By Avis Cardella
I am a spy in the house of sound. I know almost nothing of tone arms, tubes, and turntables, but this world has its hooks in me… this world of reclaimed sound, vintage gear, and some jolly good recordings.
Since being introduced to this subculture via my husband (an avid listener, collector, and builder of some of the rarest speakers in the world) I’ve met many of its disciples. Audiophiles from around the globe have passed through our home—have traveled via planes, trains and automobiles, and arrived, sometimes with LP’s in tow, just to listen! How crazy is that? Maybe not so crazy in their world; I find it extraordinary.
And given the chance to mingle in this world of ideas and conversations that connect these lives and minds, my curiosity has been piqued : What makes these men listen?
At a recent audio event, which I was privileged to attend, I asked thirteen men to respond to a single question:
Why do you listen?
They were kind enough to indulge my inquisition. Thanks to them, this series, Men Who Listen, is born.
Interview 1 with “C”
“There has been one event that evoked my attention to sound. One day, age eleven, I came to my grandmother’s kitchen and said, ‘Where did the sound go?’ The music I heard in the kitchen was flat. Something had changed. She explained that she’d thrown the old radio away. The old radio was tubes and the new one transistors. I noticed the change, and realized the warm sound of the old radio was gone. In its place was this alienating object with a different sound that I didn’t want to listen to! This was a distinct moment for me.
There has always been something in me that responds to music. Sometimes my hair stands up, or my eyes fill with tears, and I respond to the delivery of sound regardless of the system. Still, I find myself going after that sound, the original from Grandma’s kitchen. Whatever systems I’ve built, they all end up with that signature sound. I can cherish other systems, but that’s not personally what I’m looking for.
I guess you could say I listen because I want that feeling back. And I can do that with systems that resemble that ‘first’ sound. I’m still after that.”