ADD or Audiophile?

I’ve loved listening to music since a very young age, starting with my parents Grundig console tube stereo which they brought to the states when the army transferred my dad back to the US. I bought my first stereo components as a young teen and would sit in my dark basement bedroom listening to Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan…..In college, I’d sit and listen to music for hours.  Fast forward 40+ years…I now have a nice system. I look forward to weekends when i can listen to music in peace and quiet. What I’ve noticed is i can no longer just sit and enjoy music. I usually read (a lot of times Audiogon Discussion Forum) while listening. When a particular song comes on or a beautiful passage comes up, I focus on the beauty of the music and artistry of the musicians creating it, then its back to mental muli-tasking again. 
I suspect its some form of ADD, but I’d like to think that doesn’t disqualify me as an Audiophile. 
Anyone else share this “affliction?”


I am usually working out during listening to music. Instead of listening chair I use balancing ball to just sit and listen. I often bulk myself up with freeweights right in the sweet spot. My best system is down at the basement gym where in the breaks between reps I can change records or tracks.

That apparently works to kill ADD.

LOL @czarivey !

I’ll have to try that ADD busting technique in a few months. I’m current recovering from total hip replacement surgery on Wednesday. Ive actually been looking forward to post surgery recovery as an excuse for extended 7 days a week (not just a few hours in the weekend wee hours) of music and reading enjoyment. 

I've noticed this when I listen to digital. I blame it on convenience. It makes us less involved because we don't have to be involved. I've never noticed this with  my vinyl system.Then too, my vinyl system cost about 5x the digital so it should sound better. Now that I've bought a PS Audio DirectStream  dac, I'm looking forward to see if this changes. However I really believe this has more to do with convenience factor than sound. Sometime my Theta CDP comes far too close to the vinyl. So its not like the CDP sounds bad.Its not as good but still sounds pretty darn good. My suspicion about convenience is based on observation of life itself. I'm often amazed at the lack of situational awareness of many, if not most, people. Living in an area where danger is more the norm than the exception makes one naturally more involved in life. Consider the pioneers who went west through the wilderness. They HAD to be aware or lose their life. We, OTOH, have conveniences that our forefathers on;y dreamed of. But look at us. Our senses are dull. Many people can't listen. They are like those on a BB who read the headline but not the article. Then they answer the headline only to find it was more clickbait rather than descriptive of the actual article. People often listen just enough to form a reply. IMO, convenience is the enemy of the good. Our senses have become dull. Only when forced can/will we use those senses to anywhere near their ability. Vinyl forces us to pay attention. Digital doesn't. FWIW this is just one of the issues with the problem IMO. Modern Life's complexity and our busyness are others. We have lost sight of the beauty of simplicity.


I usually (but not always) read while listening because of two factors. The first is that if I just listen, I get too relaxed and may fall asleep. The second is that many years ago, I listened for hours while conversing with good friends, and that kept me interested in both the music and conversation. I don't have that now. 

Whenever possible, I like to just close my eyes and listen.  I find having my eyes closed helps to widen my perception of the soundscape.  Having said that, the human mind likes to wander and really, we aren't in control of where it goes for the most part.  When it refuses to relax and focus on the music, then I too will read while listening.  As for dozing off for short intervals while listening, that's OK too. Just means I'm totally relaxed.  Another benefit of music.  IMHO.  Cheers.

I shoot pucks with with my youngest while jamming loud music through tidal. It’s a lot of fun and it introduces him to great music. It’s very rare I get to relax and really enjoy my system but it’s still worth every penny. Time is at a premium while kids are young and anytime I can listen I treasure it. 

I don't suffer this affliction. Doubt I ever will. I hate background music, makes me think of elevators.

@artemus_5  I’ll try to experiment with your theory. I have a Linn LP12 packed up (I only stream or play CDs these days) that i can set up after i can make room for it again. 
@bigtwin during those moments the music catches my attention, like you, I close my eyes which brings focus and adds the the enjoyment ( including roe-tapping but, for me no sleeping). 
The reason behind the premise of my post is after reading these forum posts over the years, I see so many members talking about spending hours enjoying their music with a glass of wine, tumbler of bourbon, a blunt, etc…but no mentions of reading like I do (usually Audiogon Forum, Stereophile, TAS, researching music or components, etc…). 
i THOROUGHLY enjoy reading these Forums and have learned so much from the experiences, opinions, and recommendations of contributing members.  I’m 67 and enjoy learning.  I’ll keep working until i stop learning and contributing to the company I’ve worked in for 42 years. However, I’m going on ~57 years enjoying music and learning about audio which will continue ad infinitum. 

I generally read when I am listening.  When I was a teenager in the early seventies I wanted some music in the background when I studied so I gravitated to the unplayed Classical Music in the home since my favorite what is now considered Classic Rock was distracting.  Eventually I began to love the Classical and then that became distracting.  When I had to really bear down and concentrate, particularly in undergrad and then Medical School, it was in a quiet library.  Now I listen to music constantly.  Internet Radio is playing in the background currently.  When we have guests staying with us my wife forbids the radio during breakfast and the house just sounds to quiet.

  I agree with @mickeyb that while the kids are growing it’s hard to relegate your listening to a dedicated time since we never have any personal time

@ezstreams Your reference to your parents' Grundig console caught my attention!  I, also, cut my teeth ... or maybe I should say my ears ... on the love of music and, ultimately, the quest for furthering its fidelity, on my parents' old Grundig console which, by the way, I still have!  It's a beautiful piece of what I consider to be antique furniture and/or audiophilia.  Did your parents' Grundig console look anything like this:

photos of Grundig stereo console - Bing images

As for the ADD thing, that's not ADD, at least not according to the DSM.  Personally, my greatest enjoyment of listening to tunes on my system is with or without friends and a fine glass of single malt Scotch or a nice wine.


@artemus_5 this is spot on. Sometimes I catch myself browsing on the phone and I'll make an observation and catch it, then I'll put the phone down and listen again. The convenience of technology is great, but it's probably more of a setback. 

I listen to familiar Jazz music, streaming or CD, while reading stereo magazines, nothing that I have to concentrate on. If a particular song is highly enjoyed, I stop to appreciate one of life’s finer moments. If it is a new Jazz album suggested by the above magazines, I will critically listen, eyes closed, to review properly.  
I listen to streaming music on Spotify.  One of the reasons is that I can see the lyrics for most of the vocal albums.  I listen to Rock and Roll, Blues, and Pop looking at the lyrics on my TV screen.  Ever since I was a kid and started listening to music, I never could fully understand the words of the R and R songs I heard.  It frustrated me.  
( I did find out in college that during certain weed-induced listening sessions I could understand every word spoken.  Ah, the good old days.)
This Spotify-enabled ability has greatly increased my enjoyment of all of my music.   

Every week I try some of the new music coming out at Qobuz even though I know hardly any of these artists.  Most of the time I am bored after 2 or 3 songs and move on.  Once in a while I find something I like, which makes it worthwhile.  For those with a short attention span, try an internet radio station in your favorite genre.  My favorite is Aardvark blues, but there are a few jazz stations that sound very good, too.

@oldaudiophile thats a beautiful piece of furniture and family memorabilia.

Here is the piece my parents brought back stateside with them in 1958.

  • Apologies if the image doesnt fit.  This is the first time I’ve entered anything except text in a post  


A. Primary 2 Channel System.

By myself, always selected content, always focused listening. Frequently Donna on the sofa, loves the music, doesn’t care about imaging. Occasionally focused/semi-focused listening with friends to content and/or equipment.

B. Office System:

Always purposeful background. Always working, sitting dead center of monitor and speakers, excellent imaging.

Computer: I put on Pandora, pick or shuffle stations, discover new to me content/artists. What grabbed my attention while working, buy some?

Computer: YouTube music videos up here occasionally

Turntable or Reel to Reel, select content, start, back to work, thus selected background.

C. Small Home Theater

Audio has been a big part of enjoying video, since I pulled the speaker wires out of old CRTs, hooked to decent speakers, the audio signal was surprisingly good, made any video more involving.

Early Home Theater. Onkyo made the 1st Receiver with a TV Tuner in it, I pre-ordered one, signal from my roof antenna. And, all FM is between tv channels 6 and 7, so you could grab FM from your cable feed, until, you guessed it, they blocked the FM on their signal.

Along came dolby, VCR’s, 5.1 surround, DVD/Blu-Ray, improved cable audio (not always, I avoid pseudo surround).

I watch a lot of music based video, dvds, broadcast and YouTube, and enjoy darn good audio of any other content, i.e. Korean Dramas, Netflix, Amazon Prime

D. Shop/Garage System: always selected content on while working, remote volume and mute important!









Funny; I read "ADD" as "Analog/Digital/Digital," and expected this post to be about older vs. newer recording technologies.

Don't believe in "multi-tasking." Research proves that it isn't really possible, that the brain can properly focus on only one task at a time. That doesn't mean one can't pat one's head while rubbing one's tummy, of course. Yes, it's possible to "read" while "listening," especially if the reading is audio reviews and the listening is undemanding (from two-chord pop to Philip Glass minimalism; I'm not implying a value judgment here). But if either the reading or the music is at all challenging, I will concentrate on one or the other.

So, speaking for myself, I don't believe in the whole concept of "background music." If there's music playing, I pay attention to it—in a restaurant, in a movie, in Trader Joe's. I'm pretty sure it's nearly impossible for me to be in the presence of music and not listen to it. Music I like used in a movie actually disengages me from the movie; I find myself not wanting to go back to the movie when the edited bit of music stops, that I'd rather hear the whole song (or whatever). I will put on something with a beat for a workout, sometimes; usually, though, even workouts are better if it's quiet and I can concentrate on the movement.

So, no, I'm not "afflicted" with the ADD the OP complains about. I can sit in the sweet spot and just listen for hours; the time flies by. I'll fall asleep in front of the TV at ten o'clock (I'm 68 after all), but if I'm listening to music instead, I'm reluctant to pack it in at midnight. And I never fall asleep while listening. In fact, the only time I turn music on in the car is for long drives when I need to stay awake.


"ADD or Audiophile?"

It’s not only you. I and many people will be same. It’s the new digital technology that only improves the sound. Not the musicality. The new digital technology dissects the original music and regenerates a smooth/nice sound but the musicality is destroyed in process. New sounds don’t draw you into the music like a good older hi-fi. Therefore, I don’t use a new DAC.

Experience the pure musicality at THE Show 2024, OC. Costa Mesa audio show (my rm #272) on June 7-9. My system is the only natural sound audio in the world. **Bring your wife to impress her. Alex/WTA

In my living room system, I just listen; I can't pay attention to what I read and what I hear at the same time. When working on photos at my desk, though, I have music on my desktop system while doing Photoshop work....

I have two systems, both very much alike.

One is setup in front of my indoor bicycle. That's where I listen to most of my music. I get to enjoy the tunes while getting my exercise in, Saves time, which I don't have a lot of until I retire.

The other system is mostly used to watch movies. Sometimes I use it to listen to satellite radio as background music when I have a project going on or I'm working on my model railroad.


@ezstreams That's a nice piece, too.  Just curious ... what's it doing outside?  Was it being moved; sold?  My youngest sister & I have our Grundig in storage.  I've often thought pieces like this would be perfect displayed in a high-end audio shop as a conversation piece.

All the Best!

@oldaudiophile 😀 i grabbed that Grundig photo off the internet. Unfortunately, my parents console was sold or more likely discarded many many years ago☹️. It would have been a really neat piece of music nostalgia to keep☹️☹️

I used to dream about having the time to listen, to really listen to music. Now that  I am retired and have more time, I find that I can’t sit that long anymore more.🙁 Ao a lot of my listening is almost background music, I’m sad to say. It’s not ADD, more like my butt hurts and I have to stand up.


I think that staying focused only on the music is hard for many of the reasons that folks have shared, But I also think that it is something we can gently push back on if we would like to stay more music focused. I was lousy at meditation - my mind drifted towards my random thoughts so easily, and I was frustrated by what a battle it was to keep focusing on my breathing. 

But focusing on music is actually easier for me. When I do inevitably drift away towards some thoughts or worries, gently bringing myself back to the music is easier and more fulfilling than bringing myself back to my breathing. Also, for the last few years, I write something about each piece of music I listen to in my listening room. I keep a journal next to the chair, and I find that listening, and then writing about what I just heard (one album side at a time, usually) keeps me in conversation with myself about music. For me, it helps.

If that all seems like too much work, I understand. There is certainly no harm done doing more than one thing, if you like them both. We really only do one thing at a time, anyway. We just switch focus so rapidly that it seems like more than one...

The "eyes closed" effect doesn't work for me as well as just looking at the gear. Weird, huh?

@ezstreams If I’m reading, I’m not really listening, and the music is in the background of my mind. Like you, I’m often reading, if an album is playing, I’m often reading liner notes, same with CDs, if they have extensive note pages with instruments and instrumentalists, recording engineers, studios, producers, etc. I’m often on the phone checking the Forum, sales adds, or emails, etc. But the whole time I’m doing this, I feel like I’m betraying the musicians, as if I’m whipping out my phone during a live performance. So after a while, in order to resolve my dilemma, I either change the station and put the phone up; or decide to shut the system down and get back to work or go to bed. 

I blame the paucity of really good music in my rather small selection. I need to organize what I already have and work toward building up a decent library, or cough up the dough to subscribe to a decent music service beyond Pandora, Amazon, YoiTube, and Internet radio. I’ve always been a casual listener, but I enjoy and appreciate good sound. Not quite an audiophile, yet. 


Ahhh, time to invest in a great chair. I’m actually not being a wise ass (😊)… I have an issue that makes sitting uncomfortable. So, with lots of thought, and a new chair… problem solved.

Clinically diagnosed ADD/ADHD is far more complex and far more devastating to lives than the punchline it's become suggests. And by clinically diagnosed I don't mean "I got my doctor to prescribe me Adderall."

I’m current recovering from total hip replacement surgery on Wednesday. 
good luck with that feel better.