Wren Sound Systems, LLC


I am an audiophile. Sort of.

I came of age during the heyday of component audio, from the late 1960s through the ’70s. Back then, when friends got together, we gathered around the stereo system. Without video games, smart phones or the internet, music was central to our social and cultural lives.

And the music sounded great. Component audio raised the audio experience to a new level; I was hooked. The better the system, the better the sound – and the better the sound, the closer I felt to the music. Audio became my vocation. Aside from a brief stint as a graduate student in the ’80s, it’s how I’ve made my living since 1977.

Of course, you could probably guess that looking at my home sound system. It’s a two-channel setup (i.e., stereo) – still my preference – and it would have set me back about $35,000 retail. The speakers were made by Revel, the electronics by Mark Levinson and the front end is a Sony ES CD/SACD player. Having such a system, I suppose, qualifies me as an audiophile.

Sort of.

While my setup is certainly high-end, a lot of people who take pride in their audiophile credentials would scoff at the fact that I listen to CDs instead of vinyl, and that my speaker wire and interconnects cost less than my car.

Arguments like that keep me from entirely identifying with the “audiophile” crowd. “How can anyone listen to digital music?” and “I can’t stand the sound of solid state amplifiers!” reflect a golden-eared snobbery that drives me nuts. I love great sound reproduction. But why subordinate music to sound? The appeal of listening to audiophile-grade recordings of music I just don’t care about is lost on me.

Of course, the real reason for the “sort of” qualifier to my audiophile status is that, despite my vocation, I rarely listen to my system in anything other than “background” mode. That’s because it’s in the living room – the only room big enough to hold it – where I rarely have time to hang out, unless we’re entertaining and people want to talk. Company tends to find it annoying when I blow them off to sit in the sweet spot and get blown away by concert-level sound.

Life has changed. I still love music and I still love audio, but my leisure time is no longer spent around the stereo system. Does that mean I have to give up on good sound to listen to the music I love? Is there a solution that brings the way we live, our love for music and our appreciation of good sound into balance?

That’s what we’re trying to achieve with Wren Sound Systems. Please read on. And, as ever, let us know what you think.

– Mike Giffin

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