Welcome To My Vacuum

Welcome To My Vacuum
Jonathan Foote
July 2000

When last we met, I left you clutching at the hem of my jellaba, thirsting for guidance, direction, intelligence. As a parting token, I tossed out an epiphany: LDS, Liberated Death Stock. It got me to thinking. (Yes, I do that, heh heh, ahem.) Death, the Grimy Roofer. Ugh! Yet need it be so? How about we give Death a happy face! Let’s think of Death as a companionable fellow resembling Brad Pitt taking a holiday in Upper Audiophilia! There, isn’t that better? In improving our sound systems, we audiophiles have unwisely avoided those aspects of life’s conclusion — near-death, true-blue, no-returns-accepted death, post-demisal smelliness, and so on — which could do us all a great deal of good. No, really, I’m serious. (You’re serious?! Edith Piaf, my French finch, chirps. I’m Roebuck! Who’s watching the goddam store?! Heh heh, ahem.)

We forge ahead analogousnessly. By analogy? Never mind. As any self-respecting audiophile knew before he (or she, heh heh, ahem) could spell Futterman, oxygen-free copper is sonically superior to its oxygen-befouled sub-counterpart. Night and day! Life and death! (Oops, heh heh, ahem.) Oxygen’s the miscreant (that means villain), no question about it. If only we could extract oxygen from every aspect of audiophile activity! Well, yes, you say, that would be just great, but what can one do? I’m so pleased you asked. Here’s the deal: you can begin by answering the question, Have I the courage to go the extra step? The moxey? The sauce? In short, what sacrifices am I willing to make for the knee pus altar (that’s Latin for the very, very best) in listening? Specifically, am I willing to endure the possibly lethal hardships of an oxygen-free sweet spot? How the question resonates! You may recall the Hill Plasmatronic, an innovative speaker which emitted a gas inimical to health — ozone by name. One listened for several minutes and then vacated the premises, lest he erupt in hives and forget his middle name. But oh, those several minutes! Better than a lifetime of mediocreness. Mediocrity? Never mind. Heh heh. Ahem.

As a person of above-average intelligence — you are, after all, an upper audiophile with the good sense to be reading me — you’ve probably guessed from what I just wrote that I’m proposing a listening area free of degrading air, i.e., oxygen plus the usual list of gaseous accomplices, particulate matter and, who knows, the spirits of the departed, who, like the rest of us, abhor a vacuum. But really, aren’t we and the spirits of the departed being unnecessarily hard on vacuums? Aren’t vacuums misunderstood? Do we thoughtlessly shrink from vacuums like edgy virgins from big, fat zucchinis (heh heh, snicker, ahem)? Shouldn’t we really be looking upon vacuums as our helpful friends? Consider the householder’s good right arm, the vacuum cleaner. Many of us already enjoy the benefits of vacuum pumps in the operation of our super-high-end analogueueueuegue turntables. We are also mindful to we locate our pumps farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr eeeeeeeeeeeenough away in order for their nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-noise to be inaudible in the listening area. Very well then, how about a room sealed off in such a way that the air is removable by means of a pump not dissimilar (but a whole lot larger) than those we hard-striving, perfectionist audiophiles are already familiar with? With which we hard-striving, perfectionist audiophiles are already familiar? Never mind. An entry chamber would also be nice.

Anyway, we’re in. Where to from here? It’s unreasonable (and probably actionable) to propose that the listener remain in an airless chamber for more than half a minute, or however long he or she can hold his or her breath. (I’ve sometimes held hers, heh heh heh, snicker, ahem.) I wonder, would this abbreviated visit prove a problem for the really, truly serious audiophile? Few of my fellows (and fellowettes, heh heh, ahem) require more than fifteen seconds with their software to determine that the proximity to bliss they’ve striven to achieve is where they last left it. I should think that thirty seconds is more than enough. When’s the last time you had a thirty-second whoopie, eh, guys (snicker, snicker, heh heh, ahem)?

Whoa up, there, my manfully lusty paragon, I hear you thinking, I’ve (that’s you again) actually been clocked spending ten or fifteen minutes at a stretch being close to the music. In this airless chamber of yours (you mean me, of course — everyone does), mayn’t I wear an oxygen mask? No, you may not, you ignorant lump! The straps would distort your facial symmetry, so critical to the vibes en route (that’s French) to your probably dirty ears. No more stupid questions, please. Stupid, yes, but useless not. This untidy jackass reminds me to do a piece on the proper audiophile application of cotton swabs, or their high end version, angel-hair swabs. Not the skinny spaghetti, earth-rooted fool! Real angel hair, but I didn’t say from where. Heh heh, snicker.

Don’t relax, I’ll be back.

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