Is there hope for audiophiles?
Jun 28, 2001 at 3:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

Tomcat

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 26, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
11
Hi all,

the recent poll by Eagle driver about types of listeners kind of brought the topic up again, and I think jude was especially astonished that the attribute of "audiophile" is not favourably regarded by all of us. Having visited the "High End" exhibit near Frankfurt/Germany again this year (it's the biggest exhibit of top-audio gear in Europe), one might be even tempted to use "audiophile" as some kind of swear-word. Most of this equipment is simply horrible: bright, dissecting, analytical, instead of musical, warm and coherent. Most of this gear is more concerned with sounding like hifi than sounding like music. There are exceptions of course. Peter Qvortrup played his record collection in the "Audio Note" room. Boy was this gorgeous - there was nothing but music oozing out of this chain. The music just grabbed you, foot-tapping and all. Oh yes: he had three CDs laying around on the floor somewhere. Three. Those Audio Note folks just aren't into digital, I guess.

The big paradox inherent in the audiophile's point of view is, that he is very much concerned with how his components "sound". Frankly: I am too, probably most of us are. There is just one problem: as anyone will readily admit, the perfect component would not make its presence felt at all, it would simply disappear - the result: all one could hear would be the music itself and nothing else. But judging a component in regard to its sound is always an analytic endeavour. If we do this we tend to listen for the amount of "detail" or different frequency bands, secondary virtues in general, more or less related to recreating the musical event, when what we ought to do is to listen for the music. Listening to music is - to me, at least - a very emotional experience, I want to be moved by it, elated or saddened, I want the same emotional involvement that a live performance is capable of creating. And the degree of emotional involvement and joy seems to be a quality that just cannot be measured or perceived with typical audiophile criteria. Music is not about the details of reproduction (or reproducing details), music is about music.

In this other forum (what was its name again? Thanks, jude) I had mentioned an article from Stereophile from January 2000 once (and had found it mentioned in the archives once before), but it didn't exactly spawn a discussion. Another try:
God is in the Nuances by Mark Sauer. Sauer reports about the experiment of a German psychologist that he conducted as part of his doctoral thesis. He had people compare their reactions to two different systems: one with a turntable as a source and valve amplification and another one with a CDP and solid state-amplifiers (additionally there was a third system with CD source and valve amplifiers, as well). All those knowledgeable and educated audiophiles picked the CDP/solid state system as the better and more accurate one of course, but the subconscious results were exactly the opposite: they - as all the other listeners, by the way - derived more emotional satisfaction and enjoyment from the TT/valve system. The "better" CDP/SS system even heightened stress levels. The psychologist had a female student as his assistant, who knew nothing about the test set-up. At the end of the experiments she had suffered through the same pieces hundreds of times, and she stated that, by now, she felt "physically attacked by the sound of one of those systems". Have a guess which one.

Any comments?
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 3:54 PM Post #2 of 20

Eagle_Driver

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,451
Likes
26
Well, all too often newly-introduced "audiophile" or "high-end" components will end up sounding just as crappy as most of the el-cheapo "consumer" components.
frown.gif


As for that poll you refer to, it's astounding that a significant minority of poll participants call themselves "Duh!-m-Basses" or don't know s*** about hi-fi!
eek.gif
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 6:21 PM Post #3 of 20

coolvij

Board geriatric
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
2,139
Likes
10
rutland - I AM PROUD OF IT - i listen to the music, not the gear....
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 6:38 PM Post #4 of 20

flashbak

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 21, 2001
Posts
1,092
Likes
23
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Tomcat,
Thanks for bringing this article to my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely find validity in their observations! I urge everyone here to read it!
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 7:18 PM Post #5 of 20
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
9,534
Likes
27
Humm, I don't think that true for everyone. I honestly belive that most audiophiles are just really huge music fans that are willing to go through great lengths to get the best sound for the music they love so much.

However, I am sure that there maybe some that just collect hi-fi wares. But, for the most part, music is 1st and foremost the most important thing.

I think that the idea of audiophiles caring more about his/her system than the music played on it, is for the most part a myth and nothing but a stereotype.
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 8:50 PM Post #6 of 20

legoman

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
474
Likes
10
I have said this before, in another thread: In my opinion, the purpose of good high-end hifi is to reduce the distance between the listener and the music. I also agree, that even for experienced audiophiles it is very difficult not to be seduced by over-analytical equipment. In fact, when I once auditioned (just for fun with a good dealer who knew that I didn't/ still don't nearly have enough money) the Dynaudio Evidence 3.0 (don't hold me to that last digit): Initially I was almost disappointed at the "unexciting" sound, but then you hear that all the detail, all the nuances are there. Just instead of it flying in your face, you have to listen for it / discover it / pay attention.

I think the biggest problem with audiophiles is not that they love their equipment more than their music, it is that they are never satisfied with their equipment and thus feel like they need to spend more on newer and newer equipment, which a) takes money away from potential music purchases, b) during listening focuses attention towards equipment rather than music. I myself, am of course no exception (see my threads re. TA vs. Creek) and while this has a playful side (cheap tweaks, anything from blue-tack to sand to cut up wrist-support-keyboard pads), I think this constant wondering/dissatisfaction also turns away a lot of people (as does our whining about our equipment)

After having written this, I probably should cancel my stereophile subscription and my head-fi.org membership - where else are all those doubts coming from
wink.gif
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 9:56 PM Post #7 of 20

Apheared

You call that an amp? THIS is an amp!
Joined
Jun 20, 2001
Posts
377
Likes
10
:p

How true.

But it is (hopefully) the love that's the driving force... not the name dropping or the shiny chrome and hand-stained wood.

I'm into coffee... come by, check the gear... if you're heard of a brewing style, I can prepare it. I have 6 kinds of beans in the house at any given time.

Now, I'll drop my favorite right in the trashcan if I find one I love even more. Same goes for the amp or any other audio gear. But how to be sure? Tastes change, so maybe not the trashcan, maybe the freezer is a better idea. heh.

In ranking things is where 'audiophile' gets it's nasty connotation.

It's actually wanting more than what you have... it's not really greed - more likely it's based on logical thought: "Well, if that CD player can destroy that crappy cassette player I used to think was the bomb.. what can this DVD-A player do??"

So yea, we have a hope. Fun article to read anyway, just don't associate "audiophile" to anything beyond someone that really really REALLY loves music... if you've got nothing nice to say, yadda yadda yadda.
smily_headphones1.gif
Ya damn bunch of audiophiles!
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 10:03 PM Post #8 of 20

legoman

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
474
Likes
10
Yes, maybe I should clarify that: I don't think it is status-seeking (many people I know actually get more laughed at than admired for their high priced equipment), I don't think it is greed either. It is because we seek to reduce the distance between the music and us and also to recapture that thrill of intimacy, closeness to the music that most of us had when we first heard decent equipment. Unfortunately humans get used to "good sound" and soon it strikes us as ordinary and we need a new "wow" to recapture that feeling. I for once intend to build a very solid system once I got the money and then to focus on buying music. I may have to sign away my power of attorney or appoint a guardian to achieve this goal, though....
tongue.gif
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 10:27 PM Post #9 of 20

thomas

Who needs headphones when there's the JVC MX-GT80?
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
742
Likes
10
very interesting discussion...

When i first discovered audiophile equipment and purchased my first high-end pair of headphones, i found that i became much more interested in all types of music. I had never heard anything sound so good before, and started spending more and more time listening to music. Up to now, my interest in music and of audio equipment have gone hand in hand, i find a good recording that i really like, and spend money to make it sound better, then, the better equipment makes me want to discover new types of music... up to now, i haven't spend too much money on audio equipment, and i still tend to listen to music rather than equipment. However, as i learn more and more about audiophile euqipment, i get scared that i might become obsessed with this stuff and waste all my money to get the last 0.0001% improvement in sound. Reading about people blowing thousands on powerchords and putting their cd collection in freezers is quite scary... I hope that this hobby remains a hobby rather than an obsession

btw, anyone see the fast and the furious? man, there are people as crazy about cars as we are about stereos...
 
Jun 28, 2001 at 11:04 PM Post #10 of 20

Eagle_Driver

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,451
Likes
26
There are nut cases calling themselves so-called "audiophiles" who really aren't enjoying the music anywhere near as much as analyzing the sound from their equipment! They would say of cheap electronics' sound quality, What a piece of crap!!
eek.gif


My criteria for being a TRUE audiophile: Enjoy the music! If your equipment sounds so great that you'll further enjoy the music, that's fine - but if there are any flaws in your equipment that prevent you from fully enjoying the music, duh! Don't ********* complain! If you do, then you're not a true audiophile, you're an audio nut-case!!
tongue.gif
 
Jun 29, 2001 at 2:57 AM Post #11 of 20

malkmus

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Posts
7
Likes
0
call yourselves whatever- audiophiles,idiots,audionuts- as long as you like what ya hear. BUT, I can't believe that no seems to know that your system, my system, anybody's system is only as good as its weakest link. In looking at the "profiles", I'm completely blown away with how many people here have totally amazing (RS1's, HD600's, etc.) headphones, amazing amps, and toally garbage sources. Maybe ya all think all cd players sound the same or that all turntables sound the same, but they don't. All the things I read about in headphone reviews ab out subtle or huge differences between different phones(better bass, detail, soundstage,etc.) is exactly what happens when trying new (read:better) sources. Surely you (read:eagledriver) would laugh if I compared Sony sports walkman headphones to 600's or RS1's, but the difference between those is the difference between crappo sony's, panasonics, and any other circuit city shlock with , dare I say high end sources. Yes lots of "'audiophile", esoteric expensive stuff does sound like garbage, you gotta audition just like you do with phones- but after going back and forth between cheap sony sources and better quality...er high- end
 
Jun 29, 2001 at 3:04 AM Post #12 of 20

malkmus

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Posts
7
Likes
0
the difference was almost akin to the sony sports-RS1 analogy. You're not doing your phones any justice driving them with garbage sources- I'm not trying to sound snotty, but hey, if everyone can hear differences between phones, and generally agree that amps are necessary and improve sound- then take your phones, your amp, and go audition some real sources- you'll be amazed. Anyway, maybe I'm outta line, or missing something coz almost everyone here has amazing phones and amps and mediocre sources- WHAT GIVES???
 
Jun 29, 2001 at 3:24 AM Post #13 of 20

dhwilkin

Headphone audiophiles are practically the stuff of legend.
Joined
Jun 20, 2001
Posts
4,426
Likes
11
Nah, you're absolutely right malkmus. I've progressed from a Xitel soundcard to a MSB Link DAC, and it made a huge difference! But actually, people here are slowly starting to get better sources. More and more threads about sources were starting up back when Headwize got shut down. It's just that, since this is a headphone forum, that happens to be the area that gets the most attention. That, and really good headphones tend to be cheaper than most really good sources.
 
Jun 29, 2001 at 10:50 AM Post #14 of 20

lini

Thought the last line in Citizen Kane was nosebud.
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,119
Likes
29
Location
Munich, Bavaria
I don't think finding good sources is a problem - financing could be.
wink.gif
Anyway, for most of the time I'm away from my good sources, because I'm in the office or at the computer rig. Maybe the same goes for other people as well...

On the other hand, everybody has to find out for oneself how much music reproduction is worth: How much time will I spend listening and how much money will I spend on records and equipment? I'd think most people buy or copy any cd they like, so it boils down to equipment. Next question ahead: Are you going to invest in sound quality or features? Some people will find a remote control more interesting than the tube/transistor-debate... And if you are price-conscious or your budget is limited your next question might be: Can I have it cheaper by DIY? (...)

That's why I don't criticise people here: All in all, people have different needs, different budget, different setups and so on for all kinds of reasons. So, in my eyes, the only thing that works in the long run is well-meant advice.

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
 
Jun 29, 2001 at 11:43 AM Post #15 of 20

mbriant

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 21, 2001
Posts
9,536
Likes
29
Well said dhwilkin and lini. This is primarily a headphone oriented site....not simply a high end audiophile site. Obviously, there are crossovers.

The fact is, we owe the portable walkman/discman market for creating a resurgence of interest and explosion of headphone usage.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top