Listening #165

Fifteen years ago, when I was the Editor of Listener, I wrote a response to a reader's letter in which I repaid unpleasantness with unpleasantness: something I justified by flattering myself that my brand of unpleasantness had the advantage of being clever. Not satisfied with making his point sound foolish, I made certain that the writer of that letter would himself be made to look ridiculous. I made fun of his name, too.

Prior to publication, I showed my handiwork to my wife, Janet, as per my usual practice. I expected her to laugh at the funny bits and praise my superior logic, also as per usual.

Instead, she took longer than usual to reply. And when she did reply, she asked, "Especially now . . . especially with all the people who just died, and all the hatred in the world, and all the people getting ready to go to war . . . why would you want to roll around in the mud with this one reader?"

I was caught off guard. And my initial, profound disappointment at not being patted on the head for being funny gave way to the realization that Janet was right: My response would have been the wrong thing to publish in Listener's November/December 2001 issue.

"But," I replied, "I have to publish this guy's letter. And I can't publish a letter this critical and this unpleasant without some sort of reply in the same issue."

Her response would prove prophetic: "Then think of the nicest thing you can possibly put there, instead of something angry . . . like this." She rattled the printout of my wicked reply.

I went back to my desk and thought really hard: Obviously, the nicest thing anyone could publish in a magazine of any sort would be a picture of a bunny. So I scoured all of my clip-art disks (which is how we did things in those days) and replaced the most vitriolic paragraph of my reply with a photograph of a small, black rabbit with white front paws. And when a couple of other people wrote douchey letters for the same issue, they, too, got images of bunnies. In one of those photos, a bunny lay stretched out next to a basket of colored eggs; I imagine that, when the letter-writer in question saw that picture, all the poison in his system escaped in such a hurry that his head exploded. (Recovering crank though I was, I couldn't help smiling at the thought.) Later in the same issue, I instituted a column, designated an "acid-free zone," called "That's Nice," which I wrote for laughs and credited to a nonexistent writer named Don Nice (footnote 1).

The entire episode was a valuable lesson. One that I immediately set about forgetting.

The farmers and the businessmen
As has happened so many times before, this started out to be a very different column: one that bemoaned audiophile-on-audiophile verbal violence, especially the boundless fuckery of a few sad cases who haunt Stereophile.com and our sibling forums, spending untold hours reading every word we publish, only to proclaim, with the sort of fey ferocity that made Joe Besser a comedy god, the stupidity of all the people who read every word we publish—they and the makers of the products we review, of course.

But in a sudden burst of enlightenment, I changed my mind. The triggering event was seeing a $2 sign on someone's front lawn: a yellow-and-black placard with a silhouette of a motorcycle and the words "LOOK OUT FOR US. PLEASE."

916listen.sign.jpg

It was the Please that got to me: in my red neck of the woods, signs ordering people to watch out for cyclists, motor- and otherwise, are not uncommon. My response is usually one part empathy, one part Yeah, like you people are so conscientious about traffic laws.

But when I saw the sign that sparked my satori, I looked for the next available left turn, made a big loop, and drove past the house again—this time with my left hand on the wheel and my right hand on my iPhone, clicking away and hoping for a lucky shot. Then I imagined a yellow-and-black sign with a silhouette of a Volkswagen Tiguan and the words "PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR ME: SOMETIMES I TRY TO TAKE PICTURES WHILE I DRIVE."

When I stopped sniggering at that thought, I began to see that warning sign as . . . well, as a warning sign. I realized then that I'd fallen down: I'd begun to think of some audiophiles as nasty, narcissistic, socially inept, cowardly pugilists who detest seeing anyone enjoy the world in a manner different from the way in which they enjoy the world. Just as, on the basis of a relative handful of encounters, I had formed the unshakable opinion that some bikers are dim, inconsiderate, superannuated dirtbags with leather issues.

But now it occurred to me: Most of us just want to go on our way, in the manner that suits us. Thus it bears saying, loudly and, where required, in yellow and black: "DEAR WORLD, EXPEND THE MICROJOULE OF ENERGY REQUIRED FOR THE EFFORT TO AVOID ASSAULTING US. PLEASE."

For my own health, if not that of the industry on which I report, the time has come to ignore assholery in favor of the honorable, laudable, lovable behavior that has typified most of the audiophiles of my acquaintance. Indeed, the first self-professed audiophiles I ever met, most of whom were professors at one of the colleges in the town where I spent my teens, were friendly and knowledgeable and eager to share. I still remember the nice old guy who owned a single enormous Bozak loudspeaker, and who told me all about those speakers, and about Klipschorns and Quads and other exotica. Another guy enthused about Magneplanars—more exotica—which he'd seen and heard during a visit to a store in New York City. Audiophiles: tech-savvy and cosmopolitan!

From there, things got only better. I wound up in New York myself, where I met a great many companionable audiophiles. I met some good-hearted, honest, thoroughly music-obsessed retailers, as well. And, although it took a number of years to do so, I came to understand that their own bouts of bad behavior are often triggered by even worse behavior on the part of a maladjusted and typically music-indifferent customer. (A paradox: Nearly 40 years after my first visit to a New York–area audio salon, I can honestly say that the one salesman I've known who has a bit of a larcenous streak was and is the most consistently easygoing person in the field.)



Footnote 1: There actually was a person named Don Nice, but he was a painter, not a writer.
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
David Harper's picture

don't let someone else turn you into an asshole. That's all that's taking place when you answer a rude comment with a rude response.
And your first response to that letter 15 years ago was likely less clever and funny than you thought.

Venere's picture

I'd probably enjoy reading Art's original response from 15 years ago. Does that make me an asshole? Or just a fan of black comedy? Ahhh, shades of gray in the world. Don't it just drive you crazy?

Anton's picture

I understand being against "assholery," but then why the ongoing fetish for antagonizing a perfectly great part of the hobby for someone who may enjoy or emphasize soundstaging??

I'm not sure if you caught the paradox here in your piece this month.

Your quote: "I doubt it would hold the attention of those who think that high-end audio is all about "reproducing the soundstage"

OK, a 'screw you' to people who enjoy the illusion of soundstaging. I don't get that.

You also say this, "nasty, narcissistic, socially inept, cowardly pugilists who detest seeing anyone enjoy the world in a manner different from the way in which they enjoy the world," then you make it a specific point to show your own disdain for people who emphasize "soundstaging." Why? Because it is different from the way you think people should enjoy the hobby?

I think you just did what you claim to disdain.

_

Last note: waiting for the final outcome regarding the record's possession, I was interested in seeing, given the value of the LP and your position to cherry pick a library fundraiser, what you decided was the proper amount to pay the library for the record?

(Disclaimer: No assholery intended, and I do not have a dog in the fight between Art and his nemiseseses who like soundstaging.)

Art Dudley's picture
"...I think you just did what you claim to disdain."

Absolutely, 100 percent true.

I'm grateful for your thoughtful reply to my column. As for the LP, we decided on a $100 donation to the library, which we filed under "What the heck—it's tax-deductible!"
tonykaz's picture

I've rather admired Art Dudley's defense of Analog, mainly because it's genuine. I've felt it tended to take the form of Acid Spitting so I've avoided debating with him. Still, Analog is worthy of defense and Art Dudley seems it's highest ranking Authority. There are quite a few others ( some are my past Audio customers ) that maintain vast record collections, like TTVJ in Montana with his 12,000 Albums dating back to his very first purchased.

This last year, working on the Bernie Sanders support team, I was shocked to hear and see the "nastiness" of folks chanting "Lock her up" and "Lying Hillary"., being incited by Group Leaders, Talk Radio, and Alt.Republican Candidates.

I've felt that Art Dudley is a decent person, someone I'd enjoy having as a next-door neighbor, I followed along as he visited ARC in Minnesota ( nice reporting ), I'd regret his absence if he went to another industry.

and,

I'd suggest he not fuel the flames of those alt. types by giving anyone a "emotional reaction" to taunting, it's exactly what they're looking for.

Tony in Michigan

Anton's picture

I think he'd be about the perfect neighbor.

Multiple interests, seems like you could pry a little wine into him, can break free of the shackles of 'gynecologic Hi Fi' and enjoy music for its own sake, etc...

The fun of reading Stereophile's recurring columns is the wonderful insight the reviewers give into other aspects of life and philosophy.

I'd happily live next door to any of the column writers, except Kal....he likes multi-channel. :-O ;-D

tonykaz's picture

Darn, we're missing a good one. Tyll is there and will be journalizing for us.

Mr.Dudley would be a good one. I have one neighbor that Edits Video ( also a bicycle guy,like me ), has tons of insight in Broadcast stuff & Studio recording.

I need new friends, those I had are dying-off, geeky ones that wanna explore are my favorites.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Says the pot to the kettle.

dalethorn's picture

Good people are passionate about things, not usually politically correct except in mixed company outside of their passionate interest area. The problem with some of these confessions on behalf of others is it still sounds like angry criticism, with a smiley face on. Like politicians do.

Herb Reichert's picture

superannuated

Anton's picture

Superannuated, yet more.

You are supererogatory, all the way.

rt66indierock's picture

Your advice isn’t obsolete. Let’s review. The room is the most important part of the system. “You can’t overload the room and expect natural timbre and clarity”. “Pick a classic new or used speaker that has proven its worth through the test of time”. Turn down the volume on your audio system. “The classic amps, the ones people keep playing music with have a few things in common”. “The Linn LP12 and Rega tables are a good place to start”. “Buying a satisfying music playback system from a high-end audio salon is nearly impossible”. I received the same advice from electrical and nuclear engineers who loved music in the seventies except Garrard 301 and 401 turntables were substituted for the Rega. This advice still makes people happy today. I know because from time to time I will pull back the conference table in my office and let people listen to music in my office.

“My heart is truly with the music lover”. Of course it is my home system is 28 years old this month. And I’ve owned the speakers and amplifier in my office for 30 years. I spend my time enjoying music.

tonykaz's picture

Sweet little TT, always loved it.

Tony in Michigan

volvic's picture

Used to have three of those furry little critters, they loved Mozart, but did not like the romantics or hyper romantics, yet strangely loved John Tavener. Caught them chewing on my Bohm Shubert 9th record once, moved everything higher. Last one lived 11 years, they taught me to play my music at lower levels so as not to stress them. Till this day no longer feel the need to crank it up.

tgibbs's picture

As a writer and reviewer, facing negativity is nothing new to me, and I really can appreciate Art's approach to dealing with it as I struggle with the same kind of considerations on a regular basis.

A few hours after having read Art's piece, I strayed over to AA and happened to catch a "rebuttal" of sorts that had been "moved to a more appropriate venue" because of the acerbic nature of the comments. I've read some serious BS over there, and my tolerance for some of the crap that goes on between various personalities is pretty high, but the level of suggested violence towards Art from the person posting was pretty shocking. Frankly, I'm embarrassed that anyone from the audio community could allow themselves to lapse to such a deep level of cold-bloodedness.

I follow a lot of online conversations with regard to the audiophile experience, in hopes of helping better inform my own playback of music from various sources. Disagreements between personalities abound, but much like the current political arena, the end result between many of the parties is hopefully more of an "agree to disagree" sort of scenario. Civility is essential to helping further the conversation.

I've had my fair share of nut-job reactions from readers over a couple of decades, not the least of which was one who became so enamoured with a positive product review that he decided I was his new BFF, and it almost took a restraining order to get him to back off.

I've only seen a brief snapshot of what's going on here, but it's shocking (and very disheartening) nonetheless.

Tom

senojhrj1's picture

When you are arguing with an idiot, make sure the other person isn't doing the same thing.

David Harper's picture

online flame throwing is a lot like road rage. A purely visceral response. I was involved in a really ugly road rage incident a couple months ago. Afterwards I was so disturbed by what I had done that it caused me to re-examine everything about myself and my behavior that day. The police came and everything that day. We were both standing outside of our cars when the police arrived. It could have turned out much worse than it did. In the end, we both went our separate ways with no hard feelings, but an unbearable stupidity set in for me in the following days.How could I behave like such an idiot? What was I thinking? I almost wrecked my three week old car. A 2016 Honda civic. I believe the experience has changed me. I'll never do it again.

dalethorn's picture

The car can be a great defense weapon, if you need it. The key is to stay inside, call the police first thing, do what they say.

es347's picture

1...your wife's suggestion was akin to the Bible's instruction to treat with kindness thereby "heaping burning coals upon the head"
2...I'm no prude but I always am turned off by a journalist dropping F-bombs for no apparent reason

..carry on

KingGhidora's picture

The Bible asks us to pray for our enemies not so they react to our kindness as if hot coals were piled on their head. That's the role God plays in the equation. It is God that will put those heaps of burning coals on the heads of your enemies. People have very little power over other people and returning kindness when bitterness is offered will usually result in more bitterness unfortunately. That's often the basis of the feuds we see running on for years if not decades on the net. One person responds to a POV with a hostile remark designed to elicit disdain. When the person with the original POV responds with anything other than hostility the person who first posted the criticism will get worse trying to destroy any opinion but his own. it's a sad commentary on the human condition but an accurate one.

tonykaz's picture

You woke me up by mentioning Bozak. Rudy and my father were neighbors in Uniontown Pa, they were the same age. My dad was delighted to see Bozak Speakers in our local Stereoland ( 1963 ), a person bought Macintosh Amps and Bozak Loudspeakers. ( speaker cable was Lamp power cord, brown in our case ) We were still Mono, still playing 78s but we had a Benjamin changer with a 'flip' needle to play 33 Long Playing Albums.

Thank you (for my long passed father) for remembering & mentioning Bozak and for my Mother who sang accompaniment to many an Opera playing on that System, we thought it was wonderful, our neighbors loved it, we lived a charmed life ( I guess ).

I was in charge of setting the RIAA switches ( an important responsibility ).

Tony in Michigan

jazzdude6's picture

I too would love to have Art Dudley as a neighbor..or a friend. Since reading this article in Stereophile, I have been looking myself in the mirror and carefully monitoring my on-line and everyday behavior. I'm admittedly not objective about Art and his likes and advice, I love Tubes, SET, LPs, Audio Note UK, Vintage Horn speakers and DeVore Fidelity. My wife is a great inspiration as well....Once or twice a week (at least) she mentions that I should pull my head out of my a**. Of course, she is correct 99.9% of the time

Pryso's picture

As a long-ago subscriber to The Listener I enjoyed the presence of the occasional bunny. Now, during my morning walk I sometimes scare up a bunny feeding in the landscaping. Whenever I do I'll say "Good morning Art, sorry to disturb your breakfast." I'm sure they are all named Art.

I've loved that gentle reminder not to take things too seriously or allow myself to become wound too tight.

So thanks Art, keep up the good fight, even if it is with a velvet (velveteen?) glove.

tonykaz's picture

I suppose I'd have to have that Album and Del Shannon if I could find it.

We wouldn't have Music like that in our house, Mom would say it's "a bad influence" but we'd have it on our 9-Transistor Radios if we could listen thru the tiny headphone jack, into our tiny (fragile connector ) ear phone! My school friend actually had Chubby Checker on 45 and plenty of the Venture type music, even Elvis for gods sake. ( I had to live a double life, music wise ). "Little Drummer Boy" & Bing Crosby were approved. "West Side Story" finally broke thru my parents ban on Popular Music just in time for the Beatles and the Beach Boys, a Kenwood Reciever & KLH Speakers. We even got a Garard Changer with a Wooden Arm. We Kids had our own music system ( bedroom ) and parents had the Macintosh/Bozak.

Those were the days,

Tony in Michigan

bravofan's picture

Did you know that's not the Ventures on the cover of their first Dolton album, Walk Don't Run? The record company didn't have any pictures of the band because they were already on the road. They used a picture of some guys who worked in the stockroom downstairs at Liberty Records. They put dark glasses on them and had them falling over drums and stuff, then put a pretty girl walking by in the forefront so no one would notice their faces!

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for allowing a bit of reminiscing.

Tony in Michigan

mrvco's picture

So much of the audiophile vitriol comes down to my art reproduction preferences are different than your art reproduction preferences, so you're wrong and I'm right.

It's a bit like collectors of renaissance paintings bragging about and arguing over their choices in spectacles.

Allen Fant's picture

Both of you guys get a "Bunny".

Benphysics's picture

Hi, to all of you proclaimed audiophiles. I am now 65, and have been a music enthusiast since my first sound system when I was 20. So often I went into audiophile stores only to be snobed by salesman who think that an audiophile is a breed so high above the others that they have forgotten that anyone can be an audiophile. I've owned and build endless audio equipment from preamps, expanders, amps, speakers enclosures, turntables, etc., because whatever was on the market could not satisfy my ever seeking finer and finer details in a piece of music. When I listen to music, I enjoy initiating others to my love for music. I never criticize their state of evolution is the art of listening and appreciating music, for everyone has a different hearing thumbprint. In the many years I've cultivated an incalculable number of music enthusiasts, and made many audiophile friends who share the same passion as I. It is not because one does not have many thousands of dollars to purchase expensive audiophile equipment that he or she cannot be a music lover. Many audio enthusiasts came to me for advice for the best they could afford so they could at least get some satisfaction. Most often, we would go out and buy a good quality stereo receiver; used got us further for the money. We would look for a decent turntable with a good cartridge, and then we would go into my shop and make our own speaker enclosures to match decent raw speakers and design the crossovers to best suit his or her listening preferences. Who says that: to enjoy music, it must be flat? How ridiculous. Do you eat your burger, patty and bun alone? No you don't; you like it better with a little flavor enhancers (mustard, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, etc.). Music is the same thing; whichever gets shivers crawling up your spine is what keeps you coming back for more. There are too many self proclaimed audiophiles who think that they have reach the pinnacle of audio listening because they are capable of resigning to listening music in its flat configuration. How dull; there is an endless myriad of moods a piece of music can deliver. If to be an audiophile you must listen to music only in its flat mood, then I do not want to be an audiophile; every day is a different mood, and I do not want to miss out on any of them.

Benphysics

Archimago's picture

Great comment Ben.

It touches on very important aspects of the divide between "audiophiles".

I believe there are different motivations the audio lover has available to him/her. Often when we're not on the same page, arguments ensue, resulting in unhappiness reminiscent more of political debates or religious "holy wars".

I've always believed there are 2 general motivations behind this hobby. The "Music Lover" hobby: the motivation of finding joy in the subjective experience. The pleasure of sharing this joy with others around. And the "Hardware Audiophile" motivation around potential of the hardware itself. Some collect hardware. Some enjoy listening to various gear to say they've heard how the different range of hardware out there can perform.

I think you've described a beautiful synthesis between the 2 motivations, one who can enjoy the music and tune the hardware to his liking, sharing this hobby with others. That's I think a great demonstration of your maturity.

Just to address your comment about "flat"... Realize that for many of us, it's not about "flat" as in bland. It's about "fidelity". By definition, if the job of the equipment is just to "get out of the way" as a standard of what we're after, then I think that's not unreasonable to aim for technically accurate abilities through the whole playback chain. No coloration is the goal and motivation and that's no less worthwhile as any other (personally this is the only definition of "fidelity" that makes sense to me). That does not make the sound any less "spine tingling" and certainly if one starts with a playback chain capable of technical accuracy in dynamics, frequency and time domains, then one can do things like add EQ or DSP effects as desired to produce a subjectively favourable sound. I'm happy to ascribe the "spine tingling" experience to the artist's skill and the hardware was good enough to get out of the way of that emotional connection.

I agree that in all of this, there is no need for anger and unhappiness. People can pick and choose their motivations and certainly their subjective preference. Certainly there is never justification for the sense of snobbish superiority as I have experienced in some of the audiophile stores as well... That along with excessive hype and bizarre claims that insult the intelligence of the public does nothing to develop interest in this hobby IMO.

Benphysics's picture

I hope that my comment did not portray anger, for there is only pleasure in this hobby of ours. Don't get me wrong; the equipment must render as close as possible the accuracy of the recording medium, even though there is huge inaccuracy in the recording venue and equipment. But we will not get into that aspect of the chain. I've detailed some of these imperfection in another thread. I have made most of my equipment, yet I've invested in excess of $100K in the search for truly natural reproduction. Mind you, perfection is nowhere to be found. For example, if a tweeter is located a mere 0.1" from another tweeter of the same, which is physically impossible, unless your ear is directly between them, you will experience a phase shift between the two tweeters. Electronic crossovers, and even more so passive crossovers also introduce phase shifts between the different speakers. No, there is no such thing as perfect reproduction. The only way to get perfect reproduction is to have the signer or band play live before you. No matter how much you will pay for your audiophile equipment, it comes down to the least distortion possible which is yet huge versus live, while live is never the same as the previous performance which depends on the moods of the musicians. The equipment, in my opinion, must be able to render any audible frequencies as linearly precise as the input signal. On an oscilloscope, the output trace must match the input trace exactly with no unwanted parasites. I also have a dedicated sound room with 5 layers of sound isolating materials for its walls and ceiling. My floor has two layers of felt underlay (3/4" thick) and carpet on top. Yes I endlessly strive for perfection; I'm 65 and been hooked since I was 20. What many don't get, is that silence is the most crucial part of fidelity. Even an inexpensive system, if played in an well designed sound room, can outperform the most expensive in a solid surface room. I have over 10,000W of power in a three-way active system. I have 4 speakers each composed of 2 Fatal Pro 18" subs, 2 Fatal pro 10" woofer, 8 Dayton 2" dome mids and two Coral H-100. All are in 16 ohm for high fidelity and accuracy. Obviously the stereo configuration puts the 2 speakers in parallel to be driven at an 8 ohm load for the amps. The least the speakers travel to deliver the desired sound pressure level, the less distortion ensues from physical mass momentum. Although I have not met another nut cases like me, I think that its all about reaching euphoria through music. Most of my best music are instrumental only. Voices are enjoyable, but subjective. I, by far, prefer a great recording over which song it may be. I actually enjoy recording imperfections such as a faint siren in the distant background, or someone coughing during recording. I strive to hear it all; even if it means foregrounding a specific frequency.

Ok, that enough said for now. Thanks for the reply, I enjoyed it.
Ben

KingGhidora's picture

I have been fascinated by the perpetual urge to listen to music exactly as it was recorded. To some that is the only experience that matters. No other aspect of equipment matters. You must bring out the sound as it was created.

The thing is I've worked on the recording end of music also. I've worked with individual artists, to performances at churches, to soul bands, hard rock bands and bluegrass bands. Trust me when I tell you there is no such thing as a perfect recording. You can not reproduce sound exactly as it created by instruments. And with electronic sound that whole pursuit is practically mindless. There was no pristine original sound. It was created out of whole cloth by a machine that can be altered endlessly by the creator.

I certainly would not say it's a bad thing to want to stick to the original as much as possible. I've been devoted to hearing the details of recordings since the 1960's when I was re-wiring mom's stereo system. Luckily I never burned a system up because I came very close at times. When you by-pass circuits with an alligator clip you're asking for it. I've re-wired other things too doing some things that were said was impossible. I'd have half the electronics hanging outside the box they came in with add on switches and propped open panels. But it worked.

Equipment does matter. But a listener can become a part of the equation of creating sound in the home or in the car. There is "nothing" wrong with tweaking music to fit your individual tastes. It will not be flat. It will sound good if you do it right.

For example the audio purist has total disdain for the lowly equalizer. Yet every recording board made has one for every track. It is often the taste of the recording engineer that gets put down on media. Why not substitute your own taste for that of the recording engineer.

I had my chances to do these things on an even larger scale than I did. I turned down the chance to run a major studio. I have connections to one of the most famous studios on the planet also and that includes one of the engineers that created the modern sound of recordings. I know how he did things. He wasn't governed by an oscilloscope. He created music he wanted to hear and the world followed his lead. I know almost everyone here would recognize his name and that can't be said of many recording engineers. But I am sworn to secrecy about much of this. So I can't reveal the name.

Just trust your own ears. If you like it that's what really matters. The goal isn't to magically re-create sound as it was laid down. The goal is to enjoy what you're listening to. To be fair much of that is governed by the level of equipment you're using but also a lot of really high priced gear is not as good as gear costing a fraction of the price. Equipment snobbery leads to billfold snobbery very quickly in too many people. The bottom line should be how things sound, not what they cost. Some people really need to hear that.

Find what you like and go with it. I did. And remember that much of what makes music such an enjoyable pursuit is the repetition of sound we are familiar with. Hearing it in a slightly new way can lead to even more enjoyment but familiarity is a big part of why we like the music we do. At least it is for most people. So don't worry if you can't spend $100k on stereo equipment. Worry whether you are enjoying what you're doing when you listen. My biggest tool in creating the sound system I wanted was to listen to an endless variety of equipment until I found the stuff that made me sit up and listen. It's probably showing it's age now (I know it is but...) as I've had the same equipment for over a decade. I could no doubt start the research process up again and find better equipment but it would take a lot more time and effort. I'd rather just enjoy what I already have. And I learned long ago that one of the most important factors in buying a new car is how the sound system sounds. I don't expect perfection. I just expect to enjoy what I hear. I have 2 new sets of drivers and enclosures to work on restoring in my garage was we speak. I may decide to completely change the nature of those setups. It's about what I like, not what I'm supposed to like.

Benphysics's picture

Anyone who enjoys listening to music such that he or she makes of it an important part of their lives are on the same page as far as I'm concerned, even though we may not enjoy the same type of music.

Audiophile purist snubbism has no place in the hobby; these are mere equipment spec seekers. The true music lovers will take whatever they have for equipment and tweak it to the best they can until it delivers, as best possible, the sound they are able to enjoy. In the end, it's what makes you vibrate that counts. I have, since the early 70s, enjoyed using the preamp's eq and volume as a real time live instrument to deliver the mood that makes me vibrate. Many who have listened to my versions of songs, end up being disappointed of the same songs when played on their systems. When I'm invited to their homes, they normally ask me to drive their system and cannot believe the performance I can pull out of their own system. They always ask me to teach them. In the end, even though it has always been a form of art for me, through out all the years I have been teaching others, only one friend has caught on the art such that I was able to simply enjoy listening to his performance. For the next 12 years thereafter, we performed together teaching one another. Much was technical, and as much was personal feeling. The experience is mind blowing. Those who have not had the opportunity to listen to this form of art, when done right, cannot understand the level of euphoria. I'm afraid the art will disappear as the new equipment can only be controlled through remotes. In order to control eq and spl in real time, one must revert back to retro preamps that can be played as a mood instrument.

Ben

heyjay's picture

I still laugh whenever I think back to that 'have a bunny' issue. Best come back line ever. :>)

KingGhidora's picture

I hate to generalize but I've noticed for the past 25 years that the audio forums on the net are by far the most contentious. I've seen feuds run for well over a decade. I know one poster that has continually harangued other posters for that entire 25 year period I spoke of. It may be hard not be drawn into their endless "debates" on the relative value of one design over another but from the perspective of someone who isn't obsessed with hearing their own voice these screeds they post make me want to run screaming from the forum. It's good to hold your tongue with these people because the only way to kill a troll is to starve it out. It needs attention and without it they wither and die for the most part. The thing is that audio can be such an esoteric pursuit that there are no "right" answers to any of the questions they debate endlessly. I never tried to participate. I knew better. It sounds like you came to that realization too. There's no winning a debate with no set parameters. No matter where you go there's always some other place to take the discussion and it continues ad infinitum. Best to just not engage in the first place. I realize you get paid for your opinions but to sink to the level of the audio trolls isn't going to help your stature in the community. It will only hurt it. You made the right move avoiding the pitfalls of the audio wars. Winning there is impossible no matter how right you are. Being quick witted actually exacerbates the situation because the one thing a troll hates is being upstaged. There is a better way and you found it.

rt66indierock's picture

The web doesn’t cause audiophiles to behave badly or give the impression the number of who behave badly has increased. One of your favorite reviewers, Arthur Pfeffer said “go for the ultimate detail in the hardware and the software can drive you mad.” The man was a prophet. Add infrasonic and ultrasonic frequencies; turn up the volume up and you have a witches brew of vitriol in some audiophiles. These people can easily be ignored and their comments deleted if necessary. And I see no reason to print a letter so unpleasant you can easily remember it fifteen years later.

Thank you printing a picture of a very upset rabbit. Fortunately the rabbit’s ears are still up so the photographer is still redeemable in the eyes of the rabbit. If they were laid back it would not be good.

Finally if the industry is going to survive people do need to encourage fraternity. Fraternity in audio needs to start with you since this column is full of divisive comments and is about pulling together. Does the column need “West Coast studio hacks”, “headphone enthusiasts, I’m looking at you”, and “yeah, like you people are so conscientious about traffic laws”? No it doesn’t. Your approach seems to be we need to look out for each other but I can still make derogatory comments. That approach will never work if you want the industry to survive.