Do You Love Music or Do You Love Hi-Fi?

I know a lot of hi-fi enthusiasts who seem to have poor taste in music but can talk all day about their audio gear. I got into the high end audio hobby because of my love for music first and foremost, and this has done a pretty good job in guiding my decisions around what equipment to buy. Don't get me wrong, I Jones really hard on gear, but at the end of the day it's not about the gear but how great the music I love sounds on the gear I buy. I study music and learn all I can to discover new music to enjoy, regardless of the genre, but I am certain that I will not be investing in the latest Jennifer Warnes vinyl re-issues. I also wonder why Mo-Fi issued the first three Foreigner albums on vinyl. Are there really that many hard core audiophiles asking for this? There are so many great recordings that are begging for the high end vinyl treatment, it makes me wonder who these people are making decisions about what to release on these labels? I'm sure the entire Don Henley catalog is coming soon from one of these labels.
OK, I'm done ranting, but I really do want to hear what others think about this. Or is it just me? Is it about the gear or is it about the music for you?
Do You Love Music or Do You Love Hi-Fi?

I don't know about love, but I sure enjoy both music and hi-fi!

Maybe this should be split into two different hobbies.
I need good hi-fi to enjoy music.
I love music in Hi-Fi.
Just because some audiophiles and music lovers have bad taste in music doesn't mean they don't love it as much as the music you love. I might think the stuff you love is really dumb but I still feel a kinship with you because you love some kind of music. It's a matter of taste. I can't stand eggplant but you might love it.

I also agree with Markpao-it is fun to enjoy two hobbies simultaneously. I can't play table tennis and ride a motorcycle at the same time but I can enjoy music and my hifi at the same time.
Music first...HiFi is the delivery tool to maximize the musical listening experience.
One has to be careful in accusing others of "bad taste". Even famous classical composers often had detractors. Rossini said that Berlioz was "a regular freak without a vestige of talent." Tchaikovsky on Richard Strauss: "Such an astounding lack of talent was never before united to such pretentiousness." Bach almost got fired from his first job as a church organist due to his style of playing.

I certainly have some writers and performers I like better than others, and know others feel the opposite. However, the only thing that really dismays me are those who have no sense of musical exploration, those who never venture past the small group of artists they grew up with 20, 30 or more years ago. It probably makes them happy, but I find it a bit sad.

As for the equipment versus music question, people approach hobbies from a variety of perspectives. I just hope they find what they do interesting, fulfilling and challenging.

Hi-Fi of course. Music is just structured noise made tolerable to hear by great equipment. Musicians and music industry in general are the lowliest occupations I can imagine. Anyone agrees with me?
^^^ NOPE !

Theodore Leavitt famously told his MBA students that "People don't want a 1/4" drill. They want a 1/4" hole."

My audio system is simply the tool required to enjoy my music collection.
Guilty of both. Being a gearhead, love the equipment and of course what would the equipment be without the music?

Peace out.
'poor taste in music' has always somebody else. I love the
'best' music and am proud to own the 'best' equipment for
the reproduction.

I've met people that have great musical tastes but listen to music on a Bose stereo. I have also met audiophiles with 100k in gear but only listen to 5 records. Go figure.
I love the things about gear. The techie stuff, the art and design and the subjective parts of it all in terms of emotions.

As to music I appreciate good sounding music when replayed on a decent system, which I have. No not esoteric nor the best but stuff but all in all good quality stuff overall. I enjoy music that puts my mind in a state of zen. At times some of the music I listen to gets me to a point of near falling asleep. When in that state just as I feel submerged in peace the music flows in me audibly like hot chocolate does as I drink it. It's a state of zen or pleasure that I do not get into often and does not often last long during any session. But it's a great time and for that it's ABOUT THE MUSIC!

Other times I listen with my mind wandering etc. and also at times in very critical ways, analyzing the quality of the recording through my system .

When it gets back to hi-fi, I like gear but am not a gear hog nor do I blow money I cannot afford on esoteric and often over rated, over hyped gear. I like dabbling with new when I can afford and justify it and I also like buying and trying out vintage gear bought at often very low prices. This is the hobby part of it all for me. As also is reading up on all of it over the years going back to the early 80's as a very young teen.
One of the best original posts I've seen on here in a long time....
I found the answer to this question when I developed a problem in my right ear. The thought of not being able to enjoy the equipment was painful but thinking of not listening to music was like losing my best friend.
Luckily the problem was temporary and I'm enjoying both again.
Hey... what's wrong with eggplant??!!
I enjoy the gear, and thats why I listen exclusively to vinyl. That being said, as my gear have gotten better, myy enjoyment of music has increased as I have experienced different genres and am now able appreciate the musicianship that goes into making a particular cut. I dont think that I would have that same appreciation with a low fi system. for instance, I never listened to Jazz before and now listen to a considerable amount of 50s and 60s jazz. I was mainly a classic rock listener.
I am a VERY firm beleiver that 80% (if not more) of Audiogon roamers are gearheads first and that their relationship with music is contaminated by the never-ending analysis of sound and the "air" around the instruments and other sooooo-important sacro-saint things. Ridiculous terminology used by audio rag reviewers have made our way in our brains, to describe equipment as if they had personalities and as if they were more important than human beings. I also beleive that most folks won't admit to this gearlust over music- it is so much more dignified to claim a love for music to justify the "upgrade bug" .

I am as guilty as anyone else. I do happen to enjoy music to a high level, but gear has nothing to do with this. My enjoyment of music takes the form of actually playing instruments for real, and playing around with music-creation software and a keyboard. And of course attending live performances. Whether a symphonic orchestra or even a bar band playing "brown eyed girl" with the walls shaking from the bass.

I gave up years ago on trying to get the same level of satisfaction from a
sound system. Some will say that it may just be because I never had a good one...please witness my review of my Verity Audio speakers of years ago. If speakers that cost the price of a new car won't do it for me, well, that's as high as I will go.(sparing you details about the rest of my system at the time - not too bad to say the least).

Now, why am I on Audiogon then? Because I admire good design, good engineering, and also because those toys are FUN to play with and a pleasure to own! I just wish more people would admit to this.

Sorry for the long rant, but this topic got me started. Ending my post, I would just like to say that (pardon the following imagery) I'd rather listen to a tune from a favorite artists on a cheap boombox any day over suffering the sound of Kenny-G or Michael Bolton over a 100k system.
that's like asking if you like beer or alcohol better.
Every lousy CD in my collection was recommended by Stereophile and the music forum sucks. I believe this confirms your thesis. 90% of "Goners" use music to hear the gear, while music lovers use gear to hear the music.
Music: hi-quatlity stereo equipment must be transparent. Its purpose is to allow both the music and the artistry of the musicians to flow from the medium (LP, CD etc) into one's listening space. I am a musician and listen to live music all of the time. For me, stereo equipment that brings attention to itself (Hi-Fi) is uninteresting, tedious, dreary and boring (much like my last statement). I want to hear the music and more importantly understand what the musicians are trying to accomplish.
John Lennon said it best:

"All You Need Is Love"

It doesn't matter which you love most or not. What's the point?

The two go together. That's where it's at.

Some can enjoy music without hifi. Good for them!

Others might care more about the technology than the music. We need people like that. It's where innovation and progress comes from.

Personally I would probably not have any interest in gear without the music.

It's all good if you want it to be.
Mapman, I agree. Would you have assembled your nice system just to listen to Howard Stern??
I like beer that has a high alcohol content.

Eggplant? It's a texture thing.
As they are not mutually exclusive categories I love them both.
As I love my wife and my mother,not more but differently.
Back in the day, recordings of steam engine trains ruled. Plus ping pong games when stereo appeared. Music need not apply in order for gear to be bought
It's a good question and one that you can answer all by yourself! :)
Decades ago there was a simple rule that audiophiles always knew but sometimes forgot to do.
Experience LIVE MUSIC - as pure as you can have access to if possible (meaning no amplification if possible). If you love music then it will "re-calibrate your ears" as they used to say way back when. In the old days there were lots of free concerts around in major cities and even shut-ins could listen to LIVE FM broadcasts of Classical and Opera.
Nowadays we tend to tweak to what we like instead of what is REAL. That's why there are folks that say some LPs are poorly recorded.
Once I got my system sounding good to me, I forget about buying equipment and instead focus on buying music (vinyl).
My enjoyment of my gear is so that even if it is off I yet appreciate the build and beauty of it. At the end of the day it always comes back to the music. Love listening to the music on my ipod or in the car and especially on my home system The experience is made all the better with a good system, or headphones etc. I thrive for the best play back I can, if I don't have it, I still get a kick out of listening to the tunes.
I love music despite all efforts most hifi gear does to avoid it. Within my budget limits, when I have to choose, I always prioritize musicality over audiophile parameters (detail, speed, soundstage,...). I'd obviously like to have the perfect sound, but below it, I prefer compromising sound over music.

I wonder if many of us have discovered the 'vice' of hifi during our search of a better reproduction of our music, as an unexpected collateral damage. You know, is very difficult not to love it if you know it in depth.

Great question, by the way.
First, foremost, and far above and beyond gear, music. I could easily go the rest of my life with my music library and a boom box if I had to. I am grateful for the gear Ive owned that heightens my experience as much as it has, but it is by no means necessary for me to enjoy music. That notion is absurd to me.
Love music first HiFi second .
Ice cream first and cake second, pie third, tarts forth, my dog sixth. I have probably spent more on them than any music system(just kidding but it might be true) but I do really enjoy music.
Schubert nice comment a balanced perspective of reality regarding mother and wife.
Thromgard and Jbuenech my sentiments also. Get good sound and enjoy what it is for, the music. We will never have perfect sound.
The gear is just a necessity. That's all. If we were on the USS Enterprise, we could just say COMPUTER Now that's a rig.
Its seems as if a lot of high-end owners love to listen to girls with long pressed hair strumming on a guitar. Very simple music. Easy to record. Easy to reproduce. Wonder why they need ultra gear.
The equipment is fun. The read about, fiddle with, ignore, hate, upgrade, change around..
Just a hobby-time waster.
The music, on the other hand, is essential to my being happy.
I tend to go in cycles over the equipment. Being interested in doing something with it besides listen.
But the interest in listening to music is very steady.
Sometimes my tastes change in the kind of music i most want to hear, but the fact remains i want to listen to music (at home)

(I HATED listening to 'muzak' if it was at work, like if some other employee(s) brought up the 'idea' of wanting to play thier FM boombox quietly. no way... I was lucky this issue seldom came up. As earbuds became the standard for those who wanted to listen to musical dreck all work day...) I preferred silence to musical crap...

So the two things are both together and separate.
I do NOT have to have perfect recording to listen.. So I am 'lucky' I can listen to tons more music than those who will only listen to audiophile quality recordings.
Was actually thinking about this question in the book store at lunch today. Was supposed to be xmas shopping but went right to audio magazine section to check out the new stereophile and then thought if I love music more than gear I really should be going to the music section first and checking out Jazz Times, or Mojo, or Grammaphone....curious I didn't and was more interested in the gear reviews in Stereophile than the new Shelby Lynn album review in Mojo. Not sure what this says other than I really do like the new Black Keys album but think I like my speakers more.
I don't understand the attraction of audio gear, without a love of music. Could someone speak to that? Maybe someone could start a business selling amps, CDPs and speakers minus the electronics and drivers within. Just empty cases. That would be cheaper and they would look just as good as the real thing.
Isn't that akin to asking, Do you love taking road trips or do you love the automobile? Can you love one without the other? I've taken 500 mile road trips in a 72 Pinto wagon, a Yamaha XS11 Special motorcycle, a 1973 Chevy pickup truck, an 83 Buick LeSabre, 97 Chrysler LHS and an 06 Toyota Avalon Limited.
I can tell you this. After discovering how nicely the 83 Buick LeSabre made the trip, I made the decision that I would have nice big comfortable cars to make those trips thereafter. They cost a little more and some may have thought I was trying to make a status statement. But all our family lives 500 miles away or more. No more butt busters for me.
In the same way, I have listened to music on just about every conceivable music system available. Some really good. Some not so good. Since music has always been a vital part of my life, why shouldn't i put as much thought and concern in my music delivery system which gives me pleasure and comfort as I do my automobiles which deliver me and my family safely and comfortably?
I love music. Sometimes, I think it is my life.

I also am fascinated my machines. I suppose that's why I make turntables. I always want to break new ground, and sometimes it works, sometimes not. In the end, however, the main passion is the music, not the equipment.

You missed the point. If your are into music, then there is nothing wrong or unusal with speanding a lot of time and money on equipment. But, some people, and I have known several, speand a lot of money on equipment, changing very often, and maybe purchase less than a dozen CDs or LPs. Which is everyone's right, I just don't understand the isolated attraction of stereo gear, without a corresponding interest in the function or purpose of the gear.
"I love music. Sometimes, I think it is my life"

Same here. I have three complete systems to ensure I am never without music in case of a failure. However I have never had a failure. I guess there is some positive aspects of sub lo-fi equipment, besides the price. mention ''I just don't understand the isolated attraction of stereo gear, without a corresponding interest in the function or purpose of the gear.''

You are only partly correct. And what is really for many the purpose of gear? It is not to hear music as a whole, but as superficial elements:

''Air'' around instruments
Top end
Low end
Roll off
''driver'' integration
Sweet spot
upfront voices

This is the language of the audiophile, and the above are just some of the many elements to distract from the artist performing in front of us through our system. And that's just sound.

There are even more elements concerning the gear...

tubes and tube rolling
the endless variations concerning cable

ok, enough of this.

No wonder the musical message takes a back seat. I don't want to make enemies here, but still, I would seriously doubt most of the postings claiming it is all about music. If it was, most Audiogoners would have just a few transactions to get their system rolling then stop it right there and just enjoy the music instead of enjoying the transactions and resulting ownership experience of gear.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but let's call a cat a cat!

"Nothing wrong with that of course, but let's call a cat a cat"

I Agree.
Good music can't be delivered without good system...
I find it difficult to separate sound from music; or as Neil Young said- sound matters. That said, thankfully I have proletarian ears and my requirements for satisfactory sound were met w/o ticking off my wife. As for what kind of music is worthy of HiFi- it's a subjective finding.
Unless the music is Bach,in which case the worthy is a totally objective factoid !!!
Of all of my addictions my addiction to music is the one that has been a positive influence on myself and my family. Those who are married to a spouse who also loves music might be able to identify with what I am saying here. We listen to music together and we learn a lot about music together. Now that we have kids I spend a lot of time listening with them. I am careful not to teach, but I do watch their reaction to the music I play while they are listening. I find this fascinating, because music is a second language, and it is universal.
My second addiction is audio gear, and it is because my family loves music along with me that I can get away with spending way more than I should on attaining the gear that makes music sound like music.
The down side to both of these addictions is I sometimes come across as a music snob or a gear snob. Mostly a music snob though, so I guess that is the label I prefer of the two. It shows where my true passion lies. Music is most important because it does not require hi-fi equipment to make or hear it. I've even spent several years recording music shows that I've attended. That addiction is in recession now but I suspect one day I will break out my DAT walkman and start recording again.