Drop the drum!

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Years ago the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held in Chicago and it was at one of those shows where we had a line outside our door from opening to closing to hear the system. The line was so long that we actually had to employ someone to manage the line so it didn't get unruly.

What caught everyone's attention was the Infinity IRS loudspeakers were playing in our room. My friend Arnie loaned us a pair of these 1.2 ton loudspeakers after much pleading and begging on my part - never a finer loudspeaker had I ever heard - and the sound we were getting in the room was stunning.

The system consisted of PS electronics and an Oracle turntable as the source. By far THE most popular piece of music was Dafos, a Reference Recording which featured Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Flora Purim andAirto Moreira. It was mostly a percussion piece and on one track a giant drum apparently fell over during the taping and they left it on the disc. On the IRS, with several thousand watts of servo bass amplification and twelve 12" woofers for the bass, the impact of that drum hitting the floor was something no one had ever witnessed before. I am not talking pant rattling bass (which it was) but window moving bass. Literally, the windows in the hotel room visibly pushed in and out when that drum landed on the floor - it was and still is - the most jaw dropping sonic experience I have ever had.

Then in walked Max Townshend designer of the Rock turntable. He stood in line to hear the system and when it was over he approached me and said he thought we had a problem and could he come back that evening to fix it? Sure. Why not?

Max showed up promptly at show's end and with him one of his Rock turntables. He explained to me that what we were actually hearing when the drum landed was turntable feedback - a problem his Rock table didn't exhibit. He connected his table, played the track and the drum hit the floor with a loud thud but the windows didn't move and the pant legs didn't flap in the breeze. It was totally unexciting. But he was right, the performance we got was not real. It was an artifact of a poorly designed turntable.

Then Max volunteered to leave the table so we could present the real, pure sound that was actually on the disc. I thought about this for about a microsecond, thanked Max and sent him packing.

You still have to have fun when you're playing with high-end.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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