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ARQuint

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  1. Archimago - That's a challenging and potentially illuminating proposal. I will take some time to read those two articles carefully and to reflect on my own experiences as both a "private" and "public" audiophile. I'll be stepping away from the fray for a few weeks. One very concrete reason for that is to wait for that editorial in the March issue of TAS to appear, which is in about three weeks. Not because it offers epochal new insights or comes close to addressing all the areas you've referenced above but because, obviously, that's where it should first see the light of day. But it might be a useful starting point for a discussion between the two of us, with input—not invective—from the larger community. If/when we proceed, the discourse should definitely be moved away from the "Vaporware" thread, to an environment where the goal is enlightenment and not the determination of who is virtuous and who is evil, of winners and losers. For those few weeks, I'll be considering seriously this elemental question you've raised: "Can we build an internal understanding of audio that provides clarity for ourselves and when others come asking?" I've never seen the central concern regarding this hobby's philosophical direction put more concisely and compellingly. So long for now, then. AQ
  2. Probably, though Julian Hirsch was close to 80 when the TAS article cited above was written. Hirsch's contemporary Hans Fantel, who wrote about consumer electronics for the NY Times, also got a lot of flak from nascent subjectivist audio circles in those days.
  3. With all due respect, I think you're quite wrong about that. I knew Harry very well—I consider him my mentor—and listened to music with him at Sea Cliff on dozens of occasions. He was open-minded and his acceptance of different technologies (e.g. digital) evolved over time but his belief in the primacy of listening, when it came to the evaluation of audio equipment, never wavered. When the magazine was new, Harry wrote an article entitled "How To Read The Absolute Sound" and an update was published in Issue 129. Unfortunately, there's no link to that piece but if you save old issues (Ha!) you should take a look. Harry's lasting contribution to this hobby was that he understood that the sound of music provided an "absolute" and that "descriptions of variations from that absolute are not based in subjectivity, but rather upon observation. That is to say, the basic description of any component's 'sound', if scrupulously attended, will be objective, based on perceivable data, rather than that originating from 'taste' or 'subjectivity'." More than anyone else, Harry developed the language with which an experienced observer could communicate what he or she was hearing in a review. Five years after Harry passed, eight years since he last appeared in these pages, that approach to reporting on gear remains central at TAS—most of the equipment reviewers currently on the masthead knew and admired the man. To be sure, there are other ways of assessing audio components and consumers are welcome to utilize reviews with different emphases. But ours continues to be very useful to many audiophiles. In that article, Harry wrote this, as well: "The editor knew, when this magazine began, that a set of measurements had not been devised to correlate with everything people were hearing in audio gear. And even today, with a vastly improved measuring technology, there remains an all-too-wide gulf between what is measured and what is perceived - it is a 'gulf' because of a lack of communication between those we call measurers and those we call listeners. [my emphasis]. Those who are measurement-oriented tend toward certain dogmatic subjective assumptions about the listening process (e.g. components that measure the same - using the numeric assumptions - sound the same) without being the least skeptical about their own assumptions." Over decades, Harry brought in people with a wide variety of backgrounds to write for the magazine. There were recording professionals but also doctors, lawyers, a mystery writer, a military expert, psychologists, a math professor, film and political journalists, and quite a few other "day jobs" have been represented over the years. He felt he could tell easily who'd be "qualified" to review audio gear for TAS—an engineering background wasn't devalued but it didn't obviate the need for the listening and writing skills he prized. I guess it's out of admiration for Harry's singular devotion to searching out ways to describe the ineffable that I keep returning here for more punishment. I'd like for the "gulf" he described to be bridged as much as possible. Andy Quint
  4. Oh, I meant such mundane parameters as an amplifier's power rating or a loudspeaker's input impedance. Those sorts of specifications can, of course, help a potential buyer decide if a product is worth investigating further for use in an existing system. I think that what some subjectively oriented audiophiles have trouble with is the idea that there's a "scientific" litmus test that a product (or technology) must pass before subjective listening tests should be undertaken. That if a product's posited mechanism of action is "questionable," listening is quite beside to point. I do feel this dynamic was in play during the earlier stages of the MQA discussion: those who objected most strenuously to the technology weren't even willing to listen. Yes, I know how the Canadian comparative listening tests came out, and I respect those results. But if those results had come out the other way, I wonder if skeptics would have accepted them. BTW, I have an editorial on this subject in the March issue of TAS, which mails to subscribers in about a month. I'm sure the "Vaporware" fraternity will be hanging on my every word…😉
  5. Archimago, I feel that your representation of TAS would be unrecognizable to most of our subscribers. We go months at a time without mentioning MQA and, while we cover the occasional tweakier accessory, at least 90% of our reviews concern bread-and-butter audio components—loudspeakers, amplifiers and other electronics, turntables, DACs, headphones, etc. We write those reviews with the complementary goals of laying out for the reader the basics of a product's design and the experience of living with it. Complemented by a substantial music section, interviews, show reports, and other long-form articles, TAS tries to entertain, inform, and provide both subjective and objective information to assist in making purchasing decisions. Audiophile Style, which has provided you with a significant platform to expound at length on your signature issue, produces the same kind of content, albeit on a smaller scale. The readers of TAS and that of AS own the same brands of audio gear and listen to the same range of music.The two publications get advertising dollars from many of the same manufacturers. It seems senseless to perpetuate conflict when we share so many of the same kind of peak experiences that make this a great hobby. All publications—all intellectual enterprises—can improve and evolve, and I've been around TAS long enough to know that's our culture at the most basic level. Likewise, AS seems to be moving towards a more civil and inclusive sort of virtual community. We can bury the hatchet. Andy Quint
  6. No better, no worse. Personally, SR products don't do anything for me, but I have three good audiophile friends—a reviewer, a manufacturer, and a musician who works for a major American orchestra—who feel otherwise. I don't maintain that their opinions about more traditional classes of audio gear can't be trusted because of their enthusiasm for what plenty of people characterize as "snake oil." Do you disagree with that stance?
  7. Can we bury the hatchet and move on? I'd like nothing better, and I'm certain there are many AS participants who feel the same. Can it happen? Or is MQA just the big, fat target of the moment? If its relevance fades, will it be replaced as an object of derision by expensive USB switches, bricks & discs, or pretty much everything that Ted Denney sells? Will the same sort of contempt emerge every time TAS or some other publication (or individual) has something positive to say about a product that doesn't pass the "smell test" for a certain kind of audiophile, the sort that views himself as a final arbiter of that product's validity because of an engineering background? Chris has recommended for some time that people should enjoy whatever floats their boat, even if the purported theoretical basis doesn't satisfy the strictest objectivists. Even if you believe that MQA is a sham from a scientific standpoint and/or a cynical moneymaking ploy, I really think that the claims that it will ruin the consumer experience for the foreseeable future is a big overreach. 35 years ago, in some quarters, it was maintained that digital encoding was a catastrophe for sound-conscious music lovers, that there would be thousands of important performances that would be irretrievable because they were recorded digitally. It really didn't work out that way. When it comes to MQA, the marketplace will settle the issue, one way or another. So, yes, let's bury the hatchet.
  8. Even at this late date, I'm not certain what to make of Rt66indierock—he is such a puzzling mash-up of contradictory impulses. His style of expressing himself is elliptical and sometimes demonstrates less than a complete mastery of the English language. As Chris has pointed out, he can be awfully grandiose and, even though he's hanging with a crowd that angrily calls for deep-sixing the Old Guard, he never misses a chance to name an "industry insider" he's chatted up for ten minutes at an audio show. I was this close to posting an earnest defense of my qualifications as an audio writer—or defending others he named a couple of days ago—before reflecting on how ridiculous this would have looked. At least as ridiculous as implying that John Atkinson's credentials are suspect because he doesn't get his hair cut often enough (very few of us in this line of work are what you'd call fashion forward) or that Robert Harley's status is diminished because Rt66indierock can't identify his undergraduate alma mater (shades of birtherism) or that Steven Stone can't possibly be a serious audio writer because he's also a professional photographer (Archimago is certainly held in high regard here, even if it's not exactly clear what he does for a living.) Slyly, Rt66ndierock tells us that his comment about JA was "humorous" and his calling my own abilities into question was "rhetorical." I've concluded that RT66indierock says some of the things he says to fulfill his intended role as a "disruptor." He actually reads my reviews and raises valid points about them and I never feel disrespected, even by the bovine references. We may or may not be "friends" but I've interacted enough with Rt66indierock in person and by private electronic means to know that he doesn't take a reductionist view as to who I am as an audiophile, that there's plenty more in audio than just MQA that we see differently and yet we're still on the same team—a characterization that a few other posters on this thread would hostilely dismiss. I view this sort of connection with someone I don't really know that well, yet shares a passion for something that's so important to me, as the most meaningful sort of civility. I'll gladly buy Stephen a beer—I don't actually call him "Rt66indierock" when we're in the same room—the next time we cross paths. Some of you other guys….I'll just wait for the next elevator to come.
  9. Would you please look at the two sentences you wrote reacting to the pair of quotations you extracted from Bob Stuart's post? They are not a reasoned response. A reasoned response would be countering his "facts" and conclusions with yours. That's what Archimago would do, that's what Chris would do. [Sigh] Happy New Year to all, friend and foe. AQ
  10. Steven Stone's post includes a 1200 word response from Bob Stuart. Instead of just spewing for five sentences, why don't you critique Stuart's points in a reasoned fashion? Could you? That's what civility looks like.
  11. I think that progress is being made on the civility front, a reflection of how Chris wants this community to function. For me, that's substantive.
  12. I do understand where Bob and Paul are coming from, the two of them having paid the price of previously venturing into this thread without the single point of view acceptable to it's most partisan activists. But I hope they will note that something important has happened over the last few weeks. Joel Alperson's editorial and CC's now-shuttered request for commentary on "Forum Decorum" resulted in an outpouring of support for a more interventionalist response to bad behavior. There are now noticeably fewer gratuitous, sniping, two-sentence posts from members who have otherwise contributed nothing of substance to the discussion. Offensive posts are being deleted; threads that will inevitably lead to contempt-filled us-vs-them battles are being shut down. And I prefer to think that there's some self-moderation going on: people are waiting at least a few milliseconds longer before pressing "send." I think Bob is right when he implies "Vaporware" is a vastly and unnecessarily bloated thread. It was bloated by angry, crude, and largely unsubstantiated attacks on people rather than ideas. I think this is what Chris meant when he said, regarding a growing skepticism among audiophiles about MQA: "I believe we would’ve got here way quicker without the incivility." So, I hope the thread will continue, accruing mass when there's something new and significant to talk about. Andy
  13. Don't the objectivists have a problem with the whole virgin birth thing? Seriously, best for the season to all. Andy
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