The holiday season is in full swing. The skies are gray, the temperatures have dropped significantly, and we all are planning to spend time with the ones closest to us at the end of this calendar year.
Another year has flown by and 2023 is a year I look forward to seizing. For better or worse, 2022 has changed me in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I eagerly await the opportunities ahead.
In the audio-sphere, I am currently undergoing an upgrade process with my gear, as I look to slim down on the number of redundant components. I am, yet again, feeling the burden of having so many things that go unused and collect dust. Ultimately, the reason why I am downsizing is the highlight of this year was putting together the Zahl HM1 with my own DAC and hearing the potential behind a universal amplifier that could be used for both pleasure and work.
I have a few presents to unwrap in the coming months, as I’ll be looking to review a handful of things in a more structured format compared to my previous essays. I’ll be pushing into some new territories with what I’ll be covering, while also giving some final verdicts on some products to which I’ll be saying “farewell”.
Link to “Linus and Lucy”
2022 for me, like many people, was an odd year of transitioning closer to life back as it was. I was able to comfortably see friends again, still worrying about the pandemic, but having a sense of hope that the worst may be behind us. With that, came opportunities to share this hobby with others, as they wondered what the strange gigantic pieces of audio equipment with glowing tubes are.
2022 was the deepest I’ve dived into this hobby, and, as it always goes, the I’ve ended up realizing that what I had all along was what helped me connect with my music and what made discovering music most fun. While the moments of brilliance that come with nicer gear cease to be breathtaking, my car’s stock audio system was the source driving my most fun new additions to my musical rotation. It was a reaffirmation that music isn’t about the gear, it’s about the emotion it allows you to feel and the memories you create and recall when you hear the first downbeat of a song, all the way through the sustain of the final note.
I have one more review to release before the end of the year: my ZMF Caldera review, in which I compare it to the Hifiman Susvara, HE-6, and Audeze MM500, amongst other planars. I also have a review of the Moondrop Venus due early next year, with comparisons to the Hifiman Edition XS and my Audeze LCD-X. A review of the ZMF Atrium is also in the pipeline.
After, I look forward to collaborating with my fellow Den-Fi writers covering the Canjam NYC, and I want to explore different types of pieces. What that means, I’m not sure yet, but I want to write pieces beyond reviewing pieces of equipment. Whatever comes, I am excited to see where 2023 takes us, and I can’t wait to provide more content to our readers, and hope our family grows more in the coming year.
What a year. I’ve always been an introverted person with a vanishingly-small social circle, but after finding this amazing community, I find myself with friends beyond counting, laughs beyond explanation, and mountains of appreciation for all of the gifts that music continues to bestow upon me. When it comes to the highlights of this year, I can’t help but be overwhelmed thinking of all of the amazing times I’ve had with my friends surrounding audio, both in the Discord community as well as in person.
As far as my upcoming stories regarding gear, I have a review of Neumann’s newest NDH-30 in the pipeline, which is already mostly finished but likely being published next year. Additionally, I’ll definitely be covering CanJam 2023 in NYC.
Past that, something I’d like to get deeper into in the future is writing more about things I’ve been thinking more and more about that aren’t strictly gear related. I’d love to write a piece about my criticism(s) of the Harman research, my journey in learning about/setting up a measurement rig, or what about this hobby may be surprising to people who transition from casual interest into something more studious/earnest.
Regardless of what the future ends up looking precisely like regarding my writing here, I’m grateful to be able to spend the holidays with my loved ones and come back fresh in 2023 to talk more about all things audio with my friends (including my lovely readers).
This year I’ve had the largest amount of personal growth in my life both professionally and socially. I’ve gained support from my peers and friends between doing this and continuing my studies, which has been very rewarding. This is reflected in the earlier half of this year and arguably my highlight, where I had the opportunity to go to AXPONA and CanJam NYC, and learned more about my preferences in audio and what I value. I’ve experimented with several DACs, speakers, and DDCs, all of which have had varying impact on my configuration. Right now, I’m experimenting with a Bryston BDA-1 and Schiit Nitsch Piety alongside my usual gear, specifically the Prism Sound Callia and Sennheiser HD580.
My life has been hectic in the past few months, and I’m very grateful for the people I know, who are there for me. I’m excited to spend more time listening this winter now that I have a break, and to also see friends at future events.
This year in audio has taught me that every moment is a learning experience, for example with my tastes, the value proposition of gear, my mental health, and the importance of sharing a community. Whatever comes next in my journey will be accompanied with audio, and I look forward to listening and sharing my thoughts along the way.
This year has flown by. It went from being just me, to adding 5 actually talented individuals. These five are at all different stages in the audiophile hobby, have very different backgrounds, but have all found
the friendship among Sennheiser 6x0 violently expensive things headphones and speakers. Exactly six months to the day, we published the first edition of The Music Den. 45 pieces of content later and we’ve all grown immensely. Just last year I commented on not being able to tell most source gear apart, and days into the new year I got my Studio B. From there I’ve had many new amps and DACs, delved deeper into EQ so that I can better understand frequency response, and sharpened a wealth of other listening skills with the help of my new team.
For 2023, I am definitely slowing down, culling the collection to my favorites
like I’ve said the last 3 years, and just plan to enjoy the music. I look forward to trying new things that come out and seeing just how far we can take music with technology. I also look forward to sharing those experiences with you.
This year was a significant year for me in the hobby. Not only financially but how I grew as a listener, hobbyist and the upgrades I made to my system. Every piece of gear I touched taught me more about how sound can be represented. Each transducer provides a unique perspective on how music is reproduced. The good and the bad, I learned what sound is most meaningful to me and how I can better connect with my music. Each experience helped sharpen my ear and gave me an idea of what to strive for in terms of accurate, enjoyable, and engaging music reproduction. Not only did I learn to pick up on what was off or even different, but I also began to understand what sound was right for me. With incredible gear, my favorite moments in audio have to be experiencing the hobby with the fantastic friends I made through this hobby. This year allowed me to connect with and share these experiences with many amazing people. I was able to grow friendships and also share in the joy of music. I am grateful for being able to enjoy music in such a deep and meaningful way. From the new speakers to the shiny new headphones, dacs, and amps, every part of the chain allowed me to be closer to music in my way.
I ended up with gear such as the Genelec 8351B, Focal Utopia, ATC SCM19v2s, Sennheiser HD580, and the HiFiMAN HE-6, all taught me what I value in music. It is okay to like things different from the status quo and spend a considerable amount on gear that makes you happy. Life is short and fleeting; learning that it is your journey and finding what gives you meaning is key. It is easy to get lost in fads, hype trains, or even a circle of hoarding gear and not use it. Music should be enjoyed seamlessly and with robust engagement. How you enjoy the music is an answer you can only provide. But to share the journey with incredible people, for me, is what makes the whole trip and dollars spent worth more than I can imagine.
We'll see you next year!