Enjoy what you have

It’s the little things
No, this is not an article about an audio gadget or accessory, but rather a short one about the simple pleasures of life involving music/Hi-Fi. The reason I am bothering to write this is to demonstrate how little it takes to enjoy your music without worrying about whatever some snobby audiophile or whomever says about how you must buy some expensive piece or must have the same gear he does or only playing the music he (it is always “he”) likes in order to enjoy “your” music.
This is just about simply the joy of just playing music on the Hi-Fi you have, whether it it’s value is $500, $5000 or $50,000, etc. The simple act of playing the music and enjoying it on what you have is the real value that can not be measured.
I will start by giving a recent real-world example. I recently just got done cleaning some used records I had purchased over the last couple of months. (I do this in batches because I am either a masochist or it is rather therapeutic, I have yet to decide which, but it is really due to need of course. You know my spiel about cleaning records if you have read my articles about it). Anyway, I decided the next day to test listen to some records I had cleaned much earlier. I always write notes on a post-it for each record I clean just stating what I used and I write the word “result” with an equal sign or something so I can take notes when I hear how it turned out. That’s just what I do, but I digress.
So using what I call my reference system in progress, which in the analog department currently consists of a Denon DP-47f with a Ortofon 2M Bronze MM (moving magnet) cartridge and a Musical Surroundings Phenomena 2 phono preamp. The engine if you will, is a Denon AVR (not the best sounding unit and will eventually be replaced by a 2 channel amp) driving a pair of Paradigm Studio 100 v5 speakers (discontinued around late 2015). That is not the whole system, but I’ll tell the rest later in some other article. Anyway, I took a couple of records I had cleaned earlier and sat down to give a brief listen to see what kind of job I did cleaning them. We are talking about $2 and $3 used records here. It is those records that make up about 98% of my library of almost 600 records at this point.
I put on the first one, which was Alan Parsons Project “Eye In The Sky”. I recall this record was not too dirty to the naked eye, but as always if you see dirt, even a little, you can be sure that there is much more you can’t see in the grooves. I used only the MoFi Super Wash on it. The result of my cleaning on this record was fantastic, no clicks or anything in the music, just full dimensional sound, lovely. There was also only the slightest hint of a couple of clicks in the spaces between tracks, which in itself is a hallmark of success and a goal to strive for. (Some will say that the goal is absolute deep black silence. That is the true goal, but rarely achieved even with the best RCMs at any price. It is like chasing perfection). Next was America’s “Holiday” record, (no it is not a Xmas LP). This record was older and dirtier. On this record I used AIVS 3-step with Super cleaner. The result was just as stunning as the first record. I found myself listening to a couple of tracks at least. The point is that the way these records sounded after having taken the effort to clean them automatically induced a feeling of enjoyment and pleasure causing mind and body to be receptive to the energy shift of the music. (That is part of what music does you know, shift energy). No gear was changed, no expensive gear was present, no special sculptures or cables, just my HiFi system as is and a couple of randomly chosen records.
This type of feeling or sense is the holy grail of listening to music. I have just shown you that it can be achieved by anyone, no matter what their system is or preferred physical music medium, (I just chose vinyl records here).
The whole point is that sometimes it is the smallest and simplest things that make huge differences and help you reach that goal of sound so enjoyable that you feel enveloped by the music.
There are other examples of improving sound without great cost, in other words working with what you have that may enable you to enjoy what you have without worrying about envy and contracting “upgraditis” or shiny new object syndrome. This is a great defense against those curmudgeon creatures that tell you that you don’t deserve to listen to music or that your system can’t sound good because you do not have whatever amount of money in your system, etc. For example, simply moving your speakers to a more ideal position or moving your seating or changing the mat on your turntable platter or getting a different or new cartridge if needed or making an adjustment on your phono preamp if you have one with settings. By the way, if you are using lamp cord or ill-matched gage cables for your speakers and cheap dollar store interconnect cables like the kind that generally come with gear, you might want to replace them with the right gauge, better (not expensive) cables. You may not notice sound improvement, but it will add peace of mind.
At the end of the day, it is all about what pleases your ears, what makes your toes tap and what you enjoy, whether you already have a HiFi system or are building one. It is only for you, not some other audiophile or magazine or this or that group. Enjoy what you have and don’t worry.

“What the world needs now…..”

I’m a bit concerned about something. As I have written previously, music unites people, communicates, heals, etc. I have been hoping that my blog, along with others out there would encourage people to listen to music more and more often as they are able and ultimately, as we see with the resurgence in vinyl records, to have another resurgence of folks getting together to enjoy listening to music with each other.
Sadly, I feel that is still not happening. With all the turmoil going on in the U.S. and around the world, we need music and activities of togetherness with it more than ever. I believe that without music, the world will destroy itself as we humans will destroy ourselves and each other. There is an old saying that says, “Music calms the savage beast”. I’m not saying that we are all savage beasts by nature of course, but that saying really refers to our thoughts and feelings. It is a fact that music affects us in our emotions, moods and thoughts as those things are intimately linked, in other words music also speaks to our souls. For example, put on a sad song and you will start to feel sad and think sad thoughts, put on an angry song and you will start to feel angry and have angry thoughts, put on a happy song and you will start to feel lighter and have pleasant or happy thoughts and so on.

Are you as tired of all that is happening in the U.S. (not to mention the world as well) as I am? I would think you should be by now, if not, check your pulse. The U.S. is on the brink of destroying itself, everyone is far too individualistic and the in-fighting has reached beyond epidemic and systemic proportions. Too many people in the U.S. seem to be finding ways to argue and fight. Discussions are no longer being had, just fights for superiority or something. There is almost no sense of community anymore and we are all afraid of each other and this spills over into the rest of the world. What I am saying is that I believe this is what a lack of music and listening creates. Of course, this does not apply to those who are trying to keep the ship upright as it were, but those of us who are doing that, seem to be losing ground I feel. There are no listening parties anymore, no candid discussions about music, etc. Its all superiority contests and arguing over unimportant things on forums, in person, etc.
We really are one people and one world when you stop and think. We need to work together to overcome and solve problems, but also making and having good company in an activity such as listening to music does wonders for all of us.

Listening requires learning and learning requires listening. Life is a learning process. Learning is a choice as well. Learning does not stop unless we choose to stop learning by closing our minds, being overly intolerant and too self-centered. Every country and everybody has problems, but there is a Russian saying that states: Many hands make light work. Literal meaning: Take hold of it together, it won’t feel heavy. In other words, we can easily overcome some problems that are small and perhaps help each other with the bigger ones, but only if we are willing to come together and listen.

Back in U.S, history for example, in the late fifties through early seventies in particular, people used to gather just to listen to music with each other, be it live concerts, in homes with stereo systems, gathered around a radio for a favorite or popular program, etc. What naturally came of this activity was people listening to and learning from each other, formation of communities, helping each other with problems and even changing society and governance for the better. I’m not talking about living in communes and eating berries and staring at flowers. (You can do that if you want). I’m talking about just average, everyday life then. The problem is that as music became more automated and more of a commodity rather than a form of communication and the art form that it is, we eventually lost our way, our sense of togetherness and even our sense of humanity. That said though, we can turn that around and bring things back the way they should be, if we are willing. One person alone cannot do that task, it requires “taking hold of it together”. (Continue next page)

Courtney Hadwin–ever hear of her? You will!

The story of Courtney Hadwin begins with the question: Is reincarnation real? Well, I don’t know about that, but Courtney, now 14 years of age is currently a contestant on America’s Got Talent. She is a singer, but not your average type. She is 14, but not from this era. When she performs she is Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger rolled into one. Here’s the thing, she is not purposely trying to copy them (you can tell she is not), but it is just how she is. She has her own way of doing things and it goes improv fast. She has a connection to music that is rare and it is obvious. She gets herself completely absorbed into it. She started singing at age 9. Her dad says she spends much of her time in her room listening to vinyl records! That is what started it all!
It is amazing what comes out of this small little shy girl. Of course her voice is a bit squeaky now and again, but she is a delight to watch.

In case you have heard, never mind all the trumped up controversy from those of the sour-grapes community, they are just jealous, no laws or rules are being broken, she is no different from many other contestants on America’s Got Talent as all have been in other competitions before landing on AGT as well.
The story is that it is all because of vinyl records and her deep connection to music!
Here are the videos: