How loud should we listen to experience truly High-End audio experience?

No gain, no satisfaction of the musical brain?

This was bugging me for quite a while and I wanted to share with you my thoughts about listening levels in audio. Call us audiophiles, music lovers, High-End-er's, gear lovers or whatever your hearts desire, we have all or at least should have the same goal; As closest reproduction of certain musical event as possible.

Over the years I've seen and sadly still do a phenomena called quiet Highe-End audio listening. To be on the safe side I should stop here, but being used throwing to the flames and into the teeth of paper tigers I dare to proceed.

You cannot experience the true passion, emotions and flow of the music listening very quietly!!! I'm sorry. You can nag all year long, but it simply wont happen. Yes, you can enjoy your music at lower levels and thanks God for high quality power amplifiers, speakers, preamplifiers etc. Those help getting most of your music at you even with very low volume. But! Searching for the ultimate and high-end musical impact you'll miss most of what it's all about without rising up the gain of your preamplifier volume knob.

Even my close friends and long time audiophiles, that I love dearly are listening like this more or less all the time. I simply cannot digest how often I heard people commented some audio system or gear, while listening to it at quite (almost hush) volume levels. If they're never being in the studio, on live concert, acoustical recital, in the night club. It bewilders me how those people talk high reproduction or even ultra high-end audio.

We hear audiophiles raving or nagging about certain component, but 99% of their credibility falls off with the way they judge and experience not only the gear, but music. Perhaps they don't actually want to listen to music but an idea. This is all good. Unfortunate, it's far from the truth or what it should be.

There are few people in industry and high-end circles, that do think and feel the same way I do. I feel relived because as Michael Franks puts it: "Solitude is science, I would rather not learn". Some of high-end manufacturers takes all the efforts to design their gear in "right" way and using their logic to create a truly great playback components, let it be using right current, transformers etc. At the end it doesn't matter what is used, but by who and how it's implemented.

To conclude my official rant. I'm writing all these strong words not tell you how blind you are or that I know better how you should listen. It's my goal to share High-End experience with all of you and perhaps open few new horizons. Not to pump my ego, but in help to experience music with given emotions.  Please try to hear it for yourself, experiment and see what happens with the music at the audio levels, where you can feel the exchange of energy. I'm not talking about bass booming, I'm talking of vocal sibilants, natural drum attacks, energy flow of acoustic or tube driven jazz guitar. It's an exchange of sublime feelings with using the technology as it was meant to be. Sparkles...

Musical energy should float and flow with the right gain to let all the electrons, atoms, quarks and other invisible particles in creating poignant feedback that settles emotional atmosphere of musical reproduction.

Happy listening!

Matej Isak
Mono & Stereo, June 2011
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