February 6, 2010

What's Your Level?

A very smug hifi buddy has recently entered a phase, where he can proudly say that he has gotten off the hifi upgrade merry go round. Instead of upgrading his hifi, he has been upgrading his room over the past year or two!

He started with a decently sized purpose built "Golden Ratio" room which was pretty practical and sounded very decent along with his hifi, which is pretty high end too. Over the last year or so, he had re sized and re shaped his stone wall room six times I think. In Malaysia, labour and work force is dirt cheap if one uses foreigners. That partially explains the afford ability factor, but that's besides the point.

The work often includes lots off absorption and diffuser panels built too.

This buddy now tells me that there are 3 levels audiophile hood.
Remember this movie starring Jim Carrie? Not exactly hifi cable(level 1) guy, but a cable guy nevertheless.

Level 1: The cables guys. These guys feel that cables can cure all audiophilia related woes. They believe that they just need to find the "right" miracle cure for all their hifi woes.
Does all this hifi equipment seduce you? If yes, then you're at level 2.

Level 2: The equipment guys. These guys have just realised that cables just can't cure their audiophilia woes. They now know there's no magical silver bullet(a.k.a. cable) to fix their thirst for better sound. Then they realised that it's their equipment synergy after all!(also commonly known in Malaysia as "HiFi Matching"). So they go on an equipment upgrade binge.(Does the 2 contributors here fit the bill? You are free to make your own assumptions. He!, He!)
The "SIFU" telling all others what to do. If you find your self teaching others how to play hifi and room tune, then congrats! You're in level 3, a.k.a. the SIFU level!

Level 3: The room tune guys. Having just learnt the painful, not to mention expensive lesson that equipment swapping still doesn't really fix their audiophilia woes, these guys now turn their attention to the room instead. Since the whole hifi is in the room, the problem must be the room then? Some take the easy way out, consult the room tune experts, and get the contractors in. Other's like my dear buddy, prefer to take the harder path. The problem with room tuning on this path is that the whole process is a learning curve, and like my buddy who had to re-sized and re-shaped his room and panels no less than 6 times to get nearly satisfactory results.

Here's the hierarchy in the scheme of things, level 2 guys consider them selves superior to the level 1 guys. Level 3 guys just believe that they are at the top of their game(at this point, they'd all like to be addressed as "SIFU"). I have a theory about the next attain able level, a.k.a level 4!
The next level after "SIFU" level, go HT or give up! Hmm.........., I really don't mind if my HT room looks like this and snuggled in such fine company.

Level 4: The given up guys! After advancing from level 1, to level 3, some might feel that they have obtained sonic nirvana. The level 4 guys are those whom have gone thru all the levels from 1 -3 and are now never quite convinced sonic nirvana is attain able? As they wise up, they go back to basics, by selling all their hifi equipment, and caving in to family demands, set up a home theater instead! With this here we go again, up grading Blu-Ray players, projectors, sub woofers and all other stuff HT related! There's a group of very smart level 4 guys though, after selling all their hifi gear, they just go and buy a mini compo instead! Then they tell you "Just listen to music!"

Which level are you? And lastly, where do you see your self heading in the near future?


The Wise One said...

Just listen to the music? Hmmmm, sounds a bit familiar....

Big E said...


Luckily you're not at level 4 just yet! Ha!Ha!

mikelau.2 said...

Big E,

Your good buddy is a smart fella. The hifi journey sometimes leads us to different routes, some still stuck at level 1 and going round in circles ! He has chosen room ambience over sound. Sensible way to listen and immerse oneself to Music. Congrats to him. My level ? heehee..multi-level ! cheers

Rabin said...

I think you have got your levels mixed up. The best cables in the world can't do much if your equipment is not up to mark.
In the same way the best equipment in the world won't help if your room sucks.
In the perfect world you would build a golden ratio room, put in the best equipment your money can buy and tune everything to perfection.
In the real world, you work with the room you are given and the equipment that you can afford and learn to live with the results you get.

Level 1 is getting the right equipment.
Level 2 is getting that equipment to fit sonically into the room you have and fine tuning it.
Level 3 is enjoying the music.

Some of us will forever be in Level 1/2 trying to get it right.

The Wise One said...


Level 1 is enjoying the music.
Level 2 is getting the right equipment sensibly to enhance the enjoyment of music.
Level 3 is buying more software to widen the enjoyment of music.

The Wise One said...

Ooops, sorry, forgotten about level 4(Die in cantonese)! Here goes :

Level 4 is when you go bonkers trying to find fault with a recording in an album or/and the system! Ha ha!

Big E said...


I am only relating this story based on my hifi buddy's smug interpretation of things. He seems proud to be in level 3.

Level 4 is my own added opinion only. Meant to further the theme, if only a little. Your comments are as usual pretty logically spot on.

I won't disagree with you on that!


You know who this buddy is lah??

mikelau.2 said...

PRIMARY SCHOOL: Levels likened by Big E's mysterious buddy which most of us go thro.
SECONDARY SCHOOL(sikit atas)- Rabin's levels: One needs to go thro the 'primary school' in order to be able to exploit this level.
UNIVERSITY(lagi atas)- TWO's levels: Need to go thro all schools to fully understand this interpretation ! If one is ALREADY ENJOYING music (at level 1) why the hell ask for trouble by going to level 2 ??
TWO's Level 4 - PhD award: All qualified to receive this award- excel in fault finding from.. you name it ! We can award ourselves PhD, hee hee Happy CNY

PuchongWong said...

I agree with Rabin and mikelau.2. I believe Big E's and his mysterious buddy is experiencing some problems with their brains.