15 years ago, I started to undergo changes I didn't fully understand. It was triggered by an event which has etched itself in my memory with a permanence few others have.
I was 12 years old, taking a food break after a morning full of swimming and sliding goodness at Amazons water park in Queensland. A friend of mine sat down next to me and pulled a CD Walkman out of his bag and offered me an earbud. I accepted and continued munching away on my hotdog.
He hit play and music filled one side of my head. It was the Red Hot Chili Peppers' seminal release, Californication. I was engrossed, taken into the music more than I remember from any album before and certainly few enough since. After a song or two, he offered me the second earbud and went back into the pool for another round of swimming. I was completely blown away by how real the sound was - how believable the performance.
It was the point at which my fascination with the experience of music listening formed. I became intrigued with friends' stereos, the differences in their headphones and earphones and, most importantly, found just what it was for music to sound good. Having the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I listen to a song I love... that's my metric for quality.
15 years later... I have turned my passion into a job, and an entire generation of people have brought their own similar enthusiasm to the industry. As a result, we are amply supplied with amazing headphones, incredible portable playback devices and the ability to carry massive quantities of CD quality music around everywhere we go.
For music fans, this is truly a golden age. You can hear a piece of music the closest to the original studio master that has ever been achieved, anytime, anywhere.