I find that if things are too easy they aren't worth doing. Mistakes are priceless learning experiences and best enjoyed in one's youth. This leaves enough time for real successes to kindle fond memories in old age. Easy successes are the cream on the cake which always make you feel too full. One can never be sure what one learns will ever be useful to one's survival. So it pays to be flexible and attempt everything which presents itself on the journey. Regret can only come from not having measured yourself against each hurdle which spikes your interest. Failure is perfectly acceptable if you have tried your best but failed. There can be no shame in coming second or third to your own ambition. Humility has its place but should not be used as a crutch to earn sympathy. Smile often. Somebody might need one desperately more than you do.

The new 8 x 15" had failed to please. My unconscious emotional needs had not been met and I had been distracted by other projects rather than enjoying music and watching films. Bigger had proved not to be better and I was always a mug for the underdog. SQ was absolutely stunning. On films the new manifold had been fast and brutally real. It was just that it lacked something I could not easily define. I called it "a lack of dynamics" but it was more about missing excitement. Perhaps a painting can better conjure up emotional responses than a photograph? Is this why advertisers "tidy up" all the human weaknesses of their already perfect models before publishing unblemished perfection? Yet leave the viewer completely uninvolved.

I felt uninvolved. Unmoved by the new accuracy. With all the fine nuances laid bare and exposed to blatant aural scrutiny. My emotional connection to the music had been severed. It was too clinical. All stainless steel and white porcelain but no warmth. I had turned my back on it after all the fuss over construction and the final assembly of the larger manifold in its place. It was certainly impressive, but so what? Like an expensive Hifi system which cannot play music to be worthy of existence. Many systems are like that. They have no rhythm. No powers of intoxication. No sensuality. No warmth. No... nothing. Loud? Impressive? So are farm tractors and pneumatic drills

So I left it to its own devices. Standing tall and black. Sulking out there beyond the old glazed doors with the clumsily scratched glass and old, flaking paint. Some call it shabby chic. I just feel that some old things can never be improved by a new coat of paint. Buy an old cottage and "do it up" and you strangle the life out of it no matter how sympathetic your restoration. No matter how many wagon wheels, old scythes and modest, horse drawn ploughs you may hang from the ancient but freshly re-rendered walls. Its sad dilapidation and untouched patina of age are what get you emotionally involved in the first place. Why soil the perfection you loved with a shiny new roof and care-free plastic windows? You are merely the caretaker for the duration of your stay. Not the unthinking destroyer of historical interest for all who pass by. Buy a modern house and leave the tatty old housing stock to the locals. Who won't be able to afford to gut the place, install a new Formica kitchen and "Arrger" stove and bleached, recycled pine, panelled doors throughout.

Meanwhile, the black ash monolith remained unmoved and unmoving for all my feigned indifference. Should I buy another amp? Buy four new IB15 speakers? Sell the lot and move the smart money into four Fi IB318s? It was all so tempting and all so futile. Which option should I plump for as the least of all evils? All routes involved considerable expenditure and effort. None guaranteed success or (far more importantly) satisfaction with the results. How could I possibly know in advance?

I half heartedly measured dormers, help up cardboard circles against IB-unsullied walls and ceilings. Even probed with fine carbon fibre rods through tiny holes drilled in my wife's absence. Seeking usable open spaces within an unforgiving roof structure but finding none. I secretly found the old pre-digital prints I had taken which I took while I was replacing the roof.

There were absolutely no unknown volumes for an IB enclosure which did not involve making large holes in the boarded ceiling. The ceiling is sacrosanct. No man's land. Least of all for a foreign IB invader. That way lay financial ruin from trying to heat a house in a -18C climate using only a cool running EP2500 for warmth. What would happen when the last of the furniture had been sacrificed to the wood burning stove downstairs?

Turning the ceiling and its rockwool winter coat into Swiss cheese for the sake of audio was too unthinkable. Even I could see the logic as I paced frantically- Seeking inspiration like a caged animal in my AV den. Meanwhile the Head Gardener pottered innocently at her gentle horticultural tasks out in the warm summer sunshine. It was all slash and burn, out there, but without the burn. She detests those who have garden bonfires. It's an endless war against nature and modern farming practices out there!

In the end I sought the advice of the IB Cult members. Whose combined intelligence, resourcefulness and experience dwarfs that of any individual. The answer was obvious but had not even remotely crossed my mind until it was actually suggested: Raise the crossover frequency!

It worked like an elixir on the great black tower. The warmth came back. The power and the fury. It was a miracle. I had been cured! Organ sounded lovely again. The first hired film I played was stunning.

I even returned here to scribble my blog. Unloading all the built-up frustration in weaving a new tapestry of words. As my wife calls the strange mixture of imagination and wishful thinking. Which I call embroidering the simple truth for greater effect. And which she calls lies. The truth lies somewhere in between. Where are the damned smilies when you need them? ;)

For those curious as to the position of my speakers relative to the IB here's a clue: A 1/4 second hand held shot. The speakers are sitting 5 feet apart now instead of the former 7' apart as they had been for some years:

Shabby chic but without the chic! A pair of Mission 753 Freedoms, a 37" 100Hz JVC LCD with a Mission 75C below and a cavernous manifold containing 8 x 15" drivers over on the left. My ever-expanding collection of organic vinyl is just visible in the box to the left of the welded steel TV stand. The tall 16-46 SVS cylinder looms off to the extreme right. In the foreground the old, black gloss handrail we look over to see the TV. Not that it is ever noticed. No more than the huge, vintage, white opal, café globe light above the open stairwell in front of us. Which is only occasionally lit. Usually when we have lost something.

Some time ago we stapled some nice red cloth over the hideous decorative ply on the 45 degree sloping wall behind and above the TV. The intention once was to line the whole attic with plasterboard. Decorative t&g boarding would have been much easier but my wife just will not accept it again. She calls it, "Like living in an upturned boat!" Unfortunately the decorative plywood is fixed to a random frame of long planks nailed onto the undersides of the rafters. Removal of the ply and the planks would expose the underside of the rockwool. Probably causing a rock(wool) fall.

I have really no desire to get involved in this work if it can be avoided. Fixing plasterboard at 45 degrees to overhanging rafters is probably well beyond my ability these days even with the help of a hired board lift. Though no doubt the sound quality would improve considerably with a more solid lining to the attic. The present, rather flexible, decorative plywood must absorb quite a lot of sound waves. Particularly as it is backed by thick rockwool. All over bass absorption panels!