I’ve been absent for a couple of issues, and I wanted to let everyone know that I haven’t completely faded away…at least, not yet! In previous issues of Copper, I’d hinted at some not-too-distant lifestyle changes on my horizon, and the possibility of downsizing my audio system (and obsession) to a certain extent. My personal timetable for that was sometime next year, after I retired from my job of three-plus decades with publisher RR Donnelley. Guess what? Things have gotten pushed up, and I’m pretty much retiring effective immediately! My wife Beth and I are selling our home of the last five years in Atlanta and are moving to Charleston, South Carolina in October.
This all came about pretty quickly; my daughter Julie and her family moved to the Charleston area in July, and it’s been a real wake up call for us to be so far from our two young grandchildren, Henry (four) and Finneas (nine months). We basically were attached at the hip to everyone in Julie’s house for months on end in advance of their move, and then spent a week in Charleston helping them get unpacked and settled in. On the return trip home, Beth had a “Come to Jesus” moment, and told me that I had to go ahead and retire now; she couldn’t bear to be so far from those young kids for another nine months. So the nonstop madness of Julie’s move had barely subsided, when our own moving madness kicked into full gear. We had to get everything packed and the house ready to go to market in a month. Oh, and that was preceded by a week-long hospital stay by Beth; somehow, she contracted pneumonia while we were in Charleston. It was the really unpleasant icing on an already unsavory cake!
When Kathryn (our real estate agent) toured the house in advance of listing it, the story was the same as when we moved from our home of 30 years into the current one: “that stereo setup has to go away immediately!” I didn’t argue with her perspective on this – her demands got us forty grand over asking at the old place, so far be it from me to question the logic. It took about two and a half days to disconnect, pack, and hand truck countless boxes of equipment (very heavy!), CDs (also very heavy!), LPs (extremely heavy!), and a plethora of racks, stands, and other audio-related gadgets and gizmos into a storage area. Oh yeah, and RCA dogs and Buddhas – lots of RCA dogs and Buddhas. That happened weeks ago, so I’ve been essentially deprived of my usual daily doses of music for what seems like forever. What I wouldn’t give for my neighbor Bob to be able to come over with his laptops, microphones, gadgets, and gauges in tow, enlightening me as to how badly my system measures while rapidly digesting all my high-gravity dark beers. My only reprieve has been listening to the factory system in my car, which is an exceptionally poor substitute for the real thing!
If the house sells right away, we’ll quickly head over to Charleston to hopefully make an offer on the closest thing to our version of perfection we can find. But we’ll still be lucky to get moved in by mid-October. Even then, the drill will be the same as when we moved into the current house: everything except the stereo will get set up and tweaked to the infinite degree first. All that “audio crap” can wait until later!
At the new digs, I’m pretty much abandoning the concept of a dedicated audio room, and will have the stereo setup in a hopefully largish family room. Beth and I have been ironing out the compromise details of this plan for months now. The system will have a place of prominence – probably on the main floor – but all the LPs, CDs, and extraneous stuff will be out of sight, and hopefully out of her mind! The main items that we haven’t been able to achieve common ground on are my fairly extensive collections of RCA Nipper dogs and Buddha statuary of various sizes and configurations. We’ll eventually get there, I’m certain of that; thankfully, I’m at that point in my life where I prefer to avoid confrontation, especially over cast-iron dogs and ceramic demigods!
I had been seriously considering drastically downsizing the audio rig, but since my trip to the Florida Audio Expo in February, I’ve gotten plowed with review offers from a host of manufacturers. I currently have some pretty sweet gear available to me – even if it’s all temporarily packed away. It looks like the big system is here to stay, at least for a while longer, anyway. Without the nuisance of having to deal with being employed, I’ll no longer have the day job creating a constant drag on my audio journalistic productivity. I should be able to get my writing and review schedule fairly prioritized after we get settled in.
When we built the current house, we lived in my brother Harold’s basement for over nine months (!) while the construction was going on. That seemed like the most interminable period of my entire life, and not much audio activity went on there for months on end. We actually joked about the experience, and lovingly referred to our basement apartment as “The Dungeon.” I even chronicled the experience over on Positive Feedback in a couple of articles, True Tales from the Dungeon, and True Tales from the Dungeon, Part II. Nine months was a really long time to go without great music, so a couple of relatively quiet months until we’re set up in Charleston should be a walk in the park!
I’ve been getting a fairly steady stream of DVD-Audio discs, Blu-rays, and SACDs over the last few weeks, and I’m still set up to rip those and add them to my library. It’s been really weird having great discs I’ve been jonesing for on Discogs show up, rip them, and get the metadata and album art in order – and then not be able to hear them in full resolution on the Gustard/Euphony system. I even have a new OS upgrade available to me on the Euphony system, but can’t install it until I get unpacked and set up in Charleston. I can’t help but feel like I’m missing all the excitement!
I plan on posting as often as my current craziness allows, and will provide updates on the new setup once we’re in place. Until then, happy listening!
All images supplied by the author.