So you're an audiophile - are you also a musician?

I was wondering if a "typical" audiophile is or has been a musician (air band not included). If so, what instrument(s) do you play now or have played?

Thanks for taking my very unsophisticated pole.

Home studio for (in order of interest) voice, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard. I've almost finished rewiring the whole studio with DH Labs BL-1 (the best I could afford given the amount of wire needed) and it made an incredible difference.
I also have a home studio for recording my own experiments. I use a lot of the tricks I've learned for playback in the studio and they make the same diffrences you hear on playback.
I own several two channal systems/ Percussionist extraordinarie,classic,set,Latin,African.
I started playing the cornet/trumpet at age 12.I am currently recording a CD accompanying my wife who sings and plays piano. It has been a lot of fun.I am more an audiophile,however, than a musician at this stage of my life.I just turned a very youthful 50.It's all downhill from here.
Yep. Electric bass guitar (and some acoustic upright). I've played since I was a teenager, and I'm 48 now. Playing and listening to music have always been a big part of my life. All the years of playing live have helped me recognize and appreciate the "true" sound in my system (in those fleeting moments when it occurs). I hope to continue playing and listening for the rest of my life. By the time I reach old age, Doc at Bottlehead will be making audiophile hearing aids with vacuum tubes, and we'll be discussing how to tweak them!! Any ideas?

I sing. Mostly classical, chamber classical, madrigals/renaissance, spirituals, occassional broadway show tunes.

While not even close to being my full time profession, I have been very very fortunite to have performed as part of a group in concerts with Dave Brubeck (three times), The King's Singers (twice), and twice with Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach).

I was also recently part of a group that participated in a studio recording with Dave Brubeck that will be out on CD sometime in the future.
No. I tried guitar, trumpet, bass, piano, and voice with no success. My Ex (a professional opera singer with perfect pitch) told me that I am the only person she has ever met, that is truely tone deaf, and, that I should never, under any circumstances, sing in public.

The funny part is, music does not emotionally move her. I, on the other hand, would never leave smoky bars, if I could just play the blues.

Maybe in my next life.
Yes, I play Piano/Keyboards, and some guitar. I have also done quite a bit of home recording studio work, and have made some master tapes for demo recordings, for various bands trying to get recording contracts. Several did even get the contracts, but never went anywhere.
My daughter (age 11) is an excellent classical violinist and a pianist, so any hi-fi investments are simply part of her education expenses! I'm also an amateur bluegrass muscian (banjo, guitar, mandolin).

There are certainly a lot of musician-audiophiles out there, but I do not think they are in the majority.
Formal training on trumpet from preschool up through sophomore year in college--classical and 'big band' type jazz ensembles, broadway musical charts (lots of things transposed down an octave), etc. I got good enough to realize that I wasn't good enough! Then I discovered the guitar, and bye-bye trumpet. Been playing guitar now for 25 years now, not professionally, although I have tried to get bands together on several occasions; never had enough time, and yes, once again I got good enough to realize that I wasn't good enough.

Still don't have the patience to read music -- my first lesson in my twenties on "Put Put Goes the Little Steamboat" somehow failed to really move me.

But I love to improvise with chords and blues scales, "fake" using chord symbols and also sing.

Don't know if that is worthy of the word "musician" but there you have it.
Accordian, Harmonica, Bandoneon, bass and a-little guitar. Havn't played professionally though hence can't consider myself as a musician.
Pianist since childhood, audiophile since discovering my mother's 78 rpm album (literally, in this case) of -Peter and the Wolf-. First time I saw the LP, I thought, "where did the rest of it go?."
I play guitar, first rock and since college folk, have sung in a number of folk groups and now sing in a number of choirs and small groups, principally classical but some pop and barbershop.
Raised as a baroque organist through seminary; escaped to play those great Canadian organs sprinkled around northern RI canuck parishes as a teen (weddings and funerals), then bought my first big 'ole Boston upright piana as a young adult, finally getting serious with my current Steinway B 4 years ago. So now I've migrated away from Bach and Buxtehude towards Brahms, beethoven and Schubert, with a dabbling of straight jazz. So I continuously marvel at how my "B" sounds different EVERY day because of temperature/humidity conditions: that "magic octave" in the low treble moves like a barn wonder the Steinway techs call it the "money octave"...they live off the frequent voicings the golden ears demand!
Life could be MUCH worse! Cheers to music-making. (PS I can't dance!)
Classical violin trained - performed through college.
Royal School of Church Music-trained boy treble (St. Nicholas medalist for you RSCM alumni) but the voice didn't really survive the assault of hormones though I remain an avid choral singer to this day. Studied double reeds through grade school and university, working with Lacey Powell and Gwydion Brooke. Played with a couple of semi-major (i.e. not "top five") symphonies and did a fair bit of studio work in Nashville. Hung up my spurs years ago, though, except for occasional chamber music sessions with a few pals.

I think another fun thread would be to compare the ways in which different groups listen to music and what we listen for...professionally trained musicians versus amateur musicians versus non-musicians. I'm betting there would be significant differences.

I've played the violin since age 8 and have been playing the
piano for about 6 years.
I think this thread has been covered before. I play the piano--though not as well as I would like.
Guitar, piano
Studied at Indiana University School of Music
I studied/played the classical Kazoo since age 3. I'm decent.
I have sat in with Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Tommy Castro ,The Eagles, BB King ,The Allman Brothers and many many others it is great I go to my dedicated music/theater room fire up my Fender Cyber Twin grab my strat or SG and punch in a concert dvd or a cd and play along with people I could only dream about before
Have been playing drums for 20 years....actually played professionaly for a few years during and after college. Play piano (not very good) and have recently taken up guitar.
Piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar. No notable talent however. It is amazing fun getting the guitar out and playing along with a record on the stereo though - you really get into the music more than just tapping your feet.
I appear to be in the minority. While I took organ lessons for a few years in elementary school, I can neither sing nor play. But, I do love music. Maybe when I retire ...
When I was 10 years old, my parents forcibly made my brother and I to join a "Tamburitza" group. Any Croation-Serbian audiophiles will know what this is. Did that for five years, learning to read music, play a Brac, sing and dance. College days took me to Music Appreciation classes, learned the keyboard and learned to compose music. Paul McCartney inspired me to play bass guitar at age 15. At age 43 bought a Yamaha bass and Peavey amp. Now I jam to CD's and FM at home. All by ear. I've been into audio for about 24 years now. Music is my main focus is my waking hours.
I've played guitars, both acoustic and electric, for over 40 years, but no claim to muscianship-- and I play my stereo system much better. Cheers. Craig
I can't sing or dance, despite a fairly talanted family background, same for my wife. When I waited tables the waiters were reluctantly rounded up to sing "Happy Birthday", the management gave me specific orders to "mouth" the words! As a child I tried to study guitar, I always got headaches from practicing. Those dots on the bars were painfull. I gave it up. Turned out I needed glasses.
I regret not getting in this thread sooner. I had an idea that many a-gonners were musicians, but I am surprised at the overwhealming majority, or what seems to me to be.
I have played, but never made the jump, I have always stopped just short. I cannot really answer why I haven't played for enjoyment besides. I have a recent thread I answered on this recently that might explain my confusion, if anyone cares to get that deep.
What is of interest to me in this thread, is this question for those who play or have played- what is the connection between audiophilism and musicianship? I always have thought of audiophiles who do not play, or have not played, to be musical much the same way as a musician. I have thought of a non-playing audiophile as closer to a non-playing or unpractised musician than say, an "average" person who listens to music more like the general public with less of a passion and more for casual enjoyment. This is the connection I feel.
Thank you for this insightful, thoughtful poll.
Trumpet. Graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Sadly, I no longer play, but as Bishopwill points out, it dramatically alters the way that I experience and listen to music. Those who are not formally trained could not possibly listen the same way, IMHO.
been a guitar player and song writer for 30 some years. Played hard rock in the 70's, alternative in the 80s and after moving to New Orleans in the the 80's and Austin Tx in 90 turned into a blues player...go figure. Played professionally on and off for about 20 of those years but the high travel day gig gets in the way these days. You want to talk money sink...get into high end audio and collecting high end guitars and amps.
Dan, I'm curious about how/in what way people without formal training can't listen in the same way as those with formal training. Do you mean that those with formal training can analyze the technical details of music, like "So and so is playing the Mixolydian mode for the first two bars of the solo, then switches to the straight major scale? (Aeolian Mode? I forget my theory; been a while)", or something like that?
Thank you all for answering my thread. My intention was to test my hypothesis that most audiophiles, like myself, are really frustrated musicians in disguise and that by investing heavily in audio gear create a panacea for not being up on stage and performing. Thanks to "Basement" for raising the audiophile-musician connection as that was what I was after. The audiophile-musician connection is probably strongly correlated, afterall evolving from listening to music to playing music seems like a pretty natural progression. Thanks too to for raising the possibility that trained musicians listen differently than weekend-musicians &/or non-musical playing people. While comments sound somewhat elitist I would have to agree that training may improve one's ability to listen differently, not better, just differently. Being able to discern a Selmer alto sax from a Yamaha or Fender bass from a Rickenbacker comes easiest from first hands experience.

As a newbee to Audiogon, I appreciate the passion and participation of its members. Without both elements we'd just be a bunch of "gear heads." In case you were interested, I have played trombone, piano, keyboards and alto sax, and have played in marching and concert bands and come from a musical family where each person plays at least 2 instruments. Hope that didn't sound elitist . . . just blowing my own horn!

What do you mean by "musician"? A professional who makes a living at it or someone who actively plays alot? I played saxophone starting in 4th grade thru and including college. However I have not picked up the instrument since. I played in all kinds of bands and was really into it and pretty good but gave it up to pursue a career and a family. I have a firm love of music and especially like classical,traditional jazz,classic rock, and blues. I know music will always be an important part of my life.
My interpretation of a "musician" is someone that currently plays or has played an instrument (or sings), that may have had formal music training (or not and instead plays by ear), and that could be either professional or amateur. Nothing special here about the term - pretty loose definition really.

I'm not sure I want to get into this because I really do not want to offend anyone. In my first post, I tried especially not to sound as if I thought that classically trained musicians somehow had a leg up on everyone else when it comes to listening. I do agree with Dan that we probably do not listen in the same way or to the same things.

For example, our listening group met last week at the home of a guy with a system in the Albert Porter range and a huge collection of both vinyl and digital software. He has some of the most acute and perceptive ears I've ever encountered and manages to avoid the ego that so often comes with them. One of the pieces we listened to was the Weber Clarinet Concerto #1 (f minor). He went on and on about the clarity, the soundstage, the imaging, the "air," giving the recording (actually, giving his system) A+++ marks. What I and another classically trained musician in the room heard was a mediocre clarinet player with intonation all over the place, lousy articulation, and no sense of correct performance practice for Weber.

Now, my friend is a great audiophile and a great listener. He can probably hear the difference if a gnat farts on his interconnects. But nobody ever taught him what a clarinet is supposed to sound like. At least not the niceties that separate a world class player from one who teaches clarinet at Bohunk University.

This is the difference between listening to the music and listening to the sound. I think many audiophiles listen to the sound but those of us who were professionally trained listen to the music. It doesn't make us better, just different.

If that makes anyone a snob, then we are all snobs. It can range from a proffesional musician who would state that he/she would never spend more than 400$ for a stereo, or a 'normy' who gets complete satisfaction with a really bad sounding boom-box, to somebody that apreciates that he could hear every mistake, or articulation because the stereo is so damn good.
I can't count how many times when I see somebody play live that I will pick apart or notice aspects of the performers, both good and bad. (like if the drummer misses a beat, or a player hits a chord that does'nt blend, or the way a tune is structured and set up for the next bar). Really, it's just me practicing in my head, for I know that when I hear something that I think is something that I noticed as 'improper', I also know full well that they are better musicians than I am.
As an audiophile, when I listen to a stereo, I like to hear the subtle aspects that clue me in to what the performer is hearing and feeling, that I might feel what is making the performers play what they are playing and the way they are playing it. Needless to say, I bet as musicians, we all listen to music differently, and as audiophiles, we all listen to systems differently. As we critique, either a performance or a stereo, we are not nessesarily critisizing, but listening and aprecciating.
While as musicians, we may or may not have training in certain things, but it doesn't mean we can or can't notice. We might be able to identify the structure of the harmany, or the structure of syncopated timing, but it also takes practice as well. I'm willing to bet that there are a lot of non-trained audiophiles that can hear these things as well, and have more practice than I do at listening to them, evan as they cannot identify them with a terminology, or be trained to.
How many times, in the coarse of our 'formal' education, have we been pleasantly surprised to learn that there were names and rules to be able to pruduce what we have been hearing and playing all along, or that by learning rules have been able to easily produce what we have been trying to play? And how many times have we been surprised at how some poeple can't notice what we think are major changes in the sound of a system, and don't really care? There are many poeple that honestly, price not an issue, can't understand or relate why an audiophile would get so excited about a sound of a stereo. But I bet that most audiophiles would understand, relate, why a musician would get excited about making music. (Audiophiles that have no experience making music, and without regard for love, of seeing that individual happy). It also seems to me that musician friends, who are not audiophiles, that have heard my stereo hear and appreciate changes in my stereo without effort.
Evan among musicians, not counting different degrees of practice or which instrument they play, we can find that many are talented in different areas, some similar and some drastic. Evan among different degrees of talent, there are different degress of practice and skill. But ever try to teach somebody who just has no musical ability? Where you both just end up laughing that they just don't get it, and never will?
There are many who are musical that have different ways of expressing it. And there are musicians that play for different reasons. I would hypothizise that for someone that is an audiophile, and not a musician, that they could be taught or learn to play, if they wanted to, that those that have the passion to listen to and buy stereo equipment on the level of an audiophile is more like a musician who has never played, or expresses it differently.
Am I on to something? Are there any experiences that anyone has noticed similar or different?
I've played and sung Bluegrass for 35 years, 10 of those full-time professional in Georgia.I live in San Francisco now and front my own band ( our website : ) . Learning about the Audiophile hobby has made me amuch more carefull listener and improved my performance a lot. --- John
I have heard some "musicians" disclaim audio systems because they don't produce sound like they hear on stage. Well, duh, it's not supposed to. I'm sure that horn players have a very different perspective than string players. While not a musician, I've still had the stage vantage point on many occasions and with very little exception I much prefer to be in a good seat with the audience. While musicians like chefs, mechanics and magicians may have insights to the ingredients and operation of the subject at hand they don't necessarily have an advantage with regards to the appreciation of the final results till they join in the more common absorption for which and whom it was intended for in the first place.
I've played clarinet/bass clarinet/bit 'o sax for long enough that I should be much better than I am now! Still, I love it and play regularly with a local orchestra and a wind band. While an amateur, I do occasionally get paid, particularly around this time of year!

Bishopwill - do you recall the clarinet player on the recording?
Bishopwill notes:
"...What I and another classically trained musician in the room heard was a mediocre clarinet player with intonation all over the place, lousy articulation, and no sense of correct performance practice for Weber..."

Quite so. THAT is what all of us will notice, surely, when listening to MUSIC rather than the equipment... Possibly the friend was making a system-related point, and had not entered "music mode"?

BTW, I played the guitar in earlier years, and have been a "consumer" of classical music for over 40 yrs :)
I started playing electric guitar almost 40 years ago. I then learned how to build classical guitars by studying under a master luthier. About 2 years later I quit building guitars exclusively and got into making wood furniture. Since then I've gone through dozens of electric and acoustic guitars. Currently I play only acoustic. I own a Martin custom 6 string and a Martin custom 12 string.

I'm currently looking at congas and expect to put a nice set together this year.

I have been playing professionally for about 15yrs now and have three independent label releases. I have played in bars and small halls with my bands and solo. I grew up in my fathers club in Ohio and was fortunate to see people like Taj Mahal, John Hammond, Los Lobos to name very very few. It was cool to go out to dinner with them and visit in the dressing room after shows. I ran the house sound and got to open or do shows with many of my hero's this way. I have since moved to Austin TX and continued to play here, but have recently had other priority's take my time away from live music (full time job, wife, house, bigger bills). So now I seem to play my stereo more than I play my guitar.... Go figure. I have had great times as a musician and music will always be one of my greatest passions in whatever way it presents its self.
Clarinet, saxaphone and guitar. I'm certainly not professional level, but I've played in a variety of orchestras, big bands, blues, pop and rock bands, sometimes for money (perhaps that makes me professional).

I agree that being a musician brings different aspects of appreciation to listening to music, but I am very critical of those musicians who are of the opinion that a non-musician's experience is somehow less valid. In fact sometimes I think musicians get so wrapped up in the technicalities of music production that they themselves fail to see the wood for the trees, and are unable to distinguish "technically excellent, but dull as dishwater" music from "technically adequate, and great fun to listen to". It's always good to remember that the majority of your audience / record buyers are not musicians.
To be fair, I should first admit that I am not entitled to the 'audiophile' designation. By A-gon standards my system is very modest and my experience with the hobby is limited.

I played trumpet from the age of 9 up through high school. I took private lessons (on and off) when I was a teenager and I had a great time playing with the high school marching band and the jazz band. As is typical, I reached that plateau where I knew that I was not going to progress as a musician unless I dedicated myself to the instrument, concentrated on musical training, and practiced each and every day.

Needless to say, I had many other things on my mind as a teenager. Also, I found the competition at the college level to be fierce - they had people there who could PLAY! I quickly realized that while I was a technically proficient (teenage) musician, I wasn't really talented.

I am glad that I had the musical experience that I did. As you can imagine, I was required to learn and play a variety of music that, as an American teenager, I wouldn't have paid much attention to otherwise. I am definitely wiser for the experience.