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The Audiophile Consumer and Technical Union


The Audiophile Consumer and Technical Union  

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I sense a shift in Audiophiledom, a changing of the guard so to speak. MQA has revealed the ugly underbelly of this industry and hobby like perhaps nothing has before. Most importantly it has revealed that there is no ability or desire of the status quo institutions like the trade publications to understand and champion the Audiophile and his or her interests. Is it time for an organized Audiophile Consumer and Technical Union? In practice this blog and a handful of others serves this function right now, but is there room for more? If so, what would this look like, and how would it be funded, and what would it do?

Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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I voted for number 3.

 

I wish I could have voted for number 2 but there are some very large forums whose ethics are questionable in relation to sponsors and advertisers. Forums can easily go the same way as the legacy "mainstream" print magazines.

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I am thinking number three also. I belong to several audio forums and while they can be useful, so many members are focused on one or two particular aspects of that forum. Example is Audiokarma.org, which is the haven for vintage, vintage and only vintage. Trying to talk anything else will get you shouted down quickly.

Current:  JRiver 24 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an I5-2500K with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Rotel RC-1590

Amplification - Pioneer M-22 (winter) - Sony TA-N55ES (summer)

Speakers - Revel M126Be with 2 REL 7/ti subwoofers

Cables - Tara Labs RSC Reference and DiMarzio Interconnects

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13 minutes ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

I continue to find it odd that the audiophiles who spend the most money on this hobby are by and large utterly satisfied with not only the professional audiophile pundit establishment, but the current consumer protection (i.e., there is close to zero audiophile-specific consumer protection) framework as well.

 

The "shift" that you speak of is real, but I see it more as a shift away from "high end". Just look at the rise of companies like Schiit and iFI and how difficult it is for companies like Cambridge Audio (just one example) to keep up.  The "other shoe" of a diminishing interest in vinyl playback (after a brief renaissance) is in free fall now.  It will be interesting to see who's still standing in 2020.

 

I think the reason that MQA generates some resentment even among the most ardent supporters of old school audiophilia is that it's yet another proprietary format that no one asked for.  But there is a notion there that if JA (or ML, et al.) says MQA is awesome, it simply must be awesome.  I've never understood that level of devotion. It exists, and you can see it anytime in the comments sections of their blogs.  While some of those pundits may whistle past the graveyard of the dissenters numbers sometimes being greater than their congregates, they will inevitably dismiss the critics as angry, rude trolls who just want to create controversy as a way to provide meaning in their otherwise meaningless lives.

 

In the current political climate in the U.S. where "consumer protection" is viewed with deep suspicion or worse by the well heeled, I can't see anything getting better for consumers anytime soon.  I readily acknowledge the importance of this forum as a way to let the voice of the average consumer be equal to that of the professional audiophile pundit or even gear manufacturer.  But those that have been on the power end of the manufacturer <-> consumer relationship will never go quietly.  And I continue to reject the notion that the consumer has any real power to drive the behavior or business practices of either the professional pundits or the manufacturers.

 

 

 

 

Well, the pundits support the amount the Audiophile spent (the High Rollers). That is all it is. I mean it is nice to have a Ferrari but a Focus can get you there as well. This is where the Audiophile Press is getting into trouble. Instead of disseminating knowledge where people can decide how much they want to spend, most of the press focus on the 'OH WOW' factor (I call it the Top Gear syndrome). Rather than looking at equipment that people can afford, they focus on unobtanium (for most of us). It is nice to see, as some of it trickles down to the prices normal people can afford.

 

Consumer Protection is not viewed with suspicion but the idea that companies can police themselves is what is being put forth. I look at history and 'Greedy is as Greedy Does'. Not saying ALL companies but some. This is what is being done in the US because a certain party doesn't trust the Government, only Companies. The truth is both need to be watched.

 

I do not know why Audiophiles, get into this situation where they believe non-science over science. But I will relate it to one job interview I had. It was with a major wine maker in California. Coming out of my PhD and Post-doc I had a great background to help them understand how and why to improve the process of wine making. The problem is the wine makers, see it as art, not as science. I didn't get the job and most wine making is still treated like a 'black box' type of art. It is the same with Audiophilia. People don't want to know that the 10K USD cables they bought do not improve the sound as much as they think and maybe the 5-250 USD cables would give enough improvement. I don't really know how to deal with this type of situation.

Current:  JRiver 24 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an I5-2500K with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Rotel RC-1590

Amplification - Pioneer M-22 (winter) - Sony TA-N55ES (summer)

Speakers - Revel M126Be with 2 REL 7/ti subwoofers

Cables - Tara Labs RSC Reference and DiMarzio Interconnects

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3 minutes ago, botrytis said:

 

 

Well, the pundits support the amount the Audiophile spent (the High Rollers). That is all it is. I mean it is nice to have a Ferrari but a Focus can get you there as well. This is where the Audiophile Press is getting into trouble. Instead of disseminating knowledge where people can decide how much they want to spend, most of the press focus on the 'OH WOW' factor (I call it the Top Gear syndrome). Rather than looking at equipment that people can afford, they focus on unobtanium (for most of us). It is nice to see, as some of it trickles down to the prices normal people can afford.

 

Consumer Protection is not viewed with suspicion but the idea that companies can police themselves is what is being put forth. I look at history and 'Greedy is as Greedy Does'. Not saying ALL companies but some. This is what is being done in the US because a certain party doesn't trust the Government, only Companies. The truth is both need to be watched.

 

I do not know why Audiophiles, get into this situation where they believe non-science over science. But I will relate it to one job interview I had. It was with a major wine maker in California. Coming out of my PhD and Post-doc I had a great background to help them understand how and why to improve the process of wine making. The problem is the wine makers, see it as art, not as science. I didn't get the job and most wine making is still treated like a 'black box' type of art. It is the same with Audiophilia. People don't want to know that the 10K USD cables they bought do not improve the sound as much as they think and maybe the 5-250 USD cables would give enough improvement. I don't really know how to deal with this type of situation.

The issue is pretty obvious. Where we are talking about necessities, or about safety, consumer protection and science get on. But for a hobby, it can be galling to hear that you are largely wasting your time. Frankly people seem to want to be able to buy little extra doses of upgrade. Most of these little doses come with a large heap of horseshit. 

Buy any old computer, run the software of your choice, based on features and UI, plug it in using a modestly priced well engineered dac into the active speakers of your choice. Flavour with dsp if you like. You will get sound as good as anything. But you won't make a hobby out of it.

You are not a sound quality measurement device

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53 minutes ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

1.  I continue to find it odd that the audiophiles who spend the most money on this hobby are by and large utterly satisfied with not only the professional audiophile pundit establishment, but the current consumer protection (i.e., there is close to zero audiophile-specific consumer protection) framework as well.

 

 * * *

 

 2.  But there is a notion there that if JA (or ML, et al.) says MQA is awesome, it simply must be awesome.  I've never understood that level of devotion. It exists, and you can see it anytime in the comments sections of their blogs.  While some of those pundits may whistle past the graveyard of the dissenters numbers sometimes being greater than their congregates, they will inevitably dismiss the critics as angry, rude trolls who just want to create controversy as a way to provide meaning in their otherwise meaningless lives.

 

 

 

To explain #1 read Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class

 

#2 likely involves an evolved behavior to follow a perceived leader - we see this in baboon troops all the time

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11 minutes ago, House de Kris said:

It is not exactly clear to me what the function and roles of this Union would be. Are you asking for a trusted organization to be formed to tell us what claims are bogus, and what claims are real? Are they to be a resource to tell us how much something should cost? Should we expect this trusted board to tell us how big our room should be, where to place the furniture, how loud to listen to music, and what time of the day and day of the week we should listen to particular songs or amplifiers?

 

What if this trusted Union were to say something you know is right is actually wrong? What if they were to proclaim that something you know is wrong is the right way to do something? What if they were to state flat out that MQA is good for music, the industry, and world peace? Would that then result in a mass scuttling of The Brinkman Ship?

 

In other words, would we blindly take all pearls of wisdom from the Union and shape our lives to follow their leadership, or would we do as we do now, pick and choose tidbits that align with our beliefs and chastise/protest statements that are to the contrary? If so, how is that any different than what we've been doing for decades?

 

Right now it is open ended as to what exactly a Union would do, hence my questions.  Trust would be earned, and based on tests and on known principles that could be replicated/verified (at least that one thing I see the Union could do).  In this it would be something different from the current confidence game where trust is based on who you are, not what you say.  This is what would be different from "what we've been doing for decades"

Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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1 hour ago, crenca said:

 

Right now it is open ended as to what exactly a Union would do, hence my questions.  Trust would be earned, and based on tests and on known principles that could be replicated/verified (at least that one thing I see the Union could do).  In this it would be something different from the current confidence game where trust is based on who you are, not what you say.  This is what would be different from "what we've been doing for decades"

You have to build a Rebel alliance which is rebelling against the establishment subjective hords (whom were the original rebel alliance).  

 

May the Norse be with you.  

 

 

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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