The human ear is exceptionally sensitive and so responds to tiniest change in pressure in the airwaves. To give you an idea in numbers, the human ear threshold of hearing is less than one billionth of atmospheric pressure [1. Hyperphysics, Georgia State University]. Added to that the huge dynamic range we have it’s difficult to understand when some people say that they can’t hear the difference between one music system and another. Beyond the ear music is ‘listened to’ by our whole body. Deaf people have a more enhanced sense of this and often gain as much fulfilment out a piece of music as a person with the ability to hear. Albeit from a different perspective [2. Beyond Vibrations: The deaf experince of Music By Aharona Ament]. I would expect that they too would notice the difference between the reproductions of different sound systems.
Recently, as we have been working on some new things including the recently announced Mark Four Orton amplifier we have reawakened our awareness of the subtle sensitivity we have to tiny changes in sound. Because of this we find most of our work is done not behind the CAD [3. Computer Aided Design] screen and not gazing at an Oscilloscope on the test bench, but on the sofa in the listening room with a clutch of CDs and with soldering iron and screw driver handy. Our abilities in audio electronics have to be at least matched with our mechanical engineering capabilities and knowledge of the dark arts. Though the latter can often be substituted with common sense.
Three albums that I have found myself using again and again lately are, Under the Pink by Tori Amos, Hail to a Thief by Radiohead and The Dance, a live recorded album by Fleetwood Mac. As well as being superbly musical to my tastes, all three recordings are both dynamic and natural throughout. As we test changes we have made in the products I find myself repeating certain songs time and time again just to notice if I feel the same vibration on my bones on a pluck of a guitar string or finger on a piano key. The origin of the word piano [4. Softly or to play softly] is also the clue here. As the dynamics of a single note of a Bösendorfer can be felt even at very low volumes. As the lower bass tones rumble and mids and highs vibrate off the soundboard and resonate with the frame my ears prick up and my body tingles to every little change. Our time is mostly spent trying to have the sound systems sounding as natural as possible and by the same definition making the music as pleasurable as intended to listen to too.
High fidelity is therefore not just the realm of the Audiophile, but of all human beings and perhaps animals too. To that end we at Sonneteer do what we do.