Is audio's "lunatic fringe" good or bad for the hobby?

Is audio's "lunatic fringe" good or bad for the hobby?
It's a good thing
30% (50 votes)
It's a bad thing
35% (58 votes)
A little of both
35% (57 votes)
Total votes: 165

Innovation can often come from unexpected places, but "thinking different" can also engender ridicule. Is audio's "lunatic fringe" good or bad for the hobby?

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

Try to explain Shun Mook $300/m interconnects to anyone outside the hobby. They'll act as if you've asked them to join the Moonies.

Troy Esposito's picture

Their passion is good, but not some of the tangents they go off on. They can make this hobby seem kooky or get people worrying about cables instead of speakers and room acoustics.

Jim Ferris's picture

Some of the tweaks get a little crazy. I think it hurts the hobby. I think high pricing hurts as well.

Eric Shook - Pittsboro, NC's picture

If you look at the lunatic fringe of both political parties, you'll agree.

fred's picture

Many valuable discoveries have been made by those thought to be lunatics.

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

I'm not sure, but I love the song....

Michael Colllette's picture

What harm can come from it?

Dimitris Gogas's picture

It makes our hobby less boring, amuses the outsiders, and occasionally something good comes out of it.

Dismord's picture

Regarding the enjoyment of recorded music in a domestic setting as a "hobby" is in and of itself a good way to exclude 90% of your potential customer base. The "lunatic fringe" does indeed convince most non-audiophiles that we are audiophools. Peter Belt et al have a lot to answer for.

Tim Bishop's picture

Some of it is good, in that radical new ideas can be born. Some of it can be bad, as obsesive/compulsive disorders can distract from the final goal: enjoying the hobby.

Daniel's picture

A little from column A; a little from column B. We need people who think the unthinkable, in order for the art/science to progress in new directions. On the other hand, there are people who make our passion look ridiculous every time they open their mouths or type their thoughts. Mind you, even when you read the more frothy-lipped contributions (like the Stereophile letters page), at least they care—the nutters. Sorry, can't have one without the other, I'm afraid.

Al Marcy's picture

Each of us must assume we are functional to survive. That does not mean any of us are lunatics, just that some of us need herd instinct to feel safe. Baa-baa.

Nathan's picture

Bottom line is that the lunatic fringe (it's called that for a reason) hurts the hobby. It discredits the hobby and makes it inaccessible. How do you explain to someone who can buy twice the computing power at half the cost compared to a year ago vs audio's lunatic fringe which asks for twice the price for benefits which seem to only be audible when the listener is aware of the price of the product. It makes the hobby look like it's populated by a bunch of suckers.

harry's picture

It switches normal people off, putting hi-fi at the fringe—reducing volumes, which therefore means less investment in real innovation.

mrod's picture

Harvey Rosenberg: a good thing. Peter Aczel: not so good.

John P.'s picture

I just think the whole, "Just because it can't be measure doesn't mean it's not there" crowd is annoying. Please tell me again how a carbon-fiber power plug cover or the quantum dots affect the sound?

Al Earz's picture

How will we grow if some one doesn't think outside the box? It is innovation that has transported us to where we are now. Edison was thought of as a non-traditionalist. Look at the fruit that has borne.

ch2's picture

The crazies are out there no matter what field you are looking at. Sure, they can be distracting to some, but sometimes (often) there is a kernel of truth in their fanaticism that does lead to true improvement in the end. We need the crazies to keep us sane.

Pete's picture

There is no question but that those in the lunatic fringe who listen very carefully can push systems and discover new methods for sonic splendor, but 99% of it is BS. Solid engineering (without a blind adherence to dogma), together with careful listening is what really moves the industry forward.

saw's picture

It seems to me there are folks who are fiercely loyal to one technology or another. The best I've heard often come from people who are willing to toss conventional thinking out the window.

Jeff Glotzer's picture

JGH kinda said it best here: "I know I did, and my whole excuse for it—a love for the sound of live classical music—lost its relevance in the US within 10 years. I was done in by time, history, and the most spoiled, destructive generation of irresponsible brats the world has ever seen. (I refer, of course, to the Boomers.) " Where is the new generation? Wherever we can find it! I battle with naysayers and haters (MP3s are the culprit) all of the time, and it is much worse now than 10 years ago, vinyl lovers excepted, sort of. (Most consumers at record stores don't own great LP rigs—the stores certainly dont'!) I would find it interesting to see what's the age the of consumers who buy the newest remasters of the Beatles catalog. Baby Boomers or younger? JGH thought different, and he was an archetype. Mikey is too. And I thank god for both of 'em!

Tim K's picture

Trying innovative, out-of-the-box ideas is how we move things forward. Expecting someone to pay $100k for a component to support that research is just silly and further stigmatizes the whole field.

Chris's picture

It's a good thing, because designers get into bad habits, designing with current demand in mind instead of innovating to make something that will engender new demand. It's a bad thing, because it tends to cause rifts among otherwise civilized people.

turbojohnny's picture

Who is the "lunatic fringe," the innovators or the people who ridicule the innovators? Better clean up your question.

Roland's picture

Fanaticism is almost never a good thing. Balance—both between the left and right channels and in the quest for great sound—is essential to making listening to high performance audio gear flourish. Making people who do not have the same likes as you feel bad for their opinions is both narrow-minded and elitist, which pushes people away. That's bad for all of us who love getting the most performance while enjoying their music. Think about it.

C.  King, Thousand Oaks, CA's picture

An audiophile is, by definition, a lunatic.

Barry Miller's picture

Personally, I enjoy reading some of the assertions of the audio lunatic fringe. It's one of the fun aspects of audio. There's no doubt, however, that it doesn't help our reputation in the "real" world.

bullethead's picture

Magic beans which improve the sound really work!

Brankin's picture

It's good because the true lunatics often can raise the bar for what can be achieved. It's bad because the "false lunatics" are only interested in getting into our pocketbooks. That causes the truly cutting-edge side of the hobby to get lumped in with the shysters.

Glenn Bennett's picture

It seems like most hobbies/interests/passions have a "lunatic fringe." You can go nuts (and broke) buying into some of these schemes, many of them products of the manufacturers' advertising/marketing departments.