Large Music Collections – Why?

Until joining this forum following major changes to my system, just over two years ago, I thought I had a large music collection consisting of about 500 LPs & a similar number of CDs.

I have been surprised to find my collection, carefully assembled over the past fifty-three years, barely registers as a ‘collection’ among many (the majority?) here.

Being retired I have been able to spend much more time than I was able to in the twenty years prior to retirement. I have enjoyed rediscovering LPs & CDs that I had forgotten about & can honestly say that my library contains very few albums/CDs where I find myself thinking ‘Why on earth did I by that’.

Each disc was carefully purchased, due to lack of funds in the early years, & due to lack of time to listen in later years plus a distinct lack of music that I thought I would like. In spite of having the money in later years I have never really purchased music on the basis ‘I wonder if I would like that?’.

Obviously streaming has somewhat widened my possible choices over the past two years but I have still only purchased less than 20 CDs after hearing them myself via my streamer. Despite the endless possibilities streaming provides, I only usually hear a couple of album tracks (at most) that hold my interest on almost everything I play.

For those of you who measure your collections in thousands of albums:-

How did you come to have huge collections in the first place?

Do you actually know what is in your collections?

How do you listen? I still have dozens of CDs & LPs I still haven’t got around to listening to in a very long time in what I now see as a very small collection.

I assume your listening habits must be very different to mine. Whilst my musical likes have broadened over the years, my core tastes remain as they were when I started collecting. Consequently my Clapton/Pink Floyd/Eagles/Genesis/Dire Straits/Led Zeppelin, et al, discs all still receive regular plays.

Would I be correct in thinking in your collections of thousands you have few favourites so are always listening to ‘new’ music? Or do you, like me, still mainly listen to your favourites & never listen to the majority of your huge collections?

Whatever you do is fine by me, I’m just curious to find how people & what they mainly listen to. Or, am I not actually the music lover I have always assumed I was?


Hi canaryfan,
I have circa 17000 albums collected over 45 years.
I tend to buy albums a lot based on media articles or recommendations, this often helps me discover new music styles or artists I would not have known before, all to add to the wide tapestry of music.
I often listen by using the system like a juke box, with random selection, to see what it throws up.

Does that mean you like music in general but don’t really have any favourite artists?

I don’t like to think of myself as mean, but surely you must have spent a huge amount of money you wish you hadn’t using this approach? You can’t have liked them all.

Have you even heard them all? How often do you buy & how many a time?

If this seems a bit nosey I apologise & understand if you do not wish to answer some of my questions.

Mine, assembled over a similar period, was of much the same composition as yours, before I ripped all, and about 1200 in total.

My playing habits are also similar to yours, much music even from 50 years ago giving me great enjoyment from frequent plays no matter how many times I’ve played before, and only a minor widening of my musical taste over the decades.

I, too, have been somewhat bemused by collections sometimes 10x that or more in size, also puzzled when people have said they’ve accidentally bought the same album a second or third time forgetting they already had it… That was before I realised that to some people it is a collection, in the sense of someone collecting stamps or snuff boxes etc, except that some of the collection gets played to hear the music so has an added pleasure value.

Of course, like much collecting as a hobby, it requires a disposable income larger than many have, or nothing else on which to spend it.


One of my friends has bought 3 or 4 albums a week since our university days 40 years or so ago. He has now discovered streaming and is wondering what to do with his collection. Recently he has started sorting things out, not cataloging as such but sifting out the wheat from the chaff. However, he has decided not to rip those he retains … but at least he is listening to his collection again.

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That’s still “only” about 3 * 50 * 40 = 6000 albums. Imagine those guys with 17k or more albums, that’s like buying close to 10 albums each week for 40 years straight. :astonished:

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If he finds out let me know - just moved house and 10,000 CDs in the garage - just don’t know what to do with them. All ripped so there is that legal conundrum of retaining them.

Take a look at the classical market. Record companies have been reissuing and repackaging the recordings of major artists at lower and lower prices, most often in box sets. I have two super mega-boxes (complete Sony recordings of George Szell and Arthur Rubinstein) that are over 100 discs each. There are many more - the complete works of Bach, or Beethoven for example. And I have plenty of 20-50 disc sets. The cost per disc is generally between $1-$3. And they are often on the market for a limited time. A year later you can find many of them on EBay for a multiple of the original price. I paid under $200 for the Szell box. You can find it on EBay (new) for $1999. So I buy them and listen to them over the next few years. There’s a von Karajan box (88 discs) that was mispriced such that it cost pennies per disc. I bought it around 2009. Still haven’t listened to all of it.

Maybe I’ll address downloads in another post.

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I have multiple crates ( like the ones used by removals/ file storage, cramm d with CDs, and put in the garage attic, since being ripped.

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Have lots of favourites, especially like Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel
Love female vocals such as Sabina sciubba (not sure spelt correctly).
Had some nice discoveries such as “be good Tanya’s.”
Etc etc.

I guess the opposite question: small music collection - why? applies equally. I find it a little odd to still be listening the the same safe old stuff like Dire Straits and the Eagles. There is just so much music out there. My tastes have changed over the years. In my early teens I loved prog and now cannot abide it. It was all blown away by punk, and I was then massively into post-punk. For the last ten years I’ve been much more into jazz and classical, but also play world music, country, folk and some ambient stuff, as well as some of my old favourites. I love finding new music and getting to know it. It seems almost inevitable that a music lover would own loads of music - notwithstanding the changes due to streaming of course. I’ve been to people’s houses who own uber expensive systems yet have only tiny music collections. That to me really is weird.


I consider myself an eclectic music listener and i can equally enjoy listening to online radio or compilations on Youtube et al, as much as i enjoy listening to albums i personally own.

The music is ultimately more important to me than the recording quality. So i have only bought a handful of physical albums over the years that are special to me, and the rest of the time i listen to random playlists online or on the radio.

It does help i guess to basically like (almost) every genre of music, if i had a narrower taste then perhaps i would have chosen to collect more over the years…


If you have Roon – I don’t know if this advice would apply to a Naim setup – I highly recommend subscriptions to Tidal and Qobuz. When in “radio” mode (nothing queued up), Roon will choose things based on what I have listened to. I have discovered a number of nice things that way: When I like something particularly, I add it to my Roon library so that I can enjoy it at a later time. (“Adding” means only that Roon remembers where on the item is on Tidal or Qobuz; nothing is copied to local storage.)

The two subscription services are also very, very handy in deciding whether to actually buy a recording. For example, I learn of things via Presto Classical, Gramophone and the like, and I see if they’re available on the subscription services and then audition.


Like HH I have my old favourites but am always on the lookout for new music and find that some I really get into only for a short while whilst others stay with me longer. My hobby is music and cannot think of anything better than finding a new song, band or genre whilst the thought of only listening to a fixed group of music or bands depressing.


Hi canaryfan

I’m somewhat like you having about 900 CD’s and 500 LP’s

I’m not into streaming but I suspect quite a lot of those that are into it are what I call “flickers”

ie: they flick from one track to another or just miss out tracks altogether, without actually listening to a full album

With CD’s and Vinyl I listen to the complete album which gives great emotional experience

Frankly I just couldn’t image having thousands and thousands of albums stored on drives, and frankly I suspect half of them never get played

Just my thoughts


I’m with you on this Bob! I have discovered a whole new world of music out there with the help of streaming, radio paradise and suggestions from other members of this forum. My taste in music has always been eclectic, even more so now. Quite a few artists I have come across in the last year or so have now become favourites.



Justification of acquisition or ownership of anything (provided not illegal or immoral) is intensely irritating. Those asking the questions tend to exhibit a lack of perception and/or understanding, and some seem to be motivated by an inexplicable need to criticise how folks spend their income.


Interesting topic. Forgive my ramble.

Nearly 1,800 here over 48 years or so. Less than 1 a week which seems right to me. By 16 I would buy an album and play it to death to the point I knew it inside out. Wherever possible I have tried to persist in that approach rather than give things a single listen or two and move on. Partly that’s because at a early age I didn’t have much money; valued what I purchased and also wanted to understand more than I knew.

Whereas many people think CD and now streaming have diminished the capacity to do this I largely think that’s nonsense. When I had vinyl I’d drop the needle where I wanted or lift it to skip tracks. With both CD and streaming I found the fact I didn’t need to get up every 20 minutes meant I am actually more likely to sit and listen all the way through.

Buying only music I knew I already liked would be utterly joyless for me. I cannot think of a more anaemic approach to such a joyful thing. Hearing something I didn’t initially like or understand was never more pleasurable than when I learned to like or at least be sufficiently open minded to admire. Thus I started with pop; punk largely passed me by but post punk fully engaged me as did rock; sixties southern soul; folk; reggae; funk; so-challed world music and then eventually jazz and classical followed more recently by some blues. I don’t have a favourite genre or artist. I probably did at any given moment but I tended toward the view that doing so closed your ears. The idea that your favourite artist was so great they could not possibly make an awful record escapes me completely. My commitment is to great music. Great artists exist of course but none I would obsess over. Great artists make more than their share of dreadful music. I’m not committed to owning it.

In terms of regrets or money wasted I could never see it that way. The aim was discovery and joy and you can’t do that properly if you don’t allow for abject failure. I have certainly taken certain albums I have and literally tossed them in the bin but only at the point I had exhausted all efforts and had to acknowledge they really did not have any redeeming features (for me). I would discover music partly through friends but mostly by, as now, through reading relentlessly. It’s easy and cheap to dismiss critics but read regularly and you’ll soon sift the wheat from the chaff and discover a whole world of stuff.


As John sang “whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright.”

Some people constantly search new music, others are content with their Pink Floyd collection.

Whose to bless and whose to blame? (as Kris sang).

When my children were young and I held them captive 3 days a week they were exposed to so much music. My son is on top of everything new, my eldest daughter has her set of favourites and sticks to them. IMO they both listen to music, job done.

I can understand the OPs question, I have about 2900 CDs. The Roon random album extension is really showing up how many I’ve either not listened to or not fully listened to. I have about 50 CDs I have yet to rip yet am still buying at an impressive rate. Maybe I’m a collector, but no, I buy music because I want to listen to it.

Life’s complicated!



Just a thought…

At what point does the collection become an addiction? Whats the tipping point? Would you be happy perhaps not buy any music for a month?

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