Fortune telling

September 13, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

Over my 73 years, I have come to discover I am not very good at foretelling the future.

So why is it I put so much credence into worrying about a future I cannot accurately predict?

That worry often stymies forward motion.

Yet, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

While I don’t seem able to accurately foretell the future, it turns out that I am a reasonable navigator landing close enough to my intended target that the slight course deviations required for a successful outcome can be handled on the fly.

Why’s this matter?

I think it is likely that most of us are better navigators than fortune tellers.

We imagine a future outcome, like how a piece of equipment’s going to perform or how our system is going to sound, and then we move forward. If our expectations are to get close enough to make it work as opposed to hitting the bullseye, I’ll bet we’d have a lot more confidence in trying something new.

Getting close to new and better is perhaps more profitable than never leaving home.

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79 comments on “Fortune telling”

  1. Wait; let me get my scarf & crystal ball !

    Years of experience in a particular field or industry, providing that your brain is not cross-wired, should allow you to make fairly accurate guestimates about what the future holds in that industry.
    I was pretty sure how good my new ‘M6si500’ would sound & I didn’t even have to leave home…(mainly due to the fact that we are still in CoViD-19 lockdown here)
    After 6 solid hours of listening to it (through it) today, I can smugly say that I was right 😉

    **Off Topic**
    A huge thank you to a very special Dutchman, Max Verstappen, for taking out not only himself
    but also Lewis Hamilton, thus allowing a skilful Daniel Ricciardo to win the Italian GP. 🙂

    1. I usually watch F1, but missed it, recovering from the tennis. Then my son called to say an Aussie had won in a McLaren one-two. I thought I’d fallen down a time tunnel.

  2. In my late teens and 20’s I tried things for no good reason other than I wanted to try them, and was usually limited financially. From my late 20’s there had to be a motivation, like wall-mounted speakers when the kids arrived. In that period nothing at all changed for about 10 years. I reclaimed my listening space to get into streaming and archive our CD collection. That was in 2009. for a few years I tried big powerful amps and separates, but a multi-function all-in-one was driven by the fact that the family could use it and it actually sounded better than the component system. It also drove a change from regeneration back to conditioning. In 5 years I’ve never thought of trying anything else. A recent change of speakers was driven by a major change in home decor.

    I don’t suppose this is unusual, the main drivers being family life and technology changes. Most of the new kit in the last 12 years has been due to streaming, which has improved leaps and bounds, although the last thing was a server/streamer for Roon in February 2019. I can’t imagine any technology changes that will make me want to change the 2-channel system.

    The only thing I bought without a proper demo was a valve amplifier, something I regret. It was my fault, as I enjoyed what it did well but ignored what it did badly. I learned my lesson and now have an exacting list of test tracks that I’ve used with in-store or home demo’s before buying anything.

    1. Most interesting. That reminds me uninstalling my Spendor BC-2s and my turntable when our first child found her feet and installing my car stereo system Pioneer Centrate and the car stereo speakers Canton HC-100 with strong metallic (!) grilles in the living room. However our daughter never had any problems getting the system running and inserting her favorite cassettes and CDs. She even could read long before her first day of school – just taking the empirical route! However missing the sound quality of my vinyls some years later I acquired a pair of spherical-horn loudspeakers including a plasma tweeter – no chance to demolish any soft dome – and the “stereophile” route could be continued. Still today I am waiting for a DAC and a digital format outperforming the sound quality of my best vinyls. And most strange today my grandchildren and youngest nieces go for vinyl – not finally based on having listened to my analog rig with carefully ultrasonically cleaned vinyls.

      1. PaulSquirrel,

        It is wonderful that the kid did not cause you to abandon forever your love of vinyl and the high-end audio route! Keep enjoying that analog vinyl!

        1. Good morning RR!
          I read your comment.
          Something you said in it, really intrigued me!
          I can work with both analog and digital.
          I can design analog cerkets too.
          And this is especially true about vacuum tube cerkets!
          I yoost to have a nack for designing digital cerkets before I lost the agility to see.
          I can still do that today.
          But for collar coded wires, I would have to use a digital talking device that’s called a collar identifier.
          But sense someone in the Hifi Family handed me a challenge yesterday, I have to do my home work before I take on that challenge.
          That is, both designing and building a pare of active speakers with tube amps built in to them.
          Sure I can slap together cabinets for speakers.
          But what I have to do, is figure out how to dampen them against vibrations.
          With tubes, you have to be very careful about that kind of a thing.
          I already know that both the backs and bottoms of the cabinets have to be heavily vented so that the tubes can get air to cool off.
          That’s the easy part.
          But the hard part, is damping the cabinets against the vibrations.
          Perhaps I’ll have to talk to some people that may know way more then I do about that.
          So, we’ll see.

          1. Dear John,

            Respectfully, I think tube amps built into speakers is an answer to a question no one is asking.

            I would think that the benefit of eliminating the speaker cables is more than outweighed by the problem of vibrating the tube amp inside the speaker.

            1. Hi again RR!
              You said, “I think that tube amps built in to speakers, is an answer to a question, that nobody is asking.”
              Except for one person, that’s me.
              There are tons of active speakers on the market.
              But none of them, have tube amps built in to them.
              But with the current ones that are on the market, they all have sonic problems that comes with them.
              Unlike standard power amps that are enclosed in steel cases, they aren’t sheelded against airborn RF signals or electro magnetic disturbances.
              Those are the drawbacks of using plate amps.
              But for me, I’ve never seen or heard active speakers witth tube amps built in to them before.
              So if I build it, perhaps I’ll be able to bring it to the market.

                1. Good afternoon FR!
                  How do you do my friend?
                  What you’re saying, is so very true.
                  But however, there has got to be a way, to get around that.
                  I don’t know yet, how to go about doing it.
                  But I do know, that it can be done.
                  Because, after all, there are some high end speakers that are built in to cabinets made of rock.
                  From what I understand about them, they don’t vibrate.
                  If I’m wrong, then please correct me.

              1. As I understand it, which is not necessarily with great accuracy, the proponents of powered speakers tout that the amplifier can designed, optimized, and finessed (tuned) to most closely work with the specific speaker. If you can design and build such a speaker and matching tube amplifier, would it be a horrible thing to take said dedicated amp in a simple (or fancy) chassis and mount it to the top of the speaker cabinet? You could separate the two (or more, separate single amp units for each driver) with an acoustic decoupling layer for handling tube microphonics and also plenty of airflow to keep the tube generated heat under control. Or just set the amp chassis on its own stand behind or next to the speaker. The length of the speaker leads would not be much greater than an in cabinet amplifier and could still be hard soldered to the cross-over or individual drivers (a single, full range driver, a la Voxativ, would also be way cool, in my humble opinion). Not out of sight, but I personally like the looks of those warmly glowing, little glass bottles. Just throwing out an idea for consideration; this is your project and best of luck (which is really cleverness and applied skill) to you.

                1. Good afternoon Confused Steven!
                  I also thought about mounting the amps on top of the speakers.
                  But however, I would have to raze the bottom of the amps a cupple of inches high up off the top of the speakers, so that air could get under Neath the amps to keep them cool down there.
                  Nice idea!
                  But for the kind of power I want the amps to drive the speakers with, I was also thinking about a class AB push pull design.
                  Perhaps about anywhere between 25 50 and maybe 75 watts.
                  Just slap on a cage, that will protect wondering little hands from getting burned by the hot power tubes.
                  A quite a lot of things to think about there.
                  Thanks for the grate ideas man!

                  1. John,
                    The issue of amplifiers inside the loudspeakers is not that easy. As they mentioned above, vibration is going to be a problem. In addition, the heat generated by the tubes is going to kill them sooner rather than later.
                    You usually need a lot of power for the woofer and less so for the midrange and tweeter. Some pro monitors use Class D for woofers and still use A/B for mid and tweeter. Most pro monitors have a lot off “metal” in the back for dispersing the heat. I cannot imagine how you would be able to do so with tube amps.
                    Even if you place the amps right outside of the box, you are defeating the purpose of the system.
                    If you are interested in something closer to what your ears prefers, I would suggest Class D for lows and a Class A/B for mid and high. The benefit of this is you need a rather small amplifier for midrange and high frequency so the amount of heat generated is more controlled.
                    Also, remember that most modern amplified speakers digitize the signal they receive. Not all, most, and as you seem to prefer DSD, this will not be possible. You can’t do digital crossovers in DSD format. Only PCM. But even if you send them analog, the crossover will most commonly be in the digital domain anyway.
                    Check the Burchardt A700, for example. Interestingly, it is the “hub” or wifi aspect, that makes these speakers a little problematic. They are Danish (not danish to eat, but the country).

                    1. Good morning CTA!
                      I won’t be mean to you, but you totally missed the point of what I was getting at yesterday.
                      If you think all the way back to the past 80 years, you will soon remember those large floor standing radios that had the amps setting right behind the speakers, in the bottom of the cabinets.
                      As someone else has already pointed out, juke boxes also had amps setting behind the speakers in the bottom of the cabinets.
                      And, lets not forget those stereo systems that were built in to cabinets as large as dressers.
                      What all of these things have in common with each other is, they all had tubes in them.
                      And who said that this kind of a speaker system had to be digital, or DSD ready?
                      When you stop to think about it, all speakers are analog.
                      That is a very known, true fact.
                      The kinds of problems you brought up, weren’t spoken of 80 years ago.
                      So, with all of these facts in mind, if it was done many times before, it can be done many times again.
                      And on top of that, today, we have way better work arounds for things like that, then we did 80 years ago.
                      Just set back, and think about that for a long moment.

                    2. John,
                      Of course I know what you are saying! The first radio in my room as a kid had a little tube amplifier inside of it. It generated a lot of heat. The sound was terrible.
                      Those consoles were huge too. But technology advances. You can’t make these things now and sound state of the art. If you recall, those consoles had lots of open spaces for “breathing” of the equipment. The performance today would be unacceptable.
                      I do take your point that you don’t have to digitize the signal. Some pro monitors do the crossover in the analog domain. I know some Focals do this but you still need an active crossover even if you do not digitize. However, most of the newly designed pro monitors do all the crossover functions and equalization in the digital domain. It is much more accurate and responsive. I presume it is much cheaper to work with “software” than the cost of active components.
                      Give it a try and see how it works. There are still some cars manufactured with wooden chasis, even if they appear to be “toys”.

            2. Tube amps have been built into speakers for at least 50 years or more. Guitar amps come to mind. Also, those wonderful room shaking juke boxes always filled the room with a huge effect of the music. But, those were all open back boxes…

              Who knows?

                    1. And keep in mind. They might do a lot of heavy clipping throughout a performance….

                      Any jazz guitarist worth his salt should consider tube amplification for the tone capacity…

                      Rock and Rollers, will roll with the punches better as well.

      2. My kids left home recently, but the elder one used the system with his growing vinyl collection and the younger one with Spotify.

        I have two pairs on line inputs programmed for vinyl, as I had MM mono and MC stereo arms, now both are stereo, low output MC and medium output moving iron. Originally I used the internal phono amp for both, now I only use the internal phono for the MI and have an external phono amp for the MC. I love listening to vinyl and the superb sound quality that can be achieved.

        1. Steven, You actually appreciate vinyl! 😮 The way you carry on I though you were all about streaming and digital. I may have to lie down, this is too much to digest this early in the day.

          1. Very much so. The one piece of audio kit I fantasise about is a fully restored Garrard 301. When I bought a Loricraft PRC4 I discussed this with Terry O’Sullivan, who owned the Garrard patent and did restorations at a sensible price, around £3,500. I did not take up the offer. He has now retired and sold the business to SME, who have done a retro version and they are selling them for £12,500, and the base is dead ugly. My big regret.

            SME have tweaked the Loricraft and the price has jumped from £1,600 (I paid £1,350) to £2,350.

      3. Good morning PaulSquirrel!
        Have you ever thought about checking out the Black Ice FS DSD WIFI dac?
        I hear that, it can work wonders with just about any kind of digital audio files.
        I don’t know where you live, but you can take a look at that dack, at Underwood Hifi.
        Just go to:
        Go to products then brands.
        Click on Black Ice Audio.
        In there somewhere, you’ll find the FS DSD WIFI.

  3. I’d say so far I’ve been a pretty decent headphone navigator. I really have a good grasp at reading a FR graph and knowing if that headphone would fit into my systems synergy. Speakers on the other hand are not my forte, but I would absolutely love a big twin pair floor-standers to sit in my living room some day.
    I’ll need some decent navigating before I get there one day. For now I’m using cube array speakers as a 5.1 channel set up. It isn’t bad, but it is nowhere near great. 😉

    1. Nephilim 81, I have no idea of your location, age or budget so this is a shot in the dark. Start small and work your way up. Here is a history of my floor standing stereo speakers. All dates are approximate.

      1986 – A/D/S L990
      2002 – Audio Physics Virgo III
      2017 – Magico S7

      It took me more than 30 years to get to what I have today. I wish I had done it quicker, but like everyone there were other things in my life that modified my path. I was able to sell all of the speakers that I no longer used for reasonable prices.

      If you decide to buy used look for people like me who treat their audio gear better than they treat their automobile and try to buy them from someone local if possible. Shipping larger speakers can really be expensive.

    2. Neph,
      Check out the Tekton – ‘Double Impact’ coffins.
      If I lived in America those would definitely be in my listening room.
      Awesome for any type of Metal, Rock or EDM.
      Bass to die for & at a reasonable price.

  4. I forgot to congratulate all the Brits with the fantastic victory of Emma at the US Open.
    And I like to thank Medvedev who made my (tennis) day 🙂
    And yes, good race for Verstappen.
    7 more of those and he is the new F1 World Champion.

    1. Medvedev made my day. Why is it that almost everyone hates Djokovic and much as they love Roger? The idea of Djokovic surpassing Roger is just too much to bear.

      The Emma business caused a lot of stress in my family. Both my kids are abroad and the text traffic was non-stop. Wife under the duvet. Me pacing the room. The problem is that Brits are usually useless at sports we invented, like football and tennis, but England got to the Euro finals and now this. I think the French invented motor racing, and they haven’t had anyone really good since Alain Prost. They certainly have no idea how to make a decent car.

      Japan is cancelled and we decided here that Brazil and Mexico will also not happen. That leaves Russia, Turkey, USA, Abu Dhabi and Saudi. Can’t see Hamilton winning this one.

      1. I would avoid generalizations as “French” or “Germans” or “Italians” etc. because it remains unclear if you are talking of Bretons or Corsicans or Alsatians or Aquitanian or Provençal or, or ,or. resp. a Bavarian or East Frisian or Saxons or Swebians or or or. Maybe in U.K. English people feature a clear and unique and common character and intelligence? 😉

        1. Autosport has always been dominated by marques with strong national identities and national racing clubs. Much of the F1 industry is based in what used to be West Mercia, under the control of Danish invaders, although that was 1,100 years ago. Lotus, based in Norfolk would have been Angles. They were from Northern Germany, preceding the Danes and Vikings. There is an audio company up that way called Angle Audio, that makes good budget phono amps, having given up on raping and pillaging some time ago.

          I have no doubt Max Verstappen identifies himself as West Frisian.

          1. Who invented the wheel? Who invented the steam engine? Who invented the programmable computer? Who invented the paper money? I guess that in every case you will see individuals rather than a nation or a tribe or clan! And it’s the indoctrination character of every ideology or religion or political socialization program which pretends that there are national characters or chosen peoples.

        1. Remind me. July 2019. Who won the ICC World Cup? And who’s going to win the T20? Eng v Aus on 30 October. Put it in your diary.

          Plus, it was invented by the Dutch? And their last decent player was … can only think of Ryan ten Doeschate, and he was a SA import.

        2. It was a good weekend for at least one of your countrymen. Jett Lawrence won the 250 class national championship last Saturday. One seriously fast kid, fun to watch and seems to have a great personality too. Not too full of himself like a lot of racers that have risen to that level. Gives out free donuts at every race. lol.

      2. I cannot decide if I am glad or sad that I no longer go crazy for tennis and Grand Prix racing. Back in the day it was Jimmy Clark who ruled the track and Rod Laver ( who came from some strange place referred to as down under 😉 ) who ruled the court.

        Ah, to be young and crazy again.

        1. I missed the race yesterday and just now watched the “Race Highlights | 2021 Italian Grand Prix” on the FORMULA 1 channel on YouTube. Realizing that this is an edited 7:01 long highlights post, but wow, this looked more like a NASCAR race/brawl. Too much grappa at breakfast?

      3. Remeber the old Monty Python skit where the flamonge shaped creatures from the Planet Skyron in the Andromeda Galaxy were turning people into Scotsmen to facilitate their goal of winning the Wimbledon tennis tournament?

    2. jb4,
      You typed, “And yes, good race for Verstappen.” ??
      Umm…Verstappen crashed out of the race.
      In what universe it crashing out a “good race”?
      But I agree with you in that “7 more of those” &
      Ricciardo will be “the new F1 World Champion.”

      1. Fat Rat,
        ha… you know what i mean and I know what you mean, I think.
        Verstappen kept his 5 points lead on Ham. That’s good.
        7 more crashes from the 2 rivals and…voila |
        Unless of course one of the other guys wins too many points, but I don’t see happen (I hope).
        BTW, I prefer tennis (on of my favorite sports to watch) over F1.
        The only thing I do after a F1 race is read the results on teletext (Ceefax).
        I didn’t pay attention to F1 at all until Verstappen began F1 racing.
        His father was also a good racer, but not quite the worldclass talent his son is.
        And talking about crashes…after the crash of my power amp I temporarily use a Cyrus One amp, borrowed from the dealer. It’s okay, I can (and have to !) live with that for a while.

        1. jb4,
          What, teletext. I thought that died out years ago and you mentioned it to raise a laugh (knowing a bit your sense of humour) but a quick check with my friend Wiki advises me it is still in use by some European television companies. I’m amazed, but having said that, I used to use it a lot and missed it when it first disappeared here in the U.K. about 2012. As it’s sports day, I enjoy watching F1, other motorsports and some tennis.

    3. I got very angry with the crowd (don’t know who these people were) for booing and jeering Medvedev at match point and giving him problems during the whole match. All of a sudden Djokovic became the good guy. He probably will go down as the best player in history and at the end he was a real gentleman because the crowd was showing him the love.I think the stress got to him right from the beginning of the match because could’ve played better but Medvedev came to play except when he got booed and then he fell apart with several double faults. He calmed himself and came back again to put the finishing touch on the match very quickly.

    1. Thanks stimpy2, the perfect opening to post this.

      A PESSIMIST sees a dark tunnel
      An OPTIMIST sees light at the end of the tunnel
      A REALIST sees a freight train
      The TRAIN driver sees three idiots standing on the tracks.

      1. Ha Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah

        I read an article several months ago, The gist of which was that most pessimists are realists. That made me feel better!

        It was easy for me to turn from an optimist to a pessimist with everything that’s been going on all around us in so many different ways. I don’t need to spell them out as much of this audience are intelligent enough to understand the reality of what’s happening all around us.

          1. Maybe the glass is another illusion of Utgarda-Loki’s drinking horn from Norse mythology (Prose Edda) which is connected to the ocean. In a drinking contest, Thor is unable to drain the horn, though he tries three times. The sea water in the horn apparently tastes like mead or ale or whatever the popular local booze was. He did significantly lower the sea level and started the cycles of the tides.

            Note: Utgaroda-Loki is a giant, not the Norse god Loki. Both are tricksters, though. See particularly time stamps 3:34-3:54 and 5:34-5:43, although the whole video is amusing in Red’s inimitable style (well, I like it):


            That’s what I like about this virtual hangout. Always another tangent to traverse.

  5. **Attention: Longplayer (& anyone else going through ‘Soundmind’ withdrawal)**
    Regarding your inquiry about ‘Soundmind’ on ‘Paul’s Posts’, August 26.

    Go here:

    And find ‘Mark Fischer’ in the comments section & open up his 5 paragraph
    dissertation & start reading it & tell me that that’s not ‘Soundmind’ 😉

    1. Definitely Soundmind.
      I guess from the moment he began to understand converting us did not work, he must have felt the need to look for new victims for his delusional ideas.
      I feel sorry for these innocent (?) youtube readers…
      And since you apparently are one of them Fat Rat, be careful not to lose your sound mind.
      Or am I too late already with my warning ? I hope not.

  6. My imagination of what Soundmind’s system might look like is similar to something from a sci-fi movie. I’ve wondered how many people can listen in the sweet spot simultaniously.

  7. People, be kinder to Soundmind. Just because we don’t understand Fourier series and didn’t as children listen to live music every day for several hours on end and therefore never developed the ability to discern live music qualities, and just because we don’t use Crown amplifiers and incorporate equalizers in our systems, and continue to be misled by the fallacy of 2-channel stereo and never will totally understood the system he tried to explain (though many of us got the gist of it, as we too have explored realistic surround sound through multi-channel delay and amplification with multiple amps and drivers)…give the guy a break. He shared his views with passion, and what he said made at least as much sense as many of the outlandish posts in this diverse community. One thing is clear. SM favored separates over integrated. LOL

        1. FR, Thank you, I checked Mark Fisher out and all I can say is he must be able to type a LOT faster than I can. I am going think about responding to his YT post.

  8. Nothing ventured nothing gained As for the Garrard 301. The new one is made of NOS parts and new parts machined to exact specifications of the original parts. 301s originally came with grease bearings. This was changed to oil bearings a few years later. Sound wise the former is a little better sounding than the latter according to some people and I agree with them having heard both but the difference is very small. The 301 is the king of PRaT which is the foundation of live music. I would suggest listening to one. The sound will be a pleasant surprise. The sound is crystal clear. It does not have any of the vagueness and smudged transients of belt drive tables. May take a little getting used to If one has become too used to belt drive tables. Old tables are still available at reasonable prices. Regards

    1. Oh my, I had a Garrard 301 turntable with Shure cartridge as part of my first audio system in the 1970s, consisting of the 301, a Stereophile A+ rated Marantz integrated amp/receiver and KLH Model 5 loudspeakers. I fondly remember the gorgeous sound. I used to lie on the carpet and listen to the speakers nearfield. For whatever stupid reason I bought an expensive cassette player with Dolby (the in-thing at the time) and abandoned vinyl. I moved around the country and lost interest in audio at that point and don’t even remember what happened to my audio components. I remember giving my vinyl collection to Salvation Army, with several duplicate Carpenters, Beatles and Elton John albums still wrapped and unopened!

      1. Correction: After studying photos, I conclude my turntable was the less sought-after Garrard 401, no slouch, but not considered as good as the 301. At least I don’t feel so bad having ditched it.

  9. I just got an idea for Paul. For every purchase made PSA includes an Audio Fortune Cookie with the customer’s order. It needs to be in a small box packed in with the gear. The toughest part is writing a fortune that imparts great audio wisdom and one year’s free downloads of Octaves new releases.

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