I think it is quite incredible how we can hear and experience music from stored media such as vinyl, tape, compact discs and, more recently, digital music files. It is hard to imagine how we receive such melodious music from what seems a bizarre sequence of undulations in a vinyl groove or magnetic tape or, for that matter, from a bunch of “0s” and “1s’ in a computer file!
Many years ago, I wrote an article about the massive challenges of a turntable and the requisites of a tonearm and stylus to play music. To demonstrate the scale of this mechanical accomplishment, I have chosen to increase the dimensions to put this in a perspective that most will understand. Let us imagine for a moment that the tonearm is the same size as an American League football field at 360 feet long. In this example, the stylus that fits in the record groove would have to be roughly the size of a long, slim regulation football. The cantilever, holding that stylus, would therefore have to be at least 6 feet long! Now, let us make this device squiggle in a groove full of undulations just to demonstrate the complex nature of the task of playing a record. It is hard to imagine that this device can work at all and that it can work at any level, never mind be able to work to the fabulous degree that it does!
Now, consider the task at hand for the amplifier and preamplifier. This would be as if someone asked an accomplished artist to recreate a Rembrandt master work of art such as the “The Night Watch” … embracing all of the nuances of the dark shadows and equally highlighting the illuminated and the most incredible details but at a scale the same size as the expansive football field. Every brush stroke, every subtle tone, every pure hue, each and every detail … absolutely perfectly reproduced … nothing missed or added. Oh, my goodness! This sounds quite impossible.
Perhaps it is impossible to recreate this masterpiece perfectly! Very few turntables in the world can achieve this level of accuracy in musical reproduction - but it is the prime objective nonetheless! When this level is reached we have the ability to hear what Kings and Queens of yore could enjoy when their personal musicians of the Court performed perfectly (the alternative. of course, would be life ending).
The magic of high end audio (and I say this sparingly at the moment) combined with the select few artisans that actually deliver on their audio promises, provide a quality of music that only Kings and Queens of centuries past could enjoy.
What time is it now as I think I would enjoy some fine music? My thoughts exactly!