1. Things you need to know about the new ‘Conversations’ PM system:

    a) DO NOT REPLY TO THE NOTIFICATION EMAIL! I get them, not the intended recipient. I get a lot of them and I do not want them! It is just a notification, log into the site and reply from there.

    b) To delete old conversations use the ‘Leave conversation’ option. This is just delete by another name.
    Dismiss Notice

Is Audio a true addiction?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Maxbertola, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. Maxbertola

    Maxbertola pfm Member

    Reading articles about addictions and the diagnostic criteria for defining what an addiction is, I am struck by how many points of a diagnostic chart can be used to evaluate our behavior regarding audio matters.

    For sure, my long attendance of Naim world and forum has suggested a state of addiction in many members, including me; but perhaps it would be interesting, and useful, to try investigating our habits and moods regarding our hobby to seriously check if it has - at least occasionally - the proper traits of pathology.

    The fact that no toxic substance is involved may distract us from the evidence, but I am beginning to wonder if for some of us dealing with audio - listening, comparing, buying, selling, changing, upgrading, attending audio-related forums, letting audio things occupy more and more ample parts of our mind and attention, and so on - is not at least partially a form of vice.

    Even alcoholics and drug-addicted people tend to minimize their condition, so I am just wondering.

    I suggest the reading of any table on internet sites with the diagnostic criteria for addictions; it is an interesting and illuminating perspective.
  2. Obi1

    Obi1 Swedish HiFi enthusiast

    I wouldnt be surprised if the human body releases endorphine when listening to music, in that case it is almost lika any other habit driven drug.
  3. Mongeddavid

    Mongeddavid pfm Member

    Dont know about an addiction but i have found that however great my system has sounded in the past theres always something in me saying what if i tried this or changed that. I have for the last few years managed to suppress that urge and have been very happy with what I have.
    I also agree with with Obi1 re endorphins but im not sure that's the drive for wanting better gear. I think its just striving for our perception of perfection when a) its not achievable and b) we don't really know what perfection is.
  4. Maxbertola

    Maxbertola pfm Member

    Yes, but that is not what I was speaking of. I was not referring to the plain pleasure of listening to music, but to the side effect of being dependent on audio gear and all the related hype.
    (In reply to Obi1)
  5. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    People are just invested emotionally in the music they choose and also in the HiFi they own and some in the rhetoric they spout to justify their choices. Not the same as being physically addicted but possibly giving you some of the same pleasure.
  6. Maxbertola

    Maxbertola pfm Member

    I wish I could still believe it's so.
    I fear perfection has nothing to do with it, or it is an excuse, an alibi.
    Today I think that the main mechanism underneath some people's addiction to audio gear is self-identification with the gear, as a symptom of a mild form of undeveloped self, and the constant pursue of something 'better' as the expression of a need to finally mirror ourselves into something acceptable, and objectively good.
    I imagine many will think this is absurdly pretentious and off-topic as far as the 'plain pleasure of listening to music' is concerned, but I am beginning to very seriously wonder whether such pleasure, in the form verbally manifested here by most members, actually exists - if so many posts are posted about the need for change, for a definitive goal.

    I know a number of people - almost all the 'audiophiles' I know, actually - who claim that this is a game, a pastime. I don't think it is. After all it's Sunday morning, between 8 and 9 a.m. in most Europe and a number of us is already sitting at the computer discussing audio. If it was about alcohol we would be having our first beer.

    Or not?
  7. tones

    tones Tones deaf

    I tend to think about it more as a religion than an addiction. A personal journey in this regard:

    A long, long time ago…
    I can still remember
    How that music used to make me smile.
    And I thought if I had my chance
    My music system to enhance
    Just, maybe, I’d be happier for a while.

    But hi-fi mags just made me shiver
    As every article delivered.
    Bad news on the doorstep;
    Much cash to gain one more step.

    And thus it was, I did decide
    This bizarre world to get inside
    It really took me for a ride,
    And so the music died.

    So bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I
    They can carry on without I

    Do you believe in sounds of wire
    At a price that’s absolutely dire
    If those Bibles tell you so?
    And do you believe your rock ‘n roll
    Sounds so much better, with more soul
    From a diamond dragging through a ditch so slow?

    Now I knew folk were in love with Linn
    Even when the price was really grim
    Or mad Naimees whose shoes
    Tap as if there’s no time to lo-oo-oose.

    I had a taste champagne with a budget beer
    And imagination and no golden ear
    And all confirmed were my worst fears
    The day the music died

    I started singin’
    Bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I
    They can carry on without I

    So for ten years, I was quite on song
    Believed these wise folk can’t be wrong
    They heard something, I heard it too
    Although it was so contrar-ray
    To the science I did every day
    I somehow didn’t see it all as woo.

    Until a stand, of Mana name
    From Anglesey, not heaven, came
    It cost a hefty pound
    Was said to enhance sound
    But in spite of what the pundits knew
    I tried it out, and its cred blew
    Moreover it looked ugly too
    No wonder music died

    I started singin’
    Bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I
    They can carry on without I

    Helter skelter, I was in a swelter
    I tested stuff and in a welter
    Scales from eyes were falling fast
    For big improvements, you need grass
    And propaganda good as Tass
    And pseudo-scientific humbug vast

    Now in no time I smelt sweet perfume
    Of truth, and tried to sing this tune
    I sought truth to advance
    But I rarely got the chance
    For when I tried to take the field
    The true believers would not yield
    They didn’t like the truth revealed
    And so the music died.

    And I was singin’
    Bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I
    They can carry on without I

    Oh, and there we were all in one place,
    A few with clues, but some with space
    Between the ears, so talk was vain
    They went on, they were simple, they were thick
    As Jethro Tull’s infamous brick
    ‘Cos humbug is believers’ only friend.

    Oh, and as I watched them on the for-
    Um, hi-fi myths began to soar
    From folk who should know well
    Completely under spell.
    And as the flaming climbed to scary height
    The sort of thing that forums blight
    Hi-fi believers laughing with delight
    The day the music died

    And I was singin’
    Bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I
    They can carry on without I

    I now have ceased to sing the blues
    No longer read the “Hi-Fi News”
    I simply smile and turn away
    I don’t go to the hi-fi store
    Where the music left me years before
    For in such stores the music doesn’t play
    The only thing that’s there are dreams
    At prices taken to extremes
    Absurdity unspoken
    And logic totally broken
    I have Meridian, Linn and Quad
    But for my back, no longer rod
    Music, not hi-fi, is my god
    And music will abide.

    I’m happily singin’
    Bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I
    They can carry on without I

    Bye, bye, to religion hi-fi
    I’d been drinking without thinking, now the well has run dry
    And good ol’ audiophools can fight till they die
    But they can carry on without I!
  8. paskinn

    paskinn pfm Member

    Might I suggest that what we have here is less 'addiction' than yet another example of the need for modern psychiatry/social workers to label everything. This is actually a mildly sinister development...it turns the rich, diverse, range of human behaviour, with all it's fascinating quirks, into a series of medical/ psychiatric 'problems'. And , as night follows day, these need the attention of the experts, with suitable drugs and control mechanisms.
    Thus naughty children become medical problems (and once someone has a medical problem they are no longer responsible for their behaviour). Did Shapespeare have an 'addiction' to writing plays Are fine chess players 'autistic'because they are deeply involved in a game (we could describe it as ''unable to form acceptable bonding with their social/economic environment'); and so on, until everyone mildly different has been reduced to a powerless 'problem.'
    Stuff the textbooks; this is sinister stuff. Of course there are real, and many, examples of horrid mental illness; The trouble is that the barriers to this description are being lowered to sweep up a whole range of 'odd' people. It is deeply authoritarian.
    As for audio...everyone knows it doesn't really matter; it's fun.And part of the fun might be becoming deeply immersed in it. People should be left alone to choose and enjoy their own activities without busybodies 'medicalising' their lives.
  9. PaulMB

    PaulMB pfm Member

    I think Paskinn has hit the nail on the head. Remember when we used to be told that if we wanted sex only once a fortnight there was something wrong with us and needed therapy, and if we wanted it twice a day we were "sex addicts" and also needed therapy?
    HiFi is a toy (99% for boys), like cars and cameras. People who are always tweaking their car, changing the headlights, changing the shock absorbers, sticking on spoilers, changing chips, etc. Yes, I've sometimes had the impression it is a demented search for a non-existant Holy Grail in a lanscape of myths, hype and lies. But pretty harmless compared to people who collect human organs.
  10. Yveski

    Yveski In the sky......

    More of an obsession than an addiction! but todays media soaked society is very eager to label everything with a dramatic title!
  11. SimonB

    SimonB pfm Member

    Brings a different meaning to listening with new ears...

    I'll just get my coat.

  12. Mike-B

    Mike-B Self opinionated techie

    Hi Max, good to see you back in the land of the living :)

    No way is it addictive - I know real life physical addiction & even my limited experience of audio freakery is nothing like that hell hole (believe me) & IMO better to call it obsessive. That said the levels of obsession & addition can get blurred, gambling for example is hardly a medical addiction like drugs & drink, but it can be equally debilitating, so maybe I talked myself back into agreeing that some peeps can be sort of addicted to audio.

    It depends on the individual more than anything, from what I see in some places is that peeps are truly obsessed with owning what they perceive as the best & at any cost. Seems to me they cannot ever be satisfied or do not realise that a live concert can never be reproduced in the home.
    I feel that 4 figure numbers on a single cable (e.g.) & then to fit out the entire multi-mega-buck-box system with the same brand is a little uber-obsessive
    - but maybe thats a cable debate.
    Maybe its a need to constantly improve no matter what the cost & SQ gain
    - but maybe never admitting the gain is either zero or negative is the problem.
    Maybe they need a weekly/monthly fix to replace something in an attempt to achieve the holy grail in the land of Nirvana
    - but as with all seekers of legends & mythological lands, have yet to realize it it is a utopia that exists in their minds only.
    Maybe its a left over from early years when (like me) a student or poor newly married we scrimped & saved for a (typically) 2nd hand improvement in an attempt to wring something better from our music.

    I am just happy I have a passion for music & an interesting hobby with audio equipment that goes some way to allow me to simply enjoy my music.
  13. markt

    markt hello


    Please, rolling end credits to this:


  14. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Agreed, in some ways there's a lot to be said for having a mildly compulsive nature in life, obviously like everything, extremes can be dangerous and choosing to feed your hifi obsession as opposed to your kids is clearly out of whack.

    However, having stimulating interests and pursuing these is surely the point of life, it's not for me to question what those may be for others. We legislate for race discrimination sex discrimination etc, but it seems to me that many people have an embedded discrimination gene that has to find fault with someone who doesn't pursue a 'normal' interest like watching TV or playing golf. You even see it here, whereby some are intolerant that another person could enjoy certain music or equipment, or needing to project some superiority in to proceedings.

    Anyway, yes I'm sure that I suffer from some sort of illness by being fascinated by how to replay music but damned if I care:)
  15. the loaf

    the loaf pfm Member

    Speaking for myself there is no question in my mind that there is an addictive aspect to audio for some of us, however in the 31 yrs I spent working in mental health I never came across anyone professionally who was deemed as suffering from a pathological condition ie being addicted to audio/hifi to the point that it impeded that person's every day functioning negatively. I have difficulty playing musical instruments and have wondered whether the frustration of this has manifested as a form of 'audio-mania' in the past. Passion ,if not tamed , can result in addiction to anything. By the way I am in full agreement about the problems with 'pathologising ' everything as mentioned earlier.
  16. dspatterson

    dspatterson Keltik Krazy

    All I can add is music relaxes me drugs relax you ( allegedly :))

    If im away on holiday for a week or a fortnight I do get grumpy not having access to it and one of the first things I do on return is go through the ritual of switching it all back on and enjoying the warm up process as it goes from slightly hard to sublime.
  17. dave

    dave Plywood King

    The frequency of box swapping on these forums (a new rig every month?!) and the arrogant Savior Behavior insisting others are delusional with what they hear amazes me.

    Have we cornered the market on Internet whackos?
  18. Jonboi

    Jonboi Because Music Matters


    I've felt for some time that many audiophiles, are obsessive about their hobby to the point of it being unhealthy.

    Certainly if the many forum posts on the subject (not just this one) in support of the rules of physics being magically re-written and the vehement arguments that accompany such debate are anything to go by.

    On the subject of Saviour behaviour, I do remember being told on numerous occasions that I was either deaf, dumb, or needed to be taught how to listen, if one dared disagree or question the then Flat Earth Mantra espoused by Naim and Linn in particular.

    It seems that audiophiles can't rationally discuss things HiFi without either willy waving, or throwing around insults - from either side of the fence.

    So yes, I wouldn't necessarily call the audio hobby an addiction, but I do think it is a very unhealthy obsession for a lot of so called audiophiles.

    Certainly I regard myself as being caught up in the more obsessive general and Flat Earth elements of the hobby at one stage, and am very happy to have left that experience behind with a complete change of system and outlook to Hifi as a hobby/interest, and only wish I had done so a lot earlier.

  19. dave

    dave Plywood King


    There's a big difference between valuing PR&T and being a PRAT. Some never learned.?



    P.S. I rarely comment about what may or may not be possible to hear as I'm not qualified nor would I presume we know everything there is to know if I were.
  20. markt

    markt hello

    The wonderment of what goes on in those boxes doesn't diminish in fans of hifi, they won't admit it of course, it's too geeky to do that.

    Having a curiosity is healthy isn't it? That's what I think what much of hifi is about, the puzzle element as much as the music.

    Every guy has his own puzzle past time, whether it's squeezing an extra 20ps from the V8 on the flow bench or making the washing machine drain five seconds quicker or finding a way to automatically control every element of the homestead.

    Tim the Toolman Taylor is you, and you, and you over there too!

    Don't deny it!

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice