The simple fact you are staring at the monitor and reading this article means that either you are an audiophile or that you are strongly willing to become an audiophile (kudos then!). Or, perhaps, you just pretend to be an audiophile. In some sense, I'm an audiophile too. This all sounds like a meeting of some Audiophile Anonymous help group, I know. Hi, my name is Lucio and I've been an audiophile during the last 30 years or so. Hi Lucio, you're welcome. Sit down and relax.
First things first. We all know which is the most important thing in life: listening to our HiFi system. And we all know which is the main scope of our houses: to be a (good sounding) environment where to install our HiFi system. And we all know which is the main destination for our incomes: purchasing better and better HiFi gear. If we were asked to answer to the simple question "What would you do with a 1 million dollars?" we would probably disagree on which component to buy or which HiFi Show to attend, considering we're all proud to be different (solidstate-junkies, tube-heads, digital-maniacs, vinyl-addicts and so on) but the main target would be clear and commonly shared. HiFi.
We all agree on the fundamentals facts in life: having a wide frequency response and getting a realistic virtual image, whatever that means.
Now, it's a sad fact of life that not everyone is an audiophile and I regret to admit that sooo many people out there don't even know how to switch on (properly!) a stereo system. Many even ignore how to adjust the VTA! I'm pretty sure you all know someone of this kind. Perhaps he is a job colleague, a family member or a friend since the early days of the primary school. It is quite surprising to discover how many non-audiophiles are out there. Perhaps you meet them everyday or even several times a day and you don't notice them...because they're not interesting, of course! You might have noticed they have nothing interesting to say, most of the times.
This kind of people (briefly...non-audiophiles) can be ignored or avoided, while you go home to enjoy your system, as you, like me, hate to waste time. Nonetheless, there are situations where you can't simply avoid them. Imagine a birthday party or a social dinner, for example: you are simply forced to communicate with them! Considering how many non-audiophiles you may encounter at a party it is easy you get out-numbered and considered a minority! The following guide contains 8 easy-to-follow golden rules on how to behave in these situations. In other words, I'll try to suggest you how to communicate to a non-audiophile and manage to survive!
- Rule N.1: try to understand their weird point of view
Non-audiophiles can't understand that listening to a good HiFi system is the only thing one should do anywhere, anytime. Their obscured minds believe (hear hear!) there are things like friends, society, work and even (!!!) family that are of paramount importance when compared with what they simply call "music listening". Hard to believe, I know, but that's the way they lead their useless lives. For this reason, if someone, during an informal conversation, asks you which are, in your opinion, the most relevant things in life try answering family, friends, a good job, good health or any other nonsense of this kind. Don't even try to tell them the truth, otherwise it will take endless hours to go away and go back to your relieving HiFi system.
- Rule N.2: use real life methaphors
Non-audiophiles aren't prepared to understand how your life is devoted to formal perfection (in frequency, pace and rhythm). For this reason, you should learn to translate your feelings using phrases taken from "real world" experience, so that they can understand. We all know that what follows is just a pale imitation of what's on our minds but we have to try nevertheless.
- For example, when trying to describe the feeling you get while listening to your system with that new mains cable based on the Higgs' boson (discovered by an audiophile cable Company years before the CERN LHC experiments!), the extremely dark and silent background paired with a 3-D scene that literally surrounds you...try the following: "Have you ever tried to walk in the woods when the Sun is fading down, when its light can be barely seen among the trees and an extraterrestrial silence seems to surround you? Well, my mains cable does all that - and even more, actually, as we all know - without the necessity to have my shoes covered with mud and my neck bitten by mosquitos.
- When you have to describe the joy of staying up late, burning the midnight (snake!) oil just to try to adjust the VTA of your turntable, that sweet sensation of feeling yourself as a part of a whole when that naked cartridge hits the first groove, after seven hours of trials and errors, try the following methaphor: "Do you remember the feeling you get while waiting the dawn on the seaside? It's exactly like that, without the need to get a cold and having to explain to your wife where did you spend the whole night".
- In order to explain the reason for a second mortgage, just to purchase that new mains filter based on unobtanium-in-oil audiophile caps try this way: "Have you ever played the lotto? More or less it is the same thing, the only difference is that you don't know which is the final prize."
- Rule N.3: pretend to find their lives interesting!
This is certainly going to surprise you but non-audiophiles think they're special, they think they have something interesting to say! It might be one of their hobbies, their successful carreer or even the joys of having a family (hear hear). This is, of course, absolutely 100% pure nonsense. Anyway, it would be better, for reasons you might imagine, that you show some interest in what they have to say. To make your behaviour more realistic, think at the very first day when you reversed the polarity of your mains, discovering an entirely new dimension in your life, and, from time to time, smile and say "Aaaaah, yes, absolutely!", "Wow, that's amazing!" or even "I couldn't agree more".
Caveat emptor! It is possible and extremely dangerous that a non-audiophile says something on which you strongly disagree. Avoid, repeat after me, AVOID any kind of discussion with a non-audiophile. God only knows where such a discussion might lead or how it may end. Do not forget to be KIND, BRIEF and, possibly, evanescent.
- Rule N.4: pretend their opinion on useless HiFi is absolutely true
Those damned non-audiophiles believe, most of the times, that HiFi is a completely useless hobby (err, sorry, way of life, hobby is not correct by all means, I know). They think that, in order to listen to some music, an ipod-clone and a pair of cheap headphones is all you need. Alternatively, you can listen to music by means of your TV set. Once they discover you're an audiophile they can become extremely aggressive and, hence, socially dangerous. Most of the times they'll say something that sounds like "HiFi is for idiots! A toy for losers!". Though I know it might be difficult, try to resist and avoid replying there are scientific methods to prove "differences" between various HiFi components (especially cables!). Double-blind and even triple-deaf tests are there to prove it! You should just try to agree saying something like "I can't agree more, HiFi is a plague". Your "friend" will think he proved his theory and you'll be home and safe.
- Rule N.5: never tell 'em how much does your HiFi system cost!
Almost nobody - except audiophiles - can understand the level of perfection a good HiFi system might reach. For this reason if you unveil the price you paid for those high-end boron-moron connectors you're going to be in trouble, mate. Looking for a solution? Lie, lie, lie. Just tell 'em you paid 199$ for your entire stereo system, ignoring the number of zeros you actually wrote down the last time. 199$ is a sum that has been scientifically proved to be adequate for a stereo set. If a non-audiophile decides to buy a stereo system, for example to fill the black space on a shelf, 199$ is the exact sum he is willing to spend. Nothing more, nothing less than that.
- Rule N.6: with she-non-audiophiles talk about shoes instead
Social events are strangely crowded with women, the non-audiophiles human beings par excellance! Though your ego suggests you to tell them how insanely powerful your power supply is, how long your new tonearm is or how hot can your vacuum tubes become [beware! They might get the pun] I suggest to avoid, I say, avoid talking about high fidelity. First of all, with certain women "high fidelity" is a pure oxymoron, secondly you might be instantaneously classified as "loser", "nerd", "geek" or whatever that may fit. Be smart! Ask them about their shoes, where did they buy them, which price they paid etc. Then refer of an imaginary pair of Italian shoes you saw during one of your last visits to Via MonteNapoleone (in Milan) or Via Condotti (in Rome). Cite Venice at your earliest convenience, as this always guarantees a certain kind of effect. Mentioning PRaT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing) might lead to embarassing misunderstandings. If you are smart enough you may end up experiencing some amusing intermezzo between one and the other side of your favourite audiophile pressing.
- Rule N.7: avoid audiophile-oriented gifts
When invited to a party, it is quite common you have to buy a gift for your host. Avoid purchasing 400 grams audiophile LPs!!! Two things might happen: the LP gets instantaneusoly played on a super-compact all-in-one turntable with USB port (and a cartridge loaded with 10 grams of brute tracking force) and/or you'll be instantaneously declared socially out-fashioned. Nobody will ever invite you to a party. You'll become the one to blame...which is good, at least you can stay home to listen to your HiFi set once more.
- Rule N.8: always judge favourably any kind of "music" system they dare to propose you
This occourrence might be rare, but for this reason it is one of the most thrilling ones. Some non-audiophile, knowning you are "one of us", might invite you to listen to some music on his HT system or on his car-stereo set. Though your ears might bleed while the guy cranks the volume up just turn your disgust into a smile and comment using catching phrases casually taken from HiFi magazines. Here are a few examples: "The tonal balance appears to be mostly correct, though I do find it a bit euphonic, don't you?" or "Wow, this system, in terms of microdynamics, outperforms components costing 10 times more!" or even "The perception of the silence between notes and players is outstanding, I think the mains cable you are using plays a significant role here".
Your host will be happy and, hopefully, will switch off his torture-machine. Don't be afraid to exaggerate: always bear in mind the golden rule: the higher the praise, the shorter the torture.
Trust me when I say non-audiophiles can't be avoided, no matter how hard we try. All we can do is minimize contacts so that we can save time and devote ourselves to what really matters. HiFi, what else?
And don't forget to play Pink Floyd's Us and Them from time to time.