Bound for Sound

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  • Bound for Sound Audio Report
  • 108 E. Division Street, Kewanee IL 61443,
  • Official website
  • bfshifi@cin.net
  • 309 856 5515
  • 309 853 3193

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Bound for Sound manufactures or has manufactured the following equipment (click to expand models list):

Dynamic Speakers
 

General information [contribute]

Bound for Sound web site (July 14, 2009): The middle seventies were a great time to be an audiophile. Unlike the aura around the hobby today, in the seventies there was a sense of discovery and excitement that permeated the art of music reproduction. The technology of the high-end was considered state-of-the-art, and people looked toward the music in the home industry to be at the leading edge of science and ergonomics. You weren't cool unless your living room was dominated by a blue back lit Marantz receiver, reel to reel by Akai and a pair of JBL 100s. You didn't think of spending five thousand dollars on a new preamp; you didn't spend five thousand dollars on a whole new system. The vets from Vietnam were bringing in the newest equipment from the Far East tariff free, and they were blowing the rest of us home-bodies away with their knowledge of music and equipment. It seemed that there was no end to the wonders that "hi-fi" manufacturers could deliver given the opportunity.

With the eighties a new cynicism set in and the world of hi-fi and cool audio stuff went corporate. The leading edge of the audio art wasn't inside that receiver sitting on the shelf, but was imbedded inside the innards of a video tape machine capable of playing VHS tapes. Digital came to the fore, but in spite of the positives that millions of people saw in CD players, if you read the hi-fi publications, digital was only for tin ears even if that new Sony CD player did sound immensely better than the old Dual changer with the Empire cartridge. The world of music in the home started to become a hostile place and the Church of the Unaffordable Product taught us that unless a bundle was spent on every component in a system, the system couldn't sound good. Ego audio took root, and an uneasy relationship started to develop between manufacturers and reviewers. After all, large amounts of money were being spent on audio equipment, and when the dollars start circulating people find ways to start making money circulate in their direction. The wonderful hobby that had seemed so limitless in its potential just a few years before turned cynical in the eighties. A corporate mentality took over, a mentality designed to appear genuine and honest to the hobbyist - it was anything but.

The Feeling of Getting Ripped Off is the Mother of Invention. In 1989, some friends and I were tired of paying big bucks for wire that should have sounded much better than it did. I had just bought a pair of Monster Cable Reference interconnects for $80 (discounted price), and was so disappointed in the resultant sound that I wanted to punch somebody. The reviewers at one of the glossy magazines had raved all over these cables, but one listen told me someone was deaf, and I'd just spent eighty bucks to find that out. I cut the cables open and couldn't believe what I saw - it was all wrong electrically. Nice construction, great materials, but what were they doing constructing interconnects with a capacitance so high? Not a good thing if your preamp has a high output impedance, tubed or transistor, but especially tubed. And no way could the interconnect be used with a passive pre, the highs were nowhere to be found. Why hadn't Monster mentioned the high impedance? Why hadn't the reviewers? After all, a product called Cobra Cable had been introduced by a different company just a few years earlier that was so high on the capacitance side that it caused many power amplifiers to ring and then blow up (Yes, the amps were already prone to ring, but why design such a cable anyway?). Why were the reviewers letting us spend hard earned money on wires and cables that were wrong for their intended purpose? The consumer/hobbyist had been turned into a sacrificial lamb worthy of being slaughtered for the sake of commercialism. Anything went in terms of unsubstantiated claims, and in some cases, the laws of physics were being blatantly re-written. For instance, a favorite ad of mine from Monster said that they had different sized conductors in their wires; the little conductors to carry the highs, and the large conductors to carry the bass, the inference being that for some reason the bass wouldn't go down the little conductors (actually it's just the opposite in some respects as large conductors, due to skin effects, tend to phase cancel lower frequencies). A person I know offered to prove what they were saying false by inserting the little conductors into an electrical outlet, that being a low frequency 60 Hz source, while requesting another person to hold each conductor in one hand to see if the 60 Hz would go down the little conductors into his body. He had no takers... so much for the for the big conductor, little conductor theory.

Knowing just enough about the laws of physics and electronics to be dangerous, our group started making our own interconnects, and out of the gate produced a simple open shunt, solid core, design that was vastly superior to the $80 Monster Cables. People had to be told of the break through, as simple as it was, and let them know that there was an alternative to paying big bucks for what we referred to as "garbage wire". That was the genesis of Bound for Sound. That was January of 1989, and we've been going at it ever since.

The Evolution of the Old School in the High-End

W

e couldn't sell out and do the unspeakable, ie., become a pawn of the manufacturers. Bound for Sound (BFS) started out as a hobbyist based publication without advertising, without fancy color photos, and without the all-consuming desire to make a business out of this (though it has turned into a small one). More than anything it was important to re-kindle the sense of adventure that audio as a whole had been robbed of. This isn't about a rich man's ego, or a desire to outspend someone else for the sake of conspicuous consumption. It's not true that the person who dies with the most toys wins. That attitude has always been a loser, and one guaranteed to take the joy out of living. Audio is supposed to be fun!!, not a contest that leads to insanity or "component of the month" induced burn-out. Bound for Sound is about giving the hobby back to those who love it - the music lover.

Why Some Manufacturers Love Us, and Others Hate Us. The truth is a funny thing. It can draw some people to you, others it will repel. Over the last ten years a group of manufacturers have become comfortable with our reviewing style and have gravitated to it, and us. They appreciate not being hassled for advertising dollars, and they appreciate even more an honest appraisal of their wares. For some, an even playing field is all they need, and they are willing to accept the consequences of playing the reviewing game regardless of the outcome. It's amazing how people grow, improve and get along, even under times of adversity, when they know the politics are gone, and the two feet they are standing on are of their own making and not forged from the advertising dollars spent for an arbitrary judge. With BFS every bias and unfair advantage is rooted out and eliminated to the extent we can.

Oddly enough, some manufacturers have chosen to stay away. When we call they are cordial enough, and many times promise product - but the product never comes. It all had me rather confused, after all, why make a promise you weren't forced to, and then break it?. That was until a reviewer with another publication gave me the so called "poop". He said that our refusal to take advertising dollars scared off some manufacturers that felt more comfortable "having a financial relationship" with the people doing the reviewing. That way, the threat of pulling the money plug, though never mentioned, was an ominous cloud over the writer and his publisher. It lends certainty to the reviewing process for reviewer and reviewee alike. It's called doing business in the USA, but we simply don't think it helps the consumer/hobbyist very much.

So, some people say that we are "old school" because of our desire to make the hobby of home audio fun again. Others call BFS a publication "under the underground", or the "new underground", it depends on one's perspective, and where you've been in relation to where you're going. But the label isn't as important as the purpose, and our purpose is actually a very simple one, that being, to inject some fun into this hobby by telling the unadulterated truth while having a sense of humor about it; we want to be a burr under the saddle of the bad guys. We want to take the intimidation of politics for the sake of gain, and the silent threat of financial ruin out of the industry, and in doing so, return the hobby to those that fueled it in the first place - the music lovers. Our purpose is to tell our readers those things that many of the manufacturers, and some of the other publications don't want you to know - things that they oftentimes don't know themselves about set-up, component matching, scale, the importance of AC polarity, why power cords can make or break a system, inertia, the reasons some components don't work with others, spontaneity, and the reasons why you don't need to spend a small fortune to listen like a king - it's all in the way things are done, and an honest hearted acceptance that the rules of physics which govern this universe haven't been suspended when applied to the high-end. And that's only the tip of the waveform, there are thousands of reasons to read Bound for Sound and we'd like to tell you each and every one of them. But for that, you'll have to subscribe (after all, we are now a small business).

But don't be scared away by our unabashed propensity to tell it like it is. Take some time to ruminate amongst the various pages that we have provided via this site. Read some of our older reviews, take a look at the Big Rig, take in a tweak or two, or simply read some of the letters that Readers Write (you might want to contribute at bfshifi@comcast.net), most of which will be updated every month. We also have an index that goes back to our very beginnings. Yeah, we'd like it if you ordered some back issues, but more importantly we'd like you to see whose company we've been keeping for the last ten years. You'll see manufacturers and products listed that you'll, quite frankly, find nowhere else (a fact that we are very proud of). We look hard to discover and uncover, the best the world of audio has to offer. If something is good, we'll find it, or should I say, it will find us. Like I said, "The truth is a funny thing."

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