|Posted on August 12, 2010 at 3:25 PM|
(Alternate title: Diamonds are a John’s Best Friend.)
Older gentleman and his even older wife just strolled into the store. And, to be honest, my first thought was, “Man! Don’t you ever have those days where you just wish that no one would come in?” Actually, this wasn’t a thought. This is pretty much exactly what I said to my partner as I’m reluctantly pulling myself out of my chair, minimizing all manner of non-work related (AOL, Linked In, Webs, Googling Elyse Porterfield) and walking out to the showroom to great them.
“My CD player is broken and I need to get a new one.”
“OK. We have some Denon and Yamaha 5 disc carousel models…”
“Actually, I was really looking for something a little…different.”
“OK, well Pioneer and Sony make 100 or even 400 discs.”
“I’m replacing a Meridian. So…”
So, Father Time doesn’t need to say any more. Because this is like dropping a secret password at a Fraternity. If I get a blank look and I respond with, “I’m sorry, did you say Meradon? I’m not familiar…” then he knows I’m a Circuit City dropout that has no business selling audio gear and that he might as well say, “Oh, I must have been mistaken. I thought you were a *real* audio store” and then head up the street and get a CD player with “REALISTIC” stamped on it. However, if I know that replacing a Meridian means that his old player is probably *at least* $3500 and that is also means that this old-timer is into some serious music listening, I have given him the audiophile equivalent of the Pi Kappa Alpha secret shake. (It's also way less intimidating than if I were to whip out the Omega Psi Phi hot iron and start coming after his upper arm...)
But, even though the thought bubble above my head would have simultaneously been reading “A-jigga-what?!” and “Ka-ching!” I can’t just come out and blurt, “Damn! A Meridian? Really! Wow! That means you want to actually buy a REAL CD player. Like, a NICE one!”
So, since I DO know what Father Time means, I subtly start letting him know that I know. So, like an expert archaeologist that senses that he has stumbled across the slightly older, more gangly and awkward-with-the-ladies brother of Tutankhamun, I start gently probing. Sweeping away dust and cobwebs with delicate little questions. “So, let’s talk about your system. How long have you had your Meridian CD? Oh, 15 years. Interesting.” Brush-brush. “And it has started skipping and you’ve already had it repaired once. I see. And it will be about $600 to get it repaired.” Vacuum away debris. “Yes, I know, a new Meridian player will run you considerably more. So, are you connected using the analog, balanced or digital outputs?” Sweep-sweep. “Analog. OK, so we’re using the internal DACs. And what do you have it connected to? Oh, a Mark-Levinson. That IS interesting.” Giant chunk of debris falls away revealing possibly golden sarcophagus. “And your speakers are…? Ahh, yes. B&W 801 Matrix. A lovely speaker to be sure.” And suddenly here we are. In the Valley of the Audiophile Kings.
At this point I know that Father Time is either A) trying to re-enact some Golden Year’s version of Punk’d by trying to string along an audio salesman or B) seriously into some sweet-ass-sweet audio. Since the she-appears-to-be-breathing-so-I’m-guessing-she’s-still-alive old lady next to him is glaring at me in a manner that I’m reading as “I know you’re just trying to fuel my husband’s crazy mania and steal more of the inheritance away from our children” I’m strongly leaning towards B. And, even if the guy is punking me, his back story has been so well researched that I’m willing to go along. Plus by this point I’m out of my chair and talking to this guy is way more interesting that the non-stop ringing phone.
So we keep talking and I gradually work us into the big theater where, Hello there! I forgot that we had these. Why, sir, this is something you might be interested in. Have you experienced the new 802D? This is really the modern version of your speaker. With the new Diamond Tweeter.
Then we start talking about options for replacing his CD. I offer Rotel, or perhaps a higher-end Denon or Marantz single disc Blu-ray. Then we start talking about D-to-A converters which, trust me, is NOT a topic that pops up in everyday conversation. In fact, in 15+ years of dinner talk with Dana, it has yet to pop up once, even when I’ve tried to steer things in that direction. “So, Burr Brown released a new DAC today that really sounds…” “Yeah. Can you pass me, umm, anything but what you were talking about?” But a Meridian owner understands both the D’s and the A’s and generally likes talking about them. We then segue into music servers. Where I tell him about the awesome Meridian-Sooloos model (expected to show up on my porch tomorrow for review 2.0!) which is still a bit more than he wants to spend.
So I mention the Olive Opus server that I just reviewed for Sound + Vision. And, why, what a gosh darn coincidence! Here’s a copy of the magazine with the review in it right here. That? Oh, yes. Guilty as charged! That’s my byline. (Polite, we’re all friends here, chuckle. Grandma even releases some of the pent up anger she’s been carrying around in her spleen.) So I explain how a music server is just SUCH a better way to browse and enjoy your music, how the audio quality of the Olive was terrific and how you can downloader higher-rez files audio files from the Interwebs. And in another bit of serendipity, the angry old lady becomes considerably less angry and more human when she sees Tom Petty on the cover of S+V and tells me that she *loves* him and I tell her that the mag is filled with a lengthy interview. So, please; take this copy for yourself as my gift to you!
So, the couple leaves significantly more smiley and hand shakey and with my business card and a copy of S+V tucked under their arm. And when this guy says he’s going home to do some research on the Olive, you get the feeling that he is going to do some hard core, pipe hittin’ research that will make a T1 line beg for mercy. Then he’s supposed to return next week. With some music. To audition the Diamonds. A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but... You know the rest.