Female and audio – nature or nurture? (Part 1 of 2)

1 Speaker Blue 2

1 Speaker Blue

Original version published Feb 20, 2015 | Revised after stumbling onto Positive Feedback’s Carol Clark’s recent post, “My Journey into Audio” |  Reposting from Positive Feedback in “My Journey into Audio – Pandora Pang”)

Carol and Pandora pc Dave Clark Positive Feedback Magazine
Pandora, Carol Clark (pc David Clark, Positive Feedback)

It looked like Carol recently had a similar experience as I did in 2015 that “left [her] stewing.” We have been friends with Dave and Carol for years with shared interests outside of audio: wine tasting, child-brain education, and of late, art.  I adore Dave’s smarts, his dry humor with quick wit, and his meticulous attention to subjects he is interested in, while Carol’s quiet and calm intellect captivates me. Reading Carol’s article prompted me to fish out my old article to include some recent thoughts.

Four years ago, I was on LinkedIn and saw a post in a group I belonged to, mentioning how over 50% of a line of speakers this gentleman retailed was purchased by women. That piqued my interest. For years, I have been hearing rumblings in the high end audio industry that “we need to bring both the younger generation and the women into the hobby.”

I scrolled down but saw the conversation degenerate with a male audiophile explaining how WAF (wife acceptance factor) really meant “Tiffany for her and high-end audio purchases for him.”  Much like Carol, that struck a nerve…

What this article is not about

This article, even when originally published, was not meant to explain why women audiophiles may or may not be growing in numbers, nor was it about how the headphone market may have been the impetus in attracting the younger generation into the the high-end audio hobby. I had no intention to discuss whether the headphone market boom is truly high-end growth, or is vinyl the holy grail. Last but not least, I surely do not want to spark a debate over music resolution and format nor am I asking self-serving or rhetorical questions like “is audio objective or subjective?”

It’s about inclusion + participation

What I initially wanted to talk about 4 years ago was how I fell in love with the products my audiophile husband curated into our listening experience and to introduce to North American music lovers.

The word that came to mind was “inclusion.”

More I thought about it, it’s “participation.”

We audition products together with music we know and love. He made me feel I had as much to do with those decisions as he did.

My original article aimed to encourage the inclusion of this passion, and rightfully gave my husband a lot of credit in the way he shared music and embraced, or gently tweaked my selection criteria. He showed me how any component in the chain can worsen or make better the way music connects in its playback.

He cultivated my ears and nurtured my interests and in our joint exploration, I became quicker to pick out the means (the components and the links in between) to my end (for the music to emote both my intellect and my heart).

It’s about the music

In Carol’s “Women in Audio” in the Positive Feedback Magazine published 2009, she said, “I’m a woman that likes music and acknowledges that components make a difference in sound.”

IMG 1301Wham, that hit me.  I completely echo that.

As of this current writing, we have a brand new pair of Graham Audio LS5/9 in Rosewood being broken in, playing in our smaller listening room 24/7 with a solid-state amp. It is our plan to plug in our coveted Luxman MQ-88 (not the 88u) when we listen. In anticipation of the critical listening session—I have accumulated a mental playlist to savor the mid-range at its best, and am really looking forward to it.

Our first audition of this line was with a pair of LS3/5’s in the same room. This listening room, though smaller than our main listening room, is a good sized room with an open floor plan, so we had to set them up almost like a near-field listening setting with an equilateral triangle. Recently I read up on LS3/5A’s, I found out from a 1977 article on Stereophile, the recommended speaker set up is 6′ apart and 10-12′ from the listening area, each with about 5 degrees toed in. I can’t wait for our demo pair to return so I can compare the experience with the near-field set up we did initially.

Carol went on to say, “I’ve been exposed to all things audio for the last twenty eight years makes me realize that it isn’t just the loudspeakers, it is every component in the chain right down to the interconnects and cables.”

Case in point, our good friend George Vatchnadze, concert pianist, professor and dealer in Chicago is great friends with Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. Mr. Kancheli re-scored a collection of his movie theme songs into piano solos specifically for George. They put together a set of recordings and George gave Philip access to it.

I like Kancheli’s theme songs, and am mesmerized by George’s piano performance, so I am really looking forward to it. However, I want to feel George and his piano in the room and thought I would wait a couple months for the show season to end so we can properly set up our room with a dialed in Gryphon end-to-end experience. In that sense, my perfectionist self allowed me to be patient with delayed gratification.

So it is about the music after all. Except, I still felt unsettled and dug deeper to find more answers.

Go here for Part 2 of 2 >>>

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