How High-End Audio Changed My Music

AR-howhigh2.jpgSo there I was, standing in line at one of the few remaining places in town to buy a CD or album. That I could not see what was on the CD's jewel case without the aid of reading glasses was not lost on me either. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In 1968, Iron Butterfly released the rock song of the ages- In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Seventeen minutes of the best rock and roll ever. Until, that is, 1971 when Jimmy Page and company released Stairway To Heaven. There was not a garage band hardly anywhere that did not know at least one of those songs. And I loved them both. I think I played them until the records wore out.

As we get older our tastes change. I found myself playing less Black Sabbath and Uriah Heap in favor of more Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears. I liked the strong horn sections. Soon enough, I developed a partiality to contemporary, or smooth jazz. Groups like the Rippingtons and Dave Koz became, and remain to this day among my favorites.

When I reconnected with high-end audio and started building a reference system, I started traveling to various dealers and audio shows to hear components. In any given audio show a very wide variety of music is played. One genre that I heard, and still hear quite often is classical.

AR-how high1.jpgA few years ago I didn't know the difference between Bach and Brahms, nor did I care. Yet here I was, in this CD store, staring with certain disbelief at the CD in my hand - Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Just like with the music of my past, I love it.

A high-end system just does something to classical music to transform it from music that just existed at the left end of the FM dial to something special. The dynamics, the impact, the intensity, the power- all of this makes for a transformative musical event. I realize that I'm just catching on to what many audiophiles and music lovers have always known. Frankly, I feel somewhat foolish for not knowing the joys of classical music sooner. I'm convinced, however, that without high end, I would have never even developed an interest in classical music. One that, I hope, to enjoy expanding.

Or maybe I'm just getting older. Who knows?

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