In Praise of Domestic Tranquility

In Praise of Domestic Tranquility

Written by B. Jan Montana

You’d think I had promoted Two Buck Chuck over Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  Some of the lads looked disappointed, others just looked downcast.  The ambience went flat like Sunday morning Champagne.  Maybe I should have kept quiet.

“Really Montana, you prefer your stereo system over a live symphony orchestra?” Lepovski blustered, “Do you actually believe your system sounds better?  You can’t be serious!”

I didn’t say that my system sounds better.  What I said was that I can get lost in the music better at home than in the concert hall.  That’s not the same thing.  I’m aware the experiences are different.  So is attending a live ball game verses watching it on TV. The truth is, I see more of the action on TV, and I feel more of the music at home.  There are too many distractions in the concert hall.

Look, how many times have we been disturbed by other concert goers with their coughing, kicking, sneezing, snickering, or those candies wrapped in 12 layers of cellophane? It takes 10 minutes because she’s trying so hard to do it quietly.  Once it’s finally extricated, her girlfriend asks for one, and the cycle repeats itself.  None of that happens in my listening room.

At home, I always get the best seat in the house and it’s a comfortable recliner.  That’s better than a sticky, bolt-upright theater seat with no leg room and armrests which I have to share with defensive ends.

Our conductor feels that it’s his duty to expose us to “new talent”, so before the audience gets to hear what we paid for, we are subjected to the “World Premiere” of some discordant cacophony created by a local music professor who became famous during his drug bust.  The fact that it was written in prison and “reflects life’s injustices” doesn’t mitigate our misery.  During the intermission, everyone hopes it’s the world’s “final performance” as well.

With a fine classical music collection, I can choose conductors and orchestras at will, and avoid those performances that seek to “break new ground”.  I have a shovel for that.

I can also choose the work that best suits — or modifies — my mood.  And it can be done at the moment the mood strikes me, not days or weeks later.  Gratification delayed is gratification denied.

My audio system will stop to accommodate my need for a restroom, fridge or bar.  Conductors aren’t nearly as considerate — even when I raise my hand!

My listening room doesn’t care how I dress, comport myself, or what sounds I make.  It is accessible without warming up the car, fighting downtown traffic, staking a parking spot, and paying half as much as the concert ticket for it.

During a backstage tour of symphony hall recently, I suffered the ultimate insult.  I discovered that several sections of the orchestra are reinforced by a concealed PA system!  Not a high-end system as befits the venue, but commercial-grade speakers and generic, multi-channel amps!  No ionic tweeters, graphene-coated, Nano-Tec cones, single ended, class A amplifiers, or elevated, cryogenically-treated, 8-gauge speaker cables — in other words, none of the equipment fundamental to the absolute sound.  It’s a wonder anyone enjoys “live” music anymore!  My gear at home is superior.

So yes, Lepovski, domestic audio is a compromise…but it allows me to get as lost in the music as yogis get lost in meditation.  That’s something I seldom experience in a concert hall.


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