So you've been thinking about getting into the hobby of listening :-)
There are few hobbies as fun as listening to music. It's one of those that you can make your own and depending on how much you learn about what it takes to make great sound you can enjoy music at a level you never thought was possible.
We're a pretty lucky crowd really because of two people who decided to make this hobby more of a known than un-known. Many of us look at J. Gordon Holt and Harry Pearson as the fathers of the high end audio press movement. And what a movement, as we went from writers telling us that the audio signal was more of a number than a personality to the personality of the recording coming to life in our rooms. For me these two guys represented going from sound to a soundstage which even since a little kid was something that fascinated me. I jumped into my music career before I could drive and never looked back. Finding these two magazines after years of creating a soundstage on my own was like finding lost siblings. I actually already had my own stereo store in Atlanta and was runing sound for the Atlanta Symphony before introduced TAS and Stereophile. It wasn't long before I sarted buying up every recommended component on the list. Learning the combinations of recreating a soundstage came natural for me because of creating the same stages from the proside. Playing a stereo was simply in reverse of making the stereo and I knew all about that cause I was the kid who slept in the studio and the first on the tour bus growing up. Live sound (studio and hall) was the nightly event of creating a world that you could fall deeply into, a connection between the music and listener. Some guys ran sound and others created it. There's a major difference between the two and the guys who ran it never understood the creators. It was like they didn't know how to hear depth and only understood side to side and out of the middle. Their life was mono or pan which is a completely different mindset from front to back. The audio magazines felt the same way when I first started reading them. I could tell who the side to side guys were and who the front to back guys were. Audio equipment was also the same. Some companies you could tell were going after depth and others sounded like they were created for a flat plane. One was built from straight lines and the other was about the 3D wholeness. This to me is step one in deciding where to go with this hobby.
what does the hobby mean to you
There are a few parts to the hobby of listening and each one of them has their own set of values. You might think that it is one hobby at first but the further you get into it you see the lines being drawn and it's important to indentify where you fit before you are too deeply in.
One part is the volume seeker. This is the guy who can't have it loud enough.
The living room listener. This is the fella who is working around his furniture, and fitting the stereo into it.
The collector. The audio component collector is more into the products as they stand on an individual unit or merit.
The engineer. He is a guy who uses test equipment to make the calls in the system performance.
The equipment explorer. This is about the mixing and matching of components to create different sounds.
The extreme listener. This is the guy who takes into account all the parts that makes sound happen and builds a system that can recreate the recording.
The music style listener. This is a person who usually stays in one camp (type) of music.
Each of these types of listener has their own world and is usually in defense of that world as being the "way" once they get started, so one of the first things I try to find out is what kind of a hobbyist is the listener. This hobby is full of opinions and each one has their own personal view of music and what they perceive as right. Many get into the hobby at one level or with one goal only to find out that they are in a completely different place than they originally wanted to be and getting back to that place is harder than they thought. Peer pressure unfortunately is a driving factor as a listener starts to invest and the more you learn about your place in this hobby the easier it will be for you to get on a path of successful listening. It's not uncommon at all for a hobbyist to purchase many components before they realize what path they even want to go in, and back tracking along with sideways detours is very likely if a person does not have a clear view of the hobby.