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Article: Why We Need Audiophiles, The subjective perspective
rpp3po
post Jul 17 2009, 14:55
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krabapple
post Jul 17 2009, 15:06
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QUOTE (smok3 @ Jul 17 2009, 05:12) *
taking the liberty to post when i find some time (and no, i'am way to busy for drug experiments...)



OK, but I'm still wondering how the whales fit in to all of this.
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MichaelW
post Jul 17 2009, 23:18
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QUOTE (instaud @ Jul 18 2009, 00:26) *
Audiophiles have the same motivation like wine "connoisseurs" who pay 300$ for a bottle of wine


Actually, no. Blind tasting is an integral part of wine connoisseurship, and there is something you might call wine-sport, in which people attempt to identify unlabelled wines. Of course, there is wine snobbery, but there's also genuine interest carried well into what most people would find to be the land of diminishing returns. Also, some wine connoisseurs will happily recommend value-for-money wines.

If audiophiles were to start having fun events in which they tried to identify which brand of interconnects were being used, or even if the top-end magazines were to regularly run articles on, say, the best speakers under $500 (maybe only as something to buy for your tween kid), they would have a lot more cred.
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tfarney
post Jul 23 2009, 20:51
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So right. I recently got into an exchange on an audiophile forum in which wild claims were being made and and no data was being offered to support them. They had, of course, all kinds of reasons why blind testing was problematic, all based on personal speculation all including conditions of the testing that need not exist...strawman arguments. But when I asked, simply, all other things being equal what is the advantage of SEEING during listening? How coud NOT SEEING diminish an otherwise identical listening session; how, in fact could it not be more objective, there was no answer. It got very quiet.

The answer, of course, is they don't want their fantasies to be disproven.

Tim

This post has been edited by greynol: Jul 23 2009, 22:56
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smok3
post Jul 24 2009, 00:59
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Jul 17 2009, 15:06) *
OK, but I'm still wondering how the whales fit in to all of this.

how about lions? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJwgP44Ap9E...feature=related


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tiptoe
post Aug 7 2009, 15:31
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QUOTE (tfarney @ Jul 23 2009, 15:51) *
So right. I recently got into an exchange on an audiophile forum in which wild claims were being made and and no data was being offered to support them. They had, of course, all kinds of reasons why blind testing was problematic, all based on personal speculation all including conditions of the testing that need not exist...strawman arguments. But when I asked, simply, all other things being equal what is the advantage of SEEING during listening? How coud NOT SEEING diminish an otherwise identical listening session; how, in fact could it not be more objective, there was no answer. It got very quiet.

The answer, of course, is they don't want their fantasies to be disproven.

Tim


Ultimately, it is an argument that is not winnable. The audiophile will simply start repeating "What matters is personal preference." They have too much invested in their worldview, and too many people telling them they're right and the scientists are wrong.

There is an entire ecosystem of false information, over-priced products, magazines that pontificate on said information and products, and then tons of forums where the audiophiles all sit around and agree with each other. Once you buy into it, you get constant reinforcement. The more strongly you believe, the more of it you will take in and believe.

You wind up with people that will start shrieking at you the moment you mention that you require proof. This happens if you question someone's religion too. They start piling the tinder around the stakes and patting their pockets to see who has matches.




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Axon
post Aug 7 2009, 15:56
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A note on science. Very few people actually believe "science is wrong". (No, that's not what you said, but it deserves clarification). Most righteous people (and I'm not limiting this statement to audiophiles here) believe that science, like reality, is on their side. When a discrepancy occurs, of course, it's about all those people who claim to be scientists but actually don't know what they are talking about. Hence, the belief that the AES has done nothing productive for the advancement of audio quality since the 1960s, that it is populated by shills and corporate interests, etc.

Given such an observation, I tend to agree that it's more or less unproductive to start flaming audiophiles on the basis of pseudoscience. Like I've said before, I think there's a paradigmatic component to all of this and so you've got to think outside the box to communicate meaningfully. tfarney actually does a really good job of this here. The question he asked can be explained away in the audiophile worldview, but doing so may introduce a lot of cognitive dissonance. ("If blind testing introduces so much stress, how come I'm not stressed when I'm not exactly aware of somebody else's rig?" "Am I really that agitated of a person to be stressed in such an environment?" "Shouldn't a professional listener be able to calmly perform such tests without stress?") People instinctively tend to resolve such dissonances by refusing to think about them, which may not do much to convince them, but to an outsider, it's tremendously persuasive.

The reliance on personal preference is more of an apology for audiophilia than a front-line argument, and I don't think it's that common. I'm not even sure people actually believe that when they say it. That is, the righteousness to which audiophiles ascribe their beliefs reflects their belief that what they are experiencing stems from an objective reality. Thus, you have people like Robert Harley dismissing Meyer/Moran out of hand (or even engineers like Massenberg) simply because it contradicts personal, subjective, sighted experience. If it really boiled down to personal preference, audio would be a 100% relativist and they likely wouldn't be engaging in such arguments in the first place.
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tiptoe
post Aug 7 2009, 16:57
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QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 7 2009, 10:56) *
The reliance on personal preference is more of an apology for audiophilia than a front-line argument, and I don't think it's that common. I'm not even sure people actually believe that when they say it.


I agree with you that it's more of an apology than an argument. However, I've run across it quite a bit. If you question it, you get something like, "Who are you to tell me what I should like?," or "What's it to you that I like _____?" I normally take it as meaning that the person can't answer my questions, but they want to "win" the argument. It's the equivalent of people who dismiss you with "Whatever."

They very likely do not really believe it, but it gives them an "out."


QUOTE
That is, the righteousness to which audiophiles ascribe their beliefs reflects their belief that what they are experiencing stems from an objective reality. Thus, you have people like Robert Harley dismissing Meyer/Moran out of hand (or even engineers like Massenberg) simply because it contradicts personal, subjective, sighted experience. If it really boiled down to personal preference, audio would be a 100% relativist and they likely wouldn't be engaging in such arguments in the first place.


That makes sense.


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honestguv
post Aug 7 2009, 18:34
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QUOTE (tiptoe @ Aug 7 2009, 16:31) *
You wind up with people that will start shrieking at you the moment you mention that you require proof. This happens if you question someone's religion too. They start piling the tinder around the stakes and patting their pockets to see who has matches.

Although I broadly agree with you I am going to take issue on this point. Audiophiles believe things about the physical world that are both measurable and contradict established scientific knowledge. Traditional religions generally ask for belief in matters that are not measurable and have no conflict with established scientific knowledge. I have had several stimulating conversation with holders of traditional religous beliefs with easy agreement on where we disagree broadly based on probabilities versus faith. Of course this does not hold for many wacky modern religions but even when they involve alien beings I am not sure they are quite as nonsensical as audiophile beliefs.
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Woodinville
post Aug 7 2009, 19:10
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There's nothing wrong with "personal preference" until somebody tries to generalize it.

Then we have a problem, Houston.

If you're going to generalize it, now you need to analyze it, test it, and verify it.

Which isn't necessarily impossible, I've done it, and do have others. What's MUSHRA all about, anyhow?

But the real problem is deeper, I think, there's a whole industry that does nothing but either placebo or nocebo, and they, themselves, for the most part, do not believe that.


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krabapple
post Aug 7 2009, 19:21
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QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 7 2009, 10:56) *
A note on science. Very few people actually believe "science is wrong". (No, that's not what you said, but it deserves clarification). Most righteous people (and I'm not limiting this statement to audiophiles here) believe that science, like reality, is on their side. When a discrepancy occurs, of course, it's about all those people who claim to be scientists but actually don't know what they are talking about. Hence, the belief that the AES has done nothing productive for the advancement of audio quality since the 1960s, that it is populated by shills and corporate interests, etc.


Your point is of course general but the example given applies to the Stereophile forum particularly -- and that is a *moderated* audio forum, like this one. Such wild claims by 'all those people' typically go unchallenged by *the moderators, writers and editors who either should or do know better*. That appears deeply cynical to me.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Aug 7 2009, 19:22
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andy o
post Aug 8 2009, 00:24
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QUOTE (honestguv @ Aug 7 2009, 10:34) *
QUOTE (tiptoe @ Aug 7 2009, 16:31) *
You wind up with people that will start shrieking at you the moment you mention that you require proof. This happens if you question someone's religion too. They start piling the tinder around the stakes and patting their pockets to see who has matches.

Although I broadly agree with you I am going to take issue on this point. Audiophiles believe things about the physical world that are both measurable and contradict established scientific knowledge. Traditional religions generally ask for belief in matters that are not measurable and have no conflict with established scientific knowledge.

I can agree with that for fuzzy, New Agey religions, but I don't see how resurrection and male human parthenogenesis don't contradict fully science. Then you have something really out of left field like transubstantiation... shall I go on?
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MichaelW
post Aug 8 2009, 06:41
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QUOTE (andy o @ Aug 8 2009, 11:24) *
I can agree with that for fuzzy, New Agey religions, but I don't see how resurrection and male human parthenogenesis don't contradict fully science. Then you have something really out of left field like transubstantiation... shall I go on?

As this seems to be my day for being Mr Grumpy, those Christians who do believe in resurrection, virgin birth and transubstantiation don't necessarily question science, since all these events are classed as miracles, that is, events outside the natural order which is described by science. That, of course, is a position that can be questioned, too: and I think it possible that half the bishops in the Church of England don't believe in the Virgin Birth, Protestants in general don't believe in transubstantiation, and the literal truth of the resurrection of Jesus has been subject to question in advanced circles (people who would still claim to be Christian) since at least the 1930s.

The point of all which is that to compare the counter-rational beliefs of audiophilia with religion may be gratifying to the Dawkins fan-club, but doesn't actually say anything about sound reproduction (or grown-up religious belief). There ought to be some kind of TOS #8 about assertions of what is and is not religious belief. Me, I'm enjoying reading about Schopenhauer, especially a book by my former colleague Julian Young, who also wrote a good book called _The Death of God and the Meaning of Life_. Schopenhauer is not quite OT here, since his theory of music was influential on a number of good composers.
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andy o
post Aug 8 2009, 15:06
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Hmm I'm not even gonna get into what's "true" or "grown-up" religion and not, only on claims that contradict reality. I also wasn't talking about what people think is science. I was also gonna mention miracles as a general thing, BTW. Those do contradict science, and science may not strictly disprove an omnipotent and benevolent god (you can always ascribe some Mysterious Grand Purpose Your Little Mind Can't Understand), but it does give us plenty of information that doesn't jibe with that assumption at all.

Anyway the point honestguv was stating is that religious claims are fuzzy and don't contradict what we know objectively, as opposed to audiophile claims. I just said that most traditional religious beleifs are not really that fuzzy. The UK bishops and such you mention do have that sort of fuzzy theology, but that's also because they know better to contradict such stuff as evolution and physics.

This post has been edited by andy o: Aug 8 2009, 15:10
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sld
post Aug 8 2009, 18:19
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QUOTE (andy o @ Aug 8 2009, 22:06) *
I was also gonna mention miracles as a general thing, BTW. Those do contradict science, and science may not strictly disprove an omnipotent and benevolent god (you can always ascribe some Mysterious Grand Purpose Your Little Mind Can't Understand), but it does give us plenty of information that doesn't jibe with that assumption at all.

I dunno why we aren't discussing audio any more, but if science deals with the physical (whatever that can be experienced with the 5 senses) and not the metaphysical, then how exactly does science have the power to prove or disprove God? It is possible to provide plenty of apparently scientific data and conclusions, half of which allegedly prove God, leaving the other half to do the disproving, and thus we're back to treating science within proper limits: it can neither directly nor indirectly account for the metaphysical, because then we're entering the realm of philosophy (or revelational theology, if you like).
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andy o
post Aug 8 2009, 19:59
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I wasn't talking about "God". Why do people assume there's only one? I was talking about real-world claims of most religions. If they wanna have the fuzzy god that doesn't make tangible claims, well good with me. Do you think resurrection and virgin birth of a male human is not disprovable by science? And it's not like you can just say "miracle" and expect everyone to respect that, come on.

Most educated religious people choose to have that fuzzy god, OK. They even call that "real" religion and shun more orthodox or conservative ones, fine. But don't say that that's the same "God" that makes all those other real world silly things.
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honestguv
post Aug 8 2009, 20:46
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QUOTE (andy o @ Aug 8 2009, 20:59) *
Do you think resurrection and virgin birth of a male human is not disprovable by science?

Try disproving it using the scientific method.
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Ed Seedhouse
post Aug 8 2009, 22:38
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QUOTE (honestguv @ Aug 8 2009, 11:46) *
QUOTE (andy o @ Aug 8 2009, 20:59) *
Do you think resurrection and virgin birth of a male human is not disprovable by science?

Try disproving it using the scientific method.


Well, science of course doesn't pretend to absolutely "prove" or "disprove" anything about the physical world. The laws of thermodynamics are, however, very well established and most unlikely to ever be disproved, given what we know now. And if the laws of thermodynamics are correct then resurrection is in any natural way is quite simply ruled out.



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andy o
post Aug 8 2009, 23:28
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Well science isn't about proving or disproving single past events, but it does tell us how the universe works, and whether those events are reproducible or even possible. And for all we know (and it's quite a bit) the universe doesn't allow for those two things.
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shakey_snake
post Aug 9 2009, 00:17
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QUOTE (andy o @ Aug 8 2009, 14:59) *
Do you think resurrection and virgin birth of a male human is not disprovable by science?

Science almost exclusively deals with the reproducible.
Events that claim to be exclusive to one occurrence are incredibly difficult for science to quantify in any meaningful sense.


The important point to note for this thread is that any qualifications we can come up with do not in any sense apply to audio.

This post has been edited by shakey_snake: Aug 9 2009, 00:19


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MichaelW
post Aug 9 2009, 06:42
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My real gripe is that people use the word "religion" fantastically imprecisely. When they say "religion" they normally mean American, biblical-literalist, Protestant Christianity. Try thinking about Hinduism or Buddhism for a change. Or maybe Heidegger or even Schopenhauer, who are kind of crypto-religious. Or, better yet, leave religion out of it. And maybe there is only a limited value in bashing audiophools. OMG, teh n00bs!!11!one. Yeah, all right, point made.
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CoyoteSmith
post Aug 9 2009, 07:14
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its impossible to completely disprove something that doesnt exist, you can come up with facts which point to something being likely untrue. that is why science takes the opposite approach, if you have an idea you call it a hypothesis, you then proceed to test your notions surrounding the hypothesis to form a series of facts which allow you to form a theory. if others are able to reproduce the same results then you can begin to verify something as fact.
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andy o
post Aug 9 2009, 07:33
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QUOTE (MichaelW @ Aug 8 2009, 22:42) *
My real gripe is that people use the word "religion" fantastically imprecisely. When they say "religion" they normally mean American, biblical-literalist, Protestant Christianity.

If you're referring to me, I never said that, although I think they're also religions, only different ones, wouldn't you agree? My argument at least on this thread is against tangible, real-world claims of many religions. There are others that don't make such claims, of course I agree.
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JustListen
post Aug 9 2009, 16:00
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QUOTE (cpchan @ Apr 22 2009, 06:16) *
QUOTE (shakey_snake @ Apr 21 2009, 23:30) *
"Audiophiles" are not evil, rather they are harmless. They are harmless because they are ignorant.
The problem is that when ignorance has enough money, it creates an industry that is apathetic to progressing, because that industry can get rich by simply exploiting ignorance.


Very true. I bet all of these products

http://www.ilikejam.org/blog/audio/audiophile.html

are in his cube. smile.gif


It is even worse; the first product is :

quote "

AUDIOPRISM CD STOP LIGHT PEN
The most requested tweak of them all. A certain Jesse Morris emailed me with the name of the thing, so I no longer have an excuse for not putting it in.
This is the legendary 'CD Pen' - you're supposed to colour in the edges of your CDs with it.
That's what you're supposed to do.
I have this mental image of middle-aged men, with beards and tank-tops, really carefully colouring in the sides of all their CDs. One after another. For hours on end. Then I imagine the hollow feeling they must get when they listen to their carefully prepared disks, only to find they sound exactly the same as they did before.
And now their hands are covered in ink.
And they're $20 poorer.

"end quote

The thing is they WILL hear the difference and the difference will be as clear as night and day and it will ALLWAYS be an improvement; the instruments suddenly jump from the speakers and the soundstage has become 10 times the width of the room etc. Just wait till they have changed all the fuses in their equipment with "audiograde" ones. The music out of their system has become better than it ever has been. Of course it never is enough; there is allways something else that can be done to make it even better (has anyone thought of replacing all the (copper?) tracks on the printed circuit board(s) with golden ones? I bet that that will improve the sound no end wink.gif ).

All kidding aside; it is rather amusing to read supposedly serious reviewers writing about these things. I have not yet read any review in an Audiophile magazine that states that by adding thingy X to the system (be it a goldplated fuse or a magical power cord or whatever) that it actually made the system sound worse. Of course my experience with Audiophiles magazine is limited, I just read them for fun and I don't read very many. There must be some in this world which do take their craft seriously and try to give usefull advice. I just haven't come across one yet.

I am convinced that I won't ever hear any difference between (for example) a standard fuse and a gold plated one but a real audiophile always will. Their ears are, of course, much better than mine (I feel sad).


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tfarney
post Aug 12 2009, 13:21
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Back on topic, the most interesting thing about audiophiles is the levels to which they can be, at once, self-righteous and stunningly wrong. It makes them impossible to argue with, yet I can't seem to resist.

Tim
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