Two readersKBK and RankStrangerwrote in saying that they had acquired collections of classical discs in the hope that they might eventually gain an appreciation of the genre. Another readerour esteemed Alan in Victoriawrote in incredulously: "You guys keep hundreds of classical records on hand, because you think one day a switch will flip somewhere and you will suddenly like classical music? Bizarre."
I have to admit that a similar idea occurred to me for an instant and then I got it. First, as Jon Iverson likes to observe, audiophiles are hunter-gatherers. Collecting music is what we do. And our musical tastes do growand, in my humble opinion, our taste can change based upon our systems. (Owners of Quad '57s are far less likely to be into death metal than, say, owners of Duntech Sovereigns.)
Certain recordings have acquired legendary status among audiophiles over the years and have frequently been held up as examples of audio perfection. Even the most died-in-the-wool rocker would jump at that $2 shaded dog or Mercury Living Presence thinking that maybe this will be the start of a beautiful friendship.
And people's tastes do changeit doesn't take a switch flipping, sometimes beauty is sufficient. When I worked at Tower Records, a gent who had chanced upon The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams fell deeply in love with classical music. Not all classical music, but definitely RVW, Elgar, Delius, and, later, Ravel and Debussy.
I have no idea what he listened to before discovering RVW, but it sure wasn't classicaland I worked with a few hard-core modern music enthusiasts who thought that he didn't like real classical, but a less pure, lite version of it.
That's an attitude I find puzzling and tiresome. And it's one we audiophiles seem to fall into with some frequency. It's one reason our hobby is so BalcanizedI keep expecting to see tube lovers and solid-state perform a combination dance routine/knife fight a la the Sharks and the Jets.
Ultimately, I think that KBK and RankStranger have the right attitude, which is to embrace the hobby and pray for change. I've met audiophiles who only played 10 records and I've folks who get to choose from thousands. I've always enjoyed the latter group immensely more.