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Stereophiles editor Jim Austin publicly disagreeing with Kal Rubinson

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thewas

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Sal1950

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Jim Austin
"I embraced it myself once, and still do when it comes to science, where certainty is crucial and universality is fundamental. Yet, music listening is "anecdotal," and scientific/statistical "proof" has little relevance to our enjoyment of music."

WOW
So Jim admits that science and certainty have no place in Stereophiles view of Hi Fi!
Whatever someone thinks something sounds like is evidence enough.
Well I guess we all knew that but it's hilarious to hear the editor admit that all the content in his magazine can easily be BS. LOL
 
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Blumlein 88

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Yes, Stereophile has been mangling dbW for years. What they are doing is an adjusted dbW in place of what is really dbV. I remember their explanation about making it easy for readers in some sense. My opinion was always the readers who didn't get it really gained nothing, and those who did realized they technically were wrong. Didn't make sense to me.

The rest between Kal and Jack L is something implied in many subjectivist comments. Kal respects your subjective experience and may have a different one from how he approaches things. Stereophile's founding philosophy was use your ears as the final arbiter and those ears were accessed via uncontrolled subjective experience. The fly in the ointment to that has always been what if two honest listeners have diametrically opposed experiences then which one is right? Jack L like many want to assume their experience is correct and disagreements or especially someone who interprets their experience from different principles is wrong. It is a philosophical thicket from which you can never escape with that attitude. Even Stereophile's founder John Gordon Holt in time came to realize this and said the rejection of honesty controls doomed that approach.


Do you see any signs of future vitality in high-end audio?

Vitality? Don't make me laugh. Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel. For the record: I never, ever claimed that measurements don't matter. What I said (and very often, at that) was, they don't always tell the whole story. Not quite the same thing.


PS- the 1980's being when honesty controls were flatly rejected coincides with when JGH sold Stereophile. Along with the rise of digital music in the form of CD.
 
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ahofer

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If that comment stream isn’t the dying yawp of dinosaurs…roflmao. “So obvious no blind tests needed.” If I had a dime…
 

JSmith

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Unfortunate as it is, Jim is just trying to protect their (dying) business model... but it does come across as a bit desperate to go and "pull into line" Kal in this way, especially publicly.

The point of posting statements, like what Jim has posted, is to attempt to negate measurements and blind testing etc. as being important and trying to continue the old paradigm that the ultimate arbiter is ones ears only. The point is to create confusion and obfuscate. Doing so helps perpetuate these ideas and thus the continuation of Sterophile.

Jim could be less obvious though. ;)


JSmith
 

restorer-john

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Yes, Stereophile has been mangling dbW for years. What they are doing is an adjusted dbW in place of what is really dbV. I remember their explanation about making it easy for readers in some sense. My opinion was always the readers who didn't get it really gained nothing, and those who did realized they technically were wrong. Didn't make sense to me.

Absolutely they have been mangling dBW for years. Their 'explanation' is plain wrong and they know it, but instead of just admitting they are incorrect and moving on, they double down. :facepalm:
 

MAB

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This is why I avoid most of the text in stereophile. I still like the pictures and graphs though!;)
It really feels like some unspoken lines were crossed in that comment section. Jim Austin violated the guideline of not belittling your own peeps in public, apparently because Kal violated the "You do not talk about Fight Club" rule.
 

dorakeg

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Vitality? Don't make me laugh. Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. with the rise of digital music in the form of CD.

I fully agree with this part that audio as a hobby is dying. I believe the main reason is technological improvement, accessibility and habits of people and availability of other forms of entertainment.

With the availability of low cost Bluetooth/wireless/usb speakers, most simply can simply buy such speakers and connect to their phones/PC/tablet/laptops and listen to music. No doubt they do not measure that well, do not sound that well compared to better equipment. However, they are relatively affordable and perform decently (good enough).

Also the habits. People today want visual and interactive entertainment, eg. Gaming. My nephew feel that listening to music is boring. He tell me there is nothing to see, only listening to sound from 2 big ugly boxes and staring at the wall. There is no interaction at all. The phone is way more entertaining...haha

It's not just audio as a hobby, many other hobbies are dying too. I like building models. Sadly, few are keen in it today.
 

dorakeg

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Jim Austin
"I embraced it myself once, and still do when it comes to science, where certainty is crucial and universality is fundamental. Yet, music listening is "anecdotal," and scientific/statistical "proof" has little relevance to our enjoyment of music."

WOW
So Jim admits that science and certainty have no place in Stereophiles view of Hi Fi!
Whatever someone thinks something sounds like is evidence enough.
Well I guess we all knew that but it's hilarious to hear the editor admit that all the content in his magazine can easily be BS. LOL

Ok I didn't read the article. But I do agree with him to a certain extend that science has little relevance on music enjoyment.

Why I say that is because I believe enjoyment of music is largely dependent on the music itself and preferences of the listener. Jist citing an example... Let's say you love Michael Jackson songs but your friend hates it. Even the best audio equipment is unlikely make your friend change his mind. What's worse is that when you ask why, he simply tells you that he just hate his songs.... I think we have heard people saying things like "I just hate it and I can't explain why".
 

Doodski

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Ok I didn't read the article. But I do agree with him to a certain extend that science has little relevance on music enjoyment.

Why I say that is because I believe enjoyment of music is largely dependent on the music itself and preferences of the listener. Jist citing an example... Let's say you love Michael Jackson songs but your friend hates it. Even the best audio equipment is unlikely make your friend change his mind. What's worse is that when you ask why, he simply tells you that he just hate his songs.... I think we have heard people saying things like "I just hate it and I can't explain why".
I think you are off the rails and subjectively expanding your ideas a bit far for an objectively based audio equipment website.
 

MAB

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Ok I didn't read the article. But I do agree with him to a certain extend that science has little relevance on music enjoyment.

Why I say that is because I believe enjoyment of music is largely dependent on the music itself and preferences of the listener. Jist citing an example... Let's say you love Michael Jackson songs but your friend hates it. Even the best audio equipment is unlikely make your friend change his mind. What's worse is that when you ask why, he simply tells you that he just hate his songs.... I think we have heard people saying things like "I just hate it and I can't explain why".
Problem is, Kal was telling people not to go out and waste their time and money on things that don't add to the musical enjoyment.
Jim Austin is saying that all you have to do is tell people that they can enjoy music without wasting money and it will cause them to not enjoy their music.:eek: And Jim Austin is right, because Stereophile made those people.
 

Galliardist

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I think you are off the rails and subjectively expanding your ideas a bit far for an objectively based audio equipment website.
I think the point being made is perfectly valid, though not necessarily universal. Musical taste is subjective. So much of audio is also subjective. And we don't have to have high fidelity to enjoy music.

Better fidelity sometimes gives me a closer relationship to a piece of music and often a better understanding of what is going on in a recording. With a good system I can hear the doubling and trebling of parts in a Renaissance music recording, for example, more clearly than through a single Bluetooth speaker. But I can still do the relevant dance if the reproduction doesn't make those parts clear. Will the improved reproduction suddenly make you a fan of Renaissance music if you didn't like it at all before? Really?

Isn't thinking such a thing just another example of expecting too much, or expecting magic, from audio equipment? Audio science goes way beyond measuring SINAD. It has to involve the process of hearing and understanding sound, so this area is hardly beyond bounds.
 

MAB

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I think the point being made is perfectly valid, though not necessarily universal. Musical taste is subjective. So much of audio is also subjective. And we don't have to have high fidelity to enjoy music.

Better fidelity sometimes gives me a closer relationship to a piece of music and often a better understanding of what is going on in a recording. With a good system I can hear the doubling and trebling of parts in a Renaissance music recording, for example, more clearly than through a single Bluetooth speaker. But I can still do the relevant dance if the reproduction doesn't make those parts clear. Will the improved reproduction suddenly make you a fan of Renaissance music if you didn't like it at all before? Really?

Isn't thinking such a thing just another example of expecting too much, or expecting magic, from audio equipment? Audio science goes way beyond measuring SINAD. It has to involve the process of hearing and understanding sound, so this area is hardly beyond bounds.
Actually, I'm not sure what this point has to do with the original post.
Let's review why we are here:
In Stereophile, where the goal seems to be to get people to buy $50000 cables, someone tried to get people to passive bi-wire their systems for better sound, and tried to act scientific about it... They said they had "skeptical ears", like their ears have an auto-null-hypothesis ABX test mode built-in...:facepalm: They must be like Enrico Fermi with bat ears.
And Jim Austin showed what the game is by calling him Kal out because you do not talk about fight club.
 
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ahofer

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I believe enjoyment of music is largely dependent on the music itself and preferences of the listener. Jist citing an example... Let's say you love Michael Jackson songs but your friend hates it. Even the best audio equipment is unlikely make your friend change his mind. What's worse is that when you ask why, he simply tells you that he just hate his songs.... I think we have heard people saying things like "I just hate it and I can't explain why".
As far as "enjoyment', you are right. But here we generally are trying to separate the stimuli that create such a reaction, i.e. the sound signal arriving at our ears, and the awkward multi-sensory subjective mess that is our system of perception. One we can control with measurements and careful, controlled, observation. The other requires self control, or possibly meditation or medication.

And, of course, musical tastes are a different subject from audio equipment tastes.
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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This has nothing to do with "musical enjoyment." We aren't talking about appreciating the beauty of a performance or the wonder of a magical chord change here. That's the game the subjectivists play - equating the evaluation of electronic equipment to musical enjoyment as though an amp is a musical instrument . This is about comparing one device to another and determining whether or not either does a better job of transmitting a known source from point A to point B without altering or distorting it in unexpected ways. If someone says "this cable sounds better than that cable" then there HAS TO BE a reason for that to be true. One cable must be DOING SOMETHING to sound better (or even different) from the other. If there's no measurable difference (or the difference is so tiny as to be obviously imperceptible), and no difference can be shown in blind testing...then there is no difference - certainly in so far as "musical enjoyment" is concerned. It's really that simple. Anything claimed beyond that is fantasy and more often then not a sales pitch

The Hi Fi audio industry has spent decades training us like Pavlovian dogs to equate musical enjoyment with the amount of money we spend. The higher the cost, the greater the "musical enjoyment." It has nothing at all to do with the actual sounds reaching our ears, it's all about the mental headgame of knowing we just bought some expensive new toy to replace that crappy old toy and now we can FINALLY truly enjoy our music! But while we're enjoying our music, we're flipping through the pages of the new issue of Stereophile that just arrived and WHOA get a load of that DAC!!! WoW!!! And the reviewer says it's the best dac he's ever heard!
 
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fpitas

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If that comment stream isn’t the dying yawp of dinosaurs…roflmao. “So obvious no blind tests needed.” If I had a dime…
It's odd men can get to that age and not realize there are con men out there just waiting to fleece them. I guess it's one of those "Can't happen to me!" sort of things.
 

JoachimStrobel

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1962 was the year when the German Magazin „Hifi Stereophie“ saw the light, later purchased and still existent as Stereoplay. They were never as high end as Stereophile. For a while they tested Multichannel stuff, but then stopped that and like Stereophile now look at Dacia grade investment stuff for listening pleasures.
Since a 2 Channel system is always underdetermined in what it tries to reproduce, every change in air humidity,
daylight mood or sofa pillow size will change the reproduction somehow. Those are all dead horses.
 

Astoneroad

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Science is involved in all enjoyment, musical and otherwise. Whether based in FR, biochemical reactions of endorphins in the brain, THC content of gummy bears or the "nature" of bias. We don't smile, without measurable science somewhere in the chain of events... IMHO.
 
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