How do you negotiate a cure for wrong audio view

It is a shame when our art degenerates into 'hobby'. To let the mind stray from the wonderous pregnancies of the composer or performer's works into mere material quest for sonic reproduction is sad indeed. Now mind you, I love the pursuit of sonic excellence same as the next audiophile, but when my mind looses the 'big picture' of the art I become reduced to a mere 'hobbyist', which for me is a sad feeling indeed. My remedy is a total shift in view: from the deaf equipment to the animate speaking beauty conveyed by the mere devices. When I recognize that I am spending my time thinking about the 'machines' I hopefully remember to LISTEN, THINK, APPRECIATE, and disappear into the magic of sound. What do you do with this inevitable problem?
Theodore Levitt once observed that "people don't want a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole".

Translated into audiospeak: "people don't want a stereo, they want to enjoy music." I try to keep that in mind, especially when I'm auditioning. If I'm enjoying the music, by definition it's good. If I'm listening to the equipment...
When I first saw this post I thought I would find someone gracing us with his view about how we should all think.

When I then thought about it I realized I too fall into this trap. The best systems I have owned made me forget about the equiptment and just enjoy. When I then begin to obsess about the equiptment I know it is time to take a break from this hobby, which has happened a few times already.

Enjoy the music and movies should be something to strive for instead of enjoy the new equiptment.
I find this problem is not just limited to the playback equipment, but the recording as well. How many of us are in the endless pursuit of the perfect recording (MFSL, Nautilus, DCC, Mastersound, etc..) on multiple formats (CD, DVD-A, SACD, LP, etc..)
The reason I posted this is that it happens to me all the time (especially when I am in the midst of upgrading). My goal is to STOP upgrading, which is not really that satisfying compared to the benefits of music itself. Hey, I love my S.E.T. amp. But can it compare to Bach or Coltrane? As good as it gets, no machine is inspired with creativity. At some point what some have called the 'merry-go-round' must cease, and music must take over. If not, the result will be the hell realm of a dull geeky materialism.

Sorry hobbyists.
With all due respect, get over yourself. You listen to music for enjoyment. You listen through gear which reproduces it. By the nature of the process there are differences in the reproduction which are interesting. It is ok to be interested in the differences and prefer one difference to another. The key is you are listening to a reproduction. As one of the Stereophile writers put it -you are listening to music, on a hi-fi. Music is the art form. Audiophilia is the hobby.
OK Hoopster, that much is clear. My point is that there is a danger of becoming a crass materialist when the mind rests on the hobby, as opposed to the glorified transfiguration possible through the Art. In the end, the hi-fi is mildly interesting for a while. Music is sublime beyond time. It is a matter of where you put YOUR MIND. If that is not clear then I guess one becomes content to be a hobbyist who enjoys music. If that is so, more power to you, there are worse things! But to me it misses the big picture. I know there are probably guys with systems 10,000 time better than mine who listen to Britany Spears or whatever vapid drivel runs down the pike. If that makes them happy then I am glad they are happy. But it seems that avoiding a common trap is still a good topic for discusion.
Maybe I am not being clear. The 'hell realm of dull geeky materialism' is my smart-ass way of making a point, albeit in a provocative manner. This is a high end audio site. I am an audiophile. However I do not have to bind my attention up with mere machines all the time. The whole reason I have the machines is to let my mind soar, and let my awareness dissolve, into spaces charged with sublime waveform vibratory movement. Isn't the whole point to be transported? When the gear displaces that, I think something is wrong. I also think GEAR WILL NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY!
Unfortunately, I think we all( or a large percentage of us)have fallen into this quandary. The problem began with me when I was introduced to highend or at least at that time what I thought was highend equipment. The pursuit was on!!
It was no longer about listening to the music but the pursuit of "the absolute sound" which by the way is a never ending journey. The reason being, we're never satisfied(which is human nature)for long. When we do an upgrade it'll probably last on average six months maybe a year and that's pushing it. Then the mkII version comes out and its significantly better according to the manufacturer and all of the audiophile rags! and we're back on the pursuit.
Why? because we're not listening to the music, we're listening to the equipment. Now ,I no a lot of folks will say that they are listening to the music but the question is if that's true, then why keep upgrading? I mean how much better can the music get? Right, its not the music but sound of the music! Is that a redundant statement? Think about it.
The times that I listened to the music the most was when I had Radioshack quality equipment and had a limited budget! That's also, the time when I was most satisfied.
Let's face it (as one of my audiophile buddies says)we need therapy!!!smile.
My suggestion is if you want to remain remotely sane in this hobby, stay away from this forum and others like it. Also, stay away from all of the audiophile rags(magazines)
you'll be a lot happier!
I know is that is that really realistic?
Just my two cents worth, something for folks to ponder...

Ay, there's the rub...
Hi Chashmal,Take a look at the Anstendig Institute website.
Interesting stuff.
I am a classical musician.My interest in stereo was initially to listen to recordings of my concerts.
Then,20 years ago,I lost the ability to play,and because I do not go out much,most of my listening is done at home.
Without going into the finer points of the issues that you touch on,it would probably be useful to ask which aspects of recreating sound are most important for the suspension of disbelief.
And there,most probably,different people have discovered that their priorities are different.
My guess is that color,or harmonic complexity,would tend to be high on most peoples' lists for the simple reason that our brain can not synthesize this quality to fill in for what is missing on the recording/system.
Hence,the popularity of SET triode amps.
My solution is to have different sounding systems at home.

I do not mean to be unsympathetic but these types of discussions have been on this forum ad nauseam. There is music and there is the pursuit of the "absolute reproduced sound." It is a journey where we never reach our final destination. However, if the journey is destroying your love of the art, pull off the road. You need perspective. It may even take turning your system off for a while. Celebrate life, do a kind deed. Give of yourself instead of selfishly pursuing and then go back and listen afresh.

Best Regards,
One thing that prompted this thread was another thread entitled somerhing like "how do I get off the merry-go-round". The use of the word 'hobby' also factors in. Is it a hobby? Is it an art? Where is the line?

My personal opinion is that music is spiritual and not material, despite the physics. It is mind to mind, and mind is not dependent on brain. My 2 cents.

Reylon, it's very interesting that you should place "color, or harmonic complexity" at or near the top of the list of requirements. I had not thought about it, but this quality is what my systems have gained through numerous swaps and upgrades and it is probably fair to say that's what I'm looking for. I had thought that detail was most important to me, but you lead me to believe it may not be so.
You can equate this hobby with others. I know people that are into cars (hot rods, or other fast cars). They spend great amounts of time and money tweaking their hot rods.

Well, our stereos are our hot rods...and our sound rooms, are our garage.

I agree, it's about the music....but for many, it's about the other parts of the hobby too.

If you don't want a hot rod? don't need to invest as much? nan still have a nice car (stereo in this case). Point A to point B, is good enough.


Chashmal, I understand your perspective and agree with it in part. I was a music lover long before I was an audiophile. But, when I'm listening, I'm not confused about the objective. I really have not experienced this problem.

The thing is, there are many who really, really are fascinated by the gear, and assembling/tweaking it. I'm one, and I buy it to see how it differs from other gear, and take it apart (sometimes) to see how it works. I enjoy this as a hobby. IMHO, there's nothing slightly problematic, much less sad about that. (ok, insert your geek, or propeller head joke here). Maybe I don't see the problem, because I don't see playing with my hobby (the gear) as a distraction from "appreciating the art". When I'm listening, I am listening.

The fact is for some, Gear will indeed MAKE YOU HAPPY!

And, for those who don't like gear because it interferes with your listening experience, well, you should just get off the merry-go-round.
I think it is highly doubtful that audiophiles can ever reconcile the audiophile and the music lover within themselves. Having said that, I believe the audiophile and music lover functions within our minds are a continuum rather than a static function. Therefore, some may be more audiophile than music lover, and vice versa. These predelictions are also subject to change over time, ie. we can become more or less an audiophile or music lover over time (either short term or long term).

I think we audiophiles have to accept this conflictive process within our minds, only then can we learn to accept both of our natures. You need to feel free to be the music lover or audiophile, not muck it up by feeling guilty about audiophile concerns while listening as the music lover, or vice versa. If you listen with this attitude perhaps you can relax your mind enough to let it go where it will go. You take your chances this way, an audiophile listening session when you planned on being a music lover, a music lover on a night you intended to listen as an audiophile.

I now listen with this attitude, it helps me be more relaxed about things. I still have frustrating listening sessions, especially when introducing something new into my system, but I now also have more listening sessions with the music lover in control of my mind.
This is what “we” are. It's part of the obsession. Audiophiles represent a very small portion of the music-loving population. Think of the millions of people around the world who enjoy music (who doesn’t to some degree), indulge in it, pursue it with passion…But do they obsess about the equipment? I love the gear. I like to look at it, read about it (“lust” after it). To me, being an audiophile has a lot to do with just the equipment. I was a lover of music long before I ever became an audiophile. I am a lover of music AND I am an audiophile. Obviously there is a very strong correlation between the two.

There are those who love music. There are those who love music and love the associated equipment. There are variations in between. My wife thinks it’s odd that I “obsess” about equipment. My best explanation to her is that it is a hobby. But really, that doesn’t explain it…does it? Is it just a hobby? I don’t think so. The word “obsession” doesn’t really convey the true reality either…does it?!?!

There’s a lot at work here. Do you think visiting this site and participating in the forums is all about music and equipment? I got news for you! We’d have to revisit our sociology, psychology and human behavior studies to gain a better insight into the entire equation. Let’s just call it entertainment. I didn’t hang out here when I had more freedom. I devoted my free time to other endeavors – my still single friends would say, “back when I had a life.” Let’s see, now I have mowing the lawn, keeping up the house, taking out the trash, picking up dog poop, wiping up baby poop, paying the bills, paying for softball, paying for soccer, paying for diapers,…mowing the lawn, keeping up the house, taking out the trash……Yea, for me, going online to Agon, going downstairs to listen to music, limiting myself to that one (okay two) (okay, maybe three) glasses of medicinal, oh yea...and lusting after the gear...these are my little excursions into non-reality! Of course this theory has holes because if I was rich, had time to pursue other endeavors and didn’t have to deal with poop so often, I would still be an audiophile. Go figure.
After the gear/music conumdrum is settled one then goes on to is it the recording or the conductor or the interpretation. Then is this or that soloist doing damage or unimaginable creativity and beauty to the music, such as the difference between Richter and Giles on any given piece. Then there is the hall, the studio, any artifacts, and on and on. Is it better live in a poor venue or from a fair studio but wonderfully recorded? We perceive what we do, gear can only take us so far, and the same is true of conductors, soloists, groups, and halls.
First and foremost enjoy the music all else is nitpicking.
Hi-fi is an expensive drug and we are all addicts forever in the clinic, trying to achieve the unobtainable, so just sit back and enjoy the music with whatever sound system you have at the time.
Tobias,I first heard this approach about 20 years ago from a physicist/inventor who performed an interesting mod to my Thorens TD-124,and from whom I bought a pair of QUAD ESL57s.
He said that if there was one thing that our brains could not synthesize during the listening experience-it was color.
The reduce in dynamic diversity owing to the shortcomings in amplifier power,acoustics,etc.could be dealt with,as other things,but a system would have to get close to reality color wise,or disbelief would not be suspended.
My experience bears out what he said.Not that I mind a system being able to approach reality in other ways,but usually ,progress is made with a set of priorities in mind.Enjoy!
unless someone was a music lover before they became an audiophile, its hard to understand there really doesn't have to be 'any' connection.
hi chashmal:

there is no wright or wrong view in audio. one should not judge another for their concern, emphasis, or lack thereof on the components they own.

what differnce does it make whether one is obsessed with gear , music or both ?

this thread is another example of an unnecessary concern with what other people are thinking or doing. it's not my concern and you might be wise to spend your energy "perfecting" your enjoyment of music rather than criticizing the behavior of others.
But dear Mrtennis, criticizing the behavior of others is exactly what you do here - quite apart from repeating your mantra and in giving (perhaps) unwanted advice - with your remarks regarding Chashmal's way of approaching our common theme.
Forgive me, but somehow I feel that there is a built in reflex in you, that whenever you meet anything which might smack of "passion" you wish to squash the argument in pointing to "rationality" and "to each his own". You have a point of course, but personally I find it a bit boring. In fact, would we all follow your message, neither you or I would have board to post on:
Audiogon is about business of course, but it is kept alive by conflicting value judgements and by passion, apart from our commonly shared curiosity how others do it and how they think about what they are doing. I don't want to be unjust, but somehow I feel, you are trying to mellow down our happy jousting and exchanging of ideas, views and idiosyncracies with a dose of puritanism, which tries to drive the fun out of it all. Quite apart from that, pray tell, how I should I deepen my "enjoyment of music" WITHOUT any regard of what others are doing in my field. In fact, I need the comments and criticism of others in order to grow and learn. I do agree with you, that criticizing the behavior of others may in our field often be a questionable approach, but on the other hand, I do need to to know what others think of what I'm doing and why, I do need to be criticized to avoid the danger of complacency, which is the death of creativity. So we have a dilemma here I feel, and to my mind it is not as clear and as simple as you seem to make out.
Please don't get me wrong. I have great respect for most of your posts, which I read always with interest. It is just what I call your "mantra", which irks me, because I feel, though your point there is basically right of course, it causes a wrong at the same time in trying to stifle arguments and chains of thoughts, which through their dialectics and dynamism could lead to new knowledge. (Just look at the history of the Sciences to understand my point)

Cheers and happy listening from one exlover of the stacked Quads to the other...
Just by lurking on this site AND posting to this forum makes ALL of us hobbyist. "My name is Frankenstein"! (quote from "Young Frankenstein") Come out of the closet and say it, you'll feel better!
hi dave:

i think you misinterpret what i say. i'm in favor of all ideas, without judging whether they are right or wrong.

i object to the use of right or wrong, because it seems irrelevant to the pursuit of enjoyment of music.

our hobby is based upon taste and opinion. what does right and wrong have to do with taste and opinion ?
Hi Mrtennis,
supposing it is me, Detlof whom you attach the name of "Dave" to: With all due respect, no, I don't think that I misinterpret you. I agree with you, that our hobby is based on taste and opinion. But only in part. The other part is, that quite a number of us strives for a sort of absolute in trying to come as close as possible to what we hear in real life music. That what HP of TAS called the "absolute sound" in his early beginnings. If that is folly or not is not the point of the argument and of course "absolute sound" is only a phrase, because there is no absolute "absolute sound". Every seat in a well known concert hall will afford a subtly different perception of the live event. But all the same, many of us carry a perception of the gestalt of live music around with ourselves and try to emulate that at home. Oddly enough, this gestalt in all its intricacies is often shared very precisely by others, say within an audiophile society or a group of interested friends who are also concert-goers. In this way an approximation to an absolute is created, which tends to lose the subjectivity of just "taste and opinion". Point in case:
Goers to live concerts know something about the aura around instruments, how that blooms and spreads. Very difficult to reproduce that at home. There are some chains and rooms that come close, many don't really. Now if you take that as one of many benchmarks there are, comparing live events to home stereo reproduction, there bad, good or better do have their place. You are right of course, the use of right or wrong is in ONE SENSE irrelevant to " the pursuit of enjoyment of music ". You can be enchanted by music through a simple radio with a tiny built in speaker. But there are some of us who try for more, who will enjoy music no matter how it is reproduced - and I think I do belong to this fold - and who at the same time try to build up a system within their means and possibilities that comes as close as possible to the facsimile of a live event and here value judgements have their place. Here it is about an absolute, which has been formed by many exposures to all kinds of live music, which, especially if shared by many others will attain more objectivity, than you, dear Mrtennis seem to be able to see. Of course it is still a perception, and hence subjective, you might argue. And yes, still close even here, it is all the same, especially if shared by many, removed from the mere realm of taste and opinion, which you solely seem to base our hobby on. In my view, this is just a tad too narrow. There's more to it.
my criterion for evaluating stereo systems is timbre. some stereo systems are more inaccurate than others in reproducing timbre.

yet, i would not apply the words "right" and "wrong", when evaluating stereo systems.

the words "right" and "wrong" apply only to behavior judged against a standard of morality.

there are other words relevant to matters of "sound". "right" and "wrong" are not two of them.

perhaps, it is a semantic issue here, but i prefer "inaccurate" to describe the performance of a stereo system.

Thus, when comparing two stereo systems , with respect to the reference, live music, one is less inaccurate than another.
agreed, and yes timbre is an excellent criterion and yes it does boil down to semantics basically our little squabble here and accuracy or lack thereof with respect to a live reference is certainly preferable to "right" or "wrong".
Peace and happy listening,
I smell an "Audiophilia" documentary brewing!! Any budding filmmakers out there want to pursue this subject? I base this suggestion on Alan Zweig's 180 minute documentary entitled "Vinyl" about the quirky world of record collecting. Worth the watch if you can find it.
Hi Hitman,
It's been done. Just take an eye- and earful here:
Shows very nicely how wonderfully nuts we all are....
It's been done. Just take an eye- and earful here:
Shows very nicely how wonderfully nuts we all are....

Nice link Detlof. Some darn nice gear. Did you see the shock on their wifes' faces when the topic of how much they'd spent was discussed!? I bet once the camera stopped rolling, there was some continued discussion!
It seems like that Greek guy's gear was probably WAY more expensive than he told his wife!!!!
There are some very exotic looking equipment in this YouTube video. Turntable with 5 belts? and then another two belt drive? Can't recognize any of those big speakers and then there is a rack that is 6 ft high on wires! I did recognize Clearaudio tone arm and cartridge though.
I don't understand why audiophiles constantly write themselves off as suffering some kind of disease. Other enthusiasts do not have these kinds of issues, it seems.

Frankly, I think what some audiophiles lack is perspective. The best way to enjoy the audio hobby is to find a range of things that you enjoy doing.

Also, You can't evaluate equipment properly when you are basically forcing yourself to listen to it. Don't turn on the stereo just to listen to it. Only go to it when you are craving a certain piece of music, or craving music in general. You don't have to really analyze it all that much--if the system is lacking in any particular area you will just know.

If you listen to the system only when you are truly craving music then you can at least satisfy yourself that the flaws you are hearing are not your imagination and are actually interfering with the enjoyment of the music.

Also, make researching and collecting high quality recordings of music your other hobby.

Also, if you use digital, try feeding your DAC with a music server device like a Squeezebox and archive your CD collection in an uncompressed format on a hard drive. YOu can get a 750GB hard drive for under $150 these days. These types of server devices allow you to quickly access your entire collection and browse sample your collection quickly. You will find yourself listening to things you wouldn't get up off the couch to que up on your CD player or turntable.

Take advantage of internet forums and groups to find new music and recordings, ect.

If all else fails, just take a break. You'll never regret having good gear.
Blackstonejd, I think calling it a disease is an expression of guilt. Audiophile guilt comes from (among other things perhaps) doubts over neglecting work and family, overspending or the feeling that preoccupation with the hobby may be covering up some deeper malaise.