The Journey…

Living with (and loving) CH Precision’s L1, X1 and M1.1

By Dennis Davis

In a world of dedicated listening rooms and 10’ tall speakers, acoustical experts and websites that seemingly exist only for well-healed influencer/audiophiles to show off their gear, do you find yourself feeling like audio’s poor cousin? Sometimes it seems like everybody else has a has a huge listening room stuffed with room treatment devices, massive speakers and multiple racks of equipment the size, weight, and cost of which challenges the imagination. It’s (almost) enough to have you admit defeat and retire to some less competitive pastime!

But for most of us, the disadvantaged if not impoverished, there is a middle way: a middle way that transcends the extremes of self-mortification on the one hand and the addictive pursuit of an unattainable goal on the other. This path can often be found running through a normal living space, one that’s not closed off from the rest of your house (or the rest of your life).

Reality check…

To risk paraphrasing the Bard, “a room by any other name would sound as sweet.” I have spent time in many (other people’s) bespoke listening rooms: rooms that are truly dedicated to the care and feeding of audio equipment, vinyl LPs and CDs. Many of these dedicated, custom rooms are overbuilt, over-damped and accommodate poorly set up systems. Most audiophiles will go through life without such a room. But then I’ve heard superior results from many, far more humble set ups – and ‘Set Up’ is the operative word.

As my system has got bigger – certainly in terms of bandwidth and capability if not footprint – it has highlighted not just the apparent conflict between the demands of audio and domestic considerations in a shared space, but just how effectively they can be overcome. The arrival of the CH Precision L1 line-stage, X1 power supply and M1.1 power amp, a combination that costs well over six-figures and weighs very nearly as much as an Alexia V, questions whether it is sensible to install such esoteric equipment in a non-dedicated space? Having wrestled them into place and enjoyed the results, I can safely respond, “Asked and answered.”

My listening room for the last 36 years has also been what is traditionally called a “living” or “sitting” room, a space traditionally set aside by homeowners to, if truth be told, impress guests. It is usually the room with the best furniture and artwork, a room that’s possibly intended to impress your visitors as you usher them through to the kitchen, dining or family room where most of the real “living” takes place. But for those of us who demand something more from our music than gets delivered by Sonos or the average portable device, it’s also the room where our audio equipment gets woven into the fabric of our living space.

When ‘Real Life’ intrudes…

Such living/sitting/listening rooms inevitably impose limitations that that don’t generally apply to a truly dedicated listening room. Space limitations and domestic impact combine to restrict the amount, size and placement of audio componentry. In order to lay claim to the largest room in the house I had to agree, through gritted teeth, to continue letting guests pass through, from the front door to the rest of the house (what exactly is wrong with the tradesman’s entrance we’ll leave for another day…)