A Confession in Ones and Zeros

Is it really 2019 already? As is customary at this time of year, I am looking inward; reflecting, if you will. The unexamined life is not worth living and so on. I think you dig what I’m driving at.

The thing is, friends, my inward journey has led me to the realization I have become that which I’ve long despised. I have turned on my own ideals. I am a sellout, a turncoat, a traitor guilty of treasonous behavior. I am the Benedict Arnold of analog audio. I am the Sammy “The Bull” Gravano of the Grado, as it were.

Bless me, Father Thorens, for I have sinned. It has been quite some time since I last placed a record upon your platter. That’s right, me, Mr. Vintage Tube Hi-Fi Guy has sold out to the man. I am waiting for Neil Young to show up at my door with a cease and desist letter. I’ve gone from analog boy to digital man. What’s next? Consciousness-upload to the cloud a la Ray Kurzweil?

Each time I turn on my streaming device, my beautiful German precision turntable beckons to me in shock as if to say, “Et tu, Hags?” As I peruse the amorphous high-resolution files on my 4-terabyte hard drive, my LP brush and stylus cleaner, neglected and forgotten in the material world, pine for my touch and the good old days of daily sonic utility. My meticulously engineered Swiss reel-to-reel machine sits motionless while I callously parade around the house with some chick named Alexa?

Is there such a thing as an audiophile midlife crisis? It seems so in my case. What have I done with my (listening) life? I’ve gone and traded in the old model for a sexy new chippie with a cute little place in the ether to which I surf. Look at me! I’m a surfer now! I’ve been seduced. I’ve strayed, and I can’t seem to stop. Tidal is my sporty red convertible. Digital audio is my balding ponytail, stupid earring, and lightning-bolt bowling shirt all rolled into one. All those years I spent curating and collecting those first-pressing Beatles and Zeppelin albums, what was it all for? They sit like a book upon a shelf, singing their blues and crying for no one, respectively. My hot stampers have grown cold, and it’s nobody’s fault but mine.

In spite of all this guilt and shame, I still press that button and sink into my Eames chair with a fresh beverage to browse the HD tracks. What has become of me? Am I digital junkie? Is there a program? Probably so, but I don’t want to stop, for I’ve succumbed to almighty convenience. I am like a diabolical genius in my top-secret hi-fi lair. I execute my sonic whims from a touch screen. Like a musical Veruca Salt, I sit on my mid-century throne and rub my greedy little hands together — that is if I’m not already twirling my mustache and laughing maniacally while touch-screening in a blur and screaming, “I want that one!” as a wave of zeroes and ones washes over my ears, ministering blindly to my every whim and fancy. All hail the king!

Wow. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Better out than in, as they say. Somehow, in writing it down to share with you, it’s as if my shame has lifted. I thought admitting my sonic sins would shame me and bring me to my senses, but the effect is quite the opposite. It is freeing! No more hiding. No more guilt. I’m free to do what I want any
old time!

Fear not, dear reader. I know in time this newness will fade, and the warmth and lovely goodness of my records will welcome me home with their unconditional groove. The reel-to-reel will spin, dervish-like, and analog beauty will once again fill my home. This isn’t an audio crisis; it is source maturity!

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