On Collecting Audio Gear and Music

I suspect that quite a few Audiophile Review readers collect something, and probably even multiple somethings. Vintage Hi-Fi gear, guitars, recorded music, watches, performance vehicles, whatever. Being of a certain age, I've worked through several of my collecting urges, but I still have a few left. 

AR-collecting2a copy.jpgI used to have close to 50 stringed instruments, now I'm down to under 25. Sure, there are a couple I wouldn't mind having back, but by and large the external force that required pairing down the numbers also made me re-examine what was important and or unique and what was merely more of the same, which was a good thing. Now my instrument collection is more focused and I play what I have more regularly. 

Now let's turn attention to music and audio gear collections. When it comes to music my current collection of music files is right around 1GB. Nowadays, all that music can fit onto a under $100 portable USB drive. I still have almost 3000 LPs, which reside in my listening room, and almost 2000 CDs (which now rest in banker boxes in storage). Then there are DATS, PCM Beta tapes, Mini-disks, and reel-to-reel recordings that also live in the back corner of my listening room. Finally, I still have shelves of books and magazines on music, photography, and vintage audio. 

AR-collecting5a copy.jpgYes, I know that if I tried to listen everything in my music collection or glance through every book and magazine in my clutches I would need to live another 40 years... 

Moving two years ago reduced my excess audio gear drastically - I still have back-ups for when something breaks or must be returned to a manufacturer tout-sweet, but the back-ups of the back-ups have gone to other owners and users. I still have several early PCM recorders and the VCRs that I can't seem to convince myself to sell, but I rationalize that I do need them to play back the old recordings I've made with them. Again, I feel better not having as much excess gear lying around, and the gear I do have has a much better chance of being used regularly. 

Many of the older audiophiles I know still have large collections of gear and the software to play on that gear, with multiple copies of audiophile faves such as Dark Side of the Moon or Belafonte at Carnegie Hall. But how many is enough compared to too much? That is a tricky question - sometimes it comes down to the conditions of storage - If you still have room to keep everything properly (not resting on their sides underneath 100 LPS stacked on top of them) you are a collector, not a hoarder, I suppose. 

AR-collecting4a.jpgSo, my question is simple - how much is too much? When does the collecting bug become the hoarding bug? And when and how do you control your acquisitive urges (or channel them into a societally-acceptable level?) 

For me it's been a constant cycle of acquiring and divesting. How about you?

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