Normally, I’m not especially given to self-imposing a set of personal improvement dictates I know will very likely be broken. I can be emboldened with dreams of a better physique, being a better person, or any of the myriad things we command ourselves to accomplish at the beginning of the new year.
Not that I have little room for improvement because I certainly do, but in reality, I’m basically a very happy person. I decided a likely better course of action was to set for myself some audiophile resolutions for 2021. Maybe I can make these last longer than some misguided hope of buying the same sized pants I wore in high school.
Broaden My Musical Selections
Looking back to my fifteen-year-old self, my trail of preferred musical genres is rather limited. I began with what was heavy metal of the day – Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, and others. I pretty quickly progressed to basic rock, then pop and then jazz flavored pop. Groups like Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears gave way to the Rippingtons, Dave Koz and Eric Marienthal. I became enthralled with what is now known as smooth jazz and have remained as such for more than forty years.
I also, surprisingly, developed a taste for classical and country but only certain types. I prefer big, large scale symphonies as opposed to, say, a flute concerto. I also like country but less of a 1950’s “twangy” sound and more of a modern country, rock-oriented sound.
So, my first resolution is to develop some semblance of interest in more pop music, more Broadway music and more music in general outside my historical norm. I want to experience more than the typical smooth jazz sounds that play ninety percent of the time through my speakers.
Be More About Music, Less About Gear
I suppose I really can’t help it, but I love the process of being an audiophile. I love the means to the end. In other words, I enjoy the equipment probably as much as the music the equipment recreates.
It is reasonably fair to say that years ago I passed the point of common sense when it comes to the investment I have made in my system. I wrote those checks willingly, even happily, but it seems that now, I have a system that exceeds budgetary normalcy in every way. Can I purchase better components that will improve the sound? Absolutely. Do I really need to do so? Umm, well, probably not.
My second resolution, therefore, is to simply enjoy the music. Be happy with my system as it is, right now. Stop worrying about the next 1% of improvements. Besides, given the cost of my system as it now stands, making significant improvements can get really expensive. I would rather spend that money, if I spend it at all, elsewhere.
If I am guilty of anything audio related, it would be that I love to tinker. What makes no real sense at all is very often, I’ll be enamored with the sonic presentation for months on end. Suddenly, for no real discernable reason, I may easily find myself crawling around on the floor moving speakers and subs. I may also start experimenting with settings on the equipment.
What makes this all the more absurd is most often, after making some measure of change, and after some short period of time, I will undo all the “new and improved” changes and put everything back the way I had it before. And of course, as convinced as I was the “new and improved” sounded in every measurable way better, I will, quite predictably, become equally convinced I had it right before and change things back.
My third resolution is to leave the system alone and pay increased attention to resolution number two.
Introduce The Audiophile Hobby To More Young People
This is, not surprisingly, a difficult resolution to accomplish. Maybe it is even a fool’s errand. Making this a reality presupposes the belief young people have any interest whatsoever in high performance audio.
Making this a successful resolution presupposes the idea young people will have even an inkling of intertest in foregoing earbuds – and headphones – wirelessly connected to a smartphone in favor of a home-based system.
Making this work is fraught with difficulties. Still, however, if I see an opportunity to demonstrate to a teenager, and hopefully their parents, what is possible sonically, I’ll make the effort to do so.
While it is in every way a long shot, and one our hobby continually struggles to reasonably accomplish, my fourth resolution is to try and bring our youth into the hobby in some meaningful way.
This one is not so much a resolution, as the term implies self-betterment, but really a hopeful enterprise. High performance audio has been a lifelong endeavor for me. I have been interested in music all my life and have had a commanding devotion to the hobby since I was fifteen.
I feel the need to somehow give back. I’m not at all sure how to do so but if an opportunity presents itself, or if I feel like I can somehow accomplish this goal, I will try to do so.
My fifth resolution is to somehow, in some as yet unknown way, return the favor to a hobby that has brought me so much joy and satisfaction.
So, there are my resolutions. I could have mentioned other ideals, such as increased knowledge for not only myself, but also others. In fact, that is not a bad idea. But I stand with my five resolutions as they are. If I can accomplish any or all of them even incrementally, I feel like I will be a better audiophile.
How long any of this lasts remains to be seen. I do know, however, my own personal chances of making any of them a reality is significantly greater than fitting back into the pants size I wore in high school. Besides, I have a more focused vision of these audiophile goals than putting on a pair of bell-bottomed, button fly jeans. Perish the thought.
Here’s hoping all audiophiles have a wonderful 2021.