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Why has Audio (and maybe all hobbies) become so hostile?

CDMC

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#1
First, I should start by saying that I am not trying to start some war, but am frustrated/confused by the hostility I see on some forums. I am posting this here, as I believe that there will actually be a thoughtful discussion that won't devolve into a war of insults.

A little about me. I am a 40 something that has been enthralled with audio since I was 10. My dad was a musician who trained in Opera. His entertaining partner a composer who was married to a classical pianist. I spent a lot of time as a child sitting next to a 1912 Chickering concert grand, probably why my litmus test for speakers is how a piano sounds. I am in the middle of the objective/subjective beliefs. I believe that measurements tell us a great deal about how equipment sounds, but also that we have not yet been able to quantify and correlate everything we hear. I also believe that cables can make a minor difference in sound, but not due to any magical properties, but basic differences in LCR (I swear that I hear a difference between Kimber 4VS and Wireworld Helicon 16, with the Helicon being slightly smoother (rolled off) on the top end). I also believe that the listening room and speakers are by far the largest determinate in how a system sounds and 95+ percent of what makes a system sound good is speaker/room matching.

Finally, I try to be honest in my own biases. I believe that most of us have preferences that deviate from a "flat wire with gain". In my case, I am very sensitive to high frequencies (I was close to a loud explosion as a child that left me with permanent tinnitus that is getting worse as I get older). Combine that sensitivity with with my preference for rock, which can vary from well mixed to horrible, and I prefer equipment that is on the warm syrupy side of things, which I know is not the most "accurate" but gives me the most listening pleasure. Give me a pair of speakers with a nice little midbass hump and slightly rolled off high end any day of the week.

Having gotten that out of the way, I constantly watch threads on forums devolve into flat out personal attacks (i.e. this is the best amplifier in the world and if you don't like it you are deaf and stupid). In regard to this forum and Amir, on other forums I saw negative comments (and after looking further, downright nasty and extremely hostile personal attacks) which of course made me come and look here. Ironically what I saw here was a lot more tolerance and intellectual discourse than in many other places (AVS Forums seems to be the other forum where they still stay civil).

I think a lot of what bothers me is time and time again seeing a new person coming in and looking for guidance and three posts later it has devolved into a war not involving the original poster's question that then goes on for another 50-100 posts. This bothers me in large parts as with companies like Massdrop, Schiit (I know there is a less than pleasant history with Amir and Schiit), Emotiva, Tekton, and a myrad of others, there is finally a resurgence in affordable, good audio equipment and an opportunity to grow the audio community with young people instead of a bunch of old guys bitching.

So trying to focus in on what bothers me (and this seems to go beyond just audio groups):

1) What happened to being civil to each other?
2) Why has audio become a personal religion rather than a fun hobby?
3) Why can people not be intellectually honest with themselves (i.e. I know it measures like shit, but I like the way it sounds)?
4) When did people become unable to separate personal preferences from fact?

Again, sorry to the extent I am rambling, but this is something that just constantly sits there in the back of my mind.

Cary
 
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#2
I'm relatively new to the audio world myself. I owned a pretty good entry level system about 10 years ago and didn't pay much attention to the audio world since. Now I got back to the hobby and started researching information on various equipment and I noticed a lot of hostility toward people who hold negative opinions toward any piece of equipment/a company/a dealer. I posted a negative experience I had with a dealer in my area on canuckaudiomart and all hell broke loose with shrills condemning me for being a bad customer/liar lol. Then I realized it's all a game to maintain the positive aura around the industry to keep selling some some dubious myths/dreams. You're right to some folks it's kinda like a religion. It's either you're with us or against us mentality. And maybe many people's livelihood is at stake here I guess because dealers/companies depend on good reviews to survive and users depends on good reviews to resell their gears. I don't agree with this forum's negativity toward tubes myself but at least it doesn't look like the negativity has an agenda attached to it. I do learn something from this forum that I can't trust my hearing/memory too much so I'll try to keep my mind open both to pros and cons and not getting emotionally attached to opinions. I'm still learning to read their measurements but I believe data don't lie so I'll put what the data show above any opinions any day.
 
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#3
Doesn't seem to be just an audio thing, some people take it as a personal attack when you don't view something the way they do, and on the internet it turns into a pile on. I'm sure seeing objective measurements of fairly pricey gear that goes against their expectations of money paid=quality can cause an irrational reaction as well.

Human nature I guess
 

Julf

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#4
It is a general thing, not just limited to audio. Basically people going "my personal opinion/preference is just as good as some supposed 'expert' (that might have gotten a PhD and spent half a lifetime doing research, but what would nerds like that know about how things really work?), and if they challenge my view, I have the right to be mortally offended. By the way, personal attack is a prefectly valid way to debate, just look at our leaders and role models. "
 

solderdude

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#5
1) What happened to being civil to each other?
Where there are too 'camps' with opposing views being civil goes out the door quickly.
I don't like it and try not to participate but we are all human.

2) Why has audio become a personal religion rather than a fun hobby?
That's what passion and conviction does to most people.
It is more a belief than based on pure facts.
This is true for nearly everything in life and not limited to audio.
Usually one doesn't enter a church and starts yelling they are believing the wrong thing why do the same on forums/websites you would normally not subscribe to.
Anonymity on forums makes it easier to do just that.
Some like to stir pots or talk other people down (seen on PS audio a LOT lately)

3) Why can people not be intellectually honest with themselves (i.e. I know it measures like shit, but I like the way it sounds)?
People like to be fooled, they like to believe in fairy-tales, they just don't want to know or be told by 'others', especially not those that don't adhere to their views. They are enabled and confirmed by like minded people.
It's where they are comfortable in. Human nature.

4) When did people become unable to separate personal preferences from fact?
When someone hears, perceives something what else can it be than the truth...
That is the reasoning behind it.
One believes what they see.

We all see the above picture 'rotate' yet all of us know it doesn't.
When printed on A4 paper we know for certain it does not move.
Yet ... we clearly see movement (not on small screens)... we KNOW it is not there but cannot do anything than see it move.
You can't switch that 'off'.
Ask someone else and they say it rotates.. it doesn't but they say it does because it is perceived that way so it is real.
 
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JoachimStrobel

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#6
I am both into audio and photo. So I look at both, audio and photo forums. And my impression is, that audio is much nicer as we do not write about our own music, but just about our impression of other people’s music played through “our” system. Photo is brutal in comparison as it is all about photos taken by people themself, and photographic fidelity (=equipment) and processing (DSPs) is suddenly much more personal. Compared to that, audio forums are a treat...
 

RayDunzl

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#7
Strange.

It's not rotating for me today.
 
OP
CDMC

CDMC

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Thread Starter #9
I believe with the optical illusion you see the movement when not looking directly at it, but seeing it in your peripheral vision.
 

JeffS7444

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#11
OP,don't take this personally - I question my own beliefs all the time: Sometimes it's healthy to consider the possibility that decades worth of experience and beliefs as a hobbyist have been fundamentally wrong.

So far as I can see, you've made no effort to become a more educated hobbyist by introducing a degree of scientific rigor into your listening tests. And I think if you do, you'll quickly find that at least with wires and electronics, there really aren't any sonic truths not revealed by testing, and that a decently designed 300B single ended amplifier with Teflon tube sockets, silver point to point wiring, rhodium-plated copper connectors and Black Gate capacitors sounds pretty much the same as a Harman Kardon cinema receiver as long as you don't drive them into distortion.

And you know what's great about discovering that you had it all wrong? You can start over with a fresh attitude and a whole lot of new product choices. Think of it as "rebooting the franchise".
 

KozmoNaut

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#12
I am both into audio and photo. So I look at both, audio and photo forums. And my impression is, that audio is much nicer as we do not write about our own music, but just about our impression of other people’s music played through “our” system. Photo is brutal in comparison as it is all about photos taken by people themself, and photographic fidelity (=equipment) and processing (DSPs) is suddenly much more personal. Compared to that, audio forums are a treat...
I think it's a matter of seeking validation from others into the same hobby, rather than just enjoying what you have.

We all crave validation on some level, and being able to play the audiophile game and impress others with esoteric knowledge is a sort of validation.

A purely factual ABX test just doesn't have the same sexiness as a well-told fairytale.
 

Ron Party

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#13
It's not moving, but my eyes seem to be winning the debate and my intellect is losing. That rotating image which is not rotating is giving me the creeps!
 

BDWoody

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#14
First, I should start by saying that I am not trying to start some war, but am frustrated/confused by the hostility I see on some forums. I am posting this here, as I believe that there will actually be a thoughtful discussion that won't devolve into a war of insults.

A little about me. I am a 40 something that has been enthralled with audio since I was 10. My dad was a musician who trained in Opera. His entertaining partner a composer who was married to a classical pianist. I spent a lot of time as a child sitting next to a 1912 Chickering concert grand, probably why my litmus test for speakers is how a piano sounds. I am in the middle of the objective/subjective beliefs. I believe that measurements tell us a great deal about how equipment sounds, but also that we have not yet been able to quantify and correlate everything we hear. I also believe that cables can make a minor difference in sound, but not due to any magical properties, but basic differences in LCR (I swear that I hear a difference between Kimber 4VS and Wireworld Helicon 16, with the Helicon being slightly smoother (rolled off) on the top end). I also believe that the listening room and speakers are by far the largest determinate in how a system sounds and 95+ percent of what makes a system sound good is speaker/room matching.

Finally, I try to be honest in my own biases. I believe that most of us have preferences that deviate from a "flat wire with gain". In my case, I am very sensitive to high frequencies (I was close to a loud explosion as a child that left me with permanent tinnitus that is getting worse as I get older). Combine that sensitivity with with my preference for rock, which can vary from well mixed to horrible, and I prefer equipment that is on the warm syrupy side of things, which I know is not the most "accurate" but gives me the most listening pleasure. Give me a pair of speakers with a nice little midbass hump and slightly rolled off high end any day of the week.

Having gotten that out of the way, I constantly watch threads on forums devolve into flat out personal attacks (i.e. this is the best amplifier in the world and if you don't like it you are deaf and stupid). In regard to this forum and Amir, on other forums I saw negative comments (and after looking further, downright nasty and extremely hostile personal attacks) which of course made me come and look here. Ironically what I saw here was a lot more tolerance and intellectual discourse than in many other places (AVS Forums seems to be the other forum where they still stay civil).

I think a lot of what bothers me is time and time again seeing a new person coming in and looking for guidance and three posts later it has devolved into a war not involving the original poster's question that then goes on for another 50-100 posts. This bothers me in large parts as with companies like Massdrop, Schiit (I know there is a less than pleasant history with Amir and Schiit), Emotiva, Tekton, and a myrad of others, there is finally a resurgence in affordable, good audio equipment and an opportunity to grow the audio community with young people instead of a bunch of old guys bitching.

So trying to focus in on what bothers me (and this seems to go beyond just audio groups):

1) What happened to being civil to each other?
2) Why has audio become a personal religion rather than a fun hobby?
3) Why can people not be intellectually honest with themselves (i.e. I know it measures like shit, but I like the way it sounds)?
4) When did people become unable to separate personal preferences from fact?

Again, sorry to the extent I am rambling, but this is something that just constantly sits there in the back of my mind.

Cary
If you think about many of these groups as cults, it may help.
1. Generally requires a lot of money.
2. Requires faith in the leaders.
3. Makes you feel special...hidden/unknowable things revealed only to members.
4. No questioning of authority allowed, and irrational defense of same when attacked or questioned by others... Blind loyalty.
5. Let us all pray for the poor unenlightened, and if the heathen enter your midst, cast them out with prejudice.

I also have been trying much more to follow Solderdude's and other examples of people on here with almost Saint like patience, and (try to) be less provocative (with most) when challenging what may be long and sincerely held beliefs.

Telling people they are and have been completely wrong for a long time is seldom taken well under the best of circumstances.

How about after a $16k crappy DAC, $10k in cables, a $25k tube amp...and a meeting of the local audio club who all clearly heard you had the least plankton... Even all the wives in the kitchen could hear it.

It would take an unusual person to not react with near violence when told it was pretty much an overpriced pile of garbage.
 

Hypnotoad

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#15
It would take an unusual person to not react with near violence when told it was pretty much an overpriced pile of garbage.
Exactly, people with loads of cash spending up big on the latest and greatest, their egos massaged by the sales people, their audio friends looking up to them, feeling superior to others. Then some "bogan" comes along and tells them they wasted their money.....................
 

BillG

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#16
Most people aren't technologically literate and are therefore easily swayed by salespeople and their own biases. This causes some of them to become so firm in their beliefs that they become downright hostile when challenged with evidence to the contrary.

Another thing I want to add is that music can have a profound impact on one's emotional state subsequently ramping up all those feel-good chemicals in the brain. Couple these music induced dopamine hits with the beliefs and biases I mentioned above, and it becomes an addiction. Try denying an addict their drug of choice, and watch how devious and aggressive they become... :rolleyes:
 
OP
CDMC

CDMC

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Thread Starter #17
OP,don't take this personally - I question my own beliefs all the time: Sometimes it's healthy to consider the possibility that decades worth of experience and beliefs as a hobbyist have been fundamentally wrong.

So far as I can see, you've made no effort to become a more educated hobbyist by introducing a degree of scientific rigor into your listening tests. And I think if you do, you'll quickly find that at least with wires and electronics, there really aren't any sonic truths not revealed by testing, and that a decently designed 300B single ended amplifier with Teflon tube sockets, silver point to point wiring, rhodium-plated copper connectors and Black Gate capacitors sounds pretty much the same as a Harman Kardon cinema receiver as long as you don't drive them into distortion.

And you know what's great about discovering that you had it all wrong? You can start over with a fresh attitude and a whole lot of new product choices. Think of it as "rebooting the franchise".
Absolutely zero insult taken. I live by the belief that you should look at both sides of an argument before making a decision, but even after making a decision, always be open to looking at new information, as it may cause you to reconsider your position. Anything less is closing your mind to learning.

As far as scientific rigor in my testing, it is limited to a SPL meter, Roomeq for measuring and a basic volt meter. I wish I had the time, money and resources to be able to afford the necessary equipment to do true ABX testing of equipment. The closest I have been able to get is having my wife swap RCA's without telling me if they are actually swapped.

I know one time I did hear a massive difference in cables. I was trying to figure out why my system didn't sound right. Well, one speaker cable connection (not visible, a factory connection) had degraded to the point when I checked it with an ohm meter it was at something like 15 ohms. Changing that cable made a big difference. I am confident (but again, cannot say with certainty) that I have heard very minor differences in speaker cables (but not enough to make me go out and spend four figures or more; the most is about $200 for a 15 foot pair). Interconnects, I am not so sure, at least not enough to spend more than Mogami cabled XLR interconnects I purchased from World's Best Cables on Amazon for $30 a pair. Same with hearing minor differences in amplifiers (I am still using a 20 year old Sunfire Stereo, but had the caps replaced last year and it tested). Preamps, I know the Schiit Freya I purchased last year sounded like crap compared to my Adcom GFP-750 and got sent back. I am positive there was something wrong with it, as I purchased a Freya S this year which sounded very close to my Adcom GFP-750 and replaced it (worried about parts for the 750). DAC's, I heard an appreciable difference between my 20 year old Bel Canto DAC 1 and the Schiit Bifrost Multibit that replaced it, but am not convinced it was nothing more than components may have aged out of spec on the old dac in 20 years.

By the same token, I am well aware that I have fooled myself at times. With my Schiit Freya S, I heard significant differences between passive and active, even when level matched. The mistake I made was level matching by ear. When I used a DB meter to actually match within 1 db, those differences became extremely minor, if they are in fact really differences. Same thing for the Saga on my desktop.

Speaking of other hobbies, I mountain bike. The mountain bike groups do not have the same hostile arguments about equipment. There is a common joke bantered around that could be used in audio however: "Pick the product you like and be a dick about it."
 

raif71

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#18
Those that say the images don't rotate are crazy. See what I just did :) ? I probably ticked a couple of people there haha. "Stick and stones ...." are only true in the physical sense but mentally words can really hurt people so be very careful with what one say. Pleasant weekend, guys.
 

gikigill

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#19
Where there are too 'camps' with opposing views being civil goes out the door quickly.
I don't like it and try not to participate but we are all human.


We all see the above picture 'rotate' yet all of us know it doesn't.
When printed on paper we know for certain it does not move.
Yet ... we clearly see movement... we KNOW it is not there but cannot do anything than see it move.
You can't switch it 'off'.
Ask someone else and they say it rotates.. it doesn't but they say it does because it is perceived that way so it is real.
You need this TV to see the images rotate. https://www.lg.com/us/tvs/lg-OLED88Z9PUA-signature-oled-8k-tv

If you are not able to afford it, you are just a pleb who needs their eyes checked since my clearly superior vision and the $30k TV can see the images rotate.

All my friends who saw the image on the 30k TV said they could see the images rotate :)
 
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#20
You need this TV to see the images rotate. https://www.lg.com/us/tvs/lg-OLED88Z9PUA-signature-oled-8k-tv

If you are not able to afford it, you are just a pleb who needs their eyes checked since my clearly superior vision and the $30k TV can see the images rotate.

All my friends who saw the image on the 30k TV said they could see the images rotate :)

You're such a noob. I was able to see it on my $5K TV just as well. Of course, I do have a $3K power cable to go along with it. Obviously, you're just a sucker for quality marketing.
 
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