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Has civility on ASR declined recently?

Newman

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I hope this doesn't upset anybody but the precious attitudes to academic titles has always amused me and kind of undermines the idea that scientists and academics are more rational than the riff raff. Many years ago I worked for British Antarctic Survey as a lowly ships engineer and remember firstly how bitchy some of the scientific crew could be about which of them was worthy of being in the officers lounge and dining room, and secondly how much more bitchy they could get about their titles. I regularly attend engineering conferences (or did before the unusual circumstances of the last couple of years) and one of the joys is watching the cat fights when someone's precious idea is challenged. And then there is the outrage towards anyone with lesser educational credentials who is paid more than them without considering skills or economic value. I used to work with a guy who was a real engineering snob (we were both doing engineering analysis for new warship designs) and he was properly outraged when I told him that in electricity generation I had issued purchase orders to pay welders over £5000 to do a single weld (this is 15 years ago). He really couldn't comprehend that if there's only one or two people anywhere with the approvals for a particular weld to a turbine, and which has a track record of passing the radiography exam every time and when each day a turbine is offline it is losing telephone number figures then those people can pretty much name their price. He went nuts when I told him to go and learn how to weld if it was so easy and he wanted to make more money.
Shouldn't upset anyone. Academics surely know that anyone who stays in school longer than the minimum needed to do something useful in society had better not expect any respect from said society. :p:p Some of the comments and 'doctor banter' related in this thread would do Sheldon proud. Don't they get it?

My oldest and best friend is a PhD and professor in chemistry, and I remember in high school, him telling me that his dad is a janitor-handyman at the local university and told him that the academics are looked down on by everyone. His dad was a super nice guy and his comment reflected very badly on academics as a cohort.
 

Mnyb

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2c I feel that with the influx of so much new people the majority of forum members does not actually understand what the forum stands for ?

I was so relieved when I found this fora , where I could get away from the nonsense of regular audiophile forums and actually chat with senior members here that actually knows how the sausage is made :) thankyou all of you.

But lately I feel that the forum is overruned by “them” ? Heck some even create accounts to rant when they feel provoked by something discussed here.

Thought provoking idea . There was a great tread that I thought should be a sticky about “ why do people think DAC’s have a sound signature “ . Thinking about it.

I wonder what a poll about that very question would yield ? “Do you think that competently designed DAC’s have a sound signature “ . ( in current climate here I would not dare ).

Then we would know if we are at a Astronomy conference sieged by astrology believers ?

My personal pet hypothesis is that some kind of tragedy befell our hobby in late 70’s to early 80’s there was a paradigm shift for the worse . When all this cable nonsense and subjective sighted reviews started to appear and all kinds of cargo cult beliefs condensed out of the aether. This coincides with the thing that at the same time electronics used in audio if reasonably well made started to be transparent to humans listeners . So then the bias become the base for our hobby?

I was swept away by the nonsense for a long time and have wasted time and money ( I was a believer ).

I was pleasantly surprised when I found this forum and with it a return to some rational discourse in hifi :)
 

tmtomh

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2c I feel that with the influx of so much new people the majority of forum members does not actually understand what the forum stands for ?

I was so relieved when I found this fora , where I could get away from the nonsense of regular audiophile forums and actually chat with senior members here that actually knows how the sausage is made :) thankyou all of you.

But lately I feel that the forum is overruned by “them” ? Heck some even create accounts to rant when they feel provoked by something discussed here.

Thought provoking idea . There was a great tread that I thought should be a sticky about “ why do people think DAC’s have a sound signature “ . Thinking about it.

I wonder what a poll about that very question would yield ? “Do you think that competently designed DAC’s have a sound signature “ . ( in current climate here I would not dare ).

Then we would know if we are at a Astronomy conference sieged by astrology believers ?

My personal pet hypothesis is that some kind of tragedy befell our hobby in late 70’s to early 80’s there was a paradigm shift for the worse . When all this cable nonsense and subjective sighted reviews started to appear and all kinds of cargo cult beliefs condensed out of the aether. This coincides with the thing that at the same time electronics used in audio if reasonably well made started to be transparent to humans listeners . So then the bias become the base for our hobby?

I was swept away by the nonsense for a long time and have wasted time and money ( I was a believer ).

I was pleasantly surprised when I found this forum and with it a return to some rational discourse in hifi :)

I think you are right that something did indeed change, probably in the early to mid-1980s. I would be very curious to know what caused the change.

The only things I have ever been able to come up with as possible factors were that the early to mid-1980s saw two changes in the audio industry:

1. The end of the Receiver Wars - the end of the line for the beefy, super-robust Japanese amps and receivers (and the Marantz gear that, along with McIntosh, had inspired them) that dominated the 1970s, and their replacement with cheaper, lower-power models marketed more on new touch-controls and digital readouts than on specs, performance, and build quality.

2. The advent of the CD and with it the beginning of the "digital sounds bad" narrative among some audiophile reviewers who found fault with the sound quality of some of the early CD players.

I've often wondered if these twin developments helped create - or at least widen - a rift between the mass market and the boutique high-end market. I'm sure there was super-expensive high-end stuff before the 1980s, but it seems to me that in the 1960s and '70s there was more of a continuum, where the mass-market manufacturers were also making truly impressive, high-end, ultra-engineered gear as well.

Finally, I also wonder if rising income and wealth inequality - which in the U.S. at least began in the mid-1970s and really took off in the 1980s - also contributed to the split of the hi-fi market into a cheaper mass market and an ever more expensive and esoteric high end.

My point with regard to the ASR ethos is that both ends of this more polarized market had reasons - albeit different reasons - for retreating from specs and measurements. (The lower end because they were not interested in highlighting the decline in quality, and the high end because the prices and caché dictated something more/other than tech-oriented marketing.)
 

pkane

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I think you are right that something did indeed change, probably in the early to mid-1980s. I would be very curious to know what caused the change.

I think the two factors that conspired to create the modern "subjective audiophile" were

1. The ease with which our minds can be fooled into hearing what we want to hear, and
2. The audio reproduction chain achieving a level of transparency in the 80's where the noise and the distortions became low enough to allow for these uncontrolled flights of fancy.

The audio press and the market were more than willing to oblige, resulting in a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling expectations detached from reality and reinforced by a growing number of practitioners.
 

Newman

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something did indeed change, probably in the early to mid-1980s. I would be very curious to know what caused the change.
I think it was that the Japanese technical electronics corporations had mastered the art of putting out high-power low distortion amplifiers at reasonable prices, and which lasted decades with no adjustments, along with very highly engineered direct drive turntables with high specification motors and again, high engineering precision and design attributes throughout.

And the British and American artisans, who used to make the hifi gear that was most sought after, simply couldn’t compete with this. There was no way that they could make an amplifier equal or better than what the Japanese were doing, nor a turntable, when their primary skills were woodworking, glueing belts together, and mounting wooden trays on springs.

So, in response to this, a pattern started to emerge where, whenever the old school released a new product, the home nation’s audio journalists (and indeed perhaps the English speaking audio journalist group in unison) would enthuse endlessly over it, and their primary advantage that they could talk about was that it sounds simply better. Much better. And we saw the myth emerge about the Japanese amplifiers being sterile and lifeless, and the Japanese turntables similarly, and that the British and American products get your foot tapping with their pace, rhythm and timing, which seem to be miraculously totally absent from a well engineered product. After all, this was war.

The likely fact that the journalists were actually writing what they believed, because they actually heard such differences but didn’t know they were listening through their bias, made it somewhat innocent, and not deliberately mischievous.
 

Blumlein 88

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I think the two factors that conspired to create the modern "subjective audiophile" were

1. The ease with which our minds can be fooled into hearing what we want to hear, and
2. The audio reproduction chain achieving a level of transparency in the 80's where the noise and the distortions became low enough to allow for these uncontrolled flights of fancy.

The audio press and the market were more than willing to oblige, resulting in a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling expectations detached from reality and reinforced by a growing number of practitioners.
I agree with this. It was the CD which finally put the whole system over the edge to general transparency.
 

JJB70

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Once you accept that audio electronics just work and you can buy amplifiers, disc spinners etc for peanuts which are audibly transparent or as near as makes no difference then what is the point of hi-fi and all the hangers on like magazines? Once you accept that none of that analogue turntable tweakery is necessary anymore where does that leave a whole cottage industry of tweakery suppliers? Retailers? The advances made by Japanese manufacturers in the 70's and 80's were an existential threat to too many, so the response was to retreat into the sort of mystique that persuades people to believe in magic rocks, cables, expensive equipment racks, cable lifters etc. The industry shrunk as audio gear was commoditised and the fringe element withdrew into very high margin micro niches in which sales were trivial but profits high on what was sold. In this case I think the mainstream got it right. The gear doesn't matter and if it's about enjoying music rather than about gear than wireless speakers and headphones are excellent. The item that does amaze me is the DAC, probably no other part of the audio chain has been commoditised quite as much as the DAC. It is a technology co which achieved technological maturity and audible transparency decades ago yet now there's a whole mystique around DACs and some seem to think it a novel technology which is advancing in leaps and bounds.
 
D

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I think you are right that something did indeed change, probably in the early to mid-1980s. I would be very curious to know what caused the change.

The only things I have ever been able to come up with as possible factors were that the early to mid-1980s saw two changes in the audio industry:

1. The end of the Receiver Wars - the end of the line for the beefy, super-robust Japanese amps and receivers (and the Marantz gear that, along with McIntosh, had inspired them) that dominated the 1970s, and their replacement with cheaper, lower-power models marketed more on new touch-controls and digital readouts than on specs, performance, and build quality.

2. The advent of the CD and with it the beginning of the "digital sounds bad" narrative among some audiophile reviewers who found fault with the sound quality of some of the early CD players.

I've often wondered if these twin developments helped create - or at least widen - a rift between the mass market and the boutique high-end market. I'm sure there was super-expensive high-end stuff before the 1980s, but it seems to me that in the 1960s and '70s there was more of a continuum, where the mass-market manufacturers were also making truly impressive, high-end, ultra-engineered gear as well.

Finally, I also wonder if rising income and wealth inequality - which in the U.S. at least began in the mid-1970s and really took off in the 1980s - also contributed to the split of the hi-fi market into a cheaper mass market and an ever more expensive and esoteric high end.

My point with regard to the ASR ethos is that both ends of this more polarized market had reasons - albeit different reasons - for retreating from specs and measurements. (The lower end because they were not interested in highlighting the decline in quality, and the high end because the prices and caché dictated something more/other than tech-oriented marketing.)
This point in time also coincided with the Thatcher/Reagan led nosedive into free market capitalism and the 'market's will' to serve profit and margin over and above performance and longevity in products.

Prior to that point most big unit box shifters were doing battle over performance data and building actual tanks, many of which are still prized by many today.

Not long after they were trying to outdo each other in the profit margin stakes, ramming the cheapest possible tech into shiny plastic boxes, and projects like Optonica quickly disappeared.
 

JJB70

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This point in time also coincided with the Thatcher/Reagan led nosedive into free market capitalism and the 'market's will' to serve profit and margin over and above performance and longevity in products.

Prior to that point most big unit box shifters were doing battle over performance data and building actual tanks, many of which are still prized by many today.

Not long after they were trying to outdo each other in the profit margin stakes, ramming the cheapest possible tech into shiny plastic boxes, and projects like Optonica quickly disappeared.
Not sure I agree with that. In the 1980's through to the mid 90's-ish the Japanese outfits (Sony, Pioneer, Marantz, Denon, Sansui, Kenwood, Sansui, Accuphase, Nakamichi etc) reached a level of engineering and build quality we may never see again in audio. Their statement pieces were expensive for sure but built to a standard you just don't see today. And their regular, more prosaic offerings were generally impeccably engineered. It was a time when those companies were engineering led and very innovative. However it was the period when things went silly in the world of US and European boutique audio and in the hi-fi press.
 

dasdoing

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Some people here want to "win" so bad. I don't understand how that is usefull for the person. Does the person go to the mirror and say "yessss"?
If you want competition practice a sport
 

sarumbear

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Re: Scientist & Engineers.

What is the difference, how does their education differ?

When I was at university, back in the early 70s, in the UK only graduate degrees on Art and Science, B.A., M.A. and B.Sc., M.Sc. were given. There were however polytechnics which offered two year courses and graduated engineers (along with electricians and plumbers, etc.) A person with a B.Sc. could work as an engineer and often had a higher rank and pay than the engineer from the polytechnic. During the 80s polytechnics merged to universities or they became a university and people graduated with those arts or sciences degrees. At the turn of the century universities started courses for degrees specifically in engineering like B.Eng. and M.Eng.

My acoustics degree is an M.A. That is because it was part of the architecture department which gave degrees in Arts. My B.Sc. and M.A degrees are from Imperial College. It is called a college but in fact it is a global top ranking university.

Meanwhile, we used to call anyone with a degree who worked at an R&D facility or do R&D at a university a scientist. However, as engineering definition and courses have changed as I explained above, who knows what has changed in their world.

Titles, eh?
 

ahofer

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I wonder, are Americans aware that stuff like this only happens in the States? Most other countries have laws that don't allow these kinds of practices.
I’ve found that a double-edged sword. I did a bunch of work for a European investor who bought some luxury brands in France. He wasn’t able to do anything to rationalize the cost structure because of those laws, and the companies ultimately folded. So instead of targeted layoffs, everyone lost their job. Meanwhile, his Canadian and US investments restructured and survived. Labor markets need some flexibility.
 

tmtomh

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I think it was that the Japanese technical electronics corporations had mastered the art of putting out high-power low distortion amplifiers at reasonable prices, and which lasted decades with no adjustments, along with very highly engineered direct drive turntables with high specification motors and again, high engineering precision and design attributes throughout.

And the British and American artisans, who used to make the hifi gear that was most sought after, simply couldn’t compete with this. There was no way that they could make an amplifier equal or better than what the Japanese were doing, nor a turntable, when their primary skills were woodworking, glueing belts together, and mounting wooden trays on springs.

So, in response to this, a pattern started to emerge where, whenever the old school released a new product, the home nation’s audio journalists (and indeed perhaps the English speaking audio journalist group in unison) would enthuse endlessly over it, and their primary advantage that they could talk about was that it sounds simply better. Much better. And we saw the myth emerge about the Japanese amplifiers being sterile and lifeless, and the Japanese turntables similarly, and that the British and American products get your foot tapping with their pace, rhythm and timing, which seem to be miraculously totally absent from a well engineered product. After all, this was war.

The likely fact that the journalists were actually writing what they believed, because they actually heard such differences but didn’t know they were listening through their bias, made it somewhat innocent, and not deliberately mischievous.

IMHO that's a persuasive explanation. Thanks!
 

litemotiv

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So instead of targeted layoffs, everyone lost their job. Meanwhile, his Canadian and US investments restructured and survived.

Companies folding are complex situations with many different factors involved, perhaps too many to casually use anecdotally in this way.

I'm in Western Europe and i don't think i ever heard of a company folding here because the employees cost too much and the company wasn't able to fire anyone. That would be very unreasonable towards companies ofcourse, and it also wouldn't benefit the employees. So no, that's not how the law works here.

European laws don't differ so much from Canadian laws, the latter being only slightly more lenient in favor of the employer:

"In Canada, most employees can be dismissed at any time, for almost any reason. However, unless there is just cause for dismissal, notice or pay in lieu is required."

This is basically the same as in most European countries.

Also in Canada you won't lose your healthcare, similar as in Europe. In the US you often do, which is also a big problem for most people obviously.
 

ahofer

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Companies folding are complex situations with many different factors involved, perhaps too many to casually use anecdotally in this way.

I'm in Western Europe and i don't think i ever heard of a company folding here because the employees cost too much and the company wasn't able to fire anyone. That would be very unreasonable towards companies ofcourse, and it also wouldn't benefit the employees. So no, that's not how the law works here.

European laws don't differ so much from Canadian laws, the latter being only slightly more lenient in favor of the employer:

"In Canada, most employees can be dismissed at any time, for almost any reason. However, unless there is just cause for dismissal, notice or pay in lieu is required."

This is basically the same as in most European countries.

Also in Canada you won't lose your healthcare, similar as in Europe. In the US you often do, which is also a big problem for most people obviously.
I think you being a bit ‘casual’ yourself. There is clearly a tension between strong employment protections and the ability to restructure back to profitability. Capital will flow towards markets with more flexible cost structures, costing jobs in the more rigid ones. We see this in heavily unionized trades in the US.

If you want a more academic argument, try this: https://www.clevelandfed.org/en/new...ity-unemployment-and-the-great-recession.aspx
Of course, this also includes other factors, such as reluctance to *add* employees that cannot be fired.

I wasn’t arguing about government benefits, but about the costs of rigid employment markets.

Both these companies were in France, btw. The Canadian company closed a bunch of stores and restructured management, and survives to this day.
 

rdenney

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Re: Scientist & Engineers.

What is the difference, how does their education differ?

When I was at university, back in the early 70s, in the UK only graduate degrees on Art and Science, B.A., M.A. and B.Sc., M.Sc. were given. There were however polytechnics which offered two year courses and graduated engineers (along with electricians and plumbers, etc.) A person with a B.Sc. could work as an engineer and often had a higher rank and pay than the engineer from the polytechnic. During the 80s polytechnics merged to universities or they became a university and people graduated with those arts or sciences degrees. At the turn of the century universities started courses for degrees specifically in engineering like B.Eng. and M.Eng.

My acoustics degree is an M.A. That is because it was part of the architecture department which gave degrees in Arts. My B.Sc. and M.A degrees are from Imperial College. It is called a college but in fact it is a global top ranking university.

Meanwhile, we used to call anyone with a degree who worked at an R&D facility or do R&D at a university a scientist. However, as engineering definition and courses have changed as I explained above, who knows what has changed in their world.

Titles, eh?
The USA had specific engineering degrees many decades before the 70’s, and the architecture schools had specific architecture degrees. (I have two of the former, and almost one of the latter.)

But engineering degrees require general physics plus the physics relevant to the engineering discipline, and also considerably more math than most practicing engineers ever need to use, even without computers.

What they lack from general liberal-arts education is language and history.

Any engineer who can’t keep up with a science discussion at the level of this forum either didn’t pay attention or went into something else and forgot their training.

Engineers do focus on the practical application of science, and not all scientists do (nor should they—something like a tenth of research really should be basic research with no specific application outcome expected). Industry scientists and engineers are often indistinguishable, by my observation, and I, as an engineer, often had to (and occasionally still have to) explain the science of a topic to scientists.

But you can’t compare the 8-10 years of collegiate study attained by a person with a doctorate with a basic 4-year degree earned by a back-room pool engineer.

(At no modern time in the USA could a person with a two-year degree claim to have received an engineering degree, or even be able to get credit for it in a professional licensure application. Up until the 60’s and 70’s, a non-degreed person could get licensed with sufficient specific approved experience, but whatever sub-professional degree they had wouldn’t count towards it. Anybody can claim to be a scientist, but the claim of the title “engineer” is covered by practice laws in the USA, as a matter—supposedly—of public safety. Because I’ve worked in and for the public sector, licensure is unavoidably required for me, and I’m still licensed in five states.)

On the point of doctorates: engineering schools have practice degrees and research degrees, even post-master’s. A Doctor of Engineering would struggle to get a tenured academic position, but would wear it proudly in their industry cv. Academics would be expected to have a Ph.D. The difference is the thesis. I see the distinction between medical clinical practitioners—MD’s—and medical researchers with Ph.D.’s the same way, except that laws prohibit the latter from clinical practice that requires prescribing meds.

Very little that is discussed in this forum requires much formal scientific or engineering training beyond high school. I don’t see integrals being shown as equations, nor do I see statistical discussions of things like, say, statistical heteroskedasticity. Any engineer should know what the occasional differential equation means, and any engineer should understand basic parametric applied statistics, but I’ve seen that only rarely here. Most stuff here doesn’t go beyond the technical requirements of, say, amateur radio. And 12-year-olds pass those tests. Let’s not overblow the science horn. I’m not saying many contributors here don’t have a deep well of such, but they know they have to simplify it for this forum.

Rick “so much argument with so little at stake” Denney
 

ahofer

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I think it was that the Japanese technical electronics corporations had mastered the art of putting out high-power low distortion amplifiers at reasonable prices, and which lasted decades with no adjustments, along with very highly engineered direct drive turntables with high specification motors and again, high engineering precision and design attributes throughout.

And the British and American artisans, who used to make the hifi gear that was most sought after, simply couldn’t compete with this. There was no way that they could make an amplifier equal or better than what the Japanese were doing, nor a turntable, when their primary skills were woodworking, glueing belts together, and mounting wooden trays on springs.

So, in response to this, a pattern started to emerge where, whenever the old school released a new product, the home nation’s audio journalists (and indeed perhaps the English speaking audio journalist group in unison) would enthuse endlessly over it, and their primary advantage that they could talk about was that it sounds simply better. Much better. And we saw the myth emerge about the Japanese amplifiers being sterile and lifeless, and the Japanese turntables similarly, and that the British and American products get your foot tapping with their pace, rhythm and timing, which seem to be miraculously totally absent from a well engineered product. After all, this was war.

The likely fact that the journalists were actually writing what they believed, because they actually heard such differences but didn’t know they were listening through their bias, made it somewhat innocent, and not deliberately mischievous.
Interesting theory, although Japan is home to some of the most hardcore tube/horn fans around - they are also leaders in audio bars where people go to hear giant horn speakers with vinyl and tubes in front of them.

I tend to think it is the affinity for ‘artisan’ products in a mass-produced world.
 
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