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ncdrawl
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hifi fetishism
bifcake
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Re: hifi fetishism

LOL What a great article! This explains many things like the reason MF gets all bent out of shape when his fetish authority, and thus his ego is questioned. I love it!

andy_c
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Re: hifi fetishism

A classic article. It used to be on the web and has been in my bookmarks for ages, but the site is not responding so I won't link to it.

The one point where I disagree with the author is his assertion that hi-fi fetishists think the equipment is more important than the music. Though I think the majority of audiophiles have fallen for the mysticism he speaks of, I actually have not found one that believes the equipment is more important than the music - or at least will admit it. All audiophiles I have met are big music lovers. Bob Dylan once wrote, "The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone causes Galileo's math book to get thrown". In an analogous way, the sensuous nature of music listening seems to lead to the abandonment of rationality for a good number of audiophiles when they evaluate their equipment. I've seen this even with audiophiles who are EE circuit designers.

It also appears that in 1981 when the article was written, the so-called "lunatic fringe" were not yet in the majority. It's my view that the entire high-end audio press are in the camp that Zellinger referred to as the "lunatic fringe" back then. The "lunatic fringe" of 1981 is today's establishment.

I also think his concept of "aggrandizing the object" is spot on. How many times have you read a review that speaks of a component "conveying emotion"? That's a classic example. What components convey is much more mundane than that. But Galileo's math book does not have the same attraction as mysticism.

Edit: Link is working now. It is here: http://www.heretical.com/miscella/zfetish.html

ncdrawl
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Re: hifi fetishism

thanks for that link, got it bookmarked.
how true it is..

Buddha
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Re: hifi fetishism

I will give some leeway for those who lapse rhapsodic when talking about gear. Getting lost in the metaphor is OK.

When someone says that a preamplifier conveys emption, I'm pretty sure I can figure out that another way of saying that would be, "The preamplifier allows more of the macro and micro dynamic changes in a musical piece come through with a feeling of having lost less in the process..."

When we use subjective language to describe listening, we have no choice but to 'personify' or anthropomorphize the gear a little.

If we say that a Lyra cartridge is a 'heroic' tracker, or that it has 'finesse,' all we are doing is trying to communicate a sonic experience of gear, while it is busy playing music we find moving.

If we were to eliminate this aspect of talking about gear, we'd end up posting specs and being done with it - but that wouldn't adequately desribe what we are hearing either.

This phenomenon occurs in nearly all hobbies.

Sometimes, there is a little je ne sais qua that finds it way to our ears!

andy_c
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Re: hifi fetishism


Quote:
I will give some leeway for those who lapse rhapsodic when talking about gear. Getting lost in the metaphor is OK.

I love it! I've heard of "waxing poetic", by "lapsing rhapsodic", that's really good man - almost Yogi Berra-ish .


Quote:
When someone says that a preamplifier conveys emption, I'm pretty sure I can figure out that another way of saying that would be, "The preamplifier allows more of the macro and micro dynamic changes in a musical piece come through with a feeling of having lost less in the process..."

Okay, that's very descriptive. In fact, I think that description beats the shit out of "conveys emotion".


Quote:
When we use subjective language to describe listening, we have no choice but to 'personify' or anthropomorphize the gear a little.

I'd say you do have a choice. In fact, your own description above of what it means for a piece of equipment to "convey emotion" (chuckle) seems to do a good job of describing the intent of that phrase, yet it does so without anthropomorphism.


Quote:
If we say that a Lyra cartridge is a 'heroic' tracker, or that it has 'finesse,' all we are doing is trying to communicate a sonic experience of gear, while it is busy playing music we find moving.

Okay, but I'd argue it's a sloppy way to do so.


Quote:
If we were to eliminate this aspect of talking about gear, we'd end up posting specs and being done with it - but that wouldn't adequately desribe what we are hearing either.

I think that's a false dichotomy. You've done a good job above with your description of "conveying emotion", avoiding both cases of the false dichotomy (no anthropomorphism and no specs).


Quote:
This phenomenon occurs in nearly all hobbies.

I don't think so. Do photography publications talk about cameras "conveying emotion" or "danceable cameras"? I have little doubt that they can muster the miniscule level of critical thinking skill required to distinguish between what is properly attributed to to the photographer and subject matter, and what is properly attributed to the hardware - unlike typical audio equipment reviews.

This kind of sloppy thinking has been going on so long in the audio press, it's treated as if it's unavoidable or inevitable.

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