/ Rob Beschizza / 7 am Thu, Dec 6 2012
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  • Every Audiophile Review Ever

    Every Audiophile Review Ever

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      1. Wine reviews are written in a sort of code. Are audio reviews similarly constrained by the use of a meaningful technical argot?

        1. Sort of. To be reductionist, different adjective phrases refer to presence or absence of various parts of the acoustic spectrum; how loud and quiet sounds are reproduced, etc. Here’s one list: http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing-sound-a-glossary (IMPORTANT: Head-Fi is a headphone enthusiasts’ web bulletin board. The enthusiasm is SO infectious that their motto is “Welcome to Head-Fi, sorry about your wallet.”)

          “But, isn’t ideal reproduction supposed to be totally flat?” you might ask. Well, yes and no. Do you want to hear all the flaws in the recording/mp3? If you’re a recording engineer, maybe. If you want to enjoy the music, it’s going to get annoying.

      2. Up to a degree… similar to hi-fi equipment, yes. It is a pretty shallow logarithmic cost/quality curve. At one point (usually pretty low) any increase in quality is so miniscule to be almost unquantifiable. (tho some would argue that with the very VERY best of wines it does turn exponential at some unspecified point)

      1. Call me a troll but let’s be honest with ourselves – If Apple slapped on a logo and called them iBlox Boingers would buy them.

        1. The only Apple product I’ve ever owned is a tiny shuffle that fits on my shirtsleeve. I bought it for $40 new, and I use it with my Linux system and a python script to load music and build the internal data files needed by the device. If there had been an equivalent open hardware device for twice the price I would have bought that instead. Since then, I haven’t seen anything else from them that was very interesting. I just don’t have time for products that get in the way of what I want to do with them.

          That’s why I bought the Penguinista DW80s with the little profiles of Linus Torvold burned into them. I use them to rectify the wavelengths from my compiz transparent consoles for more groovy blending and to help squash kernel bugs.

          1. Sansa Clip, FTW.  And less then 25 bucks.  Bonus: it has a FM radio built-in.

            Edited to add: and you can use it as a thumb drive.

            1. And a micro-SD slot! And it plays WMA, OGG, AAC and FLAC! And, unlike shuffles, it has a screen!

              (disclosure: my only relationship with Sansa is my ownership of a Clip+)

        2. Troll-lol-lol. Seriously, what’s with the Apple hate? 

          You want to build your own whatever? Great! Do it! Post a picture, I’ll clap. I won’t even point and laugh if you make a headphone amp out of an LM381 unless you ask.Apple makes top-quality stuff, and charges “not the lowest” prices. (But in some cases, competitors can’t go below Apple’s price point — at least, not until they have a “fire sale” to dump remaining inventory.)

          Can you get a heavy, fragile, plastic laptop for $250? Yes, of course. Someone’s always dumping inventory. Maybe the thing will last a year before it cracks and falls apart. But at that price, you can buy two and always have a spare, and you’re way ahead of the game.

          As it happens, Apple tends to use “audiophile-grade” components in their stuff. So much so that when Apple stopped having a certain fancy-brand DAC chip in the iPods, a few audiophiles screamed. (Turns out, Apple included a “just as good” DAC as part of a bigger multi-function chip. Or at least, that’s what they say. I’m not going there!)

          Lots of people don’t want to do deal with cheap. They want a thin, gorgeous, reliable, good-looking MacBook Air, and are willing to pay $1k for it. It looks better. Components inside are better. Maintenance is less onerous. Some people will pay extra for that stuff, even if you don’t think it’s important.

          So yeah, in this case, people might pay more, to get better stuff. Is the “better” stuff you care about? Maybe not, in which case, by all means, save the money for more important stuff. 

          1. I wish I could say Apple makes better stuff, but my MBP is just over two years old and looking like it will die any day — with a failed GPU, just like the MBP I had before this one. All my Apple gear becomes dysfunctional just after a year. My Apple power adapters blow up every 10 months or so, my Macs die by the end of the third year, my Airport Express (now on the second), Apple keyboard, Magic Mouse — all dead or dying.

      1. Another brilliantly funny re-de-re-constructionalization, Bob.

        I’m having a decidedly Proustian flood of Stereo Review (now Sound & Vision) and Stereophile from my pre-teen years right through yesterday’s read up on high end rare wood encased headphones.  Is this script built to channel Julian Hirsch?  Thanks for the great laughs and the elegant, perhaps too elegant js.

        Maybe because it was one of my very first real programming self assignments; maybe because I’m still that nerdy kid who still makes digital mix tapes and novel random behavior hardware hacks and gives them as tokens of affection and admiration and laughs at anything, everything, nothing; my neurons get almost endless, very nearly visceral pleasure from random substitution mashups and remixed parody projections.  Thank you yet again, sir!

        (I still have to visit this a few times per year:  http://snoot.org/factory/ and laugh myself breathless:  “Death by Sauerkraut”!  We (geek corps) put up a few of these in a hidden lair of our own intranet and randomly edit the lists and topic area to tickle our funny.  We can tell when someone has done a new edit because half the tech staff is quietly giggling and randomly shooting Bawls out their noses all day. This is sure to get them going.)

        You might also like this:
        …especially “THE (SECRET) RULES OF ‘AUDIO REVIEWING'”

    1. Why all the audiophile hate?  Different equipment does sound different, so some people are going to have preferences.  And, being human beings, they’ll also argue that their preferences are somehow objectively superior.  Some people will build businesses and some will build cults (and some will combine the two) around those perceptions and measurements.  Stuff like this happens all across the whole spectrum of human experience.  So why are audiophiles so enthusiastically singled out for ridicule?

        1. No, not hateful, just teasing.  But audiophile hate is a real thing that almost inevitably follows in the comments that get posted to even this sort of innocuousness.  (Is that a word?…)  Unless things go really atypical in the discussion over the next few hours, there will be folks blatantly testifying to the offensive level of stupidity displayed by audiophiles.  That’ll be hate.

          I remain hopeful that the topic will be ignored or that I’ll be proven wrong.  I’d love to be proven wrong.

          1. ‘Audiophilophobia’ from the DSM:

            Exposure therapy involves listening to a book-on-vinyl rendition of Ulysses played simultaneous with the latest Pitchfork moombahton review through circuit-bent Ultrasone headphones – as read by a post-coital Morrissey through a conch shell and a minor-headcold-stricken Morgan Freeman through the resonator of an acoustic/electric dobro, respectively – which are then fed into a Metasonix-amp-to-ribbon-mic-to-solid-state-compressor chain, EQ-ed to ‘mauve’, digitally treated with the sine-based (as opposed to starter pistol-based) impulse response of an asymmetrical, hexagonal, 6″-OC-703-buttressed live room in a crypt below the streets of Paris with a floor made of shaved and non-shaved tennis balls (as selected randomly by Rover Norquist, Chris Lord-Alge’s niece’s synesthetic, tone deaf dog) in a ‘mock-hobbyist’ imperfect quadratic diffusion pattern, and finally, mastered for cassette.  

            Traditionally, patients were blindfolded and submerged in a lukewarm (get it) Bacta tank. Although a tight seal generally prevented binaural complications within the headset, the speed of sound in Bacta was causing tactile phase problems. Accordingly, best practices now indicate a tank rolled in orange denim rockwool, velour-spin-cycled at 16.66 RPM six degrees off-axis and filled with a solution of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine. Likewise, the traditional christening of the tank with vacuum tubes has not been shown to appreciably expedite recovery, and it is passing uncommon for insurance plans to cover such ‘tubing’. 

            Caution: a non-insignificant number of patients have died from traumatic head-splosion during treatment. This is not believed to result from therapy directly. Instead, ‘the splojes’ – as the complication is known colloquially in medical circles – is most often associated with ‘forgetting to turn the volume down before switching to KISS FM’.  
            Lovers gonna hate.

            1. Personally, I find nothing captures the authenticity of perfomance, the essential “you are there” je ne sais quoi-ness of musical experience, quite as beautifully as the Edison Wax Cylinder.

          2. Because it’s your fault I can’t just go to radio shack and buy a $1 cable, but have to either order from Amazon or pay through the nose for Monster Cable nonsense.

            1. http://www.monoprice.com.

              Yes, I am endorsing a commercial business.

              Because they sell $5 HDMI cables, which are 99% as good as $100 HDMI cables. (Monoprice cables have large ferrite cores on them, which might make them inconvenient in cramped setups.)

              Their other cables (TOSLink optical digital, copper audio cables) are also “good stuff cheap.” $10 for a 30 foot “subwoofer cable.” It really did contain a proper shield and thick strands of pure, solderable copper inside.

              I got their MiniDisplayPort to HDMI adapter (ie MacBook Air video adapter). $6. Functionally identical to $30 adapters. So I bought extras, and have some spares taped to the back of the TV.

              I also got a monoprice.com 100BaseT ethernet hub. Works fine, cheap as dirt. (They don’t have a super-cheap price on 1000BaseT, yet.)

              They just started selling headphones. Head-Fi says they’re “not bad,” and definitely worth more than the asking price, but headphones are such a personal preference, maybe it’s not the best idea.

            2. Archimago, I said, “Monoprice cables have large ferrite cores on them, which might make them inconvenient in cramped setups.”

              That’s why I said they are 99% as good. Because they can be annoying to use because of the bulky ferrite cores making them hard to install.

            3. As a very old fan of RadioShack (back when they still had a space between the words), they weren’t selling cables for $1 even in the 1980s. They *were* selling cables for $3-5. You can still get cables for $5-8 pretty easily there, which I think would be, well, about what $3-5 cables cost after 25 years of inflation. Yes, you can get cheaper online, but it’s not as if it’s impossible to walk out of The Shack with anything cheaper than $79 silver-core oxygen-free sonically-transparent excessively-hyphenated AudioQuest Expensions.

              While I understand the hatred for “snake oil”, the anti-audiophile crowd can get a wee bit overheated at times, which I suspect is what benenglish was expressing wariness of. (For instance, holding up gold-plated contacts as a sign of rampant excess, which I’ve seen done — gold plating adds very little to the price of a cable, and the gold is actually there for corrosion resistance rather than some kind of mystical claim about improved sound quality.)

      1. Audiophiles aren’t singled out. It’s basically the same for any easily distinguishable niche group. See: people into steampunk, coffee fanatics, beer enthusiasts, bike commuters, early tech adopters, makers, urban farmers, etc. It’s just satire, and it’s kind of funny. 

        1. True of any group where you have obsessive people competing for bragging rights.  Audiophiles have the additional benefit of insane prices for their gear.  I used to see this with custom built PCs.

          1. 3DMark scores are at least an objective metric. Audiophiles are very prone to the placebo effect and what “their ears” say about a product versus any benefit.

            1. i’ve carried a crkt folding knife for 10 years now (lost 2, this one is ~5yrs old) .. good steel, and engineered well (you can actually take the knife down with screws into it’s 20 components or so, and then actually REPLACE them.. although i haven’t had to) .. so if you’re in the market for a tactical spork, crkt would be one of the first companies on my list. (might i suggest you just get them a knife, though? lol..)

      2. It’s not hate, it’s ridicule. And it’s because there are real audiophile products that resemble the items shown in these reviews.

        1. Exactly.  It’s too bad that there are snakeoil products in in Audiophiledom because it gives the niche a black eye.  Audiophile Hi-Fi gear has so many great products truly worthy of consideration of wider audiences.  Unfortunately these overpriced snakeoil products tend to cast all audiophile products in a bad light because the term Audiophile has nearly become a pejorative on mainstream-ish websites.  

          I’m an audiophile and I recognize the silliness some of the products in our niche market.  It’s just too bad because I’d love for everyone to own a really killer hi-fi setup to enjoy their music more.  Maybe a good set of headphones and DAC/AMP to bring out the best performance.  

          I love music so much and it’s great fun to listen to it on a high caliber playback system. 

          These posts are spot on hilarious because they sound very much like so many audiophile reviews. 

      3. Audiophiles are ridiculed because of all the forms of specialized subjective esthetics, even including oenology, audiophiles have the highest gullibility and the least scientific approach. You know, those ludicrous expenditures on cables and connectors, absurd superstitions and hoaxes like that old green-magic-marker-on-the-CD thing, devotion to a notion of “fidelity” that was mythical to begin with, and so on and so on. How can you even justify the existence of Monster Cable with a straight face?

        Of course, there’s plenty of legitimate audio and musical distinctions to be made amongst various kinds of equipment and media and recording types and so on, but it just happens that this area is more rife with illogical and spendthrift behavior than many others, and so it it is subject to more than the usual amount of mockery… and deservedly so.

        1. “devotion to a notion of “fidelity” that was mythical to begin with”


          If you’ve ever sat in the middle of an orchestra and played a real, analog instrument in a real, physical space then you know that “fidelity” is a real thing.  Some musical reproduction processes have it, some don’t, and most fall in between.  But denying the fact of its existence is absurd.

          Actually, the above is an overstatement; you don’t have to learn to play bassoon like I did.  Just go to the symphony a few times then listen to some good recordings of the same pieces on different sound systems.  Some reproductions are more true than others.  The notion that audiophiles are devoted to finding the technologies that are more true rather than less should be self-evident and that, Miramon, is a devotion to fidelity.  Nothing mythical about it.

          1. I think you’re misreading. Fidelity is a real thing. The audiophile version of it, which ignores physics, isn’t.

            Most people by the way, don’t really want fidelity. The “warm tube sound” and such things are most certainly not fidelity, but the very opposite of it: defects in reproduction which people happen to like.

            1. The assumption that Audiophiles ignore physics and are seeking another version of fidelity is a pretty broad and grand statement.  There are numerous engineers/physicists in the audiophile world dedicated to improving the reproduction of recorded sound.  Hell even a guy like Ray Kimber is working on making recordings better through improved microphone placement techniques. 

              If Audiophiles ignored physics there would be no market for Acoustic Room Treatments, Bass EQ management systems, seeking flat frequency response, good polar response and uniform power response etc etc.  

              It’s true that a good deal of folks like a warmer “tube sound” but that can be accomplished with transistors too.  

              Yes there are audiophile products that defy common sense and scientific support (those typically fall into the categories of cables and audiophile tweaks).  However the bulk of Audiophile products such as amplifiers, preamps, DAC’s, Speakers, Room EQ Response tools, etc all fall into a category where solid engineering, physics, science and even some creativity come into play a great deal. 

            2. One of the things that makes me happy about the state of musical reproduction these days is that certain proven technologies (room treatment being at the top of my list) have become available much more broadly and affordably.  Back when all audiophiles were commonly considered irrational nuts (say, 30 years ago) much of the engineering to which you refer didn’t exist.  It was often easy to hear that “This system sounds more real than that one” but the instrumentation didn’t exist to back up such claims and it was not unusual for circuit designers to have no clue why one amp sounded better than another. 

              We’ve learned a lot in the last few decades, thank goodness.  I maintain that we should cut audiophiles a break since so much of that learning was due to their irrational insistence that “There’s a difference.  I can hear it.  I don’t care if you can’t hear it or can’t measure it, it’s there.”  It’s surprising how often they turned out to be correct.

              And how sad it is to see some of them going over the edge and buying wooden volume control knobs…  :-(

          2. You miss the point entirely which is amusing I suppose. The post you replied to itself said that some equipment is better than others. However that is quantifiable and measurable, that is real. If you stick someone in a double blind experiment they will reliably say that one is better than the other.
            The mythical “fidelity” as strived for by audiophile is not. Your personal definition of fidelity is irrelevant since that is not the definition used by audiophiles.

            If I stick you next to an orchestra and some speakers and you cannot, in a double blind experiment, say which is playing at a given time then how do they differ? The mythical fidelity that the poster talks about is the belief that they do in fact differ when objectively they do not. Of course with an orchestra you could tell but replace the orchestra with a different set of speakers and you get the idea.

            1. What is the definition of Fidelity used by audiophiles?

              “If I stick you next to an orchestra and some speakers and you cannot, in a double blind experiment, say which is playing at a given time then how do they differ? The mythical fidelity that the poster talks about is the belief that they do in fact differ when objectively they do not.”Nice strawman.

            2. I think you’ve distilled the heart of the matter.  Specifically,

              “…some equipment is better than others. However that is quantifiable and measurable, that is real.”

              summarizes what makes an audiophile and also defines the biggest schism inside the audiophile community.  If one sound system is better than another at providing a truer reproduction of the source, is that superiority quantifiable and measurable?

              People who ridicule audiophiles would answer “Of course, by definition.”  Some audiophiles would say the same.  But there are those audiophiles who believe that our ability to hear exceeds our ability to measure and they prefer to use their ears to judge.  It’s those people who attract the derision because they can’t point to a readout on an instrument to back up their claims.

              The problem, though, is that they have often turned out to be correct.  Remember when CDs first came out?  “Perfect sound forever” was the slogan.  They measured perfectly by all the measurements of the day (e.g. THD) and it was time to close the book on audio reproduction research.  Perfection had been achieved.

              Of course, those of us who bought the first CD players and who also knew what real instruments sounded like were confused as all hell.  The first CD players sounded like shit.  Given a good enough reproduction chain after the CD player, they could actually be *painful* to listen to.

              Of course, we were ridiculed.  We were hearing things that no instruments had yet been invented to measure.

              Sure enough, 10 years later you started to hear about “jitter” and “brickwall filtering” and some very talented and open-minded engineers came up with ways to measure things that had not previously been acknowledged to exist.    Those “crazy subjectivist audiophiles” who claimed to hear “nonexistent” differences between the original Magnavox players and the original Meridian players (that were just modified Magnavoxes) actually turned out to be correct. 

              At that point, I think the subjective-style audiophiles kinda lost faith.  After being proved so right about CDs, the world didn’t acknowledge them for their foresight and faith in their own ears.  The world continued to ridicule them.  Pushed out of the mainstream, they now fall prey to hucksters selling overpriced (but usually pretty) gear and people ridicule them for it, often rightfully so.

              I still think even the wingnut audiophiles have the core of the matter right – Listen to equipment before you buy it and trust your ears.  All else is marketing.

            3. Your example of early CD players is an example of bad hype by the purveyors of those products. Early CD players were measurably bad; THD is by no means the only measurement of audio fidelity.

              There is also the tendency of the audiophile industry to promote the most expensive means of achieving a goal. There are separate CD transports and DACs. I remember reading in 1991 of a fellow who wanted to improve the timing jitter at the DAC by sending the playback clock over a very expensive fiber link from the transport to the DAC. The good, cheap and obvious (to me, at least) solution to this problem is to place the oscillator right next to the DAC chip; there is no need to have the oscillator at the transport, since the transport is phase locked to the DAC clock.

            4. I don’t know of a single musician, engineer, or serious audiophile that ever thought CD was”perfect”.  That may have been a marketing slogan, but the technology could never actually deliver that, and nobody serious ever had that illusion.  What it could, and did claim was that unlike magnetic tape and even vinyl, the quality did not degrade with hundreds or thousands of replays.  

              It is a lossy compressed format, and by definition, it is not a perfect reproduction.  Where did you ever find someone to tell you that “equipment didn’t exist to measure it?” That’s just absurd.  The choice of frequencies was a practical one, higher sampling rates and less lossy compression schemes were available, but they were much more expensive, and they knew that 95% of their audience would never be able to hear the difference.  

            5. In another post you wrote:

              “There’s a difference.  I can hear it.  I don’t care if you can’t hear it or can’t measure it, it’s there.”

              thus revealing a misunderstanding of the fundamental objection to audiophile woo.

              the problem with their specific kind of woo is not that anyone can sensibly claim to fully know and understand human sensory experience. its that double blind testing invariably demonstrates that they cannot hear it, but are in fact driven by expectation and belief.

              when someone claims “this sounds better than that” but is unable to distinguish this from that in a double blind test, the first and more or less only reaction needs to be “you cannot tell the difference”.

            6. eeyore:
              In what way is CD “lossy”? Sure, sampling could have been higher and bitdepth a bit more but I do not believe you can use the term “lossy” to describe the technology as we normally use it these days to describe MP3/AAC.

            7. Ah yes, the “THEY LAUGHED AT EINSTEIN” refuge of a pseudoscientist.

              The vindication of one technology doesn’t justify free energy cranks and it certainly doesn’t make the field of “audiophilia” entirely credible.

          3. People who had their own interests mocked in high school sometimes grow up to mock other people’s interests.

        2. I like the people who listen to CDs played through one-bit DACs who claim they can hear individual bits.  It’s funny on at least two levels.

        3. I worked in a hi fi shop from 1975 though 1979. We didn’t have magic blocks or pyramids. We did have quad systems though! Anyway, the quality of RCA cables were awful. The wire gauge was small and RCA plugs were cheap pot metal that quickly oxidized. They were very noisy. The standard maintenance procedure was to clean the corrosion with a pencil eraser.

          Along came Monster with a heavy cable with heavy rubber insulation and gold RCA plugs. Monster solved a big problem. Gold didn’t oxidize. Cable were no longer noisy. They solved a real problem then. My turntable is still connected with the Monster cable I bought in 1979 (to the same phono and preamp BTW.) I can’t speak to any nonsense from Monster in years since. It seems the reason for using gold has been lost and replaced with claims of unmeasurable sonic improvements.

          1.  The fact that you’re still using the same phono, preamp and cable that you bought over thirty years ago is a big clue as to the reason why phony “improvements” are constantly being promoted and sold.

          2. “Along came Monster with a heavy cable with heavy rubber insulation and gold RCA plugs. Monster solved a big problem”

            Do you seriously think that they were the first to offer this?

            1. In the hi fi shop I worked at? Yes. Do you have examples of your experience in a hi fi shop that you’d like to share?

      4. Because they prey on the stupidity and science-illiterateness of their readers to sell junk. Come on – platinum-plated cable connectors? Speaker stands made of plexiglass? They don’t apply any actual testing, they just shill for junk that’s advertised with them, and you know it.

      5. I have some $500 cables made out of 99.99% pure copper that was smelted by virgins.  I swear the music sounds richer with them.

      6. Audiophiles aren’t enthusiastically singled out for ridicule.  There’s plenty of ridicule left over for anti-vax and homeopathy.

      7. Different equipment certainly delivers different results, few would argue with that. The stereotypical audiophile ridicule is reserved for products that provide no perceivable benefit and generally involve a 1,000,000% markup for the manufacturer.

        1. A million percent markup *might* be a bit of an exaggeration but so are the alleged benefits of some of those tweaks.   ^_^

          However it’s not uncommon to see 500-1000% markups for some esoteric cable products (maybe even higher).  O_o

      8. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about Mackintosh tube amps, or ultra high quality DAC’s that process frequencies far above/below what even dogs and cetaceans  can hear.  We’re hating on $9000 speaker wires, and $600 birch volume knobs.
        It’s one thing to say “I love X, and mine is the best X there is.”  It is quite another to charge ( or pay ) thousands of dollars for a speaker cable and then to claim that you can hear the difference when the extra cable is coiled “backwards”.

        It’s also a completely different thing when a spectrum analyzer can’t find a difference in an audio signal, but some supposedly “golden eared” twit can. There is hate because this stuff is pure “woo”, “backed up” by junk science, and sold for ridiculous amounts of money.  

        In it’s own way, it’s even worse than homeopathy.  At least homeopathy has the fig leaf that real science can’t ever conclusively prove it DOESNT work in the same way that science can’t conclusively prove that god does not exist ( NO, I am NOT defending or advocating for homeopathy!! ). With the audiophile BS, we can prove – with a spectrum analyzer – that there is no meaningful change to the audio or electrical signals.  That means the people who sell it are either evil, or deluded and the people that but them dangerously stupid, heartbreakingly gullible, or pretentious jerks in search of a status symbol.

        1. I wish to endorse and celebrate your use of the word “woo”.  It looks especially good sans serif.  Woo.

      9. There is a difference. Audiophiles obsess over differences that many wise people would argue cannot be heard. No one disputes a big pair of speakers sounds different than a tiny pair. We do dispute that silver cables sound different than copper ones.

        Audiophile culture – which I know – deliberately blurs the difference between measurable difference and audible difference. Hence a huge emphasis on the appearance of products. As they don’t sound better they have to look awesome to justify the expense. 

        Audiophiles are not alone in their misguided beliefs. Wine people, coffee people and other all believe they can detect differences they couldn’t if tested properly.

        I’m not down on being into stuff. I’m just down on dishonest reasons for doing so. Buy that Krell amp because it looks cool, sounds great and plays loud. It’s a luxury. Don’t pretend it’s capable of magic, or that in a double blind level matched test you’d be able to reliably able pick it out of a lineup including vastly cheaper kit. You wouldn’t. 

      10.  They’re ridiculed because they behave ridiculously. Audiophilia is The Emperor’s New Sound System, coated with a shiny gloss of pseudoscience that bears no relation to real physics or electronics.

      11. “Why all the audiophile hate?”

        Because the industry and its fanbase are generally prone to pseudoscience and wankery.

    2. Also: the placebo effect in action, and every wine or scotch review, ever.

      Also also: This all made me LOL.

      1. I swear alcohol snobbery was invented by a huckster.  Yes, I’m aware that there’s a vast difference between cheap stuff and good stuff, but once you get to a certain level, it becomes snobbery.

        1. And I think a lot of it can become simple aesthetics masked as objective fact.  Is a Stout different than a Lager?  Unquestionably.  Is a Stout *better* than a Lager?  *Totally* subjective.  And like you said, I can make one Stout with cheaper ingredients than another and most people will like it less, but that difference can be accounted for pretty rapidly, and then it’s back to being totally subjective.  ‘Is this well-made beer better than that well-made beer?’

      2. My favourite vodka is $13.00 for a liter, and is distilled in Texas. My favourite scotch is $RIDICULOUS_PRICE for $TINY_VOLUME, is almost as old as I am, and is occasionally described as “cigarettes put out in stagnant seawater marinating bandages”. Almost all red and white wine taste the same to me. My significant other, though, can taste every little note in a glass of red, and thinks all vodkas are the same.
        Not everyone tastes things the same, or likes the same thing.

      3. Well placebo effect does produce real, measurable, quantifiable results… Just because something is placebo it does not mean it is fake, in fact, quite the opposite. So where does this leave us?

    3. Not hate, but pseudiophiles tend not to have a sense of humor. On an economics blog, the owner was talking about 20K audio systems, and mentioned hooking up his ipod to it. I remarked that hooking an ipod up to that thing was like buying a Lear jet, and then taxiing from town to town.

      I iz banned.

      1. I suppose an iPod does sound very good on a $20K system. But it would sound 99.9% as good even on a $1K system, which very few iPods have the chance to experience.

        1. There are a few large assumptions in your statement that might be a bit oversimplified but I understand where you are coming from. I just disagree with the percentage difference statement but without addressing the following questions – it’s just an internet discussion.  BTW – both systems would improve with some good beer to drink and delicious food to eat while listening to music. Maybe some special brownies would be in order too.

          But let’s look at some questions I might pose based on your overall statement of there being only a 0.1% difference between a $1k system and a $20k system. I’d say the difference in sound greatly depends on the composition of the $20k and $1k systems as we as the room they are in.  Are we talking about subjective and/or objective measurements between the two systems to determine 99.9% as good?
          Are we going to measure the difference in frequency response, decay times, distortion, distortion at difference playback levels, ringing speaker cabinets, polar response, power response, diffraction artifacts etc etc etc?What are the source files on the iPod?  Apple Lossless or compressed MP3’s?  Are we building a system based on MSRP or can we buy the components second hand? Do DIY components count and how do we accurately/fairly reflect/compare their costs to commercial products? Also how do we define “99.9% as good”? I think I referenced this above but it would be good to define the goals/assumptions/baseline rules for comparison. 

    4. The main reason for singling out audiophiles for mockery is that all of them have terrible taste in music. All of them. Talk about missing the point! I mean, the original audiophiles used to sit around and listen to recordings of trains. And I’m not talking Chris Watson here, I’m talking dry field recordings of trains. That’s scientifically quantifiable bad taste.

      People who really love music don’t give a crap about audio fidelity. It helps when it’s good and it’s interesting when it’s bad. People who like to listen to trains go hobo on the rails.

      1. Train recordings?  You’re absolutely right.  That was well before my time but the “Wow, listen to this!” demo record was a staple of the early (1950s) stereo scene.  I’ve got a bunch of them in my record collection.  I deny the assertion that they all had bad taste but they sure did buy a bunch of “trick” records, mostly designed to show off channel separation. 

        You should try some of the “set-up” instructional records produced back then.  They’d have a serious narrator telling you what you should hear, playing a sound sample, then telling you how to change your speaker placement for optimum results.  Much of it was voodoo and nearly all of it is hilarious, especially if you’ve ingested just the right amount of adult beverages before listening.

        1. I would love to hear those. Actually, a lot of those old “Directional Sound High Fidelity!” records are startlingly well recorded. Some of them even have good music on them. My personal favorite is “Polynesian Percussion” with a barely credited band (“Chango and the Polynesians” appears only on the LP label itself). It sounds like early Hawaiian pop music that hasn’t had all of its tribal roots scrubbed away. Plus! You can actually hear the percussion spread out across the STEREO SPECTRUM!

      2. “People who really love music don’t give a crap about audio fidelity.”
        I happen to REALLY LOVE music and I GIVE A CRAP about audio fidelity.  

      3. Ahh, nothing like a flamming ignoramus posting about something he knows nothing about. I love music and have a huge collection of LPs and CDs that sounds great on my “audiophile” system. And not one of them is a train, jet engine or whatever sound effect. I guess it’s better to issue general ignorant all encompasing swill statments than to actually learn about something.

        If you want to see a real fraud look at women’s fashions. Every year they manage to sell women entirely new wardrobes that will be forgotten in a closet after a few times being worn. I’ve had my speakers and record player since 1994.

        Yes, there are snake salesmen galore in audio. There’s also equipment that will enhance musical enjoyment like you wouldn’t believe.

        1. At first I felt like responding to heavystarch. But then I just felt bad for him and his inability to detect sarcasm in print.

          But then you went and posted those horrible remarks about women’s fashions! I’ll have you know that women’s fashions are designed by ARTISTS! Audiophile recordings are made by soul-less audio engineers. I should know!!  I am one!!  Here’s my proof: Snare drums are “flamming,” while women’s fashion designers are “flaming.”

          Good day, sir! Good day!!!

    5. Sadly this reflects reality quite well… the reality of audio reviews.

      I love good audio. Its totally worth it. Listen without regards to price, make your own decision. Don’t buy anything based on a review. 

    6. After being warmed to room temperature, the effects were astounding: sizzling, creamy lows and lactic centers rounded off with an expansive polish that unveils the MJ800’s supple, chewy definition. Layered undercurrents of eucalyptus end the tune.

      Like a cavernous, cheek-blubbering explosion pressed against both your ears. You’ll be shocked by the high-fidelity and warmed by the rich rip of the bass notes, tightening smoothly to a clean whine.

      1. It has an Intel processor lovingly handcrafted on the thighs of virgins, and purest copper cable going to the nVidia audio hardware.  The internal speakers float on a cloud of unicorn farts.  Completely different.

    7. I have a roughly $10.000 stereo which sounds very nice, after studying the physics of cables I replaced all the “audiohile” cables with 99 cents for 100 feet lamp cable. It sounds exactly the same to me.

      1. “Lossy” in relation to what? Newflash – any recording is by its definition “lossy” unless you can capture the original sound at quantum level. Digital adds another layer of “lossyness” to the inherently analogue phenomena of sound. And CDs are extra lossy on top of that cause they work at 44.1khz. Dig up the history of CDs (hint, wikipedia) and learn why today’s video and audio gear works at 48khz standard rather than 44.1 that cds have.
        As for what “compression” is… we could go into some methaphysics on that.

        1. But the terms lossy and compression usually refer to a specific way of discarding audio information, such as with mp3. I am not implying CD is a perfect format, I’ve listened a lot to higher bitrate recordings and they do sound better. But for most people I gather the distinction would be marginal.

    8. Audiophiles think that spending money to hear a sound that isn’t really there is a good use of a dollar.   I would too if I were made of money.  Much of the audiophile hate comes down to envy, wishing that I could afford to waste my resources on self deception.

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