You claim to enjoy music. Shouldn't you listen to it in the best possible conditions, regardless of how much it will cost or how terrible your taste may be?
We polled over 150 self-proclaimed audiophiles who spent years searching for the ultimate listening environment. Each participant was asked to describe their stereo setup and provide an invaluable tip for new enthusiasts. After running the results through a text-to-speech program that made everything sound like it was being read by Yoda, we converted it all to text again. Then we analyzed it, assembling what we believe is the definitive guide to achieving maximum audio fidelity.
Before you can even consider listening to music, you must be in the proper location. Your current room is in all likelihood garbage. Forget about walking around wherever you want with headphones, unless you've found a pair with six earmuffs. You need to place yourself in a room with absolutely perfect acoustics.
First, make sure that the room is the right size. Sound waves must travel for some distance before they hit your ears, as they need to build up speed. If they travel too far, however, the waves will dissipate completely. The nearest wall should be precisely thirty feet and eight inches in any direction. This should also be the distance between yourself and both the ceiling and floor. Some sort of mechanical platform or harness and pulley system is recommended to raise yourself to the exact epicenter of the room.
The shape of the room should NOT be rectangular. Sound gets muffled in corners. What you want is a geometrically impossible area, like an M.C. Escher drawing but with more curved surfaces and an infinity loop.
Ideally, there will be no ornaments at all. No windows, not even a door.
Don't use an iPod. Ugh. Digital music is soulless. CDs are terrible. Only perfectly preserved vinyl will do, played on a high end record player.
When choosing a record player you have some flexibility, so long as your chosen unit includes two mandatory features. First, it absolutely must feature a stabilization platform with a built-in seismograph that senses the tiniest movements in the surface of the Earth and compensates, ensuring smooth playback. Second, the needle should be made of compacted European white truffles. The most expensive food item in the world happens to make for a fantastic conductor. Each needle will wear out after three or four minutes, but the sound quality is worth it.
Any old thing will do. Bonus points if it has a shell of plastic that's been spray painted to look like metal, with ugly quasi-futuristic flourishes and curves.
For years, it was common knowledge that the absolute best speakers for an audiophile were whatever was in stock at the Sharper Image. Typically these were ultra sleek, with gold trim or holographic stickers to accentuate their luxurious sound. Now, things have changed.
There are all sorts of specialty speaker companies springing up on the internet, each offering some twist on conventional audio technology. Out of everything that has sprung up from this cottage industry, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: Chirpers.
Each speaker is an actual vocal cord which has been removed from a small bird. That might seem like a savage practice, but after the operation each bird is given a scoop of gelato and released into the wild.
In order to get an ideal sound, you'll need about eighty of these speakers. Sure, each one costs more than a thousand dollars, but when it comes to audio quality there are no compromises.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
High-concept articles about music things go here.