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Curing Audiophilia Nervosa

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by watchnerd, Jan 18, 2016.
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  1. watchnerd
    "audiophilia nervosa
    Audiophilia nervosa describes the anxiety resulting from the never-ending quest to obtain the ultimate performance from one's stereo system by means of employing state-of-the-art components, cables, and the use of certain "tweaks."

    Although the goal is supposedly to achieve maximum appreciation of the music, those afflicted with this condition are merely obsesed with their electronics.

    Todd had spent well over $100,000 in speakers,monoblock amplifiers, fiber optic cables, Shakti stones, pre-amolifiers, and other equipment and tweaks. And yet he still wasn't convinced that Diana Krall's voice sounded "silky" enough.

    Todd was in deep denial concerning his audiophilia nervosa, and his wife was on the verge of calling a divorce lawyer.

    by whimzzical June 18, 2010"
    Source: Urban Dictionary
    "Do you suffer from Audiophilia nervosa, that dreaded disease afflicting long-time readers of StereophileThe Abso!ute SoundHi-Fi News & Record Review, and various other sordid high-end rags? Well, take heart, my friends---relief is on the way. But before treatment can begin, as with all illnesses, proper diagnosis is of paramount importance. To help facilitate this, I have compiled a set of multiple-choice questions. Please take the time to read through these carefully, and jot down your best-guess response from the choices below...
    3) You have just dropped a wad of money on the latest D/A processor, the one which has received the ultimate accolades in the high-end press. Now your dealer informs you of a pending update which finally makes this processor sound "just like analog" (which he's been saying about each D/A to come down the pike for the last two years). How do you respond to this news?
    a) You rush home to call the manufacturer to make arrangements to send your unit in for an update, only to find out it's been updated two times since you bought it, and the cost to keep up means you'll have to put off that new-car purchase another year. 

    b) You rush home to call the manufacturer to tell them how pissed you are that they should crank out these expensive updates, practically at the drop of a hat, and that no one in their right mind could attempt to keep up with this nonsense. Then you make arrangements to send in your unit to have it upgraded. 

    c) You listen to a friend's $500 turntable front-end and realize just how badly you've been had with all this state-of-the-art digital technology, and out of frustration with the whole high-end endeavor, you sell off all of your equipment. The money you get, although about one third what you paid for it all, is still enough to subsidize you and your spouse's early retirement to a remote island in Hawaii, where the only sounds of any consequence are the waves crashing upon the shore (but what liquidity!)."

    Source: Stereophile

    Seriously, though, this is why I weigh objective data so highly: it has saved me from tweaker hell more than once.
    Mistakes I have made:
    "I should get into high resolution audio!"
    Got the gear to play high resolution files natively.  Tweaked my playback set up to accommodate varying bitrates on the fly.  Upgraded the network and storage to handle the fatter files. Spent a ton of money on high resolution downloads.  Man, this was starting to turn into a real hassle...
    Finally did a long self-administered ABX test.  Net result: I can't tell the difference, standard resolution is fine for me.
    Gains: massive money, less neurotic obsessing over bitrates, more time listening to music
    "I should get into native DSD listening!"
    I used to be really into SACD, back when it was the only game in town for high resolution.  Had an Oppo Universal player, several hundred SACDs.  When DSD-capable DACs came into the market, I got one (back when they used to be rare and somewhat expensive, unlike now). Then I got a bunch of DSD-native files (although this time I didn't spend nearly as much as I wasted on high resolution).  Then I had to start futzing with the limited amount of playback software....oh and you can't stream it....oh, you can, but it has to be converted to PCM on the fly first....garrrggggghhhh....so it's only for local listening?
    I haven't done an ABX test on DSD, so don't know if it would pass or fail.  But then I realized that the majority of DSD files I have were mastered in PCM, then distributed in DSD.  So they're just effectively PCM transcoded to DSD.  What's the point in that?
    Might as well decimate them back to PCM and at least get something more convenient and portable.  So I did.  Bye bye DSD.
    Gains: money saved, got rid of a format with no real benefits and lots of inconvenience
    "I should get into tube rolling!"
    Wasted several hundred dollars on tubes (at least not thousands like some).  On my analog rig, I still use them.  However, I had my wife help me do some blind testing.  Blind testing tubes isn't very hard...they're so blatantly distorted it's pretty easy.
    The verdict?  I prefer modern "reissues" ($20-50/pair) to vintage, NOS tubes (crazy prices).  Oh, and that special pair of cryotreated Sovteks? I can 't tell them from the regular ones.
    Lastly, on the desktop rig, which is sourced from a Mac Mini, I can emulate tubes in software.  Win!
    Verdict: I'm still into tube rolling.  But I'm trying to cut back.  And at least I know I like the cheap stuff.
    "You should get a [blank]! It will increase the [warmth / soundstage depth / air / detail] of your phones / speakers!"
    I can do pretty much all of that audiophile flavoring via DSP using PEQ. In my living room I use an OpenDRC-DI from MiniDSP (~$350-400).  On my Mac, it's in software.
    I won't say I'm completely cured.  I still get upgrade-itis.  I still like having nice toys that are cool to look at.  I like having visitors appreciate my sound system, both sonically and visually.
    But I feel that becoming a lot more objectivist has freed me from the worst symptoms of audiophile nervosa, has saved me from the death spiral of tweaker hell.
    This leaves me more time to listen to music instead of listening to gear.
    bidn, Intensecure, Brooko and 4 others like this.
  2. dprimary
    I have to wonder how many more times those NOS tubes can be tested and sorted. I'm pretty sure the good ones had been picked out 20 years ago.
    Recording can cure it too, there is an endless supply of  1k to 15k microphones to by and don't forget equally expensive preamps. the upside to microphones is the good ones tend to gain value slowly.
    As the saying goes the best way to to make a million recording is to start with 5 million.
  3. watchnerd
    Getting involved in recording is another thing that cured me.
    One, I have a competing budget for recording gear.
    Two, you really realize that recordings aren't made on audiophile gear, yet recording quality has arguably the biggest impact on sound quality after transducers.
  4. castleofargh Contributor
    easy cure:
    1/ use abx, it makes everything sound the same [​IMG](you are allowed to report me for trolling myself).
    2/ get another expensive hobby. ok maybe that's not a cure, but it can treat audio upgradatis. anytime I want to buy an expensive amp or headphone I think "ok but for that money I could get the 24-70 2.8 canon for when I don't want to keep carrying 3 other rocks for about the same range"(17-35/50/85). and then I don't buy the amp or the headphone ^_^. I'm cured!!! 
    then I go look at the 24-70, and think "ok but for the money I could go spend a week windsurfing in Guadeloupe. I've been looped in this mindset for a few years now(canon even made a new 24-70 so that I can keep dreaming of it in a refreshed skin), and... I'm getting better at windsurfing.
    41Venom14 and ev13wt like this.
  5. watchnerd
    My ABX switchbox has tubes.
    kageroh likes this.
  6. dysonapr
    Buy a "Schiit Fulla 2". Buy the "best" Chi-Fi IEMs available from Knowledge Zenith (currently "ZS5" or "ZSE"). Sign-up for a 320 Kb/s streaming service (AAC is *probably* better than MP3).

    Enjoy the music. Reflect that you are spending $0.01s instead of $1.00. Enjoy the music.

    Harry Manback likes this.
  7. bigshot
    I've never had a problem with this because I always define my problem before I look for a cure. A lot of people just chase abstract numbers, looking for improvement on paper. But 9 times out of 10, there's no audible improvement. So I evaluate my system and define its strengths and weaknesses. Then I come up with a plan to solve the problems. That list gets prioritized according to cost / convenience / amount of improvement. Then I dive into fixing the problem, secure that what I'm spending time and money on will address my weak points efficiently. I don't swap in equipment randomly hoping it makes a difference.
    pibroch likes this.
  8. MisterMudd
    Amen brother.
  9. Speedskater
    They don't need to do an ABX test, as a matter of fact they don't need to do a test at all.
    Just do a few single blind listening sessions. Suddenly those huge differences that they heard before will disappear.
  10. 71 dB
    I don't think I have ever suffered from audiophile nervosa. Being an acoustic engineer helps a lot in knowing what is relevant for the sound quality and what's not. You can't sell snake oil to me. Also, I don't reach for the "best possible sound at any cost", but rather "great sound" for as little money as possible. Sennheiser HD 598 is not the best headphone in the world, but driven from my DIY cross-feed headphone adapters it provides most enjoyable sound for my ears considering what the system cost me, a few hundred bucks. Some decades ago my headphone would have been the best in the world. So, I am actually listening to the best headphone in the world, just a few decades late. :L3000:
  11. Whazzzup
    But I’m so close to the bottom of my rabbit hole, I can feel it.
  12. Whazzzup
    I use to think stop reading head fi, but now I’m taking the what doesn’t kill me approach and still view and not buy a thing. I actually feel good about my system and the sq I’m hearing. Their is no cure except will power, boundaries, and contentment. I’ll be ok.
    WoodyLuvr and 41Venom14 like this.
  13. WoodyLuvr
    Extremely curious, any links or info?
  14. 71 dB
    I had my homepage, but then my ISP stopped that service! I was so angry about that. I have not found good replacement (not gonno pay of it ). Please look at my post in the cross feed thread aabout "wide Linkwitz-Cmoy". Below is my 6-level headphone adapter and it's schematic:


    Headphone adapter 2.02.jpg

    The amount of resistors look intimidating, because there's many for power handling. This circuit can handle a lot of power. For example near Lout there are 3 resistors of 10 Ω in series. That's a 30 Ω block that can handle 3 x 0.6 W = 1.8 W of power (I use metal film resistors 0.6 W).

    This is one step in learning, and I have learned some tricks to make things better in practice, so this is not a optimum circuit, but still works very nicely.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
    WoodyLuvr likes this.
  15. WoodyLuvr
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