Written by 4:06 am Reference Speakers

Dreaming About What We Can’t Have

Paul Wilson looks at our inclination to dream big about our systems…

We all, at various times, have been somewhere between wistful or downright envious of something we don’t have and desirous that we could. While most of us may not overtly covet something we don’t have it does not, for one instant, mean we cannot dream. 

AR-DreamBigSmallFormat.jpgPerhaps it might be an automobile – I can think of several “hyper” sports cars I would sure love to own but probably never will. Or maybe a larger home, more stylish clothes, and the list goes on and on. For most of us, those desires are what gets us up in the morning, along with the fact the we all must earn a living to merely survive. 

This condition is not without its audiophile conclave. Despite how often, and with whatever measure of determination we may voice contentment in our existing systems, if we could find a way to upgrade a component or cable, especially if accomplished with minimal, or better still, without cost, who among us would not do so? 

Right now I would really like to bring in a pair of really first rate, world class mono blocks to replace my dual mono, stereo amp. Does my system with the current amp sound bad? Absolutely not, much the opposite in fact. I keep asking myself why I would want to spend the many thousands of dollars I’d have to spend to get the amps I would like when the current iteration leaves me both breathless and speechless most of the time. Perhaps better sonics? Obviously. Perhaps because I just want to spend the money? On certain days, that’s quite likely. Perhaps because mono blocks have a higher “cool” factor as opposed to a stereo amp? That one has merit, depending on the mono blocks. My best, and so far, only definitive answer to why I would like a new amp is “I don’t know?” Basically a child’s answer. 

There are other conditions to which we must subscribe. Many audiophiles live in a home environment where one person is the primary listener and the remainder of the family is basically apathetic towards the hobby. Questions such as “are you planning to leave those speakers there,” and “how much did that cost” must be frequently fielded. 

AR-M400MonoBlocks.jpgAlong that same theme is one or more household members voicing opposition at equipment racks filled with boxes – preferring instead a one box solution neatly tucked on a bookshelf and mostly out of sight. That the overwhelming majority of those devices seldom yield high performance sonics is not even considered important. How frequent is it that we audiophiles must walk the sonics vs. aesthetics tightrope? 

Something else audiophiles may dream about is a dedicated audio room. I for one, have been wanting one for quite a few years now. Family circumstance were a major part of why I didn’t sell my home and buy one that had a room for my system. When those conditions changed and I found myself able to move, that is exactly what I did. Now with a dedicated room, I am grateful that I was able to fulfil my listening room dream. At the same time, I am in no way upset that it took me so long to do so. I’ll place family issues above a stereo system any day. However, it doesn’t mean I did not dream prior to buying my new home. 

There is also the desire for a component or a technology that does not yet exist. In fact, we could postulate well into the night on that subject. I’d like to see an audiophile level turntable that would allow me to stack, I don’t know, six to ten records, play one, have the tonearm swing out of the way, and gently lower the next album to be played. This would reduce the amount of time I spend jumping up and down to change an album. Does this make me lazy? Yeah, I suppose it does. So what? 

AR-PassLabsMonoBlocks.jpgOf course cost is a wishful item ranked high on the list. We would all, myself included, love to see the prices of components drastically lower. Despite the many reasons we are given why they are not – sales volume and engineering excellence comes to mind – we buy within our means because we have little choice otherwise and generally speaking, mostly find contentment in our purchases. 

What I do find odd, probably even refreshing, is that I see and talk to so many audiophiles that are perfectly content with their current systems. They spend more time talking about the new used album they found in a dusty rack of a record store, or how that new download nearly moved them to tears when first played. After all, our systems are intended to create in us an emotional connection to the music, and when that is successfully accomplished, regardless of the level of system – musical perfection awaits. I hear those types of stories from audiophiles far more often than a litany of frustrations because they don’t have the new or sonically better component of the day. I see that as a good thing. 

Wanting something we cannot have is human nature. We so very easily find affection in the things we cannot possess, whatever the reason why we cannot, and find ourselves forced into accepting the status quo. For audiophiles, we can see pictures of world class components, both performance wise and from a cost standpoint, and wish we could, even if only for a short time, own and use that component. There’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with dreaming about a better system. I formed such a dream at age fifteen that essentially was not totally fulfilled until 2017. While forty-four years is a long time to harbor a singular desire, it sure is exciting to see it come to fruition. 

Enjoy what you have. But also, dream big, you may well surprise yourself. 

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