Depends on what your involvment is. Too me its a hobby, avocation, whatever. To you its a passion (always) and a profession (sometimes). Use whatever term is accurate for your situation.
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Ramstl, on this I must agree with what Swampwalker says. You are obviously into music in a more in-depth and sensitive manner than most of us. I love music and I enjoy upgrading equipment to obtain the sound I’m looking for. Since I’m also a part time musician, I’m picky about music I hear. If you ask my wife she will tell you for me it’s an EXPENSIVE hobby! YOU on the other hand (and others) are allowed to take it more seriously, and that’s OK with me :-)
You're probably right. Hobby doesn't seem to do this addiction justice. When I think of a hobby(even the word sounds kind of cheesy), I think of gardening, model building, playing golf or taking part in some other sport just for fun. It's like they say...it not a matter of life or death, it's much more serious than that! If you don't participate in the pursuit of the "Absolute Sound"(pardon my analogy), those looking from the outside will probably never understand. Hell, sometimes I don't understand. All I know is that this thing is something that I would never want to do without. I always get great pleasure from it. I can't remember the last time I've cursed when listening to music, but I can remember the last time I watched a 90 yd wedge shot wind up in the drink...Damn it!!
Usually, when I've engaged in a discussion with a less-audiophile-aware sort that's gone off into a figurative deep-end (and I'm really just a casual audiophile in the scheme of things), I will often defuse the situation and refer to it as a 'hobby' when they start giving me funny looks. That simple word is like my anchor that keeps the conversation from drifting into deep & uncharted waters. It's like "oh...OK it's a hobby." It seems that people can cut a lot of slack with this perception in mind. That aside, I am a very devoted music enthusiast/collector and I do play music as well so I take my music and it's reproduction devices quite seriously, but I do also consider my audiophile tinkering to be very much a hobby. And I don't think that's such a bad way to look at it...a 'hobby' is merely something which one adopts as a serious interest and devotes their time to with the hopes of expanding this interest and the inherent knowledge and pleasure that it brings.
The Cambridge International Dictionary definition of hobby is, "an activity which someone does for pleasure during the time that they are not working in a job". I don't think the word hobby trivializes the interest or passion we hold for music. But I do think it is natural for anyone to be sensitive about something they consider important. It may be true that those who do not, or cannot afford to, have a similar level of interest in something else will not understand such dedication. I am quite content calling this a hobby.
It's a *hobby* if it's something you enjoy doing for yourself that won't earn you a decent living and isn't likely to kill or maim you if you screw up.
It's an *avocation* if it's a necessary part of your well being and you define yourself by the activity.
I've had a number of intense *avocations* during my lifetime but only a few hobbies.
At the moment I'm inclined to call my involvement in audio a *hobby run amok*.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the word hobby. However, over time it has morphed into a word that marginalizes. As the Eskimo’s have many words to describe a snowflake so to should we have more than one or two words to describe this pursuit? To some it is a hobby, but to most, especially me, it is more!
And, you know what? I bet it is more than a hobby to most of us.
Good thread Ramstl, I've enjoyed reading the responses. For me, I've got to go with Swampwalker and Gallaine, it's a hobby to me. Having said that, I've sure had a hard time explaining the depth (obsessiveness) of my interest even to good friends. If you want to call it a passion or a "calling", that's cool with me, and I even understand. Cheers. Craig.