Since we are heading into a new year and looking to the future currently causes us to repeat ourselves forever I thought this year I’d look to the past and ask all of you about your journeys to your current music system.
For me most of my music listening was done in the car as a child. I still remember as a quite young child buying my first cd’s one was a collection of childrens songs the other was now that’s what I call music 35 lol. I did have a sony walkman first for tapes then cd’s and a sony mini hifi system at one point but I used those for audio books rather than music as a kid so I don’t think they count.
While my parents owned a pioneer stereo system (we still have it and it worked before it was packed away last year for the move), it wasn’t used much around me except for christmas songs each year. I wasn’t allowed to touch the stereo system and I remember thinking it very complicated as it had so many boxes (cd, tape, record player, tuner, equalizer and an amp). It was great fun whenever it had to be moved and then put back together as inevitably there would be a point where everything was supposedly connected but no sound was happening, eventually my mum labelled what I now know are the interconnects to ensure proper wiring.
The change from mostly just car listening for music happened with the arrival of mp3 players. I had a click wheel 60gb ipod (my mum still uses that ipod so they really were well built), I was then lucky enough to get an ipod touch which really was a great device, it was eventually replaced with an iphone when it became obvious that I always kept my music player charged and carried it everywhere but left my nokia phone to die in whatever bag it was in, rendering it rather pointless for communication.
With this succession of apple products came the packed in ear buds while they were definitely better than a lot of wired earphones I had they never lasted one side would always end up cutting out after a few months (thank goodness for warranties including accessories). I assumed that apples cables were to blame and decided to try a similarly priced pair of sennheiser over ear headphones they lasted longer but still only around a year. I decided I was obviously wasn’t delicate enough for headphone wires and horrified by the thought of paying £25-30 for replacements regularly I thought that if I only had to replace the wire part it would be cheaper.
I need to take a moment to appreciate that the journey that eventually led me here started with me finding £25 replacements too expensive lol. Looking back with improved headphone knowledge what I wanted was wired headphones with a detachable wire what I found via google was bluetooth headphones. Up to this point I assumed music sounded the same no matter how it was played with only mild jumps in quality. The bose soundlink 2’s I settled on did not disabuse of this notion sure the music sounded better enough that I didn’t mind the fact that they cost at least 5x the price of the apple earbuds but they didn’t make the music sound different. They were however very comfortable and convenient and I wore them as often as possible which meant that while they still worked fine after years they looked they had been through a woodchipper (ironically considering why I’d originally bought them the ear cushion replacements cost more than apple earbuds lol).
Since the bose had survived so well I figured wireless was still the way to go but I hesitated the newest bose headphones were a lot more money for what I assumed would be a small uplift and while they still made my model it seemed silly to spend the money to just to get a pair that was shiny and new. Then apple brought out the airpods max do not ask me why they won me over they were nearly twice the cost of the bose I refused to buy because of expense after all.
Maybe it was because of all the reviews praising the sound quality and I wanted to know how good bluetooth headphones got. For me they were a revelation not only did the music sound better but for the first time it sounded different (with hindsight I now know the most striking thing was it actually had audible bass). Now that I realised headphones could make such a difference I wondered just how good headphones could get but I had a pair of expensive and still working headphones getting a second set of headphones felt like an unnecessary extravagance (I now realise that getting something like an ifi blu go and some great wired headphones would have been the cheap option lol).
Even with comfortable headphones they can become uncomfortable or hot over long listening sessions so I wondered if I would listen to more music if I had speakers so I spent time listening to music through my phone speakers for a few months as a test. Then I started down the hifi rabbit hole I ended up with a huge list of possibilities. One that several youtubers used as a reference and seemed to really like was the naim uniti atom I liked the sleek design and figured an all in one was the simple option (my plan b was the rega elicit r and a bluesond node). Since I was still isolating I got a home demo from richer sounds with the recommended focal aria 906’s. Honestly even with all my internet research I was clueless I liked the sound, it seemed easy to use (at this point I wasn’t even sure how much I’d use it).
After purchase I found this wonderful forum which has really increased my knowledge of all sorts of things to do with hifi. I loved the atom and used it every day which proved that any money spent on music wasn’t wasted. I found my amazing dealer and upgraded to my current set up and discovered just how much speaker cables matter. I’m constantly amazed how good my music sounds and it actually has me listening to music I might not have liked before. I can also listen louder I was always the one asking for music to be turned down previously (I don’t know what it was I didn’t like but whatever it is my current system doesn’t have it).
The airpods max that made me wonder what more was out there now mostly do pod-casts and youtube videos as I’d rather listen to music on my main system. Music listening is now one of my main hobbies and I’m sure there will be more to my story going into 2023 (considering a music ripper and planning to at least window shop 282/hcdr/250dr vs my system with hcdr at my dealer so I’ve at least heard any potential improvements even if it ends up being a long term upgrade plan).
Sorry for the small novel I’ve written, hope it was at least a little interesting. I’d love to hear your stories if you feel like sharing.