We have been married for over four decades now and when you are with someone this long you begin to know and understand a few things about them. My wife is no exception and she knows how important it is for me to hear words that either approve or disprove of what I just did. Our marriage is one of honesty and openness and sometimes what we say to each other may seem harsh. When it comes to feedback on such a question, she often answers with words that are - how shall I say this - political!
While it is true that golden-eared audiophiles can hear minute changes to systems where others cannot, my wife is not a golden-eared audiophile. She does know what she likes and if I screw it up she honestly will tell me that I did so. But for the most part, she says to me in response to my query, "It sounds great!" This is about as political of an answer as someone can give running for governor much less answering a simple question about the sound of your system.
While disappointed on the one hand that I did not get a robust burst of honesty, on the other hand I look at such a statement as an affirmation that I did not screw things up. What I changed was just not in her scope of acoustic sensitivity. The burden of what I tweaked then is tossed back to me to look at my own honest core impression of whether this particular change improved the sound, something that left-brained individuals such as myself find challenging.
To answer my own question, I must understand a few things about myself and my musical preferences and biases. I must know what I want and if what I did either moved me closer to or away from that goal. What to do...what to do...yes, just listen.
The answer always waits within and all you have to do is get to that place of stillness where you do not lie. "Am I kidding myself or is what I did moving me closer to what I want?" Good question!
So before I can answer this question I must know what it is that I want.
What do I want? To me, my audio reproduction system (aka stereo) is about recreating the "being there" experience full of emotion and dimension as opposed to something that "sounds better" (an improved experience of clarity or emphasis). I found a methodical approach to answering my own question, one of which describes the sound stage. If what I changed improves the 3-D psycho-acoustic illusion, then what I did was a step in the direction toward what I really want. However, if this psycho-acoustic illusion is somehow compromised, then what I changed moved my system away from my goal. Being honest with myself is the only way I can truthfully answer this question regardless of how much time, money, or effort I used to create this change. A better question may be this: “Is what I changed what I want or what I think I want?”
If nothing else, my wife is very wise and knows that such an answer will trigger inside me this little exercise in honesty. Sometimes, I think she does it on purpose just to see what I will do. But regardless of her motive or reasoning, what I find is value in her words. Much like a CONTROL+ALT+DELETE reboots a computer to clear up anomalies, looking within gets my head back to that place of understanding who I am and what I really want. Her true gift of not expressing an opinion is much bigger - considerably more helpful - than any placating words of approval or disproval.
For this I am grateful. For this, I have the opportunity to discover more about myself. Who knew that a stereo could be a good lesson in becoming a better person and raising my own higher consciousness?
Yours for higher fidelity,
Copyright © 2015 by Philip Rastocny. All rights reserved.