Making Home Stereo Fun Again

In college, I purchased my first stereo system from Team Electronics in Fargo N. Dakota. It was, as I recall, a Harmon Kardon 35 watt receiver and a pair of 3 way speakers called DLK … and of course the standard issue Technics turntable with a Ortophon cartridge. I soon needed more power. So I traded for a Harman Kardon Citation series pre-power amp combo. It was very cool with its led power output lights in the front, rarely glowing yellow- a sign of low power; always green and touching red. What did you say…I can’t hear you!
The most incredible thing is this transformation of sound which has gone from as mentioned a pair of speakers, to many homes having speakers in every room including bathrooms and bedrooms, to now going backwards in every sense of the word. We now are taking music, often times stolen music from the web, highly compressed, almost sounding like music and then plugging the I-pod like device into a table top radio and now we have the worst of all worlds; a terribly recorded piece of music on a poor sounding player, playing into a very AM like sounding quality speaker set. But it does not matter because you have 10,000 of these songs just like this. Remember, it’s not about quality anymore it is simply about quantity.
Please excuse my taking liberties with the current state. I only write this to let a few people know what is going on in our industry. As Neil Young writes on his new album Psychedelic Pill in a song titled “Driftin Back”, “When you hear my song now you only get 5 percent, you used to get it all now, you used to feel it all”
The sad truth now is that the artist no longer can use great sound sculpturing to relay their music due to the low resolution methods that have been brought to us and termed music. We must fight back, pull out our old albums and well recorded CD’s, go back and listen to Steely Dan and remember why it was so incredible to hear 30 years ago on a decent stereo system.
What can we do about this current state of stereo, how to answer the question “why does my stereo system sounds flat?” or “why does my music not sound as good as it used to?”
Here are some tips. Keep it simple…use a good stereo receiver or surround receiver or amp to drive into your speakers. Never use an equalizer. Use only bass and treble. Always use stereo only amp or receiver on whole house music system. Play CD’s through a high quality CD or CD/DVD player. In many cases the older players are much better than new ones. They used to care about the way music sounded back then. Look for a Sony CD or CD/DVD player that has all the manual controls on the front. These are an excellent vintage of players- both in terms of sound and of reliability. For those of you who still have a phonograph or record player and have a phono input on your system (many receivers do not) play a record and see just how warm and beautiful music used to be. If you must use an I-pod, record you own CD’s using the highest resolution setting in I-tunes or purchase your music in high resolution format. Never steal music. Borrow a friend’s CD’s and record them to I-tunes. Lastly, get a new receiver which has built-in USB and is friendly to your I-pod or phone and plug it in using USB as now you are listening to DA (digital to analog) converters which are much better sounding than those in the I-pod.

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