I read the mention of the wikipedia listing for audiophile a couple months back in this magazine. Recently i found a spare hour to read through the talk page
which provides some perspective on the community input shaping this entry.
I was initially astonished that there are those who seem to make a career (objectivist magazine editors) out of denying the nuances of sound production, as well as those that have a hate on for "subjectivists".
A couple reactions: 1) head-scratching and doubt. Am I one of the gullible ones who throws money at useless shiny objects? Maybe I really CAN'T hear a difference between some of the cables I've bought, but only think I can.
2) familiarity with this phenomena in other fields. I am keen on wine, in as much as limited tolerance for alcohol and limited budget allows. I've read reports of blind tastings showing wine drinkers can't tell white from red at the same temperature and other such exposures. I can easily accept this as true for some tasters, yet no-one denies that there are those who CAN tell the difference between two different years from the same vineyard.
So, perhaps this anti-subjectivist movement is perfectly normal, its just that audio appreciation is not so well-established a discipline as wine appreciation to establish sufficient credibility for the equivalent of a Robert Parker. If there was acceptance of the degree to which a trained ear can hear differences in sound beyond what shows on a meter, we could then accept that some objectivists are simply audio lovers with mediocre ears, who fall back on crude measurements in an attempt to approach the sounds they can't clearly distinguish.
Should an industry emerge that supported admittedly imperfect blind -- even double blind -- testing, the skill of audio discernment may become more accepted. Surely one could set up a booth at an audio show, do a carefully prepared double blind test between a tube and transistor amp, have well-known reviewers participate. With the bar set so low, we should find decisive proof that not "all amps sound exactly the same".
This result should help to give credibility to subjectivist claims, and more testing sessions, such as regularly take place in the wine appreciation world, would also help to expose those audio accessories that do not significantly contribute to the sound.
Sign me up for a test!