Linette searches for audio Nirvana but pops another audiophile rock in the pipe instead. 


‘Enough is enough is enough, I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no!’ sang Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer in their 1979 hit ‘No more tears (enough is enough)’. Now of course, these two divas were not lamenting the fact that their hifi had taken over their lives and they were finally putting their collective feet down (or were they?). But it’s a sentiment than many of us audiophile addicts can empathise with. I recently wrote a pretty tongue in cheek, but rooted in truth, article about how getting into hifi is like having a drug addiction and it made me ask myself the question ‘do we ever really achieve audio Nirvarna?’ And, perhaps, more importantly, ‘can we ever shake the habit?’

Audio Nirvana

I have heard people say quite often (and been guilty of it myself) ‘that’s it, my hifi is as good as it will ever get, it cannot be improved upon!’. You have spent a long time, possibly years, auditioning different components, upgrading piece by piece until it finally happens, that epiphany moment when everything falls into place. It sounds perfect, it couldn’t sound better if winged cherubim flew gently down from heaven and sang sweetly into your ears. The electronics are right, the speakers are positioned perfectly, the room is treated properly, the cables cannot be improved on. You’ve got the racks right. The turntable/tonearm/cartridge combo is stunning. Seating is sorted for the adoring audience. You don’t even need to change any valves this time…damn, it even looks perfect. This. Is. It. You proudly take to your friendly neighbourhood facebook group of like-minded beings and post up a few pics. Then you make a fatal error. ‘I am NEVER buying any more hifi. It sounds PERFECT’. Oh dear. Now what you have done there is actually the worst thing possible. You have left the fold of fellow addicts, you have done it, shaken the addiction and broken free. Your addict friends do not like this one little bit, they will be hell-bent on drawing you back in. ‘Just one more hit, for old times.’birds_eye_view_NEW

Cold Turkey

For a while you forget what everyone else is rattling on about. You are perfectly happy, this IS Audio Nirvana…you are content. This state of bliss could go on for weeks, even months. You are happy rediscovering long lost musical gems and new artists on your wonderful system, you wouldn’t even change it for the fabled ‘Lottery Win’ money-is-no-object system that you used to dream about. Once an addict though, always an addict. So you browse a few hifi review sites, maybe buy a magazine….there’s no harm in just looking …is there? Some fellow audiophiles pop round for the evening and of course they are discussing your system and how wonderful the sound is. Then one of them says ‘I really love your speakers, but I heard them with such and such amps at a show and they sounded even better than this!’ Better? You can’t believe it…or can you? Could it be possible?? The creeping self doubt begins. Perhaps you should try those amps…just to see? And there you go, back down that slippery slope again. You could give in to the shakes and the shivers, tough it out and go completely cold turkey…crawl back up the slope and become a normal, functioning human being who doesn’t wake up in a frantic sweat at 3am because you think that an intruder may have broken in and be touching your hifi. But let’s be honest, where’s the fun in that?

The End Game

Is there really such a thing as The End Game System? Probably not, because for most audiophile types the journey is just as important as the result. Sharing and discussing with other audiophiles leads you discover something new and try it in your system. There is always something to learn and nobody knows absolutely everything. When you think you have become some kind of all seeing hifi Yoda, that’s usually when you find something new. It may be some new technology that you discover or something old school, like getting back into vinyl or reel to reel. It’s a hobby and like most hobbyists we like to collect, even hoard. Hand’s up everyone who has enough pieces of hifi equipment stashed away to build several systems? Bringing out an ‘old friend’, every now and again, to try in the current system set’s us off on that journey again, trying different combinations…tweaking away once more. By our very nature, us audiophiles and hifi nuts have boundless curiosity…if we didn’t then we would probably all be sat listening to mp3s from an all-in-one phone dock! It may be an addiction, but there are worse addictions you could have.

Right Here, Right Now

Even if the holy grail system is achieved to your satisfaction and you manage to resist being drawn back in to the box swapping game again, life has a way of of turning things upside down, when you least expect it. Life changing events, marriage, kids all can throw a spanner in the works of your perfect hifi. You have kids or the kids grow up and leave home so you have to baby-proof the hifi or you need to downsize so you can move to a smaller abode. Suddenly your previously perfect system doesn’t fit with your new way of life But these challenges are actually a lot of fun, finding a new system that entertains you and suits the changes awakens the old excitement.

So will enough ever really be enough when it comes to tweaking your system? Probably not because you are in it for the ride, not just the destination. Is there such a thing as the perfect hifi? No, but there is perfect for right here, right now, and it really doesn’t matter if that ‘perfect’ changes later down the line.

Linette Smithbirds_eye_view_NEW

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