Friday, December 28, 2012

The Girl In The Other Room

The Audiophile celebrates his birthday this weekend, and that means a gift is in order even though he says he wants for nothing. Since I have no business buying him anything for The Listening Room, I ordered him a pair of concert tickets to see one of his girlfriends.

At this point, the savviest among you have realized I have publicly announced his gift ahead of time making this yet another test to see if The Audiophile is still reading my blog. Not that he has to read my blog, because I would never use that as a means of measuring his love and admiration of my typing skills.

These concert tickets, by the way, are good but not so good that Ms. Krall will see him slack-jawed and drooling from her piano bench. Which will assuredly be the case if she is wearing the same outfit that she's sporting on the cover of her most recent release.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Wonderland

It's that time of the year when The Audiophile enjoys extended periods of time in The Listening Room. Listening, as you know, is an art form that requires special powers of concentration and immobility. Here is a helpful Q&A to assist audio wives in navigating the holiday season:

Should an audiophile frost cookies while listening to a system?  No.
Should he wrap packages?  Definitely not.
Clean toilets?  Bad acoustics, no.
Prepare a lasagna?  No.
What should an audiophile do while listening to a system?  Nothing. 

The more important question is, "What should an audiophile's wife do while an audiophile is listening to a system?" In my personal experience, she should cheerfully frost the cookies, wrap the packages, clean the toilets, and make the lasagna. And then, in order to remain cheerful and altogether fabulous under circumstances such as these, she should blog about her heroism.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Electric Avenue

The Audiophile, as you know, has been building his own amp with his bare hands. In anticipation of turning on the amp for the first time, he took a long-handled wooden spoon from the kitchen. He told me he was going to use it as a way to distance himself from the unit and thereby reduce the chances of killing himself when he flipped the switch.

Now, because we are practicing to be old and feeble, we typically go to bed sometime between 8:00 and 9:00, even on the weekends. This allows us to watch some news about the economic end times before we call it a day. So you can imagine my concern when I awoke at 2:00 in the morning, realized I had dozed off, and further realized The Audiophile had never come to bed. Naturally I assumed he was dead.

I padded down the stairs very quietly, sniffing the air for evidence of his demise. I slowly opened the workroom door, fully expecting to find his charred remains still clinging to the handle of the smoking wooden spoon. Instead, there he was, alive and well, doing what he loves while happily inhaling the recommended daily allowance of soldering fumes.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hickory Dickory

Three things were noteworthy about the packages delivered for The Audiophile this week. First, there was only one package delivered, which was concerning in itself. Second, the lone package was unusually small. Third, the package was alarmingly light weight. So light, in fact, that the only thing that could possibly have been in the very small box was a mouse, most likely a dead one.

I called The Audiophile at work to report my concern, to which he responded, "It's cable." To which I responded, "No, it's not." This, of course, led to a classic round of marital YES-it-is. NO-it's-not. YES-it-is. NO-it's-NOT, because even though we're no longer terribly delinquent, we are obviously still juvenile.

When The Audiophile came home that night and opened the dead-mouse box, I'll be darned if there wasn't cable in the coffin. Silver cable, that is, which was daintily coiled up in some tissue paper. I have no idea what silver cable must cost, but if it replaces some of the dead-snake cable currently moulting in The Listening Room, then I'm on board.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Light My Fire

Recently there was a conundrum regarding The Audiophile's priorities. It seems there was a filet of salmon that needed to be grilled at 5:45 on a Tuesday, and there was a "five-minute" phone call to another audiophile that also needed to be made at 5:45 on the very same Tuesday. Usually this sort of mathematical story problem doesn't rear its ugly head in real life, but the already steaming kettle of broccoli was driving the train that day.

Now, I'm not looking for a show of hands, but I am suggesting that 99.7% of audiophile wives would know that salmon grilling should supersede audiophile phone calling when broccoli is part of the equation. Why? Because the odds of a "five-minute" audiophile-to-audiophile phone call are as statistically improbable as listening to "just one song."

Fortunately, even though I am not a man, I possessed sufficient testosterone to open the lid of the grill, place the salmon on the grill, and close the lid of the grill. The heart-healthy meal pulled into the station at precisely 6:00, which coincided perfectly with the culmination of The Audiophile's (5 x 3 = 15 minute) phone call.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Songs From The Big Chair

When The Audiophile wants me to come to The Listening Room for a demo, he plays my special song. This song is by Alison Krauss, and I call it "The Bird Song" even though I doubt that is the song's God-given title.

A couple of weeks back, I heard The Bird Song wafting upstairs, and I scampered to see what needed my immediate attention. Even with my limited abilities, I could see The Audiophile had moved The Listening Chair much closer to the harem. He gestured for me to have a seat.

After the bird had flown, I sat up as straight as possible in the man-sized chair and said, "Well, everything sounded much bigger, less restrained, and more like a live concert."

The Audiophile beamed, and he may have wet himself a little. All I know is he replied, "YES, YES, YES, that is what we call 'near-field listening,' and you have a good ear." At the time, I didn't know what to say, but in hindsight what I should have said is...

And that, my dear, is audio winning.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Money For Nothing

The Audiophile and I were in the garage recently where we conscientiously deposit our shoes before entering the house. As I removed my beloved Dansko's that were purchased in 2007, I pointed to the heel of the right shoe for him to inspect where it had given way to the underbelly. He briefly glanced at the shoe, turned to me with a baffled look, and said, "It doesn't look worn out to me."

With this statement, The Audiophile clarified his decision-making processes. If the item under consideration is an amp, pre-amp, power conditioner, pair of speakers, capacitor, cable, or any other item remotely related to any of the aforementioned items, then "wear and tear" is not used in the evaluation criteria when purchasing a new one.

To my credit I did not punch The Audiophile in the gullet or call him a nincompoop. Instead, I followed his example of conspicuous consumption and ordered myself a new pair of Dansko's in Arabesque leather. When these shoes arrive I expect they will make me taller, happier and, if I'm not mistaken, much more transparent.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet Caroline

The Audiophile was in one, or maybe both, of the Carolinas last week on business. At one point he had a couple of free hours, which he conveniently put to use by visiting a fellow audiophile.

This never turns out well from my vantage point, because he tends to come home drooling and googly-eyed, and that just isn't attractive or hygienic. It seems this audio friend had engineered the walls of his listening room with some sort of noise-absorbing railway system that isolates the... yeah, I don't know what it does. What I do know is upon his return The Audiophile, when describing this masterpiece, said, "When I opened my mouth, I could perfectly hear the sound of my own saliva."

Glory, I had no idea this was desirable. However, it gives me the touchstone upon which to gauge my life experiences. Sure, being selected employee of the month was gratifying, and training up children in the way they should go is excellent and praiseworthy, but nothing compares to the magnum opus of my own saliva.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hail to the Chief

The Audiophile and I saddled up the SUV last weekend for a trip through two Midwestern states that are primarily known for their trance-inducing stretches of the Eisenhower Interstate System. One might think there would be little chance of locating a high fidelity stereo establishment in the middle of the Mormon trail, and yet someone, probably Mitt Romney, put one in Omaha, Nebraska.

And speaking of the upcoming U.S. election, I would like to remind the discriminating audiophile that a vote for the incumbent is a vote for the governmental redistribution of the finest audio gear in the nation in order to provide every American family with a Bose Wave radio.

On the other hand, a vote for Mr. Romney is a vote to keep your superior-sounding system that falls in the top 1% of all systems in the country and to have an economic shot at the thirty-thousand-dollar-American-dream speakers we demoed at The Sound Environment in Omaha.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Best I've Ever Had

Last Saturday I was lured to The Listening Room to offer my opinion on the newest amp. This particular amp was one-third the cost of the previous amp, which gave it a higher WAF before he even plugged it in.

Surprisingly, The Audiophile and I agreed that the sound was significantly better than that of its pricier predecessor.  I volleyed terms like "warm, genuine, and transparent" about as if I were an appropriately clad outside hitter for team USA. At one point, The Audiophile turned to me and declared, "This album has never sounded better."

Although I should be pleased with that statement, I know what it really means. It means he will now need to swap out all the other components along with the drywall, area rugs, and door hinges to see if he can coax even more perfection from the perfectly tuned, perfectly priced, perfectly wonderful amplifier, because "leaving well enough alone" would strip The Audiophile of his title and perhaps even his manhood.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Night Fever

The Audiophile suffers from a form of stereo insomnia. It comes over him when he is buying and selling equipment and seems to be exasperated by the site that I lovingly refer to as Audiothong.

Audiothong, from what I can tell, entices people to place advertisements on their site for a nominal fee. What they don't tell you is you will feel the need to revisit the site every twelve or thirteen minutes to make sure your ad hasn't stopped breathing, gotten tangled in its blanket, or lost its binky.

It is best not to make conversation with The Audiophile when he is buying and selling because although he appears to be making partial eye contact, I've learned he is actually calculating shipping charges and imagining himself packing and unpacking gear with confetti coming down from the ceiling and dancing girls doing the can-can at a safe distance from the components.

Sometimes, especially after midnight, when I can hear him pecking away at the keyboard I think about creating my own Audiothong account. I would buy all the stuff he lists, I would pay his full asking price, I would accept his proposed arrangements for shipping, I would gladly use Paypal, and I would complete all transactions prior to 9:00 p.m. so both of us could enjoy a good night's sleep.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Till Death Do Us Part

The Audiophile has been crisscrossing the country again to provide abundantly for the family. This leaves me and my electronic sister wives to fend for ourselves.

I prefer to think of myself as the younger more fertile wife in the harem, but I'm afraid that is simply not the case. The object of The Audiophile's deepest desires these days is The Amp. The one he is building with his bare hands, that is. The one for whom upgraded parts arrive on a regular basis leaving the rest of us wives to sooth our sagging positions with extra chocolate rations and BBC dramas.

The Amp, in my opinion, is more of a Stepford wife than a sister wife. This means I should probably refer to her as The Audiophile's Wife since, if I understand the Stepford concept correctly, she will ultimately be called by my name and will assume the writing of this column in my stead.

That said, if at some point in the future the tone of this column loses its convivial irreverence and becomes uncomfortably submissive, please contact the authorities and suggest they have a look-see in the "empty" original boxes in our storage room.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Like A Surgeon

A while back The Audiophile took apart his speakers. I thought we were not supposed to touch the speakers, but apparently it is perfectly acceptable to rip out their insides and dump them in a box.

Furthermore, it is permissible, although I'm not convinced it is beneficial, to fire up the power drill and bore holes into the back of the speakers. If I understand this barbaric procedure correctly, the idea is to relocate the speaker guts into a pair of custom-made, Jatoba boxes in order to, say it aloud with me: Improve the sound quality.

I'm sure this will lead to a listening event in which I will need to convincingly say I detect a HUGE improvement in the sound quality, but until then I'm investigating how I might outboard my bladder for a more comfortable experience during the high-impact portion of my aerobics class.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Pandora's Box

The Audiophile was away on official business last week, which put me in charge of many things outside the scope of my formal education. At the top of the list, of course, was the acceptance of corrugated parcels.

The winner of this week's box competition was an item from the Pacific Northwest, which had the most impressive display of postal stamps I've ever seen in my life. I tried to count all the stamps, but when the tally staggered into the thirties, I realized there was no chance for statistical accuracy and retreated to the kitchen for a tasty snack.

Oddly, The Audiophile seemed far more interested in the contents of the box upon his return. I tried to instigate a lively conversation about the stamps, but the tiny American flags were simply no match for the explosive looking thing in the box. And now that I think about it, if the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever interrogates me about suspicious deliveries to our address, I'm going to be more than a little chagrined.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Land of Confusion

Although I am a highly focused person, the concentration train often leaves the station during an A/B session. Last week, I was instructed to sit and stay in The Listening Chair, which I obediently did like a well-trained Labrador awaiting an edible reward. The problem was getting the leash on my thoughts:

Okay, I can do this. I can tell the difference between A and B. Here comes that plucky part where the bass kicks in. We are out of soy sauce, my foot itches, and I forgot to water the flowers. Shoot, I missed the bass part, but I think B was pluckier than A. Is pluckier a word? Of course it's a word. What time is it? Dark o'clock, that's what time it is. Uh oh, he's turning the music off, just say B was pluckier and hope for the best, no, not pluckier, say it was weighty, no, woolly, no, congested, no, thick, no...

"Well?" The Audiophile said as he waited for my muzzy analysis. Ummm, it seemed like the bass in B was more clipped than A. "YES," he bellowed while patting my head, "Because the power of the subwoofers relative to the power in the splockenheimer was whakka whakka whakka..."

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Cat's in the Cradle

The Audiophile has been going through the celebratory mourning that is to be expected when the last child leaves the nest. On the one hand he misses the pitter patter of the little feet, and on the other hand it took him less than 24 hours to completely dismantle the child's art room and convert it into a fully-functioning workshop.

His goal is to build The Imaginary Amp. I am calling it The Imaginary Amp because I imagine it will consume all of his proverbial free time. I imagine it will cost more than a real amp by the time he orders and reorders all the necessary parts. And I imagine it will be our sole topic of conversation until the amp is finished or I die.

Not that I have anything better to do until I die, because if I did this blog would be titled The Super Cool Woman's Guide To Super Cool Stuff That Has Nothing To Do With Amps, Pre-Amps, or High Fidelity.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.


Friday, August 24, 2012

She Moves in Mysterious Ways

Once upon a time someone posed the question, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" Along with this seemingly unanswerable question, I asked myself how long it would take The Audiophile to notice if I stopped beavering away at my blog.

Perhaps I choose an unfair time to conduct my scientific study because The Audiophile has been more highly occupied and distracted than usual and making time to read something other than audio forums could, understandably, fall to the bottom of his to-do list.

His current pursuit is to build his own amp with those always bare hands of his. In keeping with his resourceful ways, he has found a free online class to give him the necessary understanding of electronics to avoid burning his personal toast during the construction process.

In summary, I still do not know how much wood can be chucked by a woodchuck or whether or not The Audiophile can build an amp, but I do know precisely how long it took him to notice my online absence.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Unchained Melody

In looking back at previous posts, I feel I own an apology to subwoofers. Sure they have been the instigators of several injuries and one near-death experience, but I have come to value their contribution.

The reason for this turnabout centers on a recent A/B session with The Audiophile in which he added a new rectangular item to the harem that does something with the ohms and impedance. I do not know anything about ohms or impedance, but I do know the rectangular addition turned the subwoofers from galloping stallions into prancing show ponies.

The Audiophile politely suggested my ears were immature and had grown accustomed to rumbling background noise. I politely replied that in my estimation, five out of five normal listeners would rather have their breath taken away by rumbling stallions than to have their wingtips polished by ponies.

In the end, it looks like the new rectangle is here to stay, but I suspect if I place my bets carefully, I’ll be able to convince The Audiophile to disconnect the thing once in a while so I can have the unbridled experience that only the immature ear can fully appreciate.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hurts So Good

This week involved a new game show called, “Let’s make our own cable.” Unlike most game shows, this one did not offer much in the way of prizes, but it was somewhat educationally tedious.

What I learned about solid-core copper wire is that it is exactly like regular wire except it has super-hero powers to do something important as it relates to resistance, inductance, and incapacitance. What The Audiophile learned about solid-core copper wire is it leaves memorable blisters on your fingers when you attempt to braid it without wearing gloves.

The cable project took several days and required intense concentration. There was some soldering that followed the cable project, and it also required intense concentration. During this time, I became fluent in The Audiophile’s concentration language. 

One short grunt means, “Yes.” One long grunt means, “No.” And a series of grunts interspersed with quiet cursing means, “I’ve broken something, how would you like to go on date to the hardware store?”

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Crazy Little Thing

The Audiophile has been working on a Frankensteinian project for the last couple of weeks, so I’ve been left to my own devices most of the time. Fortunately, I indeed have my own devices.

From what I can tell, this particular project involves taking apart what were previously known as “fabulous sounding speakers” and doing something revolutionary to engineer them into “even more fabulous sounding speakers.” During this process the manufacturer of the speakers is evaluated on their soldering expertise, choice of capacitors, and general ability to put one foot in front of the other while chewing gum.

If I’m not mistaken, there will come a day when The Audiophile will be finished with his villainous laughter and late-night trips to the hardware store. At that time I am told the entrails of the speakers will be housed in separate, aesthetically pleasing, rectangular-shaped boxes with cables running from the boxes to the speakers to the amp to the preamp to the subwoofer to the microwave.

Clearly this will create additional challenges as it relates to NOT tripping over the cables, but I am confident this modification will provide another indiscernible, yet critical, improvement in the overall sound quality.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Musical Chairs

The Audiophile made an impulse purchase recently. One minute we were wandering around a tourist town half-heartedly looking at baubles and bits, and the next we were oddly in the market for a new listening chair.

This chair was designed to be stressless if for no other reason than to provide retailers and consumers around the globe with an opportunity to use their sexy voices to say “stressless” repeatedly and frequently.

Sure, the chair is voluptuously covered in buttery-soft leather and has a matching ottoman that automatically adjusts itself based on the paradigm of the music, but more importantly, and I cannot emphasize this enough: The chair is stressless.

The nice thing is, once The Audiophile was convinced this was the chair of his musical dreams, he turned to the salesperson and said, “I’d like a matching one for my wife too.” Never mind that our new chairs cost more than most elective surgeries, we are, and I encourage you to say this aloud with me: stressless.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sounds of Silence

Some weeks ago we went to an audio store. For all practical purposes the trip was uneventful. The store did not have anything different from the last time we were there. The same plastic sleeves covered the same albums. The same “Blown Away” art print was hanging on the same wall. The same featured system was playing the same Sarah Vaughan selections.

Furthermore, the same nonchalance permeated this visit just as it has with our previous visits. What I mean by this is the attitude of the apparent owner was, shall we say, aloof. Some might even say he was unapproachable. Others could argue he lacked a certain je ne sais quoi that is requisite for individuals in the sales industry.

Situations like this always make me feel a little bit naughty, and I considered doing something to stir things up, like making that noise the Turtleman makes on the Discovery Channel or doing a headstand in the apex of the sweet spot to see if the music sounded better upside down. Instead, I thwacked around as quietly as possible in my flip flips so as not to disturb the proprietor while I did my private research, which I have now… officially… published.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Quarrymen

Last Sunday was Father’s Day, and although most of the time The Audiophile is not, by definition, my father, I wanted to do something special for him. I was thinking more along the lines of an SACD than, say, a pair of Organic Harmony speakers cast in bronze, but I was open to ideas.

The Audiophile must have smelled my agreeable state of mind because shortly thereafter he suggested we travel 242 miles in a southeasterly direction to see a pair of speakers that he was thinking about wanting. I quickly offered my enthusiastic participation in the trip as a perfect way to celebrate his paternal excellence and my top-drawer accommodation.

Interestingly, the speakers in question were made out of rocks. I think there was other apperati inside of the rocks, but I lost partial consciousness during that part of the conversation and found myself more comfortably numb than coherent.

In the end, The Audiophile decided to pass on the speakers. I can’t remember what his A/B reasoning was exactly, but I do know our insurance company can rest easy knowing they will not need to pony up on the accidental death and dismemberment portion of our policy that surely covers being crushed by runaway granite tumbling down a flight of stairs leading to a listening room.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Head Games

In keeping with my heartfelt desire to enhance the listening experience for audio wives, I have crafted a listening game. The game is only played by the wife, not the audiophile, and the idea is to play the game without the audiophile knowing what you are up to.

The rules are simple: 1) You accept an invitation to join your particular audiophile in your particular listening room; 2) You pretend to listen to the music; 3) You think of a string of adjectives to describe the sound by using the letters in your first name.

For example, if your name is Wendy, and I hope is, then you might say something like, “Gosh, dear, the music seemed so Warm and Effortless; there was a Natural Dimension that Yearned for an audience.” I know “yearned” is not technically an adjective, but it is close enough.

Ease into full play like a cat rather than a dog. For example, your first comment might be, “Gosh, dear, that sounded swell.” On a subsequent occasion you could try, “Gosh, dear, the music sounded obsequious, purple, and clairvoyant.” Continue the feline progression until you can successfully execute your name in adjectives without being discovered.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Comedy Relief

Now that I’ve been writing this column for awhile, The Audiophile has taken to suggesting when he believes he is performing some waggish act that is blog-worthy. It usually goes something like, “Honeeey, I’m down here in The Listening Roooooom, and you might want to see what I’m dooooing because it is pretty fuuuunny.”

Since I do not want to stifle his leading role in this production, I usually go to The Listening Room to see what he is up to. The thing is, his idea of amusing and my idea of amusing are not always one and the same. Anything to do with bodily functions is more apt to be amusing in his thought bubble. Anything to do with anything else is more apt to be amusing in mine. I try to be gender neutral with my pejorative remarks, but this is difficult given that clever interpretations of the Pull My Finger game have, in my experience, always been initiated by boys and men.

I cannot, for any amount of potpourri, remember what it was that The Audiophile wanted to show me, but what I do remember is his crouched position exposed enough personal real estate to provide even me with a good laugh. So, The Audiophile was right. He was doing something pretty funny, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t end up being blog-worthy.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Standing Corrected

In what has become a weekly ritual, I turned to The Audiophile last Friday evening and said, "Did you read my blog?" He glanced at me over the top of his electronic reading device and replied, "Yes. None were original."

Really? None? Not a single elegantly crafted box that was broken down and properly disposed of last week was original? My mistake. To correct the record, I must now humbly inform the worldwide, pants-wearing, audiophile community that the boxes heretofore mentioned were UNoriginal. They lacked spontaneity, creativity, and the ability to sustain their end of a witty conversation.

In Darwinian terms, the unoriginal boxes were not fit to survive even though they seemed perfectly capable of reproduction if you ask me. Instead, they are on their way to being pulped into commonplace toilet paper tubes or garden-variety biodegradable flower pots neither of which are nearly as impressive as serving at the pleasure of The Audiophile.

Meanwhile, the original boxes are enjoying the club-elite status of the storage room where they no longer need to explain their jokes, endure hackneyed requests for "Freebird," or reiterate for the billionth time why there are no Bose components in The Listening Room.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Boxes

In an unexpected turn of events, The Audiophile proclaimed he is content with his current system. At least that's what I think he said. I could be wrong or delusional or having one of those really long dreams that will culminate with me screaming like a quadriplegic mime. All I know is what happened next seems to confirm his theoretical satisfaction.

If you are an audiophile you may want to sit down for this next bit because it may cause heart palpitations, excessive sweating, mood swings, severe headaches, temporary blindness, or the baffling inability to win at rock-paper-scissors for the rest of your life. Here goes: The Audiophile. Got rid. Of some of his original boxes.

The disposal of these boxes happened very quickly and without much dialog. I spoke softly and tried not to make direct eye contact during the process in order to convey that I was a non-aggressive participant in the destruction of the corrugated family.

After it was over, The Audiophile said it was the right thing to do. He said it was time. He said the boxes would have wanted it that way. Then he went to The Listening Room, calmly shut the door, turned off the lights, and curled up on The Listening Sofa with several female artists who are well known for their sympathetic vocals and minimal distortion.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Counting Flowers on the Wall

The Audiophile graciously invited me to The Listening Room this week for "just one album." To his credit, the session truly did involve just one album, and a good one at that. Sure, all of his albums are good, but some are definitely more gooder than others.

Midway through the album, he hit the pause button and abruptly asked me what the song meant. Meant? The song? You mean the song that the girl was singing just now?

I had no idea there was going to be a pop quiz or I would have brought my etch-a-sketch to take some notes. Had he asked me how many sound panels were in the room I would have been golden because I had just counted them from left to right and then from right to left to validate there were 16. This counting exercise led me to wonder if The Audiophile had achieved his goal of "getting the room out of the way of the music."

I tried to pay close attention to the next song in case he solicited my lyrical expertise again, but it was difficult to focus on the music because the sound panels had arrogantly challenged me to admire their equidistant placement and not-so-subtle domination of the room. So although I don't know the message being conveyed by the female vocalist of the evening, I do have a pretty good sense as to whether the room has gotten out of the way of the music.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Electric Avenue

The Audiophile returned from his travels, and we were engaged in a perfectly pleasant conversation when I made a poor decision. I casually mentioned the power had briefly, ever so briefly, gone out the day prior to his return.
I had no idea this seemingly simple statement was akin to saying, “I gunned the engine and ran your SUV off a drawbridge,” or “I cut all your trousers off at the knees to make a patchwork quilt for the guestroom.” All I know is he and his panic-stricken face ran directly to The Listening Room to survey the damage.
Was there any damage, you must be asking yourself if you are an audiophile? No. None. See also, nada.
Was anything learned by this experience, you must be asking yourself if you are an audiophile’s wife? Yes. Not only is it important to be discrete about what you do with the electricity in your audiophile’s absence, it is also important to cheerfully support the purchase of a four-figure surge protector unless you can think of a different method of protecting the gear while not touching the gear.
And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Games People Play

The Audiophile is out of town which means two things: 1) I no longer hear Van Morrison approximating various animal, mineral, and vegetable noises in the background; and 2) I can run any household appliance I want without upsetting the acoustical zen symbiosis of our home.

This leads me to what I call the appliance concerto. Say you start the bread maker to fashion some pizza dough, and you also throw in a load of laundry because you are super-human. Once in a while, when the cosmic symphonies align themselves, the dough and the clothes culminate their cycles at precisely the same time. This results in a cacophonous medley of ringer-dingers that only a non-audiophile can fully appreciate.

I've had the pleasure of an appliance duet several times this year, but with The Audiophile away for the weekend, I'm hoping to fire up enough pinging and dinging devices to have a three-part harmonious experience that will rank right beneath marrying an audiophile and spawning more audiophiles.

Clearly, this sort of business is only embarked upon by deranged people who need medication and shock therapy. I propose this is what happens when one is led to believe that making a piece of toast will get dirt on the electricity and diminish the fidelity of the stereo. So, when The Audiophile returns and asks me what I did in his absence, I'll probably just say, "Oh, I went shoe shopping and got a mani-pedi," because that is a lot safer than telling him what I did to the electricity.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Man

The Audiophile has a thing for Van Morrison, and it is not a small thing. In fact, if Amazon.com peddled Van Morrison bed sheets and footie pajamas, they would be in our possession, and I would be asked to wear the footie pajamas even in the summer when footie pajamas are generally retired to the back of the closet with the penguins and snow mobiles.

Recently, The Audiophile went on a binge and read all the unauthorized biographies on Van. Then he listened to all of his CDs. Well, not all of his CDs, because although he owns all of Van’s CDs, it would take a short sabbatical and possible hip replacement to actually listen to them all.

To add a visual element to the marathon, The Audiophile queued up a concert video from the 1980s. In this video Van was wearing a mustard-colored shirt and pants that were so tight the audience was provided with sufficient anatomical information to enjoy both Van and his condiments.

On the final day of the binge, I took a light lunch to The Listening Room to keep The Audiophile alive, and he said, “Listen, listen, listen. Can you hear it? Can you hear the momentum of the music?”  Um, I don’t know if I "heard the momentum" or not, but I can definitely add that to the collection of recommended phrases for audio wives to use in securing audio favor with their audio husbands.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Endangered Species

There is a rumor circulating that suggests not all audiophiles are men. Since I have never seen a female audiophile with either my naked eye or my properly attired eye, I cannot yet confirm this truth.

The Audiophile has, on occasion, nonchalantly mentioned a she-phile who roams one of the forums on which he tithes his time. Naturally I assume he, and all the other audiophiles, plan to marry her as soon as their current wives die of mostly natural causes.

To illustrate the rarity of the she-phile, I thought I would select a member of the animal kingdom to be the poster child for this nearly extinct audio species. The animal finalists were the red wolf, the oxymoronic dwarf water buffalo, and the northern hairy-nosed wombat.

For charitable reasons, the red wolf won the contest. After all, she is the slender cousin of the common gray wolf and probably does not struggle with water-buffalo weight gain or nosey-haired hygiene complications. 

Now I have a new reason to eagerly anticipate our regularly scheduled visits to the audio store since, if I'm lucky, I may spot the Canis rufus in her natural habitat. I imagine she will be gracefully stalking the merchandise with a sense of purpose, as opposed to stumbling along behind her audiophile husband hoping not to accidentally break anything.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Start Spreading the News

This weekend audiophiles are gathering in New York for a thing at the Waldorf-Astoria. Their wives, from what I can tell, will be left to their own devices to find something entertaining to do in the city since there do not appear to be official spouse outings on offer.

The event does feature some educational sessions, however, including a World-Famous Turntable Set-Up Seminar. I would secretly go to that session if I were at the show, first because of the fantastic title of the session, and second because I could use my newly acquired skills at some point in the unexpected future to blow The Audiophile’s mind.

I also noticed booth space was available starting at $500. This seems a very reasonable price for someone (aka me) to set up shop with a sign that reads: Psychiatric help 5¢. The doctor is IN.

All proceeds from my booth would go to a charitable organization for the rehabilitation of audiophiles – both those who have been emotionally wounded by unappreciative family members, as well as those who have lost one or more of their faculties trying to rig a system that only dolphins and dogs could possibly appreciate.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The Audiophile received a delivery this week. Since he was not going to be here for the delivery, I was given the standard instructions: 1) Inspect the box; 2) Document any damage to the box; 3) Have the delivery person sign their acknowledgement of the damage to the box.

I obediently nod my head every time I am given these instructions, and then I begin the countdown of dread because in my mind there are more steps including, but not limited to: 4) Apologize to the delivery person for the damage; 5) Tell them I’m sure it is not their fault; 6) Reassure them that a touch-up pen will probably be all that is needed to repair the damage to whatever is inside the box; 7) Offer them a muffin as a goodwill gesture for insulting them with steps 2 and 3.

These Sisyphean delivery people are not stupid. I’m pretty sure they know they are the victims of a never-ending audio tragedy that will have them shoving the same boxes up the same driveways for the rest of their lives.

Fortunately, the box that came this week was the seventh wonder of the corrugated world. I was able to perform step 1 and only step 1 which left me with the distinct pleasure of wishing the deliveryman well without the need for awkward apologies or condolence muffins.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Torn Between Two Lovers

There is an audio phenomenon that frightens me a bit. I don’t know if it involves the wrath of God or if it is a mere consequence of transacting business, but it seems as if the act of purchasing audio gear on an auction site can endanger the well-being of the audio wife.

Several times over the years, The Audiophile has sold an item, and been in a jolly good mood, only to receive a follow-up email from the buyer saying something like, “hey, yeah, im so sorry to have to tell you this, but my wife was just lifeflighted to the hospital. we are not sure if shes going to live and as you can imagine there is no way I can go through with this transaction right now.”

The first time this happened was disconcerting. The second time it happened I realized there are unforeseen planetary consequences surrounding the purchase of used gear. 

So, when The Audiophile buys something from one of these auction sites I try to be extra careful crossing the street until I know the transaction is complete because I’d hate for him to have to choose between holding my hand in the helicopter and staying behind to tidy up loose ends with minimally punctuated correspondence.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Original Sin

The origin of an important word occurred to me a while back when I was half listening to The Audiophile while he was on the phone. He was having an animated conversation with another audiophile about cable. Yes, cable. Always with the cable.

I could not help but wonder if Eve, when half listening to Adam, ever found herself wondering why Adam was so enchanted with some of the seemingly unimportant things in the garden. Like the dirt, perhaps, as he muttered to himself about the quality of the soil in the garden OF EDEN, for heaven's sake.

Anyway, I was thinking that Eve, being the perfect wife except for the snake incident, probably supported Adam with his endless musings on the nature of the dirt. That is until the day she overheard him saying something about spending half of their annual salary for new cables, I mean new dirt, at which point Eve probably dropped a pantload. Except since she wasn't wearing pants, it immediately became known in the garden as Eve's droppings. And, yes, there you have it, the origin of the word eavesdropping, which, as Eve quickly learned, is NOT a good idea.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, March 16, 2012

That One Bad Day - Part 2

There was an incident this week that caused The Audiophile to become ill-tempered and incapable of speaking for a short period of time. It seems he was in The Listening Room scrabbling around on all fours connecting and disconnecting the connecting things when he inadvertently knocked over one of the speakers.

Let’s take a moment here and thank The Lord God Almighty that I was more than two miles away from The Listening Room when the incident occurred.

The speaker that took the direct hit was formerly in pristine condition, but now it has a blemish that will require a furniture surgeon and divine healing to repair. Additionally, I noticed his pants had a conspicuous tear in a location that could have taken him from being a tenor to being a soprano. I don’t think it would be wise for me to ask if the two mishaps are related to one another, so I’ll just nurture the slow-motion picture I have in my mind of him sailing through the air in a valiant attempt to catch the speaker before it hit the ground at the five yard line.

Surprisingly, The Audiophile recovered from the incident fairly quickly. I don’t know if that is because he has found a ten-step program to process his audio emotions in an appropriate manner or if it is because he has decided it is time for new speakers. Either way I, by the grace of God, was more than two miles away from The Listening Room when the incident occurred.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Got You Babe

Last Saturday I was blessed with another field trip to an audio store.  This particular store dealt exclusively with a line of speakers that comes with a unique feature.

I am embarrassed to admit this, but at first I thought the unique feature was a high-tech maraca – which is a very cool idea if you ask me. However, upon closer inspection I determined the maracas were, in fact, attached to the speakers and not maracas at all but rather microphones.

Karaoke has never appealed to me as a means of entertainment because of the Las Vegas odds of it being a positive experience, but I was thinking if audiophiles wanted to indulge themselves in a little Sonny and Cher action in the privacy of their homes, then who am I to judge.

That being said, I was squinting at the microphones wondering exactly how they slid out from the top of the speaker when I was interrupted by The Audiophile who shattered my little dream with, "Those are the tweeters."

Oh. Tweeters. Of course. I didn't tell him this at the time, but The Audiophile saved me from performing a classic "testing... one... two... three..." sound check that would have been difficult to gracefully recover from without deploying an "I'm just kidding" lie or going all the way with my half of a karaoke duet

 And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hanging Wallpaper

There are a number of home-based projects that various authorities have deemed to be a true test of marriage. I don’t know if there is an official list of qualifying projects, but if so, I would like to submit the following for addition to the list: building a sound panel.

Last weekend, I thought I would be able to safely curl up with a book written by dog that enjoyed auto racing. Instead, The Audiophile politely suggested we build a sound panel. I politely suggested he purchase one from his favorite mafia-controlled website. He counter-politely-suggested that building one together with our bare hands and raw intelligence would be more fun.

May I further suggest that the dude who originally said, “Measure twice; cut once,” was pretty much a genius.  I imagine he also would have known to wear gloves when working with fiberglass panels in order to prevent microscopic shards of glass from being embedded in his knuckles.

Raw hands and bare intelligence aside, we managed to complete the project in under four hours, and the upholstery job looks almost professional. Best of all, we did this without raising our voices above 79 dB or jousting each other with the 1x2's.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Big Babies

A while back The Audiophile and I were enjoying a weekend trip to a heavily-populated city which, if I'm lucky, guarantees a visit to the local stereo shop. Par norm, I was wandering aimlessly about the store thinking about how high one could stack boxes of components before they would crash to the ground in a suicidal melee, when I overhead The Audiophile and the proprietor having an animated conversation.

The discussion centered around drivers and whether they could handle the load. Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but with all the fuss about NOT TOUCHING the drivers, I'm thinking these namby pamby babies won't be able to handle ANY load because they ARE a load.

Of course, I did not shot-put my opinion into the conversation since it would have betrayed my appearance of chocolate-covered patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Instead I wandered off to one of the listening rooms to see if I could hold Tree Pose until the conversation ended.

In the end, my yoga practice was cut short because The Audiophile wanted my professional opinion on the wife acceptance factor of a pair of speakers that were, in my estimation, absolutely gorgeous. I do not know if there is any fame or fortune to be made in offering my seal of approval, but I should probably have some stickers made up just in case.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pete and Repeat

Sometimes when The Audiophile is testing something, like my capacity for patient understanding, he will play the same song over and over, and then over and over and over. This always makes me think about Jack Nicholson in The Shining when his wide-eyed wife discovers he has used an entire ream of paper to repeatedly type, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Stephen King, from my minimal understanding of his work, is a master at taking something seemingly innocuous and turning it into a terrifying best seller. I'm thinking about feeding him some material to see if he might like to capitalize on the nocturnal habits of The Audiophile all bleary-eyed and delirious over the psychotic quest to eliminate sibilance from the who-knows-what.

I can't help but wonder if I'll go to The Listening Room someday and find The Audiophile loonier than a tune over the sheer repetition of Holly Cole eloquently singing "Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday." The thought of it might tempt some audio wives into carrying a baseball bat as a precautionary measure, but I take comfort in falsely believing I could navigate my carcass up the stairs just a little faster than The Audiophile if it came down to the survival of the fittest.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Strictly Business

The Audiophile has recently become distressed about one of the websites he uses to transact audio business. It seems the website mafia bosses have made some changes that have been unpopular with “the family.”

My helpful suggestion was, “Well, stop using the site.” This, however, was met with some non-verbal contortions, so I am going to assume this is not a viable option because it would endanger the well-being of our children and our imaginary horses.

From what I understand, the site bosses may have felt that the audiophiles were using clever methods of communication to weasel out of paying the usurious transaction fees. In turn, they used their bossing powers to close the loopholes and clamp down on the hand signals. 

In my opinion, instead of administering a fee on the transactions, the site bosses would be better off charging a penny per minute based on the amount of time each audiophile spends on their site. Not only would this generate a usage-based stream of honorable income, it would also provide accurate data that could, hypothetically, be used to assemble a pie chart showing exactly what percentage of the audiophile's life is being devoted to the various discussion boards.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Art of Listening

Part of my goal in writing this blog is to pass along helpful information to other audio wives even if my expertise is nonexistent and controversial. As discussed previously, being invited to The Listening Room for a round of "How Does It Sound" can be intimidating. Here is a list of etiquette tips I've gathered from questions submitted by fictional readers, like you, to help navigate the experience with eloquence and grace:

  • Can I lie down on The Listening Sofa?  No.
  • Can I select the music?  Not if you're me.
  • Can I text a friend?  No.
  • Can I sing along?  Only if you are naked or Diana Krall.
  • Can I clap between songs?  You're kidding, right?
  • Can I ask non-audio questions? No.
  • Can I bring a beverage?  Only if it is a quiet beverage.
  • Can I bring a salty-crunchy snack?  Good golly, no.

To ensure the listening experience is successful, ask the following question when the audiophile has paused the music and appears relaxed and comfortable:  How would you describe the sound stage today, dear? 

You do not have to understand the response, but it is advisable to thoughtfully nod your head as if you do. Additionally, this is an appropriate time to take a few sips of your quiet beverage without blurring the detail of the music or causing an apocalyptic event.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In Love

Here’s the problem. The Audiophile has been doing more selling than buying lately, and he’s got himself into a pickle whereby he can’t perform his audiophile duties in The Listening Room because there are too many missing components. Consequently, he has taken to using my system for his listening pleasure.

This is fine, and I mean fine in the lowercase sense of the word as opposed to FINE which has a completely different meaning, but it does present some challenges. Take Tuesday evening, for example.

The Audiophile is aware that his taste in music and mine do not always align, primarily because I have no taste in music. For this reason, I concede the selections to him with a few clearly communicated exceptions. I hesitate to malign specific artists, but let’s just say I did not care about Chuck E being in love in 1979, and I still do not care about Chuck E being in love in 2012.

Since The Audiophile decided, out of ten hundred billion choices, to queue up Chuck E’s bride and to set the volume at a level that would ensure I would flee the scene of the crime; I opted to seclude myself in my office. The beautiful thing about this period of solitary confinement was it provided me with an opportunity to passively and aggressively re-clarify IN WRITING my feelings about certain songs.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Walks Like a Woman

Once in a while, when The Audiophile is at work conducting official business, I sneak down to The Listening Room to conduct some official business of my own. I do not touch anything because I understand randomly punching at buttons can initiate a launch sequence that leads to global destruction; instead, I look at the merchandise with my eyes and not my hands.

This brings me to the new speakers. They needed to be given a name and christened as being boys or girls. At first blush, I would have said they were girls. After all, in last week's post I referred to them as being part of the harem. However, after careful meditation and thoughtful stroking of my chin, I remained confused about the precise gender of the new speakers.  

I hate to divulge the make and model of components because manufacturers might then be tempted to send expensive gear to me for my unbiased review, and I'm not sure I can carve out the time for that. So let’s just say the biological name of these speakers rhymes with Lola, as in L.O.L.A. Lola. Lo lo lo lo Lola. And from what I’ve heard, they may walk like a woman, but they definitely talk like a man.

All I know is The Audiophile is one of the world’s most passionate guys, and I think he has fallen for the Lolas. Hopefully he also likes Ray Davies because I’ve taken to singing an improvised version of his song regularly. Very regularly.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Honeymoon

It happened again. The Audiophile left on one of his covert business trips and returned home with a new pair of speakers in the back of the SUV.

Being nearly as sharp as most tacks in the tool shed, I was not surprised by the arrival of the new speakers because the half-naked skeletons and the body scanners that had formerly occupied the role of mewing melodious music into air had been gone for several hours – maybe even several days – leaving the remaining collection of rectangular components lonely, voiceless, and on the verge of clinical depression.

According to custom, I helped The Audiophile unshackle the crates from the vehicle, responded accordingly to his outstanding navigational commands, and earned an A+ for maneuvering my end of the bargain down the stairs like a man. Even though I am not a man.

The icing on the stereophonic cake came about two hours after The Audiophile had introduced his new brides into the harem and taken them for a leisurely stroll. He beckoned me to The Listening Boudoir and imparted the following verdict: They. Sound. Great.

Now begins my sporting desire to do everything subliminally possible to nurture the afterglow of his purchase. My personal goal in this independent competition is to stretch the ownership of this particular pair of great-sounding speakers to, oh, let's say the 4th of July for the fun of it.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Configure This

I know I am belly-flopping into sacred territory with this post, yet I feel I must. After all, honesty is the best policy if you are not married, never intend to be, or simply enjoy the act of throwing caution to the wind.

The Audiophile came home from work a while back with a big grin on his face. Many things went through my mind regarding the impetus for the readily apparent joy joy joy joy down in his heart, but it wasn't until he said, "I've got an idea for a new configuration," that I was brought into the inner sanctum of his effervescence.

Super, I thought, hopefully this will not require more than one or two post-configuration trips to the chiropractor because that guy is the only one who will be profiting from this endeavor if history repeats itself. Sure, I knew when I married The Audiophile that his hobby, I mean passion, would come with some risk, but I didn't know it was one of the excluded activities on a life insurance policy along with skydiving, non-commercial aviation, and acts of war.

Fortunately, the new configuration did not deliver the five moves of doom, and The Audiophile rearranged whatever it was that needed rearranging without insulting his spinal column. Additionally, the act of pushing and shoving helped him to determine the real issue at hand was not related to the configuration at all but rather his need for a new amplifier and a different pair of speakers.

And that, my friends, is audio winning.