Aesthetics: Should they matter to the Audiophile?
No surprise to anyone who knows me (or follows this blog), I’ve dedicated SIGNIFICANT time, energy, and financial resources to “reproduce the sound of a live musical performance” within my living space. My FIRST priority when selecting audio components is fidelity. My SECOND priority is fidelity, and my THIRD priority, yep, fidelity. Whether it’s fidelity to the original live performance, fidelity to an overly-engineered recording or fidelity to the digital or analog signal traveling through the system, I want the sound I was meant to hear. I choose FIDELITY. Ok, boys and girls, AFTER achieving fidelity, then it’s time to get a little fancy with it and focus on system aesthetics.
My first audiophile system was the centerpiece of my 900 square foot, one bedroom, high rise apartment on Marine Drive in Chicago. Despite wall-to-wall windows displaying the city skyline and Lake Michigan, the system was THE conversation piece of any person lucky enough to be invited into our ‘great room.’ It consisted of (the then new) Naim Audio “Olive” separates with ProAc Studio 150 floor-standers in cherry wood veneer. Sure, the wonderful audiophile sound was the main attraction, but the sleek look of the black and olive Naim separates was quite metropolitan. In addition, the wood finish of the ProAcs alluded to craftsmanship that befit the abode of Mr. and Mrs. Audio Dork.
My four weekend selection process for this ONE system was all about purchasing components with comparatively superior fidelity. Yep, no sports, no TV, no date night, just a focus on creating the attractive aesthetics and function of this system. When done, it accomplished the following:
- My wife had a greater appreciation for this SUBSTANTIAL time and money investment
- Friends and family were envious of its sheer awesomeness
- A huge confidence boost from all of the positive responses of visitors (even the Audio Dork has a few fleeting moments of insecurity)
- A centerpiece for our next THREE homes
The centerpiece point can’t be overstated. At a time when I couldn’t afford a dedicated listening room, my system could have been relegated to a bedroom or closet. Either choice would have made future investments highly unlikely or at least very contentious between the wife and I.
Now in my fifth home, I have a dedicated two-channel room AND a home theater room. The two-channel room is invite only, but it still achieves FIDELITY and looks amazingly good! Everyone, including the world’s snarkiest audiophile, knows the importance of appreciating the beauty of life.