Bjorling, Billy Joel, Billie Jean - they all sounded great to me through those EPIs. I still hear from Larry who has, I think, taken up permanent residence in Florida with his shiny things. By and by he has gotten wind of my now near total engrossment in audio and no doubt takes a certain pride in having been its impetus. To this end, every time we speak -- every time -- he always throws that line at me. "There's no difference," he'll say, laughing smugly. For a minute we're back on the driveway. 'Well, I didn't think there was," I shoot back. Shortly thereafter we get off the phone. We've got little else to say. (Larry actually got into audio himself in the intervening years, eventually buying his own shiny things. We would occasionally even get together for impromptu listening sessions over coffee and cake during which we would compare and contrast each other's shiny things. Wait - that part didn't sound right...)

In the PLYs (post Larry years) I by turns cajoled and forced my dad into driving me out to a used audio gear store all the way out in Queens (waaaay beyond 10-speed range), returning one day with one empty waterproof blue Velcro-closure wallet (standard issue at the time) and a slightly used heavy black box called a Counterpoint SA-100 amplifier. The dealer told me it was a super buy. For perhaps the first time in the recorded history of audio, a dealer was right. I had that thing for years and it saw off many a would-be rack occupant. I eventually bought a rack and stopped setting things atop the cocktail dresser in the den which by this time was only half jokingly referred to as 'the listening room'.

In later years, I ended up hearing swear-to-god-it's-live music coming from the business end of an audio system a handful of times and I guess that's what we all stay in the fight for. One such time, given free reign (allowed to play with the volume and even change the CDs myself!) in a North Shore audio salon, I could swear positively someone or other was playing a trumpet on whatever piece it was smack-dead center and a few feet back of a pair of Vince Bruzzese's Totem Model Ones fronted by a McCormack amp and pre and a Micromega CD player. I didn't buy. Those tiny boxes would be embarrassing in the House of the Belemuth. Besides - my mother might even have liked them.

Then, in another used high-end venue I heard and saw the damndest things - 'panels' he called them. They plugged into a wall no less. However they worked, they were not of this world and I could swear that Jennifer Warnes was in the room sexed-up and crooning betwixt those 'panels'. Quad 63s this time with a Goldmund CD player and a pair of amps called Audio Research Classic 60s. Again I didn't buy. Very low M.A.F. indeed.

I had a huge pair of Sound Lab Dynastats through college (just had to have me some 'panels' after the above!). At all times they dominated, no were the room. I lived at their feet. Well, at the very least in their not inconsiderable shadow you might say, even being known by some as "that kid with the big.... speakers". (Yeah. I know - but I just wasn't born that way. Apparently there are now a multitude of pills. Spam seeks its own level.) Moving on, fueled by a conversation with some tweak-o-phile or other, I at one point actually asked the nerds (look who's talking) in the EE lab/lair at UPENN if they could kindly hard-wire my thick speaker cables directly to the circuit board of the trusty Counterpoint. This bypassed fuses and thus sounded better, I reasoned. They were still like deer behind taped-up eyeglasses in a bright light. They laughed their nerdy laughs and nashed their nerdy teeth but by God, for a pizza they did it and damned if it didn't! Sound better that is. The dumb looks --on the way out with the thick, unwieldy 15-foot speaker cables now permanently affixed to the amp trailing behind me like some techie wedding dress -- those dumb looks were free.

And on and on and here I am at your service, oh gentle reader (I've waited a lifetime to pen that line). Don't worry - the potted plants are emphatically not going to be a staple of my reference system. I don't live with my mom anymore (at least at the time of this writing). I rarely listen to Billy Joel (okay, "Piano Man" sometimes) and last I heard, Larry was still in Florida. He sold the 10-speed years ago. You're safe.

In between listening sessions with Larry and in great shape thanks to lots of 10-speed riding, David went to college where he majored in English with a concentration in poetry. He minored in mathematics, managed to squeeze in a pre-med curriculum, became an actor in New York for a time after graduation, subsequently graduated from medical school and obtained residency in neurosurgery where he currently, er - resides pretty much literally despite so-called work hour reform. He undergoes quasi-military torture on a daily basis without benefit of his Gestalt therapist (who is back in New York) for the sole pleasure of being able to say, smugly, at the once-a-year cocktail party he attends (preferably in the company of a gaggle of hapless non-medical shiksas) "it's not brain surgery, you know" -- beat -- "well, actually, it is!" [Big satisfied laugh]. Who needs those penis pills?

Audio Note CDT-1/DAC2.1x Signature | Eastern Electric MiniMax | Art Audio Diavolo | DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 8 | Sound Organization rack | Audience Au24 digital & analog signal cables | Ensemble Megaflux speaker cable.