If you've walked down Market Street in Ballard, you've probably heard music pouring out of Bop Street Records, most likely vintage soul or R&B. You may have also noticed that the sound is fantastic. Snare drums snap, guitars cut, horn sections roll like honeyed thunder.
The owner of Bop Street, Dave Voorhees, introduced himself to me the other day while I was browsing, and I mentioned how good his speakers sound. "Those speakers? Those speakers are shit," he said, or words to that effect. "They only sound good because ..."
" ... I hang them up high."
Dave Voorhees is tall, gray-haired, wiry, and loquacious. If he gets hold of you, he's likely to harass you in the most charming possible way until you buy something. "Oh, you like jazz? You should check out this, and this, and this," he'll say, pulling records and CDs out of bins as he paces the aisles of his spacious new location (Bop Street was previously on Ballard Ave.) I ended up walking out with a Fletcher Henderson compilation.
His trick with the speakers absolutely works: Hanging them up as close to the ceiling as possible makes them sound a gillion times better. Because the sine waves reintegrate with the barometric pressure or something. I tested this out by finding the studs in my ceiling, sinking in a couple of hooks, and suspending my Optimus speakers. Optimus was (I think) the house brand of Radio Shack for awhile. A friend bought them for me at Value Village. And I'll now put those ceiling-hung Optimus speakers up against a Bose system any day of the week.