The ageing hifi fanatic / music listener

This thread was prompted by a recent post in which someone referred to, as he/she put it, “the inevitability of downsizing” as they approach or move into old age, and also by someone else’s tale of their system simplification. As people get older there can be a multitude of factors that may affect the enjoyment of hifi and music listening and the practicalities around it, including the choice of hifi system. Obvious considerations include health effects from the almost universal age-related hearing loss to limitations in physical ability or memory loss, and lifestyle changes maybe around suitability of accommodation or sufficiency of finances.

Downsizing home with knock-on effect on listening room size or space for system. Downsizing or simplifying system for its own sake, maybe dramatically down to just a Qube. Abandoning speakers in favour of headphones. Or maybe going the oposite way from downsizing, instead maxing out the system with a lump sum upon retirement to be the dream system you couldn’t afford before, to grow old In a blissful sounscape whether or not you gradually cease to hear it. There will be an abundance of experiences and thoughts out there:

  • People making plans for change, whether in anticipation of changed needs/desires/capability/faculties in old age, or in reaction to life effects already starting to kick in.
  • People who have already taken some form of action whether through advance planning or triggered by life effects.
  • And people who have decided that whatever age and its effects may bring has made or will make no difference to their systems or listening intentions, at least up to the point where it ceases to matter or be of interest to them

And among these experiences and views will be a range of approaches and solutions - none right or wrong, all simply suiting individual members’ varying needs, expectations, circumstances, and thought processes.

The idea of this thread is to gather such thoughts and experiences, partly for interest, but also as an easily searched ideas and experience resource for anyone reaching a crossroads where they may need to make decisions, whether urgently or with the luxury of time to consider and plan.

I therefore invite anyone with experience or plans and ideas around this subject to outline them here. If you’ve posted something in another thread, please feel free to copy here, or link to it (in the latter case maybe noting the theme to whet anyone’s appetite)

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I just want to say that we must not encapsulate everyone in the same “bag”.
We are not the same , so the excuse of going old and , in consequence, go minimalist is a wrong view.

In fact, going old gives , after raising family ( if was the case of having children) , a more financial power and we can see the inverse observation.

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Indeed - and I responded to just that angle in the other thread myself. Noting that you took this from my opening post I’ll amend it slightly - thanks for drawing attention.

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For my own part, at retirement age though delayed it for a touch longer, I have several parallel thoughts, though so far only partly crystalising into plans… Relevant to these is my system - full details are in my profile, but essentially very simple: Digital music store/renderer - DAC - power amp - speakers. Nothing fancy in terms of cables, switches, power supplies, racks etc.

The thoughts are:

  1. Move home - not downsize as such, indeed a fundamental requirement would be to have a good listening room, but ensuring the house will be suitable as both my wife and I become old and decrepit, for as long as it is physically possible to manage ourselves, even individually If/when it comes to it. I have some hopes for maxing out the listening room (one idea is flush mounting of speakers, as per the subject of a thread a few months ago). Moving home was an active plan until scuppered by COVID, now on the back burner with a possibility of deciding to modify our existing house a little and stay put instead. Importantly we feel we want to make just this one final move, or commit to stay put forever.

  2. Take advantage of my final availability of a modest amount of cash upon retirement to make a few finishing touches to the system while I still have reasonably good hearing and can enjoy it fully, but at the same time have a view to ease of use, while maximising longterm reliability. Possibilities include change the store/renderer for one younger and less DIY (subject adequacy and ease of use of control software, and if it makes a difference, getting boost in sound quality), adding an MScaler IF it makes a very significant difference, and possibly reviewing my speakers*.

  3. Although I said my system is simple and looks so as outlined above, it is not in practice, being significantly complicated by an active crossover and tri-amping. If I retain my current speakers, or achieve a DIY replacement solution, tri-amping has to remain. For longevity one thing I absolutely have to do, preferably soon, is clearly document everything about the tri-iamping, from adjusting the active crossover DSP to suit a different room layout, to detailing the connections (though simplified as all associated cables are colour coded). Part of me feels that replacing the speakers with ones not needing tri-amping* would be better (but only if sounding at least as good), as that would make the system much simpler, beneficial if anything gies wrong with it, or if my faculties start ti go, or when one day it becomes an inheritance.

  4. Recognising the possibility that one day mobility or ability to look after myself may become an issue, get a pair of headphones (of a quality on a oar with my system), whence one day my system could become store/renderer - Dave - headphones.

*Speaker change options I might consider: PMC MB2 if I am convinced no moving of the speaker needed once sited, or try PMC Fact 12 in the final listening room if it is a bit smaller, or a few others that I’d love to hear before deciding: ATC SCM100A active, Fergussen-Hill FH001 invisible horns with suitable subs (Wilson Benesch Torus? not sure if sufficiently high output), or even a Wilson Benesch matched set. But I would not compromise and have a lesser sound tfan now, including scale.

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Thank you for providing a thread that gives opportunity for diferent View perspectives on the matter. I’m curious for the answers.

My personal approach on the matter ( not downsizing but minimalism):

I have a limited plafond to spend on hi-fi, so
I prefer channel the amount to (I.e. uniti Nova)
and get done with it,
then spend on cables / modules / racks etc.

By choosing all-in-one , ( in theory )I’ll get more for the money.

And occupy less space and a plus on aesthetic

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Interesting thread subject.
I’ve never been an enthusiast in that I’ve never hankered after a separate listening room. I’m not looking for a home concert hall or jazz club. On the other hand I do want the best I can afford in the various rooms I use on a daily basis. Covid has given me an opportunity to re allocate funds to help this. It may be age related somehere in there, but age wasn’t a deciding factor. I have been fortunate enough for the last few years to allocate money on my car and time away at track days, usually a few long trips and weeks away as well as the individual days/weekends. The current situation has left me sitting at home contemplating my navel and wondering what to do. Naim has been my saviour :slight_smile: I guess as time goes by I will naturally stop trying to be a boy racer and spend even more time and expense on home pursuits and comforts. That extension and concert hall filled with a Statement system may be closer than I think.! Of course Mrs Bruss may have other ideas.

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When i start to dither about spending more on the hifi the reality of how short life can be is brought home to me by events.
I had an email recently from my old boss in the United States of an obituary of a guy i worked very closely with for almost 4 years. He had been devoted to his wife who suffered MS and often physically carried her on their favourite walks. I looked up the obituary and he had died in a dementia care home aged 66. It’s such sad events like this that often spur me on…cannot take it with you.

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At one stage I embraced downsizing, moved on my two separates systems to my son and grandson, no more racks, turntables, cable dressing etc. All my CD’s went to my son and my vinyl collection to my grandson, only caveat was they had to keep the collections intact. I then bought a couple of Novas, some decent speakers thought that will do me.
However best laid plans, I got interested and bit more knowledgeable in terms of the digital side of music and streaming. I was/am amazed at the quality that can be achieved going this way. Now I use an Innuos Zen for streaming/serving and Roon with Chord Dave/Etude. This has kind of reversed my downsizing intentions, looking at adding an MScaler and maybe an Innuos Phoenix USB reclocker.
I guess I started out with good intentions but I am failing miserably, a little voice keeps saying you can’t take it with you. Just one last good guitar before my fingers seize up :joy:

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I couldn’t agree more with you Gazza, exactly that thought process drove me to my latest maybe outrageous move. ATB Peter

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I am in a bit of a catch 22 situation. Having built up a system slowly around Naim 500 components, a top spec LP12, Lyra Etna SL etc. I find myself looking after my wife more and more. She is pretty much housebound and has considerable hearing loss. She shares one thing in common with Beethoven in that deaf people are often unable to tolerate loud sounds which are all part of the home audio experiance. (Hearing aids are a compromise I can tell you). This from a recent three part BBC TV 4 programme on the composer. She could go and sit in the kitchen I suppose but that’s not the ideal domestic arrangment. Aids suffer from acoustic feedback especially if you are eating as the jaw and ear are jiggled about by chewing. The tiny batteries about 6mm in diameter are smooth and dead easy to drop. The price of them makes most hi-fi a bargain. They can be adapted to the individual persons hearing losses but that’s off a computor pogramme. You do need qualifications to become an audioligist so that helps.
My situation is a nice hi-fi system which in the fullness of the evening I am too tired to listen to in any positive way. The fortune of being 76 years old. At least its better than the alternative. The best aspect to all of this is my hearing loss, and I expect HFs are not what they were, does not give me any problem. I can still judge a recording if its too bright or just the opposite. I have a friend 10 years younger and he does suffer from top end problems.
Having had a good moan about life above, when I do have the energy to appreciate what I have its just the best thing in the house; apart from my wife of course!
You must have pondered this topic before posting it IB. Can I ask your thoughts on it?
PS: So far the need to downsize in either house or kit has not not been a problem. One day it will. From experiance of others DO things like this when you have the enegy, physical and mental. That goes for making a Will and getting Power of Attorney. So many people roll along and leave things till its to late. Then it can be great fun for the lawyers. Might be family. Money brings out the worst in people.

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Hi,

I’m not sure I qualify as a hifi fanatic but the fact that I’m on here says something! But I’ve always been music obsessed. But I am ageing!

Having lost my wife nearly 3 years ago and some health issues to be resolved (back knackered) I’m at a crossroads. The house I’m living in is far too large for me so once the consultants have decided what to do with me I’ll make some plans. Some 12 years ago I was convinced that the future was wholly digital but then I went to a hifi show and heard a system fronted by a (Avid but brand doesn’t matter) TT and thought hell vinyl really is that good! 9 months of demos and consideration and ended up with the Roksan which remains on top of the Fraim. Thank heavens I kept the vinyl. And fortunately my hearing is in tact.

Which way to go? If everything remains equal I’ll downsize the house but with enough space for a decent music system. My inclination is to carry on indulging in what I have but whether 2 racks of Fraim we’ll see. But the music does sound great.

Regards,

Lindsay

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IB - I think you were referring to my post. I actually said that I would need to face reality and downsize. And although I said ‘downsize’ I qualified that in a subsequent post to suggest that maybe it was simplification that I was considering, and referred to the extensive collection of CDs and LPs that I have beyond any issue of speakers and electronics. My reflection was not simply prompted by anticipation of the effects of ageing (which I didn’t mention, although I am old), but additional circumstances. So one aspect of this for me is weighing up the desirability of ripping and streaming, which of course would not solve the issue of the LPs.

I have responded to your initial post, which seems to reference me, because these issues are necessarily personal and potentially complex, as subsequent posts in the thread have demonstrated.

So, so true, all of it.and on the last point, I’ve seen the vultures… For everyone, if you don’t want that following you then make the will etc - or better still if you can, live it up in your retirement to ensure there us nothing left :grin:

You asked for my thoughts on your situation. I have to say it is an angle I hadn’t thought about, spending most of one’s time and energy supporting one’s soulmate. In all seriousness it is good that you have raised it, as it is the sort of thing that can so easily happen to anyone, and so well worth thinking about. I take heart from what you said, effectively that you have snatches of time with the hifi, that you not only can still appreciate but it is a highlight for you. That of all things points to a benefit of retaining a good system, allowing those precious moments to be as good as they can be (and in time not being bothered if the tweeters give up the ghost.

The one other thought I have beyond this at this moment is to wonder if headphones might have a place: They might allow you to sit and keep your wife company while she does whatever best occupies her (TV), with that not sufficiently stimulating for you the headphones would allow some music appreciation, albeit different sounding from speakers, not interfering with her hearing aids but with you still within reach and sight.

Hi Clive, You are right, and I made the mistake of relying on memory rather than checking wording, for which I apologise. However, I did not mean the reference to point to you - and I did recognise what you had said in your follow up in the other thread. I think your original post on this played with some other references in my mind leading to the wording I used in my opening, and which together with other things got me thinking about a thread on the wider subject, with much of validity to consider from all angles.

I hope that explains things: I didn’t mean to misquote you, and unless you would rather I amend my text I’m inclined to feel that my opening wording of this thread actually works in setting tge scene.

Interesting thread and it is good to see what others thoughts on this matter are. I think it would be really interesting to see how peoples decisions are viewed by them a few year later.

Due to illness and the convenience of having a remote control I initially sold my mostly chrome bumper separates system and got an ex dem unitilte and Rega RX3s. The lite is now being used in the dinning room kitchen with a pair of Rega Ela speakers and I am using a Star and my aging LP12/Ittock with the RX3s. Now that I have been successfully treated and mostly recovered from the treatment and a subsquent pair of cyclying accidents I am looking to move to a smaller home so have put off changing the speakers until I do. I am also questioning my decision to move from the separates system to a one box solution and wondering whether halfway house solution of Supernait 3 and separate streamer might be a better solution for me going forward as I am listening to more music now I am retired. I do sometimes think that a separates system would be nice but slight chemo induced hearing loss and tinnitus that is exacerbated by loud music makes me think the Supernait 3 is more than ample for my needs, so maybe once I have moved the Star might be traded in.

However, even with the benefit of hindsight I am not sure I would do anything differently as the simplicity of the lite was what I needed then and the neatness of the Star/LP12 combo is very appealing.

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The biggest reason behind ageing is Gravity.
Natural earthly gravity has so much effect over us as we spend longer with it, much more so than other abstract arbiters.
Perhaps a system with speakers on the ceiling and looking up to the music. Rather than the so much dictated horizontal disposition.
Could help in appearing younger perhaps.

That could be the ultimate chill out listening room.
Lying down on a memory acoustic foam bed. Looking up to your favourite tunes.

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That’s both so very true and so very wrong :wink:

Gravity is your enemy in a sitting position.
Gravity is your friend when moving.

I used to climb with a good friend, a cardiologist. He sees roughly 1000 patients per year, and has been practicing for ~25 years.

His conclusion about aging is that we all start dying at around 75 years old. In his experience, the only thing that really slows the process is a daily physical activity.

Conclusion : gravity is our friend when we know how to use it.

:person_fencing: :skier: :swimming_man: :biking_woman: :person_climbing: :weight_lifting_woman:

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Maybe I’m bucking the trend of downsizing, but as we aproached retirement we decided to upsize. After over thirty years living in London, the chance of moving from a mid-terrace Edwardian house to a detached home with land on the South Downs was too appealing to miss up. Like taking corsits off (I’m told) :slight_smile:
I now have my own dedicated listening room…Yay! Not big but it’s my own. I’ve also been suckered into the Naim upgradeitis…but trying to resist the urge to keep spending. Getting old doesn’t mean giving up.

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I’ve simplified my system - reduced the boxes.

There has been a greater transparency and delicacy . Certainly physicality was part of it, my knees are thoroughly knackered, and the Naim boxes needed a service .

They could come out , but I couldn’t face putting them back in.

When I first started posting on this forum, my very first thread was about downsizing

For any person considering it, I have three pieces of advice

  • keep as many of the expensive cables as possible
  • change both speakers and amps at the same time - then look to get as much synergy between the replacement amps and speakers as possible
  • keep your sources
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Thanks IB - all fine with your opening post. It will be interesting to see how the thread develops.