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    Editorial: What's Wrong With You?

    I'm not a fan of writing editorials because this site isn't about me or any ministers of information. It's about the community and everyone who has helped, over the last 11 years, create what this site is today. Perhaps a couple forum posts have irked me enough to need this cathartic outlet. 

     

    Anyway, what's wrong with you? If you listen to people online or at audio shows you'll think you need medication quickly. Since I started this site I've often wondered what's up with all the audiophile hatred, judgement, and categorization. It usually takes this form:

     

     

    1. Audiophiles like gear more than music.
    2. Audiophiles don't listen to music, they listen to gear.
    3. Audiophiles are always looking for the next piece of gear.
    4. Audiophiles are foolish because ...
    5. There's music audiophiles and gear audiophiles.

     


    Wait what? Why do people care? I submit that if you're judging people by their motives for increasing their own enjoyment in life, if you're categorizing groups of people based on what they enjoy, or if you just dislike audiophiles, then you're the one with issues. There's nothing wrong with issues, I have plenty, but stop projecting yours on to audiophiles. 

     

    The ole gear loving audiophile "just doesn't like music" thing. Again, who cares? I don't care at all if someone is happy collecting HiFi gear. Jay Leno owns 150 cars including a 1994 McLaren F1 valued at $12,000,000. Oh the horror. What a loser, he must just love cars and not the experience of driving them like all the people with pure motives for purchasing cars. Only kidding. Who cares if he has 150 cars and some that are priced outrageously? I bet it isn't the same person who cares about audiophile motives because cars are cool man (said tongue in cheek).

     

    When I first started writing about HiFi I was told by a publisher that he knew a guy with six CDs and a million dollar system. This million-dollar-system-guy was the butt of many jokes and was even blamed for many problems in HiFi. Heck, this specific publisher had an infatuation about guys like this and always talked about himself as being "in it for the music man." As if there should be a podium for music loving audiophiles that anyone else who enjoys this hobby equally or more shouldn't even look at. 

     

    In fact, the snobbish level of people who view themselves as superior audiophiles because they like music more than gear is no different than the people who just rail against audiophiles for the heck of it. 

     

    Then there's the infamous Alan Parsons quote.

     

    "Audiophiles don't use their equipment to listen to your music. Audiophiles use your music to listen to their equipment."

     


    Talk about pompous. Sure, we can purchase his works of art, but god forbid if we listen to them in a way he doesn't approve or for reasons with which he doesn't agree. Who cares if what he says is true for some people? Who is anyone to judge how others have fun in life. I feel very excited for people who increase their enjoyment in life through HiFi. Whether that's because of a gear fascination or music fascination of a combination of the two. If you're happy, I'm happy for you. 

     

    This also brings up the black or white issue. As if audiophiles can only be gear enthusiasts or the so-called better audiophiles, the music enthusiasts. Like politics and the endless objective / subjective debates, there's a continuum on which audiophiles land. On one end is the gear junky and on the other end is the music junky. Based on no objective data, I'm willing to bet most audiophiles fall more toward the center than the extreme poles. I don't care where one is on this continuum, but let's not succumb to those who like to categorize us as music or gear or music first, gear second. The world is gray, many of us like both well designed audio components and well played music. 

     

    Speaking go well played music, do you only listen to Scottish nose whistle recorded at 32/384 or DSD1028? If you're happy doing that, I'm happy for you. Wasting precious brain cycles to think about or judge someone in the Scottish nose whistle camp is the epitome of foolishness. Life is too short. Crank some Rage Against the Machine and move on.

     

    Oh shoot, I forgot Rage isn't a certified group for the other end of this preposterous judgmental spectrum. Like the dealer who laughed at me because I purchased MartinLogan ReQuest speakers to play Pink Floyd when I was fresh out of college in 1999. That's a great way to win over new customers and encourage a younger audience to value and understand dealer markup. Yeah right. That's perhaps a story for another editorial that I'll never write. 

     

    OK, lastly before I get off my editorial soapbox, why do people also care about audiophiles who value fine craftsmanship, made in country ABC production, and limited editions of products? When it comes to cars, watches, houses, or even alcohol that goes down the hatch only to be pissed out an hour later, all the elements of craftsmanship are highly desirable. It's even OK to love the bottle in which one's Booz is transported. However, when it comes to audio, if you like the big McIntosh meters or the copper D'Agostino amplifiers or the bling of Mbl, you're somehow a lesser audiophile not worthy of those who value music first. 

     

    I say bring on the bling, bring on the breadboards, bring on the Patricia Barber, and bring on the Beatles. It doesn't matter to me what you like or why you like it. I don't believe it should matter to anyone else either. Gear collector? Fine with me. Music collector? Fine with me. Both? I hope you live in a big house. 

     

    I'll close with a quote from Sheryl Crow, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."


    P.S. Along similar lines is the judgement of those who spend "outrageous" amounts of money on HiFi components, by people in the same music first group (not all but some). Speakers that cost $250,000 or even $700,000. Amps that cost $100,000 or $250,000. I can hear it now, you can get better performance for a fraction of the price! Let me repeat, who cares? It's the buyer's money to spend however she wants. I certainly don't want someone going through all my receipts and telling me I could've purchased far better peanut butter for less money. I can't afford a million dollar system, but I don't care if you can. I enjoy finding bang for the buck products, but I don't care if you don't enjoy the same.

     

    P.P.S Where am I on this continuum? Smack in the middle. I love great gear designs, both inside and out, both cosmetic and electrically engineered, and I love music. I'll take Pearl Jam on an AM radio if that's all I can get, but on a beautiful HiFi system that sounds spectacular, all is right with the world. 

     

     

     

     

     



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    2 minutes ago, STC said:

    Meanwhile, he also said commented about analogue and miking techniques in other interview which may not go well with audiophiles.

     

    Well, he learned from George Martin, who felt that artists and producers should have the freedom to create a sonic environment in the recording rather than striving only to reflect accurately what would essentially be a live studio performance.  The latter is something I've read many audiophiles urging, and Martin really had no time for that.  (Heck, a quick listen to Beatles recordings and Dark Side of the Moon, which Parsons worked on, will make it more than obvious the goal was never a straight reflection of a few guys playing in a studio.)

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    Perhaps, if we should call them audio hobbyists because audiophile refers to a specific purpose in the sound reproduction.

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    2 minutes ago, Jud said:

    Well, he learned from George Martin, who felt that artists and producers should have the freedom to create a sonic environment in the recording

     

    Sir Martin?  I still remember the quote " why would they want to do that?" when stereo was introduced during the Beatles recording session the very first time.

     

    Both the tracks you were referring to involved some audio processing. They all were different from the purist approach of typical recording which made the big difference in the sound. 

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    5 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    ... All of this through a terrible A to D converter on the video camera and lossy YouTube compression and you’ve nailed it. Some golden ears 😁

     

    We had this argument a while ago, sparked by a reviewer for an audiophile publication doing equipment reviews using a dummy head to record peoples' systems in their room.

    https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/54420-earspace/

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    "And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence"

     

    With Thanks to Paul Simon.

     

    And finally, what I think is a very interesting version for these times:

     

     

     

     

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    1 hour ago, Don Hills said:

     

    We had this argument a while ago, sparked by a reviewer for an audiophile publication doing equipment reviews using a dummy head to record peoples' systems in their room.

    https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/54420-earspace/

     

    As an example of how that "terrible A to D converter on the video camera and lossy YouTube compression" can actually demonstrate that a rig is doing the job of delivering the music, with no excuses - in the same series of "World's Greatest Audio Systems",

     

     

     

     

     

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    1 hour ago, firedog said:

     I'm willing to bet that's another not accurate quote. The Beatles first album was done in both stereo and mono (excluding the previously released material  that wasn't  recorded in stereo). 
     

    At their very first recording sessions for Love Me Do, etc. Martin was just fulfilling a contractual obligation to record 4 songs. There was an assumption in house that once the songs had been recorded (not even released), that would be the  end of it. Martin signed the Beatles to the contract mostly because the music publishing arm of EMI liked a couple of their songs and wanted the rights. He may very well not have signed them at all if it wasn't for that. Of course things changed once the songs were recorded and actually released. 

    Sir George certainly didn't believe in the "absolute sound"; he saw the studio and technology as another "instrument" which he could use to get the result he wanted. This predates his time with the Beatles and can be seen in the various music and comedy recordings he did with Parlaphone before the Beatles ever arrived at Abbey Road. 

     

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Please_Please_Me:

     

     

     

    As far as know Beatles preferred Mono and made their recordings in mono. It was the under the US agents pressure Martin released his mixed mono as stereo. OTOH, they probably sounded different with big soundstage because they were mixed for speaker that were separated by 2 or 3 feet. In order to have a big soundstage the mono tracks were hard panned to the extreme so that you get a typical 60 degrees speakers.

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    6 minutes ago, fas42 said:

     

    As an example of how that "terrible A to D converter on the video camera and lossy YouTube compression" can actually demonstrate that a rig is doing the job of delivering the music, with no excuses - in the same series of "World's Greatest Audio Systems",

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Oh please. How can you even be sure there wasn't any correction done in the recording?  I did post in their forum my videos and their multi million system compared side by side.  My posts will be moderated by removing their videos which I attached for side by side comparisons.

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    47 minutes ago, firedog said:

    Not accurate. They preferred mono, yes, because it was the dominant format for their fans equipment in the UK till about 67-68 or so. Doesn't mean they didn't mix for stereo or only record in mono. As noted above, their first album was also mixed to stereo at the time it was recorded and it was intended only for the UK market at that time.  Their other albums were also all mixed to stereo. 

    Basically, with a few songs as exceptions, their entire catalog was done in both mono and stereo, except for Let it

    Be and Abbey Road, which were done only in stereo, as by 1969 it was clear that the market had changed so that mono wasn't really necessary. 

     

    I can't recall everything about Beatles now as I was gathering information on stereo development at the time. Anyway, here is something which may help to throw some light on this discussion which has now gone out of topic.

     

    "

    Martin: Four-track was the earliest thing we had and that wasn’t until 1965. From ’62 to ’65 we didn’t have four-track. We had mono--mono was the thing. Mono was all that pop records were. Stereo was reserved for classical. Stereo wasn’t considered to be in any way useful to pop record because it dissipated the sound...

    MF: ...on the radio...

    Martin: ...and pop had to hit you square on the nose. And so it was considered irrelevant. Very few people had stereo machines anyway. And if they did, they generally had them in cabinets where the speakers were about a foot apart, so you couldn’t really tell.

    So mono was the thing. But I took a stereo machine and separated the tracks and made it into a twin-track machine. So when we recorded the Beatles live as we did, we didn’t overdub. I would keep the voices on one track and put the backing on another, so when they went home I could then mix it down and keep the voice forward--but at the same time get plenty of impact. I wouldn’t have to do it on the spot. So that gave me time.

    MF: And there was some leakage between the two tracks because they were playing live...?

    Martin: Of course.

    MF: But it was amazing separation!

    Martin: Yes, but then, in the instrumental where the voices stop, all the shit comes out on that track from elsewhere. When I first heard what they’d been doing, I was horrified. But they just did. And I didn’t find out 'till afterwards, and it was too late.

    But the worst thing is: The people got used to this and loved it! They liked to be able to turn up the voices in songs. So I was hoisted with my own petard here. I couldn’t protest anymore. I was saying, “Why do you do this? It’s a travesty!” But then they’d say, “The people like it!”

    MF: But that came out in England also—the stereo With the Beatles.

    Martin: It did. By this time I’d left EMI, and I had no power there at all. I left EMI in 1965 to start my own company. Up to ’65 I was the head of Parlophone Records, so what I said went--as far as Parlophone was concerned. But once I left, I had no authority...apart from complaining.

    MF: Back to those Capitol tracks: They were in mono, I assume.

    Martin: Yes, "Baby, You’re a Rich Man," "Penny Lane," and "All You Need is Love" should have been mono.


    Read more at https://www.analogplanet.com/content/sir-george-martin-interview-part-two-0#ZEV6pzrSh7tOpvJG.99 "

     

     

    And 

     

    Beyond this, working in true stereo the way the Beatles wanted to simply wasn’t possible through most of the 1960s. By the time of A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, for example, EMI had taken delivery of several new four-track machines, but that remained the state of the art for the next several years. And four tracks is far short of the number necessary to create what we might think of as a “modern” recording - with stereo drums, stereo instruments and stereo voices. Since early stereo attempts tended to sound clumsy and primitive, the Beatles gave up on the format until better times arrived. It wasn’t until 1968, when they began using eight-track machines, that they began giving real attention to stereo.

    In the Beatles’ minds, we should remember, it was always more important for a record to be musically good than for it to be compatible with some new, gimmicky format. The Beatles had been raised on mono. All their early records were mono. The radio they listened to was mono. And so it’s natural that, as they began recording, mono remained their chief form of public expression. From 1962 until 1968 the Beatles would record their songs, create mono masters with George Martin plus either Norman Smith (1962-65) or Geoff Emerick (1966-67), and then go off on tour or holiday, leaving the stereo mixes to be done solely under Martin’s supervision. Stereo tapes were often couriered to Capitol in New York without the Beatles ever hearing them at all.

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    1 hour ago, fas42 said:

     

    As an example of how that "terrible A to D converter on the video camera and lossy YouTube compression" can actually demonstrate that a rig is doing the job of delivering the music, with no excuses - in the same series of "World's Greatest Audio Systems",

     

     

     

     

    Just an example of how different we all are - that is horribly ugly to me. 

    No room for people!

     

    To me the very best audiophile systems manage to disappear into the room, and all that is left is the music. Dang bling is just - bling. I have friends that would probably try to choke me for saying that though. They have absolutely gorgeous equipment, and enjoy showing off a bit. The most I really wanna see is my iPad, with Roon up on it. :)

     

     

     

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    1 hour ago, Paul R said:

    To me the very best audiophile systems manage to disappear into the room, and all that is left is the music

     

    Another phrase that never made any sense to me. Can we also say in live performance when the sound is so good the performers disappear from the stage? :) 

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    1 hour ago, Paul R said:

    To me the very best audiophile systems manage to disappear into the room, and all that is left is the music. Dang bling is just - bling. I have friends that would probably try to choke me for saying that though. They have absolutely gorgeous equipment, and enjoy showing off a bit. The most I really wanna see is my iPad, with Roon up on it. :)

     

     

    I agree ... there are myriads of ways for setting up a competent system - but the core, for me, is getting the sound to work. The equipment as visual adornment for the room is an afterthought - shine moving spotlights on each piece in turn if you like; or, hide it all behind a drab curtain - whatever turns you on, ^_^.

     

    I'm a fan of the sleeper idea - in cars, a boring, anonymous vehicle explodes from the pack, and outruns all the fancy fellas ...

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    3 minutes ago, STC said:

     

    Another phrase that never made any sense to me. Can we also say in live performance when the sound is so good the performers disappear from the stage? :) 

     

    Makes full sense to me. An expression I came across was that the sound "loads the room" - I recall a largish auditorium where a female opera singer let rip, and her voice completely took over the auditory world of that room; it was, "everywhere" - an amazing sensation.

     

    This is what convincing stereo playback does - it completely dominates the space you're in, in an acoustic sense.

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    3 hours ago, STC said:

     

     

    Oh please. How can you even be sure there wasn't any correction done in the recording?  I did post in their forum my videos and their multi million system compared side by side.  My posts will be moderated by removing their videos which I attached for side by side comparisons.

     

    So, we're in the world where everything that contradicts our viewpoint must have been fiddled with, eh ...

     

    I've heard enough rigs, rare that this be, that get the sound right to know that there a few out there that are firing on all cylinders - trouble is, this is still regarded as some strange anomaly.

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    2 hours ago, STC said:

     

    I can't recall everything about Beatles now as I was gathering information on stereo development at the time. Anyway, here is something which may help to throw some light on this discussion which has now gone out of topic.

     

    "

    Martin: Four-track was the earliest thing we had and that wasn’t until 1965. From ’62 to ’65 we didn’t have four-track. We had mono--mono was the thing. Mono was all that pop records were. Stereo was reserved for classical. Stereo wasn’t considered to be in any way useful to pop record because it dissipated the sound...

    MF: ...on the radio...

    Martin: ...and pop had to hit you square on the nose. And so it was considered irrelevant. Very few people had stereo machines anyway. And if they did, they generally had them in cabinets where the speakers were about a foot apart, so you couldn’t really tell.

    So mono was the thing. But I took a stereo machine and separated the tracks and made it into a twin-track machine. So when we recorded the Beatles live as we did, we didn’t overdub. I would keep the voices on one track and put the backing on another, so when they went home I could then mix it down and keep the voice forward--but at the same time get plenty of impact. I wouldn’t have to do it on the spot. So that gave me time.

    MF: And there was some leakage between the two tracks because they were playing live...?

    Martin: Of course.

    MF: But it was amazing separation!

    Martin: Yes, but then, in the instrumental where the voices stop, all the shit comes out on that track from elsewhere. When I first heard what they’d been doing, I was horrified. But they just did. And I didn’t find out 'till afterwards, and it was too late.

    But the worst thing is: The people got used to this and loved it! They liked to be able to turn up the voices in songs. So I was hoisted with my own petard here. I couldn’t protest anymore. I was saying, “Why do you do this? It’s a travesty!” But then they’d say, “The people like it!”

    MF: But that came out in England also—the stereo With the Beatles.

    Martin: It did. By this time I’d left EMI, and I had no power there at all. I left EMI in 1965 to start my own company. Up to ’65 I was the head of Parlophone Records, so what I said went--as far as Parlophone was concerned. But once I left, I had no authority...apart from complaining.

    MF: Back to those Capitol tracks: They were in mono, I assume.

    Martin: Yes, "Baby, You’re a Rich Man," "Penny Lane," and "All You Need is Love" should have been mono.


    Read more at https://www.analogplanet.com/content/sir-george-martin-interview-part-two-0#ZEV6pzrSh7tOpvJG.99 "

     

     

    And 

     

    Beyond this, working in true stereo the way the Beatles wanted to simply wasn’t possible through most of the 1960s. By the time of A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, for example, EMI had taken delivery of several new four-track machines, but that remained the state of the art for the next several years. And four tracks is far short of the number necessary to create what we might think of as a “modern” recording - with stereo drums, stereo instruments and stereo voices. Since early stereo attempts tended to sound clumsy and primitive, the Beatles gave up on the format until better times arrived. It wasn’t until 1968, when they began using eight-track machines, that they began giving real attention to stereo.

    In the Beatles’ minds, we should remember, it was always more important for a record to be musically good than for it to be compatible with some new, gimmicky format. The Beatles had been raised on mono. All their early records were mono. The radio they listened to was mono. And so it’s natural that, as they began recording, mono remained their chief form of public expression. From 1962 until 1968 the Beatles would record their songs, create mono masters with George Martin plus either Norman Smith (1962-65) or Geoff Emerick (1966-67), and then go off on tour or holiday, leaving the stereo mixes to be done solely under Martin’s supervision. Stereo tapes were often couriered to Capitol in New York without the Beatles ever hearing them at all.

     

    George is talking about Capitol in the US releasing "hard panned" stereo versions, which were not under his or the band's control. Not even the lineup of songs was under their control - those were different in the US and UK, as we know.

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    15 minutes ago, Jud said:

     

    George is talking about Capitol in the US releasing "hard panned" stereo versions, which were not under his or the band's control. Not even the lineup of songs was under their control - those were different in the US and UK, as we know.

     

    It was in the interview. He made them for US Capitol. 

     

     

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