I have come to learn the benefits of having animals ‘approve’ of various technologies.
It started, for me, more than a decade ago; when at a workmates house one evening- the fascination their dog took with the TV. It had its’ nose against the screen and chased many objects, visually speaking, across the screen.
Pure joy. (akin to hanging a head ‘out of the window’/'‘over the tray’ (ute))
Sticking with ‘visual’ mediums before I move this musing over to audio; I have owned a few methods of reproducing light over the years… starting with Cathode Ray Tubes -and upgrading to wider colour screens like the Sony Trinitrons, and higher refresh rates (again, a Sony that did 240hz in the 90s) I have seen some of the best the planet has offered.
Micromirror array projectors (and their ‘rainbow artifacts’),… LCDs, OLEDs and Plasmas; if it shines light I have often gone out of my way to test it, and typically try to own it for a ‘reasonable stint’.
Watching the cat interface with the TV again as we migrated AWAY from Plasma (silly), and moved towards OLED was a joy to partake. The cat now hung out with us and enjoyed nature documentaries. (well NOT all moments perhaps; but like us humans - we ‘enjoy’ a small scare sometimes!)
The same could be said with regards to audio.
I am not unfamiliar with a Sound Pressure Level meter, and have enjoyed setting up home theatre systems (sometimes professionally); and whilst I enjoy outboard power amplifiers and ‘dedicated processors’ (and nice DACs etc etc)… the cat does not always partake my hobby.
Sometimes some kit just involves them.
A reference setup; Sansui AU919 and some Acoustic Research LSTs, for many many years simply had me believe that sound was always engageable to animals. I took this belief ‘for granted’: but it wasn’t always true.
A stint in an apartment by the sea, and it was time to move those precious electronics away from the salt, and let them be used by someone who could literally run them… (in apartments you sometimes feel a loud set of HEADPHONEs could double as a usable stereo system- and I have had friends have the Police called on them for ‘noise complaints’ when running 3Watt computer speakers at ‘mild’ volumes)
For awhile I walked the desert of unsatisfactory audio.
I played with processors by Parasound and Integra and Outlaw and used ancient flagship surround receivers as ‘power amplifiers’ etc…
Sure I tried to live with regular surround amps (generally ‘very nice units’ or flagship parts themselves), but their were clear advantages to using dedicated processors and trialing a range of power amplifiers.
Nothing seemed to stir the cat much though… my nature CDs filled with bird chirps seemed to just fly over the cats head. Either the sound was non engaging or perhaps the cat was depressed (it had, after all, previously lived in the country and had ‘free reign’)…
These many systems did not all happen in the apartment. We had moved the family out into the suburbs; a house selected in no short measure due to the wonderful sideways grown tree in the front yard that no doubt indicated some underground water/energy flow, but also looked like a 10/10 rated scratching post! (It was cat approved instantly)
With the changeup to having multiple living zones again;
a) surround gaming zone for the child with a ‘two channel setup’ running sideways across the space; using an Onkyo TX-DS989 as a ‘stereo amp’ from an outboard phono stage, and my childs’ early introduction to Vinyl sound; setup intentionally poorly so that they could investigate sound and ‘how to improve’ (speaker placement being pretty critical at this point)
b) den setup for my critical need to have a ‘real’ hifi system
c) projector setup / sound for the missus who had, in her fifties, decided to learn how to play Skyrim/‘gaming’ with dual analogue sticks.
d) the ‘theatre room’; which had great dimensions and eleven speakers, three subwoofers and a run of processors and surround amps to try and compare various technologies and setup practices…
From these various ‘music’ systems scattered around the house (including Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelins’ and other point sources); the cat only took task with one of them.
The valve stereo in the Den setup.
Whilst the valve monoblocks were ‘relatively new’ Danish units, the speakers were B+W domestic monitors (DM1) and Castle Acoustic (Kendal version 1) affairs from the seventies.
The DM1s had a super tweeter in them, which gave me reason to think the cat was into ‘extreme high frequency’, but the Kendals did not, and were quite standard affair with regards to their frequency response.
It was either the Hugo DAC or the Valves.
I started to pay attention to ‘what hifi got the cat involved’.
Spin on to the addition of other valve parts and a few class A parts coming through my hands, and I had come to realise: just like the TVs- some tech is not the right speed for the cat to see, and some amps hold a pure soundwave in a way that a cat might engage with.
Class A/B designs didn’t seem to do it… but the valve and class A would consistently prove the engaging experience for my puss without boots.
Why write all of this as a topic starter?
Simple- my first days of setting up a Nait integrated amp, a design tuned by Naim to focus on second harmonic distortion (pleasant to humans it is said, vs third harmonic distortion that, to quote a highly detailed electrical engineering document I was reading last night; is ‘vomit inducing’)…
Naim house tuning has made a class of amplifier that ‘sips power’ and built for longevity, with all the bonuses of being actually musical.
How do I know?
The cat keeps stealing the listening position, and now lounges on the massage table running through the middle of the room (in the triangle between speakers and listener), it now bathes relaxingly in this spot.
It is a subtle but noticable change in behaviour that came with the Naim box being brought into this house.
Naim (seem to) make home hifi that is. (HiFi)
The cat approves so it cannot be placebo or bias’.
I must admit I think the cat is right on this one too.