May 18, 2016
 by Paul McGowan

"Obsessed is a word that the lazy use to describe the dedicated."

I am not sure where that quote came from or who said it, but it rings true.

At times I feel shamed that I am obsessed with achieving higher levels of sound quality, like a junkie needing another fix, but the high I get when the veils are removed and the music is set free is intoxication enough.

Obsessed seems to have many negative connotations attached to it, while dedicated lends credibility to the endeavor; a sort of blessing.

Words are funny.

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17 comments on “Obsessed”

  1. I have read the name Aziz Sergeyevich Shavershian. aka Zyzz.
    A Russian-born Australian bodybuilder (1989 - 2011).
    And indeed, never be satisfied with the next klevel in SQ is a kind of audiophile disease.
    As far as I know still no cure for. We have to suffer more.

  2. Mindless, one track mind, mulish, stubborn, addicted, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder, a mental disease) are terms normal people use to describe the obsessed. If they achieve their goal they are considered geniuses. If not, they're considered crazy. That's where most of obsessed people land. Obsessives can be extremely dangerous or harmless. To those who fall under the spell of charismatic obsessives they're considered visionaries. They all constantly look for as many new recruits to the object of their obsession as they can find. The most dangerous ones want to save humanity or my soul. When I see them, I don't walk away, I run. The harmless ones do things like form communes where they stay stoned on one drug or anther, their most productive activities are stringing beads that they sell at craft markets. Alchemists spent their entire lives trying to turn lead into gold. We now know of course they didn't have a prayer of success. They didn't understand the true essence of what gold and lead were. The irony is that today we could probably do that in a nuclear reactor but the gold would be radioactive and cost far more to produce than it is worth.

    Audiophiles and those who manufacture for them are obsessives. This business of "removing veils" isn't the dance of the 7 veils, it's the dance of the million veils. There's always one more veil to remove and it's just over the next hill. The cost to get there is always more than getting to the hill you're on now. No amount of money or effort is spared. Peter Qvortrup turned a $1,000 pair of Snell bookshelf speakers into a $1,000,000 speaker trying to perfect it. He says he's 80% on his way to his goal. Dick Diamond needs a half ton crane in his listening room to move speakers made out of CNC machined aluminum weighing hundreds of pounds around. Others want to kill off noise and distortion until it's deader than dead. Time base jitter of two parts in ten billion isn't good enough for them but they lose track of their calendars where they find themselves off by an entire day. Did someone forget this was a leap year?

    Like the alchemists, the audiophiles haven't got a prayer of solving a problem they have a very poor understanding of at best. It's fun to watch them find endless new ways to string their beads. Best of all, like all such cults each sect has its own formula and they are entirely dismissive of the formulas of other sects. Like all obsessives they have no sense of humor about the object of their obsession. That is why they fight with each other so much. Funniest of all, in the large perspective of things the problem they are trying to solve is of insignificant importance. As problems go, it's interesting and it is solvable but not by the way they go about it, but they never give up. That's what makes it so funny.

    1. Listening (or viewing) is all about pattern recognition. A speaker designer or an amp designer both must have a theory of listening pattern when they start voicing their babies. I cannot see any commonly accepted pattern-model for unveiled music. Thus things will remain highly subjective. Insofar I appreciate the way physicists (at CERN) handling their models. Having a model / theory they have no problem to revise it when the experiments show deviations not fitting to the model.

  3. I'm reminded of a book published by the Dean of Students at my college (not Princeton) that dealt with personal development and achievement entitled "The Reasonable Adventurer". He describes a pyramid of different levels of achievement attained by different
    personality types...or something like that. I read it over fifty years ago and it seems to still be available. It was not a long book, and it was an easy read. Maybe that's why it has stuck in my mind all these years. Emmanuel Kant, on the other hand, seems to have totally escaped me. 😎


  4. Just put on the old Kinks song: Dedicated Follower of Fashion

    They seek him here, they seek him there,
    His clothes are loud, but never square.
    It will make or break him so he's got to buy the best,
    'Cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion.

    And when he does his little rounds,
    'Round the boutiques of London Town,
    Eagerly pursuing all the latest fads and trends,
    'Cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion.

  5. What is wrong with being obsessed with something that gives great pleasure and satisfaction ? On the one hand it is said, don't worry be happy, on the other the happy are called obsessed. Go figure. It's a lot better to be obsessed with something constructive than to just wander through life aimlessly. And by the way being a lazy,disinterested couch potato is also an obsession If the word is used in the manner it is used. It really boils down to envy for some one who achieves by the non- achievers. As for feeling guilty, why ? Since when has doing something good and constructive become something undesirable. Do what comes naturally to you and be happy. As for others they can like it or lump it. It's a reflection on them. Keep up the good work. Regards.

  6. In audio being obsessed is extremely rewarding, and highly frustrating - luckily, not at the same time! I've flicked between those states what seems an infinite number of times over 30 years - but overall am quite content with what the process has brought me, what I know now.

    In the beginning, extreme frustration, because I achieved very high quality sound, quite by accident, but didn't understand all the factors that mattered. The obsession arose in the battle to bring this under control, which failed in the first round - I could achieve convincing sound, but it would not sustain, faded during the listening ... finally, frustration killed the energy to keep going, and I reverted to just kitchen radio quality for 10 years or so.

    Then, developed a second wind of interest, and the obsession returned, with far better long term rewards - that "fanaticism" is now nicely under control, because I know what needs to be done to get results ... I can relax with very average sound, not worry about it, because the knowledge can always be tapped into, for getting results to any level I should wish for, should the motivation arise.

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