Alternating Current: Nasty or Nice?

Alternating Current: Nasty or Nice?
Jonathan Foote
June 2000

The Stereo Times is honored to welcome Jonathan Foote to its roster of contributors. In addition to being a widely published writer — his work has appeared in The Numismatist’s Companion, Proctology Today, Soldier of Fortune, and The American Cigar — Jonathan is the great great grandson of the distinguished American composer, Arthur Foote (1853-1937). Jonathan is also a passionate audiophile. This is the first of what we hope will be a long series of articles under Jonathan’s byline. Ed.

Hello there. I’m Jonathan Foote and you’re not. My sympathies.

Owing to a tweak which I condescend to share with you, life in our sophisticated loft bordering Tribeca, Greenwich Village, Murray Hill, Chelsea, Dumbarton Oaks, Shangri-La, Soho, Noho, Hohohoohah, Williams Sonoma, the Humboldt Current, Dean & Deluca, and Ultima Thule has ameliorated (that means improved) by a magnitude of splendidness for me and my French finch, Edith Piaf, heh heh, ahem. For I and my French finch, Edith Piaf, heh heh, ahem? Never mind. While it’s quite impossible for anyone reading this to achieve our pitch of intensive perfection, I shall, as promised (see above), share with you a sound-system enhancement which has contributed to a domestic Renaissance, a rebirth of Eros, Wisdom, Facsimile, Thanatos, self-cleaning windows, and AAA batteries that just won’t quit.

Very well then. We start by replacing those hospital-grade outlets I urged on you five columns ago [in The American Cigar. Ed.]. Toss ’em, they’re toast. I’ve found something several times infinitely better — mausoleum-grade outlets! That’s what I said, this isn’t a dream! Mausoleum-grade outlets are engineered for all time, bronze replacing brass, jasper where the Bakelite was, sometimes lapis lazuli, gold-plated faceplates in lovely low relief. Pay close attention now, this gets tricky. Mausoleum-grade outlets are not to be confused with mortuary-grade outlets, which are indistinguishable, quality-appearance-&-sonics-wise, from hospital-grade outlets. Also, don’t waste your time looking for mausoleum-grade outlets in electrical supply houses. You must seek them out from a stone mason specializing in upmarket eternity sculpture (house-high obelisks, melancholy angels with big, droopy wings, attractive, twenty-ish, melon-perfect boobs, heh heh, ahem, handball-court-size headstones and so forth, and of course mausoleums).

If, that is, you’re some pathetic, vacillating weasel willing to settle for second best. Edith Piaf and I disdain the thought! Faugh! Ugh! Phooey! Yuck! On our last trip to Paris, under cover of darkness, my avian helpmeet and I stole into the world famous and very prestigious Père Lachaise Cemetery and headed for the high ground, where the better crypts are kept. (If you don’t agree by the time you get to the end of this zestfully written report that I’ve just described the world’s most interesting tweak, I’ll eat my size 12 and 5/8ths hat!) We broke into several (crypts, that is — the locks are easily picked or forced) and liberated as many outlets as we could carry off to our sophisticated, now even niftier loft abutting everything interesting. The two we found in Chopin’s tomb are especially revealing. When we play our Ignacy Paderewski 78’s — I exaggerate you not! — I can hear the how thick the piano legs are! I can hear the spaces between the keys! I can tell that the felt they tacked to the hammers was gathered from the nethers of old, ill-kempt yaks on a fairly humid day! Heh heh, ahem. Our Edison cylinders? Words fail! (Yes, even here!)

Are you seated? Does the chair have sturdy arms? (I don’t want you toppling onto the floor.) Without further ceremony, excepting a modest drumroll — bddddddddrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgrrrrrrthrummmmmdedum — I contribute a brilliant new term to the audiophile’s lexicon: LDS, Liberated Death Stock. Once you’ve got these mausoleum-grade outlets passing along the juice, even the second-best, stone-mason-bought stuff, your rig will reveal a mellow solemnity, especially in the midrange, first and second base, not to neglect those heavenly tweets, you’d not till then thought it capable of. Of which till then you’d have thought it incapable? Never mind.

Don’t relax, I’ll be back.

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