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bertdw
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Fremer Fights Back

Michael Fremer finally has his say about the "Amazing Randi" controversy in February's "Analog Corner." Thank you Mr. Fremer, for standing up for audiophiles who (like me) do hear and do care about the differences in cables. I admire your integrity.

Stephen, where is the forum for the February issue? I received mine three days ago!

smejias
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Re: Fremer Fights Back


Quote:
Stephen, where is the forum for the February issue? I received mine three days ago!

Sorry about that. We're having trouble with the control panel -- which enables me to create forums -- but our IT guys are working on it.

smejias
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

Fixed it.

roadcykler
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

I don't deny that Randi can be a jerk but to say that cables can and do make a difference is misleading. Of course a quality interconnect will probably provide a better sound but is it hundreds or thousands of dollars better?

If someone pays an exorbitant amount for a set of interconnects it only makes sense that they will think they sound better. To admit otherwise would admit spending a preposterous amount of money on wires that don't make any difference.

jamesgarvin
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

People like Randy do not claim that the differences are not worth the price the cable manufacturers are charging. They claim there are no differences. Or that there are some paranormal factors at work.

Whether the cables are worth the price of admission is rightfully a decision with the consumer who is parting with their money. Some people spend money on a car to go from 0 to 60 in 5.0 seconds when they could have purchased a cheaper car that goes 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds, and saved big money.

I believe Atkinson acknowledged there was a 5% difference between the two cables. I don't think Fremer and Atkinson suggest that the more expensive cables were worth, to them, the 5% improvement in sound quality. Who are we, or they, to tell somebody else whether to or not to spend their own money on that 5% difference? I am simply happy to know that there is a difference, and that someone is accurately telling me what the difference is, to them, without trying to convince me it is a night and day difference.

Would you rather have that than a reviewer (maybe Randy or his ilk) deciding that, to them, the difference is not significant enough to justify the difference in cost, and then rounding down to the nearest 0%, and reporting to the reader that there is no 'significant' difference, leaving the reader to believe there is no difference at all?

Elk
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Re: Fremer Fights Back


Quote:
If someone pays an exorbitant amount for a set of interconnects it only makes sense that they will think they sound better. To admit otherwise would admit spending a preposterous amount of money on wires that don't make any difference.


Most of us are smart enough to return cables (and any other pieces of equipment) that don't sound any better.

Whether any hobby item is worth the price is a question that can be answered only by the individual hobbyist.

bobedaone
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

There's this economic principle called diminishing returns...

At the level of high-end audio, it's not reasonable to expect cost to be commensurate with performance increase.

Is Nordost Odin better than Valhalla? Gosh, I'd hope so. Is it three times better? Of course not.

The upper strata of this industry exist because some people are willing and able to spend whatever it takes to eek out that last little bit of performance.

Don't we all have better things to do than argue about what wealthy people can and can't hear and if it's worth the price?

KBK
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

I don't really argue about the price. I tend to argue if the technology employed is true to the signal, and if the person listening has the wits to figure out if what they are hearing is true to the original 'airborne' signal or not.

Therein lies the rub.

I mean, there's the stories you hear in public, and the stories that float around in the other given circles*. As is in any given area of endeavor, the two are invariably of a different nature.

*(This is why written history, as interpreted by modern man, is almost always - completely wrong. If you weren't a fly on the wall, at that exact time, deeply steeped in the exact time, place, and circumstances, you really don't know squat and shouldn't run around spouting your mouth off about it...or most specifically..run around revising it for a 'modern audience'. The stupidity of the norm indicates that the new version becomes the basis for the next new interpretation, which is just ludicrously wrong. This sidenote has nothing to do with the subject at hand, I'm just venting about revisionist history.)

dbowker
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

"If someone pays an exorbitant amount for a set of interconnects it only makes sense that they will think they sound better."

Seriously, who in their right mind buys anything really expensive without trying it out first? Do you buy a BMW from a dealer and THEN decide if it's worth it? Not likely! You test drive it. If someone puts up $400 (let alone $2k)for some cables without ever hearing them against their current ones and some others too then they are crazy. But I really don't think that happens much. I worked in an audio store for some time and no-one would apart with more than $50 without actually listening and evaluating what they were buying. Cables were a hard sell to 90% of the customers- at least at first. Most actually could hear differences, and not small ones. Still, even those that could often didn't buy. But I can't remember anyone who just came in and said, "hey, those babies look pricey! I think I'll buy me a pair and see how I like them!"

Buddha
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

OK, got my issue!

First question: Does anyone save back issues?

I'd like to know whether in 2007 the magazine reviewed more Musical Fidelity pieces than Fremer published pictures of himself.

I bet it's pretty close, either way.

Second Question: Did this month's Analog Corner remind anyone else of the latter part of Lenny Bruce's career?

I keep visualizing Fremer sitting on a wooden stool in a black room, with a lone spotlight on him, reading from articles by Randi, Teachout, and the others; followed by Michael reading the audience his letters to the editor.

It ends with the sound of snapping fingers.

Third thing: Michael needs to learn about the fallacy of 'appeal to authority.'

To wit: "What's funny about it is that on the one side are the derisive cynics who think the industry is run by charlatans who fool the gullible and on the other side are the consumers and readers with whom I communicate on a regular basis. Who are they? Chiefs of radiology at major hospitals, doctors, money managers, CEOs, successful lawyers, writers and journalists in other fields, and other powerful people..."

Powerful people, folks, so don't mess with Mikey.

If Teachout or Randi communicate with Presidents and billionaires, would they then surpass Mr. Fremer in correctness?

Fourth: Please stop confusing wine, food, and cars with Hi Fi gear!

Seriously.

Wine enjoyment, gastronomy, and being a sports car aficionado are about pleasure, not "accuracy." Food, wine, and cars are their own ends, our hobby is about something different.

Audiophilia claims to be about accuracy and fidelity. It deliberately sets itself apart from other pursuits for which pleasure is the end result.

Didn't JGH teach you anything?

Audiophiles are allowed to take pleasure from their hobby, but it's based on the successful reproduction of an event, not an end in itself.

If you buy Fremer's analogy between gourmet dining and Hi Fi, then you are entering the realm at which JGH tilted in December...the seeking of pleasure at the expense of fidelity.

In the world of food and wine, an experience stands on its own, in Hi Fi, the experience is held up to the original event.

Gourmands do not require fidelity between experiences, but audiophiles do.

In food and wine, 'good' is relative, in audio, it is subjectively objective.

BillB
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

Buddha, + stars for that post.

O'Shag
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

Compelling argument Buddha...

bobedaone
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

Indeed! Jolly good show and all that.

**I totally agree with you about the disparity of goals and experiences when comparing hi-fi to other hobbies. However, sports cars can in some cases be somewhat passable analogs. Case in point: In the upper echelon of sports car-dom, a car's relative value can often be measured in the context of racing technology. Companies like Porsche and Ferrari go to great lengths to incorporate lessons from the track (or technology lifted right off the track) in improving their cars. So, the question then becomes "How close to a hard-edged race car can this road car take me?" In that specific case, "fidelity" is indeed a desired characteristic of the experience.**

Good tidings to all.

rvance
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Re: Fremer Fights Back


Quote:

Audiophiles are allowed to take pleasure from their hobby, but it's based on the successful reproduction of an event, not an end in itself.

If you buy Fremer's analogy between gourmet dining and Hi Fi, then you are entering the realm at which JGH tilted in December...the seeking of pleasure at the expense of fidelity.

Yes, BUT...wasn't the NFS room at CES about providing a psychedelic fun zone for the perfection weary? If it's all about accuracy all the time don't people start taking themselves too seriously and risk turning the hobby into a grinding bore. You are certainly not that person- you are where the fun begins!

trevort
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

No, Mr. Vance, you are where the fun starts... well certainly silliness.

I still recall you posting the cover to the Devo album in response to a bit of acrimony here.

And as a less fun and silly person, I'll make the argument that there IS a correspondence between wine and cars and audiophilia (is that an accepted term, or did someone just spawn it on the fly here recently?).

Buddha has pointed out significant differences, true.

But all three share the pursuit of an experience. With cars, the correspondence is clearer. I'll argue that the driving experience is the feeling of motion -- playing with gravity and g-forces if you will -- as one drives an automobile along a course/road. Because the driving experience requires the car (and road) to achieve this experience, we can relate to the gear (car) required to feel the road as similar to the gear (sound system) required to feel the music. In both cases on can have a similar, and arguably more intimate experience on the road with a bicycle or skateboard or running, just as one experiences music by listening live or playing it one's self.

With wine tasting, their is not much in the way of gear required to enjoy the wine, but an essential ingredient is our attention and perception of the wine we're tasting. In this correspondence, its more like the wine is the music (or road) and so perhaps is more like listening live. The chain of experience in this case is much simpler: there's the wine at one end, and our perception of the wine at the other. Between these ends is our tasting, which requires our tongue and mouth to contact the wine and our brains to make sense of what is tasted. This is very much like listening and driving, except there is not so much gear involved.

Now I still haven't received my issue, so I'm a bit flying blind here, but if Fremer is arguing that fancier wine is like fancier gear, then I'll concede that the correspondence is a bit wonky. In my experience tasting a more refined wine does provide the opportunity to have a richer taste experience, but that is more like enjoying a more challenging road or sophisticated music provides a richer opportunity in the other activities. Its true in all cases that with the more engaging software (roads, wine, music), that one is incented to sharpen their engagement, both on the attention and gear levels.

There are some that really love their gear, hence the fancy cars and stereos, but I'm with Vance on the primacy of the experience - IE fun.
I see on the stereophile website a vote on "what's the definition of audiophile". I accept the definition (found on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiophile ) that it is "a person dedicated to achieving high fidelity in the recording and playback of music", but to what end? Surely not just to say that fidelity has been achieved. For me it is to achieve a connection with the musicians/music.

bifcake
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

I think it comes down to this:

Wine tasting and car driving are goals in and of themselves. They are hobbies.

Audiophilia is a quest. It's a means to an end. The hobby being musical experience. Audiophilia being a vehicle towards a better musical experience.

Perhaps a better analogy would be a comparison between photography and hi-fi. Photography is a hobby, a camera is a vehicle. Musical enjoyment is a hobby, equipment is a vehicle.

KBK
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Re: Fremer Fights Back


Quote:
No, Mr. Vance, you are where the fun starts... well certainly silliness.

I still recall you posting the cover to the Devo album in response to a bit of acrimony here.

And as a less fun and silly person, I'll make the argument that there IS a correspondence between wine and cars and audiophilia (is that an accepted term, or did someone just spawn it on the fly here recently?).

And a fondness for old tube gear would be.....'necroaudiophilia'

bjh
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

I just got around to reading Michael Fremer's report on the Randi debacle and must say that having followed the affair I couldn't agree with him more including his statements re: some of Randi's own followers seeing through he crude anntics.

Cable debates are a colossal waste of time and energy, one need only glance that the main forum here for a few current representative examples, and I would suggest it wise for hobbists to avoid; let's just say I discovered that the hard (and slow) way!

However as the grotesque Randi affair was in the public eye I'm glad Fremer dedicated a column set the record straight.

gkc
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

I think Michael's point is that these are not normally gullible people. I didn't read it as an appeal to "power" so much as an appeal to sanity. Truly, any individual can be a shallow idiot, but, as a group, the people Michael describes tend to be thoughtful and analytical concerning their purchasing decisions.

I agree with the main points of Michael's piece -- that perceived differences among cables is a matter of careful listening, with experienced ears, and that (as you mention) the goal of equipment evaluation is to bring the listener closer to the live musical experience. These are the positives we all seek, whether we are skeptical about the differences among cables or not.

The Swami from Miami that Michael takes on doesn't appear interested in the musical experience. Michael is. This is a key point that doesn't emerge clearly enough from the piece, perhaps, but it does inform the argument throughout. Michael is interested in the reproduction of music, Randi isn't.

O'Shag
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

If a component manufacturer (Audio Research, Mark Levinson, PS Audio etc. makes cables, are they as good in terms of performance as the specialty cable manufacturers? If not, then why?

gkc
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

O'Shaq, cables made by component manufacturers can run the same scale as those made by specialists -- excellent, good, bad, or stinko.

Why not? Bad designers, cost constraints, or lack of research and development in those product areas.

The only things that matter are cost effectiveness and the verdicts of the listeners. If cables manufactured by component manufactureres (such as the ones you mentioned) are good, they have to be good in competition against the AQ's and Tara's of this world. If they are mediocre to bad, they will have to profit from folks who don't care, or eat the losses on cables collecting mildew in the shipping room.

Competition is ruthless. If you believe that the cable that comes with your Levinson or Audio Research is as good as an equivalent-priced AQ, Synergistic, or Tara (just to name a few specialists), then buy the component, plug 'er in , and enjoy.

The listening decides it all. I just cannot generalize (nor can anyone else) concerning the listening preferences of millions of music lovers.

Go forth and find your dream.

KBK
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Re: Fremer Fights Back

Jame Randi gets his ass handed to him by the scientific community:

http://dailygrail.com/features/the-myth-of-james-randis-million-dollar-challenge

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