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How I spoiled hi-fi for myself

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
How I spoiled hi-fi for myself.

Hey guys, I'm a long time active poster with currently sporadic activity and with virtually no interest in hi-fi anymore. Over the past year I have lost almost completely all of my interest in hi-fi and headphones, and I'd like to explain how this happened. I'm posting this in the members forum because this topic is related to being an audiophile in general, and not any specific aspect of related technology.


My interest all started one day when I wanted to buy better headphones. Back then I always did hours and hours of research before buying something, and my first expensive headphones were no exception. I stumbled into head-fi, and I was amazed by the community and their vast amount of knowledge. I had been convinced to increase my budget for my first purchase, and about a month after joining I made my first purchase. It was a Sennheiser HD650 and a Little Dot MK IV. I was extremely ecstatic about my purchase and within no time posting on head-fi became a daily activity. I had acquired a new hobby, and I truly enjoyed it.

My ride was far from smooth. At first I learned of all the wonders of tube amps, and how balanced amps and expensive would increase sound quality so much. At this point I believed most of what people said to me, since I was overwhelmed by other people's knowledge. However as I started to gain more knowledge I also learned to criticize and doubt others. I learned the names of head-fiers I respected, and of those I hated. I developed my own opinion about a lot of matters within head-fi and I became a full-fledged and well-informed member. Head-fi became like a second home to me, and I loved dreaming about getting better gear; and I got lots of it too. After my first purchase I got an Audio-GD DAC, a Sennheiser HD25-1 II, a Sennheiser IE80, and along multiple DIY projects, some entry level Stax gear.

Why, if I enjoyed this hobby so much, did I lose interest? As my amount of gear and time spent on head-fi increased, so did my thirst for knowledge. I started reading works from audiophiles who criticized the obsession over sound quality, and how the differences between gear are often inaudible. Soon I developed the opinion that the most efficient route in headphone hi-fi is to buy a 'decent' amplifier and DAC and spent the entire remaining budget on the best headphone you can get. I also believed the point of diminishing returns was much lower than most people seemed to believe, and I got a lot of enemies and heated discussions for expressing this opinion. Luckily I also stumbled upon people once in a while who agreed with me, and I later learned that there were some people who even looked up to me.

With time I studied electronics, sampling theory, and the psychology and physiology behind hearing. Most of this theory was hardly applicable in head-fi, except for one crucial message. Human hearing is even more amazing than it is complex. The same is true for the way our brain processes audiovisual information. The brain is so ingenious that it is able to completely compensate for mediocre, or decent in the very least, sound quality, and make the music just as enjoyable. I started to question the very foundation of being an audiophile; while differences between different systems can be easily identified, and one can be unanimously preferred over the other, does it really provide greater pleasure? And to top it all of, I did an ABX comparison between two DIY amplifiers with vastly different electrical circuits. I heard no difference.

I changed. I enjoy music just as much from my 1500 USD Stax rig (which truly sounds amazing in my ears!), as I do from my 200 USD desktop monitor rig. In fact, I prefer the latter because I find it uncomfortable to listen to headphones while bending over my head towards a book or notepad, as I always do when studying. The difference in sound quality is large, and very clear to me. But in the end I don't gain more pleasure from listening to my headphone rig than I do from a speaker rig. At first I did gain more pleasure from my headphones, but that changed when my views and knowledge slowly changed. Most of all, it changed when I lost my stubbornness and sub-consciously admitted that greater sound quality gives greater listening pleasure only with positively huge diminishing returns.


This text is not an attack on audiophiles, or a show of superiority. In fact, I'm sad I lost my interest in hi-fi, for it was one of the most fun activities I ever had the pleasure of spending time on. If you don't agree with my opinion, then you're probably one of the lucky few. This is who I am right now, and I unfortunately don't think anything will change that. I wish I could go back to the time where I was still into the hobby, but I simply don't believe I can. I spoiled my own hobby.

PS: Thanks for the great time.
Edited by Tilpo - 5/4/13 at 4:11am
post #2 of 92

Hey Tilpo!

 

Human beings are explorers.  We yearn to see what is over the next rise, what is beyond the mountain, across the ocean, in the heavens and far beyond.  It simply does not sit well us to dwell intensely on what is right in front of us for too long.  And that, my friend, is what you were doing for a time... what many of us are still doing right now.

 

Having said all that, I believe that you will come to hold a different perspective over time.  One needs a respite, a vacation, even a lengthy sabbatical on occasion.  But I highly doubt that this is a permanent change in state (very few things in life are).

 

Besides, you can't take your desktop rig everywhere you go.

 

And finally, FWIW, I'm glad you were here with us at all - even if only for a time.  smile.gif

post #3 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

Hey Tilpo!

Human beings are explorers.  We yearn to see what is over the next rise, what is beyond the mountain, across the ocean, in the heavens and far beyond.  It simply does not sit well us to dwell intensely on what is right in front of us for too long.  And that, my friend, is what you were doing for a time... what many of us are still doing right now.

Having said all that, I believe that you will come to hold a different perspective over time.  One needs a respite, a vacation, even a lengthy sabbatical on occasion.  But I highly doubt that this is a permanent change in state (very few things in life are).

And besides, you can't take your desktop rig everywhere you go.

Perhaps you are right, perhaps you are not. In any case, I really don't see myself buying anything hi-fi related for the coming years. My personality has changed much over the past year, and so have my philosophical views with it. And as they have changed now, so will they change in the future once again, despite such changes being unthinkable for me right now.

In the end it is fact that I spoiled my own hobby in a way, which is a sad thing. I am truly in need of something to do in my free time.
post #4 of 92

Very sorry to hear that. frown.gif

 

I agree with you that our hearing is limited to our interpretation. I experienced this when I used my modded T50RP for far too long that when I heard my HE-500, it sounded awfully bright until my brain was finally able to accept its sound.

 

Frankly, there is no right or wrong in what we subjectively call good sound. Objectively we could prove what is good and bad but then it all rests to our hearing capabilities. I know what is good sound now thanks to head-fi and the many audio stores in Indonesia that I have frequented and tested myriads of headphones. I'm training my ears constantly to pick up the little details, the little nuances that the average joe cannot discern. Honestly, I find that everyone can tune their hearing to match the objective measurements, it's just a matter of psychology.

 

I'm still keeping up with this hobby because where I live, it's easy to audition something interesting and discovering new things. The Hi-Fi journey for me is not finding the best one but more of the discovery of new sounds. Even if I can't acquire all gear in the world, I'm happy enough that I can try new interesting things, new colours to the sound and obviously, different interpretations of sound. Auditioning the Final Audio Muramasa VIII and the Piano Forte VIII made me realise that there is beauty of sound in a headphone/earphone that doesn't measure well objectively.

 

I will say to myself that my Hi-Fi journey isn't over yet but I will not say that your decision is wrong, in fact it might be the best one for you.

post #5 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpo View Post

Perhaps you are right, perhaps you are not. In any case, I really don't see myself buying anything hi-fi related for the coming years. My personality has changed much over the past year, and so have my philosophical views with it. And as they have changed now, so will they change in the future once again, despite such changes being unthinkable for me right now.

In the end it is fact that I spoiled my own hobby in a way, which is a sad thing. I am truly in need of something to do in my free time.

 

Who can say?  Can there even be a right or wrong here?  I think it's important to remember that, while you were neck deep in the hobby, you did enjoy it right?  That's what really matters.

 

Perhaps you'll enjoy it once again.  And if so, it may be next week, or decades from now.  Or you might never hold this interest again, but you will come to have other interests and hobbies.  My point above being that we are dynamic, not static, and that is a good thing.

 

Regarding gear acquisition, I think we're all destined to hit a wall at some point.  Even if you were still completely immersed in the hobby, I'd still probably say that you wouldn't need to purchase something new for quite some time.

 

And BTW, please feel free to hang around in one of the many threads where hi-fi-ness is often shared, but not required... at least while you're deciding what to occupy your free time with.  smile.gif

post #6 of 92
Very interesting Tilpo and I am impressed how honest you have been with yourself.

I am on a similar journey. I went a long way down the audiophile route with a speaker set up. Getting into the minutiae of cables etc.
I could not afford to go any further and was not happy with the sound so recently, rather than spend money I could not afford I sold all my gear.
I suddenly had money in my account and a front room free of black boxes and wires.
I then started getting into headphones and Headfi but this time I am not going to spend a fortune chasing perfection. Anybody can do that. I have a budget and have found the compromises I can live with.
Incidentally. I did have one hugely successful audio experience. With car audio. I spent a lot of money but the system was fabulous and gave me a lot of pleasure.
Recently the vehicle expired and I am selling all that kit. I have realised that I no longer need a vehicle. A great shame but good for my wallet!
I have realised that gear is not the route to happiness. Music is.
It is a shame to read the sadness in your conclusions. I have found a sense of liberation. Travel lightly and enjoy the music.
I hope that you can enjoy the upside of climbing out from under a mountain of gear!smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by krismusic - 5/4/13 at 5:08am
post #7 of 92
That is almost bitting me as well.

Ive been using speakers and thinking of "is it worth it" a lot these days
post #8 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by VortexBlast View Post

Very sorry to hear that. frown.gif


I agree with you that our hearing is limited to our interpretation. I experienced this when I used my modded T50RP for far too long that when I heard my HE-500, it sounded awfully bright until my brain was finally able to accept its sound.

Frankly, there is no right or wrong in what we subjectively call good sound. Objectively we could prove what is good and bad but then it all rests to our hearing capabilities. I know what is good sound now thanks to head-fi and the many audio stores in Indonesia that I have frequented and tested myriads of headphones. I'm training my ears constantly to pick up the little details, the little nuances that the average joe cannot discern. Honestly, I find that everyone can tune their hearing to match the objective measurements, it's just a matter of psychology.


I'm still keeping up with this hobby because where I live, it's easy to audition something interesting and discovering new things. The Hi-Fi journey for me is not finding the best one but more of the discovery of new sounds. Even if I can't acquire all gear in the world, I'm happy enough that I can try new interesting things, new colours to the sound and obviously, different interpretations of sound. Auditioning the Final Audio Muramasa VIII and the Piano Forte VIII made me realise that there is beauty of sound in a headphone/earphone that doesn't measure well objectively.

I will say to myself that my Hi-Fi journey isn't over yet but I will not say that your decision is wrong, in fact it might be the best one for you.

Objectivity is not the issue here. Fact is that at the end of my journey I almost completely stopped caring about sound quality for perhaps nothing other than philosophical reasons. The only reason why I would keep auditioning and buying gear is for the purpose of hearing new things and for the purpose of collecting, since I really don't care any more about sound quality as much as I used to. Frankly, buying headphones for the purpose of collecting is not something I can afford with my measly student income, and so I have retreated completely from this hobby.

Like warrenpchi said, I'll probably find another hobby. Right now that would be pens, though I'm refraining from making any major purchases. I'm also trying out philosophy, and five books came in a few minutes ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

Who can say?  Can there even be a right or wrong here?  I think it's important to remember that, while you were neck deep in the hobby, you did enjoy it right?  That's what really matters.

Perhaps you'll enjoy it once again.  And if so, it may be next week, or decades from now.  Or you might never hold this interest again, but you will come to have other interests and hobbies.  My point above being that we are dynamic, not static, and that is a good thing.

Regarding gear acquisition, I think we're all destined to hit a wall at some point.  Even if you were still completely immersed in the hobby, I'd still probably say that you wouldn't need to purchase something new for quite some time.

And BTW, please feel free to hang around in one of the many threads where hi-fi-ness is often shared, but not required... at least while you're deciding what to occupy your free time with.  smile.gif

Hanging around is something I'll definitely keep doing for some time. I love this community, and I've made many friends. I just don't really care about the hobby anymore, and I often have feelings of nostalgia from two years back when I was still fully immersed in this beautiful hobby.
post #9 of 92

Rikkun, you probably already know, but I feel the same way too.

 

Most of the time, I don't even bother turning on my $5000 Stax rig, I just listen to music on Youtube through my iPad or my crappy computer speakers. I don't get any more enjoyment from using the Stax over other gear, but that's probably because I'm a passive listener, I only listen to music for some 'background noise'.

 

Originally, I didn't get into this hobby for "hearing music any better" or anything along those lines, I was just drawn into the hype of summit-fi.

 

At the time, I was really into listening to random livestreamers singing, and as you can imagine, they didn't have a clue about recording/mixing either. I used this lust to justify my expensive purchases, and the rest, is history.

 

I don't think I really like music anymore, I've just realised that I've pretty much been listening to the same 5-10 songs on repeat for the past year or so, because any other songs would feel out of place as my background music. I would sometimes really dig a new song, but then I'd listen to it 100 times straight, then get sick of it and never listen to it again.

 

It's not all doom and gloom though, because every 3-4 months, I pour a glass of scotch, I fire up the rig, and I concentrate on the sound reproductive abilities of my rig.

 

And from that, I relish in the fact that I am one of the few people in this world who listens to such crappy music with such high end gear, and that brings a smile to my face.

post #10 of 92
Interesting post. I understand this buy I think you can find medium ground. That is what I am trying to do after letting things get out of hand. Everyone can define his own middle ground. Mine is saying portable daps I will not amp because stacks are ridiculous IMO and not worth it vs. Top daps. I will not AB cables. I have a trustworthy provider for cables and what he will provide is fine. I will not have 100 iems. I will have a number that I can enjoy (5 or 6) and sell some to buy some. Finally and most importantly, I will accept that part of it is psychological but still be honest with myself. Of course part of the pleasure of listening to my SE5 is that I have yearned for them and many consider as the best. But I will not convince myself in believing everything expensive I buy kicks ass. Maybe I will tire of the game but I will have had a good ride.
Edited by Mimouille - 5/4/13 at 5:18am
post #11 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpo View Post

Like warrenpchi said, I'll probably find another hobby. Right now that would be pens, though I'm refraining from making any major purchases. I'm also trying out philosophy, and five books came in a few minutes ago.
 

Philosophy is deeply interesting but only if you're willing to put your time and effort (lots of it) into it.

I saw the books that you bought, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer are by no means easy books to read (no idea on the other authors though), they're very hard to comprehend and their ideas are sometime on the verge of abstraction. You'll certainly get enlightened by reading philosophical books but will you ever be able to fully understand their thesis? I study philosophy in school and most of the time I don't really understand or I just don't agree on what they say.

I don't know if the English version of those books have notes at the end that explains their thoughts of but I know that French philosophical books have notes at the end (sometimes doubling the length of the book) that explains everything.

BTW, you should also read works from Rousseau, Descartes, Plato, Socrates, Freud and other classical philosophers. They're pretty deep.

post #12 of 92
Yes, try to understand Kant if you can....you will come back to audiophilia wink.gif
post #13 of 92
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by VortexBlast View Post

Philosophy is deeply interesting but only if you're willing to put your time and effort (lots of it) into it.
I saw the books that you bought, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer are by no means easy books to read (no idea on the other authors though), they're very hard to comprehend and their ideas are sometime on the verge of abstraction. You'll certainly get enlightened by reading philosophical books but will you ever be able to fully understand their thesis? I study philosophy in school and most of the time I don't really understand or I just don't agree on what they say.
I don't know if the English version of those books have notes at the end that explains their thoughts of but I know that French philosophical books have notes at the end (sometimes doubling the length of the book) that explains everything.
BTW, you should also read works from Rousseau, Descartes, Plato, Socrates, Freud and other classical philosophers. They're pretty deep.

I'm used to reading difficult books, since I read a lot of mathematical texts, and formal mathematical proofs feature an even higher information density and more difficult to read reasoning than philosophy.
I don't know how this works out for me until I've tried. And patience or time really aren't the problem in my case.
post #14 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpo View Post


I'm used to reading difficult books, since I read a lot of mathematical texts, and formal mathematical proofs feature an even higher information density and more difficult to read reasoning than philosophy.
I don't know how this works out for me until I've tried. And patience or time really aren't the problem in my case.

 

Well I wouldn't put mathematics and philosophy on the same degree.

They're both widely different.

Mathematics are based on reasoning and logic. If you possess a great understanding of logic then it's easier to comprehend maths.

Philosophy is often based on psychoanalysis and it's not concrete "science" (if you can call philosophy science). Nothing is ever right or wrong in philosophy, not like maths where a theorem can be demonstrated being right or wrong.

You will often find in Philosophy books that a philosopher debates against a thesis from another philosopher.

But you will never know until you try it of course wink.gif Who knows, you might be the next René Descartes.


Edited by VortexBlast - 5/4/13 at 6:08am
post #15 of 92

Thanks for sharing and I agreed with your statements! 

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