|Moving's a bitch. Then you die, only to move again - parts of you go underground, for good, or scatter on the four winds if ash were the rash of your last will. More important parts of you relocate to 6moons, elsewhere, and you'll spend a few eternities in hell as audio reviewer accused of all manner of unsavory things. Then you'll reappear in the flesh once more properly seasoned to roam through this dimension again. You'll settle down taking things to be permanent. Until you move. Again and again.
|Only change doesn't change.
Following this cheap piece of transitory advice, 6moons too is in preemptive new orbit. Elsewhere is now - somewhere else. Why?
(Where's the humongous trailer with all my damn stuff?)
With 6moons turned full-time venture sans safety net of a regular paying day gig, we've decided to downscale. Simplify. Make the monthly nut easier to crack. Also, the loss of our wolf dogs had made the old 2500 sft house too big. Certain rooms and spaces were barely if ever used while still requiring heating in the winter and cleaning all year 'round. Time for cozy rather than palatial.
Over the years, we've leased many a house where we were the first occupants ever. We stood in for owners who, for various reasons, couldn't take possession of their just-finished home. In hoary audiophile tradition, we broke it in for them only to eventually leave with all the good equipment and tunes in tow, seeing them replaced with designer furniture, Bose wave radios, Technics stacks and ABBA collector's editions. Ha.
I've come to the conclusion that most folks, especially first-time builders with money, construct too big. They're trying to cram every single fancy feature, of all their favorite past rentals combined, into one dream conglomerate. That looks good on paper and impressive during the house warming party. However, much turns superfluous once you actually live in it. Life's more simple than that. Spaces that are sized such that you actually and regularly use every square inch, reflecting moderation and practicality - well, by becoming truly "lived in", such modest spaces turn out to be far more comfortable than posh interior design resorts.
|For audiophiles on the move, a special challenge remains. Past experience and gut instinct distinguish between a potentially good-sounding room and one equally disasterous while first measuring room dimensions, clapping for slap echo, listening for timbral effects while talking, considering irrepairable reflective surfaces and praying to George Cardas, Michael Green and assorted other minor deities. However, you'll never know for sure. Until you fire up your rig that is - by which time it's clearly too late. Did you miscalculate? Did popular theories of idealized spatial relations turn out to be flawed, rosy theory rather than harsh, bright or stuffy reality?
As a professional reviewer's wife, Ivette fully appreciates the importance the new listening room as my mad scientist's laboratory enjoys during prospective home hunts. But being doubly reliant on the veracity of one's own intuition and common sense doesn't mean you can't screw up.
It was thus with a certain degree of trepidation that I hit 'play' last Saturday. Would I be condemned to live with two-way mini monitors set up in a nearfield equilateral triangle? It's an arrangement that goes counter to my preferred elongated farfield triangle and full-range transducers. What follows is proof to the contrary. It's an update to our writer bio pages, to document the present state of affairs at Elsewhere and help you relate future findings to an actual physcial space and specific setup. But first, an overview of the area.
A good hour north of Santa Fe, Taos Pueblo above is the oldest continuously inhabited structure in the United States. Meanwhile, Taos Ski Valley is a minor mecca for powder-hungry slope carvers in the winter and a lush alpine hiker's paradise during the summer. At the Northern-most intersection of Taos, with the town in your back, a left turn gets you across the Rio Grande bridge toward Tres Piedras. Going straight heads for the tiny resort town of Red River and eventually Colorado, going right for Arroyo Hondo, Arroyo Seco, El Salto, Des Montes, Valdez and Ski Valley's Carson Forest. Our new location is nestled into the last mesa just before the road passing El Salto's little Hollywood hangs a sharp right at the Adobe and Star B&B and parallels the creek leading into Ski Valley village. We're thus at the edge of Des Montes facing El Salto, with the green valley of Valdez to the other side of Rim Road from which our dirt road called Mouse House Lane spins off. The tiny post office in Arroyo Seco has less than 800 mailboxes so it's fair to assume that the local head count couldn't be much above 2500.
Despite such remoteness, the relative wealth of the El Salto enclave has led to a powerful repeater antenna on the ridge of the Northern foothills that enables high-speed wireless Internet access in this middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains on three sides and getting you to day-long hikes within literally 10 minutes. According to the local contractor who installed my Internet satellite/antenna on the roof, he's recently handled four installations, all for high-power Chicago business men living in million-dollar homes and commuting to the stockmarket and main office via the ethers. Leaving the multi-million dollar estates to the Chicagoans, our place is a variation on the earthship popular in Taos because, with enough tires and elbow grease -- ramming earth with a pounder to be more specific -- they can be constructed on the cheap. I say variation because ours is constructed of concrete-filled cinder block. The common denominator with earthships remains the partial underground design. It features the north-facing rear wall below ground for superior insultation, the south-westerly window-front wall tall enough to be partially above ground where it matters - with the windows. If the main structure above looks a bit low, it's because there's another 4.5 feet extending below the glass.
The new 6moons haunchquarters is a split-level affair, with the older 31' x 17' downstairs the earthship structure that sports a slightly concave rear wall and sloped ceiling. It begins at 88" in the back and rises to greater than 10 feet in the front. The open downstairs space is divided by a stepped half wall ending at the central woodburning stove which itself faces the wooden steps leading to a short door that served as entrance proper before the upstairs structure was added two years ago. The downstairs concrete floor is covered with unique removable European carpet tiles made from cow hairs, hence fully organic, washable and ultra comfortable to the bare foot. The upstairs is a 25' x 16' tiled kitchenette/bathroom/living space area with traditionally sloped wood-beam ceiling. One half of the lower segment is my new listening/writing room, the other the celebratory ground of conjugal visits and snore fests.
A barn serves for storage, as does a small locked 8'x8' antechamber behind the upper portion. The yard sports Chinese elm, Sumac, apricot, plum, lilac, cottonwood and various other baby trees of origins elusive to an old city dweller until someone affixes a sign with their proper name next to them. The open field across the drive way has been staked out by squadrons of las tusas, prairie dogs who've tunneled a veritable maze of small caves below it. Did I mention the breathtaking views, pure air, nocturnal high-altitude/low attitude star count or the well water that comes out of the ground colder than cold and tastes better than any $4.00/bottle designer aqua could dream of? Modest, in the right setting, can be rather deluxe depending on your priorities...