Test for Echo

I like music, so much so that I’ve had some pretty stellar equipment over the years to reproduce it; signed-by-Bob-Carver Phase Linear stuff, prototype Adcom amps, speakers from such greats as Accoustat and Magnepan, a dragon made by Nakamichi, and gear from the likes of SAE, NAD, NHT…

Pretty heady stuff —  back in the day.

These days though, with digital everything and ‘good enough’ mix and compression prevalent in nearly every studio, I’ve been rocking a pair of Bowers & Wilkins P5’s plugged into whatever computer I’m sitting near since the P5’s came out like a decade ago. The B&W’s are just accurate enough to please me, but not so accurate they make me wince when connected to the cheap DAC of the week used in whatever onboard audio solution I’m stuck with.

I’m also rarely in a good listening environment for delicate and nuanced gear; at work I’m surrounded by servers and ventilation and people walking into the office every 5 minutes — not a place for wide soundstage open-backed headphones. And at home I have a roommate who is into banging around the kitchen and running a TV — and being as the condo is an open floor-plan with my desk and whatnot in the common area, I’m subjected to a constant rattle and hum.

But! All of that is changing as soon as I move. My office will be on one end of the townhouse, on the second floor, with several doors between me and the perpetual chaos. And due to this I’ve started picking up some better gear…

This evening my Audeze LCD-1’s arrived and I’ve got them hooked to a new SoundBlaster X3 for DAC/AMP duty, and spent an hour or so streaming Steven Wilson’s remix of Jethro Tull’s ‘Heavy Horses’ in 24/96 FLAC from the MacBook.

I’m a huge fan of electrostatic speakers; the speed and transparency simply cannot be beat, and these LCD-1’s are essentially small electrostats that you bolt to your head. Granted they’re not $4000 LCD-4’s, but they still sound incredible and I don’t need a nuclear power plant to run them… So that means the SB X3 can drive them in a shockingly competent fashion.

The X3 gets pretty rave reviews from some fairly stodgy audio-snobs, but its still a “SoundBlaster” and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact it doesn’t suck. Hehe.

I’ve now spent another hour running Armin Van Burren’s “A State of Trance Year Mix 2017” though the LCD-1’s and — yeah, they’re amazing.

Anyway, the whole setup was right at $500 — not bad!