We Don't Get No Respect

There are all sorts of ways of having fun, and just as many ways of spending money. Most of the time, spending money is necessary to have fun; whether it's going to a movie, having dinner out, scrapbooking, playing video games, whatever—nothin's free.

Some people like fancy watches. I like to look at Rolexes and Patek Phillippes—but the idea of wearing something costing 20 grand or more, maybe a lot more, at the end of my simian arm where I can bang it to bits on a doorframe, strikes me as insane. Oh, well; I don't badmouth people who buy or wear such things, just because I choose not to. The prices might make me gasp in disbelief, but that happens with a lot of things.

Speaking of which: what about that Hermes bag recently shown in a Hong Kong shop window—priced at the equivalent of $70,000 US? Is it more functional than a $70 bag? Likely not. Is it stunningly, heart-stoppingly beautiful? Ehh, not to me. Does the material or worksmanship justify the price? Not so much. I don't get it, but I don't hate someone who buys and carries such a bag—unless she happens to be a Kardashian.

What about cars? Almost everybody loves cars. Unless it's horrifically whorified like the Beebs' leopard-print Audi R8, no one abuses the buyer of an expensive or exotic car, even ones which cost millions. There might be a head-shake or a "Really??", but reactions to expensive cars generally tend towards admiration or amusement—not violent rage.

Enter the audiophile. Short of announcing that you're an officer in NAMBLA, you've just gotten back from bow-hunting baby seals with Ted Nugent, and you've decided to cast Grandma adrift on an ice-floe in the "time-honored" way—almost nothing you can do will guarantee a shit-storm of abuse like referring to yourself as "an audiophile."

Granted, anything ending in "-phile" tends to sound a tad precious and twee; how many wine-lovers refer to themselves as "oenophiles" without irony? But it's not just that damned pretentious word. It's...it's...well, what is it?

Music is everywhere. The iPod makes it possible for anyone to carry a zillion songs they might've liked once, anyway, everywhere they go. Fine. Carrying a 'Pod, wearing headphones—even around the neck—is acceptable. In certain circles, it's almost mandatory.

So why is it unacceptable, weird, even, to have a bunch of music at home, along with the gear needed to listen in a social environment where the pleasure of listening can be shared? Wouldn't you think that sharing music in one's home would be more socially acceptable than the act of walking around in public, isolated from others by piped-in sound?

Is it that collecting thousands of LPs and CDs smells a bit of hoarding? Or that monolithic speakers speak to overcompensation of personal shortcomings? Or that We don't get no respect! Or that those who indulge in either are occasionally, shall we say, deficient in areas pertaining to personal style, fitness, and hygiene?

I don't know, and I don't get it—but there is no abuse greater than that cast upon audiophiles. Take a look at the comments following recent articles about audio enthusiasts on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal websites. You'd think that the subjects had held Girl Scouts captive in their cellars, rather than inviting people into their homes for a pleasant evening listening to music.

I like listening to music. I even like the equipment I use to do that. "Is that so wrong??"

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COMMENTS
Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

Bill:

Why would a mature person care what others think of their civilized interests/hobbies/passions?  (What, cigies and beer nights watching WWF reruns are more valid?)  

Part of the price you pay for being a civilized human being is having to put up with people who can't see beyond theselves.

When his contract expired, the highly regarded conductor of a North American symphony orchestra returned to his small European town in order to raise his children.  What does that tell you? Alec Baldwin sits of the board of the New York Phil.  Tell me one person in the entire universe who's got the cojones to tell him to his face that this is weird.

Audiophiles and music lovers are all going to die and have their stuff sent to the Sally Anne by their kids just like collectors of sports memorabilia.

Just don't tell people in North America you're an audiophile.  (It's OK in Asia and Europe.) Rather, tell them you take music as seriously as they take the NFL, NBA, MLB or the bible. 

Bill Leebens's picture

Thanks, Rick-- and you're absolutely right...who cares? Part of my point was that there are far more superficial pursuits than loving music which are not just accepted, but encouraged...and I just don't get it. Oh, well.

Regarding me being too sensitive-- my ex-wife would likely disagree with you, but thanks!

Cheers!

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

I entertain this romantic notion that at some future time when we encounter more evolved aliens, they'll conclude we're a pretty mundane species, except for one thing we do better than anyone else - music - and that will be the only reason they don't fry us in order to grow some alien cash crop on our planet.

Neurologists say music and math are processed in the same part of the brain.  If it's true, that suggest music sits on the same pedestal as math, and how many people do you know are really good at math?

John Mitchell's picture

I'm not sure if mathematicians or audiophiles get less respect in the U.S. As a mathematician who has been an audiophile for a few years now, I suppose I'm doubly cursed (a double-dork?).

That's fine with me. Both mathematics and music are full of mystery and beauty. Sound itself is one of the wonders of existence, particularly the fact that slight vibrations of the Earth's atmosphere can carry so much meaning and emotion. Sometimes after listening to an LP, I'm still astonished that all those musical thoughts and the emotions they evoke were somehow encoded in grooves in vinyl. A good audio system is almost magical, as if it can resurrect the souls of the musicians.

Bromo33333's picture

I have not experienced disrespect from any of my friends or anyone who knows this is "my thing."

They may not spend any money on it themselves, but I have been called upon to answer some questions.

I think the same sort the would be in shock that a $20k stereo system is "way too much money" would similarly blanch at a watch that costs that, too.

Cars are different since the average price of a car is $30k these days.  I think if you bought a $50k one you would get similar disbelief.

 

Louis Motek's picture

(...and if they are good at maths then they are almost invariably written off as geeks by the majority. This starts early in life, as does an affinity to music.)

 

THE ULTIMATE ANSWER IS HERE:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9pD_UK6vGU

 

Louis Motek

Ladyfingers's picture

I've spent a lot of money on my music, movies and the playback system, and people are kind of knocked out when they get to experience it. I still think that the amount of snake oil associated with the fringes of the hobby genuinely drags it down.

I think that there are a lot of audiophiles who are deliberately anti-science who, in the modern world of gadgets governed by enforced performance specification standards, spout nonsensical rhetoric about multi-thousand dollar devices built with the same components as budget competitors and reject results of double-blind testing.

Cable-lifters exist. Cables that cost more than cars. Oppos in a Lexicon case. Wooden volume knobs that cost more than an amp.

There's always someone out there will to point out you're having the wrong kind of fun, but when you're intellectually dishonest about the nature of the fun you're having (or simply duped and fine with it), it's hard to defend it.

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

Maybe, we should just spend more of that gear upgrade and tweaking money on music instead. (Unlike increasingly expensive gear, great musicians seldom disappoint.  We should learn to listen past our systems' flaws to the artist.)  And, of course, go to more live music! 

GeorgeHolland's picture

Plus editors of audio magazines that allow it to be presented as a real product worthy of anyone's consideration while throwing up their hands and saying "I wouldn't know what to measure" while their close associate subjectivley describes the huge improvement in the soundstage and suggests everyone to buy it

Sound familiar?wink

andy_c's picture

A concrete example of this can be found in the latest Recommended Components List. In the accessories section, they recommend "Cream Electret" (or is it "Electret Cream") LOL.

As far as I can tell, this entry is meant not for the reader, but for the potential advertiser. The message is, "We don't care if your product is fraudulent or not. Not only will we not call you out for it, but we may even recommend it."

John Atkinson's picture

andy_c wrote:
A concrete example of this can be found in the latest Recommended Components List. In the accessories section, they recommend "Cream Electret" (or is it "Electret Cream") LOL.

The PWB cream is included in "Recommended Components" following Art Dudley's experience of it. See www.stereophile.com/content/listening-113 and www.stereophile.com/content/listening-112. Perhaps Art Dudley knows something you don't, andy-c. At minimum he has actually experimented with these tweaks.

andy_c wrote:
As far as I can tell, this entry is meant not for the reader, but for the potential advertiser.

LOL. As PWB has never advertised in any magazine, as far as I know, this seems a ridiculous hypothesis. Perhaps I know more about this subject than you do, andy-c.

andy-c wrote:
The message is, "We don't care if your product is fraudulent or not. Not only will we not call you out for it, but we may even recommend it."

I get tired of people hiding under the shield of anonymity abusing our hospitality by posting crap like this. To quote Louis CK, as quoted by Bill Leebens elsewhere in this thread: "As soon as you crack your knuckles and open up a comments page, you just canceled your subscription to being a good person."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Glotz's picture

So right.  

While I'm no saint, I try to trust writers until they are proven themselves liars, thieves, and cheats.  Which is very rare, I've seen... and heard. 

Trust is all we have until we hear it ourselves. 

John as editor, has always remained objective, respectful and trustworthy. 

GeorgeHolland's picture

Perhaps Art Dudley snorted the PWB instead of testing it. You know, a REAL test instead of that subjective BS he used.

As for "posting crap like this" if you didn't post recommened crap like that then you wouldn't have people responding in kind.

As for "anonymity" I believe that both Andy C and myself post using our real names unlike a lot of your regular forum members.

John Atkinson's picture

GeorgeHolland wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
Perhaps Art Dudley knows something you don't, andy_c. At minimum he has actually experimented with these tweaks.

Perhaps Art Dudley snorted the PWB instead of testing it. You know, a REAL test instead of that subjective BS he used.

"Subjective BS?" You are referring to the manner in which all testing for this magazine is performed, since it was founded more than 50 years ago. If you don't like it, then why do you subscribe to the magazine? Do you even subscribe to Stereophile?

GeorgeHolland wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
andy_c wrote:
As far as I can tell, this entry is meant not for the reader, but for the potential advertiser. The message is, "We don't care if your product is fraudulent or not. Not only will we not call you out for it, but we may even recommend it."

I get tired of people hiding under the shield of anonymity abusing our hospitality by posting crap like this.

As for "posting crap like this" if you didn't post recommened crap like that then you wouldn't have people responding in kind.

"In kind?" How is andy_c accusing Stereophile of corrupt business practices equivalent to Art Dudley writing about his experiences of the PWB tweaks? As far as I can tell, neither you nor andy_c have actually experimented with any of the Belt material. May Belt said in the interview to which I linked earlier, "since 1999, we have always sent a Rainbow Foil sample to anyone who requests one." Why don't you ask for a free sample? You might hear nothing, as did Gordon Holt using the same methodology that you have dismissed as "subjective BS"; see www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/110/index.html. However, as you've paid nothing, you've lost nothing. But you might also find yourself scratching your head about what you experience.

GeorgeHolland wrote:
As for "anonymity" I believe that both Andy C and myself post using our real names unlike a lot of your regular forum members.

Like JohnnyR and Alexei Petrov, neither of whom posted under their real names? And is "C" is really his surname? :-

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Bill Leebens's picture

WTF are they doing here? 

Personally, I don't spend much time at the NRA and Florida Republican Party websites, simply because I don't care to induce a stroke in myself....

So, guys:

You're better than us, you're smarter than us, and doggone it, people like you.

Maybe.

Sometimes I regret that I'm no longer a teenager: at my age, rolled eyes and "whatEVer" are considered unseemly.

GeorgeHolland's picture

"Subjective BS?" You are referring to the manner in which all testing for this magazine is performed, since it was founded more than 50 years ago"

All testing in your magazine does not involve smearing a stupid snake oil cream on components then claiming they sound different. If this is how you plan on doing future tests, then yes it is subjective BS.

"As far as I can tell, neither you nor andy_c have actually experimented with any of the Belt material"

No I haven't but I also haven't experimented with placing a photo of myself into a freezer to see if the sound improves. I think most people or at least those with some intelligence can easily sift out the very obvious foolish products instead of wasting time on that crap. So let me ask if YOU have experimented with any Belt material and if not why not? You like to defend this crap so please post your own experiences with it.

"Like JohnnyR and Alexei Petrov, neither of whom posted under their real names? And is "C" is really his surname?"

Oh you have proof that JohnnyR and Alexei Petrov do not use their real names? How did you come about this theory? Do you ask for ID at the posting door? Got some friends at the NSA tracking these pesky posters? [flame deleted by John Atkinson]

Bill Leebens's picture

I don't know how John manages to respond civilly to such annoying bullshit. I don't know if HE needs a vaction, but I've only been addressing this stuff for a couple days, and *I* need a vacation!

Seriously, George--and I'm giving you credit for using what I assume is your own name-- do you think you're scoring points? 

You remind me of a kid I knew in Junior High who used to point out typos in textbooks--even the teachers hated him. Smugness and an air of superiority are never attractive.

I'm not necessarily saying that you're a skeptic- if the shoe fits, etc. --but I am reminded of something Seth Godin wrote about skeptics:

 

"Here's the thing about proving skeptics wrong: They don't care. They won't learn. They will stay skeptics. The ones who said the airplane would never fly ignored the success of the Wright Bros. and went on to become skeptical of something else. And when they got onto an airplane, they didn't apologize to the engineers on their way in."

FWIW. Possibly nothing.

GeorgeHolland's picture

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

The "annoying bullshit" you speak of are people simply not accepting everything Stereophile dishes out as the gospel. [flame deleted by John Atkinson] you learn a lot by not subjecting yourself to only one audio forum with one opinion.

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

MVBC's picture

I switched to guitarist Tony Rice's Manzanita (LP, Rounder 0092) and listened to the first two tracks. Then I stopped the music and applied a thin schmear of Cream under the front edge of my preamp. I relistened to the first two songs and was somewhat startled by the improvement. I wasn't startled by the degree of improvement, which was actually rather slight: I was startled that I heard any change at all. There was definitely a little more bounce to the picking: more nuance and sheer force audible in the downbeats carried by the upright bass. Consequently, the music sounded a bit more fun.

Vaseline does the trick too.devil

ChrisS's picture

You're quoting Art from Listening #113 [rest of comment deleted by John Atkinson]

John Atkinson's picture

GeorgeHolland wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
"Subjective BS?" You are referring to the manner in which all testing for this magazine is performed, since it was founded more than 50 years ago.

All testing in your magazine does not involve smearing a stupid snake oil cream on components then claiming they sound different. If this is how you plan on doing future tests, then yes it is subjective BS.

No, I meant, as I thought was obvious, that Art reviewed the Belt product by using it in his system as the manufacturer recommends. Which is what we do with every product reviewed in Stereophile.

GeorgeHolland wrote:
let me ask if YOU have experimented with any Belt material and if not why not? You like to defend this crap so please post your own experiences with it.

I have expressed no opinion on the Belt products. Two people have: Art who has tried them, and you, who has not. Without actual experience, your opinion must remain conjecture whereas Art's is based on that experience.

GeorgeHolland wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
Like JohnnyR and Alexei Petrov, neither of whom posted under their real names?

Oh you have proof that JohnnyR and Alexei Petrov do not use their real names? How did you come about this theory?

From my private emails with the gentlemen informing them that as they would not respect my requests to stop flaming, insulting, and belittling other readers of the magazine on this website, I had no option but to block their accounts.

John Atkinson wrote:
If you don't like it, then why do you subscribe to the magazine? Do you even subscribe to Stereophile?

No answer from "GeorgeHolland."

John Atkinson wrote:
And is "C" is really his surname?

No answer from "GeorgeHolland." He is quick to throw out questions to others, but less than forthcoming when he is asked anything. :-)

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Bill Leebens's picture

Further affiant sayeth naught.

ChrisS's picture

We should expect no less than the Comfy Chair and soft cushions for these heretics!

(But that might overdamp the room...)

GeorgeHolland's picture

You don't even begin to answer any questions put forth to yourself in any sort of meaningful way. I asked how you determined that JohnnyR and Mr Petrov were not their real names and you replied about emails? That no proof.at all just conjecture.

How would I know anyone's surname? Stop acting like an idiot. How about ChrisS or Glotz?  Now those are some candid surnames huh?

When you start doing real tests on Belt products then I will feel obligated to answer any and all questions, till then, whatever.

ChrisS's picture

Your skepticism and lack of civility are up another notch, Georgie! Even if you stamp your feet louder or hold your breath till you turn blue, no one feels obliged to you.

Your insistence on "real tests", yet again, indicates you haven't a clue what that means. There's no one anywhere that "tests" consumer products, audio or otherwise, in the way you think everyone should...

John Atkinson's picture

GeorgeHolland wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:

"No answer from "GeorgeHolland." He is quick to throw out questions to others, but less than forthcoming when he is asked anything. :-)"

You don't even begin to answer any questions put forth to yourself in any sort of meaningful way.

Whether you find my responses "meaningful" or not, I do answer. My point is that you do not respond to my questions at all. For example, you post many comments complaining about Stereophile and its review practices. I have asked you if you are a subscriber. If you are not, then I don't see why I should take any notice of your comments. Yet you refuse to pay me the courtesy of answering my question.

GeorgeHolland wrote:
I asked how you determined that JohnnyR and Mr Petrov were not their real names and you replied about emails? That no proof.at all just conjecture.

My point was that the names your fellow Stereophile critics use for email, which are presumably their real names, are different from the names they used to post comments to this website. Your implied point that only people who disagree with you don't post using their real names is thus false. 

Quote:
How would I know anyone's surname? Stop acting like an idiot.

I asked because you stated as fact that "andy_c" posts comments to this website using his real name. I find it hard to believe that there is someone whose name is actually Andy C. I therefore asked you if "C" was his surname to gently point out that your statement was incorrect.

Quote:
When you start doing real tests on Belt products then I will feel obligated to answer any and all questions, till then, whatever.

Whatever indeed. But please note that I have had to delete a number of flames from you in the past 24 hours. If you contnue to post flames and abuse other posters to this website, I will block your account. Consider this a formal warning.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

 

GeorgeHolland's picture

Why does that matter? I read your rag of a magazine once in a while. If one does or does not subscribe ( Paying for your job) should have nothing to do with if you respond or not. Do you support the other audio forums that you frequent and post to? Then by your own "logic"why should anyone pay attention to your demands on those forums?  By the way posting as "Stereoeditor" isn't using your correct name on those forums, please start identifying yourself properly.

[flame deleted by John Atkinson] Anyone including myself can set up an email using whatever name I wish, I could call the email 5673@yahoo.com, does that mean my name is 5673?  I find your "logic" lacking in this matter. [flame deleted by John Atkinson]

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

Tried that PWB cream yet? How about those rainbow foils?  If not why not?  Like you said it costs you nothing. I can tell you will never even try them though. You like to dictate what others should try but never take part yourself. How about getting Serinus to lend you those Acoustic Art bowls he's had for what, 3 years now? You could finally TEST those things too , that is if you make the effort. I won't hold my breath.

ChrisS's picture

Criticism of audio products is fine, no matter how illogical or unscientific, your arguments may be, but participating in a forum is not a licence for abuse.

You, of anyone here, have indicated that you've taken part the least in trying any of these products. Admitting that you don't often read the magazine doesn't equip you well to criticize what happens in those pages.

As I've said before, no one does testing in the way you think it should be done.

GeorgeHolland's picture

Your definition of illogical and scientific is lacking.

As for "not a licence for abuse" please go back and see how many times your posts were deleted.

No I think you have indictaed that you have partaken the least in trying any of the products of anything you have chosen to talk about. You don't own any of those. Again refer to your older posts.

Not reading every issue of Stereophile is hardly grounds for not knowing about a subject. I can see plenty of what is going on here online.

As for your last statement, maybe you should look at other websites than Stereophile, you know the ones that use the logic and science you seem to know so little about yet like to quote all the time. Do you frequent any other audio websites and partake in their discussions? Please let me know.

ChrisS's picture

My comments pertain mostly to your abusive manner, closed-mindedness and your dogged insistence on Stereophile staff doing something that no one else, anywhere, does.

(By other site, if you mean Hydrogenaudio.org which you've mentioned before, it's still a showcase of science done poorly and applied improperly.)

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