I sometimes can't see the forest for the trees. A bottle of good wine helps.
Two things helped me in this regard:
1) Assembling a system that sounds very consistent each time I listen to it. Not fussy, in other words; and
2) Listening to as much new music as possible. I find that I'm getting into the music more than into the analysis, if that makes sense. If I stick to the same familiar stuff, or reference discs, then I'm often comparing sonic qualities as opposed to just listening to the music.
And the third recommendation is to follow your moniker. Enjoy the Musicfirst!
Can't say I've been in your position, but why don't you declare a moratorium on making any changes to your system for a year. I assume you've got quite a good system by now. Let it be. If denied the reward of getting new things to analyze, maybe your left brain will tire of the game and quiet down.
Concentrating on getting out to hear a variety of live music might inject some fresh excitement of the non-left-brain variety into your music appreciation and get you off this analytical track. If you really have it bad, put your system on blocks for a while, and only listen to live music. When you go back to your system, do it without making changes.
Sounds like you need to give up the hifi hobby, since it's not fun anymore. See if you can get yourself a new hobby, and just use your stereo for listening to music.
Third the "buy new music". You don't know what is coming up, thus you cannot really compare it to a known disc.
For me, it also helps to have a routine that I look forward to. After the kids are put to bed and my wife is watching TV upstairs, I give myself 45-60 minutes to listen to music in my downstairs room with a cup of water beside me. I read the booklet that comes with the disc for the first few minutes to fully appreciate the work and effort that went into making the music, and then I turn off the lights.
I hope this helps.
Hi Musicfirst, I have been an Audiophile more than 35 years, and yes I have experienced the same thing you have experienced for 25 of my 35 years in the hobby. Generally, we as Audiophiles hang with other Audiophiles, and what do we talk about, equipment. What do we read, Stereophile and Absolute Sound. What do they write about, equipment. The disatifaction some of us get from our hobby, is I believed fueled by constant upgrades to a point that we become equipment junkies and specific sound not music listeners. I nearly ten years ago scrapped my whole system and did not participate in the hobby for three years. After the hiatus, I slowly built a system of high quality components both new and used that I and only I thought was musical. I stayed with that system with minimal changes for six years and was extremely satisfied and really got back to the music. This last year I've done some upgrades to A/C, pre-amp and cabling and love the upgraded system. I still have audiophile friends, I still read Stereophile and Absolute Sound. What's different, I impress myself with my own choices and probably matured in the process of not what could be, but; what is. IMHO
Jayboard's recommendation of live music may curtail the sin. Unless, of course, you're checking out the imaging and bass definition at the live show. My experience has fluctuated in and out of listening to the components, as opposed to the music. For me the rhythm is the heartbeat and soul. Without a solid expressive bottom end (not exaggerated, bloated or excessively tight) I remain a stereoholic.
The system I presently use offers adequate delineation with music aplenty. Taking account of the recording, this system is capable of presenting a huge soundstage, instrument detail and body, plus the air movement neccessary to experience the bass. I have gone through many component changes, but seem to sacrifice in one area to gain in another. I still too often catch myself critiquing, but more than ever my evenings are spent with the musicians.
You could go out for competitive pricing on a lobotomy--maybe get a "2 Lobes for the Price of 1" offer.
The music--in and of itself--should transcend the medium, I think. Somehow, you've lost grasp of the music itself. Consider the following:
(a) Train yourself on an inferior medium, say a $199 mini-component system, until you begin to hear the music through the medium again. Then, your "tweaked out rig" will sound that much better when you return to it.
(b) Get a dedicated headphone system. It's cheaper, has less things to tweak, and you can alternate between various headphones on hand for a needed change of pace. (If it includes a tubed head-amp, you can tube roll for added variation.)
(c) Get a season ticket to the hear live symphony. Get out and listen to live music, whenever possible.
(d) Get an A/V system. Perhaps entertaining your weaker videophile tendencies will offset/suppress your rampant audiophile compulsions.
I've had good success with (a), (b) and (d). But (c) is my ultimate solution--which, for me, is commensurate with my getting rid of a super-tweaked out audio system altogether. I haven't successfully attempted option (c) yet, though.
At present, I've traded/sold off my single, monster audio rig (~$20,000) for a modest headphone system at work (~$1500), and a modest A/V system at home (~$2000). I am enjoying the music again--through a pair of $15 Sennheiser earbuds!
Godspeed to you!
Turning off the left brain is tough to do, especially for equipment and set up freaks. You're probably very normal. It sounds to me as if you're just bored with your music.
The solution to the problem is to start taking music itself as the important part of the hobby and applying as much effort in that regard as you previously did with equipment and set up. In my experience, unlike the past, when I put on music now I hear the audio stuff for a few seconds, but then the music takes over.
I don't know what your preferences are but the possibilities for expanding your knowledge and enjoyment of music is endless in classical and jazz alone.
Only once have I been able to turn off my analytical nature long term. I had finally optimized a former system over a period of years and finally felt that I could let go and enjoy the music. I enjoyed that system for over a year without one change until the upgrade bug hit me. Since adding a new amp and speakers about a year ago I've been on the old optimizing routine which necessitates the analysis bug. Perhaps some of us can only completely give up the analysis when we optimize one system and become fearful of upsetting things with another change.
I'm serious with this suggestion ... Take up mindfulness meditation. An excellent book by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Full Catastrophe Living) will take you through exercises that dampen the left side of the brain. This type of meditation is excellent for overly analytical people (like myself). I've had excellent response from my clients who have studied AND PRACTISED mindfulness meditation. (I'm a psychotherapist) You need to give yourself several months of practice to get the hang of this way of perceiving the world.
I agree with newbee. You sound like you are bored. You might consider shifting gears. Try some new music- Different music. Borrow from your friends, the library, or even your computer or the radio. Also consider that if you just havent been feeling much for the music you have of late it could be you have something to do or something to let go of. Maybe what you are being critical of in this instance is the result of misdirected energy. er, Sort of like that doubling up energy at certain frequencies, you know? Well, Okay. Maybe not this last bit...
Musicfirst, Johnrob offers good advice. Mindfulness meditation is capable, with diligent practice, of helping you turn of your incessant left brain chatter. It's the hardest thing I have done, but it pays great dividends. The other thing you might try, which definitely worked for me, was to learn to play an instrument. Three years ago, I started playing guitar and it transformed the way I experience music. Initially, I only started because I wanted to be a better listener, but as I improved, many other good things happened. Entire new worlds of music appreciation opened up and I quit obsessing over every sonic nit and fault. I still really enjoy good gear, but the music is definitely first.
Nebee's right on here, you may be bored with your music collection. Do you have a tuner? Listening to the radio can be a great way to experience new music. What kinds of music do you listen to? Maybe we could all give you some recs for favorite pieces that have allowed us to rediscover our love of music!
I am trying to avoid AB comparisons which seems to help. My system is essentially where I am going to stay for at least a week (smile) and hopefully few years. I still have to critique the APL as it breaks in and I test different setups and ancilliary equipment, but once thats done, I intend to leave the left brain at the listening room door.
BTW, the APL in general and SACD reproduction thereon specifically (which I've just recently started to expereince in my home), has really started to allow me to just enjoy the music.
A nice snifter of Wild Turkey Rare Breed or Blantons while listening also helps, I think this is because it helps me to relax and also engages other pleasure centres.
Sounds to me that the core problem is too much discretionary income, and in that vein, I am prepared to selfishly offer my services. Contact me via email for the requisite account number, and simply transfer all supplemental monies. The next time upgrade fever strikes, the resulting empty account will preclude any possible changes, and you will be "forced" to be happy and content with the current system. There, I've done my good deed for the weekend. Good day...
"BTW, the APL in general and SACD reproduction thereon specifically (which I've just recently started to expereince in my home), has really started to allow me to just enjoy the music."
Kerry- What were you using for digital playback before the
APL? Did you buy it based on all the hype on this forum or did you listen to it first?
Yeah, I bought it as a result of the hype without hearing, guilty as charged. Although I did what due diligence I could by consulting my fairly extensive network of audiophiles who I know through my business. Those that had a chance to hear the APL 3910 had positive things to say based on their admittedly limited auditions, and they own some of the best digital out there (Exemplar, Meitner and Reimyo, to name three)