“The unease of the audiophile”

Music and its accurate reproduction can provide some of life’s great pleasures. Beautiful art meets wonderous technology, and fanatics find communities of fellowship and glossy magazines with which their desires are regularly stoked. But audiophilia comes at a price, and not just in dollars and cents. A three-decade obsession with sound has convinced me that the natural state of an audiophile is not, as we are promised, the relaxed contemplative state of auditory bliss, but the slightly anxious ambivalence of uncertainty. We vary one way or another, but our resting place is not where it should be. When I look for a resolution, I make the following observations to my fellow fanatics about what it means to be an audiophile:

1. You will live with a persistent sense that all is not quite well, that you could do better, and that your system is always in need of something. What this “something” might be will shift depending on ...