It’s the time of year for saving money!
As of the middle of February, I’m three-quarters of the way moved into my new place. My three systems (four if you count the Sonos in the bedroom) are set up and working, and according to the one person in the industry that I’ve let hear them, told me that one of the systems sounded better than a similar system using same speakers that he used at RMAF. That seems like a pretty good start.
Some things are still very much up in the air — my 30+ cubes of records are still stuck up at the old house, along with about 100 lbs. of play sand and some of the larger parts of two VPI turntables. Movers were unable to fit them into the first two 16 foot truckloads of stuff. One mover told me, “Some folks we move don’t actually need a mover. YOU, on the other hand, definitely DO need a mover.” Another of the moving crew told me, “You have the heaviest stuff I’ve ever had to move.” I suppose the two JL Audio F-112 subwoofers, Pass X-150.3 power amplifier, and two Revox A-77 tape machines didn’t help lighten the load.
The weather has not been cooperative. It seems like every week it’s been snowing on Wednesdays. For East Coasters, “some” snow must seem like no big deal, but when you have a mountain driveway that has a good part facing north anything more than a dusting and no two-wheel drive vehicle, including moving van, is going to make it up the driveway. So we wait for the weather Gods to deliver one week without snow before the final “big move” of records, VPI parts, and furniture that didn’t make the first move.
But the good news is that I’ve had enough time to set up my office and two listening spaces so that the most pernicious sonic issues have been addressed. All the flutter echoes in the two rooms have been damped using ASC wall treatments combined with some ceiling clouds that Michael Green at RoomTunes made for me many years ago. My office system is sounding especially good — the room is slightly bigger than my old office with the back wall twice as far away — and the room is quiet — when the forced hot air is not running I get 38 dB average background noise level with the computer running. My main listening space is even quieter — there it measures only 35 dB (which was very similar to the background noise levels I had back in the Colorado foothills).
Internet has been a pleasant surprise as well — I signed up with Centurylink (friends don’t let friends “enroll” in Comcast) for 40 MBPS maximum speed service. My last three speed tests have been 46, 48, and 55 MBPS! Even my WiFi is getting much higher-than-expected throughput — averaging 26 Mbps! Yes, I know this is a far cry from fiber-optic speeds, but for a guy who was getting 8 to 10 Mbps on a good day, this seems like a high-tech super-highway. Gone are the error messages from Tidal streaming music service suggesting that I go to a lower bit rate due to my limited throughput.
Since 2003 I had DirecTV service in my foothills home because cable was unavailable and over-the-air was a multipath nightmare of ghost images. At an average cost of $140 per month I’ve added over $20,000 to DirecTV’s coffers during that time. Well, no more. I ended my relationship with DirecTV when I put a new compact but high-gain antenna on my roof. And how does over-the-air TV look? I still don’t know — I don’t have a stand-alone digital tuner for my Sony VPL-50 projector, but once I’ve got the wall mount installed I’m planning purchasing a television (the first I’ve owned in almost 20 years). In the interim I’m watching Hulu and Amazon Prime streaming services through my Mac Mini music computer — all I needed to do was turn on the screen mirroring function, send that feed to my DVDO Duo “scaler,” make some adjustments to the image size, and I was watching TV though my Sony projector onto the very same Stewart Studiotek 130 screen that used to belong to J. Gordon Holt.
As to when I’m going to be back to my full-time reviewing and writing schedule is still somewhat up in the air — I’m still shooting for April 1 (I already have a killer April 1st blog written), but the actual date is still very much up to the weather.