I've been thinking about the "what if" question of late. My thoughts haven't especially been globally centered - like "what if" we could have world peace or "what if" we could end poverty and starvation? Although I'll have to admit, those are assuredly noble goals. They also seem to hover just out of my reach.
No, my pondering of the "what if" question rings more closely to home. Okay, sure, I'll admit, I was wondering what I would have done if I had won the billion-dollar lottery a few months ago. I also "what if" about some other fairly obvious things, most specifically things I can or would like to own or do. But honestly, writing those aspirations down on paper makes them all seem overtly materialistic. So I've decided to basically limit myself to high performance audio "what if's."
I'll have the courtesy to not "what if" about $500,00.00 speakers and $150,000.00 turntables and amps. Because let's face it, that's just about as obvious as pining over a Ferrari LaFerrari - exciting but out of my reach, mostly because I just don't have the $1.42 million sitting around to own one. Despite the aforementioned speakers and gear costing less than a world class sports car, they are probably out of most people's reach as well. So I'll set my sights on things I deem beneficial to all audiophiles.
My first "what if" is how nice it would be to have more audio dealers - especially ones that are close to where you live. I couldn't care less if they are housed in a commercial building or in the garage out back of the house. I think it would be wonderful if we could have greater opportunity for everyone, audiophiles and those that aren't, the chance to embrace new and exciting audio products. What a wonderful way to help perpetuate the hobby and introduce it to those who hear us prattling on about how great something sounds.
I'd also like to "what if" about greater availability of music, not just in one format or genre, but all music. Many of my favorite artists have never released anything in high resolution and most haven't turned out an album since I was in my twenty's. I realize the decision to not is manifestly a business decision based on what the market will bear. Perhaps the production of higher resolution music, or the release of an LP, is not a wise business decision - one I understand but still, the "what if" stands.
Another "what if," also involving music, is a greater density of physical music stores in the average city - more so, that is, than we now have. I understand as well as anyone that we live in a technological age and buying from the Internet is not only common place but likely preferred. I probably am as guilty as anyone of this but really, is there not some glorious sense of contentment to spend an hour or two in a really great record store looking to see what might be found? Is there not a heightened sense of enthusiasm to be thumbing through the music racks and find a work by an artist you didn't even know existed? It doesn't really matter if the format is an LP or a CD, used or new, I just find it somewhat cathartic to become absorbed in looking for new music in a physical store. As much as streaming and buying online has to offer, it just doesn't seem the same - much like the difference between reading the newspaper online (like I do) as opposed to an actual newspaper on the porch with a great cup of coffee.
I'd feel somewhat remiss if I didn't also include the greater sense of enthusiasm and understanding "what if." I have to believe there are many audiophiles, who like myself, have a number of their close friends that for what ever reason are not turned on by our hobby. Naturally, I understand fully well that Audiophilia is not for everyone - and many people view a song as just that. If they attach any sort of label at all it is probably a determination of whether or not they like the song. And as much as I'd love for everyone with whom I spend time to enjoy our particular hobby, I realize that isn't very realistic.
Perhaps a natural segue is the "what if" we had more interest in our hobby in general? How beneficial would it be to have more people interested in high performance audio? Imagine the possibilities - greater abundance of new music and gear, more venues to see new equipment and meet new audiophiles, and ultimately, far greater participation in something that admittedly, is not a highly popular hobby. It would be great for all facets of the high end business if we had a larger number of proponents.
Of course, some would probably also like to include "what if's" like the end of the loudness wars, agreeing that cables matter, that digital is better than analog - or the other way around, solid state or tubes, or, oh my, how many other disputes? However, some things are best left unsettled and undisturbed. I can't speak for the next person, but I find that some differences of opinion make things infinitely more interesting. Let's face it, how much fun would it be if everyone liked exactly the same thing?
Last and finally, I like to revisit that earlier $500,000 speaker "what if" - because quite frankly, I'd be lying if I didn't lay claim to wanting a speaker system of that caliber. I mean really, I'm not that much of an idealist!
Here's to all the "what if's and as always - happy listening!