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"Music-First Audiophile" Manifesto by John Darko

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That the reason the audiophile chooses her audio gear is to elevate the sound quality of music played on that system - which of course for any audiophile will be mainly focused on the music she likes.

This does not argue against or rule out any audiophile pursuing an accurate system. That's your blinders working, Sal. Many audiophiles find accurate systems elevate the sound quality of their music library. That's why they buy those systems
You can't have both, your system is either chosen to be an accurate reproducer of whats on the source.
You can then add EQ or such to taste.

Or you chose the path of a high distortion SET 300B amp and AN speakers cause it sounds good to you.
But end up with ass-backwards sound quality that you can never escape.

It doesn’t matter what the mastering engineer may or may not have heard all we have is the artefact.
All we can do is attempt to reproduce that file as accurately as possible, if that is you are interested in high-fidelity.
Keith
High Fidelity Matt.
Keith
Exactly Keith.
I don't believe some of these guys just can't grasp the concept of a High Fidelity system or what it means, pretty simple really.
They either play into the snake-oil world of "sounds good to me" or continue to argue just to be contrary on a science based website. :facepalm:
Maybe they didn't read my link.
After this I'm done here, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. :mad:

High Fidelity.png
 
There are basically 3 philosophical threads that justify Hi-Fi:

1) To enjoy the music.

2) To enjoy the sound.

3) To enjoy the knowledge that what you're hearing is as authentic as possible.

Mostly we take #1 as a given since it's achievable with almost any system.

Fidelity is primarily in service of #2 and eventually #3, but only #3 is particularly problematic, since it requires some authoritative reference.

Unfortunately the most authoritative experience is probably what the mixing or mastering engineer heard in the studio, which is inaccessible, if not entirely unknowable, and it raises the further question as to whether that was what the artists (writ large) intended for the home listener, or what, whether that matters, whether studio sound is actually desirable or just a dead-end of clinging to an arbitrary concept of authenticity.

I actually value #3 somewhat, even though I realize it's a bit futile... others don't. All of us presumably value #1 and #2.
I started recording in the late 1980s. Only made a few analog recordings before switching to digital gear. My monitoring gear consisted of the Stax Lambda Pro Earspeakers with the tube energizer/amplifier. I don't know how "accurate" those headphones were, but they sure were detailed. In any case, I couldn't help but notice that the digital replay sounded just like the sound coming out of my mixing board, a lowly Mackie 1204. The analog tape sound was rolled off in the high frequencies, distorted as the levels got higher. As I was an analog diehard when I started, this was not the result I expected.

I was lucky enough to work assisting experienced engineers at classical music sessions. I was surprised that they opted for practicality for their monitors instead of going all out for ultimate fidelity. But, seeing as they were experienced, after all, they knew better than to depend overmuch on their monitoring tools. They trusted that their microphone selection would have the biggest impact on the ultimate sound quality. The monitors were there to make sure nothing went wrong, like the sudden sound of jets overhead or traffic from the streets.

Thing is, they wouldn't really know what the recording would sound like until they got to their (home) studio. And then they wouldn't be too sure what it would sound like on somebody else's stereo. But they didn't worry about it too much, knowing that they consistently got good results using that gear in those positions in the past. One can't know if the result is truly accurate to the original event, only whether or not the results sound good.
 
WRONG.
Sound quality should always come first.
The "sounds good to me" approach to audio has never moved the goalpost of High Fidelity one inch closer.
"Audio actually used to have a goal: perfect reproduction of the sound of real music performed in a real space. That was found difficult to achieve, and it was abandoned when most music lovers, who almost never heard anything except amplified music anyway, forgot what "the real thing" had sounded like. Today, "good" sound is whatever one likes. As Art Dudley so succinctly said [in his January 2004 "Listening," see "Letters," p.9], fidelity is irrelevant to music.
J. Gordon Holt"

That a nope from myself but everyone comes at this from a different perspective

I guess it’s a generational thing dependant on the genre but music first for myself, I could be just as happy, if not more, riding around on my bike through the Galloway hills with a mini bluetooth speaker on my handlebars playing some house tunes as I could be sitting at home with my system.

Or I could be at a ****** club with a ****** sound system but a DJ that reads the room to perfection whilst surrounded by friends, strangers and it’ll be a transcendental experience that’ll I’ll remember for the rest of my life

”******” gets asterisked out?……….really?………..do kindergarten kids read this forum?,
 
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That a nope from myself but everyone comes at this from a different perspective

I guess it’s a generational thing dependant on the genre but music first for myself, I could be just as happy, if not more, riding around on my bike through the Galloway hills with a mini bluetooth speaker on my handlebars playing some house tunes as I could be sitting at home with my system.

Or I could be at a ****** club with a ****** sound system but a DJ that reads the room to perfection whilst surrounded by friends, strangers and it’ll be a transcendental experience that’ll I’ll remember for the rest of my life
Lovely post.

I was fitty fitty at the start of the thread, but music first....you are all correct.

Music transcends formats and gear.
 
Why anyone cares what Darko has to say in the first place has always puzzled me.

1. Many (see his youtube numbers and comments) find his reviews entertaining or informative about gear they are interested in. So "what he has to say" about that gear is of interest to many.

2. He has a fairly high profile in the audiophile world (that's why you've heard of him), with a large audiophile audience. So if Darko makes some sort of argument many feel it's worth countering (or supporting as it may be) what Darko is saying.

3. Darko often raises questions about the nature of this hobby, such as this "manifesto," and you don't have to like or hate Darko to find they are subjects or ideas worth discussing. Hence the activity in a thread, even on a generally Darko-negative forum like this.

Hope that helps :).
 
1. Many (see his youtube numbers and comments) find his reviews entertaining or informative about gear they are interested in. So "what he has to say" about that gear is of interest to many.

2. He has a fairly high profile in the audiophile world (that's why you've heard of him), with a large audiophile audience. So if Darko makes some sort of argument many feel it's worth countering (or supporting as it may be) what Darko is saying.

3. Darko often raises questions about the nature of this hobby, such as this "manifesto," and you don't have to like or hate Darko to find they are subjects or ideas worth discussing. Hence the activity in a thread, even on a generally Darko-negative forum like this.

Hope that helps :).
Informative? Not when I dipped my toes into his oily pool.....more the other direction. Just goes to show how poor many audiophiles choose information or even gear....
 
Informative? Not when I dipped my toes into his oily pool.....more the other direction. Just goes to show how poor many audiophiles choose information or even gear....
I used to work in audio sales with a guy that was smooth as silk or maybe even slippery as fresh horse poo... He had a habit of being too smooth, selling stuff really fast and not upselling. In brief he was a closer but preoccupied with slamming customers to buy gear. I too dislike the smooth talkers that take the easy way out for a buck or two.
 
There must have been a sale at the dispensary this afternoon. I believe the overwhelming majority of audiophiles define high fidelity as fidelity to what's in the recording. If the recording engineers have any talent whatsoever, the output will be a convincing reproduction of the original performance even if not exactly the same as the original performance. Somehow a bunch of very high members here think it means whatever makes you happy. That is a standard so vague as to be meaningless.
 
This entire thread - violent agreement and all - reminds me of the old adage about opinions, which I'll refrain from recounting.

To add my own smelly contribution, as a musician, recovering engineer, and music lover, I tend to take an approach that verifiably infuriates everybody. It's not objectivist, subjectivist, or Darkoist (whatever that is). I start with equipment that is convenient to use as a first principle, and also shown to be engineered well enough that less controllable factors (like mastering quality, room modes, etc.) would render any defects inaudible. Then I listen, measure, reposition (with the aid of a room mode calculator), listen, measure, and so on until it sounds good enough to me on a variety of stuff I'm familiar with. Once I note the "good enough" broad curve, I'll correct the full system to follow that curve up to maybe 800Hz. Then I listen to verify, and leave it well enough alone until I have to move the system.

Is it perfect? No. But I'd argue that that's exactly the point.
 
You don’t need HiFi to enjoy music. At least you shouldn’t need it. The music should speak for itself.
So an old cassette deck with a mono speaker that tops out at 60dB and have a frequency response between 200hz-12khz is good enough to enjoy any music because it speaks for itself?
 
Uh huh.
Keith

Mm hmm !

Isn't it odd to remain incurious about why you are actually engaged in the activity to begin with?

Imagine coming upon someone with an electron microscope and you ask "what are you doing?" They answer "I'm aiming the highest accuracy, highest resolution microscope at this sample of mold. You ask "why are you ?" They answer "uh huh."

That would be strange wouldn't it?

Why are you reticent to answer such a question?

Do you think it's so obvious you don't have to answer? It isn't.

Are you trying to amplify the signal...to enjoy the music?

No?

Then why?

Are you trying to reproduce the signal accurately...just as a little science experiment?

No?

Are you trying to reproduce the signal accurately...to hear the art created by the artist?

Why? To what purpose?

What is the point of wanting to ACCURATELY reproduce that signal? Are you trying to reproduce the signal ACCURATELY can experience the art as it was intended?

Do we want to go down that rabbit hole?

I mean, sure, it's easy to just not bother answering questions like this. If you are incurious about why we are doing this hobby, suit yourself. But some of us like to
think about what we are doing and why.
 
So an old cassette deck with a mono speaker that tops out at 60dB and have a frequency response between 200hz-12khz is good enough to enjoy any music because it speaks for itself?
I think an example of the music speaking for itself versus having no music is like when the mains electricity used to go out every 3 months or so in small town Canada decades ago and we used a old wind-up record player with I guess 78s. It sounded like crap but with dead silence all around any music was good music at the time.
 
Informative? Not when I dipped my toes into his oily pool.....more the other direction. Just goes to show how poor many audiophiles choose information or even gear....

Sure. Not liking Darko and looking down on other audiophiles who enjoy his reviews is your prerogative.

I think the "oily factor" you suggest is likely highly exaggerated, and that one can find plenty of reasonable information in Darko's reviews. But as I said, some people will take certain things one person says as fully discrediting. I find that too stuffy and limiting, so I like to keep open to the good I can also find even with someone who disagrees with me in some ways.
 
There must have been a sale at the dispensary this afternoon. I believe the overwhelming majority of audiophiles define high fidelity as fidelity to what's in the recording. If the recording engineers have any talent whatsoever, the output will be a convincing reproduction of the original performance even if not exactly the same as the original performance. Somehow a bunch of very high members here think it means whatever makes you happy. That is a standard so vague as to be meaningless.

I don't think I've seen anyone in this thread, not even Darko, putting forth such a position.

I don't think anyone is mixing up 'high fidelity' or "accuracy" or "neutrality" in equipment with "what makes you happy." Rather, the discussion is whether one is purchasing his equipment based on accuracy (in the measurable sense) vs, say, "the sound that makes me happy." That's not thinking they mean the same thing; just a question of different goals.
 
So an old cassette deck with a mono speaker that tops out at 60dB and have a frequency response between 200hz-12khz is good enough to enjoy any music because it speaks for itself?
Yes, certainly!

I'm not calling it Hi Fi, but most places in this world aren't listening rooms, either.

If that's the only thing on hand, what will you do? Get out of the pool!

Man, when I was a kid, we'd all tune our AM radios to the same channel and enjoy. Music first.

We can't always be sonic dilettantes.
 
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1. Many (see his youtube numbers and comments) find his reviews entertaining or informative about gear they are interested in. So "what he has to say" about that gear is of interest to many.

2. He has a fairly high profile in the audiophile world (that's why you've heard of him), with a large audiophile audience. So if Darko makes some sort of argument many feel it's worth countering (or supporting as it may be) what Darko is saying.

3. Darko often raises questions about the nature of this hobby, such as this "manifesto," and you don't have to like or hate Darko to find they are subjects or ideas worth discussing. Hence the activity in a thread, even on a generally Darko-negative forum like this.

Hope that helps :).
Nope, you are not addressing the question, "Why anyone cares what Darko has to say in the first place has always puzzled me." so let me help simplify the question: "Why anyone cares what salesman has to say" it is curious how we give some validity to the information coming from a person who only real goal is getting money from you; it is actually puzzling.
 
I don't think I've seen anyone in this thread, not even Darko, putting forth such a position.
I think some sound engineers do tend to lean towards whatever makes one happy and it shows in their sound expressions. It's not about having a standard or standards to reference to or follow it's all about the art.
 
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