Left to their own devices, middle-aged men with too much time on their hands and nothing to grumble about tend to turn on themselves. This periodically happens in audio, and typically it happens when audio is on one of its upswings. New formats are becoming understandable, old formats are living beyond their years, things generally sound better than ever... all the things that are anathema to a curmudgeonly old audiophile git.
We seem to be at one of those points now. Reports of CDs death seem greatly exaggerated, LP's resurgence is in full throat, the performance of ripping systems and hi-res audio means all the ways to get good music are better than ever. The equipment used to play these recordings in the home today is some of the best ever produced. We have the production engineering to build consistent and reliable products, and the science and engineering smarts to make them sound good too. And, while prices are increasing, there remains a group of high quality products at reasonable prices. Everything in the garden should be lovely.
Which is why it isn't. There seems to be a natural drive to play down the successes and look to the market shrinkage over the last 40 years, the spiraling prices at the top of the market and so on. And those who seem to revel in sucking the fun out of this business are back on the warpath again.
Thing is, there aren't many things left on the planet that allow grown men to spend a few precious hours a week just tinkering, while listening to a piece of music. Whether that joy is in finding a new toy to play with, going over that Bach invention for the umpteenth time to crack its code, or simply enjoying the job-well-done-ness of the complete system, there are aspects of hi-fi that cannot be neatly summed up in a measurement, or an ideology.
They forget that the good thing about hi-fi is, when it comes to midlife crises, it's rather timid. It's not as expensive as upgrading to Wife 2.0, it's not as faintly ridiculous looking as trying to squeeze a 50-something backside into leather jeans and then a Porsche Boxster, and it demands considerably less involuntary organ donation than remembering how to ride a motorbike.
Audio's whiners will have their day in the sun, then they will hide under a rock for a while and come out again. Let them – I disagree with what they say, but defend their right to say it. But that doesn't mean we have to agree with the nay-sayers, despite their insistence. We're too busy doin' nothing, except for listening to some music.