'It is warm, it is sincere, and it is real.'
What does ‘sound’ mean to a graphic designer? It can mean almost everything, when listening to Michel. An audiophile, one could name him. When considering his most current activities, that seems most certainly to be true. Michel writes content about audio, reviews audio products for magazines and websites and is involved in product development in two audio companies. But to Michel sound is much more than work alone. ‘If there was no music, what would there be left?’
What does sound mean?
What does sound mean to an audiophile like Michel? ‘That is a difficult and complicated question. A question I often ask myself, in fact. Sound is emotion, in the widest sense of the word. When I think of sound, I think of my first sound memories. I was around 4 years of age when my parents listened to The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song A Day in the Life hit me, especially how it crescendos into a fading note. And I distinctly remember needing to hear that sound, again and again. Why? What did I see in that sound?’
A little magic
‘At that time I was obsessed with airplanes, and the crescendo of sound reminded me of the ascending and declining motors of an airplane. In that sense, hearing these sounds was a little bit of magic to me.’
Everything will be okay
Whether you can be touched like that by sound, is very personal, Michel explains. ‘Some people are affected by visual triggers, others by scent or other stimuli. But to me it has always been sound. For me sound is emotion, feeling, reflection. Sound, when presented in the perfect conditions, can be like the whispering of exactly the right words by exactly the right therapist in exactly the right volume and temperature, telling you that everything will be okay.'
An old remnant
Other audio lovers often seem to experience sound in similar ways. Michel theorizes: 'I think people have different sensitive experiences. But in this community I regularly hear people say how they, like me, process sounds in a synesthetic manner. Perhaps audiophiles experience some form of higher sensitivity in the sensory abilities. That may even have a very primitive origin. Our sensory abilities originally mostly served as a means to protect and defend ourselves. The ability to hear and interpret sounds very carefully might still be a remnant of that ancestral need for protection.'
Listening with the heart
In short, seasoned audiophiles seem to have a distinct way of experiencing sound. The right sound installation is therefore invaluable to them. 'Pink Faun and I have very similar ideas about sound. We are searching for the same things. For a way in which you can be touched by sound, through the right instrument. For a long time the focus in audio engineering was mainly on furthering digital development. And sure, sound became beautifully clear and crisp, but very abstract. Listening was an almost intellectual experience. Pink Faun wants to return to a more organic sound, to return to listening with the heart instead of the brain.' To achieve that, Pink Faun developed the 2.16 Ultra Streamer, the product Michel enjoys at home.
It is warm, it is sincere, it is real
'When organic sound is the goal, you will have to acquiesce to some imperfections. But that is what sound, and music, is. The goal is not to produce something perfect, the goal is to convey the intentions and meanings behind the music or sound. A sound installation has to be a means of communication between you, the listener and what you are hearing. You don't want to 'feel as if you are there'. You want to feel as if it, the sound, is here, with you, in your room. It is warm, it is sincere, and it is real. And that is what sound can be.'
Always an answer
Pink Faun audio installations are special, Michel has explained. But the service is as well. 'Owner Jord has a heart for this business. He is also very aware of his duty: we all do this to be able to get a kick out of beautiful sound and music. Whenever there are concerns, questions or qualms, he is there. There is always an answer.'