What Ever Happened to the Audiophile? I know! I know! Pick Me! Pick Me!

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Linton Weeks' article "What Ever Happened to the Audiophile?" poses an interesting question. Too bad it's the wrong one. Weeks spends most of the article making statements such as, "the audiophile was a symbol of the Golden Age of Audiophonic." As a fellow wordsmith my hat (or headphones) are off to Weeks' coining of a new word. That IS hard to do, but his conclusions? They were way too easy.

 

Weeks assumes that audiophiles have "gone" somewhere. I think they've merely migrated away from the old school model painted here towards a new paradigm - the computer and personal audiophile. MP3s and loudness wars aren't the problem, they are merely the "gateway drugs" preventing the act of listening. The problem is that too many new listeners blame their boredom with recorded music on the music itself or the other distractions of the modern world. The real issue is LOW DEFINTION MUSIC, which lacks sufficient information to hold a listener's full attention.

 

The answer is high-definition downloads and music files on line. You have to have the right ammo if you expect the weapon to fire properly. I know that if you put a human, almost any human, in a room with their favorite music played on a good reproduction system they will succumb to its powers. Whether your tastes run toward John Cage or Lady Gaga (closer to one another than you think) if you hear a high-rez file over a good system (even through headphones) you will not only drink the Cool-aid, but it will spill down your face and stain your shirt AND you won't care...

 

Non audiophiles will never get it. Until you experience "Musical Ecstasy" as described by the late audio shaman Harvey Rosenberg you can't be an audiophile. Once you have been moved you can no sooner go back to your non-audiophile state than a pupae can turn back into a slug rather than into a butterfly. It works on almost anyone. Even my 16-year-old niece, who never does only one thing at a time, told me after listening to her iPod through a pair of Audio Technica earbuds instead of the stock Apple pair, "Can I keep these? They sound better." I got her...

 

The problem is not "What Happened to the Audiophile?" The problem is, "Where do I go to BE an audiophile?" Instead of dedicated listening rooms, young people have headphones. Instead of record stores there's download sites. Instead of Downbeat or Rolling Stone to read what's worth hearing, there are peer reviews on Amazon. And instead of cool audio specialty stores where young music lovers can see and hear new gear there's, there's, almost nothing...

 

So my answer to "What Ever Happened to the Audiophile?" is simple; "They're everywhere, but some of 'em just haven't been touched yet."

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