Observation: Passion vs Obsession

As I read through the AG threads each night culling useful tips (there are many) it occurred to me that there is a difference between passion and obsession in our hobby, or anything else for that matter.

I feel that the desire to improve can take one of two paths.

Passion = You love what you are doing. You enjoy the process and you love listening to the music. You are creating aural art. You are becoming the master of your sound, like an athlete you are honing your skills. You are integrated with the process and the process gives you joy.

Obsession = The joy is destroyed. You have sabotaged yourself by telling yourself "I have to get it". All you want are results, it serves an end.

To me the truth is that there is no end, only the journey. Enjoy the passion, your system and what it is offering you.

+1 edgyhassle! Too many plainly obsessed with gear and in the process losing the enjoyment of the musical adventure!
Excellent insights, and very true!  Been down both paths, and much prefer sticking with "Passion", and enjoying all the aspects.  Heck, the system was good enough to satisfy me 20 years ago, is better than I ever would have dreamed, and has only improved in recent years.  I have no reason not to just enjoy it.
it serves an end.

This is why I do not call it a hobby. Hobbies often begin & end. I have been an avid music lover since I was a child. It has never changed. I have seen many names pass through here and the Asylum over the 20 yrs I have been onboard. Some were heavy hitters with lots of experience with many different pieces of equipment. Many today are the same. I often wonder if their commitment is to the music or the equipment. Yes, I enjoy a high end system and have one which I will gladly display to anyone. But when the mood strikes I can easily enjoy music on my computer system which is hardly high end because it is the music & the journey. Thanks for posting

Too many fake engineers passing judgement on others while spouting hilariously stupid "facts"
By the way some of the responses are expressed by the posters, it's as if the system is an actual musical instrument and they're  the musician.

Those posters may need to get some sunlight and reconnect with family/friends.
I side with Tablejockey.  Audiophiles are not athletes honing their skill, but consumers buying things.  I applaud the passion and even the borderline OCD behavior, but let's not pretend it's a creative pursuit.  My comments do not apply to those who DIY and design/build components.
I tend to move to be a bit obsessive during my once every seven year upgrade cycles. But then just passionately enjoy the music in between. I want to get through the upgrade cycles as fast as possible… but they take about a year.
gear changers abound….. music lovers also… not often the same people….7 years now on most of my system, very few urges to change…much….
Oh, it’s definitely a creative pursuit. Yes there are audiophiles who are just "consumers buying things". Definitely there are such people. For sure. But we judge by our highest aspirations not whatever random crap might happen along the way.

Easily the worst system I ever heard was a guy who was the epitome of a consumer buying things. In his case everything he bought was Stereophile Class A. He only bought used, and whatever was the biggest discount from new that was how he judged how good a deal it was. Total consumer mind set. Worst system I ever heard. Could hardly stand to listen to it.

They came over one night, his wife sneaks up to me and confides, "I could listen to this all night!" Because unlike him I am more than just a consumer, I am an audiophile. I love the sound. I am the furthest thing from "consumers buying things". Don’t want to have to buy anything. Do everything I can think of to avoid buying things. Route cables, lift em off the floor, plug em into special outlets, put em on springs, on and on.

The consumer, his wife can’t stand what they have. Mine, which "consumed" by the way a lot less, she loves.

The difference? One is consumerist. The other creative. Creativity rules.
Music has been around as long as there have been humans. Flutes seem to have been invented tens of thousands of years ago. Drums long before that.

I started my journey with piano lessons when I was 3 1/2. I also had a small suitcase record player (with a three  tube amp in it and a brown fuzzy platter with a manual arm) on which I used to play a pile of 78s that was a foot tall. I used to spend hours playing that thing.

Its never stopped. I think its that way for a lot of people.

Obsession = controlling 

(which is a fools errand)

And anything in the way of that obsession gets pushed aside, or pushed through.

Passion = appreciation 

Stepping back and letting it be and appreciating it for what it is, being able to leave it and take with you the memory of it and being ok with that.

Audiophile. = c RaZ y tIm E

Better, more, bigger, clearer, faster, bringing life to that which is inanimate. 
I’m an audiophile. Cray-cray for sure. But not obsessed! I’ve been obsessed in the worst way possible in the past, and that obsession took everything from me. This is more like a passionate study that involves experimentation, examination and contemplation , and as a DIY guy, I get to build stuff.

Thats just the “stuff”

Now, the music, that’s the real part of this. Being able to have someone’s performance recorded, and to be able to play a vinyl disc, a plastic disc or a lot of numbers and be able to listen to it? That soul comfort.

idle hands are the devils workshop, and I just gotta keep busy
I am obsessed by books and music...

In audio it was a passionate journey to  create my sound universe not an obsession at all...

The difference is the obsession never end and never change....But passion change and sometimes decrease or  end when the goal is reached...I read no more audio review....

I have noticed how many in this group are obsessive and I think it can destroy what we set out to do and that is destroying our passion.  I think we all need to be millionaires or be satisfied with what we have.  I am thinking about upgrading my speakers, but do I need to when you are lucky to see two speakers in a room in your neighborhood.  Where do you stop?
I’m on the Passession side.

Millercarbon says "  I am the furthest thing from "consumers buying things". 

Except for a Raven integrated amp, Moneoone Supernova and Nova, Krissy's RF filters, Origin Live turntable, Townshend podiums and pods and other components.

I ain't saying you aren't an educated consumer nor buying stupidly. You are on top of the intelligent purchase hierarchy(and have educated me more than anyone).... but c'mon, you're a bloody consumer my funky friend. 

It's about intelligent consumers buying worthy things. 

I hope he will still talk to me!
The meaning of consumer being here clearly understood as buying for the sake of buying, the fact you admit I am educated and buying intelligently shows you know I am indeed the furthest thing from "consumers buying things". Anyone can lapse in judgment, we let it pass. Feeling generous since I have a Strain Gauge coming.😳
Obsession = The joy is destroyed. You have sabotaged yourself by telling yourself "I have to get it". All you want are results, it serves an end.

This conclusion is not corroborated with any evidence or analysis.  It is a thought bubble conceived amongst the feeling neurons of the OPs brain who were sitting around making a bet.
There seems to be a tendency to pit music and the Hi Fi hobby against one another. IMHO they are two entirely separate entities that obviously have a relationship to each other stronger or weaker depending on the person. Many musicians love music but could care less about Hi Fi.
Hi Fi is about the sound and it does not have to be related to music. It could be related the spoken voice or various sound effects. 

Are not all hobbies obsessive? You are either into something or you are not. Everybody here is obsessed with Hi Fi or we would not be here.

For some reason egos get attached to this hobby in a way you do not see with other hobbies. Most hobbyists enjoy helping each other and you do see a lot of that here but there are too many times when discussions get adversarial. I'm not sure but I think it is because of the variety of ways to interpret issues and the frustration some of us have with the mythology perpetrated by much of the industry on unsuspecting individuals not educated in a way that allows them to interpret claims correctly. Add this to the miss-understanding of the way our central nervous systems interpret hearing and you have a serious mess. 

I never heard of a strain gauge cartridge before. Had to look it up. Looks interesting. And no phono preamp necessary...

Are you getting the Soundsmith SGC? 
I never heard of a strain gauge cartridge before. Had to look it up. Looks interesting.

Long before SoundSmith’s Strain Gauge there was a Stax CP-X condenser cartridge in the 70’s. You can read J.Carr’s first comment here or this thread.

There was a semiconductor / strain-gauge cart from Panasonic.

Where have you been?
Passion: Crazy things I do to make my system sound “better”.
Obsession: Crazy Things other people do to make their systems “better”, in their opinion. 
I dont see any reason to differentiate. Problem ultimately arises when others start to make judgements regarding the motivations of other enthusiasts. None of us have the right. More importantly why would you want to. Always seems to end with social judgements and pontificating. I see both as healthy pursuits.
vinylshadow, SG200. They are all the same cartridge, all the same preamp electronics, only the stylus and preamp features change. SG200 is the basic one with fixed output. Mine comes with two SGS6 styluses. 

You are right, Soundsmith carts are very interesting. Ortofon had the patent on MI and Peter Ledermann worked on them many years, repairing and improving. Kind of like Mark Baker with Rega RB300. MI has a lot of advantages over MC and MM, chiefly lower moving mass. As with all designs however the design is only part of the equation, there is also the implementation of the design. That is why there are so many different MM and MC carts, they are each a different implementation of the same basic design.

Ledermann by virtue of hard work and experimentation developed and improved MI design, kind of like the way everyone else has done with MC and MM.

Then he did the same with SG. His strain Gauge design reduces moving mass even more, to a fraction of even the lowest mass MC. Unlike all other cart designs the SG is not a generator. It does not generate a signal. Instead, the SG preamp delivers a current to the cart. The cantilever is mounted to a sensor that registers angle of deflection. Not velocity like MM/MC, angle of deflection. The sensor then acts like a valve varying the incoming power according to deflection, and this is the output voltage. 

A very ingenious design and not his but again, doesn't matter what matters is implementation. That we judge by listening to the results, which sure seems to be excellent. And so yeah I'm getting one. 
Soundsmith carts are very interesting. Ortofon had the patent on MI and Peter Ledermann worked on them many years, repairing and improving 

 If my memory serves me right it was Bang & Olfsen that had patents that Mr. Ledermann worked with.
A dictionary definition -- a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.  So whether you're a wise and savvy or rapacious fool, you are still just a consumer.  Putting together a well sorted out audiophile system is a step above assembling IKEA furniture, but it's a step below a professional chef creating a meal.  It takes time and effort, but very little creativity.  It's just not that difficult to determine what sounds good to you.
"I have noticed how many in this group are obsessive and I think it can destroy what we set out to do and that is destroying our passion. I think we all need to be millionaires or be satisfied with what we have. I am thinking about upgrading my speakers, but do I need to when you are lucky to see two speakers in a room in your neighborhood.
Where do you stop?"

When it comes to obsessiveness, I’ll certainly hold my hand up here.
Hi-Fi is bad enough, but for me it’s even worse when it comes to computer hardware.

With so many potential upgrades it can be bewildering to know just where to go to next.
An i7 chip, i9 or beyond?
Or something from AMD?

Then what about RAM? DDR4? How much?
What about the hard drive - SSD or NVMe?
How big a power supply?
Is a Bronze one enough.

What about graphic and sound cards?
Are they really necessary in 2021?

And probably for me, the worst of all, fan noise and how to eliminate it.

Thankfully I found a great article on eliminating bottlenecks that restored some sense of perspective. The author made it clear that when it comes to hardware, for most folks it’s the hard drive that’s the main bottleneck.

A simple upgrade to a SSD quietened the nagging doubts, at least for a while. An upgrade to a Noctua fan quietened things a fair bit but the upgrade doubts never entirely go away.

I’m sure its the same for many car enthusiasts.

It’s just something in us, something that always wants just that little bit more.
Sometimes I find myself almost hating this tendency in myself, yet virtually powerless to resist it.

It’s definitely something that needs working on.

Life is finite and this is not the road to salvation.
Took me nearly thirty years of obsessive attention to detail in building various systems invariably ending in dissatisfaction to get to passion mode.

For me it was a process of learning what I didn't like as much as what I did like. Only after having gained that knowledge could I finally build a system with proper intent.

Having a great stereo system was a major ambition of mine from very early on. Something similar to career and/or educational ambitions, or any ambition for that matter. With great ambition for highest levels of attainment, obsession is perhaps unavoidable. Once a certain level of attainment reached obsession should dissolve.
Hopefully, with age comes wisdom, passion path wise, continuing on obsessive path unwise. The last third of life should be our passionate years, we should enjoy the things we spent our life building.
Given the wealth of commercially available equipment, I think a lot of folks who spend time and money on this hobby take pride in the system they assemble even if it is simply the choice of a combination of commercially available pieces. I think the OP may be alluding to the endless quest for improvement in the sound reproduction quality of a system which is different than using the system as a medium through which you are enjoying music.

I suppose one could say that the DIY and early hi-fi from raw parts is a little more "active" than merely writing the check and clicking a remote control or whatever, to access and play particular music.

Whether some aspect of creativity is self-destructive (or at least makes for misery) is a much bigger issue than just hi-fi, which, in a sense, is an electronics a/v geek pursuit in many ways, combined (hopefully) with a love of music. Think of all the other fields of human inventiveness that took their toll on those who could not sleep at night in pursuit of answers; I’m not sure how much modern hi-fi reflects real inventiveness- maybe some pieces do, but that’s a different subject.
@chakster , You forgot the Win Labs cartridge. I owned one. It was awful. 

Strain gauge cartridges are essentially resistors that change their impedance with vibration. They require a voltage source and then circuitry to remove the biasing voltage. So they require a special totally different type of phono stage which is included in the price. If the Soundsmith Strain Gauge cartridge is really good it does represent a good value as you do not need to buy a separate phono stage. I will hopefully find out on December 3rd assuming somebody is still at Soundsmith and they are not all at the show.



No measurement or proof necessary. Just feel it...your neurons do. 
My point if there was one, was an observation that seems true. May or may not be for you. The truth is that whatever you are involved in you should enjoy the journey.

SG by Soundsmith is still a dream for me, but I enjoy the Zephyr MIMC Star until the dream is realized.
Passion is, say, building the base for each of your TT's and
obsession is the urge to own as many TT's  as cartridges. 
The rumour that one of our members would like to own as many
TT's as cartridges is exaggerated.