Tom came by the office the other day to hear Music Room One. We had a good time together playing lots of music through DirectStream. Hearing music in Music Room One is a real treat for most people. Tom wasn't disappointed.
A couple of tracks we played were too loud for him, he asked I turn down the system from where I have gotten used to listening to it. Tom was very particular about the level (as we all should be) and when we reached the perfect level his hand went up and a smile was on his face.
A few days later I got a note from Tom asking about what he'd heard. The cut in question is one most everyone likes: a 1959 recording of Buddy Holly singing True Love Ways. It's amazing this is on a CD and recorded so long ago and when played through DirectStream it sounds like you're in the studio. Most high resolution audio doesn't sound this good. Tom said "I have never heard a 35 foot tall Buddy Holly." What intrigued Tom even more was when we reduced the level, Buddy Holly regained his 6 foot height in perfect proportions. The volume control acting like a height distortion lens.
Of course Tom was right and I have written about these issues many times before. There is a perfect volume level for each recording that differs from system to system, room to room. In the past I have been rather scrupulous with these settings, to the point of writing down the correct level setting for each track to make sure.
Since most of my time in Music Room One has been spent listening to DirectStream and all its development, I have found myself turning the level up to a higher setting than is appropriate to the music. Why? Because turning the level up past its perfect point is like looking through a microscope at the music, searching for tiny little details that might need attention. In fact, I had gotten so used to doing this that I'd forgotten that wasn't what Tom was interested in.
He did remark that a 20 foot Shelby Lynne, a 35 foot tall Buddy Holly and an 8 foot Chairman of Board (old blue eyes) was an experience he will never forget.
Thanks Tom, appreciate the help and reminder.
I'll be speaking tonight at the Phoenix Airport Marriot if you're in the neighborhood. Come on by.