Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Tell You're an Audiophile (top 10)

Since Sherlock solved the Mystery of the Volume Knob, I have changed my opinion of my rig. It's not that it sounded that bad before, it's just that now it sounds more realistic than ever. Because of this dramatic change in its accuracy, I find myself longing to hear it, much like when you miss your dog after being away on vacation.  I know, just like that mutt greeting me at the door, tail wagging and tongue ready to wash my face, I will flip the power switch on my system and be prepared to hear something new in an intimately  familiar recording. My suspicions have been proven to be 100% accurate for everything I have listened to of this nature to date.
For example, Dire Straits produced an amazing album called Brothers in Arms I have used as a reference in evaluating many other systems. This is probably one of the finest productions, mixes, and performances I know of in the pop world of which just about everyone has a copy.  This makes it easier to compare apples to apples, at least from a source material point of view. (Another of my favorites is Norah Jones Come Away With Me).

Brothers in Arms - Original Version
Yesterday, I spun Why Worry Now and was again reaffirmed that this is the finest I have ever heard this recording on any of my systems. There were all sorts of nuances that were there and were evident, it's just that now instead of being casually resolved, such details are up front and center so to speak.  Ambiance, for example, even on the digital version is far better and the decaying echoes much more lifelike, as compared to my prized analog version. Vocals are smoother and transients snappier without sounding artificial or over-emphasized.  Things just sound right!

But this made me wonder: how many audiophiles are like this? How many actually cannot wait to get home from work and twist that good old volume knob knowing what awaits. I bet all of you are like this.

Sitting in your car and listening to the adequate playback system within, listening to your iPod while jogging around the park, or riding up the elevator - well, let's not go there. But coming home - that's what makes it all worthwhile. What awaits you in your magical audio parlor transports you to any event you wish to hear without leaving home.  What other hobby can give you this amount of instant gratification?

So I've come to another conclusion about the characteristics or symptoms one must have to call yourself an audiophile.  Here is what I've come up with so far:

10. Always on the lookout  for or lusting after the newest and greatest piece of gear
9. Wanders into nearby audio salons during lunchtime
8. Eats dinner in front of your rig
7. Can't wait to demo your system to visitors
6. Carries a picture of your rig in your wallet
5. Loves swapping out pieces of equipment with other audiophiles
4. Subscribes to numerous audio-related publications, RSS feeds, and newsgroups
3. Goes on vacation to an electronics show
2. Dreams of new speakers and has nightmares about a house fire
1. Has a longing for sitting down in front of your system over almost any other activity

Does this description fit you? How many of these characteristics do you possess? How many must you work on to know you can really call yourself an AUDIOPHILE? Passion and a lot of it is essential.  I'm sure there are others but these are what I would call the minimum essentials.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

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