Written by 4:59 am News

Musicalia Nervosa: Condition Defined

Paul Wilson wonders if he has an incurable condition…

Part of the audiophile hobby is music. Sure, we pursue the ultimate reproduction of music through better and ever better equipment, but music is the reason why. To say our hobby is all about the music is not only a well-worn statement; it’s also a glaringly obvious statement of fact.

AR-Multiple - LP.jpgWhen I look over my music collection, both digital and analog, I find what any non audiophile would see as habitual overlaps. Personally, I don’t see where there is anything wrong with having more than one release of the same work by an artist but that’s just me. To the rest of the civilized world, however, maybe that viewpoint is not wholeheartedly supported.

For instance, I have, and even written about the four different versions I have of Elton John’s Good Bye Yellow Brick Road  — two LP’s, one CD and one high res download. When a reader to the article I wrote suggested the Blu Ray Audio version, I immediately thought, “yeah, I need that as well,” although I’ve yet acted on the impulse to buy.

In the jazz genre, my favorite is undoubtedly smooth jazz. Born in the early 1980’s, this style of music captured and captivated me early on and has ever since. My all time favorite group are the Rippingtons. I have all of their releases and have seen them live numerous times. So it was one day, while thumbing through my LP collection I discovered two of my favorites, Tourist In Paradise, and Welcome To The St James Club. Now, admittedly, I have both of these selections on CD, copied to my music server, up sampled to DSD and have listened to them countless times in a digital format. To my knowledge, the LP’s were in really good shape, I mean, I don’t really remember the last time I even played them. What brand of lunacy was it that enticed me to buy both LP’s again? Because that’s exactly what I did. I’d like to believe that at the time there was some plausible reasoning that led to my decision, but I’m at a loss to recall what it was – outside perhaps of a “senior moment.”

AR-Love - At- The - Greek.jpgAnother favorite of mine is Neil Diamond’s — Love At The Greek. On the LP I’ve owned since the original release, there is a scratch at the end of side four — just as the transition from “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” to “I’ve Been this Way Before” occurs. Right there in that wonderful drum roll I had an annoying scratch that I could not clean, wipe or cajole away. And it bothered me; dreadfully so. I looked around and finally found the LP, brand new, in its original release, still unopened and in the original packaging. I can’t remember what I paid for it, but it certainly wasn’t purchased at the bargain bin cost — which was obviously not a significant consideration. I bought the new version because of one simple scratch at the end of side four on the old one. Wouldn’t practicality dictate I’d be satisfied with the 99% of the thing that sounded fine and had no scratches?

I certainly don’t mean to state that, with messianic zeal, I am on some mission to duplicate my entire music collection. What I have done, and frankly plan to continue doing, is obtain multiple copies of certain LP’s and CD’s that might be among my favorites, or have some sonic imperfection I cannot correct, or just for fun. At AXPONA in April, for instance, I bought the MoFi – LP version of Carol King’s Tapestry. Mine, the original release, is somewhat beat up. So replacing it seems perfectly logical.

When I’ve had friends over who aren’t necessarily practitioners of our hobby, and I show them with gilded enthusiasm a new version of something, and what perhaps might be the second, third or fourth copy of the same artist’s work, I am sometimes met with the furrowed brow, confused look of derision with the obvious question — “has he lost his mind?” Any effort on my part to beguile them into understanding my motivation is wasted effort. Sometimes, the uninformed just cannot become informed. And the derisive looks my friends cast my way just way doesn’t seem to matter or have any influence on me.

In all honestly, I am unconcerned with the misunderstanding of non-audiophiles into my motivation for multiple releases of the same work. What’s more, I have every confidence that, at least to some degree, I’m not alone. I don’t mean someone who’s job, in part or in whole, is to review music or some similar profession. I mean just the average audiophile collecting music. Excitement born by a new version of something we already have is, in my estimation anyway, something commonly practiced by audiophiles. It’s part and parcel what we do. At least it’s what this one does.

AR-Giude - To - High - End - Audio.jpgIn Robert Harley’s  book, The Complete Guide To High End Audio – Fifth Edition, “Audiophilia Nervosa” is defined as “Humorous name for a condition in which the sufferer constantly frets over audio equipment at the expense of his or her enjoyment of the music.”

I looked, and I’m unable to find anything for what I am going to call “Musicalia Nervosa,” and with the associated definition: “Humorous name for a condition in which the sufferer purchases more than one copy of the same work by an artist.” Maybe that should be a new definition added to the glossary of one of the audio books?

Because sadly, or happily depending on the point of view, I seem to suffer from both.

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