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How important is the Holy Grail of perfect sound really?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Okay, so we have, on these forums people ranging from love-of-music-born audio-enthusiasts to full blown audiophiles willing to live in a 2 sqr-ft apartment surrounded by equipment that costs more than their house. So there is a thread discussing whether or not audiophiles have a deeper appreciation of music or not here, but how important is prefect sound really?

 
So what I have to say on the topic is quite short. I want to make an analogy which isn't quite as heavily "baggaged" as sound. Transfer, if you will, your love for auditory arts to visual. Imagine that a painter were to show you well-taken photos of paintings of theirs. Could you not judge with a certain degree of accuracy whether these are good paintings or not? Are you not content to have prints of certain paintings framed and hung?
The question I am trying to ask is that if you can afford it, a better rig is always desirable, but should we not be able to enjoy music on equipment that comes no-where near the standards to which we have become accustomed?
 
So what say you?

 

 

A few words about me so you can judge for yourself where I stand on the audiophilia scale. (Click to show)

I own entry-level equipment. An AKG K141 MK-II, V-Moda M-80's and am awaiting Soundmagic HP100's, that I bought on these forums.I have the Skullcandy Aviators which are gathering dust, and Senn CX300's which I never use because I never could get used to having something rammed in my ear-canals. Sources and amps are an ODAC from JDS Labs, a iBasso DX50, a JDS Labs cMoyBB, and a Marantz PM230 speaker amp with IMO, a very good head-phone out. I listen to all sorts of music, ranging from chamber-music to dark-psy, but the comfort zone which I have been steadily broadening over the past 2 years or so is rooted in down-tempo electronica.

 

 

post #2 of 33

Did you have a shallower appreciation of music before you became an audiophile?

 

That should pretty much answer the question.

post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

Did you have a shallower appreciation of music before you became an audiophile?

 

That should pretty much answer the question.

No it shouldn't, because I'm not asking if audiophiles appreciate music more deeply here. I'm asking how reasonable turning our noses up at consumer audio gear is, and any change in my appreciation of music isn't necessarily mirrored by others.


Edited by MrLazyAnt - 2/18/14 at 2:10am
post #4 of 33

It's reasonable in the sense that having heard something more satisfying, we know better.

 

It just depends how it's done, and for what gear (as some is pretty decent for the money). There's imo nothing wrong trying to let a music lover discover a piece of gear that will make him/her enjoy their music more, but I definitely agree that there are too many audiophiles who have an elitist mind-set which is often counter-productive to their goal of introducing hi-end gear to the average consumer.

 

One last thing - the most important item in the audio chain (again, imo) is the music. Ultimately, while I do enjoy music more on my "hi-end system", I also enjoy it plenty in the piece of crap system in my car.


Edited by elmoe - 2/18/14 at 2:12am
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

It's reasonable in the sense that having heard something more satisfying, we know better.

 

I definitely agree that there are too many audiophiles who have an elitist mind-set which is often counter-productive to their goal of introducing hi-end gear to the average consumer.

 

One last thing - the most important item in the audio chain (again, imo) is the music. Ultimately, while I do enjoy music more on my "hi-end system", I also enjoy it plenty in the piece of crap system in my car.

 

That is a problem in and of itself, but it seems I wasn't being clear as to my intention. Allow me to attempt to clarify. When I say "Turn noses up" I'm referring to the actual gear, not the consumer. Take, for example, the attitude towards Skullcandy, there isn't, for the most part, the micro-detailing that you get with better-yet-similarly priced equipment, but you do get some well built, fashion-forward (for better and worse) headphones, which was leaking some sense of curiosity as to better audio into a whole generation, before Beats came along and changed the game. I've yet to sample Beats headphones so I can neither confirm nor deny there reportedly terrible quality. But much like the example in the first post, you do get a decent idea of what you are listening to. Having experienced better equipment may make you think "I wish I could listen to this on my *insert favourite audio chain here* but should we not be thinking "this music is great/nice/terrible/okay but..."?

I agree that sometimes a good audio chain can make you aware of certain amazing tracks which would otherwise have been dismissed as "meh", but those tracks are few and far between.

post #6 of 33

I think what matters most in people turning up their noses at gear like Beats or skullcandy is the price/quality ratio. Why spend X amount of money on a piece of gear that sounds terrible when you could spend that much or less on another, lesser known, less hyped up piece of gear that sounds a lot better?

 

If you buy a car because you're looking for reliability and it looks pretty but breaks down often, you're not going to give that car a good review.

post #7 of 33
I bought this Lawrence of Arabia cd for donkey years...Out of curiosity n wanting to get a feel of this epic movie
Heard it once twice on my initial setup..it was crappy rough..radio-like...my attempt to appreciate the score was shortlived though i tried....shelved it for many years.

Since I bought a midfi audioGd dac amp...n some other upgrades...
Listening to this cd again has been eye..or rather ear opening..
It's as if I could hear the camels racing in the desert..dust billowing...
The winds blowing behind, the rolling hills.
Headfi gears, to me is a tool to help me enjoy More of the music...
Evoke my emotions..and appreciation, for an art which musicians spent years trying to perfect.

Would I still enjoy Lawrence of Arabia on the radio...ya, cos I know hidden in that rough is a gem...n not a stone.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 

I agree with that of course, but if your friend buys a car for the same price as yours, but yours is better. If for whatever reason, you need to drive his car, you're not likely to go "I hate this POS car. What a @#$%ing rip-off!" for the whole drive now are you? Which is what it seems people do here with headphones.

post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLazyAnt View Post
 

I agree with that of course, but if your friend buys a car for the same price as yours, but yours is better. If for whatever reason, you need to drive his car, you're not likely to go "I hate this POS car. What a @#$%ing rip-off!" for the whole drive now are you? Which is what it seems people do here with headphones.

 

Not everybody does this and this is exactly why I spoke first about the elitist mind-set. What you are more likely to do though, if he is a car enthusiast (as we are audio gear/music enthusiasts on this site), is tell him to try out your car because you feel it is significantly better for the same price (which is what the non-elitists try to do).

 

I see the same attitude for hi-end gear as well though. People who will buy a headphone costing 5 times the price of another hi-end headphone will feel incredibly offended when someone doesn't review their expensive headphones positively for example. Just look at the latest Sennheiser HD800 review (a negative review), some of the comments are hilarious, people are acting like the reviewer insulted their family.

 

But I guess people will get emotionally attached to gear they feel brought them alot more pleasure doing something they love like listening to music, though I sometimes wish they would tone it down a little ;)

post #10 of 33
I am contemplating buying a cd on Stradivarius violins....
Hoping that my current setup would somehow give me a glimpse of these national treasures in the music world.
I read that these violins can project the music further...With a special rich signature timbre..etc..etc..
If my setup cannot resolve the space n texture of the recordings,
Then I might go away thinking...what's the big deal.
so within my budget, I try to optimize value.

Yes...about USB cables... Make a difference to my ears..

A statement like this brings in the sharks in headfi...lolz
I get swallowed all the time..when I am jus sharing what I heard.
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

I am contemplating buying a cd on Stradivarius violins....
Hoping that my current setup would somehow give me a glimpse of these national treasures in the music world.
I read that these violins can project the music further...With a special rich signature timbre..etc..etc..
If my setup cannot resolve the space n texture of the recordings,
Then I might go away thinking...what's the big deal.
so within my budget, I try to optimize value.

Yes...about USB cables... Make a difference to my ears..

A statement like this brings in the sharks in headfi...lolz
I get swallowed all the time..when I am jus sharing what I heard.

 

Sure, but what you think you hear and what you actually hear are two very different things though. This is a whole other debate ;)

post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

Yes...about USB cables... Make a difference to my ears..

I thought the difference between FLAC and 320kbps was much bigger until I tried ABXing. The difference is there, but I did have to be listening to notice it. I suggest you try getting the help of a friend to do a double blind test with whatever cables etc you deem better and see if you can reliably tell the difference then. Maybe you can, but there is a lot of snake oil out there.

 

But that is something which IS fascinating to me, the obsession with whether or not cables make a difference, but for the price of higher-end cables available, I'd much rather populate my headphone stable.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

I guess people will get emotionally attached to gear they feel brought them alot more pleasure doing something they love like listening to music, though I sometimes wish they would tone it down a little ;)

I suppose that makes sense.

 

Going back to the original phrasing of the question, how important is the SQ? At what point do you decide "You know what? @#$& this. I'm just going to sit in silence"?

post #13 of 33

I'd say that depends a lot on your budget

post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure that is necessarily true. I'm sure there are some people out there who have amazing gear who can still tolerate lo-fi sound

post #15 of 33

Of course but since their budget allowed it, they bought amazing gear.

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