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  • joelha
    joelha

    Guest Editorial: Why did audio stop being about audio?

    How many forum threads on this site (and others) devolve into heated exchanges about whether people actually hear what they say they hear? Without “proof”, listeners are often mocked, insulted and their experiences discredited.


    Challenges range from assuming the listener has been influenced by expectation bias (I believe it will sound good, so it does sound good) to faulting his unwillingness to rely on measurements or blind testing.


    What bothers me most is reputations are attacked so casually. Everyone from Chris Connaker (one of the most decent people I’ve known in the industry) to reviewers and manufacturers are accused of lying, cheating and taking bribes. People, whom I suspect in most cases haven’t even heard the product they’re attacking, will smear the reputations of others they probably don’t know. Those who are attacked rely on their reputations to earn a living. That’s to say nothing of the personal attacks on the listeners themselves. And the attackers attack anonymously. Unless the case is black and white i.e. I sent you money and you never shipped my product or there are repeated, unresolved product defects, trying to ruin a person’s name is evil. Nothing will undo a person’s life faster and more effectively than giving him a bad reputation. And doing it anonymously and without hard evidence is cowardly and arrogant. In such cases, it’s highly likely the charge is far more unethical than the action being charged.


    Some will say measurements make their case open and shut. But there are too many examples of how measurements fall well short of telling the whole story. There are tube amps with 3% - 5% distortion that sound better to many than amps with far better measurements. Are those products a scam? Vinyl doesn’t measure nearly as well as digital and yet many strongly prefer its sound. Should fans of vinyl be told that turntable, tonearm and cartridge makers are scamming them as well?


    For some of my audio choices, some would say I’m deluding myself. Let’s say I am. If I’m happy with my delusion, why should the nay-sayers care? It’s an audio hobby. Why can’t I enjoy my system and post about my experiences, allowing others to judge? The nay-sayers might say “That’s fine, we’re just posting to protect others from being taken in.”


    Fair enough. But these are not always cases of “I have one opinion and you have another”. Many of the arguments are too heated, personal and frequently repeated to only be about audio.


    I believe these debates are about religion and before you conclude that I’ve lost my mind, consider the following:


    Many claim they have experienced God or have witnessed miracles with little or no evidence. The debates concerning those claims are often very intense and personal. Challenges commonly include: Where’s your evidence? Where’s your data? Only because you want to believe do you believe.

     

    Sound familiar?


    This is why I believe the challengers care so much. Allowing audiophiles to post their subjective conclusions without proof brings them one step closer to accepting those who relate their religious experiences without proof. For them, science is god and a subjective conclusion upends their god and belief system. They fight hard so that doesn’t happen.


    This is audio folks. Whether I think I hear something or not isn’t that important. If my audio assessment matters that much to you, I’m guessing you’re anti-religion and/or anti-God. That’s fine. But that explains why something as innocuous as describing the sound of someone’s ethernet cable could elicit such strong and often highly inappropriate comments.


    I’m old enough to remember this hobby when people would meet at audio stores to just listen and schmooze. We’ve lost too much of that sense of camaraderie. We may differ on what we like, but we all care about how we experience music.


    Whether I’m right or wrong about any of the above, would it hurt to return to the times when people’s disagreements about audio were friendly? Can we stop assailing the reputations of the people who rely on this industry to care for their families and employees? Can we respect the opinions of those who differ with us by not trying to shut them down with ridicule?


    It’s not about “religion”. It’s just about audio.

     

    - Joel Alperson



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    2 hours ago, emcdade said:

    That’s an ad hominem.  The most frustrating of the replies.

     

    There isn’t a measurement I know of that gets to the mechanics of speaker design and whether you prefer the box less (and balls-less imo) sound of an ESL vs. a sometimes boxy but more dynamic sound of drivers moving air.  I’m not talking spinorama stuff or the poor off axis response ESL’s are known for.

    I wasn't considering preference at all.  Just that ESL panels and box/cone designs measure differently and measurements can show that.  And yes why ignore off axis response, that is part and parcel of why an ESL sounds different among other reasons?  

     

    As already pointed out it wasn't an ad hominem or a red herring.  It wasn't about you at all only the statement you made. 

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    9 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    The world isn’t black & white. Your use of the term, and accusations of, lying is serious. 

     

    Your vitriol toward audio companies must be caused by something larger than audio. Nobody in their right mind would care this much if there wasn’t a fear of something, jealousy, or something else at play. 
     

    I purchased an album that said it was the best remaster of an album ever made. Turns out it wasn’t. Do you want the name and address of the record label? Of course not. It doesn’t touch on your fear, jealousy, or something else at play. 

     

    These are all straw man arguments. You asked for an honest answer and I gave you an honest answer. I'm incredulous, not jealous. 

     

    For the same reason I took time to shoot a 3 part video series is the same reason I push back on this segment of the hobby. It's simply in my wheel house. 

     

    I use the term lying with full understanding of what I'm saying. If you are a company producing an audiophile Ethernet cable or audiophile Ethernet switch that meets compliance you are indeed scamming people. 

     

    I'll be at Axpona, not hiding behind a keyboard, if any company is interested in truly evaluating their own product in this specific category. 

     

    Also it's not vitriol. Vitriol means caustic in nature. My posts don't reflect that definition. 

     

    There is one way to shut me up and I can't even pay a manufacturer to shut me up.  But we all know why that is. 

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    22 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    I purchased an album that said it was the best remaster of an album ever made. Turns out it wasn’t. Do you want the name and address of the record label? Of course not. 

     

    Well I would like to know if I was going to purchase the same. I belong to a couple of Classical Music forums for just this reason. When I was looking for recordings of 'The Planets' I received the very sound advice (pun intended) of getting Elgars Enigma Variations. 

     

    I appreciated the advice as it was the 8th CD I purchased of The Planets. From a personal preference perspective it's the best interpretation I've heard. That's subjective. From a DR standpoint it's the best that I know of. That part is objective. One's opinion, and one is simply a fact.  No fear, jealousy or anything like that.

     

     

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    5 minutes ago, Jud said:

     

    This seems to me presumptuous. I'm not a mind reader and neither are you, but you know for a certainty the people you criticize are lying.

     

    Sure do and I can prove it. Even in your own setup Jud. I'll sit down with any takers. 

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    Just now, Jud said:

     

    Having been a lawyer for 40 years, your notion of what constitutes proof of a deceitful mental state is mystifying, and not familiar to me from any case or law.

     

    They have a saying in your field: You bring your liars and We'll bring ours. So I'm certain their is some notion of what constitutes a deceitful mental state. 

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    5 minutes ago, Superdad said:

     

    Good grief Mark.  You are like a broken record. 

    Why is it that for the past 5 years—since we introduced our original USB REGEN (into which category a whole bunch of other firms followed), that UpTone gets dragged into every objectivist/subjectivist debate? 

    We sell our products with a 30-day money-back guarantee, are about to cross the 10,000 order mark and have a less than 1% return rate. We don’t even advertise—it’s all word of keyboard and people demonstrating to each other.

    Where did I mention you in this thread. I mentioned AQ, WW, Nordost. 

    Quote

    I am sorry that you choose not to understand the working principles of our products. And I am sorry that we have not yet produced graphs to prove their efficacy to your satisfaction. But I assure you we don’t just throw random parts on a circuit board. Look closely and you will see a lot of care and expense in what we produce.

     

    You say this but your High and Low impedance leakage current on Ethernet is merely a hypothesis with no data correct? Not sure you even understand the working principals. By miracle you designed a product to solve an unproven hypothesis. 

    Quote

    I have already told you several times that I don’t want your money. And why would I want to shut you up? You are driving interest the EtherREGEN (admittedly from the other end of the spectrum) and resulting in even more sales. So please, keep going! x-D

     

    Trust me it's coming....

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    1 minute ago, Jud said:

     

    There's much more than a notion. There are well defined methods and criteria. I haven't seen any of them in what you've said.

     

    Well if I ever have to hire a lawyer we'll figure that out. I'm pretty sure cross examination goes both ways. Maybe they'll plead the 5th or say they don't recall. Juries love that stuff. 

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    The world isn’t black & white. Your use of the term, and accusations of, lying is serious. 

     

    Your vitriol toward audio companies must be caused by something larger than audio. Nobody in their right mind would care this much if there wasn’t a fear of something, jealousy, or something else at play. 
     

     

     

    That's clear-eyed, honest, and a breath of fresh air, Chris. Change the word "companies" to "writers" or "magazines" and direct the observation toward a half-dozen or so participants on a very few Audiophile Style forums and you'll be taking an even more principled stand. Manufacturers help keep AS afloat; TAS and Stereophile and Michael Lavorgna and Lee Scoggins and John Darko are merely competitors. Unfounded claims of dishonesty and unethical behavior should be no more acceptable with these targets, even if you disagree vociferously with what they have to say. "…a fear of something, jealousy, or something else at play" ?  I'd say so.

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    9 minutes ago, Jud said:

     

    See that's the thing. You say things of value about topics you know about, and that's good. But then you talk about areas where your lack of knowledge is evident to someone familiar with the area, which in this case I am. So when you talk about an area I don't know about, I can't be sure whether you really know anything or not.

     

    Jud, your acting like this is going to end up somewhere in courthouse. So based on your conjecture I can't be sure you really know anything or not. 

     

    One justice is expensive. Two it's not worth going to court over. Three what the heck is a manufacturer going to provide as proof of the efficacy of their products in this niche? And if they have it, it would already be incorporated into their marketing and spec pages.  

     

    Where's my downside? If answering this question constitutes free legal advice I understand you not wanting to give the $$ away 🙂

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    12 minutes ago, ARQuint said:

     

    That's clear-eyed, honest, and a breath of fresh air, Chris. Change the word "companies" to "writers" or "magazines" and direct the observation toward a half-dozen or so participants on a very few Audiophile Style forums and you'll be taking an even more principled stand. Manufacturers help keep AS afloat; TAS and Stereophile and Michael Lavorgna and Lee Scoggins and John Darko are merely competitors. Unfounded claims of dishonesty and unethical behavior should be no more acceptable with these targets, even if you disagree vociferously with what they have to say. "…a fear of something, jealousy, or something else at play" ?  I'd say so.

    A couple things come to mind here. 
     

    0. Is this the backhanded compliment I think it is?
     

    1. I like to let people speak for themselves, for the main reason that I don’t like people to speak for me. I believe my response above was related to a general series of comments not mentioning any entity specifically. Alex thought it was him and stepped in to speak for himself. 
     

    2. Some behavior is indefensible. 
     

    3. It’s much easier to talk about specifics than generalities, so I’d hate to guess what you’re specifically addressing. 
     

    4. A couple people You mentioned lost privileges to use AS due to egregious rule violations. I suppose I could speak for them but then why have rules in the first place and I don’t have enough time to speak for myself. 

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    Just now, The Computer Audiophile said:

    A couple things come to mind here. 
     

    0. Is this the backhanded compliment I think it is?don’t have enough time to speak for myself. 

     

    Sorry, can't help myself. If it is I'll upvote the post. 

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