Audio Obsession

Regular readers of the refuge know that I've got a "thing" for audio and music, and that I've had some harsh comments regarding the poor quality audio that so many people tolerate these days in the name of convenience. But what of the other extreme? Who are the audiophile extremists? To what lengths will they go in their search for audio nirvana? Is 230,000 Euros enough, and what do they spend it on? Check out this short film of the Audiophile Club of Athens:

Up front, I've got no problem with someone spending six figures on their audio gear. Really. There are far worse ways to spend your money. Like being a Bush Pioneer, for example. And I can understand the desire to experience music on a very deep level. (It is interesting to note that many of the club members are filmed listening with their eyes closed. Many years ago I discovered the effectiveness of sensory deprivation and prefer critical listening in a completely darkened room.)

But any thinking observer of this film has to ask the question, "What do you get when you pay in excess of $300,000 for a home music system?" I'll let you ponder this for a bit before I get back to it a little later. In the meantime, check out part one of Loudspeakers: Effects of amplifiers and cables, courtesy of Audio Design Line.

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I've had some harsh comments regarding the poor quality audio that so many people tolerate these days in the name of convenience.

Well, OK. I've had some harsh comments on the people who figure it's any of their bloody business to critique my (or anyone's) preferred audio habits.

I have a system that the high-end freaks ... sorry, audiophiles would spit on. Replacement cost would be something like $2.5K, I'd guess. On the other hand, I neither have nor want an iPod, nor do I listen to music on my computer. And I think "home theatre" is a swindle. Oh, and I still listen to LP's. But I don't feel any need to thrash at those with different preferences.

But on the "high-end" stuff to which you refer, colour me skeptical going on cynical. While not posing as any sort of expert in any sense, I have the feeling that there are a lot of "audio charlatans" out there pushing gear, add-ons, and accessories which are a rip-off. But if someone wants to spend their money on that stuff, they should go for it!

By Scott Belyea (not verified) on 23 Aug 2007 #permalink

Scott, I don't criticize people's taste in gear, people buy what suits them and can afford. My criticisms have been based on the very poor quality of audio reproduction of the equipment, something that we can quantify with accuracy (whether or not someone actually likes 10% THD or a 5 kHz bandwidth is another question), particularly considering the technology available these days at modest cost.

I very much agree with your second paragraph and I think you'll enjoy my next installment on the subject.

If you've got a six-figure sum to spend on hi-fi, good luck to you. People with lots of money will always look for ways to spend it - that's what it's for, after all. I very much doubt that anybody thinks that, say, a diamond-and-platinum-encrusted Cartier pen (if such a thing exists) writes much better than a biro, but people will buy 'em.

What you get for spending $300,000 on an audio system is the warm glow of the knowledge that you've spent $300,000 on an audio system.

The truly rich are not like us.