The Joy of “Different”. The absolute joy of hearing an often very, VERY familiar song with a different sound than what we are used to.
This drives so much of the commerce in our industry as well as providing so much of the pleasure [for me anyway] but it is not talked about much.
Yes, it is related to ‘upgrading’ and certainly ‘better quality sound’ is one of the ‘differences’ that are very enjoyable. And, of course, a different pressing, a remastering, a different technology, these also provide these wonderful experiences.
But there are also lots of differences that are just slight improvements and sometimes more just changes in ‘flavor’ – and these are also quite enjoyable and should not be ignored or disparaged. They are healthy and help us both understand music and our preferences as well as just plain fun. And many of them do not cost a lot of money. A change of cables or powercords. Using better isolation feet. Putting spikes under the speakers. Moving the speakers a little. Moving the rack from between the speakers. Cleaning the CDs or LPs better. Cleaning the ends of the cables. Etc.
And, of course,these changes in ‘flavor’ can cost some serious coin, like swapping one $11K powercord for another $11K powercord. Yikes. But, wow, whatever the price point, this can be soooo much fun. 😀
[And even downgrades can be enjoyable. For example listening to a lower-end system at a friends house, or changing out a speaker for a less-expensive but higher efficiency one, or less-expensive but higher resolution one, or whatever – these can be so much fun and invigorating.]
Some of these ideas are disparaged by some people as not being pure. “There is a right way something is supposed to sound”, and any variance from pursuing that precisely defined [in their minds] sound makes you a ‘lesser audiophile’ or something. Then again, just look at what system these people have and when we stop feeling sorry for them and the bad decisions they made we can go back to having fun. Yes, there is a Path, but as long as we stay near the Path, to the best of our pocketbooks capability and to some degree luck, then we are OK, in my opinion.
A long, long time ago, we talked about The Path. The path from whatever modest system we start with, near the bottom of the mountain, to the Ultimate System on top of whatever mountain peak we can afford which suits our basic preferences. The idea of that post was to talk about how some systems were close to the Path and others were not so much [that these others were sometimes found cul-de-sacs, which required backing out of quickly, or we risk getting disenchanted and leaving the hobby – or worse, pissing off our house partners :-)].
But once you reach your mountain peak, or even before then as we make our way up the Path, a fun way to pass the days, and years, is to try something different every so often and wake up our ears and our soul again – to shock it into listening deeply with the attentive mind and open heart again.