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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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    13 hours ago, Tin said:

    My room, which is quite large, makes it very easy to accomodate long wavelengths, helping my setup in delivering very deep bass. At the same time, the dimensions make it difficult to pressurize the room enough to deliver punchy bass. I would need speakers with arrays of woofers to achieve that. Obviously those speakers would be much larger to accomodate those arrays, and that wouldn't work for me.

     

    Room modes can make speakers that work great in one room, make them sound overpowered and soggy in another. My room has a very strong mode (over 20dB!) at around 50Hz, and it made some songs absolutely unlistenable. Another room mode gently lifts the lower end of my setup, which is very helpful for some specific recordings, like the organ in symphony no.3 by St Saens.

    Luckily my setup has some nice DSP algorithms, so the 50Hz mode can be surpressed.

     

     

    I often talk about something I call competent playback, And one of the many virtues of that goal is that bass issues just go away - I can put on any recording, in any room, and I don't have any sense that there is "something wrong" with the bass.

     

    How can this "magic" happen? Because, everything is compensated for inside my skull - as it always is, in real life. Just go back to having a real musician playing an instrument in that room which keeps exciting those room nodes; a note is played throughout a piece which is bang on a "problem frequency". Do you cringe every time he comes to that note - or does your hearing gracefully compensate for the 'irregularity'? Personally, I just hear the music being made by that live person, not a constant series of irky resonances.

     

    And that's what occurs when a rig is in good tune - all those technical, acoustic issues just fade from one's consciousness.

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    42 minutes ago, Brian A said:

    I think the answer to the question as to why there is so much turmoil on this forum is also the answer to the question why audiophiles even need an online forum.

     

    It strikes me that all forums have a big social aspect to them.  In addition to the stated practical purpose for any forum – be it living with stage 4 cancer or rebuilding carburetors – people come to a forum because of the community.  If that community has a common purpose, people need each other, support each other and help each other; dealing with their cancer or rebuilding their dang carburetors.

     

    I struggle to be able to clearly state the purpose of a general forum for audiophiles.  The solution to the “equipment problem” is very subjective; lots of obvious options all of which are personal value judgements.  There is no right answer.  As for music, musical taste is a very personal and private thing that absolutely should not need to be justified to others.

     

    I was an intensive poster on this site a few years ago.  Now I just visit intermittently.  The reason for my change in behavior was that I did have a “problem” that the audiophile community could help me solve.  My problem was that I wanted to migrate my large music collection from CDs to digital files.  This site was a tremendous help in teaching me how to rip CDs and guiding me toward the extra equipment I needed to optimize playback. 

     

    I am very grateful for the help you all provided.

     

    Socially, I found the forum more challenged.  While I recognized that I needed to participate intensively at the social level to gain credibility with the community, I didn’t enjoy the banter very much.  I cannot deny that it was a one-way street in that I didn’t have much technical information to contribute, but is was surprised at the number of acidic responses I received to my questions.  I interpreted the behavior as posters seeking validation, some desperately, of their subjectivity.  Perhaps it is because music is an emotional thing; not so much about thinking.

     

    I knew F1 would draw you out. :)

     

    Actually, I think it is a lot simpler - some people want to take a shortcut to excellence, and when their native brilliance is not recognized they tend to turn into jerks. At least for a little while. Happens to all of us I suppose, but it is part of being human.  Not specific to audiophiles.  

     

    I know one guy on the Jeep forums who absolutely hated Texans, and was a total jerk when I asked about a windshield or something. I mean, far more of a jerk than you see much of anywhere on here except possibly the MQA is Vaporware thread.  

     

    -Paul 

     

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    4 hours ago, firedog said:


    The simple truth is that for $1 - $2k these days you can buy a few inexpensive components and get very close to state of the art sound - you mainly miss out on bass below about 40hz  and the ability to sound good at high volume and to fill a mid to large room with  "impact". If you aren't particularly looking for those two features, the diminishing returns curve is VERY steep above that price level. 
     

     

    Yes. The hardest thing to do is to produce undistorted bass below about 40hz, and I have not yet heard any system that says to me, that this is an important requirement.

     

    The ability to sound good at high volume and to fill a mid to large room with  "impact" is the tricky one - this is where all the weaknesses that afflict normal systems climb on board, and make the job so hard. But this all can be resolved by careful problem, issue addressing - "shockingly cheap" gear can deliver  impact that will take your breath away ... if one knows how to go about it ...

     

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    20 hours ago, Axial said:

     

    Bob, I didn't forget you ... wanted to find something like this,

     

     

    The key options are using -F, after the video's link is pasted in, to list all the varieties of format available; the key ones are the audio only, to save download time, etc. Then I use the option, -f 251, to access the best Opus webm version - to turn that into WAV I open in Audacity, and export to whatever format I want; there would be other ways of doing this.

     

     

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    Frank, thank you.

     ___

     

    * May I ask your assessment on this YouTube home made music video?

     

     

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    And because music matters (and audio setup plus room's acoustics), can you also give us your brief evaluation, Frank? ...On those two homemade music videos.

     

     

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    39 minutes ago, Axial said:

     ___

     

    * May I ask your assessment on this YouTube home made music video?

     

     

     

    Very nice! It's getting so many things right - and I especially like the fleeting phantom of the owner in the reflection on the speaker, :).

     

    My main quibble would be the piano; the transient hit of the right hand in the solo section is not quite there - but otherwise ...

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    14 minutes ago, fas42 said:

     

    Very nice! It's getting so many things right - and I especially like the fleeting phantom of the owner in the reflection on the speaker, :).

     

    My main quibble would be the piano; the transient hit of the right hand in the solo section is not quite there - but otherwise ...

     

    Hey thanks Frank. And sure enough, a piano is a very tough musical instrument (my favorite by the way, after the human voice) to reproduce accurately from a hi-fi stereo sound system. It is in fact . . . impossible. 

     

    Sure, you can do the "spooky test" of walking around to adjacent rooms with French doors open, and listen from there...the library/study room or the master bedroom or the solarium. 

     ___

     

    * Take all the time needed for the four others; the musical pieces are worthy all by themselves...the performances from the quality vinyl recordings. 

     

    ** I prefer the new website's name: Audiophile Style.

    It is more universally expanded that just Computer Audiophile.

    IMHO

     

     

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    12 minutes ago, Axial said:

    And sure enough, a piano is a very tough musical instrument (my favorite by the way, after the human voice) to reproduce accurately from a hi-fi stereo sound system. It is in fact . . . impossible.

     

    Read this many times. Harbeth espoused vocal accuracy to sell their speakers. Until now, I am unable to find scientific papers to support this. 

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    5 minutes ago, STC said:

     

    Read this many times. Harbeth espoused vocal accuracy to sell their speakers. Until now, I am unable to find scientific papers to support this. 

     

    Some of the best speaker designers use the human voice to tune, fine-tune, voice their masterpieces. I would have love to grow up in my home with Opera singers. 

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    2 minutes ago, Axial said:

     

    Some of the best speaker designers use the human voice to tune, fine-tune, voice their masterpieces. I would have love to grow up in my home with Opera singers. 

     

    But that doesn’t mean vocal is too complex to be reproduced accurately. This, IMO, is a myth. 

     

    Alan Shaw of Harbeth  uses his daughter’s voice as a reference but not for the reasons you stated. 

     

    I usually don’t comment on this except that I have seen some with good system ruining their enjoyment just because they could never get the vocal correct. 

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    1 hour ago, STC said:

    I usually don’t comment on this except that I have seen some with good system ruining their enjoyment just because they could never get the vocal correct. 

     

    Two questions if I may ...

     

    1. Why don't you usually comment on this?

     

    2. And what would be the main reason(s) some audiophiles could not get the vocals correct? 

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    5 minutes ago, Axial said:

    Frank, one more (the very last one):

     

     

     

    Is this your system? Nicely setup. 

     

    7 minutes ago, Axial said:

     

    Two questions if I may ...

     

    1. Why don't you usually comment on this?

     

    Because my opinion is not in sync with most audiophiles' belief. I have read many times that vocal is so complex that it is hard to reproduce accurately but where is the evidence for that? This is the same like another myth that only the LS3/5A could produce the most natural vocal.

     

     

     

    7 minutes ago, Axial said:

     

    2. And what would be the main reason(s) some audiophiles could not get the vocals correct? 

     

    Because vocal is the only sound in the music that you have a good reference. You audio memory bank contains thousands or millions of vocal memory that were produced naturally without any amplification. We are familiar with that more than the sound of musical instruments. We always hear music through sound reproduction machine and our reference is somewhat tied to the reproduced sound rather than the real instruments. However, when it comes to vocal we know instinctively that's not natural when reproduced by the stereo set. 

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    No it's not my system; it's from a very nice young fellow named Tango living in Bangkok. 

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    2 hours ago, Axial said:

    And the last two, of course ...

     

     

     

    Not quite there, Bob. The first video refused to pay at the optimum rate, and the massed sound is fairly choked; the second, violin is better but again massed strings show problems - there is a sheen to this area of the orchestra that's magnificent when a rig gets it right.

     

    Nice sense of 'bigness' to to what's going on - but then the tonality has to be there for it work well.

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    On 4/10/2019 at 2:07 AM, 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",

     

     

     

     

     

    Can someone identify this artist for me please.  I would like to purchase.  

     

    Thank you

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    2 hours ago, Axial said:

     

    Hey thanks Frank. And sure enough, a piano is a very tough musical instrument (my favorite by the way, after the human voice) to reproduce accurately from a hi-fi stereo sound system. It is in fact . . . impossible. 

     

    Ummm, wrong, Bob. Done this oodles of time - sense of the instrument completely hits the mark, even standing only inches from an individual speaker ... it's nailing the transient hit of the key; and the sound, yes, "floats" out into the room - would have no trouble fooling someone on the other side of a curtain.

     

    2 hours ago, Axial said:

     

    Sure, you can do the "spooky test" of walking around to adjacent rooms with French doors open, and listen from there...the library/study room or the master bedroom or the solarium. 

     ___

     

     

     

     

    The piano sound works everywhere ... a nice reference point: a young chap next door lets rip on a  Yamaha Grand; on the tricky sonatas, etc - just pop my head outside to soak it up a bit, ^_^ ...

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    43 minutes ago, Axial said:

    Frank, one more (the very last one):

     

     

     

    In the same area as the earlier Tchaikovsky clip - plenty going right, but the edginess is far too intrusive, there is a "cutting" quality to the SQ ... a good round of solid tweaking is needed, to eliminate that quality from the playback.

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    11 minutes ago, HIFI said:

    Can someone identify this artist for me please.  I would like to purchase.  

     

    Thank you

     

    If you pause the video at precisely the 4:00 minute mark, you will see the album cover overlaid - people should be able to recognise that, or blow it up enough to read the details - my setup is not quite up to that, :).

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    Sing in your room in front of a quality microphone recording your voice on an open-reel-tape machine, and carefully calibrate and adjust (meters levels) by a professional sound mixing/recordinb engineer (a friend or hire one). Use that tape recording to fine-tune your sound reproduction system in that same room. Listen to the speakers that best closely match the tape recording. 

     

    Then start expanding...Chorals, Operas, Chamber quartets, Synthesizers, Electronics, Jazz, Big Bands, Orchestral, Symphonies, ...

    Experiment with subwoofer's matching, or full range loudspeakers.

    Each room has the ideal volume level for each music genre recording. 

    And each room sounds best with some genres than others...small, medium or large. 

     

    The physics guide us on the style of music. 

     

    That is my opinion and is highly subject to abstract and object and further classification...clarification...discussion...analysis...all that jazz.

     

    Who am I? A people from Earth.

    What's wrong with me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. 

     

    Science is the theorizing of further advancements. We know what relativity and singularity and synchronicity mean. We even now have a picture of a black hole. 

     

    The what is wrong with you much more applied to people who want to dictate and control the power based on non-scientific facts, like climate change and 5G for example. Listening to music while intoxicated by carbonic vapors and radioactive waves is not healthy for the brain and heart of a man, woman and child. 

    That's what's wrong with us; cardiovascular hyper depression. 

     

    Finland, we should take example from them...5.5 million people, happiest of the planet. 

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    46 minutes ago, fas42 said:

     

    Ummm, wrong, Bob. Done this oodles of time - sense of the instrument completely hits the mark, even standing only inches from an individual speaker ... it's nailing the transient hit of the key; and the sound, yes, "floats" out into the room - would have no trouble fooling someone on the other side of a curtain.

     

     

    The piano sound works everywhere ... a nice reference point: a young chap next door lets rip on a  Yamaha Grand; on the tricky sonatas, etc - just pop my head outside to soak it up a bit, ^_^ ...

     

    I want them speakers, that system setup, that matching synergy, that magik musik trick.

    Can I? 🤹‍♂️

     

    Is it available from a music server, a CD player, a turntable, a tape machine deck, a computer? 

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