Written by 1:07 am Audiophile

Why Apologize?

Why do audiophiles feel guilty? Why do we feel that twinge whenever someone asks us, “How much?” What is it about our hobby that compels us to apologize whenever a component is too cheap or too expensive?


Last night I was part of a bluegrass show at the Altona Grange
in Longmont, CO. During the course of the evening I was talking with a fine
banjo player and Facebook friend, Big John. He told me how much he liked
reading my blogs about audio. He then told me he had what I “would probably
consider a mid-fi set up” with a fairly new Denon receiver and a pair of
fifteen year-old Klipsch speakers. And I told him, “It ain’t the car, it’s the
driver. If your gear is set up right it will sound way better than mid-fi.”

This conversation brings up two points.

First, I do believe that almost any mid-fi or better component made
during the last ten years that is functioning to its published specifications
is capable of sounding very good if properly used in a well set-up system. I don’t
care if a system costs $2000 or $200,000, if it isn’t room-appropriately set-up
it has the potential to sound bad. Conversely, there are some set-up experts
who could take a $2000 system, put it in the right sized room, and make it
sound better than a $200,000 super-system shoehorned into an inappropriate

Set-up and the room are the two most important parts of a
system. Period.

Second, what is it about out hobby that makes us apologize
about it all the time? I’m as guilty as anyone…someone asks me about my system
and what it costs and I hesitate…Can they really handle the truth?  $50K for a stereo? Hell yes! And that’s my
less expensive room-based system. Watch, car, and art collectors don’t feel the
same unease around the cost of admission to their hobbies. Why do we? 

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