Am I an Audiophile, a music lover-or both?


I chose this forum, because it seems, it gets a lot of attention. When I was young, I was more interested in music lyrics more than I am now. Don’t misunderstand-I still listen to lyrics. Certain chord progressions can almost be a religious experience. After all-that’s what music is all about. As I have grown older and have more resources to devote to a sound system,  I find myself gravitating toward more dynamic music. Music makes my system perform. It still has to be in my preferred genres, but I find myself more drawn to that slap of the drum snare. The crisp and clear sounding vocal, the quick and deep bass. I have read some threads, that may suggest I’m not a music lover. Does anyone else experience this and if so, what are we to be referred to as? It’s not that I really care what tag is pinned on me,. I’m loving it no matter what. I think I’ve become more technical minded about the whole experience. Just sayin’.
handymann
It's fine to like certain sounds for their own sake.  It's why there are orchestras, bands, vocalists, etc.  You could do it all on a computer with a crude synthesizer but it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying.  There's a reason some guitars, pianos cost a lot more than others.  A stradivarius costs a fortune.  Many musicians and music lovers care a lot about the sound itself.

A good stereo gets you closer to all of the instruments, sounds used to make the music.  It's not a trivial part of the listening experience.  Don't get caught up in the vanity of it being about the music and not the sound or some other nonsense.  Nothing wrong with appreciating both.  You can feel free to enjoy the gadget fetish aspects of it as well.  Speakers are nifty machines.
I have read some threads, that may suggest I’m not a music lover.
Can you expand on what you mean by this or this means to you or both?
I think that's complete [email protected] Whether you revel in lush soundscapes or enjoy the crack of a well-tuned snare, music is music. As a music lover, it sounds like you've become more analytical, but who cares? As humans, we tend to be fascinated by processes; and the process of playing music is an art of itself; how many volumes and film have been devoted to an artist's technique over the years?

Enjoy what you listen to no matter why you listen to it. No matter how much we change, there's always music to complement what we've become.
David_Ten  What I'm saying is I place more emphasis on the quality of sound. After all-isn't that what were all in to ?  I was just saying, the message of the song, isn't as important as it used to be   There are still songs that I like for the lyrics, but for the most part, I pick my music for its dynamics. Also, guess Im too old-haven't heard much new music that does it for me. I've turned in to my parents.  I'm also captive of FM stations in Nashville. 
Simao/Jon-5912. I agree with u both. Just self analyzing. Glad to know I past the sanity test at least with music:)
@handymann   I understand that part (what you described in your response) and that you are being reflective...what I am curious about are the threads that "suggest [you are] not a music lover" 

From what you have shared in your OP and response, you come across as someone who loves and enjoys music (to me).

The title of your post and your question, however, points to caring about the 'tag' "what are we to be referred to as? It’s not that I really care what tag is pinned on me"  

Perhaps you can share more. Writing things out helps me better understand myself when I'm stalled or wrestling with self-clarity.
Our systems serve as the vehicles that get us as close to the music as possible. Playback of recorded music is as close to a time machine as we have yet invented IMO. Movies are a close second but they are pretentious and somewhat fixed in their presentation. I am always learning new things about tunes I've listened to hundreds of times.
And I think almost everyone on these boards has, to some extent or more, used music to listen to their system.
David-Ten:  I couldn't care less about a tag and if I came off that way, I regret it. Just conversation ole boy. I have always loved music.  Just want to reproduce it the best I can afford, without loosing touch of the actual music itself.  I've seen vertical systems here than run into several hundred $K.  I have also seen an IPod set-up. Everyone is different-thank God. Whatever floats your boat. 
@handymann   Perfect. Great attitude! : )  +1
It’s a tightrope sometimes, because you or I love music, we want it reproduced as convincingly as possible to create an illusion of reality- whatever that is- the studio, the live performance, the band in the room.
Getting caught up in the machinery that makes it work is a common trap- one I’ve fallen into more than a few times- does that make you less of a music lover? No. But, sometimes, I have to accept the fact that a music reproduction system is no substitute for a good live performance. (Some live performances are not good b/c of the performances or the sound).
The boards are usually filled with technical or gear-oriented queries, comments or arguments (in furtherance of knowledge of course, not for the sake of arguing). Construing what "we" are and how we relate to the larger community of audiophiles based on board chats is a little like trying to measure the health and well being of a population by visiting a hospital or mental ward. We’re all here for a reason. :) I think the focus of this board is less about music than the art of reproducing it better. That said, there are some informative threads about good recordings or performances. I can go from Starker on cello to proto metal -- the better my system has become, the more I can enjoy all of it. But, I have also learned to stand back sometimes and enjoy what I have. There is a certain thrill of the chase. That rabbit will keep going as long as you chase it. You find your own balance, as we all do. I have put systems on ice for a while simply b/c i didn’t have the time or energy to deal with hi-fi. That didn’t make me any less of a music lover either.

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I find I wear two hats of audiophile and music lover.  

When I have my audiophile hat on, I am listening to my system, analyzing each component in the chain with the sound quality I am hearing.

When I have my music lover hat on, I am enjoying the music.

I cannot wear both hats at once.

I think what you describe is common amongst us all.  We are drawn into music for the sake of the music.  As we grow up, and acquire the means to create a serious music system, we start to pay attention to what we purchase because we realize and learn about components and how they affect sound quality, and all the choices of components available.

Welcome to the forum.
+1 @james1969 .. perfectly articulated.

handymann

besides HiFi Buys Nashville- what other Audio shops are in the greater Nashville area?

Happy Listening!

Another +vote for wearing (2) hats- james1969

Happy Listening!

There are other hats. Here are two more.

-The diy / builder hat.

One that doesn't get mentioned much....

- The artist hat.

I believe there is Art in building and bringing systems into existence, especially if one has been at this for a long time.

And there is the Art of listening.
....aaand the art of spending!
Gosh, thanks for reminding me. I was unaware cheapness was an art.
I once started a thread on another forum titled.."Are you a music lover or an equipment lover?"  My goodness the responses got heated, most falling into the category of "without the music your equipment is worthless" to "without the equipment you'd have nothing to play it on". That said I've seen and read about many people who are simply  listening to their equipment and not the music.  I have fallen victim to this "Audiophillia Nervousa" disease myself on occasion and have thankfully gotten of that bandwagon.  I love primarily classic rock but was introduced to Jazz by music dealers demoing their wares to me and I'm grateful for that as I cherish late night listening sessions with that genre of music.  As much as I love music I readily admit that I love equipment even more, some of the mega buck stuff is downright droolworthy, most of which I'll never own. There is no reason you can't be both but one thing that is telling is very few of my friends have even decent sounding systems but when they are over my house spinning tunes what I hear most is "that's a great song!' but they rarely comment on the quality of the sound (maybe my system really sucks!), I guess most people fall into the category of music lover first
@geoffkait me too indeed unaware, but I'm well aware that Rationality is the art that not too many possess especially audiophiles. 
@czarivey When you hear something new in a recording you know so well, all Rationality disappears from your consciousness.  There may be a correlation between how fast your Rationality disappears vs which audiophile priority has changed with the new/modified/different component under scrutiny.
I'm wondering as I read this discussion how many of us have listened to a particular recording and been unimpressed by it only to listen to the exact same recording another time and really enjoy it?

I had a rather dramatic example of this recently with a recording of Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2.  Based on reviews I read, I purchased a version performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.  The SACD had very nice sound quality but the performance left me unfulfilled.  I was so disappointed that I purchased Andre Previn's rendition, often noted as the standard of performance for this work.  It was great to listen to.  The music was stirring.  A couple weeks passed and I decided to try the Singapore recording again and low and behold I really enjoyed it, both musically and sonically.  The only thing I could conclude that may have led to the change in appreciation was hearing the Previn in between and being opened up to new aspects of the work that enabled me to appreciate the Singapore's perspective on the work.

The nice thing now is that I am enjoying both performances!  Perhaps there is no ideal performance of a work just performances that reveal different virtues of that work.
@james1969 , that's what all typical audiophiles say and therefore my statement about pathological lack of rationality in audiophiles isn't hypothetical anymore.
 
as an audiophile and a pro musician, I can tell you I listen differently.  sometimes I play the same record twice so I can appreciate its different values.
@hifiman5 - music, to me, is taken in on a visceral level. Much is affected by mood. (I'm not talking about substances). I may not be in the mood for a particular piece of music, and want to listen to something else. One of the joys of having a large collection or otherwise having access to a lot of different music and challenging yourself sometimes by listening to stuff outside of what you think you like. At least that's been my adventure. 
@whart   Right you are!  My latest music purchase was a Chandos SACD of Szymanowski's symphonic works. Up till the arrival of this disc a few days ago, I had never heard any of his works.  But I want to keep stretching the eclectic nature of what I will listen to. Each time I listen to it I open up more to it. At this point in my discovery of his musical approach, I don't know what other composers to liken his music to.  But then maybe he should just be appreciated for his own works and not suffer comparisons to others.  The discovery continues!
Jafant:
To my knowledge, only Hi-Fi Buys offers the high end equipment.  I went on line and saw a couple of stores I hadn't heard of, but it looked as though their brands were few.  Nicholson's  had been around for years, but I think the crash got them.  Hi-Fi Buys is a great place, although they won't let you audition a piece at your house.  
IMO, just because you find yourself specifically immersed in the sound, it doesn't mean much re: audiophile vs music lover.  You may be a music lover that's moved more by tone/tone color than most other music lovers.  Other music lovers may be unusually focused on rhythm, still others on harmony.  I don't see a lot of differentiation there.

A lot of composers of electronic music focus on creating specific sounds as much as/more than melody/harmony/rhythm.  Modern composition software like Omnishpere allows enormous control over every parameter of tone color.  Often, the rhythms in these compositions are layers of "canned" samples.  Melodies and harmonies are frequently quite simple.  These musicians are still music lovers (and music makers).

if you obsess over the "authenticity" of recorded sounds, you're wading farther into purer audiophile territory.  The pursuit of accurate reproduction doesn't mean you're not a music lover, but IMO it does mean that you're an audiophile.  If accuracy is the PRIMARY thing you care about, I'd say you're more audiophile than music lover.
And, apropos the "hat" approach to the topic, there are the record collectors, often folks who don’t have particularly good playback equipment, and in many cases, are buying a record because it is rare and special (and often of considerable value, either monetarily or to those in the know) who really aren’t listening to the records either. Yet another deep hole.
I think we can all explore the different dimensions of the hobby, its extremes, tangents and what may turn out to be dead ends and achieve some balance that is right for us in terms of the proportion of time devoted to each aspect- the gear, the tweaking, the musical enjoyment, the pursuit of the music for its own sake or for notable performances or rare recordings.
I also think that this is not a static thing-- that your focus could be on one thing for a while, then on another. Like I said earlier, it’s a personal journey, everybody has their own priorities, interests and biases. The thing I delight in most is turning somebody on to music that they had always avoided, ignored or thought they ’hated.’ There is this moment of: ’Gee, I should have had a V-8’ (a advertising slogan for a juice drink here in the States). I also have had the same experience- discovering music that I was aware of generally, but dismissed or just didn’t dig into at the time, and then realize how much I enjoy it. Sometimes I wonder if it is a ’time and place’ thing- i.e., something I enjoy now is something I might not have liked 20 years ago, but for some reason, I’m more open to it now. The enjoyable part of the hobby is the mixture of technology and art to yield something that, for each of us, is transcendent. (One hopes- the music that most moves me at a given time, and that can change, really takes me out of my present mindset for some moment in time-- it lets me see life from another perspective, sometimes sad or bittersweet, but touched in a way that few other arts reach me. (PS: I don’t cry at movies). :)
Much Thanks! handymann

earlier this year HiFiBuys reached out to Atlanta for a second operation.
Happy Listening!
You're neither. You're a clerk...sent to collect a bill.

😄

Since they are , like most things in life, not mutually exclusive categories it  simply does not matter .
Handyman and Jafant.

There are a few more dealers in Nashville.
1. Nashville HiFi 
2.  Brian’s Home Theater.  He was with Nicholsons for years.
3.  Some dude reps Harbeth, and a few other lines out of his home in Hendersonville.

Enjoy.....
Many good comments.  There are as many different answers to your question as there are different personalities.  In other words, every listener has a different experience when listening to music.  Some wear the audiophile hat some of the time and the music lover hat the other times.  Some wear the audiophile hat all the time and are not particularly interested in the music.  Some listeners actually find the trappings of high-end audio a distraction from the listening experience and is one of the reasons that they aren't interested in audio; they wear the music lover hat all the time.  Some wear both hats at the same time with varying degrees of success depending on personality.  Judging someone else's motivations is useless and presumptuous; however, since you obviously seem to have some concerns about all this I think it's important to acknowledge that every time one's attention is entirely focused on what the audio system is doing one is not focused on what the music is doing; simple as that.  Still, a great sounding system is a beautiful thing and can greatly deepen the appreciation of the music.

**** It’s not that I really care what tag is pinned on me, ****

Good!

**** I was just saying, the message of the song, isn't as important as it used to be ****

Obviously, there is a little voice in your head talking to you.

**** haven't heard much new music that does it for me. ****

I think that may be at the root of your concern and what may be contributing to your feeling that you are focusing on the sound of your system at the expense of the music.  No matter what your preferred genre of music is there is probably a ton of music that you still haven't heard.  I could point out that there is a lot great new music being recorded, but even if new music is generally not your thing there is bound to be a lot of great old music in your preferred genre that you haven't heard.  Perhaps your focus should be on discovering new or old music new to you that will shift your focus back on to things like the meaning of lyrics and a great chord progression.  What music do you listen to?
Also, remember that music being less important and vital to you can be caused by any number of outside factors in your life .We all have ups and downs .
Schubert,

So, so true. 
I find I give in to my prurient interests and listen to recordings for sound only, when I can’t get into vital music. This can happen for long periods.
Even so, if the music has little or no value I can’t stay with it for long.

What’s interesting, is that I disliked a certain well-esteemed performance of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony intensely until I recently upgraded my equipment, and began to hear things I’d never heard in it before.  And now it’s one of my favorites.
 So, surprisingly to me, good sound can evidently affect your appreciation of music.
@rvpiano   Which performance of Shosty's 5th are you referring to?
Thank You- yashu
Happy Listening!
Here's my two cents on this. If you love music what sets you apart from those who spend gobs of money for what? To get them closer to the "real"sound as possible. I believe that those of us that can afford what we can and sounds good even if it's not to those who are competing. I have listened to some of the best setups and and like you cared more about a the music. Define an audiophile. Someone whom enjoys music.

                                   Good day

If you really love music, you revel in it even via a tiny handheld radio; or on a giant audiphile-approved system...or just the distant sound of a guitar or other instrument played well by someone.

On the other hand, listening to music through a high resolution system encourages all manner of sonic experience & brain learning. You still love music; but you've learned to love how it is reproduced via a good audio system.

Musicians talk about how different music sounds from different placed on the stage vs in audience, particularly in unamplified instrumental music. They, too, learn to hear various instruments differently, just a function of relative distance. So this is hardly anything new...

I no longer have a big living room system, as I once did. Now all my listening is on a mid-level desktop audio system. Most of my low-level listening (it's a home office; I listen while working) isn't even directly on axis (powered monitors are to right of my workstation). But it really doesn't matter. I love what I hear all day long. Then at night I get serious by facing the monitors (equilateral triangle) and turning up the volume (or I put on headphones). 

If you love music, you never love it less because of how its reproduced...
@desktopguy And if you really love your gear, you will make the best out of what you have, be it a portable radio, or a grand audiophile-approved system.  I have enjoyed music through every kind of device immaginable, and have always sought out the best possible sound in that device category.  I still have a Sony ICF-SW100S wide band pocket radio that I purchased new in college.  It still serves me will in my system now.
Hifiman5:

Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony on DG.
Listen to some small jazz combos.  You may become a jazz lover and simultaneously indulge you desires for the "slap of the drum snare. The crisp and clear sounding vocal, the quick and deep bass."
Harrylavo:  I really like the ever changing group Fourplay as well as The Yellowjackets and more. I love Pink Floyd too. Depends on my mood.