I love music: I have listened to it since I was just a kid, and I do it a lot. And with a lot of passion. Music isn’t just ‘important’ for me: it still sends shivers down my spine, and I couldn’t control it even if I wanted to. The thing is that the music actually controls me.
I remember falling asleep to Pink Floyd and Toto Cutugno (you only may know Toto Cutugno if you’re Italian or Russian of at least 25 years of age) when I was 4 to 6 years old wearing those vintage Soviet Amfiton TDS-17 headphones. Then I graduated from the piano class of the music school, went to Bach organ music nights in the City Philharmonic Hall with my parents and did many other academic music-related things when I was younger. As I grew older, my musical taste evolved with me: starting from those very first post-Soviet pop bands and Scooter and the so called Russian rock, passing through Placebo, Portishead and Marilyn Manson and ending up with growling metal, industrial and howling delta blues. By the age of 25 I realized that the fact of liking one or another genre doesn’t actually say anything about a person except that the person is tunnel-visioned. In fact, there’s no bad genres (let’s not mention Russian rap or Russian chanson, these are objectively worse than anything you’ve even heard in your lives), there’s only bad music and good music. Regarding the good one, you can find it in any genre, you just need to learn how to listen to it and to perceive it.
As incredible as it may seem, I’ve always been looking for good music and not equipment to make any track sound better. My musical ‘growing-up’ happened in the first post-Soviet decade, when you had to decide whether you want to have some decent sound while listening to the music or to have something to eat (no kidding, these were tough times in Russia). Obviously, most people including me chose the physiological over the aesthetic.
That’s why I was more than happy listening to the music via cellphone and the headphones provided with it, until I met them: the in-ear Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII headphones. After the very first time I used them I discovered that the music can actually sound differently, even somehow unearthly. It was wide, bright and very detailed.
So I dug into frequency response, square waves, output impedance and other specs and started to look for my own perfect sound, that special combination of devices to make the music sound just like I love it: as if the band performed right in my room, and a little bit better. Then I started trying different cables, earpads, portable players experimenting with their firmware etc. I ultimately found my perfect sounding after 7 years of stubborn searching. To be more precise, it wasn’t a perfect sounding or perfect equipment, it was an approach that spared me all this typical audiophile drama.
That is, this post is for those who want to know how to find a decent sounding and skip years of information digging. To be honest, I’d give anything to have somebody give me this post on a silver platter at the very beginning of my journey.
Here are the 3 main principles to remember when building your own sound system.