And it is about time after 75 years of messing around with audio, starting with a headphone setup listening to steam AM radio on a crystal set after being shown how to use a soldering iron!!
I hate to think of just how much money has been spent on amplifiers, speakers, turntables, exotic cartridges, DACs , CDPs, … Yes I do have a very nice 7.1 home theatre setup with exotic electrostatic Majestic Sound Labs speakers. fine amplifiers etc BUT my aged hearing means serious classical music listening is now only on the headphone setup illustrated below.
Yes I’ve messed around with exotic cabling and other questionable tweaks but it is only this year I’ve fully appreciated how important the amplifier is. I’ve always gone for well regarded products and thought I’d achieved the ultimate with the Violectric hpa V281 headphone amp but was intrigued by rave reviews of the Audio-gd Master 9 unit so imported one. I have been completely flawed by just how good it is in revealing more inner detail in top recordings.
To me, one of the ultimate audio tests is to see how well the harpsichord is reproduced. This instrument produced a complex series of harmonics, which not correctly handled by the amplifier chain, can end up an unpleasant jangled mess. However the LGS DAoo4/Audio-GD Master 9 combination sends a superbly clean signal to the Focal Utopia headphones that is a joy to listen to. The pianoforte is also disliked by many for the same reasons but comes through on this headphone setup rather nicely.
And to conclude this I should lift off my hat to the developers of ROON as, although still not perfect, it is a very helpful and practical way of listening to and enjoying my music collection. The search engine is now very good and I find it discovers items very effectively. I’m currently scanning the booklets of albums and adding the pdf files, often with reviews from the net and the ROON search engine has always managed to locate albums, regardless of how obscure the title and content. The only important remaining ROON negative is the hash it can sometimes make with metadata and the lack of identification and associated data with many. But it is a huge improvement on the old Meridian system and there is no way I would ever go back to handling CDs.
The whole point of the audiophilia disease should be to improve enjoyment of the music. Unfortunately one can become distracted and concentrate too much on the hardware but I hope I’m now past that as my current headphone system is yielding the nicest sounding music I’ve ever heard. And yes, that is from the much maligned CD digital sources with no apparent improvement with hi-rez except to note that most seem more carefully engineered and that is more likely the reason they sound so good.