There are those among you that have had the chance to listen to the Infinity IRSV's in Music Room One. Most have been impressed with the sound, the effortless quality of this system, its musicality; some more than others, but to all who have visited, we can agree it is something you don't see every day.
The IRS was, arguably, the first all out assault on a no-holds-barred system and to my ears, few have ever approached it since.
The designers of that legendary system, Arnie Nudell and Bascom King (Arnie the concept, drivers and speakers themselves, Bascom the servo electronics), generously came by PS and spent a few days tuning the system for me. It was quite an honor to have Arnie, the master designer and setup magician, work his magic on this system.
And watching the master at work was a humbling experience for me: first, learning just how far from "right" the system was, and second, observing his methodology to system setup.
Arnie's first evaluation pays no attention to anything but the fundamental correctness of the instrument's sound. Everything else is ignored until those instruments sound right. The process is fascinating to watch: the speakers moved around, the knobs and dials twisted and turned, the room tuning changed, the listening position evaluated, the hours spent with the single minded goal of correct instrument sound; everything else is secondary. Now, that might sound intuitively obvious, like one of those "well no sh*t Sherlock" moments to you, and it does to me as well -now - but it wasn't when I set it up, so overwhelming were the number of variables I chose to pay attention to. The trick is to narrow down the variables to what really matters; but knowing what that is isn't always obvious. At least to me.
Moments like this remind me of movies and how I engage with them: not as an informed savvy critic, but as an uninformed, unaware viewer. Thus, my reaction is less analytically based and more emotionally based. I remember the first time I watched Christopher Guest's film Best In Show. It was recommended by a friend. I got maybe 1/3 of the way into it and figured it was the dumbest film I had every watched.
"You did know it was a satire, right?" Said my friend.
"Well, actually, no."
I went back and watched it again with that mindset and found it to be one of my all time favorite movies. Brilliant.
But it took someone who understood the film at its fundamental core to point me in the right direction.
When you watch a true master like Arnie setup a speaker system, you marvel at how 'obvious' and 'simple' his methodology is, and swear the next time you will do the same. And each time I get a little closer.
I am sure Michelangelo's students felt the same way, although I don't recall any of their names or works.
A humbling experience like this is good for the soul, certainly for the sound system, which has been transformed beyond my wildest expectations.