I was at an event with a large audio club last week and I guess I ran across the straw that breaks the camel’s back. For the thousandth time I witnessed deplorable behavior from one of the members towards a table full of people. It was the usual “I’m more important than you, you are all ill-behaved and losers, etc.” Completely uncalled for of course. Suffice it to say that at least half the members of this club are similar! I am just sick and tired of the attitudes of audiophiles and their ilk. The further underlying problem is that this behavior is now the new norm! We already have more than enough of such behavior and what makes it especially irritating is that this behavior is systemic in a hobby that like all hobbies, is supposed to be fun and where one would think it would normally be unwelcome. Hi Fi is supposed to be fun!
While I consider myself a music lover, first, last and always, I realize that music listening doesn’t happen without gear. Even though I am not and never will be an “audiophile” or any other “phile” for that matter, I still desire my music to sound the best it can with what is at hand. In fact, even “audio enthusiast” has recently become just as bad as “Audiophile” in connotation. When it comes to gear, I’m about lower cost, high value audio gear, why? I deal in reality and science or empirical evidence and that runs counter to the audiophile world of hype, snobbish judgement, trickery and pseudoscience. I got so sick of not only experiencing this myself, but watching others experience it as well, the relentless unfair judgemental, snobbish, belittling behavior of audiophiles and their generals (most reviewers) towards other people who can’t afford to spend $30,000 or more on a system or indeed a single piece of gear. Too many god-damn times, have I heard, seen and experienced these dark-souled beings putting down others who don’t have the gear they have or even putting down others for their choices in music! The attitude is that if it isn’t the “audiophile flavor of the week” on 180 gram virgin vinyl or high-rez computer file with MQA, then it is not music and should never be listened to. This is because “audiophiles” don’t listen to music, they listen to gear and claim to have golden ears that everyone else should trust and just take their word for it. The attitude is: “I’ll go listen to speakers, amps, etc. and music for you and then tell you what to like and not like”. Ironically, most “audiophiles” are hard of hearing, at least in part because they play “their choice of music” at levels that exceed safety standards for humans. They want to then tell the rest of us that we don’t know how to listen to music or that we don’t know what good music is, etc! It is like this big quest for power and control over others. It gets to the point that these audiophile people will tell those of us who are not like them that we should not even own a single record or listen to music because we are not like they are! Ironically, this is also an example of extreme hypocrisy. These same dark beings complain all day that there are no new people in the “hobby” as they kick out and prevent anyone from coming into it! (Now we have this behavior and worse in spades in every aspect of our lives in the US, thanks to the monster and his minions in charge these past 10 months plus)!
I had enough of this long before that though and got fed up enough to start this blog some 2 or 3 years ago as part of my effort to put some positive and welcoming energy into the “hobby”, but my true main concern was and is getting folks to listen to music again, to re-engage with it. It is a problem unique to the US, this loss of music listening and enjoyment. Every other country has deep love of music in their culture from Afghanistan to Russia to Zimbabwe, even if the music is from other places and cultures. Here in the US, getting someone to sit down and listen to a full album, much less a song is like pulling teeth. I know, we are all busy, but it is just as easy to find 30 to 45 minutes in any given day to really listen to music. The irony is that people all over the world are just as busy and yet find the time to listen to and enjoy some music. In fact, folks around the world know music from the US better than those living in the US. Take Russia (the people, not the politics) for example, they know every rock and pop song of the west to the final detail and can’t get enough, they thoroughly enjoy it. Russia is also known for great contributions to music historically, think about that.
Stopping further digression, let’s get back to the “hobby”. Audiophiles and their ilk have made what should be fun and egalitarian into a political battlefield of sorts with the attitudes. The “hobby” has become all about out-spending and out-doing each other, “keeping up with the Joneses”, “better than thou”, etc. Almost like a religion. As a result, we are forced to censor ourselves to extreme levels. Within the industry and “hobby” words and phrases such as “cheaper”, “inexpensive”, “less expensive”, “affordable”, “budget”, even “median” will send audiophiles and most reviewers into fits of snobbish judgement and auto-rejection.
What I posit is this: First, if you are new to the hobby or don’t consider yourself an “audiophile” and are just one of the rest of us then the best thing you can do is plain not listen to these “audiophiles” and reviewers and the like. Stay out of forums as well, those are full of these dark beings. I don’t care how much information you give them, seeking help, you will not get it! You will only get extreme biased judgement and opinion. All of us have biases of one form or another, but audiophiles, most reviewers and those in forums take it too far. The thing you need to remember is when it comes to gear, you are buying and choosing for YOU, not anyone else! Same thing with music, you are choosing and listening to what YOU want to listen to!
For yours truly, who has been around a while and who writes about this stuff or tries to help, etc. I am taking this approach for the time being: I have always refused to use the phrase “entry-level” in discussing or describing gear, it is right up there with the word “cheap” in context as to its connotation. To me, “entry-level” and “cheap” mean just that. To break that down further, in my mind “entry-level” does two things: 1) It assumes that the item is a very temporary measure and that you will want to replace it with something more expensive in a month because it will not be satisfying you. 2) It assumes that the item is inferior in all ways to everything else. The reality is that much of this gear that is considered so-called “entry-level” is almost just as good as the more expensive gear and will keep you happy and satisfied for years to come!
“Budget”: The term “budget” infers the same as “entry-level” (and it shouldn’t because “budget” is the most important thing in the hobby outbid only by “enjoyment”).
“Affordable”: While I once assumed this to be a safe word, is a bit more complex. In general terms, it is a safe word in my opinion, but “affordable” is also a variant. For example, $500 or $1,000 may be affordable to some, but so is $10,000 or $30,000 etc. In other words, we all have different levels of what we call “affordable”.
“Inexpensive” and “less expensive”: I think these terms are perfectly acceptable, but sadly, most in the industry have given them a negative connotation. Lately, even the phrase “low-cost-high value” is just starting to be questioned. Right now it is being tolerated.
So I have come up with a new word or term to use,…..”accessible” or “more accessible”. I use these terms to mean gear that is just that, more accessible financially to folks. I also apply the concept “low cost-high value” presumptively to the term “accessible”.
Unfortunately, after trying everything I can to bring positive energy to the hobby or world of audio for the last 3 or 4 years total, it has proven to be not enough. Audiophiles and their ilk, which includes most reviewers and some manufactures as well, are determined to be negative and elitist, not to mention uneducated by choice. (They have all the smarts of lemmings. They seem to just follow each other off any cliff they see). I know of one and only one popular reviewer for example who is egalitarian and not afraid to help others no matter their means. Sadly, his colleagues are opposite, but he has been at this far longer than I have.
Unfortunately, I am woefully outnumbered by people who want to keep things negative, I guess so that they can continue to complain or something as they fulfill their own prophecies. I used to go to audio events as much as possible trying to put positive energy in and encourage and help folks new to the hobby and more importantly encourage them to get back into enjoying music, but I can not take on an entire army of dark souls by myself to try to defend the innocent so to speak. So I have decided to slip out the side door if you will and not be so involved with the hobby or industry as it were so that I do not have to be around such unpleasant beings. Life is hard enough and hobbies and of course, music are supposed to be fun, positive, pleasant, relaxing, enjoyable, etc.