It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a throbbing audio-video entertainment system.
It is entirely a bloke domain this. Audio and video equipment possessing the necessary attributes to endlessly fascinate blokes. Performance, specs, exclusivity, rivalry, one-upmanship, envy and desire.
In other words, a woman hunting substitute.
Owning a great hi-fi is the blokey alternative to having the best, most-lusted after girl, ever. The modern equivalent to a caveman spending the hours in between hunting and fighting attempting to drag the best cavewoman into his grotto.
Similarly, the entire market for digital cameras, carbon racing bikes, mechanical watches, cars with fewer than 4 seats or more than 4 cylinders, and gas barbecues. You get the best hi-fi, camera, car or watch and attain blokey happiness.
Compared to chasing women, there are many advantages to concentrating one’s manly free time in these pursuits. Such trophies are easier to acquire, requiring neither dancing nor poetry skills, and can be researched online without fear of attracting a stalking order nor a divorce. They can also be upgraded when aged, and if necessary, legally traded online.
So returning to hi-fi. Once a target item has been identified, there begins the enjoyable and drawn-out process of the purchasing foreplay. The actual climax of the purchase should be delayed as long as possible. Experts in this area achieve an out-of-body tantric pleasure that may last many days. Legend has it, Sting can take weeks.
Tactics used might include online research, joining a forum dedicated to the subject, posting questions to people you have never met, seeking guidance, teasing other forum members with your desires, testing the waters, considering alternatives, establishing your place in the community of fellow appreciators, and then, and only then … ah, yes, now ! Buy it Now, NOW !
Sir, your order has been acknowledged. A post-coital email has been sent to your address.
Once the item arrives, you are briefly married to it. Actual love may be involved. You will return to that forum, and post pictures to those people whom you have never met. You and your trophy. Unpacking your trophy. Looking at your trophy. You, your trophy and your dog. You, your trophy, your dog on a lovely day out. You will review your trophy. Forum members will appreciate your review and congratulate you, while planning their own better trophy reveal.
Eventually your love for your trophy will subside. Sure enough, like a middle-aged man at a barn dance, you’ll find yourself brimming with new desires and self-loathing in equal measure.
You begin the hunt again.
Before online purchasing and internet fora, of course, you still had the same requirements. But you had to improvise with the then-current capabilities. Communicating your impending purchase involved going to the pub and telling people – people you actually knew – about your new target. If you didn’t drink, or had no friends, you could write using genuine paper and a legacy texting device called a pen, to a specialist hi-fi magazine. Then you had to wait until your question was published in next month’s issue. You would wait for this in a state of some agitation until bursting into W.H.Smiths to buy it on publication day. The answer would always be a variation of an acknowledgement of the deficiencies of your current hi-fi, followed by an entreatment to upgrade to something better.
Advertisements festooned these magazines like massage cards in a telephone box.
In both cases, online or offline, the eager hi-fi hunter was seeking advice. Yet also communicating, as a big cat does when strolling out onto the savannah, that yes, he is here, and he is ready for some action.
Ready to consume.
( Behold my purchasing intentions ! )
As I wrote elsewhere …
… the brain is duplicitous, and ( you can try this yourself ) merely the suggestion of ( say ) a “more etched cymbal” will, in fact, lead to your brain prioritising the cymbal frequency as you unconsciously or otherwise, seek to validate this claim. Hence why the advertisements and the back of the packets on these products all squeak of “performance, deep lows, absence of grain” and so on. The power of suggestion, the power of wanting to believe ( helped by not wanting to believe you were mugged ) and, frankly, ignorance and belief in mystical physical properties as yet only known to audiophiles, is a powerful cocktail.
Upon such minor trivialities lies almost the whole of the “high-end” hi-fi industry.
Lions are the only cats that form social groups – a pride. As with online fora devoted to blokey pursuits. Here too, writers step out onto the virtual savanna, and form their own prides. Discussing their favoured brands, mocking others, manically comparing specs per dollar spent – or imagined spent. The modern man’s equivalent of hunting the bison, without prejudice.
[…] would come later, when I picked up some old Hi Fi magazines, whose methods I have written about elsewhere. For the moment, my Wurzels copy of “Combine Harvester” played just […]
Can we look forward to a follow up on why we should spend more on our interconnects (including an explanation of what ‘oxygen free copper’ actually is) at some time in the future?
Also a supplement on the benefits of putting small metal cones under the feet of hifi separates is always welcome….