Swept away

September 19, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

I find it ironic that our goal as audiophiles is to forget the equipment and be swept away by the music.

But, of course, that’s the only goal that makes sense.

And yet, we have to think about the equipment in order to get to the point where we can then forget about the equipment.

And round and round it goes.

Now, where’s my broom?

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31 comments on “Swept away”

  1. Oh the disappointment. Not a discussion about the Mary Chapin Carpenter song.

    As for the broom, look for the dogsbody at PS Audio and you’ll probably find it stuck somewhere 😉

  2. Exactly!

    That’s why those remarks “listening to equipment vs. music” make no sense… at least when we’re talking of music loving audiophiles.

    The arguments are partly ignorant but can also be honest disbelieve in case the experience how much more musical involvement a good setup can provide is missing.

    1. Jazznut,

      The talk is often about a good set-up. No disagreement here. But here’s one for you to mull over and opine about…

      Once a set-up is determined ‘good’ in any given environment, can it be made ‘better’?

      Back to today’s topic, I would have preferred the term spiral…. Then the words controlled or uncontrolled could be applied.

      1. Yes unfortunately better is the enemy of good, so things can always get even better, sometimes surprisingly so. Just take a good setup without audiophile fuses applied. Maybe a reason for offense for some, but imo you don’t know how much quality you lost before unless you try…and in relation it’s not expensive.

        The thing is, there are folks who just change equipment without ever having brought a setup to the point. That isn’t what I mean. They can spend thousands and just have heard 60% potential of each setup, which could have been achieved by a fraction of the price in case some effort (other than buying and plugging in stuff) was taken.

  3. I consider Edward Rothstein’s essay “The Quest for Perfect Sound,” in The New Republic, published December 30, 1985, to be the most eloquent and passionate explication of high-end audio ever written.

    I especially love this sentence:

    “The High End is partly a Romance, a quest for something beyond the reach of any equipment. That quest means using technology to overcome itself, making itself invisible at the very moment of its greatest achievement.”

    1. Moonracer,

      If you’re playing back using today’s technology then Equipment is necessary.

      The evil (or not) part comes from yours (and others) choices of said equipment and how it holds up to the judgement.

  4. It is about the journey. Unless you are so well off that you can buy the very best that there is a your first system, then it is a journey. This is supposed to be a hobby that brings us pleasure. Who cares if it is the gear or the music that brings you pleasure or some combination of the two. Maybe some days it is 85% music and 15% the gear. Maybe other days it is 50/50. Who cares, as long as you are happy that is what matters.

  5. I like this post because I feel if your system is quite good you should feel some kind of vanishing or immersive feeling with in it to get you to think solely about the music and not how well our equipment is performing.

    I like to think of my audio escape like a Persian carpet. Time to fly away and examine the high horizon without looking at the carpet itself or the quilted pattern of it.
    Sometimes it is hard though cause my system is so damn beautiful looking. 😉

  6. You can tell if the equipment “upgrade” was worth it by how much better the broom sweeps you away. If the sweep is not better, return or sell the new gear.

  7. What sucks about being an audiophile is not being able to hear all of the components that we want to hear. It must be great to be an audio reviewer. I always wondered if the audio magazine contacts the manufacture and requests to review a particular component or if the manufacture contacts the magazine and requests their component be reviewed.

    1. That’s the ‘problem’ with just about every product out there. There’s so much choice these days it’s impossible to know if you’ve got the best. Just got to hope for the best that it’s the ideal choice for you and be happy with what you’ve got. But for an audiophile on the search for something new those days can be a rare commodity.

      1. I rely on reviews and feedback from those who made purchases. I understand the audio definitions and slang terms that reviewers and owners use to describe the sound so when I buy a component my experience has been very good and close to the description of the sound given.

        You can tell when a reviewer is excited about a product that they are reviewing and put their reputation on the line and are pounding the table. When other reviewers come up with similar opinions from the same and different magazines you know it’s a winner.

        The great components also stand the test of time and have strong interest on the used market many years and decades after it’s been discontinued or it’s even still being made by the manufacturer due to continued strong demand.

        Many times a manufacturer will discontinue a great component just because they need to come up with something new and many times the new stuff is no better or even worse. But for many reasons that product gets discontinued. Those products sometimes cost more on the used market than what they cost new.

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