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Is there science & genetics behind the AudioPhile phenomenon?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by skwoodwiva, Mar 23, 2018.
  1. skwoodwiva
    I have been an audiophile, all my life but I did not know is was genetic until ~ 2001, - I read a Time or LA Times article about how some study found hearing acuity in .1% of men and no woman! This hit the nail on the head as to my experience. Chumming around other APs as a teen, I was the youngest by far. "The wives are just not interested, they just pretend anyway" was a typical line. Anyway to my point : I want to verify the claim or find the original study.

    More, the extreme acuity mentioned was a discernment of say the rustling of a leaf in the midst of other noise, not frequency range or absolute sensitivity. Or to put it differently sound smearing from dieletric absorption from say vinyl phono cable would be very noticeable by one of these freaks...Is Jon Riesch (sic), the cable guy, still around?

    Another forum's responses
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  2. bigshot
    I've only found one sex related aspect of audiophilia... I've noticed that interest in music and sound tends to be more accentuated when a guy is sexually frustrated. When they get married, they lose interest in new music and stick with the equipment and music they already have.
  3. 71 dB
    Genetics behind audiophiles?


    As I see it some people just get interested of sound and accustom their hearing to observe sonic details most people just ignore.
  4. bigshot
    I've seen that interest turn off like a light switch in friends who got married and had kids.
  5. RRod
    Discovery is time intensive.
  6. skwoodwiva
    Thanks for the albeit, typical responses. Sorry but the hypothesis of post is that one is born an audiophile. Enough nurture already. Lol.
    Please, at least critique my fundamental point. Unless you have studies to back "nurture" up.
    Edit or at least a subset of extream audiophiles, me I am in the anti dieletric absorption club. Where is Jon Reisch? The cable guy?
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  7. bigshot
    Well OCD is definitely inborn and that is a huge part of the audiophile world.
    colonelkernel8 and skwoodwiva like this.
  8. castleofargh Contributor
    I suspect what you read at the time was just one of those bait articles with claims never in the study itself. like the 50 articles each year about chocolate or coffee doing this and that, but a week later you find a rebuttal that nobody reads, or learn that it was 3% of the time on mice and we don't yet have the data on humans.
    or maybe you just remember the article as saying something not really how it was told?

    I don't know what your article was about, but whatever it was, your use of "audiophile" seems to involve hearing abilities, which is not what audiophile means. and if hearing abilities were the main factor in being interested in audio gears, then women would probably form most of the hobby as they tend to have slower hearing loss in general. but even that isn't confirmed to have genetic origin. social habits could just as well be the reason.
    maybe there is something special and maybe it happens only to a few men like you remember reading, but at large my guess is that elite audiophiles do not have good hearing. if only because they often aren't that young, and also because the hobby itself probably didn't help preserve their hearing over the years. doesn't mean they lose interest.
    skwoodwiva likes this.
  9. bigshot
    I became a hifi-nut because my brother collected antique phonographs and as a very little kid I was fascinated by the differences between "hill and dale" records, cylinders and 78s. I developed an interest in funny old music and listened to a lot of novelty records, peppy tin pan alley, and 1920s dance band music. When I hit puberty, I got interested in rock music. In college I discovered jazz, opera and classical. It spiraled out of control from there.

    I always had a decent way to play back records and I took good care of them. I wanted equipment that could extract all the sound out of the recordings, and put together a stereo that did just that. In the past decade, I've graduated to multichannel and building a really good listening room. I never was one to chase after fractions and numbers on a spec sheet. I don't have OCD, so I don't worry about lossy formats that are audibly transparent or high data rate audio files that have frequencies only dogs can hear. I don't lie in bed at night worrying about hoodoo like jitter or other kinds of inaudible distortion. The focus has always been to extract all the sound out of the recording to present the music properly- nothing more, nothing less.

    Maybe I'm not part of that much vaunted audiophile community. I call myself a "hifi nut" because I have fun working on my system. It describes my love of listening to music better.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  10. skwoodwiva
    You are on track, yes it is a subset of APs yet I believe & the article , with study credentials, supported this too, the all of these freaks are indeed APs yet the vast majority of APs are not these.
    Good post.
  11. Glmoneydawg
    Yep exposure to good music and good sound where it for me...if i hadn't heard it i would probably be doing something else right now.Maybe we need to make an effort to expose our kids to decent sound.
    skwoodwiva likes this.
  12. bigshot
    Sound is a distant second to music quality. My collection includes recordings that are over 100 years old and the oldest ones are just as important to me as modern recordings. In some cases, more important. In classical music there is such a long history of great performers, it's usually not a good idea to go after audiophile recordings. Stuff from the 60s is more adventurous and is recorded great. Some of the worst recordings I own are audiophile recordings.
    Glmoneydawg likes this.
  13. 71 dB
    So basically we can use crappy headphones or loudspeakers as long as we listen to 100 years old recordings? No need for hi-fi. What we need is worn out 78's…

    …the problem is that a lot of music did not exist 100 years ago. Even if it did (classical music), it perhaps wasn't "popular" at the time and was not recorded. So, including modern recordings gives a lot more selection, not only music greated during the last 100 years, but also older music that has been discovered. I think even Vivaldi wasn't a thing 100 years ago not to mention tons of more "obscure" composers. A lot of classical music has been composed during the last 100 years. I enjoy a lot of contemporary classical music composed after year 2000 by composers who were born in the "adventurous" 60's (because their parents were adventurous in bed :wink: ) .

    Yes, music quality is very important, but I don't buy into the idea that all the great performers were dead 50 years ago.
  14. skwoodwiva
    There are plenty if tubed 2 mike 50s?& 60s recordings I consider
    AP, mostly remastered. Sony, Columbia & Mercury. The master vinyl art back then was AP. Even the master tape to DSD are some of the best.
    I have never heard a muli miked recording I could tollerate.
    With SACD there are many multi Miked bombs. The best labels now are fone, Arts, DG gold, Lynn, Opus3 & many more mostly European withwith top notch artist. All classical , pre calssical & ethnic/regional. Sony is a standout in AP mass marketed 2 mike recordings there 60 CD Beethoven set is fab. Columbia in the 50s is also fab. A great conductor on a bad lable I cannot abide. I agree DDs are hit & miss but not good old basic vinyl. The CD distroyed AP for me. Yet fone & others managed to AP CDs in the 80 & 90s it is all about the sound stage convayed by the 2 mike minimalist approach.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  15. bigshot
    There are some performers who have never been matched... There's never been another Caruso or Chaliapin or John McCormack. There are also performance styles that no longer exist. Luckily we have great recordings of Stokowski, but Toscanini and Furtwangler only exist in mono and sometimes very dry sound. There are no modern recordings that are equivalents to Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club or Charlie Parker at Birdland. Classic country music doesn't exist much at all any more. Nor does big band swing or sweet dance bands. Recordings are great to document music. But if music is alive, it's constantly changing, and the only way to capture it is to record it with whatever technology you have at hand. Modern music is fine. But it's just the tail of the animal. There's a lot more to music than just the here and now.

    When I was first starting out in music, I thought about "songs". I wanted Beethoven's Fifth in a good performance. It didn't matter if it was Szell conducting or Reiner. I just wanted Beethoven being conducted properly. There was a lot of that, so I focused on sound quality. I bought a bunch of audiophile recordings that were "proper" performances because one "proper" performance was as good as any other.

    Now a few decades down the road, I have absorbed the "song" and my focus has shifted to the performance. A lot of those "proper" performances sound dull and lifeless to me now. It's like going through the motions. I put my classical library on random shuffle and as I listen, I judge performances. I can immediately spot Stokowski and Toscanini and Karajan and Bernstein because they always excite me. Every time Jarvi or Abbado comes up, I don't even have to see the name. I can tell it's dull.

    Performance trumps everything. But I'm not saying that you don't need a decent stereo. You want to present the music faithfully. But there's a world full of great music that only exists on pre-hifi recordings. If you draw the line and refuse to listen to anything that isn't stereo or digitally recorded or 96/24, you are cheating yourself out of big chunks of what is out there.

    I have records that were recorded 100 years ago that make the hair on the back of my head stand up because the performances are so present and well presented. I have SACDs that sound fantastic and lifelike and put me right to sleep with boredom, even if it's a composition I love. I love multichannel music and I'm always championing it around here, but I'll readily admit that most of the performances on multichannel suck. If I could get my money back on all the duds I've been stuck with, I would get rid of them in a heartbeat. I've wasted a LOT of money by buying multichannel music because of the sound.

    One other point... We are living through a time period that doesn't value the arts as art. Starting in the 1920s, artistic culture started to shift from art created to express humanity to art created to be a commodity. The distinction between those two is still a continuum, and different things fall at different points in the spectrum. But the overall shift is obvious. The further back in time you go, the more art served the muse.

    I think commercialization of art has taught audiences for the arts to undervalue it. It's led to serving the lowest common denominator. That has resulted in "free market creativity", which isn't necessarily the best way to nurture art and serve culture as a whole. In fact, it's created a culture with the memory of a gnat. When I was a kid, I knew all about silent films and musical performers from the 20s and my dad and granddad's culture. Today, kids have no interest in anything that isn't spoon fed to them by the media. They don't know any movie before Star Wars and they barely know the Beatles.

    We are living through a great time of technological advancements, but we use it to stream cat videos and youtube celebrities and listen to disposable pop music. Hopefully those who truly understand art and culture will squirrel it all away and find a way to distribute it so the bar for culture can be raised, not lowered another rung or two.

    I think the best audiophiles don't have special ears, and they don't need expensive fancy equipment. They only need to know how to use technology to present music well. Once they've accomplished that, they should move on to the things that really matter.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
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