Listening Anew

Road Tours, like my recent trip to Goodwins High End, can be intense.

the Big Room at Goodwins High End (all of the following photos are also from Goodwins)

They can be intense because I try to absorb as much information as possible during my visit. Like an empty sponge. It’s really a two-fold process — 1. forget everything, 2. fill the void with new information. This extends to sights, sounds, and ideas with the goal being to put Mr. Judgment on hold in order to drink in the new, unfiltered. This process can also be exhausting as I don’t take notes because they tend to get in the way of the flow of things like conversation, ideas, and listening.

When I get back home, and back into the Barn, I crave the familiar. The return home from a Road Tour functioning as a return to things known, more and less, to sights, sounds, music, and the red chair. All of my newly acquired information and experiences, once shared in words and photos, commingle with the already known, forming a perhaps plumper base of knowledge. Ideally.

But can we really avoid comparing the familiar with the new? That is the question. Can we keep Mr. Judgment at bay long enough to appreciate differences without imposing the I/Me/Mine tax?

I like to think we can, and I certainly try to do just that when I travel to places to hear other hifis in other rooms. Whether that be at a friends place, a hifi show, or a dealer. After all, one thing we learn when we mingle with other hifi folks is there are lots of solutions to the same problem of reproducing music for our pleasure and not a single one of them is the right way or the wrong way. There is just the way.

As Robert De Niro as Michael in Deer Hunter said, as if he was speaking to every audiophile: “Stanley, see this? This is this. This ain’t something else. This is this.”

Of course I’m speaking from a listener’s perspective, not as a manufacturer (because I am the former, not the latter). It makes perfect sense for every manufacturer to believe their way is the right way, the path that leads to their ideal. Otherwise, why bother creating things?

We have it easy, us listeners. Our job is to find the hifi we can afford and enjoy, and then go about enjoying. Tout de suite!

If you find yourself comparing yours to others, enjoyment can fly out the window faster than you can say envy. Unless part or all of your enjoyment comes from thinking you know the right way and the wrong way, making your way the best. In my experience this kind of thinking leads to one place — Unsatisfied Avenue. And no one wants to spend all of their time on Unsatisfied Avenue with Mr. Judgment lording over our every thought, which is why we see many said residents spending so much time away from their hifi, away from music, and on the forums and in the comments. Angry.

I get it. I really do. It can be difficult to live with our choices so why not look to the supposed failings of others for a good time.

Or, or we can look at our half empty glass, or if you prefer half full, as the perfect opportunity to fill it with something new.