Sensitive ears

Curse of being a part-time audiophile

I call myself a part-time audiophile. An audiophile’s mission is the pursuit of pure sound reproduction and it is never done nor perfect. I am far from like that hence I call myself a part-time audiophile. My motivation stems from a completely different place. My ears are super-sensitive to anomalies. This is how I got into it. I did not get it from my dad or a friend. It is something I fell into by accident. It all started with cassette tapes. They sounded awful to me. There was white hiss in the background and take jank ruining the music. I was around 14 when I started on a mission to fix that problem. I sold my sailboat (true story, no joke) and got a fancy audio system, but I was not pleased with the sound and I brought it back. Instead, I researched and researched for months and dumped all the money into a single cassette recorder. I had hand-me-down speakers and amplifier. I can remember that when I connected the deck, I was blown away by the sound. It made me so happy. I could still hear some jank and some tape hiss, but it was “acceptable” to me. I can even remember that I always bought TDK SA-X tapes because they sounded better. The SA-X was the expensive version of the popular SA. The difference (according to TDK) was that SA-X tapes were selected based on lower manufacturing tolerances than SA. You might take that with a grain of salt, but I was able to hear the difference.

Today, I still have a relatively expensive audio system and I still listen to vinyl and CDs. CDs just sound better than Spotify to me. Before you shout Tidal, I tried Tidal’s HIFI service but I am 100% convinced not all music is available in CD-quality – even if the stream is labeled CD-quality.

So yea here I am. I still have giant speakers in my living room and stereo separates with too many buttons. I still spend money on CDs and records while the rest of the world moved on to smart speakers and streaming services. That is the curse of being an audiophile.

It does make me happy to see there is a renewed interest in proper audio equipment in the (computer) desktop market where people spend good money on headphones, headphone amps, and bookshelf speakers. At least, I am not the only one who thinks that Apple’s Airpods are terrible (sorry, Vlad) for listening to music.

Is that outside or on TV?

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