My experiments with high fidelity sound, to be more precise. One suspects that if you were born a nerd or a geek, the probability of finding yourself at this juncture at some point in life is very high – higher, in fact, if you have been shaped by good music early in your life.
My own experiments started soon after I completed college and commenced by professional career (as a Software Engineer, God help me). That day remains indelibly etched in my mind, both in terms of details I remember oh so vividly, and in the fact that all the details I would consider so important today, and I happened to miss out on completely back then would be a direct result of my ignorance back then.
It was an evening; Garuda mall in Bangalore had opened a few months earlier, but this was my first time there. I was window shopping – I mean, mentally reading the brand names off the store fronts in the mall [for a lad having grown up in Madurai, Tamil Nadu in the 90s, you need to wrap your head around the fact that ‘brands’ did NOT exist; no, not even KFC!] – when I came across the Cinebels showroom, which retailed Jamo, the Danish speaker brand. And, spoiler alert! The minutes (or was that hours) that followed changed my life for ever!
I can still remember the primary details vividly. I was obsessed with the rich, warm look of Cherry / Apple veneer back then [I have been partial to Walnut, since], and somehow, Jamo’s primary choice of wood veneer was Cherry [my research clarifies the color to be Dark Apple]. The demo song was Eagles’ Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over Live (1994), and the speakers were the Jamo S606 with a 1” metal dome tweeter, two 5” mid range cones and one 8” side firing woofer. The source was a Marantz CD player, possibly the CD600x series, and it is a mark of my lack of knowledge about the amplification, because I never bothered to find out the amplifier used.
What I can tell you however, is that I felt the opening salvo of the percussion and kick drum at 0:32 in my chest rather than heard it*, and I have been in love with sound, and have since been the seeker of the elusive perfect sound ever since.
Now, if I remember correct, those floor standers (as part of the almost-complete 5.0 surround package) would cost me Rs. 40000 back then [well, it was 2005!] and the store did have better (by which I mean to say more expensive, better sounding, better technology infused) speakers, notably the Jamo E680, and my personal favourite at the time, the now discontinued Jamo Concert Series C807. But the S606 was genesis, and when I think about that first contact today, I can’t but help wondering what it would be like to compare them side by side, a blind audition to find out what I find most attractive.
Because one thing is sure. The world we live in today is a very human world, which is to say there cannot be absolute perfection, but surprising levels of excellence, if you knew what you are looking for, and where to find it.
With this in mind, I have decided to write a series of speaker reviews that you may find extremely interesting, if you were like me, and share your experiences with the same or similar equipment. Credit where credit is due; most of these posts will not be possible without the aid of Mr. Palani Loganathan, CEO of Audio Planet and my teacher in sound, whose showroom I have practically haunted in my quest for excellent sound.
Watch this space for more! A group comparison (B&W, Dali, Monitor Audio & Triangle products) coming soon!
* and yes, while I agree that some purists would call that too much bass and all that, there is both a kick drum and percussion perfectly synchronised, and a good hi-fi speaker with good scale will give you a similar impact at the low end, assuming you’ve got the amplification right.