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    Editorial: What's Wrong With You?

    I'm not a fan of writing editorials because this site isn't about me or any ministers of information. It's about the community and everyone who has helped, over the last 11 years, create what this site is today. Perhaps a couple forum posts have irked me enough to need this cathartic outlet. 

     

    Anyway, what's wrong with you? If you listen to people online or at audio shows you'll think you need medication quickly. Since I started this site I've often wondered what's up with all the audiophile hatred, judgement, and categorization. It usually takes this form:

     

     

    1. Audiophiles like gear more than music.
    2. Audiophiles don't listen to music, they listen to gear.
    3. Audiophiles are always looking for the next piece of gear.
    4. Audiophiles are foolish because ...
    5. There's music audiophiles and gear audiophiles.

     


    Wait what? Why do people care? I submit that if you're judging people by their motives for increasing their own enjoyment in life, if you're categorizing groups of people based on what they enjoy, or if you just dislike audiophiles, then you're the one with issues. There's nothing wrong with issues, I have plenty, but stop projecting yours on to audiophiles. 

     

    The ole gear loving audiophile "just doesn't like music" thing. Again, who cares? I don't care at all if someone is happy collecting HiFi gear. Jay Leno owns 150 cars including a 1994 McLaren F1 valued at $12,000,000. Oh the horror. What a loser, he must just love cars and not the experience of driving them like all the people with pure motives for purchasing cars. Only kidding. Who cares if he has 150 cars and some that are priced outrageously? I bet it isn't the same person who cares about audiophile motives because cars are cool man (said tongue in cheek).

     

    When I first started writing about HiFi I was told by a publisher that he knew a guy with six CDs and a million dollar system. This million-dollar-system-guy was the butt of many jokes and was even blamed for many problems in HiFi. Heck, this specific publisher had an infatuation about guys like this and always talked about himself as being "in it for the music man." As if there should be a podium for music loving audiophiles that anyone else who enjoys this hobby equally or more shouldn't even look at. 

     

    In fact, the snobbish level of people who view themselves as superior audiophiles because they like music more than gear is no different than the people who just rail against audiophiles for the heck of it. 

     

    Then there's the infamous Alan Parsons quote.

     

    "Audiophiles don't use their equipment to listen to your music. Audiophiles use your music to listen to their equipment."

     


    Talk about pompous. Sure, we can purchase his works of art, but god forbid if we listen to them in a way he doesn't approve or for reasons with which he doesn't agree. Who cares if what he says is true for some people? Who is anyone to judge how others have fun in life. I feel very excited for people who increase their enjoyment in life through HiFi. Whether that's because of a gear fascination or music fascination of a combination of the two. If you're happy, I'm happy for you. 

     

    This also brings up the black or white issue. As if audiophiles can only be gear enthusiasts or the so-called better audiophiles, the music enthusiasts. Like politics and the endless objective / subjective debates, there's a continuum on which audiophiles land. On one end is the gear junky and on the other end is the music junky. Based on no objective data, I'm willing to bet most audiophiles fall more toward the center than the extreme poles. I don't care where one is on this continuum, but let's not succumb to those who like to categorize us as music or gear or music first, gear second. The world is gray, many of us like both well designed audio components and well played music. 

     

    Speaking go well played music, do you only listen to Scottish nose whistle recorded at 32/384 or DSD1028? If you're happy doing that, I'm happy for you. Wasting precious brain cycles to think about or judge someone in the Scottish nose whistle camp is the epitome of foolishness. Life is too short. Crank some Rage Against the Machine and move on.

     

    Oh shoot, I forgot Rage isn't a certified group for the other end of this preposterous judgmental spectrum. Like the dealer who laughed at me because I purchased MartinLogan ReQuest speakers to play Pink Floyd when I was fresh out of college in 1999. That's a great way to win over new customers and encourage a younger audience to value and understand dealer markup. Yeah right. That's perhaps a story for another editorial that I'll never write. 

     

    OK, lastly before I get off my editorial soapbox, why do people also care about audiophiles who value fine craftsmanship, made in country ABC production, and limited editions of products? When it comes to cars, watches, houses, or even alcohol that goes down the hatch only to be pissed out an hour later, all the elements of craftsmanship are highly desirable. It's even OK to love the bottle in which one's Booz is transported. However, when it comes to audio, if you like the big McIntosh meters or the copper D'Agostino amplifiers or the bling of Mbl, you're somehow a lesser audiophile not worthy of those who value music first. 

     

    I say bring on the bling, bring on the breadboards, bring on the Patricia Barber, and bring on the Beatles. It doesn't matter to me what you like or why you like it. I don't believe it should matter to anyone else either. Gear collector? Fine with me. Music collector? Fine with me. Both? I hope you live in a big house. 

     

    I'll close with a quote from Sheryl Crow, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."


    P.S. Along similar lines is the judgement of those who spend "outrageous" amounts of money on HiFi components, by people in the same music first group (not all but some). Speakers that cost $250,000 or even $700,000. Amps that cost $100,000 or $250,000. I can hear it now, you can get better performance for a fraction of the price! Let me repeat, who cares? It's the buyer's money to spend however she wants. I certainly don't want someone going through all my receipts and telling me I could've purchased far better peanut butter for less money. I can't afford a million dollar system, but I don't care if you can. I enjoy finding bang for the buck products, but I don't care if you don't enjoy the same.

     

    P.P.S Where am I on this continuum? Smack in the middle. I love great gear designs, both inside and out, both cosmetic and electrically engineered, and I love music. I'll take Pearl Jam on an AM radio if that's all I can get, but on a beautiful HiFi system that sounds spectacular, all is right with the world. 

     

     

     

     

     



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    Great article - You got to pay to play - the more you pay the more fun it is playing....that's life and everything else is just noise 

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    Well stated. As with much in our current society, everyone seems to think their opinion = fact, and everyone who thinks differently is flat out wrong. Of course there is a wide spectrum of audio gear, and music itself. Of course different people will be on their own part of both of those spectrums. I, along with many others, slide up and down the gear spectrum. Current interests, and finances, have shaped my gear selections. It was Head-Fi, and Foobar2000, and a new, to me, concept of “bit perfect” via a computer+DAC that sparked my interest, more than a decade ago, in this part of music.

     

    As a youngster, I enjoyed listening to my Dad’s McIntosh+DIY Klipshorns system. Radio tuner and vinyl. It all started there for me. I think we all have different life experiences that make us unique, and I would expect us all to have different interests in gear, and music. I would also expect those interests to change over time, for each individual.

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    I was surprised to see no mention of cables in the editorial. Audiophile cables appear to be the biggest trigger for animosity on this site (and many others).

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    Quote

    [...] As if audiophiles can only be gear enthusiasts or the so-called better audiophiles, the music enthusiasts. Like politics and the endless objective / subjective debates, there's a continuum on which audiophiles land. On one end is the gear junky and on the other end is the music junky. Based on no objective data, I'm willing to bet most audiophiles fall more toward the center than the extreme poles. [...]

     

    Chris, you've probably way underestimated the showoff freaks. Cleverest of them can take advantage of both gear and music at the same time. Look at this guy:

     

    https://youtu.be/pd1JYxBZS3s

     

    Worst, he's into heavy photo gear and blasts around in Ferraris ← yes 's', mid *and* front engine. whatsbestforum.com is packed with freaks like that. As a service to the people, could you open a subforum here so we can rat these guys out? Then we can bring full force of the AS brigade to bear and shame them off the 'net :x

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    9 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    If that helps you find enjoyment in life, I'm all for it. I'd love to hear some great music on that system.

    I actually meant I am not looking at the system, just listening to music. But then again, I was pretty cryptic. At the time it was Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You" album (sorry remembered incorrectly).

     

    And of course, you're always invited to come over to play some tunes.

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    1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

    I was surprised to see no mention of cables in the editorial. Audiophile cables appear to be the biggest trigger for animosity on this site (and many others).

     

    On this site I’m pretty sure it’s MQA. 

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    Well said.  A little tolerance and flexibility can go a long way.  Let's celebrate and appreciate our differences; don't be threatened or upset by them.

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    2 hours ago, Jud said:

    I guess I'm a stickler for trying to be accurate - can anyone find an interview or piece of writing where Alan Parsons actually said what was attributed to him in that quote?

     

    Closest I got was a 2012 interview in a publication called CEPro, where, under the headline "Alan Parsons Rips Audiophiles," the engineer and musician had these among other things to say:

     

     

    So the man who supposedly criticized audiophiles for not just enjoying the music seldom listens to music for enjoyment.

     

     

    The man who supposedly criticized audiophiles for listening to equipment says the art of listening is critical, and you can learn how to "discern minute differences in pieces of equipment."

     

    Here's his "rip" of audiophiles:

     

    Audiophiles don't pay sufficient attention to room treatment compared to pro sound people, and will pay lots of money for comparatively small improvements that aren't necessary in the pro environment.  Wow, just scathing.

     

    _ _ _

     

    I think highlighting the quote that Parsons may or may not have really said, and the blaring headline, in contrast to the much more balanced view presented in the actual interview, are symptomatic of exactly the sort of thing your editorial critiques, Chris.  Do race drivers have this jaundiced view of car collectors, or do car collectors think this sort of thing about themselves or fellow collectors?  Professional golfers or weekend duffers about the guy with an expensive set of clubs?  Don't know.  Maybe it exists and I'm not aware of it.

     

    If people are that much into regret at participation in the hobby or anger at the industry that absolutely forces you to spend money on equipment(!), maybe we need an AA (Audiophiles Anonymous) section here where they can let it all go and feel cleansed.

     

    Is more knowledge about how stuff works (or doesn't) better?  Absolutely.  To me that's not at all antithetical to enjoying my hobby.

    I could pass on my own assumptions about a few things from what I believe Chris was getting at, where it was coming from, and also that I understand the victories of your post. 

     

    But overall, +1, this deserves a reply. 

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