By Jako Malan (aka. Brolliks)
An audiophile is defined as an individual, obsessed with high-quality sound reproduction.
Audiophiles are rarely satisfied with their hi-fi systems, because a better is always available.
This is an original work, inspired by, and dedicated to, a certain obsessed audiophile I know. He owns an electronics shop near my hometown.
Although he is, admittedly, a little eccentric at times, his lectures on digital and analog audio, interested me to the extent of me doing a research project on it... But enough of that! Here's the story...
This text is "clean", and "suitable for all ages", provided the reader knows a little hi-fi jargon!
The Actual Story
To my front, lay an intimidating device. A selection of valves plugged neatly into their asbestos sockets. Gold plated switches as trim pots, revealing only their aluminium shells stood beckoning... I could hear the rustic flow of nitrogen gas, cooling the super-conductors that provide connectivity to the soundproof studio behind the leaded glass plane.
I saw eight massive output transformers, each weighing well over two kilograms. I could swear, the were manufactured from the highest quality iron and copper money could buy.
To my front, lay the intimidating two-metre-wide aluminium reel, wound tightly with magnetic tape.
The tape itself was manufactured from blazing Kevlar. It's surface cured in a pitch black chrome finish. The tape was one inch in width.
The firmed loose end of the tape was strung intricately around a big, enclose analog pickup head. It was sealed to a great extent. Magnetic bristles guided it in- and out of the steel casing. Intuition told me that it was shielded against atmospheric distortion. But later on, I also learnt that it was the to shield the operator from the strong magnetic fields inside.
What I saw there, was the most advanced analog audio recording system, ever conceived and built... Built to remind us, that we are still analog beings, despite our addiction to crude digital information, (if you could call it that.)
I snickered at the thought of this.
Then, with the flick of a switch, several relay contracted and I heard, almost felt, the powerful capstan motor speed up... The pinch roller slotted down onto the tape. It was on speed immediately.
The machine stood, capturing perfect silence, the tape whisking past the head at exactly sixty inches per second.
At this speed, hiss was only audible at more than two times the audible frequency of the human ear... Giving an illusion of perfect silence. Though, technically speaking, still not perfect, I prefer that illusion, to the one, pretending that I heard spline-waves when listening to CDs on some cheap plastic system.
I leisurely paged through the machine's technical reference... A two-hundred page volume in leather hard-cover. Amongst many other things, I learnt that the frequency response of the machine was near perfect up to a hundred and fifty kilohertz.
Atop of this, with two audio channels spread over the area of eight, the information layed down, was almost guaranteed to stay there for a good fifteen years to come.
The take-up-reel was filling fast. The machine had run through enough tape in one minute, to provide good quality analog recording for more than an hour.
I smiled in content. But my joy was short lived. My face dropped. I bit my lower lip, as I realise the inevitable. I had the perfect recording device, with perfect stats and perfect reproduction... That, was not the problem.
The problem was, I knew of no instrument, nor voice, nor anything, at all, that could produce sound to record, to the monster's immense capability!
It was then, I woke up. Tire, upset and depressed. I fetched the morning paper, poured some tasteless Nutri-Corn into my bowl. I sat down at my small box table, and put on a record...