Love for music shatter by highend equipment

Music is life, I rather be blind then deaf. It's pretty sad when I realize that my love for music was shatter by high-end equipment. I have friends that refuse to listen to music because it’s not coming from a high-end system. It’s ridiculous that throw away CDs because the record is not to their standard and they won't listen to it. As a result they listen to only a few CD over and over..and over..... They don't listen to the radio. They don't listen to the stereo in their car. What is going on, could it be the mind playing tricks. After all we are spending $50,000 on a system, and it could make us forget that, "Its all about listening to the music". I have to admit, this high end world is an enigma..

I've always thought that a good performance on a mid-fi system beats a bad performance on a high-end system. I'm quite dubious of people who believe otherwise, and yet claim to love music.

That said, when I get up in the morning, my wife is listening to classical radio on the kitchen boombox, and I have to turn it off. Even I have my limits (or my distortion thresholds, if you will).
Sounds like the high-end industry has been successful in brainwashing your friends.
It is kind of crazy that folks get caught up in the high end to the extreme of discarding CD's that don't sound good enough to bother playing on their "high-resolution" rigs. Something does seem to be askew with some audiophiles' sense of priorities.

Personally, although I own some moderately expensive gear, I can still find pleasure in listening to lesser systems and recordings as long as they bear some semblance to real music. Heck, my wife has an old system with an Onkyo receiver and a pair of Yamaha bookshelf speakers that sounds surprisingly good when listening from the next room.

I am actually fascinated when I find budget components that provide a high percentage of the high end experience. Recently I hooked up a pair of Maggie 12QR speakers to an old NAD 3020 integrated amp and was pleasantly surprised at how musical and captivating that combination sounded. Though lacking in detail and low frequency extension, it had a sense of immediacy on vocals and midrange instruments that is hard to beat at any price. Yeah, sure -- my more expensive bi-amped electrostatic hybrids have much greater resolution, dynamic capability, and greater extension at the frequency extremes. So what! I can still appreciate either system on its own terms.

It makes me wonder -- when can I stop -- when will the system's performance be "good enough"? My gut feeling is that I could have stopped 10 or 15 years ago and still have been perfectly happy.

I look for systems that get the basics right. Above all else, they need to be musical on the bulk of recordings I play. If only a small percentage of my recordings sound good on a system, I blame the system (no matter how expensive) not the recordings. People get caught up in the high-resolution mentality and forget about basic musicality. I think that's where they run into trouble. If only 2 or 3 out of 10 recordings sound good on my system, I'd change my system, not my recordings.

In other words, what is the point of owning expensive gear if it fails to provide a musically compelling experience with most software??? If you're buying equipment mainly because it was rated "class 'A' or 'B' in Stereophile," then I believe you have lost sight of what really matters...

Another thing that galls me a bit is all the folks in the A-gon forum who are so insecure in their ability to make a decision that they must get a group consensus before making any purchase. God forbid they make a "mistake" and pay too much, or buy a CD player simply because they like it -- without hearing all other contenders at their price point.

End of rant. Happy Listening to those of you who actually listen.

that's tru...
most of the recording are not great and might sound worse on the higher quality system... i admit that i do sacrifice on how some of my records sound on my rig and might sound better on cheaper units but right there i have other records that i can double-enjoy meaning enjoying it's recorded quality and performing artists. anyone here probably would admit that the voice of Pete Gabriel is divine and great but early Genesis albums were pressed and recorded horrible and i admit they sounded better on my Rega P3 than they do on my Michell Gyro SE. my collection alters very often since i do not keep a particular record in collection(well some of the rarest i do) and sell them after i listen once or twice. i do some car-stereo compilations before i sell my records on nakamichi RXD2 unidirectional tape deck.
if i had enough budget i would definitely place a nakamichi car-stereo system in my Lincoln Towncar 1987(can't even think of changing that beloved vehicle!).

i've also noticed that most of high-end addicts listen to small-band jazz mainly that recorded somehow extraordinary: wehre sighing is heard even louder than music(what kind of compression is that or play of recording engineer??), bringing up unreal studio noise to attract naive listener? haha! i've been playing musical instruments and hearing people sing every time and i couldn't hear such "effects".
i once asked my friend highend-addict a question why would you listen to Cassandra Willson and wouldn't listen to Edit Piaf and he answers that Edit Piaf was never recorded well...
Here,Here to Plato and Mvwine!I have somewhat of a high-end system,BUT the difference with me is I knew when to STOP.After a certian point you start drawing at straws,and wasting money on over-rated,over-priced equiptment.
Aaaaah Human Nature!How much better it would be if people used their heads instead of their wallets.
PS:Here's a test,just for the heck of it.Look for a Hafler SE240 amp,there are 2 for sale on A-Gon around 200.00.You would be supprised how a discontinued cheap amp can sound.
I personally do not use one now,but did quite some time ago.
Hi Danny,

It is about the music. Chart your own course and set sail. Forget about the oneupmanship and stay true to yourself. I can't fault the folks with systems that are so critical that the software is generally unworthy although I've been careful to not go in that direction. Let's see who continues to listen "to the music" for a lifetime. Someday perhaps the software will be up to the challenge. I believe that day will eventually come, or at least, I hope so.

Happy listening,
personally, for those who are really in this hobby because of their love of music, i believe its all part of the learning curve. a lot of attention is paid to sound reproduction until deminishing returns set in and the attention then goes back to music. for some the curve is short and shallow, for others it goes on a long time. for those interested in sound reproduction and materiel possessions it goes on forever. this can be a real benefit to the musicphile because of technolegy trickle down. be grateful this last class exists or you'd be listening to bose boom boxes.
I'm in it for the gear only, most specifically the wires. I only have maybe 50 CDs or so, and about 25-30 LPs.

I use a bryston B60 integrated, vandersteen 1c speakers, an MMF 'table, and an NAD cd player. The wires are all Siltech Compass Lake, though (even the power cords). I've got about $35k invested in wires, $3,500 in components, and $1,000 in software.
Gthrush1, in your particular case, a lot of self-flagellation with the aforementioned Siltech Compass Lake wires may heighten your experience to extatic proportions. :)
That's right. I've thought about making a cat-o-nine with the interconnects. System performance could be further enhanced by obtaining the services of a very strong woman, like maybe anna nicole...
Well, Gthrush1, I wonder what your notion of "truth" is, not to mention "reality".
Yes -- and Anna may just come-a-runnin' when she finds out you can afford Compass Lake! :)
Thanks for all the response. It makes me feel that I'm not alone in this opinion.
Newbee, you have can't put it in words any better. "A person loves music....meets high-end equipment...forgets about the music...stuck into the equipment...Until they are satisfy, music is second to the stereo itself"
I rarely buy CDs for people as gifts because I think the sound is terrible on most people's mediocre CD players. I would rather buy them tapes. I only buy CDs for myself but it's taken me over a decade to build a CD-based system that I like.
So so well put.I am sure you have kicked many a AUDIO SNOB in the Mid drift. I wonder if any of them actually get it.
In a strange work vector some 20 years ago, I was a salesman in a high-end audio shop. I enjoyed designing systems for intelligent people who wanted good musical reproduction. But I absolutely detested tweak-heads who wanted to A-B different brands of high quality speaker wire.

After some years, the conclusion I came to was that some people are never happy unless they are constantly switching equipment -- and those people will die unsatisifed with their system. The happy people are those who buy a good system and just listen to it, not worrying about the next great amplifier to hit the market.

Moreover, I think there is a distinct dividing line between those who love music and those who love gear. The former will enjoy the audiophile experience; the latter will be tortured by it.
How true, I had been caught up in the later. Then I was set free. I now spend all my money on Music.
My music collection has mushroomed and I enjoy my system fully not worrying about this and that wire or this and that tweak.
In trying to get more people free of this I sometimes may come on a little in your face as I have been told.
Bottom line is.
Key to Audio succes.
1 Never ever read a Review.
2 only buy gear you can listen to in your system.
3 Spend your money on Music
4 Let your ears choose your gear.
Beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. Just like the person who owns a Ferrari but will never race it or test it's driving capabilities, some people prefer the equipment over the music. Audio equipment has an appeal outside of its ability to respoduce music. Great enginering design, works of visual art, great conversation pieces, status symbols, etc. Who's to say that these characteristics are any less important than a piece of equipment's ability to respoduce music?

I happen to own a 1980's vintage Yamaha B-6 power amplifier just becuase of the way it looks. I don't listen to it, I just look at it. Suits me fine.

There are my two cents and my humble opinion.

Sound quality has nothing to do with music quality period!!! The main problem with these guys that are too lofty to listen to a "cheap" system is that they have their prioraties backwards and are listning for how a system sounds rather than how it plays music. They care more about audiophile terms like soundstaging, bass, imaging, ballance and on and on. But Music does not exist in those parameters. Thus while I have a $30.000.00 plus system in my main room, I had to work very hard to get it to play music better than my $500.00 rack system which plays music better than most of the systems that I have heard in the best Hi End stores price no object. Don't believe this is possable, just read the article in Stereophile called Music is in the Nuance - back several years but still on the web site. Or just start reading Listner Magazine and you will realize that there is a whole nother world out there of music lovers that listen to the music and not the sound of their systems.
I am in the music lover catagory for classical. The good system just makes it sound as good as possible. I have sold many better sounding CDs on eBay when I find another one with a much better performance.

Instead of one super great system, I have two pretty decent ones, so I can always have music playing without interfering with the rest of the household; like when they're using the third system (Home Theater).


I can appreciate your sentiments as well as the next person, but if you truly practice what you preach what are you doing hanging out here? Comic relief, or what?

T1hub -- my you are quite the poser aren't you? Why don't you just have your paper money gilded and then wallpaper your bathroom with it? I'm not so sure that expensive equipment has an appeal outside of reproducing music as you suggest. My friends and family all think I'm nuts for spending the money I've spent. Then again, I think it's stupid to buy a car or SUV for $30 Gs when I fantasize about all the cool gear I could get for that price instead. Don't mind me -- I guess we're all wacko in one way or another.
I enjoy both the music and the gear. I generally buy what I consider to be the best "bang for the buck" type products in the medium priced category, which for me is about $1500-$3000 per component. I enjoy what effect it has on my listening experience without going broke. I typically do not change systems for at least 5 years, although I do make some small changes and tweaks between times. Once I have settled on a system, I enjoy my music on it, and do not go out auditioning new stuff until I am ready to buy. While the music is the top priority, I do enjoy hearing it at high quality levels, and I appreciate "real" improvements in sound. Since I am not rich, getting systems in the price level stated above allows me good results without going too high on the "diminishing returns" scale. I have always been happy at this level, because I know I can never afford the outlandishly great and expensive, but I can get close enough to achieve a satisfying musical experience. By doing this, I can concentrate better on the music by eliminating the nagging psychological distraction that I should have bought better equipment. If you satisfy yourself that your system is the best you can reasonably afford and it sounds real good to you, the music is much more accessible for enjoyment, due to removal of the neurotic barriers. This method has always worked for me, and lowered my stress levels immensely.
I have to share my system with the Kids. Since Britany and hip hop are not my bag i come and play here while they listen to the rig.
I want to know about Mahandave's $500 world beater. My $500 is a Yamaha piano craft for $350 plus Aegis 1 speakers $179.
Having run into the "this disc sounds like crap so i will no longer listen to it" syndrome some time ago, i've learned to try and strike a balance between a system that is "revealing" yet still "musical". Out of all of the things i've tried to do in life, this has been a great challenge. It seems that most pieces lean one way or the other and finding the right blend can be very tough. When you can find that blend though, it almost seems like "magic". You are transported into the music and you forget all about the gear making this type of enjoyment possible. To me, THAT is what it is all about. Sean
Right on Sean! But, speaking of discs that sound like crap, does anyone have a system that makes Santana's 'Supernatural' listenable?? When I come home and my sweet wife is cranking this CD on the living room system I shortly start developing a homicidal rage-- Lou Ferrigno morphing into Mr. Hulk. She senses my hostility and plays another disc while I compose myself with a brew or two.
Get the Lp version of Supernatural it took care of the problem.
When I had a tube preamp in my system, "Supernatural" on CD actually sounded pretty darn good. I haven't played it since I switched to a solid state preamp, but would imagine that it's still pretty listenable because most other recordings sound fine. I have heard the CD sound horrible on other systems though -- one in particular using the Nearfield Acoustics Pipedreams, which sounded very bright on virtually everything we played. I have a feeling that those systems that tend toward brightness will make this recording sound bad because the recording itself is a touch hot. It may be that simple. It could also be that your digital gear tends toward brightness. I'd wager that if you toned down the system a bit in the high frequencies and got that recording to sound tolerable, you may find quite a few other recordings in your system sound better too...
It seems unfortunate that your misguided friends have missed the boat with respect to the point of it all. I enjoy high end equipment because it playes music so well. My passion is musical enjoyment and the best gear in my mind brings me closer to the artists that I am listening to.

The car is one of my favorite places to listen to music even though my car audio system doesn't begin to approach the sound of my home system. Listening in the car combines two of my favorite things to do, listen to music and drive a spirited car (2000 Jetta with a five speed manual, sport suspension and VR6 engine). Listening in the car is like traveling on two journeys at once. The musical journey and the trip you are actually taking. It's almost like being in the bathroom, no kids, no wife, no cares. Just me, the road and my music.

Equipment in the car can be descent if one is willing to spend some money and consult professional install guys that understand love for music. I reccommend MBQuart speakers for car sound, Top of the line Sony for cd play back and an changer for long trips. Currently, I'm using an xtant amplifier which while no where near as powerful as my Krell amp at home is powerful enough, clean enough and warm enough to send me on my musical journey. Lastly, wire does matter even in the car. The hardest thing I have had to get across to auto system installers is that good wire makes a difference. I usually by my own wire and insist that they use it. One more thing. A high quality sub. Those JL audio Stealth subs are fantastic and they usually integrate in a hidden way in the trunk.

I also listen in the office. I'm listening to music right now as a matter of fact ( a used Marantz 1060 integrated, a apair of NHT model zero speakers a sony es series cd player with my old and trusty audio alchemy da converter) Not cutting edge but boy does my day fly by. In fact the most miserable job I ever had was a job that required me to work in a cubicle (I will never submit to that again) I couldn't set up my system and I hated it. anyway, good listening and remember it's the music that communicates the passion!
Sean, I agree. It's very hard to make that kind of transformation. I'm still trying to adpat to both worlds. Still the balance is very off. The stereo side is winning the battle. Hopefully, one day I will create that "majic" so both world can be bound together.

There is some point for everybody where diminishing returns set in. Probably everybody at this site sees a point in spending at least a couple thousand dollars per component before getting to the knee in the curve, and probably more than that if budget doesn't have to be totally dominant in the equation. If / when you get to the point of a couple to a few thousand dollars per component, you're in a range where you could upgrade a component OR buy a couple hundred or several hundred pieces of software for the same money. If you've opted for Option A more than once without ever opting for Option B, you really ought to try option B once. If it's really about the music, go out and buy 500 CDs or LPs over a few months and get drunk on new music.
Kjcj, you do know how to enjoy your music. I also like listening to music in my car. Nothing beats driving on the highway with your window down, music pumping all the way up, on a nice warm night. The SPL from a car is second to none.
I got 20th Century remasters of The Ohio Players and was really happy with the sound. So you could try any 20th Century remasters.
I agree about old Genesis CD's. But I've heard the Supernatural CD complaint before. Someone said it had a lot of compression. I just don't get it so I popped it in again just now.
I'm listening to "(Da Le) Yaleo" and "Wishing it was" and they sound just awesome. Musical Fidelity and N804's. So I don't know what the problem is that people are hearing <:-? (that's a cone headed curious smiley guy - in case you were wondering).
This is an old thread but how apropos!  Hi end audio has an underlying dialectic that can prove to be confounding.  For too many (including myself), the equipment becomes an altar or idol and the music gets forgotten.  Add to this a baseline of OCDness in most audiophiles, and equipment becomes like crack and we the crack whores.  

I got into the hobby because of my passion for music as a kid and have clawed my way back using in part vintage equipment (Thorens table and Klipsch Cornwall Is).  What a strange journey, but the music is back.  I recently inherited my grandmothers vinyl collection (she was a classically trained pianist) and spinning vinyl is now an homage to my family.  That is the way things should be....  
It happens.

I'm with agear on this.
@rods84 Great insights.

I think that in a large part people are looking for a reason to shop. The high end store is like a shoe store for them. There’s always one more you haven’t tried on.

The other part is conditioning, and the third part is interpretation. I think audiophiles get conditioned to always be looking for the imperfections, as well as the air, and sense of space. The "microdynamic luster" and loose touch with the message in the notes.  We develop a skill set which in the end, may not help us. I used to work in theaters and was constantly looking for signs of dirt on the film, or scratching, focus or visual jitter problems. I lost the ability to enjoy the movie that was in front of me. When I realized the same was happening with me in music I had to deliberately stop doing that.

I do feel somewhat like it’s a type of therapy to listen to great recordings. It’s like going outdoors and looking at mountains that are so far away you’d have to cross state boundaries to get to. It’s virtual reality for the ears. For me that therapy is very important, but still, my favorite albums don’t have a lot of this at all. My favorites are in the lyrics. I’m happy when the two mesh, but it’s not always there.

I also think that audiophiles are quite trendy in what they consider "neutral" sounding speakers. Some of the most highly touted audiophile speakers have poor frequency response, but having been declared the kings, all follow along.

I see this all the time. Music lovers enjoy coming over and listening to music with me, and audiophiles feel it’s not all that. I’ve also been to lots of shows with poorly treated or untreated rooms where I could barely stand to listen in, and yet there were many listeners raving about the sound.

I’ve also seen the desire for "discriminating" hardware. It sells better, though it’s harder to match. After I analyzed a commercial speaker’s crossover and realized the "discriminating" nature was a deliberate hoax I’m done with that. I only buy gear that plays well with others. This includes my cables. I make my own interconnects out of pure silver, and silver connectors and plain stranded copper speaker wire. It’s not that there may not be differences, I just decided this is my limit, I have to make myself happy with this as opposed to being on the endless loop.

And this too is psychology, the psychology of being happy. We can choose our happiness to some degree, but always leaving it up to external factors is rarely the answer.


Patricia Barber, Holly Cole, Cassandra Wilson and a few others are all I will play on my system. 
Erik, rods84 insights are good but its more devilish than simply two different types of people.  I started as one (music lover), turned into another, and have now recovered and reverted back to my original self.   I know this may sound silly, but some equipment and manufacturers tend to promote audiophilia more than others.  
timrhu2,727 posts08-25-2016 4:46pmPatricia Barber, Holly Cole, Cassandra Wilson and a few others are all I will play on my system.

So your system refuses to play other artists? I guess it really sucks and boring. My system plays all music around the Globe which is I guess substantially better.
The love of music drives the hi end. Always has. The love of time drives the high end watch market. 
A thread from 2002..?? You were obviously bored...
I know this may sound silly, but some equipment and manufacturers tend to promote audiophilia more than others.

Not silly at all. The ones that do largely also face the task of generating interest in more expensive and/or esoteric products. They need music mainly because their products won’t make any sound people want to hear without it. Their stuff is marketed as the special sauce that makes things extra special and sometimes it just might.

But most music lovers don’t need the most expensive and or esoteric products to enjoy their music 100%.

Its all just another part of what makes our sometimes crazy and often disjointed world go round.

Lots of us used to drink Boones Farm wine back in the good old days. Nobody ever complained that it didn't taste very good or that it wasn't enjoyable. 

Lots of us used to drink Boones Farm wine back in the good old days. Nobody ever complained that it didn't taste very good or that it wasn't enjoyable.

Lord have mercy.  Boone's Farm is the wine world's equivalent of a rusty mattress spring under electronics.  Good old days....meaning what?  Under the bridge in brown paper bags?

Stereophile just posted an article I felt matches a lot of my experience with "audiophiles" vs. music lovers in the 1994 review of the Proac 1S

The author's wife is kind of me. :) Not that I would ever marry a reviewer.
i enjoyed your post and relate to what you are saying. 
audio equipment influence people listening habits.Cheap equipment usually is tuned sound good with pop music,tube equipment with classic music and etc...Once you hear how good some music sounds on lets say expensive gear is really difficult to listen in car or radio