It's a travel day. No, in fact, a travel weekend. We are going to chill out (in the 90-degree heat) on Maine's coast, and our own Mat Brewster is going to China. I imagine our experiences will differ slightly. Though there is a possibility of a really weird food intersection, ours involving lobster and his… roasted scorpions on a stick.
In honor of Mat's Big Adventure, I thought I'd expand a little on my road trip through the mountains of New York State (referenced in the travel piece linked above) to audition a pair of speakers.
The year is a little iffy to me now, but I'd guess it was the late '90s. The urge to begin replacing my audio components had reached a fever pitch. The research had been completed and the store selected. Most of the audio establishments where I live are just too snooty for my tastes. Intentional or not, they somehow make you feel like you don't belong. I hate that. I mean, just because a fella owns a pair of Bose 901's is no reason to look down your nose at 'im like that!
So an appointment was made to visit North Country Audio. Let me tell you, Redwood, New York is a ways away from southern New Hampshire. I arrived at my buddy Ty's place (Vermont, not far from White River Junction) very early on Saturday morning. After some coffee we jumped into his pickup and began the journey. High points along the way were a stellar ferry ride across Lake Champlain to Plattsburg, getting stuck for more than an hour at a road closure due to road paving, seeing the giant ski jump tower poking into the sky at Lake Placid, being amazed that they actually held the Olympics in that tiny town!, having to wolf down some Big Macs because we were running late, and some beautiful mountain views.
When we got closer to our destination we couldn't help but think that this was some sort of cruel joke. We're in the middle of the woods! We're going to listen to audio equipment? Sure enough, we found ourselves at the North Country Audio studio/listening space, hosted by Vladimir.
And what a listening space it was. Hardly any parallel walls, high ceilings, comfy chairs. We spent several hours going back and forth between three pairs of speakers (two Tetras, one Brentworth Sound Labs), switching CD's in and out, and just shooting the breeze about music in general.
Though no pressure was applied (and in fact, I brought nothing home with me that day), I settled on the Brentworth Sound Labs Type One's. Single driver, no crossover. I'd never heard anything like it. They were so incredibly revealing that inner detail emerged from recordings that I'd owned for decades. They would arrive at my house the following week in a pair of gigantic cardboard crates.
After listening to all of the music I'd brought with me, Vladimir had a recording he wanted me to check out. It was instrumental, obviously a guitar, but unlike anything I'd ever heard before. Bruce Eisenbeil. There aren't a lot of people out there playing jazz on a Stratocaster. I was totally mesmerized. It you want to expand your listening horizons, you must investigate!
To add to an already long day, me and Ty got back in his pickup and drove east across the upper tier of New York State. With views of the St. Lawrence Seaway off to our left, it was quite a ride. I wish we'd had a camera with us, because at one point we drove by a store that specialized in nothing but guns and guitars. I'm not a gun guy, but the combination was just too funny.
We arrived back in Vermont late that evening, exhausted but happy.
All of these years later, there's a little bit of adventure every time I apply power to those speakers. Those little trips probably aren't as mind-expanding as experiencing Shanghai, but for me, they'll have to do.
Good luck Mat.