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It's a love-hate thing

Back in the days when I worked in a Hi-Fi shop I couldn't understand the attraction, customers used to rave about it, but frankly I was more than a little dubious. After I'd left the industry and didn't have my daily drip-feed, I often needed a 'hit', so started to dabble a little and could see that maybe there was something to it after all. Eventually I ended up completely addicted, a total junkie, staying up till all hours each day, completely immersed. A few times I managed to break-away for a day or two if I was away with work, or maybe on holiday, but I'd soon relapse back into it. Happily nowadays I manage to dabble without getting strung out and I think life is all the better for it, as I spend more time listening to music instead of reading about hi-fi. That's right, Hi-Fi forums. What did you think I was talking about?

"It's all about the he said, she said..."

Ever since I discovered forums it's been a love-hate relationship for me. There are some that are so small and cliquey that posts from an 'outsider' are often met with a curt or blunt reply, if not ignored altogether. Others are more welcoming and friendly, with a real sense of community and shared experience. I've found 2 or 3 now where I feel at home and participate in those that are of interest to me or where I feel I can add some value (I generally stick to the hi-fi and stay away from the general 'Lounge' or 'Off-topic' areas). True enough, there is still the odd clique who share a private joke or two, but on the whole they're a pretty convivial and I love an hour or so each day, trawling the latest posts or having a breeze through the classifieds in the hope of finding a gem.

However, it's not all roses. There is definitely a requirement for an open-mind and an oft essential pinch of salt. Whether intentional or not, many pass off opinion and conjecture for fact and before you know where you are those opinions have spread and started to mutate into something much more powerful. The power of suggestion is oh so strong here! A recent example that really made me smile was a number of members purporting the superiority of a new model over an old, even before said new model had been released, let alone reviewed or heard by those individuals (or anybody for that matter)!

So it's fair to say that it takes all sorts, but you soon get to recognise those that post with a more level-headedness and have some real insight, speaking from experience and sharing their expertise. There are also numerous examples of that all important (but often lacking in live these days) community spirit where help is dispensed with no thought of anything more than a 'thank you'. Loaning of expensive equipment and free transportation of purchases are two such examples that I've seen in recent years, but I'm sure there is plenty more that I don't see too.


Which leads me on to bake-offs. No I'm not talking about Noel Fielding and friends prowling around a tent in the Berkshire countryside, this is groups of Hi-Fi lovers getting together at one of their homes for a listening session. As I understand it (having never been to one), the concept is to experience your equipment in the others' systems (and vis-versa), exchange ideas, thoughts and generally talk about their passion for Hi-Fi. Anyone who has tried to critique an item in a dealer's demo room, or worse still at a show, will be able to relate to this I'm sure. When you're looking to spend your hard-earned on a new bit of kit, it's always best to try and actually hear it first, ideally at home in your own system. Plus this way, you may find some items you'd not otherwise have considered, and if you can make friends in the process then what's not to like?!

Give it go

If you've had the inclination to read this far, you must surely have been bitten by the Hi-Fi bug, so I'd encourage you to have a little look at a few of the popular Hi-Fi forums and see if you cant find something that piques your interest. They're usually open for anyone to view (you may have to sign-up to post) and who knows, it might just lead you to your next purchase, or better still, you might end up making some new friends...and lets' be honest, who doesn't need more friends in this world?!

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