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Why is audio so angry?

oivavoi

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#22
Good thread and good points made here already. I have three major hobbies at the moment on which I spend some time on forums:
- Transport-biking - i.e. using bicycles, often motor assisted, for transporting around all the stuff people usually transport in cars
- Playing digital and acoustic pianos
- Audio

Out of those, there’s no doubt that audio is by far the angriest and noisiest hobby, based on forums. It’s way beyond the other two in testosterone level and posturing.

I attribute that to two things:
A) it’s a male hobby with almost no women to calm things down
B) it’s to a large degree about relatively expensive technology stuff, which makes it suited as a status and hierarchy thing, and allows men who think their penises are too small to feel better about themselves. But then challenges to one’s audio beliefs or stuff also becomes a challenge to one’s *****.

My five cents.
 

RayDunzl

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#24
George Carlin is my other go-to modern philosopher.

He probably sums up some aspects of the situation here:

 

GrimSurfer

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#25
Carlin was a master of his craft and a keen observer (and critic) of human nature.
 
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#27
Ok, this is not really a question. More of an assertion and a suggestion.

Listening to music is a hobby with very few table stakes. You are either happy or not happy with what you hear.

Some people are happy for weird reasons (let’s put that in the subjectivist bucket) and some people are happy for provable reasons (objectivist bucket). But why the endless threads about it?

Why so much passion? Why so many (predominantly) males asserting or arguing?

Perhaps we need a chill pill. It’s really fun to look at the data (that’s why we are on ASR) and it’s really fun to explore why X does Y.

Maybe we can keep it at that without being heated. Maybe we can manage to have personal opinions without being overtly decisive. Especially on this forum.

Whether we talk about MQA or DSD, perhaps we can just smile and remember that we have a basic goal of hearing music that is nice, and that is enough.

The measurements - pro and con - are just another level in having fun in this hobby.
Sorry but what you are seeing is a hobby trying to survive and struggling to move away from subjective analysis as the only way to evaluate audio equipment.

I would argue any request for civility in audio is used for people like editors, reviewers and sales types to maintain their status as authorities.

We are in a time where there is unease in high end audio because we need a new format to promote according to Ken Kessler and Danny Kaey. I don’t think this is the case and question whether there is even a market for high resolution PCM.

To me DSD is a sound effect. I am having trouble finding people who care about in large enough numbers for other than niche market to exist.
Finally, it is no secret I’ve been working for three years to make MQA go away. There is no reason for it to exist.

My question to you is simple Rohde & Schwarz or Audio Precision?
 

Blumlein 88

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#29
Sorry but what you are seeing is a hobby trying to survive and struggling to move away from subjective analysis as the only way to evaluate audio equipment.

I would argue any request for civility in audio is used for people like editors, reviewers and sales types to maintain their status as authorities.

We are in a time where there is unease in high end audio because we need a new format to promote according to Ken Kessler and Danny Kaey. I don’t think this is the case and question whether there is even a market for high resolution PCM.

To me DSD is a sound effect. I am having trouble finding people who care about in large enough numbers for other than niche market to exist.
Finally, it is no secret I’ve been working for three years to make MQA go away. There is no reason for it to exist.

My question to you is simple Rohde & Schwarz or Audio Precision?
Sounds like Cosmik's signature line applies.
Digital audio is a rare example of a perfect technology. It has given audiophiles everything they want, and now they are bored.
 

RayDunzl

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#30
Don't forget the jittery effect of ceiling fans.
I don't!

I'm close to wearing out the string I tied to the chain to prevent wearing away the paint on the Bat Chain Puller Audio Buddy gave me:

1559335122916.png


The original (much nicer):

1559335355876.png


The music:

 
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tmtomh

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#31
You have obviously been saved the worst of the Mac Vs PC debate, where tribal loyalty trumps all logic.
You make a good point there!

Although I would reiterate that even in those religious-fervor level debates, I don't know how much confusion there is between objective and subjective evidence. It seems to me that the Mac-PC wars are either about competing subjective preferences, or else competing arrangements and permutations of objective facts (for example PCs simply are more configurable overall, and generally are available in higher-performing configurations; and unless statistics have changed in recent years, Macs simply do tend to have longer average service lives - folks just argue about which of those types of facts are most important and how much or little weight they deserve). I'm not aware of a whole lot of argument in the Mac-PC wars over what counts or doesn't count as an objective fact.
 

GrimSurfer

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#32
One area of tension lies between old and new school enthusiasts.

In the 70s and 80s, specs meant something. The FTC forced the industry to be honest. Certain Japanese companies operated with a sense of pride in their technical prowess. There was a lot of technical competition during this period... and the consumer was very well served by it.

Back then, anyone wanting to make a small fortune in audio started out with a large fortune. But companies did it anyway because the transistor allowed engineers to achieve things that were impossible a decade earlier.

Fast forward to the 90s and naughties. Companies wererarely run by engineers. They're were run by accountants who measure success on a profit and loss basis, aided by marketers who don't know (and clearly dont care about audio. R&D ceased to exist as it once did and technical advancement was eclipsed by style. Technical competition gave way to artistic and stylistic competition. (how many times do milled aluminum face plates take on greater significance than a better power supply in ad copy?).

This has had a generational effect or, more accurately, a social one. The two groups that emerged from the 70s-80s and 90s-00s are very different in their thinking and values. This is fragmenting the industry, though it's hard to feel sorry when you see something being hung by its own noose.
 

Hypnotoad

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#33
Because most people are self centered and think that their opinion is the only valid one.
 
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#34
Interesting discussion. I'm new to this forum, but I'm guessing a lot of audiophiles, who are generally upper income people, hate it because it champions products that don't require a fat wallet. Easily obtainable high-end performance deprives them of elite status based on purchasing power. The very existence of this site makes some of them angry, based on some of the comments I've read.
The only comparable hobby I can think of would be wine collecting. No objective testing there though, to the relief of many oenophiles I'm sure.
 
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Tks

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#35
Interesting discussion. I'm new to this forum, but I'm guessing a lot of audiophiles (who are generally upper income people) hate it because it champions products that don't require a fat wallet, which deprives them of elite status based on purchasing power. The very existence of this site makes some of them angry, I'm sure.
The only comparable hobby I can think of would be wine collecting. No objective testing there though, to the relief of many oenophiles I'm sure.
And thats why they got played harder than any industry I have ever witnessed in a long time

 

GrimSurfer

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#36
Interesting discussion. I'm new to this forum, but I'm guessing a lot of audiophiles, who are generally upper income people, hate it because it champions products that don't require a fat wallet. Easily obtainable high-end performance deprives them of elite status based on purchasing power. The very existence of this site makes some of them angry, based on some of the comments I've read.
The only comparable hobby I can think of would be wine collecting. No objective testing there though, to the relief of many oenophiles I'm sure.
Quite right!

If I had a nickel for every self professed audio snob living in a trailer who said they were heating their mansion with Pass mono blocks, I'd be able to afford a much larger appliance box to live in!
 

GGroch

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#37
shane, this is a great topic....kudos.
There are some intriguing, insightful and fun to read answers on this thread. The ones on how humans think/reason, our tribalism, dominance, our innate drive to persuade or destroy others. Fascinating stuff. We all think of ourselves as logical, but I do not think that is how God or more likely Darwin made us.

Here is another angle: Audio components are not scientific instruments, they are enjoyment devices. Their entire purpose is subjective. Is there any proof that people with technically faultless systems enjoy listening more than those with less expensive systems, or more expensive systems with lots of shiny snake oil bits?

I own both a JDS Atom (You have to own that or the Massdrop THX to be a full member here), and a LIttle Dot Mk III tube amp. Not the same price, but close. Looking at the Head-Fi post count as a gauge of user enthusiasm, there have been, since the release of the JDS Atom in Nov. 2018, more posts on Head-fi about the Little Dot Mk III than the Atom. A lot are in the multiple tube rolling threads. The JDS is a little 6 oz plastic square.. The Little Dot is a gorgeous heavy chunk of metal, shiny parts, and it glows. There are a lot of things on the LD you can tweek and fiddle with that subjectively improve the sound.

So, who is having more fun, the Atom or LD Mk III owner, in a sector where fun is what it is supposedly all about?

I can understand why someone who just spent $500 on a power cord that looks fantastic and comes with a compelling, if totally false, story; is upset if we challenge their choices and are the cause of them liking their systems less. Is it objectively the right thing to do to provide the misinformed with science if it lessens their fun?
 

GrimSurfer

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#38
If all manufacturers approached them like they were scientific devices, then listeners could embrace them fully as enjoyment devices.

This would be better than what we have today... too many manufacturers approaching them like they are cash machines and listeners bragging that they are the ones who got fleeced the least.
 

MattHooper

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#40
Nobody escapes Group Dynamics.

Even if you attempt to hang out with like-minded people.

Some good points have already been made that anger happens in almost any forum, for any hobby.

But some of the anger points particular to audiophiles is certainly the clash between objectivism and subjectivism. I'm going through this yet again as I write this: in another forum someone started a thread saying audiophile power cables make a difference. I offered my own experience in blind testing some highly lauded AC cables - sighted it seemed like I heard a difference, blind tested couldn't hear any difference vs a stock power cord.
Pointed out I wasn't therefore declaring no audible differences are possible from changing AC cables, but gave various reasons for skepticism.


I don't even need to tell anyone here what the responses were. Inevitably the "gear or ears" implications start coming. Either your gear isn't up to showing these sonic differences, or your ears are made of clothe.

Others trying to tread the middle ground inevitably chime in "Look, why don't you just try LISTENING to the cables-in-question in your system, and if you like them or don't like them, just make your own decision. Otherwise you have no stance on which to hold an opinion!"

I explain that simply asking me to engage in a method I'm already pointing out to be dubious is missing the point. I'm as likely to come to fallacious conclusions using a fallacious method as anyone else.

Any suggestion of the utility of blind testing is greeted by the subjectivists as a cross is greeted by a vampire. Then the insults start coming of course: I'm a cold hearted dogmatist, blinded by science. And btw blind testing is nonsense and doesn't work! Who are YOU to tell ME what I did or didn't hear? I can trust my ears. I know what I heard!

The charge of close-mindedness and dogmatism - as sure as the sun rises - is always the deepest irony. A skeptic like me is saying "Well, this MIGHT be making a sonic difference, but I might also be mistaken because I'm fallible that way. So I'll try to use a method that controls for my own fallibility, e.g. blind testing, so I can have more confidence that what I"m hearing isn't some form of perceptual bias on my part. It sure would be cool if the difference turns out to be reliably audible!

The Pure Subjectivist is the one who has declared his own subjective perception to be infallible; so inviolable that if a scientific blind-test method doesn't produce results supporting that subjective impression, well it must the the scientific method that's wrong, NOT ME!

And yet We are the ones accused of personal arrogance not being open minded to being wrong!

The mind bottles!

Anyway, more directly to the point of the OP: The fireworks between obectivist/subjectivist in this hobby does make some psychological sense.
Our subjective experience is essentially what we use to navigate the world most of the time. People are trying to put together their own coherent understanding of the world, often informed by their personal experiences, and to challenge the very things they perceive can feel destabilizing.
Wait, you are saying I can't trust my own senses???? The beliefs produced by subjectivity and inference from one's subjectivity are so deep, and often so tangled with personal intuitions, that they seem almost bedrock and "who is anyone else to tell ME I didn't experience what I experienced??!!!!"

It feels intuitive to immediately want to blame this on a general lack of scientific literacy and critical/skeptical thinking. But it also can show up in the conversations of very intelligent, scientifically literate people. Even the most "science-minded" of us can find it hard to shake personal experience, and even in the "objectivist" forums there will be disagreements on technical claims, much of it informed from personal experience as much as from any particular data set.
 

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