Looking through glasses

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How very strange the way music travels through a wire. Imagine trying to explain to someone from the past that it does. He would think you a magician or a liar. And stranger still is how music passes through a capacitor. Not a wire where electrons march through physical material, but through space without benefit of a solid path.

The materials that make up a capacitor have properties that mimic those of a battery, storing and releasing energy differently for each type and frequency traveling through them. And unlike wire, the film and metals of a capacitor change rather a lot over time. And this is what happened to me in Music Room One.

Over time I have been noticing a gradual decrease in the amount of upper energy produced by the IRSV speakers. It's been slow and nearly unnoticeable to those of us listening on a regular basis. But it has been happening, subtly and surely, like one's eyesight with age. You lose visual acuity over time yet the differences happen slowly enough it's difficult to notice until you see the difference with a pair of glasses. Such was the case with the IRS.

Visitors to Music Room One have often told me "the highs sounded a bit muted", while others have swooned at the sound. Nearly six months ago I ran a sweep of the room and found the tweeters down perhaps 1dB; possibly a measurement problem. But something changed recently that was really quite startling. Steve, a local record producer and our dear friend and world famous mastering engineer Gus Skinnas came by to talk about putting a record deal together and we listened to some of their work in Music Room One. Both noticed something was wrong and suggested that the tweeters were off. Turns out the left tweeters were ok but the right side tweeter array was gone! Horrors!

That afternoon chief engineer Bob Stadtherr and I had dissected the system and discovered the 30 year old crossover capacitors had died! Never, in all my years of working with electronics and stereo systems have I had an entire bank of capacitors open in this manner. We were both shocked. It took hours but we replaced all the tweeter capacitors in the IRSV and measured the system again. Perfect. And the sound... wow. Not only did we fix the recent death of the right-side capacitors but replacing them breather new life into aging components.

I have now ordered up $500 of Mundorf capacitors for the midrange crossover components just to be safe.

Like the shock of putting on a new pair of eyeglasses when you've been used to the blur of old eyes, the system has jumped to life in a way I am just shaking my head at.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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