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ohfourohnine
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Look what you made me do!

I've read Stereophile equipment recommendations since the mag's halcyon days in New Mexico. Positive reviews, past and present, have never gone beyond recommending AUDITIONING. Further there have been frequent cautions regarding placing trust in auditions outside one's own home and one's own system.

Now comes Mr. Ben Causey castigating the mag because he spent some money on Stereophile recommended gear and he can't hear the difference between it and some far cheaper equipment. " I never compared before, because I went with your high praise.....", he says. In far too many words he's whining, Look what you made me do!

Well, since it seems to be he order of the day, I'll add some whining of my own. Why does such a pitiful example of human behavior deserve not only inclusion in the Letters section but a rehash and a rather lengthy response in As We See It? Mr. Causey's anger and self-loathing are of his own making. Like the rest of us, he deserves to live with his own mistakes. Are there no wastebaskets at Stereophile headquarters?

smejias
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Re: Look what you made me do!


Quote:
Well, since it seems to be he order of the day, I'll add some whining of my own. Why does such a pitiful example of human behavior deserve not only inclusion in the Letters section but a rehash and a rather lengthy response in As We See It? Mr. Causey's anger and self-loathing are of his own making. Like the rest of us, he deserves to live with his own mistakes. Are there no wastebaskets at Stereophile headquarters?

A group of my friends were in a band called Sandalwood. They came up in the mid-90s local Jersey City/Bayonne punk rock scene, but they were much more talented than other acts around the block. Between songs, they would actually tune their guitars. This was a big deal to us kids at the time. While tuning, the lead singer would remind the audience, "We tune because we care."

Now that I've gotten to the end of this story, I'm not sure that it makes sense.

Anyhow. Yeah.

Stereophile: We tune because we care.

Stereophile: We do doingfully.

Stereophile: We throw away nothing!

Buddha
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Wow, another version of audiophilia nervosa.

This is a particularly virulent strain.

On the one hand, the letter writer does not trust his own listening skills to make a buying decision, but on the other, he is angry because the magic didn't happen after he shopped. NOW he listens!

If he had only done things in reverse order, all would be well.

Maybe we can convince him that even if he can't hear the difference, it exists; and now he can play the snob for his audio buddies.

(Kidding around. This is probably a wonderful person who had romantic hopes of audio bliss. On that count, I'm sorry to hear of his dismay.)

Jan Vigne
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Did Mr. Causey buy the entire system that was under review? (And the room to go with the components?) Adding one superior piece to two or three lesser units, not counting cables and other assorted condiments, is unlikely to result in magic. Possibly that wasn't pointed out in advance either, or Mr. Causey failed to notice. Could a column on system synergy be in order?

bobedaone
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Re: Look what you made me do!

I love reading reviews and they do a fine job highlighting the stand-out components, but a pre-audition purchase is most definitely out of the question. Imagine buying a car - however well reviewed - without ever sitting in the driver's seat. This may prove an especially fitting analogy if the cost of the components is comparable to that of an automobile! I'll agree with Buddha and show sympathy for this gentleman. I think it's misguided, though, to criticize the magazine for lack of system improvement. The final links in the audio chain are the ears and the auditory cortex, not the loudspeakers. Components can be upgraded, but an individual can do little to improve his perception of sound. Must reviews and recommendations now come with disclaimers? "Individual results may vary." There are many different types of people who buy audio equipment for myriad reasons. Everyone falls somewhere on two separate scales: income and perceptual ability. For example, there are people like me who have decent ears but are broke. There are the lucky few for whom high disposable income and golden ears intersect. Inevitably, there are people who have a great deal of money but lack the ears to appreciate the improvements which they are able to finance. I'll not be overly critical because I"m sure many of these people are music enthusiasts of the highest order and have every right to spend their money any way they choose. At any rate, they keep the high-end vibrant and alive, and I thank them for their contributions. The only thing that bugs me is the gear-as-status-symbol phenomenon. When I finish putting together my modest system, I'll invite my music enthusiast friends over to hear it, but only because it will be enjoyable to listen to, not because I want to impress anyone. At such time as I can afford a Linn Sondek or a VPI HRX and I don't find it superior to whatever I'm replacing, then I won't buy the expensive toy. One of the hardest things for an audiophile is to know when to stop upgrading. Actually, this man's experience may be positive: Perhaps he'll come to the realization that what he was replacing is exactly what he wants. He should sit down is his listening chair and be happy that he has "the best".

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Clay,

I was as shocked as you that anyone would admit that one COULD NOT hear the diff between a Unico and the Onkyo in question. I will admit myself that I have a hard time these days hearing diff between some amplifiers, but cd players are too easy, and especially when it comes to cheaper DVD players used for audio that cost under $100. I have 4 of them in bedrooms (They power the huge nighlights my children have called TVs) at our home and I cannot stand to listen to CDs through them. Bright, brittle, harsh, are only a few of the words to describe them. Air, depth, and 3-D...forgeddaboutit.

Maybe the $200 Oppo will be different, but my hopes are not that high on WP's review. We went through this before with JA being challenged on another forum about the Toshiba 3910? DVD player being audiophile quality. Sorry, no free lunch. I do hope JA does his usually battery of tests on the OPPO. What a name? Is this the lost Marx brother? (Insert a rim shot here! )

Mr.Causey's indictment may be more to the Denon 2910 as a music player than anything else. I do not own one, so I can't say for sure. I am usually impressed by Denon as a company and their products.

If you want to hear improvements change your source components first. It is when you get to cabling and power conditioning you know you have a truly resolving system.

I have an older Pioneer Elite HT receiver that has served us well for watching movies. At 70 watts for 5 channels it has enough power for the levels with which we watch movies. But in terms of shear music making it can't even hold a candle to my old Hafler DH101 preamp/amp combo. As always your mileage may vary.

Sounds like a trip to the audiologist is in order. Hey, even JA had to make one of those.

jazzfan
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Clay,

My April issue of Stereophile arrived today and the first thing I did was read Mr. Causey's letter. After reading it I was reminded of the movie "Terms of Endearment". You see, "Terms of Endearment" for all of it's deep probing of the mother/daughter relationship, ultimately turns out to be just a "cancer" film. Before anyone bashes me for being somewhat callous regarding cancer, please note the I have lost my fair share of loved ones to that awful disease, including my mother.

And so with Mr. Causey's letter, which after his long winded preamble, turns out to be just another condemnation of subjective testing and a call for Stereophile to use the always infallible double blind testing method. You know, the testing method where a $100 Tel-Kay receiver cannot be distinguished from the $100,000 Krell preamp and amp setup for a statically significant number of listeners. To Mr. Causey and all the other devotees of the DBT method I say what I've always said: They're your ears and it's your money so do what sounds right and good for you, just don't come and try to rain on my parade because, guess what, I listen to my equipment with my ears and I bought it with my money.

bobedaone
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Eloquently stated, jazzfan.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Jim, my problem wasn't that the poor devil couldn't hear the difference. Some people have tin ears. That's too bad. I'm sorry for him on that score.

His whining that Stereophile led him to waste his money compounded by J.A.'s patience with that is what I think is pathetic. If that is the kind of content we're going to see more of, this fine magazine has stepped on a slippery and dangerous slope. Political correctness - HUMBUG!

jazzfan
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Cheapo,

I think the reason JA responded the way he did is that Ben Causey did, in fact, make the allegation that Stereophile lead him to make the wrong buying decision is because Stereophile does not base it's reviews and recommendations on (double) blind testing. So the whole thing boils down to just another rant about blind testing. And I also believe that JA was right in defending, yet again, Stereophile's much more subjective testing methodology.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Look what you made me do!

OK, Jazzfan, you got me to reread Mr. Causey's letter. I trust you too much. He does, indeed, say, "...I'm mad at Stereophile for not doing blind listening tests." and I guess his being mad rests on the assumption that if such a test were set up with his gear the participants would reach the same conclusion he did. If ever there was support for the argument that blind testing tests the listeners more than the gear that's it.

I'm dropping out of this one now. I am so old fashioned that I really believe a man ought to take responsibility for his own mistakes.

Happy listening,

jazzfan
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Re: Look what you made me do!


Quote:
OK, Jazzfan, you got me to reread Mr. Causey's letter. I trust you too much. He does, indeed, say, "...I'm mad at Stereophile for not doing blind listening tests." and I guess his being mad rests on the assumption that if such a test were set up with his gear the participants would reach the same conclusion he did. If ever there was support for the argument that blind testing tests the listeners more than the gear that's it.

I'm dropping out of this one now. I am so old fashioned that I really believe a man ought to take responsibility for his own mistakes.

Happy listening,

One quick question before you go:

Exactly where does Mr. Causey's mistake lie? Is it the fact that he blindly followed Stereophile recommendations without doing the proper auditioning or the fact that he's now become a believer in the DBT method after putting together an audio based on Stereophile's subjective testing methods?

In either case you are totally correct in that the mistakes were is his and as such the fault rests clearly on his shoulders.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Look what you made me do!

In Terms of Mr. Causey's time line..."Phile" Reviewed the 1.6's in 1999, and so I am guessing that Mr. Causey bought those before he bought the newer to market Unico and the Denon 2910 player.

As most of us know if you want to make startling improvement in sound change your speakers first. We all know that speakers within "Phile" class categories sound remarkably different. You must listen before you buy, or caveat emptor.

For me it is musch harder to discern differences in amps and cd players, but I have done it on numerous occasions, but it is harder work in some cases. I do not think that I could do what WP just did and outline the differences in the new Ayre amps vs the Krell. I'll bet many of you could.

I agree with Clay, that this is not Stereophile's fault that Mr Causey did not audition the amp and CD player. Is synergy at play? I doubt it. I think it is more tin ears than anything else.

We have a Unico in our choir room at church and everyone loves the sound of that amp. They keep asking why the Sancutary does not sound this good. That is another long story not for this forum. You cannot ask a road worthy QSC amp for air, depth and detail.

I believe Mr. Causey would hear the difference if he would sit down and really listen. I would bet even DBT would reveal differences quite easily. Unless that OPPO is one heck of a sleeper player. That is not the horse I would put my money on.

We needed some new choir monitors and so I was given the task to go pick them out. I went to a dealer who had JBL, Yamaha, Community, Cerwin Vega to name a few.

The first thing the sales person/the store manager did was to turn on the Yamaha's with 15"s and crank them to over 90 db and yell at me how great they sounded! Really.

After I got him to run them way down and actually play some music through all of them I asked him to play the JBLs with 12"s. He told that that I would not like them as "JBL is not the company they once were". Really.

Listening to real music play at reasonable levels it was clear to me and later on him that the JBL's were the clearest and sacrificed little in the low end to the Yamaha's and others with 15's at the same price point. He was shocked and it became clear he had not bothered to even listen to his own products.

Maybe this is how Mr. Causey listens. I do not know. I can say that the Unico amps tend to be on the neutral side where as a similar tube pre/mosfet output stage integrated from Jolida has slighly more character. It is not night and day different, but discerable. They both sound excellent to me.

Our Music Minister has a Jolida 1701 with a very nice Audio Analogue $1K cd player with Triangle Cometes in his office. He is very pleased with the sound I installed there.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Look what you made me do!

"One quick question before you go:

Exactly where does Mr. Causey's mistake lie? Is it the fact that he blindly followed Stereophile recommendations without doing the proper auditioning or the fact that he's now become a believer in the DBT method after putting together an audio based on Stereophile's subjective testing methods?"

OK my friend, since you ask, Mr. Causey's first mistake, in my opinion, was ignoring Stereophile's advice to use its recommendations only as a basis for auditioning and to conduct auditions, whenever possible, in the room and in the system where he component in question will be used. You, obviously, run some risks when you choose to ignore such good advice as that, but you're certainly free to do it if you want to. The only cost is accepting the responsibility for the outcomes.

Instead, Mr. Causey - joining what appears to be becoming a nation of whiners - chose to blame Stereophile and its reviewing methods for his having spent his money on something he isn't happy with. I think public coddling of whiners only leads to more whining.

My reaction had little to do with the old DBT nonsense and more to do with what I saw as unwarranted patience with someone making a complaint without a leg to stand on.

In my opinion, JA was faced with a number of choices: respond as he did, direct the letter writer to the last sentence in the introduction to "How to Use the Listings", or throw the letter in the wastebasket on the assumption that the whiner's real problem was a tin ear and nothing he could say or do would rectify that. I'd have picked the third option - the kindest one in my opinion - and I wished that he had.

That's a selfish wish. It would have left space in the "As We See It" for content I probably would have found more interesting. As Mick said, "You don't always get what you want."

Bottom line, I have absolutely no right to tell John whom to be patient with and if I wasn't already out of tolerance with the new national sport of excuse making and blaming others for one's own mistakes, I would have frowned a bit and said nothing. JA's handling of the matter was sort of a "last straw" and I decided to shoot my mouth off.

Cheers,

jazzfan
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Clay,

Very well said and I couldn't agree more.

Ralph aka Jazzfan

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Look what you made me do!

For those interested here is review of the OPPO.
OPPO Review

I look forward to WP's comments.

DBZ
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Re: Look what you made me do!

Hi Cheapskate.

You might be interested to see that some of the discussion you started has spilled over to another post entitled "high end religion." John Atkinson joined that one, which prompted me to post my own rant against unreasonable acceptance OR rejection of blind testing.

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