I'll come out and admit that I have some deeply-rooted psychological issues when it comes to organization and completeness. Instead of taking the proper supervisory route, my parents instead dismissed my early signs of obsessive compulsiveness as "he was a weird little kid" and let me loose on the world.
I have never taken a break when it comes to the meticulous organization of my toys. When hard drives became capable of storing thousands of albums for a reasonable fee, I took it upon myself to not only take my digital music collection to a disgusting size, but also to meticulously organize and tag said data. Many a late nights during my teenage years were spent ripping CDs, properly capitalizing song names, and ensuring that a uniform bitrate was used throughout my acquisitions. I was absolutely fucking determined to ensure order was maintained within my ever-growing cesspool of media.
While all of this ate up a lot of my time, it wasn't like I had lost anything besides countless hours during the most arguably important and valuable years of my life. What came next was the procurement of expensive audio hardware!
Hearing the re-issue of Converge's When Forever Comes Crashing for the first time on a semi-reputable stereo setup was like a gateway drug for me. A burned disc of 128kbps MP3s being played on a pair of fifteen dollar Sony in-ear headphones plugged into an equally inexpensive portable CD player suddenly showed its inadequacy. shit, even the "hi-fi" 2.1 Harman Kardon PC speaker setup I had at the time didn't even touch this. Thus, within a few months I purchased a used stereo amplifier with more watts than I knew what to do with along with a pair of monolithic floorstanding speakers. Also worth mentioning was that this during my freshman year of college and I was still living in a dorm. The first night I gave my new listening rig a thorough "breaking in" the girl next door came knocking at my door. Her claim was that she had to wake up for classes in four hours and that my blasting of experimental doom metal was not the most conducive to sleep. My first thought was that it was her own damn fault for choosing morning classes like a total dolt, but I was obliged to pay heed to her request. I was still able to see right through her facade, however. It was obvious she knew she was in the presence of a totally bitchin' stereo and just wanted to get even the slightest of glimpses at my sound discharging shrine of behemoth proportions.
This obsession for the ultimate music listening contraption never had a chance to decay. As time went on and I found more prestigious venues of daytime employment, the jungle of wire, plastic, and wood began to find itself in a continuous series of upgrades. If you ever had a chance to see the schlocky 1990 sci-fi-horror film Hardware, you'll get the idea.
But this so far is only half of the money-sink that is my excuse for musical investment. Let's talk overpriced, technologically obsolete analog recording mediums! Sure, digital recordings are inexpensive and easily portable, but what is the fun in maintaining a spergalicious collection if house guests can't walk in and be able to gawk at something more tangible? That is where the world of vinyl comes in. We've all seen High Fidelity. Mr. John Cusack did a helluva job romanticizing the idea of being a record nerd that obsesses over borderline-inane aspects pop culture. Dilettantes everywhere rejoiced that THEY NOW HAD A BEAUTIFUL FACE TO REPRESENT THEIR NICHE OF CONSUMERISM.
Records are essentially the ultimate creation when it comes to life-ruining hobbyist collectibles. They not only trigger the emotional response of "I think this piece of art has affected my life in a deep and meaningful way, thus I must procure it through any means necessary", but they are only available in limited quantities and multiple COLORS. I cannot help but feel like my tastes have been reduced to what they used to be when I was a child, as I have found myself time and time again wooed by transparent color combinations. Even better, is that albums often get multiple re-issues, variations, and special editions that make the process of obtaining the "ultimate, final, this-is-the-last-one-mom-I-swear" version all the more painful in terms of time and money. I was certainly well aware of these caveats before starting up my record collection, so I legitimately have no one else to blame but myself for such ruination.
Today, I feel like I've gotten at least a partial handle on my obsession over detail when it comes to music libraries and listening. Auto-tagging programs for digital audio collections are plentiful, robust, and free. On top of this, I can simply dump all of my music into a single folder and have a media center application automatically sort, organize, and obtain supplemental information instantly. Most importantly in terms of my road to recovery is that I'll now allow people to plug in their mobile phone into the auxiliary input of my stereo. Before, this was often met with me internally freaking out and insisting that the desired music be played in a lossless format decoded by the internal DAC of my amplifier and via NOT some plebeian, low-bitrate internet stream blasted through a paltry headphone jack.
With all of this being said, I still find myself involuntarily wincing when I scroll through someone's iPod and seeing instances of "The Beatles", "Beatles", and "Beatels" in their list of available artists. Baby steps, Dick, baby steps...