Why do people think I'm nuts involving audio?

Let me start by saying that I don't drink, drug or smoke and that my only vice is audio. I've been a Mac junkie since '80 and to date, I own a Mac system that I've put $40,000 into. To me, it sounds WONDERFUL! I'm very much into music, as opposed to philes that appear to be more into "sound" than music, at least this is what I'm gathering from the stuff I read.My problem is that NOT ONE person I know has a system that's more than maybe $1500, and mostly everyone I know thinks that I'm mentally "defective", although they all love the way my system sounds! They just think that I'm NUTS! I have money, so I'm not being irresponsible to anything, I just LOVE audio. Two weeks ago, I took a 4 day trip to the McIntosh Labs in Bingimton, about 170 miles from my home. A guy from Audio Classics in that area set up a tour of Mac for me and I just loved it, BUT, took major heat from my friends about taking an "audio" vacation. SO, is there anyone out there with similar experiences with friends who can advise me on how to respond to them? Thanks, A SANE AUDIOPHILE!
I suspect that many of those same people, you mention your comments in the opening thread, would have no problem spending $2000 on big screen TV. In fact, I have seen many of speed boat crowd blow $30,000 on a projector based TV/Movie Screen. I suspect it may instructive to repeat a thread I started and some comments to it from others. So here it is:

I have often thought that the Home Theatre craze developed from ever increasing detachment from creative thought and vicarious living. Evidence of this includes the trend toward getting a gas guzzling, resource intensive, "sexy" SUV to haul groceries, Mall of America purchases, and a gas guzzling motor boat. This is compared to the person being "sexy" by being in shape via working out on their kyak or enjoying a closer relationship to nature on a hike or sailing, being more aware of your interconnected place with nature and accessing real needs versus created ones. Created needs designed primarily to prop-up an increasingly decreased ego brought about by a look in the mirror after the morning shower and comparing one's self to the corporate promoted illusion of substance is illusion (e.g., shoulder pads in suits projecting the image you are built when in fact the suit is built but you are not or you would not need the shoulder pads in the suit). Where would Home Theatre be if there were no load explosions or guns shotting from right rear channels to front left channels in the software (movies). Have we become so dull as a society that we the only brain stimulus that excites and moves us is a bomb going off beneath our seats? I think the incredibly tragic events on September 11, 2001 helps to focus how detached we have been from the very thing we have seemingly craved in movies explosions, gun fire, rockets, and childish plots. By that reasoning September 11 helped to underscore the detachment we have had from reality. Evidence: Hollywood rethinking releasing such Explosion Oriented Movies (the very thing that helps sell massive subwoofers) as Collaterial Damage starring Arnold S. Music is a clear window to the soul with its wide range of feeling and thought provoking content. I am greatly saddened by the demise of the best of Audiophile Equipment that was designed to transport us to the world of music that is not one dimensional and helps foster a greater appreciation of the diversity of life and ourselves. Music stirs our soul and that is reality. Something we need to ask ourselves before we shell out more dollars for D- movie software and our best Stereo Manufacturers are gone.

One more fact to hammer home my points above: People the world over stated that the Sept 11th events looked like a movie. And people in foreign countries have come to look at Americans as exporters of explosive death and maheim "entertainment" The connection to the home theatre craze seems indisputable and hopefully will bring us back to creative and open minds.

Anothers followup:

I have always loved music. I came to love great movies. There are very few of them. I guess it's all taste, but I love a movie with a plot. I think Hollywood has sold us short on plot and acting. BUT music has given us the Beatles, Beethoven, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa and I could go on forever. Hey everybody remember what it was like to sit in front of your stereo and feel great about yourself and the world? I do and I miss it. Music is uplifting, the world is violent enough already. I am ready for war and support it. But I think when we can listen, a little peace and music is what we need right now. Let's hope for a better days.

Sanity seems to be defined by how much of sheep you are so get your act together. Blow a wad on home theatre, get that 6-pack out, a big bag of chewy carmels, switch off your mind, turn on the boob tube, and let the fat roll!
Everyone has at least one hobby...photography, collectibles, cars, whatever. Whatever their passion is, I can guarantee you they spend far more money on their hobby than you or I would. To the uninitiated a Kodak disposable works fine, why would you spend big bucks for a Hasselblad and turn a perfectly good room in your house into a darkroom? Ask your friends what they like to do, and rather than ridicule them, show interest in their hobby. Maybe they'll learn to do the same. A chacunes sons gouts...
Hi Sal,

Sal I have been involved in high-end audio since I was in HS (more years than I care to remember), and I have endured some of the things you are talking about, the raised eyebrows etc. but you just have to ignore those things and proceed with your life. Most of my friends like music to various degrees, and all have stereo systems to various degrees, but you have to understand that not everyone is smitten with this bug that we call 'audiophilia'.

The folks who hang-out here on the Audiogon are all taken with this bug, and we look at the world of music and audio equipment a little differently.

To sum up you either are an audiophile or you are not, it is very difficult to explain but you know when it is you, so just enjoy it for all its worth.

Good listening!

I love technology. I wouldn't mind touring any of the high-end shops. Enjoy it and be proud of your hobby!!
you are not alone my friend.i feel most people on audiogon are the last of the audiophiles. i have friends that have known me for years who think i am sick for spending the money i do on audio. i love good movies as well but nothing takes me away like good tunes. if i have a hard day i can sit down in front of my system and escape. find some new friends who are sick like yourself. hell my best friend i turned into an audiophile. i once traveled 750 miles just to hear jm lab utopias. plus i went jetskiing on the ocean , and went to look at porsches and ferraris . the fact is i wanted to hear those speakers worse. i went to ces last january for two channel. long live hard core audiophiles. lets introduce more people to high end. i started with jbls and hafler amps. it took years to arrive where i am. any way i have enjoyed talking to many sterro nuts and hope i can meet alot of the audiogon crowd somday. happy listening kirk.

Always remember there are two sides to this argument.


If our world was strictly Utilitarian we would live in a very different world than we do now. We would have only functional utilitarian products, and art and creativity would be effectively dead.

Anyone who unconstructively criticizes the way someone spends his hard earned cash is a fool. If someone criticizes my audio system as a waste of money, I ask them if they really NEED the gass guzzeling $30k+ SUV they just drove up in. Everyone indulges in SOMETHING. Everyone has their own set of values of what indulgances they hold to be the highest prioritority. Some folks like food, cars, houses, boats, furniture, personal treatments, classes, vacations, etc... the list goes on and on. No one is strictly utilitarian.

My first suggestion is not to let your friends affect you when they say they think you are crazy.

If you want to fire back, just use the argument I list above. Find out their indulgance, and ask them if they really need it. Ask them if they want to live in a world that is strictly Utilitarian. If they say, 'yes', tell them to get rid of all of their indulgances. They are just being silly.

Always remember that Music is Art. Our music systems are effectively windows that allow us to experience this art. The more you like your music system the closer you feel to the music and artist that created it. A good comparison is to paintings. People who really love paintings (and can afford it) buy the orginal works of an artist. People who love art and cannot afford originals try to buy high quality limited edition silk screens of works. People who loce art but cannot afford the limited edition silk screens end up buying regular silk screens of paintings. People who have some appreciation (or folks that love art that cannot afford high quality sil screens) for art will end up buying inexpensive prints. What does the person gain by spending $35,000 on the original painting over the person spending $2500 on a signed limited edition silk screen over the person spending $500 on a regular edition silk screen, over the person spending $100 on a print of the piece of art? Some may argue for the investment... I have heard arguments that art (on average) grows less in value than the typical bank savings account. Perhaps it is the same gain that is gotten from a $35,000 hi end music system over a $2500 mid fi music system over a $500 rack system over a $100 clock radio? Always remember though... How many CD's do you own? This is how many pieces of Art you own.

Peace folks.

they will always think we're nuts, until they get bitten (with the upgrade bug)...But, for most people, that will never happen

don't let it get you down---close your door, unplug your phone, and crank up the tunes~~~~~~~~

My wife always ask why I spend so much money on records every week
-- So I ask my wife why she spend so much money on sigarettes...
If I need to get "high", I'll play Marillion or Genesis on my turntable.
Audio is not my hobby anymore -- it's my addiction. It's much easier to jump off "H" than from Audio.
If you'll look at the crackhead you may tell that he's NUTS.
One of my friends, who also works w/me, thinks I am absolutely insane for spending the time and money I do on audio gear and recordings. I have hundreds and hundreds of CDs and LPs and he thinks I am NUTS. Yet he loves my system and always wants to come over and listen and borrow all the new music I've gotten etc. He and his wife dine out in expensive gourmet restaurants every single weekend; that is their only hobby and they do it w/a vengeance. I have dined w/them once or twice, for a birthday or something special, and was appalled at how much they spend on food and wine! Easily they spend $200-300 every weekend on restaurants. And sometimes they go out both Friday and Saturday nights! When I pointed out to him how insane he was, on his own passions, he didn't seem to see the analogy. Other friends ask me "how much did this cost?" and I've learned to just say, Oh, I got a good deal, or I traded for it, or whatever. I would never dream of asking them, How much did that suit cost? or those shoes, your hundredth pair? or that vacation trip to Italy? or the remodeling of your house? Sometimes I find it annoying, but mostly I feel fine because I love what I hear in my home listening to music, and I spend hours engaged in it, reading, doing chores, or just really listening. It's funny how audio is seen as an extravagance, whereas SUVs, restaurant meals, and expensive clothes are not. But I've always marched to the beat of a different drummer--and probably heard those drumbeats w/more detail and resolution and deep bass than the normal people who criticize our hobby.
Sal I feel your pain. Seriously, I have gotten to the point that I just don't talk about it to anyone unless they express an interest. Years ago I was exuberant in my hobby and thought I could turn my music loving friends/acquaintances on to well reproduced audio. Guess what, most just don't care, much to my disappointment. I thought if people knew how good music could sound, more would get involved. But its not so. We are a fringe group as are most that go the extra length to realize the ultimate in any particular hobby.

So what to do? Enjoy the hobby for the pleasure you receive from it. Don't talk about how much it costs to the uninitiated even when asked, it will tell them little other than confirm your subtitle to them. If interested they will express it. If not you will know almost immediately. I would say that 60% of 1st time visitors that come over to my place never even comment on the stereo or even my extensive collection of music. Bottom line is it's my hobby not theirs.

I don't know about others but there is one thing that does irk me. When it is obvious by the dedicated effort one has in a hobby whether it be antiques, cars, photography, woodworking, audio or others that a visitor would not engage in ANY conversation concerning it. I generally find such folks boorish.
sal, in my 40+ years in this hobby, i've found there are two kinds of people in this world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't. -cfb
Sal, You sound perfectly normal to me, dude.
The only recomendation from me is to try not to focus on what others think and a need to "defend yourself". This usually stems from some place in us that needs to be "right". Who cares? Just enjoy yourself and hopefully, along the way, help others to enjoy as well. -AJ
Sal, you are NOT crazy. You've found something that:

1) Gives you great joy

This is pretty obvious or you wouldn't continue your involvement with it. The fact that you even based a "vacation" on it should tell them it is more than just something that you do as a hobby, it is both a way of life and immensely enjoyable to you.

2) Keeps you entertained

Between the "hunt" for various components or recordings, "buying", "installing", "using", etc... you've found something that is both multi-faceted and "entertaining" to YOU.

3) Is non-harmful to any other human being

Other than the use of electricity and the materials used to produce the software and hardware of our "hobby", i see this as being one of the least "offensive" or "dangerous" of hobbies out there. I can't say the same for Drag / Nascar racing, Boating, Motorcycling, Muscle cars, collecting Guns / Swords / Knives / Weapons, Hunting, Fishing, etc... While these too are mostly male hobbies that all require investments in both time and money for the associated gear, they also take on far greater risks and produce more pollution to the environment. This is not to say that they are not "enjoyable" as i like a few of those mentioned as i'm sure others do too. Audiophilia is FAR more "harmless" than any / all of those mentioned.

4) Gives you something to show for your time and money

You can always sell what you have a recoupe a sizable portion of what you spent, especially if you are a "wise" or "thrifty" shopper. How many other hobbies, especially those pertaining to "fashion" related issues, can you say that about ? Ask your lady friends how much their purses, shoes, dresses, blouses, etc... that they put so much attention and pride into purchasing are worth once they've been used ??? Besides that, this is something that you get to use and enjoy on a DAILY basis, not just once in a while, on weekends, special occassions, etc...

5) Offers therapy, relaxation and enjoyment all in one

As mentioned above, you have all of the various aspects of selecting, assembling, using, etc... the system that you compile. This can be as simple or complex as you make it. As such, i find this both enjoyable and frustrating ( like most things in life ). Besides that, you can INSTANTLY alter your mood simply by selecting various types of "software" as you desire. This in itself offers an "immeasurable" amount of "therapy".

I do agree that others may think that you are "nuts" simply because they don't understand the complexities or involvement that one finds out about once they get involved in our "hobby". The fact that much of high end audio is portrayed as being "snobbish" ( rightfully so ) doesn't help things at all. If WE as a group want our hobby to flourish and continue to improve, we need to make sure that the interest of the general public is there. Without the demand for better products that are marketable, we are all doomed. As such, let's do our part to try and introduce others to this hobby. If it means getting to know them better via THEIR hobbies, so be it. You can then compare notes and find out who REALLY is the "craziest" : ) Sean
Some people spend dollars on their interests and others are very tight and have no vices they will spend money on. I feel fortunate to be able to spend some extra money on a few different hobbies and am proud of it! I also learned a long time ago to keep it to myself unless in the company of others that does the same. Each dog has their own Poisson.
To all of my audiophile friends who responded to my inquiry about my friends thinking that I'm "audio defective" THANK YOU ALL! You're comments have truly helped me The underlying theme that I heard was basically "enjoy it and keep to myself" unless someone shows a sincere interest, as opposed to one who merely wants to judge me and my passion. Thanks again, Sal
I am a bit late in responding to this one; however here goes:
My first Job out of College was working for a tube audio mfg!, talk about dream come true! I loved it. It took me a while and another audio mfg to realize that I needed to make more money that what I could make as an assistant, or manager of one of these companies, but what I learned will keep me in this hobby for life (I got hooked as a kid w/ my fathers mac, fisher, bozak, ar system).
I haven't spent quite what you have spend, but I am getting there...
When people find out that Hi-Fi is my hobby, they ask: "what should I buy?" My universal response is: "how much are you willing to spend?". this separates the seekers from the serious, and allows me to answer their question appropriatly.
Happy Listening
I keep my audio quiet. Most of family does not even know of its existence. It is visually stunning compared to Best Buy gear, so it has dropped the jaws of friends and cablemen. There's always the 'What's that?', and I hate explaining what phono stage is to someone who does not recognize the word 'turntable'. When they inquire about the stereo, I quickly get off the subject. When people ask for component recommendations, I just tell them B&W 302s and stay away from Bose (sadly, the Bose part almost always elicits an argument). I have been in audio a short enough time to realize that it is bazaar. Way more bazaar than golf or photography. Laymen are used to those kinds of weirdos. All this is okay because normal people are boring.
I love the last response, about trying to explain that that box is a phono stage, and that other one is the power supply, for a turntable with a moving coil cartridge--when the inquirer has never even seen a turntable before!! And refers to the major part of it as a "needle," anyway. My friend just refers to each of my audio "boxes" on various racks and spikes as "receivers," except for the two boxes that she readily recognizes, the "speakers." She has also learned that all the strings she calls "wires" and "plugs" are actually "cables." It's really hilarious, when you think of how much I've spent, and all the time I've spent researching and auditioning and trying and experimenting with all this different gear over all these years, to hear someone refer to it all as "receivers" and some "wires." I actually get a kick out of this!
Sc, speaking of nomenclature... Having learned the appropriate audiophile vocab, my friend (a music-phile)has lately invented & uses her own terms esp. when talking to audiophiles. Hence, cables become "wires" (ofcourse), cartridge a "cartiledge", TT is a plastic-grinder, cdp a cd-phone; tubes, lamp(-bulbs); speakers depend on shape: heaters (Quads), freezer (big footprint), canary (small, generally), doors (panels generally); amps are "transistors"... as in, "...the wire hooking your lamps to the freezers?" or "...you're pushing the heaters with a lamp (the pre) and a supermarket transistor???"

Interesting thread

not so many years ago when I was mid-fi-ing with NAD Cal etc I always yearned for the hifi end, not because I was consumed with owning it from a status end- but because of the way it would transport my living space to the vibrancy of music

every purchase I've made since then was a dramatic step in enhancing the musicality

I consider it a small price to pay for the true enjoyment

too many people are sold schlock and are convinced that they have arrived, they also typically own a small variety of music

crazy to someone else? who cares
my levels of satisfaction are immense
I don't feel I have to justify it to anyone else