Most people just want sound and really don't care about all the attributes that a good home stereo give you.
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Long ago I began using the same answer about why I owned a Harley when people would ask insulting questions about my audio affliction: "If I have to explain, you can't possibly understand". Once in awhile you will greet someone at your door that has an appreciation for some of the better things this life has to offer. Most people are an inch deep and a mile wide. The rest of them either are audiophiles, drag racers, flyfishermen or photographers. Want to guess what my passions are? He he.
It's frustrating ... all the time, money, & energy expended to assemble a great system and like who cares ... other than you? I am torn between two reasons why it is this way (btw, I am also open to any others):
When I growing up in the 70's ... owning your own kick-ass stereo was almost as important as having your own car. There was an acknowledgement of the power of music as a change agent in both our lives and the culture, in general. Music spoke to what was going on in the world. I don't sense it is this way today.
Reasonably good sound is so readily available ... good sound is now nothing special.
As Don McLean would say ... "do you believe in rock n roll, can music change your mortal soul, and can you teach me how to dance real slow?"
I lived with a guy for 4 years, and he could never understand that there was a difference in sound between his Technics system and my NAD system. In Particular he would ask me all the time, why in the world would I pay that much for a single disc player, when i could get a 400 disc changer from Tecnics for the same price.
Now that I've got my Maggies, and the system is in my living room instead of my (small) bedroom, he is finally able to appreciate the beauty of better equipment. I think I have a convert. Good luck to his girlfriend.
Everytime my uncle vist me he goes into my music room and ask if my speakers are Bose. What this shows me is Bose knows how to market it's product. Until the "high-end" market take notice our hobby will never be beyond a few people. High-End audio really isn't any difference then buying an expensive car or motocycle or ring or watch or whatever. It comes down to marketing your product.
Here's some other comments for ya. Can you relate?
Wow, how loud can that baby play?
How many watts?
Man is that clear.
Can you play that louder?
How much does that cost?
$1000 for speaker wires! You're insane.
I have Crown and JBL. What do you think of that?
Where's your bass and treble control?
You leave it on all the time? Man, that must cost you a fortune? You're not going to blow your amp out?
Just some of the reasons why I don't play my stereo for anyone anymore, unless I have to. I have had my share of acceptable comments, but the one I like best is, after listening to whatever I put on:
with a big fat smile and twinkle in those amazed eyes the words, "this sounds awesome" simply does it for me.
Most of the people that visit this site have a high resolution system or would like to anyway. The others buy Bose and the like. Just remember, YOU are hearing the music that is absent from "their systems". They have no idea how much content goes unheard. Then tell them you paid far less then they did for all your gear .... You will instantly gain their respect for being such a savvy shopper. THAT,they can understand ....
If it's 'normal' people, I won't fire the system up. I wouldn't even if my wife asked. It's just a waste. The great unwashed just don't get it. Your wife probably asked because she's hoping that these comments will 'help' you give up the hobby. The only folks I let listen to my rig are my immediate family and audiophile friends. The former think it sounds as good as a sony boombox, the latter think it's as good as they've heard. Go figure.
I do it for myself, no one else. So I'm crazy, so what.
I too get comments...
How loud can it play?
Louder than I am going to play it for you!
Can you make it thump like those cars?
I probably could, but I dont like the way those cars sound!
Why did it cost so much?
Cause I am insane!
I finally decided to take a stance:
I will not play my system louder than I like
I wont tell anyone how much it cost me
I wont show off the bass (I actually turned the sub of for music and down on movies)
For me, my system is a way of relaxing. It is also inspiring and at times almost a religious experience. It pleases me and I am no longer concerned with having it please others.
BTW: My wife loves the system too. I am lucky on that one. :o)
I would never think of demonstrating my speakers or cdp or new phono cartidge or whatever. What I do is ask have they heard the latest (or some particular favorite piece) by one of their favorite performers, and then play it for them. I demo music they like. Invariably, they say things like, "gee that's so clear" or "it sounds like she's right here in the room with us."
Unless they are already interested in high end sound, however, they never show any interest in going out and looking for a "system."
Taters and others:
Your posts point out one of the sad realities today: high quality reproduction of music in the home doesn't matter much to the vast majority of people, although people will spend substantial sums on home theater systems.
I think this phenomenon is attributable to three factors:
1. Music is often treated in American culture as background "filler" (pay attention sometime to the nearly ubiqitous presence of music in restaurants, malls, stores, bowling alleys, etc.);
2. Far fewer people take the time to actually sit down and listen seriously to music -- either in the home or at classical music concerts;
3. The quality of recorded music, with a few exceptions mainly in the high-end, continues to deteriorate. American pop music is far more concerned with making money than developing top talent; in many cities, classical music and jazz concerts are struggling; and many young listeners have no standard against which to judge well-recorded and well-reproduced music (think about the popularity of MP3, for example).
The audiophile community is, infact, a "deviant" group when compared to the vast majority of Americans. Most folks simply don't place the kind of priority we do on music as a source of cultural, intellectual and/or emotional pleasure. All this reinforces the necessity for those who do support high-quality music reproduction to be adamant with both recording companies and audio equipment manufacturers to raise their standards. (In the early 1970's, I owned Bose 901 speakers, but they provided the basis for me to move on to much better equipment.)
Congratulations and thanks to all the above who contributed to this thread. Wow! To think I thought I was the only one who has experienced those comments. Total confirmation the uninitiated just don't get it and it's no use trying to convert them...It's just like when I try to witness to an unbeliever he needs Jesus Christ in his life...it's the same old answer that I'm a good person, I haven't killed anyone, so I'll go to heaven. Here's God in heaven trying to give THE free gift of eternal bliss in heaven, but no one wants it. To put it in Audiophile language, it's like someone trying to give you the ultimate system, the one you think will be it forever, but you won't open the present it front of you that will reveal it. Frustrating!
I think Europe and Asia is different?! Even in impoverished and war torn (former) Yugoslavia where i come from many audio dealers stock some of the best stuff found in Europe. Some of my friend, even though they couldn't afford cars invest good chunk into their hi-end separates. I saw more Rotel, B@W's,in two weeks i spent over there than i've seen here in US last 17 years.
I don't know,,, I have been told that I'm nuts for spending so much money,,,, BUT, everyone who see's and hears my system,,,, they can't help but pick their jaws up off the ground. They ALL get floored when they hear it.. Even the ones who could care less between owning a boom box or clock radio. I have a few friends who don't care the least about owning a decent stereo,,,, but they all can't help noticing how good it sounds.. They all freeze and their mouth drops open and eyes open wide... I even hear some systems over others audiophiles houses that sound more impressive.. How could your guest not comment on how good it sounded??? People outside who can't even see the system comment on how good it sounds... You had some very strange guest if they didn't at least comment on the sound,,,, or maybe it just wasn't that impressive sounding??? and was a waste to them.!!!! It's almost like having a real band playing in the room... I hope the system had you guest dancing anyway?? Even my mother who could care less about a stereo starts to dance when she comes over to visit and the stereo is playing.. It was so good she brought over her own cassette,,, I said Oh Ma,,, I don't use a cassette player... Happy New Year,,,,
Yeah I've found that the majority of people just don't care! I mean they like music, and the quality level of the playback system means very little to most. Unless they're into it. It's nothing they couldn't live without.
I've come to accept the fact that hi-end means more to me than it does to the VAST MAJORITY of "the rest of the world" in general. I mean, after all, it's all vanity in the end. I've had friends over on many occasions to listen to my system. Most of them say that sounds really good, and they could care less 2 minutes later...that's a fact.
I guess my excitement level is personal for this stuff, and maybe always will be. I also notice that a lot of people like myself, who have a passion for HIGHER FIDELITY sound, tend to be "loners" and like to have time to themselves to "escape" or "dissapear" from it all. Hummmm...maybe hi-fi is somewhat of an "anti-social" thing. Maybe if I want to be more of a party guy, I should dump my "hi-end" and get some Cerwin Vegas and be done with it...
Oh well....probably not.
To these people I draw an analogy between our "hobby" and wine...while I can appreciate in a limited way the difference between a modest table wine and something better, I would never spend over $30 on a bottle of wine. But show me some shiny tungsten-carbide ball bearings...well, the checkbook comes out!
It's a mix . . . . my dad heard my system, and went home and dug out all his old records and his old Panasonic system and started hooking everything up. I bought him a new Rotel TT for Christmas and gave him a Denon DD/DTS receiver that I had in the bedroom . . . . now he's thinking (with some SMALL nudging from me) that maybe he could do better than those giant cardboard Panny speakers . . . .
On the other hand, some of my uncles heard the system (in HT mode) on Christmas Eve . . . . one started joking about the size of my "woopers" and the other noted that the balrog made the water in the toilet bowl ripple . . . .
Don't give up -- SOME people will get it if you give them a chance . . . .
Why do all of you care what other people think of your systems? It's because the high end is about the equipment, showing off and stroking your own egos. Just like the palatial houses and high-end cars. What the audio high-end is NOT about is the music. The "great unwashed" are the true music lovers. They don't care what they play it on as long as they can play the music THEY like. The high-end snobs put down the real music lovers just so they don't feel like idiots for buying those $1,000 cables.
You people should get down and kiss the feet of the mass-market buyers and millions of Mariah Carey, Barry Manilow and Michael Jackson fans. They are the ones paying the bills for the recording studios, pressing plants, technical research and everything else audio. Not your puny 1/10 of 1% market share. If it wasn't for tin ears, we would still be listening to Edison cylinders and paying thousands for each recording. If there were no Ford Model Ts there would be no refineries and no roads. And no Mercedes-Benz nor Ferrari.
Instead of tearing other people down just to make yourselves feel big, just think about it.
I've been lucky like Mikec; even recently, a musician was sitting mesmerized listening to LP after cd after LP...
For many (myself included) hi-end is about the MUSIC the machines play -- NOT the machines as an end. If this were the case, we'd probably own no more than 20 pieces of audiophile s/ware between us.
And Broubin, your account of profit contribution in the recording industry doesn't tally with Universal's; it's on the contrary these snobs (tin-eared and otherwise) often buying the hideously expensive stuff that are usually targeted for mid & longer term profit...
OTOH, as long as we're healthy & well, does it really matter? Cheers all!
Sometimes they just have to be taught. My sister was one who thought it imbicilic to spend so much until I got her into an audio store. As we recently demoed a replacement amp and speakers, her budget increased to the superior musicality of higher end equipment. For someone who thought a month ago that the enjoyability of music is the music itself, she discovered that the true enjoyment lies in hearing all the music that is meant to be heard. She planned on spending a $1,000 for speakers until she heard the difference between $1,000 and $3,000. Her Tyler Reference Monitors arrive this week and no one could be prouder than she. We have a convert!
Most people could care less. They are happy with terrible sounding boom boxes or the majority of car radio systems. I set up a demo for my employees using an ASL headphone amp with Sennheiser HD600 phones and a Cambridge D500SE player. This little system is killer and everyone who listened to it was blown away, comments were like, "I never knew music could sound this good!" Then they went back to work and were happy listening to their nasty sounding boom boxes. No one even went out and even up-graded to the Bose wave radio! But I guess not everyone can exhibit a discernable level of discrimination in every facet that is available. I can appreciate the attributes of a BMW versus a Chevy and I value the performance and appearance of my Hi-end equipment versus the mid-fi and merely mundane. However, I'm satisfied with a 50.00 flyrod versus an expensive one. I don't have the skills or knowledge (discrimination) to appreciate an expensive rod so I'm happy with what I have. My palate is satisfied with a 5.00 bottle of wine. I could care less about owning a 60 inch plasma screen since I watch very little tv and think that most movies are trash. So, from a 2 channel Hi-end audio perspective I'm a good guy but from a fly fisherman's, Home Theatre or Oenophiles perspective I just don't get it.
In my city there are only 3 hi-end dealers. 2 are ran out of houses and the other is rather snobby piano/hi-end place. I wandered into the third a long time ago to hear some Polk 5b's i read about in Stereo Review. I look back now and i'm glad i went in there. Because i was planning on getting some cerwin vega's untill i heard the polks. But till this day if anyone but my salesman sees me walking around in there they make me feel like i'm not good enough to be there. When i go in to BestBuy i feel like i own the place. Maybe if the hi-end places were a little less snobish they could get a few more people into it.
I have done many many AB test and my girlfriend was there with me, many many times I have an obvious result of a better one and worse one, but all she been saying is..."Paying $500 for a pair of cables and all you do is just plugging them and unplugging them, I aint hearing no difference!$%#^&$!*%$" I played my system for over 20 people, so pathetic! ONLY 3-5 people knows there is a difference from their current "Jump-Out-Of-Box-And-Serve Panasonic/Technics Sony System" with like a million piece of LEDs, and a 100 buttons in one box. Someone also asked "Why do you have water hoses running into your electronics?" I almost choked to death with my Buffalo Wings in my mouth! It's a world of me and my gear, no one else... Maybe here, in Audiogon I would feel like there is also other folks playing the same baseball game here....
Oh also, one day my girl complaint that she doesnt know how to watch DVDs, so I taught her. If I charge $50.00 for an hour teching people how to use my system, I wouldve got so rich from her. It took her 4 hours just to learn how to turn on a DVD player and to play a DVD and get sound from my receiver; plus a little troubleshooting (which is a 2 word SUPER TROUBLESHOOTER "POWERING OFF!"). After one day, she's gonna have to ask me how again, because she couldnt store any process more than 10 steps in her brain. I really tried, I tried....
I am very lucky - my wife doesn't really care about the sound much (she can hear the difference, but doesn't spend much time listening), but she's very supportive of my audio hobby, allowing me to spend large $$$ because she knows how much pleasure it brings me.
I don't waste time trying to show my sytem to others, really. Most people do not "actively" listen to music - they use it for background. If that's all you're going to do, a Bose Lifestyle system works fine (like my wife's in the living room).
If it's your hobby, don't try to make others understand. I suppose it's like a stamp collector or model builder trying to share their hobby. People may "ooooh and aaaah" at your pretty equipment, but few would take the time to critically listen.
It's just as well - there's only one real "sweet spot" on the couch anyway.
I wouldn't describe my system as "high end", but I still get some analogous questions and comments, such as-
"I really like those speaker stands." (which is OK, since the N805 stands were my most difficult purchase to rationalize)
Sample questions and answers-
Q: How loud can it play?
A: I don't know.
Q: How much did it cost?
A: I've lost track. (or "Quite a bit.")
I enjoy non audiophile comments. They always seem so surprised that a stereo can be an experience than just a pair of speakers playing stereo. I also love the terms they use in describing the sound they hear. I never hear words like accurate, neutral, or other audiophile terms. I never talk of the cost of my gear. The few complaints have come from a woman or two. WOULD YOU PLEASE TURN THAT DAMN THING DOWN! How can you listen to that guy. He can't even sing. Play something that they like and it's now, what a nice sounding stereo. The terminology of non audiophiles is very refreshing.
I think it somewhat depends on whether you have an out-of-the-way dedicated listening room or if your system is set up in an accessible place. My system is set up in a room with no windows - I find it comfortable (and private) and it's perfect for HT, which I also love, but it's not easy to drag somebody down there to listen. If it were in my LR, I think I'd get more takers.
I also think that most of the comments one gets about their system are inversely related to how hard they push to get somebody to listen. If music just happens to be on and somebody new hears it, I think a large percentage of them would either make no comment or notice how good it sounds. I have had very poor luck, and rarely try anymore, in trying to get somebody to appreciate how good the music they like can sound.
Hi, I think the abovementioned situation is quite recognizable. Personally, I only fire up my audio system when people (visitors) are asking for it. The positive point is that people who are not familiar with so called high end audio and home music reproduction are often capable of pinpointing some problems within this sound reproduction. Off course they would never mention that there is not a good "soundstage" or that the "imaging" suffers or that the "treble" is tizzy, but is spite of this their description is quite analytic. Sometimes visitors are pinpointing (minor) flaws within the sound reproduction and that gives a very unpleasant feeling. At that moment I know they are right and that I have a "high-end" system which needs another "fix". This is one of the frustrations for being an audiophile.
My wife did not give a rat's bootay about the equipment and sound quality...ok was ok. So I hatched a plan. We have a tv room so HOT reflection wise that I figured this was the place to start, so I let her pick out the "system" for that room. $800 at Best Buy got us a (please suppress the gagging and outrage) Bose 3-2-1. I supervised her hookup to our big screen Sony, she placed the 2 speakers on top of the set and the sub in the corner behind the TV and voila', a crappy boomy WEAK dvd experience, but oh was she proud. I then encouraged her to place her favorite cd in the player and let's listen. We never finished one track cause she was skipping to the next cut, not really knowing why. (everyone knows where this is going).
Fast forward to our study where I have my enjoyable, but uncomplicated setup (Cary SLI-80/Cary CD 308/ Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitors). I put her cd in, pressed play, and went to make drinks (glorious libation!). When I returned with beverages, she had her eyes closed....just listening. She is a convert.
Nonetheless, the Bose "thingy" was no big deal as I hate surround sound anyway. No flame intended, surround sound just feels shrill, i can't enjoy it.(I had a great setup once with all B&W Nautilus speakers and sold it all after about 6 months, reallocate the resources where maximum joy exists).
My point to all of this is that, like any Religion (no offense meant to the hypersensitive), you have to be shown the "way". Thank goodness for the patient out there who take the time to share their passion without the arrogance! My wife understands the difference today and so do others with whom you take the time to show them the real stuff! Additionally, don't be so hard on the infidels. Science has shown that if the human ear has an opportunity to adjust to a "blacker" background, they begin to hear the subtlties of recorded music as more obvious material. When you go to the symphony or a great jazz club, the dynamic differences are what (among MANY other things) really moves people. Studies have shown that after sitting alone in a TRULY acoustically dead room for 30 minutes your ears (or level of sound recognintion) will have adjusted and equalized to the surroundings to the point that you can hear your own heart beating. Audibly! (Kind of like when my wife asked how much my Levinson 383 in my other system cost....uhhhh, a little more than the Bose Sweetheart!). In other words, people off the street or straight out of Best Buy need time for their ears to adjust and patient conversation from all of us. We'll save a few souls and the world is always a better place when we do!
Actually (and I wonder if anyone else feels this way), I'd rather have audio ignoramuses listen to my system than most of the so-called audiophiles I encounter. I'm non-plussed by folks who say they refuse to play their systems for the great unwashed. Why would this be, except possibly that they can't live without ego reinforcement?
If someone wants to hear my system, I gladly fire it up and play what they like. If they want to hear a demo, then I choose the music. If they want to hear how loud it will play, I take it up to concert levels. If they want to hear how much bass it has, I play Saint-Saens or Cosmic Hippo. Why would I not? Unlike a bottle of fine wine, the music isn't going to run dry. What is this "my system is too fine to be wasted on shit ears like yours" nonsense? I don't get it at all.
I'd much rather have someone tell me that my Mezzo Utopias sound just like his cousin's Boses, and mean it as a compliment, than to have some self-anointed Golden Ear raise an eyebrow because my cables are not suspended on little titanium scaffolds and mean it as a sneer.
My listening group is made up mostly of very fine amateur and professional musicians with systems ranging from $3K to $300K and something in excess of 15,000 pieces of software. When we go to someone's home, we use the system at hand and listen to the music. Going on at length about one's neutron-flux-treated outlets would be considered tedious if not gauche. Discussions of gear are VERY tangential to our listening experiences, though we may debate a conductor's interpretation or a singer's intonation until four in the morning.
For us, THAT is what audio is all about.
The point of all of this is the MUSIC.
Although I haven't read all of the responses here, there seems to be a common thread throughout the ones I have read. Audiophiles seem to often be preoccupied with the equipment and be less focused on the music except as it works to demonstrate the equipment.
Within the human animal there is an incredibly wide range of reaction and interaction with MUSIC. It is an emotional thing that isn't easily described, understood or controlled. I just know what feels good.... for me. I have no idea what feels good for someone else other than by their reaction to the MUSIC.
People use the audio reproduction device that makes them feel good. My mother-in-law is extremely happy to be able to listen to the music she loves on a $50 cassette player. It just wouldn't matter to her if I played it on my audio system. She would enjoy it just as much but certainly no more.
For most, the quality of audio reproduction simply doesn't matter. They don't want to work that hard to learn about something new and deal with all the decisions that must be made with high-end audio. They just want to listen to music.
My system isn't anything close to what I read about here, but it isn't bad and most importantly, I enjoy way it accurately reproduces MUSIC. It makes me feel good. And when I have visistors, I share the MUSIC I like and the MUSIC I think they will like.
And most of the time, people are OK with having the MUSIC on, but would just as soon you turn it down so they can talk. Music is simply organized background noise for them. But this is OK because the MUSIC is still playing.
Music is an incredibly important part of my life and my system is one means for ME to enjoy it. If I was unable to afford the system I have, I would still be listening to MUSIC even if it had to be with used cassettes on a third-hand boom box.
Music is what this is all about.