Discernment is bad. Self awareness is good.

Looking back along my audiophile arc, I just realized one subtle and profound change that I've experienced, and thought I'd share.

I no longer try to convince others to be discerning so much as self-aware.  Hold on, don't throw your laptop, or start hitting the keys in anger, I'll explain.

When I got into audio, as my anti-fans surely remember, I was a projectionist, later I went to work for a competitor of Dolby's.  During my stint as a projectionist, where dust, scratches, focus and lamp age all played a part in the quality of the experience I learned to be very discerning of these problems.  Anything that could affect the experience was something I watched for constantly.

I also lost a great deal.  I lost the ability to just take in a movie.  Take in the action, take in the relationships forming, the betrayals, the bullets flying overhead.  I'm afraid much of this carried over to my audiophile life, where I was far too critical of the equipment due to self training to listen.

Point is:  Unless you make equipment, or install it, or are trying to trouble shoot discernment is BAD.
Teaching others to hear the difference in cables and power conditioners is also bad to me now.  I don't think we should.  I mean, OK, so, I teach another human who was otherwise perfectly happy listening to Roxy Music with plain cheap interconnects to be unhappy.  How does that help anyone?
Instead now I try to figure out what people like, to listen for themselves and beware those with money to make. I try to find out what they naturally like, where they naturally gravitate to and leave them there.  If they are happy, that's enough.
To many threads take a rest DUDE!!!!!
It wasn't until decades after I began playing instruments, setting up/tuning/treating venues and running sound for bands, that I put together my first serious home system.     Listening to each voice/feed, separately and being certain their presence was clean, clear and balanced with the whole, was always a necessity when at the console.     Just how I learned to listen, for accuracy, tonality and overall balance in a mix, etc.    When I had my shoppe, my customers were always grateful, when (if needed) I'd point out how to discern those attributes in a high-resolution system.      At least; they acted happy, at receiving a bit of education.      So many people have been/are happy to use, "ain't" and, "irregardless" in their versions of the English language; they're both now in the dictionary.           Only my perspective, of course.      Happy listening!
They used to teach us in retail sales that when a customer walked in the store, your job was to find out why they did that and help them find what they were looking for.  IE listen to the customer and help them solve their problem.   Works with people in general.  It's that simple.  Next.....
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This is so not important DUDE!!!
To many threads take a rest DUDE!!!!!

This is so not important DUDE!!!

The sound of cognitive dissonance.

I wouldn’t say that discernment is bad, but fixating on every imperfection is certainly not good. When I appreciate a fantastic Mahler recording by Bernstein or Solti or Boulez, and notice the small details that turn those recordings from being good into being some of the all-time greats, I am using discernment. 
To use an analogy, a person wanting to learn to play an instrument initially doesn’t know that they sound bad. A good teacher would explain to them how they can improve, but it a helpful way. Then the student notices their mistakes, learns to correct them, and is ultimately happier than they were at first.
The trick is to engage discernment mode when you're selecting equipment and then be able to engage enjoyment mode once it's installed.
I’m glad for the help I got with listening in a more discerning way; I see your point, Erik, that it can lead down a slippery slope to loss of enjoyment and a "flow" of experience in the movie, song, etc. itself. But that slippery slope was not a big danger, for me. How dangerous is it?

Without some lessons in discernment, I would not be listening at the level I am today. The reason it’s not lead to audiophilia nervosa is because that’s not something I’m inclined towards, I guess. But I’m glad no one protected me (from myself) by *assuming* I’d have that problem, because then they’d never have taught me to listen better, deeper.
My apartment does not have a doorbell, so when I finish baking a DiGiorno frozen pizza all I can do is knock on the front door prior to serving.

I cannot help but wonder if the pizza would taste better if I had a doorbell.


Theirs someone in your head and it's not you. (Roger Waters)

Cheers George
I am the loving friend of my discerning enemy within, and for sometime now, albeit discerning, he begin to love and forget to discern so much anymore....And me, although always in love, i begins to pay attention to details in awe.....
Discernment can describe the process of determining God's desire in a situation or for one's life or identifying the true nature of a thing, such as discerning whether a thing is good, evil, or may even transcend the limiting notion of duality.

As if I care.
So, the ability to judge well is bad,
the conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives and desires are good.

They're both good qualities to have.

There seems to be some confusion between the two since you're ascribing the motive part with the judging part and I do not think that's correct. There's some conflating of the two attributes going on.

Maybe, you're being too critical of yourself in the area of being a perfectionist in your old job and parlaying that as a character flaw in the way you approach audio. 

I'd look at it as a great skill that should be operating in the background like second nature and just go with it.

All the best,
maghister & fuzztone:


Much cooler than my (crappy) pizza take on the OP's statement/query.



It's just me entertaining myself, cuz no-one else will (aside from MillerCarbon and Kenjit -w- a special SHOUT-OUT to Geoffrey Kait who I actually like/enjoy even though he prefers Canoe to English Leather).

Erik is also OK (in my book) and I hope that his seemingly desired "Escape From LA" is successful.


There is a critical part about knowledge and sharing it.
If, someone asks for your thoughts, well, then they should be freely given what you know which is relevant to the question asked.
It's the "Really, you like that? Because it would be better if you did this..." kinda unsolicited advice that can be, demeaning and negative.
dekay :
Not you, the OP, jeeze, everyone got covid over there🤦‍♂️

Cheers George 
eric, I get your well explained perspective. You can't help a pig discern a silk dome tweeter, as you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. 🐷
Wednesday 12:15 PM I was listening to Roxy Music's Country Life (EG Editions CD) on my cheap ($26 used) JVC 310 DVD player! Sounded quite fine! My Marantz CD67 recently died - needs new laser mechanism. And I am just now reading Eric's post! Talk about coincidence! What too many in this hobby forget: it's all about the music!
You make a good point Erik. You're never going to be able to get the best of everything anyway, so why worry overmuch about it? Do the best you can and enjoy what you have, and have accomplished.

And it's a little off your point, but the things you do enjoy, do more of them, even when it's more sensible to do otherwise. For instance should you have a well rounded record collection or should you go overboard on a few artists you really like? There are folks on this site who've hundreds of albums of a single artist, be it Bach or Zappa. My hat's off to them for concentrating on the things they clearly enjoy.

eric, I get your well explained perspective. You can't help a pig discern a silk dome tweeter, as you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. 🐷

<< sarcasm font on>>
I would never ever want to look down at another person like this, unless they fail to vote like I do in which case their moral and personal failures are self-evident.  

<< sarcasm font off >>
To discern is to be able to tell the difference. If its bad to discern, that's saying its bad to make any judgments whatsoever. Everything is just all the same.

And yet at the same time self-awareness is good. But self-awareness is nothing more than the ability to discern the difference between yourself and your experiences. You can't even have self-awareness without being able to discern this difference. It is its very definition.

That you say one is good while the other is bad, without having either the self-awareness or the discernment to realize how inextricably bound together they are, explains much.
I am missing your final outcome. Are you able to enjoy recorded music or not. If not, no point in continuing with A-gon. If so, how did you overcome the “discernment” problem?
Hi cakids,

Healing is a process, not a destination. :)

But here are some tricks:

1 - Avoid "revealing gear" and focus on neutral and laid back.
2 - Good room acoustics.
3 - DIY cables from pure silver.
4 - DIY my own speakers
5 - Recognize what I like in a system, which is more to do with transparency in acoustics than hearing every spec of dust that settles on a fret.

6 - Completely given up on the idea that cost = performance.

7 - Been honest about how I listen to music. We too often buy gear like sports cars. OK, you just bought a Mercedes F1 racer. 99% of the time you are commuting to work, so.... where are the damn cup holders?? I listen out of room 80 % of the time, I do a lot of movie watching too.

8 - The loss of actual 35mm/70mm film has had the side benefit to me that no dust or scratches appear in the frames! Yeay. Still see lamp issues when going out to theaters though.

9 - Learned to love tone controls. It helps to find gear with better quality controls which are more transparent and do only  what they were meant to do.

The DIY part let me both tweak to my hearts content, as well as have enough pride of ownership that the need to upgrade disappeared.
Thanks for your perspective Erik.
In my case, I’m often trying to up the SQ of my system. But when I listen, I just listen and enjoy. I must be pretty lucky.

TBC: Any famous badge would charge the dealer 2x their purchase cost for any components besides drivers.

That would then be increased for the 45% dealer markup.

Why on earth should Fritz do less? He’s already offering you a huge bargain with great speakers, and .... you want him to create an even bigger value before you are satisfied with it?
OH, and one big thing:

Listen to live music with your eyes closed. 

Pay attention to the detail you hear, especially "imaging."

I think when we try to recreate these experiences in our home we become obsessed with this idea of imaging which is not real.  We try to make up for the lack of visual information. 

Kind of like Kurosawa would add extra smoke to a volcano because film did not capture the heat of the location well enough.
"Listen to live music with your eyes closed.
Pay attention to the detail you hear, especially "imaging." "                                                         The results of that (obviously) will depend greatly on what you’re listening to, the venue and where you’re seated.
 The results of that (obviously) will depend greatly on what you’re listening to, the venue and where you’re seated.

Of course.  So, the cure for this is to listen to lots of it. :)