One of my least favourite things to do is to attend hi-fi shows! Have a read of the July Editorial for my opening line there…
I am taking some poetic license here. It has been a while since I have attended one of these events and one does forget that the experience is a shared one and it is experienced wholly out of your comfort zone. New equipment, and as those of you who have listened to the podcasts with Sarel, a new environment with new room dynamics and of course, the kicker – new music.
And that’s what I want to focus on for a little bit. I never emerge from a serious listening session feeling as if my IQ has increased. I generally feel as if in fact, it has decreased because all this new music, reference tracks and high end ultra high resolution mixed, nuanced, sliced and diced for audiophiliac nirvana is all stuff I haven’t even heard before. I leave feeling very stupid and often stunned by what I have just heard. And searching for ‘that’ new reference track I just heard that’s going to blow all my current stuff to high heaven.
But the one thing that we can now do far more easily than ever before, and even up until only quite recently, is the ease of access to playlists. And so it was that I downloaded a few. All right, all right – I downloaded all of them. Determined to listen I, for you, our dear and valued followers, sat through them all. And whilst I was doing so it became apparent that what was happening was not so much listening to the music but listening to my equipment was what I was doing. I was also simply not enjoying it – the music meant nothing to me. There was no connection with me to the track, no spark of recognition and I swear that if I heard another freaking guitar twanging into a mike sat about 2 inches away from it I was going to have a violent physical expulsive reaction.
Upon realising that actually no one cares, or no one should actually care, it got much easier and listening from a more relaxed frame of reference, enjoying the music for what it was made matters far more palatable. And whilst the style of music is not my personal taste I did come away with a few that I think work with my innate inner sense of appeal. And that’s the thing. I wish I had more time at the show to pull out some of my music, which would of course be bloody awful to everyone else, and blast it with the kind of sense of ‘don’t care, I like it’ that perhaps we all need.
No matter which way you cut it though critical listening is a crucial part of building a system that works for you. It’s not supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be a reference. And where else, other than at a hi-fi show can you get to grips with all manner of new kit, and of course the music that you would not ordinarily be exposed to? It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to do. We need more of it.
Get out there and do some listening!