un-becoming an audiophile

Yes, the title is what is sounds like.

I remember long ago, as a boy, I used to be able to enjoy music without picking apart a track. is the bass tight? is the midrange clear and life-like? is the treble resolution spot on? What about imaging/sound stage?

Most people have this very same superpower - not being an audiophile. They can play a song from the worst earbuds, laptop speakers, or even computer speakers - and enjoy the music; even sing along. They aren’t thinking about "how it sounds" or scrutinizing the audio quality. Actually, they couldn’t care less. They can spend their time on other life pursuits and don’t feel a need to invest big money (or much money at all) in the hi-fi hobby.

Any psychologists or scientists in the building? (please no Amir @amir_asr ) since you are neither! ...despite the word "science" being in your domain name - audio science review.

Please, I beg you. Help me get away from this hobby.

Imagine - being able to enjoy all of your favourite music - while still achieving that dopamine rush, along with serotonin, and even oxytocin - the bonding hormone, which can be released while listening to songs with deep emotional messages, or love songs.

We’re very much like food critics or chefs in a sense. We want the best of something (in this case, audio) I’m sure michelin star chefs face the same thing in their own right...can’t enoy or even eat the food unless it’s up to a certain standard.

When we audiophiles want to listen to music, we often play it on a resolving system, so as to partake in a a "high-end" listening experience. We often pick apart music and fault the audio components in our system, cables etc. All of this takes away from the experience of enjoying music as a form of art/entertainment. It has been said that some famous artists don’t even own a high-end audio system.

I gained a great deal of wisdom of from the documentary - Greek Audiophile. In it, we have audiophiles from all walks of life. Their families think they’re crazy for spending all this money on audio. They say it sounds "nice" or "real" but still can’t justify it.

I think it’s all in the brain. If we can reset our brains (or me at least) I can still enjoy music without needing a great system for it.

- Jack



If chasings sound quality is getting in the way of their enjoyment of music and they're not happy about it, then I'll encourage them to at least take a break from the audiophile hobby. 




You can critically listen and enjoy music simultaneously. I never knew this was an issue for some.

True. I have experienced myself becoming so critical in my listening at times that I’m impossible to please. I think I hear a problem and I become obsessed with trying to understand what I think I’m hearing and fix it asap. This can involve many hours of effort to no avail, only to find that the next day I’m happy again with the sound. If you can be critical, notice a problem, but not become obsessive about it to the point that you are no longer enjoying the music, then I think that’s a healthy perspective. Of course if there can be problems that are extreme, like loud and scary pops and crackles coming through the speakers, or smoke and bad smells coming from the amplifier. Those kinds of problems should be distracting.

On one of my better days I noticed something very off about the sound but just made a mental note of it and let the album I was listening to play through. I was in the musical magic zone and not going to interrupt it for a sound quality issue. Afterward I discovered it was a bad connection to one of the tweeters. 

I have come to the conclusion that I am never going to be an “audiophile” in the sense that many others on this forum are.  I set a budget of “good enough . . . certainly better than anything I’ve ever had before”.  I’m not going to keep auditioning or buying other equipment in search of something,  Unless I decide that a new purchase is “worth it” and fits in my budget, I’m standing pat and enjoying the music.  

One consideration is acknowledging that I’m 68 and only going to live so long.  No matter how much pleasure I get from my equipment, usually other people don’t care about that — they have other interests and consider my stuff an ordeal to have to get rid of.  They likely won’t appreciate the resale value of things like hifi equipment and will sell to the first buyer.  That will be a big enough loss with my current equipment, but to think what they might accept for an amplifier or loudspeakers that cost $20,000 each — they wouldn’t even know how to go about selling such items for anything reasonable. If I had a large record collection that I invested a lot of money in, that might even be hard to sell unless they know how to go about it.  I do plan to leave directions for my heirs regarding things like this, but mostly I just want to make settling my estate as easy for them as I can.  They will already be stressed, and I don’t want to make it more painful for them.

@asctim    I have always known the potential of my system(s) due to not frequently changing my components just making small tweaks. Recording quality and power issues are my pet peeves. Why? Very little(if anything) can be done with these issues. I want to be in control of the sound of my system not the power company or a poor recording engineer. If something is not right I want it to be MY error not placing blame on the gear/dealers ect. With time, research and knowledge I will find a way to correct any issues. When my system is in top form and playing a well recorded disc everything is right in my "Audiophile" world.