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Tara Labs Air 1 Series 2, Part 6

Posted on June 8, 2020 at 18:57:54

Posts: 4854
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
"She's a very kinky girl, the kind you don't bring home to mother"
-Rick James

My audiophile friend Dee emailed, "No. Hell no! Like many in the 60s, I went to an all-boys high school. I didn't bring home any girls, kinky or not!"

Dee and I talked about bringing home friends of the opposite sex, and interacting with the parents. Most of the time, the discussion is about the girl bringing a guy home.

Until my sophomore year (1986-87), the only girls [I have a younger brother, and no sisters] who came over were from the neighborhood. Otherwise, it was all guys. My parents just accepted that the guys would raid the fridge, and pee all over the toilet. The first non-neighbor girl to come over was Trina. However, my parents were out, and did not come home, until after Trina had left. When my parents did see girls, their (my parents') attitude changed. If only one girl came over, my parents thought that she was my girlfriend. If more than one girl came over, my parents were so judgmental, and tried to decide which girl was "the best." Oh well, that was just like audiophiles, squabbling about which product is "the best."

I went to the City's academic public high school, so the girls who came over were almost all of the same type; nerdy. No one smoked, drank, or did drugs. No one wore makeup, sported tattoos, or dressed fancy. No one was a cheerleader or dancer. So when my parents compared my female friends, it was basically (1) race, and (2) religion. My parents did not like the stereotypical little, shy, soft-spoken bookworms. Sometimes, the girls would come over, after we had played sports all day. They would be tired, sore, hungry, stiff, dirty, scratched, and bruised. My parents would whisper to each other that the girls smelled different, but still bad, versus the guys.

Within popular music, the girls commonly liked lite rock and adult contemporary. Set aside Rick James' "Super Freak," which came out when we were in elementary school. From the end of 1987, we liked Climie Fisher's "Love Changes (Everything)." That was the duo of singer Simon Climie, and Rob Fisher, who was Naked Eyes' keyboardist.

At the same time, Tara Labs were just a year or two old. While I do not have any Tara Labs products which go back that far, let us play the role of parents, and compare some of their interconnects, against the Air 1 Series 2 (A1S2).

Right off the bat, the Tara Labs RSC Master Gen2 provides an interesting and tough contrast. There is no clear-cut "best." Mom might like the RSC Master Gen2, for being "of a tapestry or quilt," for having a smoother musical flow. Dad might not like the sort of yellow light shined on the music. Mom might not like the A1S2's less well-defined image outlines. But dad might like the A1S2's freedom from that yellow glow. That allows better contrast, between the images and background silences.

Aw man, here is another interesting and tough comparison. The Air Forte is Tara Labs' current-production equivalent of the A1S2. These two do not sound alike, so mom and dad may once again disagree, on which is "best." The Air Forte is all about well-defined images firmly anchored in place. However, opposite its namesake, the Air Forte sucks out air, space, and breathing room. So you have a soundstage which is an odd pyramid shape, wider at the base, narrow at the top. In addition, music seems as if it were in slo-mo, so you can review and "see" things.

The A1S2 has, according to Trina, "fuzzy balloon" imaging. The boundary between the image and space is unclear. Yet, the A1S2 still preserves some of the soundstage's width, depth, and height. The nerd girls did not dance. If the Air Forte slows down the music, so you can mime dance steps, then the A1S2 is in real time. Without any rhythm or timing, you just do your jittery and spastic "dances." So if you take Climie Fisher's "Love Changes (Everything)," the Air Forte is slowing down, talking with your son, and assessing why, despite bringing over some girls, he does not have a girlfriend. With the A1S2, your son has a median girl from the academic school. When you question her, she is neither the shy church-mouse, nor detailed explainer. But she is not condescending, elitist, hyper-competitive, scheming, or stuck-up.

Even after high school, I brought home the same type of girls. Only this time, they typically went to good colleges, including the Ivy League. It's not everyday, that we audiophiles get to live with $4000 interconnects, but that is what we have here, in the Tara Labs ISM OnBoard The 0.8. This is a legitimate coed, who got into elite colleges on her own merits. With her transparency and cleanliness, The 0.8 is the super nerd, who can also turn around, and explain the material. She does not dumb it down, nor make it too overwhelming.

With the A1S2, it's like being in upper-division college classes. The A1S2 is the TA, whose explanations get you maybe half-way towards fully acing the material. You understand the basics, but kind of stall, when the material becomes complex and multi-stepped. In terms of sonics, the A1S2 is like that coed classmate who is decent. She is neither a neat freak nor slob. If you ask to study with her, she only says no, if she's busy. She does not make you feel self-conscious or dumb. With other girls, you can get into micro details, on even taboo subjects. With the A1S2, you can indeed broach a subject, but you sort of dance around it, only get a short way into them.

What if it's your own money? Should you pursue the A1S2 on the used market? You feel torn, nebulous, and unknowing. It's like being early in the Winter quarter of your senior year of college. You do not know what lies after graduation. The A1S2 is like that median coed. If you introduce her to your parents, they think she is "decent." Your parents may pull you aside, and ask if you'd stick with her, after graduation.

My audiophile friend Dee puts down his newspaper, "No. Hell no! Why do you have to make audio as difficult as this?"

It's the nature of the audio beast. I do not know what an audiophile's timeline and budget are. But if he already has a system, and is curious about Tara Labs interconnects, my job is to arm him with information. Some bits of that info might cause him to eliminate the A1S2 from consideration. And my job is done. Or, with all of the product's positives, negatives, and trade-offs, he can, if still interested, engage me in a private conversation.

-Lummy The Loch Monster


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