(....Continued from Part-6)
So you have to repeat step one
(....To be continued in Part-8)
- The 'biggest break-in and 'upgrade' in audio is in our heads.
- Has anyone experienced this?
- You upgrade your system, componenet, cable etc
- You reach another level of detail, transparency etc
- You listen to a few of your records/sacd's etc and you cant believe how much better it sounds
- You wait a few days and the perceived effect is not really noticable or is pretty much diminished
So you have to repeat step one
- Record companies are stupid. We know this just by looking how they have handled the mp3 and p2p revolutions. They are slow-witted behemoths that do not even know their markets and business models. We know this just by looking how a total newcomer, Apple, just swept in and devoured their customer base. They have vast archives of music in Hi-Res. All they need do is put up online shops and sell downloads. It doesn't need a huge investment, and it will dramatically lower their costs, enable them to lower their prices, widen their appeal and boost their profits. Yet they don't do it. Because they're stupid.
- All connections oxidize over time and need to be re-terminated with a touch of silver and/or some type of Deox spray. Cleaning cable spades with a brass cleaner will make a surprising difference over time. In short, a super high end system requires commitment and maintenance just like a fine sports car. Making a big commitment to high end without a corresponding commitment to keep everything working at top performance is in many ways asking for an emotional let-down. Even the very best products need some TLC from time to time to keep providing the experience they were designed to provide.
- The placebo affect is alive and well. if you expect to hear a difference, you are more likely to hear one , even if there is no difference in the components of a stereo system.
- if you change a component and your expectations are that you will hear no difference, you may hear a small difference or none at all. remember, a (small) difference that makes no difference is no difference. its mind over matter--if you don't mind it doesn't matter.
- I know that, but I like to pretend that different tubes sound different and it makes me feel like I'm donating to a good cause when I give to the poor tube dealers.
- Improvements are hard to obtain above a modest investment - but you can easily get all kinds of coloration that will be pleasing or impressive and excitingly different. Added distortion and coloration inevitably become fatiguing after a while though. Even one note bass or boom boom tizz sounds really great until it dawns on you that every darn track sounds pretty much the same - all heard through the same pleasant but colored and distorted lens!
- Many audio reviewers will review with an agenda, a listening environment, or an associated system that isn't yours.
- Your own level of technical knowledge of what constitutes good circuitry or good acoustics may not be encyclopedic or up-to-date with technological innovation.
- You might select a great amplifier, preamplifier, source, and speakers but in combination with each other and/or your room they have no synergy.
- Should you play games with vanity? Do you pick a product that costs megabucks and has a bejeweled fascia because you are trying to impress the neighborhood audiophiles when you actually liked the sound of the more generic looking, less expensive rival in the soundroom?
- Will you select a component because you've become "set in your ways" and are blindly loyal to a certain design philosophy or dealer or audio magazine or manufacturer?
- Will you suffer a midlife crisis and for no other reason that "breaking the mold" choose something radically different than ever before?
- if you are an audiophile long enough, you will eventually realize that your own needs/wants/desires/priorities change, and what you liked yesterday, you may not like today.
- Unfortunately there are absolutely no shortcuts in this hobby. The only way to know how a component sounds is to actually listen to it in your own system. Everything else is merely speculation. And don't make the mistake of thinking that other people can do your listening for you. They cannot. I've had several instances where I've listened to a highly regarded piece of equipment and been sorely disappointed. And the reverse is also true. So, go listen. It's a pain to get stuff on loan or on trial, but truly, it's the only way.
- I think before one can judge a component you have to know what you are expecting from reproduced music. Do you want the highest possible fidelity reproduction of what was recorded even if it means hearing very clearly microphone and mixing board colorations and strange decisions regarding how something was miked or do you want something that sounds good no matter what you play back through it. Reality or unreality. Both positions are equally valid but mutually exclusive choices. Your expectations of what a system should do should be what shapes your buying decisions. Not what somebody told you should have before you can be considered serious about the hobby. You should also not expect a stereo system to make you happy, that is too much to ask of any material thing. Satisfaction and enjoyment are a little more realistic goals.
- Setting up a system that allows you to enjoy reproduced music is, to my mind, a matter of assembling a system that pushes YOUR magic buttons. By magic buttons, I mean those qualities of music reproduction that make your ears and body respond positively to what you're hearing. To some, this may include tonal beauty and/or purity, lively portrayal of rhythm and snappy pacing, retrieval of recorded detail, protrayal of ambience and recorded space, holographic imaging, warmth, etc. - mix and match - everyone values something slightly different.
- There are some general guidelines though:
- You get what you pay for. A $3000 speaker is generally better than a $500 speaker.
- Customer support and reliability/Quality issues can generally be researched prior to purchase.
- Trade shows and proffessional reviews aren't totally worthless. They need to be interpreted with the understanding that the author doesn't want to offend.
- Posting on forums will generally get you some honest answers about products-also to be taken in context. Most people like what they own and are not as reliable for comparisons between products.
- I no longer consider myself an audiophile - I feel I have evolved into being simply a music-lover (back where I started). I no longer tweak; I no longer obsess; I'm no longer concerned with wringing an extra 5% or so performance out of my gear; I simply put on albums and enjoy them. How my system stacks up against anyone else's is of no concern.
- The point I keep before me is that this hobby should be fun, and when it isn't fun any longer, there's no point in spending the money, time and effort to keep it going for myself. However, when I sit back, relax and listen to a new recording or an old favorite and still really get involved in the music, I have no regrets for the money, time and effort spent.
- I reached the limit of what I can do in my house, my wife lost patience with it all, my family needs grew bigger, and I lost the space for my audio setup. And the honest truth is that I'm not sure I care. I had reached a point where nothing I listened to impressed me. I couldn't enjoy anything I listened to because I could always hear some kind of deficiency. Over a 2.5 year period I spent close to enough money for a nice luxury car on audio equipment, reached amazing levels of sound quality, and never reached a point where I could actually _enjoy_ it.
- I think the most important thing I've learned is that you should put your system together for YOURSELF. Don't let any Jackass (including me!) tell you what you should have. I like listening to and enjoying music more than having a great system that may impress my friends.
- Don't be bummed about the $$$ and time you spent. If nothing else, it taught you a lesson on what is important to you. Sometimes the best lessons are the ones that reinforce what you already know or at least suspect.
- One is to keep asking yourself the simplest of all questions - what's my audio gear for?
- To impress friends?
- To find personal satisfaction in owning a great kit?
- Or a vehicle to get me to the music?
If you should end up with the vehicle concept, then you need to ask yourself - how much have I been spending on gear (hardware), and how much on actual music carriers (software)? You see, (far too) many times people forget along the way what is it all supposed to do, the upgrade bug bites and you start upgrading no end, upgrading becomes a purpose unto itself.
- Try accepting that the only "perfect" audiophile experience is a live concert. Anything recorded becomes a compromise. Give up striving for perfection, and instead, accept striving for excellence. View this as subjective, not objective
- The thought of being obssessed over achieving audio nivanna is scary, and I often question my own motives and what is actually driving my passion with this hobby. I think many of us may be too afraid to confront the issue - are we really being rational in our pursuit of newer and better gear, or do we really have a serious problem? It's almost like a gambling addiction, and as we keep pouring money into our systems, some of us may even be jeopardizing our financial security and futures.
- If we can learn to control our passion, and make reasonable decisions working within a pre-defined budget, I still believe the audio hobby can be rewarding and satisfying. In many ways its not that different from other hobbies, which can also be expensive and carry similar pitfalls. I believe that most of us got into audio because we were motivated by the music first. We love music for musics sake, and the goal of trying assemble a system that will recreate as much as possible the glory that music holds is a worthy pursuit. To me music is more than just pleasant experience. It can be highly moving, emotional, inspirational, and even religious.
- I am content because I am a music person, not an equipment person. This is not intended as an insult to equipment people. It just means that if the music reaches me emotionally, I have no motivation to change equipment since I have achieved my objective. I only change things for a utilitarian purpose (eg. it's broken or I moved and the equipment is not a good fit for the room, etc.) I feel sorry for people who spend a lot of money and are never satisfied.
- Being an audiophile is neither a blessing nor a curse. it is an implied association with those who accept certain principles and assumptions about audio reproduction. since i do not accept such principles and assumptions, i am not an audiophile.
- I have no idea on the technology behind what I hear - I simply listen and decide.
- I was sitting back letting the playlist randomize into oblivion and ended up slipping into an untimely slumber. When I awoke, I felt it like a smooth massage from an invisible being. Mmmm. It was the moment of up-tempo at about the 2min mark on "Fiona Apple - The First Taste". This is odd seeing as how I am usually so tied up worrying about what doesn't sound right to really sit back and enjoy, but at that one moment of coming into consciousness, I was completely content with my system simply enjoying the music...
- Audio is a bad, bad affliction. In fact, it's so bad that I find myself at times chasing things that don't exist. I hope I am not the only one that does this.
(....To be continued in Part-8)