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08-06-2019 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat

Boston, MA
Posts 10,069
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 25538
Reply to: 25538
What is it all about? Destination vs ceremony.
I few weeks back I went for a job interview and the gentlemen who did the interview asked me an interesting question. He googled my name, found the site, read it and was asking:  what this hobby of yours is all about? It is very hard to explain to a person who is not familiar with the subject what the high-end audio is. Identically it is very hard to explain to a person who is familiar with the subject what the high-end audio is truly all about. But the most complicated of all is to explain to yourself, to a person who has been doing audio all my life, what the high-end audio is all about. The guy who asked me was very nice and very intelligent and I was trying to response, explaining to him that audio that I have been practicing is about obtaining unique experiences by virtue of musical playback. Then I added more to one and another directions and then I begin to talk about some confusing subjects and certainly were irrelevant for the setting we were involved.

The point was not to explain to my interviewer what high-end audio is all about but to make myself to be able to express it in a way how I feel comfortable. That turned out to me more difficult. What I discovered during the last few days is that it is much more complicated than I thought because making any definitive statements to explain high-end audio I perfectly comfortable can advocate a contra-point to the made statements. The common 80/20 theory and the proposal that the high-end audio focuses on that 20% regardless of means projected to yield sounds like a reasonable explanation but very much exclude a person with a boom-box who has his head properly aligned. I do insist that a person with a table ratio if the rest is properly set in hear might be a very strong case for high-end audio. 
So, what is high-end audio and if you think about it further then: is it a destination or ceremony? Is it a direction of journey or an amusement of ourselves during the journey? Is it a set of self-inflicted conventions that high-end audio practitioners imposed upon themselves? If high-end audio is a methodology to reproduce sound or is it a practice to consume Sound? How much music true interacts with high-end objective? What would be the function of high-end audio if you live in technological vacuum, let say at an uninhibited island? What would be high-end audio for a person who have lost hearing? Why definition of high-end audio so greatly fluctuate with a culture of musical perception and culture of sound consumption? Why culture of sound consumption is decoupled from music?  I can pose zillion more questions but it is not the point… 
I personally feel that truly understand high-end audio is impossible being within it. Somebody told that in an autobiography of any great painter there is always a chapter “Fire”. That super educational purgative event that strips all materialistic binds and degaussed perceptions or objectives… the magic fire from the 3rd act of the Das Walkure … 
I certainly do not claim that I own some kind of definitive definition of what high-end audio is all about.  I do insist however that most of the folks who feel that they involved into high-end audio are not necessarily have a defined meanings of what the high-end audio all about. I am not looking for answer but I am fascinated with the process of finding the answer, definitely the ceremony…

"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-07-2019 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree

Posts 441
Joined on 07-05-2012

Post #: 2
Post ID: 25539
Reply to: 25538
When I read from this site...
I visit here daily and the motivation is based on a couple of things:

1) a view that life including audio is work in process and that we are never finished, rather have times of activity and other times of enjoyment
2) a desire to be able to describe things that trigger sensations within us
3) a vast library of memorable performances as well as the appreciation of such (not just media, also memories of that media in context)
4) a diary of activities documenting the growth of the animal „Romys Playback“
5) Comedy (others may label this vitriol)
6) the willingness to help others

High end in my world is certainly more „ceremony“ than a „destination“ as with high end there is always a further path musically and technically. I prefer to think of it as the path to enlightenment - the more that we know, the more that we realize that we do not know. I consider this to be very much a DIY site - but not about hardware, rather about looking in the mirror...

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
08-07-2019 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat

Boston, MA
Posts 10,069
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 25540
Reply to: 25539
A playground.
 rowuk wrote:
I prefer to think of it as the path to enlightenment …rather about looking in the mirror...

Interesting that reading the rowuk’s response I realized that I contains (intentionally or not) a long time maintained by me view that practicing of high-end audio is very much like looking in a mirror. It is commonly considered that high-end audio is about sophisticated and ambitions means to perform audio reproduction and to a degree it is accurate but only from a superficial view. Looking deeper, we understand that any answer is just a derivative of questions and in high-end audio the question is not about means to do audio reproduction and not even not about music but rather about our eternal journey of understanding ourselves. From this perspective high-end audio might be viewed as a sample sandbox, the playground for modeling reality, the model to learn about reality and essentially to learn about ourselves. 
Interesting that high-end audio has a lot of very useful, from my point of view, components that should make high-end audio superbly effective. First, the High-end audio uses music as a medium that itself is one of the most sophisticated forms of human consciousness, so naturally high-end audio should be a serious matter. Second, high-end audio frequently is expensive, which is good as it should act as a naturally filtration, making people to take thoughtful and considered steps. For some reasons these filters do not work as they should and most of the people practice rather commoditized version of high-end audio. 
Anyhow, one way or other, it is damn hard to explain to an outsider what high-end audio is all about.

"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-08-2019 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
JJ Triode
Posts 99
Joined on 09-12-2007

Post #: 4
Post ID: 25541
Reply to: 25540
Explaining to outsiders
In a way it is not so hard to explain to outsiders what we are trying to accomplish, in that often when non-initiates visit us and listen to our installations they do remark that the sound is quite good compared to any audio they heard before.

What is harder to explain is why we think good audio is so important that we devote such great expense and (more important) time and efforts to it, sometimes even sacrificing significant opportunities in other areas of life.  The motives here may not always be as pure and noble as we like to think, and I keep planning to write an essay about it in The Most Appalling Audio Types, but I am afraid it will be too obviously autobiographical...
08-12-2019 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree

Chicago, IL
Posts 177
Joined on 06-12-2009

Post #: 5
Post ID: 25542
Reply to: 25538
Parallel explanation
This is an interesting topic and a sensitive matter. For me it goes in a different direction than most audiophile discussions of sound quality and how it related to the audio hobby. The ridiculousness of the high end audio hobby becomes evident when you try to explain it to a normal, intelligent human being. They can tell when sound is better but what's the difference if the sound is better? It is ridiculous when you look at it from the traditional audio perspective of approaching the sound of "live". I see it differently. The goal is to surpass "live" and that is why it's an interesting journey.

This is my theory on the matter of our hobby of audio. Deep down, our audio hobby has nothing to do with realistic sound OR music. It is convenied to fall back on that excuse because nomal, common people listen to music and have material gratifications of achiving convenient status mark in their life. Actual music can be experienced very well "live" or on any device that plays sound. I think "our" search of perfection is similar to a perfume maker search of a scent that is extraordinary. It has no connection with reality and on the contrary the whole idea is to exceed the reality and to transced the base line of reality. Like an artist (although I hesitate to call myself an artist) who expresses himself through reproduction of reality thus altered reality, it is possible to go beyong reality. 

So we are artists and perfume makers in a way. We just happened to come across audio devices that are our tools. And some of use can use them smartly to get our idea across.

As far as describing the audio hobby to normal people I prefer the following explanation: The idea is to get high without LSD.
08-19-2019 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Posts 12
Joined on 01-03-2018

Post #: 6
Post ID: 25550
Reply to: 25538
definitely a ceremony to me...  In my opinion, "practicing" high-end is an ongoing journey to achieve better sound.  Better sound is very subjective and up to a point it is lateral - we look for different sound as opposed to better sound as no choice is 100% better than another.  It is like we listen to the same musical piece, played by the same musician, and wanting a different feeling/interpretation.  Playing the same recording of Kogan playing the same violin concerto, but wanting a different result/feeling - more ambient here and there (details?), more note accentuation here and there (frequency bump?), more overtones (2nd/3rd tube harmonics?).  This is all hence a ceremony, a practice to achieve something which is a running target and in a way, never really existed in the first place.  Up to a point, there is no better sound, just different sound.
11-09-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Posts 353
Joined on 05-23-2009

Post #: 7
Post ID: 25980
Reply to: 25538
I don't take a very complicated attitude about "High-end" audio.  Personally I would like my system to make everything sound as natural as live music though of course that is not fully attainable. But that is just my POV. Others may want dynamically thrilling sound, or bass heavy sound or romantic or analytical sound. So yes it is Romy's mirror in one sense but it is also avoiding generic sound for something more personal and presumably more customized to the types of music one prefers. The high end aspect comes in when you make a concerted effort to optimize the audio customization.
11-09-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree

Chicago, IL
Posts 177
Joined on 06-12-2009

Post #: 8
Post ID: 25981
Reply to: 25538
My 2nd view
Yes, this a very interesting topic - the all-encompassing underlying purpose.  I also like Rowuk's response "rather about looking in the mirror..." I want to add that usually when we look in the mirror we see ourself, and only the physical self. But there is more there than what we see and that is what we hardly know. To understand what we see. 
In this interpretation I would say that audio is what we want to be. When I say audio I mean sound, in this context, the creation of a certain texture of sound. That is the sound texture that defines what we want to become.

And if a musical work is what is being told Audio is how it is being told and this is the tool that we use to shape our personal "how"
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