12 Things an Audiophile can do in Times of Corona & Lockdown

Dries Van HooydonckAudiophile MindsetLeave a Comment

audiophiles corona lockdown

I know these times of Corona & Lockdown could be challenging for all of us, audiophiles included.

However, these special times could also be an ideal way for you to discover new horizons when it comes to our audiophile hobby.

That’s exactly why I wrote this article.

I will give you 12 things to do in times of Corona & Lockdown.

These 12 tips also apply when life returns to normal: they are meant to inspire you, no matter your current situation.

Side note:

Maybe you are not at home in Lockdown, but working harder than ever, for instance to treat people that are ill from Corona, keeping the supply chain going, serve us with essential groceries, keep the economy running in general or playing another important role in society during this crisis. When this is the case, first of all you earn my deepest respect. It is thanks to you that we can manage this crisis. And even for you, maybe when you have a day off, or when this crisis period is over, you too can enjoy these 12 tips, and benefit from them.

So, here are my 12 tips. I hope it can give you inspiration, and help you to keep your focus positive in these challenging times…  

1. Discover your music again
Still remember those days?

Discover your music again

Because of streaming audio these days millions of music albums are available for you.

But apart from this vast amount of music that is readily available at the tip of your finger, you probably also have a smaller amount of albums that you can regard as your all-time favorites. These treasured gems have been with you for a long time. Maybe in the past you owned these albums on cd or vinyl, or maybe you still have these albums in your collection now.  

These times of Lockdown could be the ideal opportunity for you to discover your music again.

Think about this for a second:

What are your 10 most favorite albums? These could be albums you enjoyed listening a very long time ago. Or they could be recent discoveries.

No matter the flavor: why not rediscover them?

This could bring back some fond memories, of times long forgotten. Maybe when you were younger, or when you had good times. Or maybe the opposite: this music could have been your companion or comfort when life was difficult.

Either ways, Corona and sitting at home in Lockdown could be an ideal excuse to start playing your favorite music again!

2.  Listen to a complete album
Sit back, relax & enjoy

listen to a complete album

I know many audiophiles already do this: they sit down, take their time and listen to a complete album. But I also know lots of audiophiles or music lovers that just play one track, and then another track, and another track,… Zapping through their listening time.

So why not take your time and discover the complete album, just like the artist intended, instead of constantly “zapping” through your collection.

Artists, recording engineers, mastering engineers, producers,… they all make such an effort to release an albums.

I’m sure you too have a lot of music made by high quality performing musicians in your collection at home. This could be vinyl, cd, sacd, or music via online streaming services.

So why not enjoy them completely?

3. Get to know the artists
Become a music connoisseur

get to know the artist and become a music connoisseur

Audiophiles tend to focus most on the quality of their recordings. And this is only logical. No matter how much money you have spent on your high-end audio setup, if the music you play is not recorded in a good way, your sound will not be good.

But because we audiophiles focus on the recording, sometimes we forget about the artists.

So why not start discovering the background stories of the artists you love?

You can start reading their biography, see a documentary, buy books about their history, or at least check out the liner notes of your cd’s and lp’s, or lookup information about the artist online.

This will give you a broader perspective when the next time you listen to this artist or performance. 

4. Claim your focus: mindful listening
You will feel reborn

Mindful music listening

So, how can you best enjoy your music in these times of Lockdown and Corona?

The advice I’m going to give you next, could bring you peace of mind.

It can give you a way of “resourcing” yourself. As a matter of fact, it can even reduce stress, and enable you to become a better father, husband or companion for the fellow members of your family who are under the same roof with you.

The advice is actually very simple:

Claim your focus.

Claim your time alone: just you and the music.

So really take “me” time.

It is very important to have “me time”, especially now, when you are more often in the same space with your family members, and might get agitated more easily.

One of the greatest methods for an audiophile to escape from everyday reality, and to relax, is our music.

So, when you are listening to music: do it alone.

Do it without having distractions, such as other people in the background, people saying things,..

Maybe it is not easy for you to listen alone, because your audio setup is located in your living room? And with your wife or kids at home, it might not be easy to relax and enjoy your music when you want to?

When this is the case, then talk about it with your partner, and make new arrangements. Maybe while you’re listening to music she can go for a walk with the kids, play in the garden, or anything that could apply to your situation.

You don’t have to listen to your music all day (please also see the next advice). Half an hour a day, or an hour a day can be more than enough for you to recharge your batteries.

After this resourcing, you will feel less stress and more relaxed.

It is actually a bit like mindfulness, yoga or meditation.

Lots of people feel benefits from mindfulness because it allows you to connect with yourself again.

The same applies for our audiophile hobby: when you are connected to the music and nothing else, this can give peace of mind. It enables you to reduce stress and feel more relax.

This will also reflect on the relationship you have with your family members at home.

5. Explore new things
Opportunities for you to discover

Explore new things

Especially in times of Lockdown I don’t think it is wise to start binge watching Netflix, or binge listening to your music all day long.

These times of lockdown could be the ideal moment for you to discover other things as well, and start expanding your horizon.

There is so much more to discover than just our audiophile hobby. 

So, start to stretch yourself and explore new things!

Especially if you are at home in a Lockdown situation.

Maybe at the moment you don’t have to work? This gives you a lot of free time.

Take this time to explore new things!!!

  • Maybe you always wanted to be in better shape? Then start doing fitness exercises
  • Maybe you want to have less stress in your life?  Then start mindfulness, yoga or breathing excercises.
  • Maybe you always wanted to know how to make your own bread? Then learn how to bake it.

    Other options:
  • Learn about electronics
  • Learn a new craft
  • Learn a new language
  • Call friends and family you did not speak in a long time
  • Have quality time at home with your wife or kids


    And this list is endless.

    See the opportunities in these times of Lockdown?

    Now is the time to explore them.

6. Focus on positive things
Is the glass half empty, or half full?

focus on positive things

You always have a choice to see things in two ways: you can focus on the negative aspects, or you can focus on the positive aspects.

In other words, your glass is either half empty, or half full.

Examples of a limiting & negative mindset

For instance:

Help! I’m stuck at home due to Corona, this is a drama for me

This is a negative approach to the situation, and a negative dialogue you create with yourself

Other examples:

Now I can’t see my girlfriend, I can’t go out and party, I can’t see my grandchildren,…

These are all limitations.

Do these negative approaches help you? Do they make you feel any better?

No, they don’t. They cause frustrations, and they will only make you feel bad, or even worse.

Examples of positivity & opportunities

Instead you can turn this around, and focus on the positive side. You could focus on the opportunities Corona & Lockdown might bring you.

For instance:

Yes! I’m at home due to Corona, so now I can have more quality time with my wife and kids (positive approach, and positive inner dialogue)

Yes! I’m at home due to Corona, so now I can finally start reading that book I’ve always wanted to read, or I can finally start cleaning up the stuff in my garage, or… (positive approach, and seeing opportunities)

I have to work more than usual. This is an opportunity for me to learn how to cope with a stressful situation, or learn how to stay strong, or: thanks to me many people will benefit from the work I’m doing,….  (positive approach that gives you strength, enables you to see opportunities, and create validation and positive confirmation for the work you’re doing)

These are all positive approaches.

And the same applies for our audiophile hobby.

Conclusion

The choice is yours: which approach would you rather have?

Try to see the positive side of things. See the opportunities in your life and seize them, especially in times of Lockdown and Corona.

When life gives you lemons: make lemonade!

(might sound cliché, but so true!)

7. Be flexible and tolerant
Try to be more understanding and forgiving

Be flexible and tolerant

Your position as an audiophile consumer

In these times of Lockdown, it is not easy for businesses to continue their activities. Many countries have now closed “brick and mortar stores”, and many employees are now working from home. This might not be easy, with the kids also at home – schools and daycare are also closed – asking attention while trying to work. Maybe there is a limited amount of rooms in your house or apartment to arrange a home office,…

So, my advice for customers: be tolerant – for instance when you are calling a support desk employee – and be understanding for their situation.

Also, airports are closed and packages from webshops are experiencing delays.

Be flexible about this.

If you are immediately claiming a refund, the businesses we now need most, will soon go out of business.

So be flexible, and patient.

Trust that these businesses are doing everything that lies in their power to solve your issue, and that they will help you in the best way that is currently possible.

Your new high-end amplifier will find its way to your doorstep. It just might take some more time than usual.

That is no big deal, right? Especially not, when compared to the global pandemic.

So, don’t make unreasonable demands, and don’t immediately claim for a refund.

Be patient, have understanding for the situation these businesses are in, and be flexible and tolerant.

You would like to be treated the same way, if this was you at the other side of the line, right?

In fact, your position as a consumer can now – more than ever – contribute in saving the economy.

Your position towards life in general

An attitude of tolerance and compassion can also contribute to your life in general.

If you are understanding, compassionate and tolerant, this means you are open to the world. This will also open doors for you.

If on the other hand you are frustrated, angry, or treating other people disrespectful, this means you are closed for the world. This will also close doors for you.

If you show positivity to other people, they will reflect this back on you.

If you show frustration to other people, they will also reflect this back on you.

Especially in times of crisis we can all benefit from “good vibes”, now more than ever!

8. Try to be the best version of yourself
And spread it like a seed

Try to be the best version of yourself

One of my life mottos is: “Try to be the best version of yourself”

While this might not be easy all the time, I’m sure it will get you the furthest in life.

And everybody that you are in contact with can benefit from it.

I see this as a little seed that you spread amongst your friends, your family, your neighbors, your community, your network…

This will reflect on all these people, and they will also catch the “virus”, so the seed can spread even further and grow larger…

In fact a bit like the spreading of the Corona virus, but in a positive way.

So my next advice:

Try to be the best version of yourself, and also reflect it on others.

In these challenging times, we need heroes instead of victims.

Stand strong, instead of letting your head hang

Be a leader instead of a follower

Be an example for others.

And show them your best version.

9. Give value & offer it for free
What is your contribution in a time of crisis?

Give value

Give value, and help others where you can.

Not because you have to, but because you want to, contributing to your community, contributing to the world, and making it a better place.

Of course, you should always try to do this, but especially in times of crisis we need it the most!

This crisis is bigger than all of us. So, no need to focus on little frustrations, or little problems that keep you from helping others.

Many heroes already stood up during this crisis. They are now making sure people infected with Corona get the necessary care. They are making sure our supermarkets are still supplied. They make sure packages still arrive at your door. They make sure the economy is still running,…

You can be a hero too. And lots of people could use your help right now.

Think about what you have to offer.

What can you contribute in these challenging times?

Or are you already contributing? Then let me know in the comments below. I’m very curious…

10. Focus on the music
Don’t get caught up in the details

focus on the music

We audiophiles can easily get caught up in the details: small details we think can make a world of difference. Especially concerning our sound quality.

I’m talking about focusing on certain limitations of your setup, or something lacking in the musical presentation, that urges you to check your bank account and go buy your next upgrade…  

While it is one of the beautiful things about our hobby, to strive for a better sound, it can also become a culprit, and it can get you caught in a trap, becoming a victim of “upgradenitis” and “audiophilia nervosa”: performing upgrade after upgrade, with only limited satisfactory result, after which a new upgrade emerges, in search of a holy grail that did not even exist in the first place.

I know you might not agree with this. Maybe for you the hobby is only sunny and positive (praise yourself lucky!).

But there are audiophiles that cannot always enjoy their audio journey, and get fed up by it. Unfortunately, our hobby – where everything can always sound better – can become an easy culprit for obsession, and perfectionism.

Therefore, my advice:

Focus on the music, not on the audio equipment.

Accept your setup as it is.

And even more important:

Relax & take it easy 🙂

Try to see things in perspective: you are one of the lucky few, and part of an elite: a connaisseur of fine music reproduction. A soldier at the forefront of musical greatness. Your setup is already performing 100x better than the basic gear an average person uses to listen to music.

Always keep this in mind when a new upgrade presents itself.

Don’t get caught up in the little details. Try to always keep focus on the bigger picture.

Listen to your music, not your setup.

It could save you from quite some stress in these times of Lockdown…

11. Don’t try to change what you can’t fix

Don't try to change what you can't fix

Sometimes it can be difficult to adapt to a new situation. Our daily routines are shaken, and we are confronted with a new reality. A new reality we cannot control, and cannot change.

The only thing we can do in such situation is to accept it.

So my advice:

Don’t try to fix what you can’t change. It has no use, and it does not serve you in any way.

Instead: cherish & love what you have.

If what I’m saying does not make any sense, maybe this scheme below can guide you:

Do-you-have-a-problem-in-life-why-worry

  • If you experience a problem and you can fix it: great! Problem can be solved. No need to worry.
  • If you experience a problem and you cannot fix it: no need to worry. Just accept it can’t be fixed.
  • If you experience no problem at all: great, also no need to worry.

I know this seems simple, while in fact it could take you a lifetime to accomplish. Hopefully this scheme can inspire you to get on your way… it could be a guideline.

Or just a funny way of making you conscious of this human behavior. Behavior that we all have experienced in one way or another.

And we audiophiles should be extra aware of these principles at play.

Certainly in times of Corona we could use our focus and energy for much better things, right?

12. Enjoy new musical discoveries

free audiophile albums

I kept my best advice for last:

Expand your musical horizon!

Do you want to take this opportunity and start discovering some amazing audiophile quality music?

I’ve created a FREE product especially for audiophiles and music lovers in times of Corona.

You will receive 60 Days of Audiophile Quality Music Discoveries.

So, for the next 60 days you will know exactly what music to play.

Completely free, for you to enjoy.

You can click here for more information

Final words

I hope these 12 tips have inspired you. And I also hope they can enable you to stay positive & strong in these challenging times.

Take care of yourself and the people that are important to you.

And, remember: after winter always comes spring.

My free 60 Days of Audiophile Quality Music Discoveries can already help you on your way.

Go check it out!

How to prevent listening fatigue in your audio setup? The power of contrast…

Dries Van HooydonckAudiophile Mindset, ListeningLeave a Comment

How to prevent listening fatigue in your high-end audio setup? The power of contrast

Listening fatigue can occur to any audiophile: you listen to your hifi or high-end audio setup, and suddenly the sound is not good anymore. In this article you will discover how listening fatigue occurs, what the underlying principles are, and how you can prevent listening fatigue from happening to you. And you will also discover what I call “the power of contrast” at play. So sit back, relax and enjoy this article… 

The sky turns pitch black. Dark clouds are forming above you. It is completely silent. You feel that a storm is coming. And then suddenly… The first bang, like fireworks on New Year’s Eve but ten times louder. Another bang. And a flash of lightning every couple of seconds. Then the sky opens up a little, an avalanche of rain pouring down, the roof of your house sounding like it could collapse any moment.

I find a thunderstorm amazing. It makes me feel more alive. The adrenaline peaks, and I eagerly observe this sublime spectacle. Not even the most suspenseful thriller can compete.

But it is that moment of silence that intrigues me most. The calm before the storm. In a movie, such silence always predicts something thrilling is about to happen.

Such silence makes the subsequent apotheose more compelling. The more calm the moment before, the larger the climax afterwards.

The power of contrast

the power of contrast

Such a thunderstorm is the perfect example of contrast.

We humans love contrast. Our brain is utterly alert when we witness contrast.

Another example that illustrates contrast very well: when a group of people is all dressed grey, nobody stands out. But when one person wears a red sweater, you will notice him immediately.

We have been programmed like this since the primeval times. Back then contrast could mean danger: a yellow tiger between the green leaves of the forest for instance. Brain on ultra-active.

Today we humans still have remains of our primitive ancestors in our genes, and we still use this primitive part of our brain, also known as the reptilian brain or the the basal ganglia. It is the oldest part of our brain. It is our attention gatekeeper and decision maker.

reptilian brain used by audiophiles when first listening to new hifi or high-end audio component

With music reproduction the same principles of contrast are at play, and this can trigger our reptilian brain in the same way as a yellow tiger would for our ancestors.

If you are an audiophile, and when you are aware of this principle, it can save you from a list of bad choices when a new upgrade presents itself.

It can save you tons of money, or equipment bound for resell. It can even prevent you from listening fatigue all together: never having to make another upgrade in your live, completely satisfied with the hifi or high-end audio components you already have in your possession.

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Discover your ultimate sound: looking for The Holy Grail

Dries Van HooydonckAudiophile Mindset, Listening6 Comments

Looking for the holy grail in music? Discover your ultimate sound

You’re probably an audiophile. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. Like all audiophiles, you are chasing an ultimate sound and ultimate musical experience, right?

The very best representation.

A “Holy Grail” in the music.

You want to portray a life-like performance.

The singer is in your room. In-between the speakers. Every movement of her lips audible. Her breath against the microphone. A warm glow that gives you goose bumps.

To accomplish this, you probably spend a lot of money. Gorgeous speakers that fill the room with the most beautiful sonics. A set “beasts” of monoblocks. Expensive, thick cables. A reference DAC that sounds more analog than analog. A digital source that transmits an optimal signal. A world-class record player, with a needle that absorbs the grooves better than your previous element.

But that is still not enough. You haven’t reached the “Holy Grail” yet. It still is not “ultimate” enough. A new upgrade announces itself…

Before you completely dream away in this tale, I’m going to burst your bubble: The Holy Grail does not exist. But you can come very close.

In this article, I will tell you what the Holy Grail actually entails. And I inform you about the dangers of that quest.

What is your Holy Grail of ultimate sound?

What is your Holy Grail of ultimate sound

Maybe you got blown away by a gorgeous high-end setup at a trade show, or at the showroom of your local dealer. Maybe your friend has a nice setup, and you find this the ultimate sound. Or maybe you heard it during a concert, where the acoustics were so good, or the mix was perfectly tuned.

Maybe your contact with such ultimate sound was a long time ago, and that sound has now been lost in the history of “cult” or vintage. Or perhaps it was more recently.

No matter were it came from, that memory of the ultimate musical experience is your very own “Holy Grail”.

It’s the association you make to what is “ultimate” for you.

For someone else this association is something entirely different. Because the experience and the situations were different.

So, everyone has its own unique Holy Grail, and is looking for a different ultimate sound.

I, myself, was blown away for the first time by a reference setup of a high-end audio dealer, who let me hear Pat Metheney “Imaginary Day”.

My first ultimate sound experience: Pat Metheney Imaginary Day

Do you remember your first ultimate sound experience?

Where did you hear your very best sound ever? And do you still chase such sound?

Think about this for a second.

Maybe you can uncover what particular sound you’re looking for.

Maybe it doesn’t immediately come to mind. That’s all right.

At first, I did not know my Holy Grail either. Maybe this article will help you to discover it.

The example of the tomato

the example of the tomato

You can compare the ‘Holy Grail of sound’ with the taste of a tomato.

I can still hear my father say: “Tomatoes tasted so much better back in the day. Now it’s just water.”

In your experience tomatoes maybe tasted better in the past too.

My father ate tomatoes from in his own garden, in a time where the air was still clean, the soil was better, and the vegetables weren’t sprayed with pesticides yet.

Partly, he might be right. A home-grown tomato or a biologically grown tomato can indeed taste better than your average store-bought tomato. But there’s more going on here.

The primitive brain

the primitive brain waw effect

The first time when you experience something new is always more intense. And that’s normal. We humans are programmed this way.

In a new situation our brain demands more attention. That’s due to our survival instinct. Because a new situation could mean danger. As a primate in the prehistoric age we had to be alert in a new situation. Because there could be a saber tooth tiger or another danger around the corner.

I’m guessing you’d be pretty alert too, right?

But when we do the same things again and again, our brain works differently: without giving it much thought, we function on autopilot, on routine. Then our brain isn’t so alert anymore. If this wasn’t the case, you’d be filled with adrenaline in the bathroom every night, when brushing your teeth would be as exciting as skydiving for the first time.

That’s why your very first tomato tasted way better in your memory. You did not taste something like this before. It was a whole new sensation. Brain on ultra-active.

Afterwards, every tomato became the same, with the same watery taste. Brain back to sleep.

The ultimate music experience works the same way

Just like a tomato, this also applies for your first “ultimate musical experience”, your Holy Grail in sound.

Your memory of that first ultimate musical experience sounded way better than it actually was. At the time, it was a new situation. Your brain was paying full attention. The sound was phenomenal.

But in reality, it wasn’t. If you heard that same sound today, maybe you would even be disappointed.

Be aware of this quest when chasing your ultimate sound or whenever you want to upgrade your high-end audio setup

looking for ultimate sound? Beware of the holy grail

You can learn from your Holy Grail of ultimate sound. It makes you aware of the sound you’re looking for in your high-end audio setup.

But dangers are lurking, and there is a dark side to your queeste:

Because your memory of it is so good, you will continue to chase this so-called ultimate sound.

You do upgrade after upgrade, to come close again.

Closer to the memory of an experience, that your brain made more beautiful than it really was.

So, looking for such a Holy Grail is an endless quest. And still, it surfaces with every new upgrade you want to make in your high-end audio setup.

So watch out: it can cost you a lot of time, money and discarded high-end audio components.

Of course that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to come very close:

The singer in your room. In-between the speakers. Every movement of her lips audible. Her breathe against the microphone. Almost life-like.

Of course that’s something I can only wish for you. 🙂

Did you like this article? Share it with your audio friends:

Free upgrade for a better sound: resource yourself

Dries Van HooydonckAudiophile Mindset, ListeningLeave a Comment

ree upgrade for a better sound on your high-end audio setup

I love summer. The sun is shining, everybody is in a good mood, and you’re able to spend a lot of time outside. But what does this have to do with high-end audio? You’ll discover in this article. And above all, I’ll give you a free upgrade for a better sound on your audio setup.

An upgrade that does not cost you any money, and for which you don’t need to buy new components.

So definitely continue reading…

A walk in nature

Together with my wife and son, I love to go for nature walks in our region.

We’re currently living in “Pajottenland”. It’s part of the “green belt” around Brussels.

This area is characterized by its gentle slopes, large meadows and wide, open landscapes. Together with wooded areas and a lot of nature reserves it’s an amazing region to discover.

Recently we went for a walk in the “Hallerbos”. It is a big forest on the countryside near our capital of Brussels. It is classified as a nature reserve. In springtime this forest is most famous for its Bluebells.

It had been a hectic period and we all needed to recharge our batteries.

We’d been walking the entire afternoon. Along the way we had a nice picnic and in the evening, we went home with a fresh mind and a wonderful feeling.

Lovely.

Heavily recommended on my part.

After such a recharging walk you feel good and positive again.

And such recharging also has a beneficial side effect for audiophiles:

free upgrade for a better sound on your high-end audio setup: resource yourself

Free upgrade for a better sound on your high-end audio setup

When you arrive back home after such a “nature bath” and you press play, your setup suddenly sounds a lot better.

And that’s logical: you were able to free your mind. You weren’t thinking about upgrades, tweaks or other audiophile affairs. You weren’t thinking about the shortcomings of your setup, about that one “weak link”, or the components that you want to replace for better ones.

Thanks to the sun, the surrounding nature and the fresh air you see your high-end audio installation in a new light.

You listen with fresh ears. Like it’s your first time listening to your audio setup.

You appreciate every aspect. And you can relax while listening to music again.

No more stress that causes a narrow and closed mind.

Instead, you will now have an open mind.

Open to enjoy your audio setup in a much more profound way.

resourcing yourself: a free upgrade for a better sound

Resourcing yourself

Of course, making a walk with your family is only one example of resourcing yourself. You could also take a holiday, have some fun with friends, go out to the movie theatre, go to a concert,… Actually, this list is endless.

Or, when you also enjoy having some time reserved for yourself, you could take some me-time. For instance: I deliberately walk alone in nature as well – also highly recommended for resourcing, and recharging your batteries.

And similar as above, such activities are also effective as free upgrade for a better sound.

Upgrading yourself instead of your setup, without costing you any money 🙂

Conclusion

So, the next time when you think your setup isn’t good enough, when nothing sounds right anymore, or when you want to make an upgrade, just think about this advice: go outside, enjoy the sun (or the snow for that matter), enjoy nature and recharge those batteries. You’ll notice that afterwards, you’ll be able to enjoy your music in a much better way again. Good luck!

You only live once

Dries Van HooydonckAudiophile MindsetLeave a Comment

you only live once

“You only live once”

That’s what a high-end audio dealer told me once.

I wasn’t sure if I should buy an expensive component. It concerned a Clearaudio Maestro V2 cartridge worth about 1000 euro. Back then, that was a lot of money to me.

“Nice sales trick!” I thought. And a bit “in-your-face”. But he was right.

Do you want to know why?

Then read on…

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