Cloth & Metal is passionate about the details because it's the little things that separate the good from the great. Quality is no accident; its the sum of all the little choices — the byproduct of attention to detail.
The same holds true for music which is why we chose to carry Hi-Fi audio components like amps, pre-amps, DAC's, and headphones. It's not that these products will make bad music sound better or medicare music sound good. Nope. But they will make great music sound sublime and they'll help reveal the details — the little things — in a way you just can't imagine.
See, music works on many levels. It engages the brain in both language and mathematical regions. It causes anticipation and it triggers memories. It's about meaning and feelings. Music helps solidify events and it acts like a personal soundtrack to your life. It can be a slice of time or it can be infinite. And one song can mean one thing to me yet be totally different for you. And all of this is completely independent of audio quality.
The fidelity of any song can be awful without impacting or influencing your memories and feelings. You only need a small slice of the tune to remind you of a good time or of an old friend. I only need to hear the first bar of Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair" on an old AM transistor radio and I'm transported to the middle of the Serengeti of all places. That's just how it works. Music's not linear.
So if audio quality is irrelevant for triggering and making memories, then why bother with Hi-Fi at all? That's a big question but it's exactly where you need to start on your journey to becoming an audiophile. I wish the answer were simple but like music, it is not. It is totally dependent and subjective.
Here's a great way to think about it. Music is like ice cream and who doesn't like ice cream? But are all chocolate ice creams really created equally? And now I'm talking about the concrete specifics — not the intangibles like who you're eating your chocolate ice cream with or how's the weather at the ice cream shop — no, I'm talking about the details. Like how much cocoa is in the chocolate ice cream? Or is it made with 2% milk cream or with 10% milk fat? And was it made in a huge factory or was it made by some ice cream passion-freak up in the Vermont woods who has spent the last 20 years finding the perfect balance of the cream to cacao ratio (with an added hint of vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.) See, it's not equal at all. Everything boils down to attention to detail. And sure, you can have a great time eating cheap ice cream with your family on a perfect vacation and who would you be to complain about the quality of the ice cream in that situation because subjectively, you had a great time anyways. But when you love something, when you are passionate about chocolate ice cream, wouldn't you rather eat it in its full glory? Wouldn't you rather experience it in it's best form? Wouldn't you want to know it as its truest potential?
Or better put, what's the difference between seeing a print of Van Gogh's Starry Night or seeing the real painting in the museum? Both would be full of color. Both would be vibrant and impressionistic. But there is no way to truly marvel at Van Gogh's brilliance until you witness the depth and texture of his works. His paintings are alive. They have 3 dimensions and are the furthest thing from being flat. In order to truly get it, you have to be right there. Right up front. As close as possible...
And that's what amps, and DAC's and high-end headphones do. They let you experience music as if you were right there in the studio with the artists and engineers. Instead of hearing the print version of it all, you can hear the nooks and crannies. You get the texture and depth. You can hear the perfections and imperfections. You get the whole picture. And as someone who's been involved with high-end audio world for the last 15 years, I promise that there is so much more to the whole picture. There's a whole world of sonic nuances out there. I promise that you can listen to your favorite song with some high-end gear — that same song you've heard 1000 times before, that same one that transports you through time and space with memories and feelings — and you will hear something new that you've never heard before. Whether it is an offside comment the vocalist makes in the studio or a finger slide along a guitar string, it's all there waiting for you to discover it.
But does hearing all of that make the song any better? Not necessarily or totally! The answer depends on you. But if any of this sounds like something you would enjoy, chances are you're someone who pays attention to the details and to the finer things in life. Chances are, you'll really enjoy getting more out of your music and you'll want to consider some simple upgrades to see how it fits for you. Chances are, when you care about how your clothes are made, you probably care about how rich your music sounds. Which is exactly why Cloth & Metal offers high-end audio as well as watches, accessories and clothes.
Next month, I'll talk about the easiest way to build a Hi-Fi system and I'll go over all of the components. I'll talk about source materials and codecs and hardware and all the things that audio nerds love to compare. But for now, let's just remember that it's all about the music. That's where it starts from and where it ends up.
Happy holidays and may your new year be filled with health, happiness, and laughter. (And great sound!)