It’s the time of year for saving money!
If the Covid – 19 Pandemic did anything, besides making a lot of people sick and taking lives, it changed the way we think about social interaction. At the time of writing this article, businesses all across the country are still closed, or at best operating with conditions.
Our NC Governor had a problem with the Republican Convention being held here in Charlotte and mandated “social distancing”– thus causing the convention to be moved and going with it, some 150 million in revenue for merchants who desperately needed it.
“Social Distancing.” I have grown quite tired of hearing that term, as well as nonstop coverage about this problem. Still, the fact remains, in order to stay safe, some different practices from what we as a society held as normal needed to be put in place.
Most obvious was the catastrophic effect “shelter in place” had on our economy.
In January of 2020, we were just churning along, the stock market was poised to break 30,000 for the first time in history. Then coronavirus. I, along with the rest of the country and the world watched stock prices plummet, all the while feeling helpless and unsure of what would happen next.
Business started closing, particularly service industry jobs like restaurants, bars, hair and nail salons, and well as large gatherings like sporting events and concerts. That last one really hurts, right? Companies by the thousands sent their employees home and had them work from there.
Meetings in conference rooms were replaced by Zoom meetings, video conferences and conference calls. Emails poured back and forth like water through a sieve. People were staying home. And oddly enough, the work continued like nothing had ever happened.
Again, at the time of writing, North Carolina has begun to open back up. To a point anyway. Let’s say provisionally. While it is possible to go in a restaurant, sit at a table and be served, it is being done conditionally. About half the tables are closed. Six feet between tables must be observed. We are in “phase two” of our return to normal.
What, exactly, will normal look like as our country moves forward? When I reached out to the members of the Carolina Audio Society, many indicated they would not be attending any gathering or listening session until 2021 – and only then if it was safe to do so. That is what this is all about, right? Staying safe. Who can find fault with that?
Many businesses with huge overhead in office space are being really cagy about having their employees return back to work, back to their office, back to the ole 9 to 5. I wonder if the new norm will be more centered around working from home via online meetings, conference calls, and “social distancing,” as opposed to what we considered normal in, say, December 2019?
It is certainly possible that companies have awakened to the idea that many employees can be relocated to their home, office space may be reduced or eliminated completely, money might be saved and the obvious claims of “look how we are making society better” may be made.
It is also certainly possible we as a society may be spending more time at home to avoid the “inevitable outbreak” predicted sometime in the future, and the certain death and destruction that will follow. If, of course, that ever happens.
How does this benefit audiophiles?
Isn’t it obvious? If we do in fact change our normal routines of being away from home most of the time to being at home most of the time, doesn’t it follow that having something to do while ensconced within those walls makes sense?
Is not spending an hour or two, or even more, listening to wonderful music wonderfully presented not a welcomed relief from boredom? Zoom cocktail hour is one thing but is that really a better way for an audiophile to spend time than with the system? Probably doing both makes sense but for me, I would plan on lots of system time.
Personally, I think once Covid – 19 moves from page one to page three, then five and no coverage at all, we will return to what is so very familiar. We will resume our way of life “pre-virus.” If we do not, however, if we develop a way of living that places us at home for work and play, if something like that happens, better be sure your system is operating at its peak. You’ll have lots of time to listen to music. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
If you love music it is everywhere, in an unbelievable amount of formats, affordable, and accessible just about anywhere. At 73 streaming for me was Am and FM radio, and only 45’s and some 33.3 albums. Then tape, now long gone for most. A great time to be a music lover. The gear keeps getting better and better and I wonder how it can get better and yet if often does.
“…I wonder how it can get better and yet if often does.”
Funny how that happens isn’t it, Jim?
I’m glad it does!
What amazes me more is that I just saw a review of a $5K speaker that measures terribly with the HF with such a steep saw tooth pattern that I can believe that anyone who heard it would not think something is not right. Yet we have so many under $500 speakers that measure very well, but would be considered to “pedistrian” to even be considered quality. We all know that it is not about the money.
I just bought a $299 Project S2 DAC box (no head phone out) and it is amazing for the money with 5 output filter choices. For the fun of it I took it out of my system for an hour just listening to my 2003 Sony DVP NS 755v DVD/SACD player with the internal dac and I had to shut it off and put the S2 back in. The Sony transport is fine as a disc spinner but the internal dac is way behind the times, but most of us would not know are CD players are not up to current standards until we m.Yamaha S-1800 from 2007 that I play SACDs on.., for now. It is too bad that it was not have a USB output as the Project S2 box can accept DSD streams up to double rate. If you listen on a computer you need this little project DAC.
With both of us now at home, me retired (and at home for several years now) and the wife working in the next room four or more days a week (since April or so, and it may become permanently that way until she retires several years from now, or maybe I’ll get lucky and she goes back to the office sometime next year…) and needing me to be quiet during her working hours which are most of the day and most of the night, and under foot most of the rest of the time, not much is happening music-wise. I do get to squeeze in some movies here and there though not nearly as much as pre-covid.
Recently just unretired my fairly good analog headphone rig from 25yrs ago but it leaves a bit to be desired. Last few days I’ve been looking at better headphones (dacs, amps), etc for music (can’t stand watching movies with them) and nowadays it’s so many choices and so little time, not sure if/when anything with that will happen. Even toying with trying out some hi def audio streaming one of these days, though in reality it’s about the last thing I really need to do since I don’t have enough time as it is. (I’m reading this article two months after it was published…)
So no, wife working at home means quite the opposite of what it was like before when I could do things I much prefer to do undisturbed and/or unhindered, music and movies.
I do headphone at least 50% of the time. If you like bass try the Audio Technica closed back ATH 50x which are very nice on classical and jazz. I use my AKG K271 closed back in my studio. I also have a pair of open Grados which I like but hurt my bigger hears for long session. My fav are my AKG K701, but I am a little miffed with them right now as there is a small, clear plastic strip that is on the inside of the headband down to the ear pieces that has broken on both sides and I expect more from $400 + cans and they want $180 to fix. No deal.
If doing cds would look at a Schiit headphoone amp (US made) or a Project Audio Systems S2 DAC/Headphone amp my S2 dac is class A Stereophile and sounds great.
I really enjoy all my headphones and even have a Denon Carousel CD changer by the bed for sleepless nights with a headphone amp.