Love of MUSIC or love of GEAR

I think the appeal of audio gear is more complicated than simply a love of music. In my experience I have not seen much of a correlation between the love of music and the pursuit of high-end gear. That is not to say that audiophiles do not necessarily love music – I think that they do (or they at least have some kind of aural fetish)– or the gear would not make sense to them. But if the full appreciation of music was dependant on hearing it played through the best gear, then musicians, composers, CBC FM radio hosts (yes, I am Canadian) – would all be audiophiles. As it stands, this is not the rule but the exception. (I would bet that there are more architects than musicians that have high-end systems.) I propose that the pursuit of high-end audio has something to do with an obsession with the POTENTIAL of gear to produce music. Wrapped up in this ‘potential’ are the aesthetics and physical appearance of the gear, its smell, feel, ergonomics, size and mass, technological innovation, myths associated with it, etc. The pursuit of gear in this context is its potential to offer a doorway to a world of music as expansive and rich as we can imagine, that we can open at will - by ourselves or with others who are willing to listen.
Ever heard the term "starving musician" most do not have this kind of expendable income. My system has greatly improved since making the decision to stick with a day job. That and, yea it is kind of fun to play with high end gear.
Greetings from a fellow Canuck! Your post here is well thought out, hard to find a lot of fault in your reasoning. The logic is sound, the emotional requirements still need to be considered. Speaking for myself, I began enjoying listening to music at a young age, as time went on (and finances allowed) I grew my music collection and the hardware to make the music sound more enjoyable. I've read articles where top notch musicans show off their mass market gear, and yet still seem to really enjoy music, so is esoteric hardware REALLY necessary? Obviously not. One trip to a recording studio (I've been to Morin Heights several times) will sure make you wonder why we bother, the electronics used in the studios to record popular music is garbage. Since we don't really NEED top notch gear, it falls into the luxury category. Once you've taken care of all the basics (roof over your head, some decent food, warm clothing, etc..) you hopefully end up with some disposable income to make your life more enjoyable. Making the decision to invest in music, whether it be adding to your collection or upgrading gear is an harmless and enriching experience. Everybody has a hobby or interest they invest their time and money in, my main hobby, and one I've been involved in for over 25 years remains music. I've got my three kids interested in music and sports, beats some of the other alternatives out there. Rgds, Jeff
Neubuilder: I agree with the last half of your post. Full appreciation of music, like literature, depends on many things. There is an intellectual aspect, such as history and biography, that is helped with education (not necessarily formal). More importantly, in my mind, is a genuine love for music. Even with those it is difficult to fully appreciate music on a boom box. Can you fully appreciate a novel with every other page or line missing? Sure, you might follow the general storyline and even come away with a fair idea of the author's message. But you would have missed the details that make characters life-like and scenes vivid. Does this mean that people who listen to music on low-fi systems don't love music? No! Perhaps they don't have the means to purchase a better one. Or maybe they spend their money on live performances (something that no system, yet, can match). Why don't more music professionals own high-end systems? Who knows. Perhaps they don't sit and listen to music in their living rooms like much of the public does.
I have been a starving audiophile. When I was 21 I bought my first real hi-fi system. A then ten year old quad 33/303/fm3 system with misson 77's that I paid $425CAN for. Still love the way it looks... and sounds, but I have moved on since then.
Both; When I find a classical recording performance I like better than the one I have I "upgrade". The performance matter most to me. The audiophile interest comes from wanting these recordings to sound as good as possible. I do sometimes have more than one favorite of a particular piece, but an upgrade means the old recording is traded in or sold. I do have musician friends who have nice gear, but I think most would rather spend the money on live performances.
PS: I do sing in a professional chorus, and do go to lots of live concerts, so I guess I fit in the musician group also; just not full time. We/I will be performing with Dave Brubeck in Baltimore in March if anyone is interested.
Interesting thread and posts. And a great comment above-- I've been a "starving audiophile" too-- Mungo Love big amps, heh heh heh.
I think it can be both...and probably is for everybody..I buy a lot of music,like to experiment with what I buy but I do endlessly tweak at times too listening to the same piece(s) over and over and enjoying the upgrades/tweaks that work...whatever makes people happy that's what's important...I have an opinion that some Audiogon members maybe have an imbalance in the music/gear see-saw but they sure as hell ain't doing me any harm and probably enjoying their Hell Freezes Over CD every bit as much as my latest Japanese ambient CD...wouldn't it be nice though if we could be opinionated and passionate without being personal and abusive.....there's room for everybody Regards, Ben
I have been a starving audiophile. When I was 21 I bought my first real hi-fi system. A then ten year old quad 33/303/fm3 system with misson 77's that I paid $425CAN for. Still love the way it looks... and sounds, but I have moved on since then.
Oops, didn't mean to resend that...
As a true audiophile,I enjoy any instrament live,or any music live,need not be virtuosos. I have a zillion favorite songs/pieces.And just enough credit to get me in serious trouble.
While I do think that there is a "gear head" - "music lover" continuum I think that a lot of it comes down to economics for the music lover. If you are clever and live in the right city you can hear a lot of decent to superb live music on the cheap. A basic system that can bring a music lover a reproduction of the music to convey some of the live experience isn't very costly. BUT trying to build a system that approaches the live experience is very expensive even before you have media costs (I'm up to 10,000 plus recording after 30 years). My wife and I are nuts about music live and recorded. Since we both work in very remunerative fields and have no kids we can now afford to indulge ourselves. We have "starving musician" friends who come over frequently for serious listening sessions with us and bring along a lot of interesting music. They would very much like to own our system but realistically it is way beyond what they could ever afford. In our first few years out of college we both had great paying first jobs and were spending about 60% (!)of our incomes on music (live, recorded, and gear). Talk about a HABIT.
I have known some "gear heads", but usually they fall into two categories. Category A - the big noter - likes to tell people the brand of the gear he (rarely if ever a she) owns, even if it is in a box in the garage. Category B - the simplistic type - wants to just decide on a brand or two to love and then only buys that gear and always swears by it. People attracted to Naim and Linn often (but not always) fall into this second category. As for me, if my system sounds like rubbish I get this urge to throw it out the window and just start again, regardless of the brand or looks or feel of it. Nice to have the tactile stuff, but these attributes are only able to be enjoyed by me if the music made is excellect.
Music, first, second and third. My hi-fi isn't pretty, but turn out the lights and I get transported to the venue without too much willing suspension of disbelief.
Of course it doesn't sound "real", only live music does! But it does put a big smile on my face!
"Gear Head" as you call it, is anyone who spent more than 1K on the entire system, and true "musiclover"...? Well, you won't find them posting on these pages.