Traveller’s Handbook

I suppose every piece of writing needs an intro.

We can’t just have the uninitiated wandering through the halls of a stranger’s mind, accidentally walking into closets thinking they are rooms. I mean we could but what are we? Anarchists? Anyway… before I digress and aimlessly wander the halls of my own mind, let’s get this intro thing rolling.

I will probably lose some of my readers after this next sentence, but I hope at least some of you will make it to the end of the page… out of pity if nothing else (insert my best puppy-eye face here). This will almost be an audiophile blog. Well, that was clear as mud!

Have you ever listened to a song that used a weird effect, like chimes softly ringing into the right ear so realistically you had to turn your head to see if it was coming from outside the window? I have. And I loved it. It felt like an out-of-body experience to be fooled by the simplest of things: sound.

Once I started the pursuit of the ethereal hearing experience, it didn’t take long for me to come across that dreadful A-word in italics above, audiophile (not almost). A part-by-part translation from Latin will tell you an audiophile is “one who loves to hear”; and, while Wikipedia does offer a definition so hefty that my computer’s clipboard might break its software back copy-pasting it here, the literal translation will suffice for this intro.

The butterflies fluttering in my stomach, when I am fooled by an odd effect here or a quirky timbre there, is just a love of hearing. Not just listening to a song, but hearing the little details that the artists have painstakingly recorded and that the engineer has then meticulously mixed solely to please our auditory senses: to sometimes seat us right in front of the orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and to sometimes teleport us to the practice studio of our favourite band!

That’s where this blog will start, with that simple definition. Where it will take us – I am not quite sure yet since I am still mid-journey, but I am sure the title of my blog has clued in the more perceptive of you that my adventures in the world of audiophilia have often needed to be prefixed with “mis-“. This blog is to share some of those misadventures, which have been funny at times, disappointing at others and thoroughly educational all along.

I will talk about the audiophile lingo that has confused me so and still does. I will talk about the gadgets, reviewed as godsend by one site and condemned as an assault to ears everywhere by another. I will talk about the wallet that was skinnier than it realised and about the ears that were less golden than they realised. And I will talk about the technical verbiage that has eluded me even when I put on the engineering hat that took me years of sleepless nights to earn. (Although I never did earn a literal hat, I have the Canadian engineers’ Iron Ring to battle some of the insecurities that emanate from reading technical jargon on audiophilia sites/forums.)

With that traveller’s advisory out of the way, let’s delve right in. We will begin where most stories begin: at the very beginning!