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Day’?s Verse:
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life…
James 3:5-6
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Fountain Pen CollectionThere’s something about owning fountain pens (plural), especially nice ones, that seems to encourage spending money on pen-related items. For instance, Crane & Co. paper is the paper to write on with a fountain pen, and I recently bought several packs of note cards for writing to people. At the same time, I also bought a box for my fountain pens. It’?s black leather, comes with a lock, and holds 22 pens in two layers. Right now I have eight fountain pens, two of which I keep with me at work and in my backpack, respectively. Buying the pen case felt very splurge-y to me, although I’?d spent years thinking about buying one.

Now I don’?t feel so bad, though, because yesterday we went to look at new receivers. Our current receiver does a tolerable but low-quality job, which is fine since all our other components are tolerable but low-quality as well. But Ian received a bonus recently for being such a super guy (I guess), so he decided to upgrade our home theater system (if we can grace the conglomeration of projector, Fred Meyer speakers, and hand-me-down components with such a term). This involved a month of research, which culminated in an in-person inspection of the desired item yesterday. We had a list of four stores that carried this particular receiver, so we devised the most efficient route for visiting each of those stores.

First we stopped at a place called Natural Sound. We wandered into the small store and looked around: Speakers and audio equipment with brand names totally unfamiliar to us. No Denon anywhere. Had we come to the wrong place? Then the salesman explained to us that we had walked into the high-end room, and he indicated that this was the mid-range room, while upstairs was the low-end stuff you’d find at Tweeter and stores in that range.

We went upstairs.

There an extremely knowledgeable salesman told us about the Denon receiver Ian thought sounded good. Then he said, “But if you’re willing to move up a bit, there’s always this Meridian system. I have a Meridian system at home…” and he proceeded to tell us about the really amazing features of this system. In passing he mentioned that the receiver cost — gasp — $7,700, while the subwoofer was a reasonable $2,500 and two speakers would only set you back $5,000 for the pair. The demonstration of the speakers and receiver left us with jaws on the floor; the salesman knew it, and told us “Lots of people are fans of Meridian but can’t buy it. There’s always the Denon 3806 we have on sale for $850.” After we left, I thought about how the low-end upstairs demo cost $8,000, and then I began to think about the high-end room downstairs. Later I wrote this about it:

We’re in the market for a minivan of receivers, oh a nice minivan for sure, maybe with a DVD player for the kids in the back and sun roofs for show, but nothing like the BMW of Meridian. And don’t even imagine—don’t even breathe on the Lamborghini downstairs. A marvel of fine-tuned engineering, that machine would leave the minivan puttering along with soccer balls bouncing in the back and kids hanging out the windows in two seconds flat. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Ian and I have zero appreciation of the BMW-quality sound, let alone a Lamborghini. I mean, people pay more for a sound system than we paid for our car. Maybe they pay twice as much, or more.

Turns out there is a whole world of audio equipment far, far beyond anything we could imagine. Yikes.

2 thoughts on “Splurging

  1. I think audiophiles all pretend they can hear the difference between “minivans” and “Lamborghinis” but no one really can!

  2. Todd is a bona fide audiophile and knows a ton about all different brands of everything from speakers to subwoofers, preamps, amps, you name it. If you guys ever need help with further items or are wondering about any brands, I’m sure he’d have some good advice! A big component is actually the room- the dimensions and placement of speakers in relationship to walls and ceilings has a ton to do with acoustic quality and could make even a low-end pair of speakers sound a lot better than high-end speakers in the wrong room. I don’t know all the little details about it all, but it’s definitely a huge hobby for some people, and definitely one people have some pretty strong opinions about- http://www.audioasylum.com has a ton of forums. Mostly all of the people on there are middle-aged guys with elitist attitudes haha.

    good luck with the entertainment system!

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