Audiogon had the pleasure of meeting Member Ryedady (Ryan W.) at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest last month and discovered that he’s just a great example of the next generation of audio enthusiasts who are taking the time to learn about their hobby.
AUDIOGON: In your opinion, what is the difference between a casual music lover and a true audiophile?
RYAN: I think a true audiophile is almost obsessive, we’re constantly searching for the ultimate in HiFi playback. We’re also willing to spend more than we should or our wives want us to in order to achieve this goal. Whether you’re a blue color or white color audio-nerd, regardless of price, you can rest assured a true audiophile’s speakers are the correct distance off the walls, the proper toe in, and leveled, signal cables are away from power cables, etc..
The casual listener, regardless of the cost of his system, will have no concept of proper speaker placement, cabling or setup. They will be uncaring about maximizing the full potential of their system (to them, it sounds “fine”) e.g. speakers up against walls or stuck in corners bloating the mid bass and washing out the mids and highs, using the loudness controls with bass and treble cranked all the way up, 20 gauge 1970’s oxidized wiring all tangled into their power cords, etc..
AGON: What was the first item you bought that signaled you’d crossed the line into being an audiophile?
RYAN: I have always been a music lover. I just turned 35 a few months back and remember when I was 13 – locked in my room listening to the Doors over and over again, writing the lyrics into a notebook. Naturally, when I turned 16, I immediately put a $1k stereo in a $500 car, and so it began… That love of music carried on through my life but all I knew about home audio was what I had read in home shopping magazines like Crutchfield. so after years of ogling those glossy photos of mass-produced “hi-fi” speakers I finally broke down and bought some Polk Audio lsi-15 speakers to go with my Onkyo 805 receiver. Even though they were awesome at the time, I still felt like something was missing. After about a year of owning the Polks, a friend of mine talked me into buying a cheap 2 ch separate system consisting of an Adcom 555 amp and second-hand Adcom GTP 500 pre-amp — both components combined were less than half the cost of my Onkyo receiver! It was at the moment I first turned it on that I knew I was hooked on dedicated two ch audio. After all, if something so cheap can sound that good, then what does the higher end stuff sound like? It was that $450 used Adcom system that had me hooked, and so began my never-ending quest in the ultimate, as far as my budget will allow, sound system…
AGON: What’s your favorite piece of gear in your current system?
RYAN: My favorite piece of gear would be my speakers, Monitor Audio Gold Reference 60. I actually sold them to a friend and went through several other pairs over the course of two years. He recently “upgraded” and I bought the Golds back. I’ve just been amazed with them! It doesn’t matter what other gear I swap in the chain, I always like the sound of my system with those speakers in it.
AGON: Do you prefer one music format over another? Why?
RYAN: This is a sensitive question, I just got back from Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and after 3 days of listening to mellow jazz I thought I was going to go postal. I would try and get them to play some rock that I love and grew up with and the guys would hear 30 seconds before turning it off and saying, “ah man you got to here the quality of this recording – it sounds so much better.” Then, of course, the jazz would be back on. I admit the recordings are far superior, but there comes a point when you’re listening to something because it was recorded well instead of just listening to something because its enjoyable and fun to listen to. I got caught up in the whole listening to the stereo instead of the music thing for a while, too. Finally, after some advice from a seasoned 70 year old rocker audiophile friend, I took a step back and “downgraded” my uber expensive amp and pre amp and went with something less resolving and “sterile.” My system is now warm, lush, musical and ultimately just plain enjoyable. Now I just enjoy the music, and hey, if it’s a good recording then even better! If not, hey who cares? Let’s just ROCK!!!
AGON: What advice can you give those who are new to high-end sound?
RYAN: You don’t have to be wealthy or go broke to have a killer system. My whole system was less than $8000. There is a wealth of info on the net, do the research, don’t be afraid to join forums and ask questions. Shop smart. Put your money where it counts the most and remember, a well-pieced together and properly set-up budget system can blow away a system costing three times as much. Don’t be afraid to buy used gear! Most of the stuff I have was super expensive when it was new and was built to last.
AGON: What are your favorite recordings and/or favorite live music experiences?
RYAN: I love Jimi Hendrix on vinyl, nothing makes those guitars crunch like vinyl on tubes. And you have to love Pink Floyd – just excellently mixed and put together. My favorite genre, though, is late 80’s industrial music: Front 242, Skinny Puppy, OLD Ministry (none of the newer speed metal stuff). Honestly, I haven’t been to a ton of shows, but I’ve seen some good ones! I was really blown away by Puddle of Mud – those guys rock live! I went out and bought the album after the show and thought it sounded horrible. Too bad they couldn’t catch the feel of there live performance on the album; I guess the studio is to blame there.
AGON: What is your day job?
RYAN: Customer Engineer (electronics hardware repair)
AGON: If you could have any other job than your own, what would it be?
RYAN: Rock Star
AGON: Which artists have you or would you like to meet (living or dead)?
RYAN: Jim Morrison, he’s the man…
AGON: If money and time were of no consequence, what would your dream audiophile evening be?
RYAN: Pair of MBL 101E MKII speakers with the matching MBL gear, a big stack of records, studio master tapes and enough top shelf scotch to kill a gaggle of Scotsmen..
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