Drug-like Systems I Have Known

I thought it might be useful to list some systems that I found drug-like, and you are invited to as well, and see if there are some commonalities.

If there are commonalities, then we should be able to retrofit existing systems so that they, too, can have that little extra mind altering something that is so inspirational, transformational and, dare I say it, orgasmic.

We are going to assume that a system first has to be, not just Enjoyable, but Emotional – and mildly drug-like even during the normal course of listening.

Going back in time, … back…. back… to the dim recesses of my memory.

… about 7 years ago.

Tenor OTL 6C33C-tube based amps on various Kharma speakers. Audio Aero and Emm Labs as digital sources. These had extreme micro-dynamic detail and very good midi-dynamics as well. Very exhilarating and can make a person giggle. Not aware of drugs like this [well, I’m not! :-)] but maybe it is like someone you are interested telling you they feel likewise. Slightly on the mind side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Joule Electra OTL 6C33C-tube amps on Talon speakers, Elrod power cords, Audio Aero Capitole CD player, probably HRS rack. Forget the cabling. Lots of harmonics and PRaT. Very good micro-dynamics. Very engaging and warm, like a quick glass of wine or a shot of Bourbon. Way on the heart side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Lamm ML2.1 amps on Marten Coltrane speakers, Jorma Prime cables, various power cords, HRS MXR rack and platforms everywhere. Very good midi- and micro-dynamics and nice color. Hypnotizing and engaging. I don’t know, kind of looking up at the stars where there is no light pollution for the first time. Slightly on the mind side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Audio Note Kegon amps on the Acapella Trilon speakers, Jorma Prime cables, various power cords, HRS platforms. Very open, harmonics, and great midi-dynamics. Kind of like being King (or Queen) of the world. Slightly on the heart side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Bladelius amps and pre and CD player on Marten Coltrane Supreme speakers. All Jorma Design Prime cables. Extremely detailed and accurate. Neli and I both found this system to be extremely hallucinogenic [we wrote about this extensively in the CES 2003? 2004 show report]. Somewhat on the mind side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Audio Note Ongaku on Marten Coltrane speakers, wired directly from an Emm Labs player with Nordost ODIN interconnects and power cords. Jorma Prime speaker cable, HRS or Acoustic Dreams platforms. [This is our show system at RMAF 2010 this year, and an evolution of the Lamm ML2.1 system above]. Very pure, very quiet background, extreme micro-dynamics, good midi-dynamics. Like a breath of fresh mountain air after living in the city for a year – clears the mind and makes you feel like things might make sense after all [yeah. right. Just trying to communicate a little about what I think the drug-like effect is, as bizarre as this is turning out to be]. Slightly on the mind side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Lamm ML3 amps and L2 Reference pre on the Marten Coltrane Supreme speakers. HRS everywhere, Jorma Design Prime and AN PALLAS cables. This is a very high resolution system [the RMAF 2008 system]. Very good micro-dynamics and mini-dynamics. This is like finally understanding Calculus [:-)]. Slightly on the mind side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

Audio Note Gaku-On amps, M9 Phono pre, DAC 5 Signature, S9 stepup on the Marten Coltrane Supreme speakers. HRS everywhere, Nordost ODIN powercords and interconnects, Jorma Design Prime and AN PALLAS cables. This system is significantly better than any system we have heard, here or anywhere. Resolution not as high as the Lamm ML3 version, but extreme midi- and macro-dynamics, extreme harmonic truth, very good micro-dynamics. Really have not been able to grok this system yet. This is like taking a hotrodding spin in the Space Shuttle. Somewhat on the heart side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

And a special note about 100% Audio Note systems setup correctly [we do not have corners here, which they require to perform at their peak, and most rooms in hotels have things in the corners, like air conditioners, etc]. These systems have excellent midi- to macro-dynamics, very good micro-dynamics, great harmonics and PRaT. These are mostly fun and playful, but can quickly turn into one being awestruck, then into an adrenaline high, then into numerous other mind-bending states. Definitely on the heart side of the Mind-Heart spectrum.

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I know, some of these descriptions of how these systems make me feel belong more in the humor category. :-)

As you can see, they are very different systems, some are only medium resolution, some are not very accurate, some do not have perfect bass, some are expensive and some are not so much.

But there are obvious commonalities:

* Very good to great Micro-dynamics

* They are also fairly accurate, so that we can suspend our sense of disbelief.

* They have something(s) special going for them, something extreme: midi dynamics, or harmonic color or harmonic truth, or extreme accuracy or detail. Perhaps something that is hard to hear even with live music, for all the reasons that make the sound of live music not quite perfect.

As I remember some of the most transformative experiences I have had, it seems to me it helps to be a little tired and worn out [not a problem these days, I imagine, for most of us :-)].

So what do you all think? Any of this resonate with your own personal experiences?

Perhaps I’ll describe the actual experiences we/ I had with these systems… Certainly are fun to remember! But here I really wanted to point out the variety of systems that I found to be at least somewhat Drug-like