The Sound or Music

I listen to all genres of music but really enjoy it with good sound. I know of people who just love one particular type of music but don't care at all about audio. My late relative just loved classical music and had hundreds of good records but his system was like bad transistor radio. He had means but was not interested in better system at all. Music, for him was 99.9% and sound 0.1% of the pleasure. He was most likely missing half of instruments of orchestral music, he listened to - either by limited frequency response or very poor resolution. He was a music lover. Am I a music lover or just only an audio freak?
What about you?
WE (EVERYONE who hangs out here) are audio freaks!
Clearly we cherish sound over substance, or, we would also have transistor radio sounding stereos too.( or, perhaps hundred dollar stereos..)
And I am bold enough to call anyone who claims otherwise a liar.(or, self deluded)
Some of us are worse off than others. Some need to constantly chase the elusive dream, others can pretty much live with what they have.
I don't cherish sound over substance. I like good sound, but I love good music. If I had to chose between all my music or my systems. The choice would be a no brainer. The music would win. Fortunately, it's never an either or choice.
Elizabeth, no offense but I think you should speak for yourself. Without good music, I would never have wanted a good system to hear it on. Personally, I would rather hear the music such that it moves me and I really feel it, rather than simply being able to identify the song, as with a poor system.
I would listen to music on a crappy boom box if that's all I had. It's difficult for me to imagine life without music. I prefer listening to music on a nice hifi, but I've learned that just because a component or system is "high end" doesn't make it "musical".
Thank you Elizabeth - I feel a little better.

Jamiek, Hellofidelity - Imagine that you have choice of two versions of the same orchestral performance:

- exceptional performance recorded 50 years ago with
really bad sound and a lot of noise.
- recently released, not as great but recorded beautifully.

What would you choose? Said relative of mine would not hesitate selecting first one while I would always select the second. I'm perhaps audio freak but am not as bold as Elizabeth to admit it.

Onhwy61 - In example above it might be trade-off between 10% performance difference for 90% sound improvement. Is it still sound over substance?
Whole experience is important to me - substance AND sound.
Here's a test:
Suppose desert island: the choice:
Either you get perfect stereo system, but limited to your favorite 300 recordings...never any additional, forever.
OR, you have a crummy boombox, and thousands of interesting recordings, with new stuff constantly being airlifted in.. but you are forever stuck with the crummy boombox as the ONLY way to play.
you must choose one only: which one would you choose?
A very tough call for an Audiophile, I tried to give enough for the perfect system recordings to lure you in.... HAH!
"perfect stereo system, but limited to your favorite 300 recordings"...or "crummy boombox, and thousands of interesting recordings"

"you must choose one only"

Elizabeth you are a very cruel person!
Just call me: Elizabeth the Cruel
as I cackle gleefully....
(I'd have a hard time too....)
I would prefer the better performance. I still listen to a lot of Louis Armstrongs's Hot Five & Hot Seven and Roberts Johnson's original recordings. There's an older version of Barber's Adagio from the late 50s (I think) that is one of my favorites. It lacks in sonics, but it's a wonderful performance.
Can I have a very well designed "boom box" with a full iTunes subscription service? I'm a simple person, I think my audiophile membership has expired. :D
300 records is not enough! If it were 3,000 records, then I'd be tempted.

About a decade ago I started to get heavily into early Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and various Delta blues artists. The quality of the recordings presented problems for me. Ultimately it forced me to change me attitude towards what a system can do. Wide and detailed soundstages with gut shaking bass and shimmering highs is nice, but in and of themselves they really don't have that much to do with music.
the boombox
Give me the boombox - keeping sand out of the turntable would have to be murder; and then there's replacement tubes...
I will take the 300 and great sound--do I get dedicated lines on the island?? can listen to a different song every day for 300 days and after 3 mos on the island when I go crazy I won't remember what I listened to anyway--all kidding aside I have music that sounds great in the car but not so great on the big system--ie poorly recorded etc but is really good music--so if you like music it is good anywhere but it can be so much better on a nice system--that is why we are all here!!
I went on a 6 day vacation to Mexico shortly after Christmas with an ipod chock full of 6800 songs. My only previous experiences with this veritable, yet limited music library, was during work-outs or grass-cutting. My intention was to provide distraction from the lengthy plane ride. What I discovered was how much I enjoyed the music. I listened each and every night, on the beach, and of course, on the flight back. It was the music. I went as far as to tell my family I had inadvertently vanquished my obssessvie tendencies towards vinyl playback.

I had a similar conversation with Arnie Nudell and Paul McGowan at the 1996 Vail Jazz Party. With strong paraphrase on their evaluatuion, they contended music may best be appreciated only through a high resolution system. With the support of a woman comfortable in expressing her opinion I was able to return the focus to the music and the joy there derived.

And, although the audio quality of an ipod may exceed that of a boom box it's offerings are little compared to my home system. I hold the dis-belief that I might ever pick sound over substance.
Well said, Ras422. Those are my thoughts as well. I look at it like this, I was way into music when all I had was my parents old stereo fom the 50's. The sound quality wasn't even close to the system I have now, but that doesn't mean I didn't love the music any less. Any upgrades that I made over the years were just icing on the cake.
For me I'm a music lover and an audio freak. Loving music is what turned me into an audio freak. For that deserted island, I would choose to have the perfect stereo with 300 favorite recordings, thank you. A perfect stereo is much too hard to come by.

Just thought about it again. It's the "perfect stereo?" After spending thousands of dollars building the opposite of the "perfect stereo," I would never pass on the "perfect stereo." That's a no-brainer for me. 300 favorite recordings will have to do.
I love music, that's why I have a stereo at all.

But, I realize that music exists so that I can test my stereo, and continually try to make it better.

I wonder what a new DAC would sound like, and how 2 smaller subs would compare to one big one, oh yeah, I've always wanted to try a linear tracking arm, that TransFi Terminator 3 looks good, you know I love my VPI Classic, but I grew up near where they make Sota tables, so maybe I should try one of those...........

Oh yeah, I like music too.
Once upon a time, like Elizabeth,s relative, I enjoyed good music from whatever source it emanated. This was before I discovered "The high end".
"How you gonna keep'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree"?
Now, I am absolutely positively astounded at the sound of those records I bought over 30 years ago. As much as I like variety, I hate bad sound. I would have to take the 300 and go crazy shortly there after.
Relative was mine (I don't share him). There might be more than one reason for him to enjoy orchestral music on poor system. One reason I mentioned is love of music that made him blind to a sound but the other is modesty. I see people like that all around sitting whole days at work on horrible wooden chars even if change is easy. They take whatever live brings - just the type of personality.

We're not talking about not listening to Duke Ellington at all but rather opting for better soundwise recording of the same composition.

Listening to Ipod on the trip to Mexico is fine but try to imagine that this is your only system forever. My relative wouldn't mind.
Kijanki, I don't think you are an audio freak. I think you are a music lover who is trying to get his audio up to a very high level. Once you have accomplished this you will enjoy your music a lot more. Audio freaks are on a never ending quest.
Orpheus10 - It is never ending quest for me too (to a point) but I don't have GAS (Gear Acquire Syndrom).
some great songs sound better on a car stereo or boombox ,than a highend system ,i would take boombox with unlimited music any day
Im well balanced in that aspect, Sound is very important to enjoy music. Thats why i upgrade every year my hifi setup.
I like to hear what is going on - you can't always here everything on bad recordings or bad systems - a walking bass line can be buried. I want to know what tom is being hit and that squeaky foot pedal on Led Zeppelin. The recordings I enjoy most are like a microscope and highly dynamic. Audio compression makes it very hard to hear detail but it is all too popular in modern music.

This is a great mix

Here is another nice mix

This is has great clarity between drums and bass

Then listen to this awful sound of deliberately distorted double platinum best selling album

and then listen to what the drums might have sounded like without audio compression and distortion the same groove - now what sounds better?

Are we nuts? Somehow I don't think so.

Everyone agree that Cindy is awesome?
Shadorne - Not everyone likes clarity/transparency and resolution (I do). Reading user reviews of my Benchmark DAC1 I found opinion that it is too resolving/analytical making possible to hear each instrument instead of preferred "sound blob" that people got used to.

You are a music lover with an understanding of technology...the double whammy!
Not everyone likes clarity/transparency and resolution (I do).

Yes but I think Cindy plays with much more than just clarity and resolution - I detect a hint of John Bonham in this talented lady! (a lot of Tony Williams influence too)

Anyway I am glad you like her!
Yeah.. Cindy on the drums and Tal Winkenfeld on the bass.
Any more ladies?
I am a realist when it comes to balancing funds between albums, cds, etc. and audio equipment. I am quite satisfied with my mid-fi setup that took me many years of piecing together. I am even more satisfied with my 7,000+ cd collection with just as many records.
The boombox to state of the art comparison is easy for me...I want the music. If you add up just my Steve Roach and Pete Namlook cds then that's already over 300 that I couldn't live without.
Synthfreek - 7000 CDs is incredible. How long are you collecting?

If you chose Boombox you are a music lover. Sadly, because people pay more attention to music producers pay less attention to quality. As long as people buy poorly recorded CDs nothing will change. Audiophiles don't represent buying power anyway but it has to start somewhere.

Mapman - Thank you.
I just turned 40 and I have been collecting cds since '87. I have sold many MANY thousands over the years though. I used to get plenty of free promos while I was running or working at record stores. Here's a video I made last year showing most of them.
This debate is quite facinating. I have come to the conclusion that we realy don't know who we are; we only think we know. We act and then we give a reason for our actions; as opposed to having a logical thought out reason for taking them in the first place.
"Midfi" people have to accumulate music at a rapid pace because the best music quickly becomes boring on that equipment and must be replaced with something new. I know, I was once one of them.
"Highend" people, on the other hand, discover the old LP's they bought 30 years ago are brand new all over again, consequently; they have no need to rush to the record store.
Orpheus10 - You are right but it doesn't have to be LP. I listen more to violin solo CDs that I was avoiding before because sound was flat and screechy - not interesting (even annoying). I cannot separate sound from the music - it is one whole experience to me.
"Highend" people, on the other hand, discover the old LP's they bought 30 years ago are brand new all over again, consequently; they have no need to rush to the record store. "

Yes, I do that.

I also purchase new and used lps and CDs (and even downloaded mp3 or other format files) to fill in gaps and expand my collection, but this happens to a lesser extent than it would if the stuff I already have did not sound so good.

I also visit the local library and bring home lots of stuff I would not pursue otherwise to listen to and find a lot to like there as well.

More than ever, I have way more good stuff to listen to and enjoy than ever before and not enough hours in the day to do it all. A nice position to be in I would say for any music lover.

I'd rather spend time listening than putzing around with my system, but I will putz if needed. Does that make me not an audiophile?
"Does that make me not an audiophile?"

Yes it does - since you care about sound.

Public library is great. For a while selection was limited and physical quality (scratches) really bad. Now they have a lot of CDs plus judging by radial marks (when I take CD against light) they use CD shaver/polisher.

Kijanki, I'm glad you mentioned violin. When the violin is just right, everything else is just right.
Mapman, would you rather putz than listen. After you have reached a point where you are in "audiophile heaven", how long do you remain before you have to "putz"?
"After you have reached a point where you are in "audiophile heaven", how long do you remain before you have to "putz"?"

I suppose until the time comes again where things do not sound right or I think I know how to make an improvement. Until then, I do not touch a thing. The actual time period can vary. Currently, I have not touched anything since my recent amp upgrade a couple months back I suppose. I have gone several years without changing anything in the past.

The thing is any one change can start a chain reaction. My last chain reaction leading up to where I am now started when I gave up on trying to get my Magnepan mg1cs set up properly in my current home after realizing that my little Triangles in my second system running off an old Tandberg tr2080 receiver were outperforming them (and the B&W P6s and original OHM Walsh 2s I also had at the time). That led to major changes throughout the system culminating with the recent amp change, which I had planned to do eventually for about 2 years after acquiring the new, big OHMs.
Mapman, give me a rundown on the big OHMs. Although I have never auditioned a pair, "theoretically", I can not imagine a better speaker.

I'll just say that the OHMs are a lot of bang for the buck in terms of comparison with other speaker designs.

The Walsh driver concept in combo with OHM Acoustic's, ie John Strohbeen's, ear for music, MIT engineering background, and focus on really only the things that matter to produce good sound at reasonable cost, are the keys.

Rather than rehash what's already in various threads here and elsewhere on the net, please pop me an email if you like and I would be glad to discuss!

With this "sound or music" choice, might be added another consideration. I've known many musicians (or others who have some music theory training) who have mid-fi equipment at best and care little about high-fidelity. When they listen to music they can get excited over chord progressions, voicings, harmonic textures, counterpoint, syncopation, scales used in improvisation, etc. -- all things that can be heard from a boombox. (Oh by the way, I am not insinuating that audiophilia is a compensation for not having a musicians' "BIG EARS" -- just that there is so much to hear and enjoy in music that goes beyond sound quality.
"just that there is so much to hear and enjoy in music that goes beyond sound quality."

Kefir - Yes, but good sound doesn't take anything away. It enhances overall experience - at least for me.
300 is a lot of recordings. I have a small collection of CDs, 550 or so, now on a server, so access is easy. Taking a wild guess, 100 or so of these are in pretty "heavy rotation," while there must be 200 or so that I would hardly miss. Like many of us, I'm busy, so I don't get to listen as much as I like (I tinker with my rig even less), although music is usually playing while I'm home.

So how many recordings do you get to listen to in an average week? Listen to seriously?

Fewer distractions on a desert island, but I'd take the sound.

I just remembered something; when I was a teenager , in the back seat with a cute girl; the music coming from a "jive time" car radio sounded sooooo good.
Yeah, It was so nice that I cannot stop doing it.
Audio freaks are on a never ending quest.
Orpheus10 (Threads | Answers)

If that's the case, I rescind my earlier statement; I'm not an audio freak.