We start off a new year with Ori Mizrahi's intro for the Muse discussing:
Over the years I bought and sold many pieces of audio gear. Most of it is sold locally on Craigslist, especially bulky items like speakers or delicate turntables that I really prefer not to ship for obvious reasons.
And while some of the items have an audiophile appeal and end up in the hands of seasoned and well-informed new owners, some are low-cost and low appeal, and these end up sometimes in the hands of the young and curious.
One MMF 5 turntable ended up in the hands of a young guy that drove all the way from San Francisco to San Jose. It took him a week to find the time to make the trip, but you could tell there is serious enthusiasm for vinyl here.
I told him about SFAS (at the time) and he joined in on one Zoom call. That was the last time I’ve heard of the lad, who must be busy with his high-tech job.
Another turntable I sold this year was an older NAD 533, a re-badged Rega P2. This time the buyer was a young gal that took the Caltrain from… San Francisco…
I met her at the Caltrain station in Santa Clara, 10 minutes exchange and off she went on the return train.
The story was that the young lady bought one of the low-cost packages with a turntable, amp and speakers that fit in her small size apartment. She wanted to try a better turntable on a budget and my ad caught her eyes. It again took us almost a week to connect. I told her about SFAF but I don’t think she was ready to up the ante. The seed is planted for a future connection.
And this week I finally sold a pair of decent speakers that didn’t go for much. Again it was a young lady from, you guessed it, San Francisco… She showed up with her lesser half (he’s not an audiophile – nobody is perfect!), had a quick listen to the speakers and with a big smile on her face handed me the cash – sold!
It was interesting. The guy was the one making sure the speakers are working and all drivers are playing, but he was not the audiophile in the family. The gal wanted slim speakers that fit in a smallish house they just moved into, but obviously good sound was high on her agenda.
She mentioned that she has a turntable and since they showed interest in my system, I connected back my single-driver speakers and played a superb live recording of “Gerogia” Jazz piece on vinyl (Teddy Edwards Quartet, Timeless SJP-139). The gal stood there in awe, a jaws-dropping moment, but the interesting thing was that her partner said “It’s way better, and EVEN I CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE”.
I told them about SFAF. I wonder if third time’s a charm.
So, what’s the lesson, if there ever was any?
I think the young generation is there and a few show more interest in better sound than others. In this limited scope (a sample of Craigslist buyers) I found busy people at a stage in their life when they are overwhelmed with job and other life hardships.
Juggling scarce free time between life and hobby is tough and any age, but especially tough in the younger age group of say 25-40. As a result, we only notice a glimpse of enthusiasm that seems to subside quickly, but there is still something there.
In the past I’ve dabbled into headphones and it was fascinating to see the great enthusiasm of the local Head-Fi community. Young people volunteered to put together demo events and there was a sense of a “revolution in audio”. I thought at the time that the main motivation is the low-cost of headphones, but that is a myth. Many young people put serious money into high-end headphones and tube amps. These are not really portable but they don’t take a chunk of your living room either. They offer the convenience of enjoying your hobby in a smallish space and maintaining the peace with your significant other…
My vague conclusion is that there is one pre-requisite to considering yourself a true audiophile and that is the sheer enthusiasm that sometimes transcends logic. It’s required, but is not sufficient.
Maybe what’s really required is a deep emotional connection with great music and the euphoric dream that it brings, a split-second glimpse of that beautiful rainbow.
I can count these moments on one hand.
One late night in the Berkeley Hills, listening to a Gene Ammons blues piece through a Halcro amp and MG1.6 panels was a divine experience.
Another time I happened to walk into a private demo room and heard a very quiet Japanese piece on a big Krell FPB600 amp and even bigger B&W speakers, just divine. Then I thought of the absurdity of seriously big gear playing delicate music, like an elephant pretending she’s a ballerina, and being very convincing at it…
The Japanese music should play on an Ongaku and Lowthers or better yet a 45 amp, but you can’t argue with success, even if it manifests itself on a short piece for a split second.
So, logic has nothing to do with it.
And speaking of logic (or lack thereof), if you read my article from last month, you know of my love-hate relationship with Audio Research gear. After vowing “never again”, guess what. An ad for a clean D76 showed up on the local Craigslist and I stifled myself for weeks but eventually succumbed to the lingering itch… Maybe this time I’ll find the promised land. Wish me luck!