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michiganjfrog
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Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if anyone is interested.

I did not go to the show to file a report, so I'm just jotting down a few opinions and observations on what I saw/heard. If I had to describe the sound at the show in one word, it would be "Wow!". But OTOH, if I had to be at all honest or accurate in my description, then the word would be "underwhelming".

These comments should be taken with two pinches of salt. Which are:

1) In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a Beltist. And not the in-the-closet type you never hear from, but of the unabashed variety. Perhaps this shouldn't matter, but I think it does. Because I suspect Beltists are used to a better degree of sound quality than most audiophiles. I say this because if what I heard at the show is what manufacturers and dealers (and some customers from what I overheard) think is a great sound, then it appears that I and most people don't have the same standard, when it comes to what the experience of reproduced music should be like. My biggest complaint throughout the show, from demo room to demo room, was "where's the emotional connection to the music?". This quality that I was often getting from an mp3 player that I had been listening to last night (during an evening where I was installing Beltian tweaks around the room), just wasn't with me at the show. Despite that I was listening to systems that must easily have cost over $40,000 dollars. Even the NAIM room, which, having a soft spot for NAIM I expected much more from, just didn't do it for me in this regard. (They were demoing the new NAIT integrated, with a NAIT cd player, for which I've always heard good things about, and speakers from Audio Physic. The "Avanti" model).

All I know is I would have done a LOT more to improve my room's sound, than what I saw at that show, if I was a distributor trying to sell audio gear. I'm not just talking about treating the room and media with Belt devices to give myself a competitive edge, or even making sure you take stuff out of the room that degrades its sound. But just basic Audiofile 101 crap that these people couldn't be bothered with or simply haven't the wherewithal to think of.... ie. like not using Circuit City-grade Onkyo or Sony CD players as the source to demo my company's flagship products.

2) I didn't hear every type of music on every type of system, nor always under particularly relaxed conditions (ie. people chattering in the background). So it didn't always allow me to "fine tune" how well I could accurately guage the system's performance, especially when comparing one system to another, in different venues. But even having said that, I found myself pretty confident that my opinions of these systems are unlikely to change even if the rooms were vastly different, and the source materials were as well. I felt each system had its own characteristics that spoke more of its integral components than it did of these extraneous factors. So could sound better yes, but unlikely to sound very different, if the components remain.


--------------------------------------------------------------

La chambre FURUTECH: Just across from the Stereophile booth, this was the first room we walked into. We heard Buena Vista Social Club, an album I'm familiar with as I have it. And the sound playing was "polite". Very "polite". As in "very boring". As my re-introduction to the Festival Son et Image (after years since I had visited the show), it was a pretty underwhelming one. Little did I know that this was going to be the theme of the show, for me. This sound, despite the very mean looking turntable playing; a name I'd never heard of, called the "Rossner & Sohn" KLM-15 from Germany. The agent told me the designer spent three years working on the platter. I didn't have the heart to tell him it hardly seemed worth the effort. I could just as well have been listening to a CD, and if you know me, you know that's not meant as a compliment. The best thing I could say about the sound, was that it was very transparent. In no way did it appear to be coming from the small quality bookshelf speakers (don't remember what they were, but they looked like Dyn's and were probably Totems, and were on substantial stands). The speakers were partnered with quality electronics (sorry, the guides and brochures I'm trying to refer to don't clue me in to what they were). The system's biggest problem was that it was "distant", meaning it had zero presence. On a positive note, it's probably the best office system going.

It seemed the room was dedicated to a local dealer called "Acoustic Technologies", and FURUTECH was just part of their line. From what I saw, FuruTech makes a lot more than just the DeMag unit they seem to be most known for (which it appears they also won awards for). Among some of the other audio accessories that bore their name in this room, were "audiophile grade" AC outlet covers. Substantially heavy, they came in stainless steel or what looked like a carbon fibre. Not sure what, if any, claims they had to this product improving the sound, since it was not the outlet itself where your machines plugged into (of which they also produced, in audiophile grade).

But the (in)famous DeMag unit was also present. I was considering asking if it might be more appropriate for the company to call itself "FurorTech". I mean considering how much resent has been generated toward the company, from all those ignorant mugs you see on the internet audio forums. Y'know, those guys who are maybe two Jabba The Huts short of a complete Star Wars figurine collection. Those guys who trip all over themselves getting to their keyboard, to make sure they don't miss any opportunity to denounce the company for its "DeMag" vinyl demagnetizer. And as per their usual MO, pronounce themselves all-knowing experts on a product they've never tried. I noticed there's definitely a complimentary relationship between the cost of a tweak product, and the outrage it generates from clueless dorks who seem to feel it's their job in life to denounce it. But wait, they don't have to know how it works, they've got "graphs" to prove it doesn't! All you've got is your ears, chump! Too bad for you!

Well, true, all I brought with me to the FurorTech room was "my own two ears". Besides (sigh), there was just NO room left to plug in the oscilloscope. So (sigh #2), using no more in measuring equipment than what the good Lord gave me, which I know from having read so many rants from said forum dorks is just madness (and asking for trouble) when we're talking about evaluating audio components, I asked for a demonstration of the FurorTech DeMag vinyl demagnetizer. But at least I can say I had an acquaintance next to me undertaking the test, with two more pieces of woefully inadequate measuring equipment, that nature had wrought. Between us, we had 4 chances to get it wrong, by my calculation.

Despite the fact that I featured the Furutech Demag UFO on my website a year or two ago, I've never actually heard the thing or seen it in person. It's a lot larger than the photograph. Looks I'm gonna have to upscale that photograph. I asked to listen to the same album track that I had just heard, after they demagnetized the album. Took about a minute per side (they did both sides). And yes, I heard a difference, and my test partner heard the same difference. I wouldn't call it "profound", but only because those are not my words. I would characterize the difference as "no question that there's a difference". The difference was best exemplified by the increased contrast between the sound shapes. Making for a sound that was livelier and less boring to listen to. Which in fact was my biggest complaint about the system before the demag test.

Since the aforementioned dorks all whine and kvetch about the cost of the DeMag, I guess a fair question would be... "Assuming it does what you say it does, is it worth nearly 2 grand?". The answer to that I'd say is: "depends". If your turntable still has some of Mickey's head on the label attached inside the box, then no silly, get yourself a proper turntable first. If your hifi system is worth more than $10k and preferably at least $20k, then it makes perfect sense to invest in a tweak that's in keeping with the overall quality of your hifi system (just as you would with cables or all the other of its components). Or if you have a lot of vinyl but a decent system nonetheless, then hearing more out of your records might interest you more. I think it's safe to say most of the clueless nimrods who spend their lives whining about the DeMag, which of course they've never heard, probably don't have record playback systems that would warrant it in the first place.

La chambre TOTEM: Totem won my award for the nicest designed room. Tasteful post-modern, that went well with their bright red 5.1 surround sound speaker system. They brought their own walls (with Totem logo designs), and it looks like they even brought in their own flooring (beige shag carpeting), as well. Very professional. Nice halogen mood lighting, and little glass bowls of red sand in between the speakers (which reminded me of the glass bowl of red sand and pebbles that I recently tried growing my bamboo plants in, until they started turning white on me). I couldn't tell if they were just decorative or not, but knowing Totem and their bullet beaks, I figured probably not. They played every stoner's old standby, "Money" by Pink Floyd. I've never been interested in Pink Floyd (although I once bought a copy of their Moon album just for audiophile test purposes), but still I gotta say, the opening cash register sounds were the best I've heard from this song. It was all impressive, until the song actually started to properly play, and a singer and drummer and such were heard. Then it all fell apart. Suddenly I was no longer interested in what the singer had to say, because he was boring me half to death with his monotone playing, and I was more interested in what the hell the drummer was doing in back of me. I've never been to a concert where the drummer was in back of me, and others were playing off to the side. No, this "surround sound" crap is just amateur hour, for me. It's "Quadraphonics" for people who don't know what the hell "Quadraphonics" was, and why the format died so many decades ago. It's fine for movies when you need to simulate action all around you, but people ought to know better than to use these systems for music. The lack of video in the room implied you were supposed to substitute this for a proper 2 channel music system. Needless to say, I didn't stay to hear what the rest of the song sounded like.

La chambre KINGREX/JOHN BLUE: The best deal at the show was the "KingRex" amplifier, a Tripath. The dealer asked if anyone knew what a Tripath amp was. Well yes, more than I wanted to know. Years ago, when I took interest in Tripaths and Gainclones, I had bought two Sonic Impact T-amps when they first came out (with the intention of recasing them, and pimping them out, and then maybe at some point, figuring out what to do with them). Only problem is I blew both of them up real good, before I ever got to put them in a system and listen for longer than 10 minutes. I guess it's fair to say I lost interest in these cool little amps after that.

When I first walked into the KingRex room, I thought "something good is happening here". The sound was better than many other rooms I'd recently been to. The dealer kept saying we were listening to a $350 amp (KingRex T20 integrated). Well that's impressive, because I'm sure no other dealer at the show could say that. Especially since the show deal gave you an additional 20% off, making it a high end amp under $300. But was that all we were listening to? At first I wasn't sure which speakers were playing, as there were two sets right next to each other, one large pair of floorstanders, and another much smaller but similar pair (JB3). Turns out they were the larger $5,000 pair (flagship JB8 model), with the "super tweeter" attached (optional, but you could use it with other speakers). Ok, that went a long way to explaining the sound we were getting. The speakers were "JohnBlue". Like "KingRex", another audio brand I'd never heard of, but they looked very interesting. Apart from the large floorstanders that were playing, they also had cute little tiny baby white models, with a similar design, and numerous sizes in between. All of which used full range drivers, hence the optional supertweeter (for those who like a lot of sparkle in their music). These JohnBlues definitely seemed like something you'd want to hear more about.

They were playing Katie Meluah's first album, which I was quite familiar with, as I've often used it in testing. I thought to myself that "most people would like this sound". A large, full sound that was easy to get into, and didn't send you running from the room. The dealer extolled the virtues of Tripath amplification, stating that despite its warm sound, it was always cold running. Considering that you could cook breakfast on the top of my Class A amp and it requires two fans just to cool it to "scorching", I could definitely see the advantages of this kind of amplification. The cute tiny integrated amps are allegedly designed to emulate tube amp sound. The sound was a bit too hard for me to be convinced it was tubey, but I might be kind to the little Class D (which it appears they're calling "Class T" now) and say it was maybe something in between solid state and tubes. My partner was already lined up to buy one. Though the sound wasn't helped by what I saw as the source they were using: what appeared to be a cheap $60 Sony dvd player. Not only was it the worst source I'd seen at the show, I seem to recall it was just sitting directly on the floor, like it had been thrown there (and landed on some cables). When I asked the rep if that's what it was, he corrected me. So I stand corrected, it's actually a "cheap $99 Sony DVD player".

When I suggested the sound of the system they were trying to win people over with might be compromised by the cheap DVD player, he replied with the utmost confidence, assuring me that the reason they didn't go with anything better, was because they were circumventing the Sony's DAC by plugging the player into their own KingRex DAC. So you see folks, it didn't matter. They simply didn't need anything better. Except that the transport you use does matter. It matters a LOT. In fact, it matters more than the DAC, since its up the stream from that. You don't catch cowpatties rolling down a hill, then attempt to turn it into Oh Henry bars, then say it doesn't matter where it came from or what it was before. The DAC can only work with the quality of the signal it got off of the transport, and it will never provide the missing information. And the sound coming off the transport is as affected by vibrations as any turntable, yet they had no consideration for what they were putting it on. When I suggested that they use a better transport to demo their products, the rep looked offended by my suggestion. Hardly the first time I've noted that audio people who like to think they're experts where they're not, don't like being 'corrected'. I don't know, but if this business of being ignorant of and/or ignoring the utmost basics in long proven sound audio practices is typical of the attitude of newer generations of young audio staff in young audio companies, then this hobby is doomed, for sure. Bring on the iPod docks, yeeha...

JohnBlue JB8, JB3 (in black):


http://www.flickr.com/photos/21180446@N05/3416416843/

La chambre SENNHEISER: Back in the 80's, my brother told me he was planning to make a million bucks, and that he would buy me any audio gear I wanted. I said thanks but no thanks. I was fine. I didn't want any other audio gear, I was happy with what I had. Except okay, maybe I could use a new pair of headphones. The model I'm interested in is the Sennheiser Orpheus. (Ha! Little did he know these were $20 grand. Now $25 grand, I'm told). Well well, I finally got to see them at the show, at Sennheiser's booth. Except they were no longer for sale, and were hardly ever for sale, according to what I was told! In fact, not only were they not for sale, they were not even for listening to! I guess they were just there to say "See! We once had high end aspirations of great sound....". I asked why the Orpheus were no longer for sale and what had replaced them. Well apparently, they were out of date. Okay, I realize they were giant wooden cans fitted to an even 'gianter' tube amp, but the representative was talking like as if they had been originally designed by Thomas Edison and stopped production over a hundred years ago. So apparently they're no longer made because technology has moved on, and people are now interested in the newer technology.

What was this "newer technology" I wondered? That's when they referred me to their latest flagship model that had just come out. The HD800. When I asked what it retailed for and was told about "$1,750", I was very skeptical to say the least! A regular dynamic plastic model that retails for $1,750 has supplanted the hand made $25,000 dollar model with the tube amp as the company's flagship, and I'm supposed to believe it sounds better?? When pigs fly, maybe. Still, I had to try them out. I felt like Commander Keen with these things on, though. I had to be careful not to bend my head backwards too much, for fear of falling over from the weight. But at least they did sound very good, from my brief experience. When I saw the Onkyo gear driving them, I really couldn't complain. My partner however owns a pair of Sennheiser PX100's and was unimpressed with the HD-800, preferring the sound of the PX100's! Mind you, they are PX100's to which I had recently tweaked with a run of Belt treatments, but still... this was one time where we diverged in opinion on the show. I mean while it might not be that insane to compare the tweaked PX's with the HD800, upon consideration, I would certainly not refrain from trading in a pair of PX100's for the HD's!

La chambre DynAudio: I've always liked Dyn's for their "wow factor" (my first demo of them was in the early 80's, and they were these tiny speakers standing next to giant monoliths. This was intentionally done to fool people into thinking it was the monoliths playing. And they were). But Dyn's never turned me on, probably just too clinical. The DynAudio room reminded me of those car speaker booths you find at dept. stores. The speakers playing were floor standing Dyn's, but the sound was aggressive, and only inspiring me to leave. The dealer quickly switched to a more mellow track, and it was a lot more tolerable. But not particularly musical. It was here I decided to whip out a Belt 'tweak' I had brought with me, and just see if I could improve things on my own. I treated the chair in front of me, which took about a minute. Then, that boring (but refined) sound got a lot more involving, and my partner seemed to think so too. I suppose the Dine line could be a lot more interesting to me, if they were properly "fixed".

La Chambre DIMEXS: This was a larger room, featuring a large pair of dynamic speakers; blue and black with a ribbon tweeter and two drivers. The closest model I can find to what they looked like, is the flagship Verity Loudspeakers model, Lohengrin II. The electronics used were from PS Audio, and also very serious looking - PS Audio "PerfectWave" DAC/Transport/etc. Yeah, everything was grandiose, and had all that revealing detail you pay kilobucks for, but for me, the sound just didn't measure up. I went over to the electronics to wonder why it didn't sound any better than it did, thinking it might be one of those "music servers" that was supplying the source, but it looked more like it was a conventional cd player, with a music server screen. Then I went closer to the speakers to try to suss that out, and concluded that at the very least, that ribbon tweeter was serving up mids and highs that were not natural, too hard and aggressive. In whole, the sound just didn't impress nearly as much as the equipment did visually, and we both agreed on that as well.

La chambre Son Id

Jan Vigne
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Nice read while I finished my morning coffee, Frog.

Good job!

I'm heading out to the Lone Star event again this year. If anything like last year, not nearly as interesting as even a few of your worst experiences here.

Jeff0000
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Just wondering ... What is a "beltist" and what is "belting"?

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
And yes, I heard a difference, and my test partner heard the same difference

But did it have some relationship to magnetism? Too many folk hear things with this product for me to dismiss it but I really doubt it has anything to do with demagnetizing anything.

Very interesting read...thanks

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Interesting, Frog.

Two comments.

Yes, Will Oldham is amazing. His former band, Palace Brothers(which he was in with his brother, Spooner Oldham) was a real favorite of mine, so I followed Will to his re-emergence as Bonnie *Prince* Billy (name came as inspiration from the "Royal Pretender" heir to the English throne, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Billy the Kid, also called Billy Bonney)

2.) Songs:Ohia is no longer Songs:Ohia, but now called Magnolia Electric Company. Jason Molina(the lead singer) is a friend of mine. Great, great band!

also, the Adam Professional speakers are made by ADAM, a German Brand..they are known for their studio monitors. this was the first foray into domestic audio.

what was the tweak you did to the chair?

you can pm if you dont want to post it publicly.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

and I cant help but thinking that if reviewers for magazines were as brutally honest in their reviews as you were, Frog, things would be much, much better.
too many atta boys and too much "polite"

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
Just wondering ... What is a "beltist" and what is "belting"?

"Belting": The use of products and or ideas based on the (revolutionary) discoveries of Peter Belt, (a UK audio engineer), about a quarter of a century ago. They are not your typical "audio tweaks" and not the typical ideas, applied to sound reproduction, as they have no effect on the audio signal, room acoustics, or any of the traditional ways of improving sound. The applications affect (and improve) only the listening process itself. In short, the discovery Belt happened upon is that the human listening process is affected by energy patterns in our local environment, that reduce our hearing abilities (which is thought to be due to stresses we have inherited from since the beginning of our species). The applications (whether home-made or commercially purchased) attempt to change the energy patterns in our environment to ones more benign to our senses, and where successful, this improves the sounds we hear in ways no other audio applications are able to do. Rather than just change the frequency spectrum, or even phase, as many audio products do, improving sound by way of "Belting" basically just makes things sound more natural. It creates a less aggressive sound, greater realism within the sound, and stronger emotional bonds with the music you hear (whether it's live or reproduced). (This can even be -very- strong sometimes, just after an application).

Safe to say none of the systems at the show used Belt methods to improve the sound. This is why I say I may (emphasis on "may") be particularly sensitive to the sound of these unBelted systems I had heard. I am used to having/hearing a stronger connection to the music than I heard on the systems at the show, because in the rest of my time, I am mostly just hearing systems I have "Belted", which already have the potential for this. Of course, long before my Belting days, I have long recognized that some (unBelted) systems can reproduce the emotional content of music better than others, and put you in touch with what the music is telling you (or 'the emotional cues, deep within the music'). Those that can are farer and fewer in between. What I got from the show is that you can easily spend over $100,000 dollars on an audio system, and get either little or none of that 'emotional content' that you can from systems costing far less. Although impressive on the surface, such systems are a turn-off to me, and I know in less than 2 minutes that in less than 2 weeks, I'll be bored with them. Part of the problem (as I see it), is that engineers are not fully understanding what their systems need to reproduce. Some get it, many don't. Consumers who've never heard a system that can really reproduce the emotional content in their music, are unlikely to ever find it missing in these systems they buy.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:

Quote:
And yes, I heard a difference, and my test partner heard the same difference

But did it have some relationship to magnetism? Too many folk hear things with this product for me to dismiss it but I really doubt it has anything to do with demagnetizing anything.

Very interesting read...thanks

Thanks. If you're speaking of the Furutech Demag, I have to take the manufacturer's claims at face value, because I won't pretend I know more than they do about the subject. But as to whether those claims are correct or not, I honestly do not care how it works. Nor should I care, unless I am planning to go head to head in competition with them. As a consumer, all that matters to me is whether I am consistenly hearing a difference with their product, whatever the product may be. This is all that should matter to us, as consumers. It's just a monumental waste of time and energy to don a propellor beanie and argue endlessly with the never-heard-nuthin' dorks on forums about the technical viability of such-and-such a product. You just get further and further away from what is really supposed to matter in our hobby. Even if some manufacturers are wrong about their claims, and I know that can happen unwittingly, does not mean the product doesn't work. I also find that people who get too hung up on ideology in audio, tend to have the worst sounding systems. That's why I will not follow in their footsteps, or heed their call to boycott products they don't have a hope of understanding.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

2.) Songs:Ohia is no longer Songs:Ohia, but now called Magnolia Electric Company. Jason Molina(the lead singer) is a friend of mine. Great, great band!

Wow, you even know the guy. Cool! ....Yeah, I was following up on the test show record by reading about "Billy Prince Bonnie" on Wikipedia yesterday. Looks like he went through a lot of name changes, especially with his band/brothers! I only have "Ghost Tropic" by Songs: Ohia. I've not followed the careers of either artists, and I admit they may be an acquired taste today, but they have a timeless quality in their music, and plenty of depth.


also, the Adam Professional speakers are made by ADAM, a German Brand..they are known for their studio monitors. this was the first foray into domestic audio.

Aha. That explains a lot, actually. Maybe even the American flag thing with their logo. I've always found a kind of "German sound" to German speakers (much as I observed there's a French sound, a British sound, a Cali sound...). That German sound was characterized by an agressive midrange. Even so, I'm sure there's a market here for the speakers.

what was the tweak you did to the chair?

I used a product P.W.B. makes called "cr

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Frog, I highly reccomend the songs:ohia album called Magnolia Electric Company

I have some live recordings of them(that I made) id be glad to send as well.

also, as far as Bonnie Prince Billy, his best albums are *Master and Everyone*, *I See a Darkness* and *Superwolf*

ive recorded him as well.

in the same vein, check out the great band Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel..

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
If this is the case ...

Ahhhhhh. "The Magic 'If'"! There would seem to be substantial territory covered in JA's statement, enough territory to warrant a map to sites unseen.

"If" this is true, than that will follow.

"If" always comes off as either one of the strongest or the weakest words in the English language. It either shuts down debate or sets in place volumes of debate.

Apparently in this case it shut down any further discussion?

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

La Chambre DIMEXS

Re the Verity speakers:

Roometh Majoreth sucketh ---the most that a man can stand. And beyond.

The speakers were fine. That particular room itself was and is a major acoustical and mechanical disaster. So don't write off Verity, their product is excellent.

And..it was ME...KBK who asked the question on the consideration of 'why no negative reviews?'

I told Art earlier that I was going to lob a bomb or two onto the stage. He said please do exactly that, toss out the hard questions. I specifically asked that one as most people wonder what the magazine's policy on that was and why things are the way they are.

We covered that one on the forum here, but I asked it for the benefit of the industry and public that was in the crowd. I felt it was pertinent for them to know the Magazine's stand and reasoning for the situation.

And the answer was correct in all ways, in my opinion. for all the right reasons. You are not covering all of or not remembering all of his answer. Part of my understanding of the answer has to do with the fact that there are near thousands of items introduced in High end audio every year, and they can only cover about 125 of them. Robert said, 'why spend my time listening to awful gear? Why would I even consider it?'

Do you respect people only if they can say bad things about other people or groups? What the hell kind of life is that to be living? So..somehow you conflate the magazine as having to do such a thing? And, do they have to tell you how to live, what lines to walk on or matras to live by? Hell, No, I would say..and in the same breath I would ask you to get a life of some sort. Ie, start learning how to not psychologically editorialize via desire and emotion. It's a very critical function that the vast majority of people on this planet do miss on their way to the concept of internal honesty.

No review at all does not mean bad gear and a good review does not necessarily mean world's best either. It only means that you should consider taking a look at this device yourself and evaluate it on it's own grounds with your own system and ears. Nothing more.

You are asked to weigh the reviewer's experience in the industry against your personal preferences and understandings..and then make a minimal guesstimate and value judgement and then you decide to take it further and review/listen to/evaluate and then maybe purchase the gear yourself. That's about all there is to it.

John also said considerably more about the review process at it's initiation, flow, and conclusions that you are not covering here. The look you have presented is more than a bit stilted. Do not open the can of worms without leaving the entire can on display in a neutral fashion for all to see and evaluate.

Negative reviews serve no one...and time/space is limited. Why review bad stuff? Why occupy one's life and time with bad sounding gear??? Best to leave it on the shelf at the store.

I asked the question as I felt the answer would clarify in a manner that made it absolutely CLEAR that there is nothing nefarious, collusive, or hidden in the magazine's policy, morals, ethics, and modus operandi.

AND.. to add... the attitude and response of the public and industry that was in the room, showed that same reflection of understanding exactly that which I recall it being.

Your presentation of the facts of what went on in that room and debate regarding that given point/question ---is more than a bit off.

Please ask yourself why you see and saw it that way. Why did your recollection come to some other conclusion?

The brain is a funny thing. You gotta watch it all the time.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Could you edit your post and change all "Le" for "La"
On dit "la" chambre en Francais, "la" suite. Merci.

smejias
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


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Stereophile was kind of criticized at the debate by a reader, for having over 90% of their reviews positive ones.

Interesting. I didn't take that as criticism. People asked questions, and we answered them. The entire discussion can be viewed here.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
The entire discussion can be viewed here.


I sat through a few of those videos, but not all of them. The one thing that jumped out at me was Art Dudley lumping Audio in with Stereo Review and High Fidelity. The only thing I can conclude from his comment is that he either never read the publication, or only read it in its later years after it became a glossy consumer-oriented magazine.

Back in the 1970s, there were some incredible issues of Audio. One of their reviewers at that time was Dr. Richard Heyser, one of the greatest audio engineers that ever lived, and the inventor of time-delay spectrometry. This was the predecessor of the quasi-anechoic speaker measurement technique that John Atkinson uses today. Heyser was the first to use Fourier transform techniques to "window out" the room's reflections from the measurements of the loudspeaker, thus largely removing the room's influence from them. This was in the 1970s long before the personal computer. In addition, Heyser was acutely aware of the importance of subjective observation. Indeed, some of his research was dedicated to finding different mathematical representations of signals that might correlate more directly to the subjective interpretations of the sound produced by them. His reviews consisted not only of the most sophisticated measurements of the time, but also many subjective observations and attempts to correlate the measurements to the observations. Here is a quote from Richard Heyser:

"Perhaps more than any other discipline, audio engineering involves not only purely objective characterization but also subjective interpretations. It is the listening experience, that personal and most private sensation, which is the intended result of our labors in audio engineering. No technical measurement, however glorified with mathematics, can escape that fact."

His reviews were only one aspect of the magazine at that time. Also presented was a DIY project designed by Dr. Marshall Leach of Georgia Tech of a power amplifier of better quality than just about anything else commercially available at the time. There were many other great articles, reviews and DIY projects too numerous to mention. It is simply a gross misrepresentation of the facts to lump in the many great writers of Audio with the tin-eared meter readers of Stereo Review and High Fidelity.

That leads to another point. Dudley's comment strongly suggested that it was those types of magazines that helped lead to the lack of interest in high-quality sound by the general public. Writers of magazines like Stereophile need to look in the mirror here, rather than place the blame on others. People in the market for equipment are best served by gaining knowledge of what is important and what is not in audio reproduction. The high-end audio industry party line is "everything matters". This view does not benefit potential buyers of equipment at all. It is a cynical, self-serving ploy by the industry to separate the now-affluent boomers from their money. And just like in that famous story by Hans Christian Andersen, the party line is just another version of "only competent people can see the clothes". Not wishing to be seen as incompetent (or tin-eared in this case), audiophiles get right into line. But this is a house of cards. Remember in the story it was the young child, not influenced by the manipulation of the fraudsters, who simply blurted out that the emperor was naked. That young child is analogous to the people who might have been interested in high-quality sound but view the present situation of high-end audio as absurd.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Re the Verity speakers:
Roometh Majoreth sucketh ---the most that a man can stand. And beyond.
The speakers were fine. That particular room itself was and is a major acoustical and mechanical disaster. So don't write off Verity, their product is excellent.

Well, you may note that I talked about two separate roooms containing Verity loudspeakers, and didn't care for the sound they produced in the mids in either the suite, or the larger lower floor room. I'm in no way suggesting everyone will have the same experience, because for one, I spent very little serious time sitting down to listen, and just taking "snapshots" of the sound in each room. But OTOH, each snapshot was more or less equal in exposure. I know audio show rooms are not the ideal, that's what dealers always complain about. But let's not forget that if the Verity rooms were "majoreth sucketh", then ALL rooms had the same disadvantages, so it seems a relatively meaningful comparison could still be made among all systems. Moreover, the two Verity rooms, even the suite upstairs, were pretty large in comparison to most others. And I heard more enticing sounds coming out of much smaller rooms. I don't know if it's a coincidence, but looking at the 'data', it seems I had problems with every speaker system that used ribbon drivers. I didn't mention this, but I briefly walked in to the Arabesque room the next day while they were playing a more rock-oriented piece, and I was less enamoured with their sound (though it was still very good), because the mids didn't sound right to me. Which is about the time I noticed the drivers had these ribbon tweeters again....

And..it was ME...KBK who asked the question on the consideration of 'why no negative reviews?'

Aha! I didn't know you were there. Who were you with? Verity?

I told Art earlier that I was going to lob a bomb or two onto the stage. He said please do exactly that, toss out the hard questions. I specifically asked that one as most people wonder what the magazine's policy on that was and why thing are the way they are.

We covered that one on the forum here, but I asked it for the benefit of the industry and public that was in the crowd. I felt it was pertinent for them to know the Magazine's stand and reasoning for the situation.

Good question. I didn't catch the discussion on the forum, so the answer was news to me. I was going to toss out a "hard question" to the panel myself, but I never got the chance, before it was all over.

And the answer was correct in all ways, in my opinion. for all the right reasons. You are not covering all of or not remembering all of his answer. Part of my understanding of the answer has to do with the fact that there are near thousands of items introduced in High end audio every year, and they can only cover about 125 of them. Robert said, 'why spend my time listening to awful gear? Why would I even consider it?'

I would think that's pretty obvious to readers that an audio magazine can't cover every possible piece of gear on the market. So that's not meaningful to me, as it is redundant information. As I mentioned, the meaningful (to me) part of Robert Deutsch's response was saying that he goes to shows like the SSI show, hears something he's interested in, and then tries to review it. And that he's only likely to review what he already thinks is good. He made a further analogy about that, saying that he approaches movies on DVD the same way. I believe he said 80% of the movies he watches are something he gives a thumbs up to, because he is only likely to watch what he already thinks is good. If what you got out of his response is that there's too much gear to review and so that's why he only reviews good gear, that's fine, I have no problem with your analysis. We're both correct, see?

Do you respect people only if they can say bad things about other people or groups? What the hell kind of life is that to be living? So..somehow you conflate the magazine as having to do such a thing? And, do they have to tell you how to live, what lines to walk on or matras to live by? Hell, No, I would say..and in the same breath I would ask you to get a life of some sort. Ie, start learning how to not psychologically editorialize via desire and emotion. It's a very critical function that the vast majority of people on this planet do miss on their way to the concept of internal honesty.

I don't know what you're drinking this morning, but I think you'd better switch to decaf my friend. I'm not quite sure what you found in my comments worthy of such an incongruous rant, but I would say that "psychologically editorializing via desire and emotion" is exactly what you're doing here. Which kind of kills the impact of whatever you were trying to say. That's assuming there was a point to your rambling rant, other than to demonstrate that you harbour a lot of anger about a lot of things toward a lot of people, apparently. But in any regard, it's nice to see that you found a lovely name for what it is you do. I'll have to remember that line!

No review at all does not mean bad gear and a good review does not necessarily mean world's best either. It only means that you should consider taking a look at this device yourself and evaluate it on it's own grounds with your own system and ears. Nothing more.

We're pretty much in agreement on that. Except I would go further than you, and say that a bad review of an audio product does not necessarily mean it's not a good product. I haven't always agreed in those rare times when Stereophile says a product is completely worthless.

You are asked to weigh the reviewer's experience in the industry against your personal preferences and understandings..and then make a minimal guesstimate and value judgement and then you decide to take it further and review/listen to/evaluate and then maybe purchase the gear yourself. That's about all there is to it.

Do you think that people need to be told that, is that why you're stating it here?

John also said considerably more about the review process at it's initiation, flow, and conclusions that you are not covering here. The look you have presented is more than a bit stilted. Do not open the can of worms without leaving the entire can on display in a neutral fashion for all to see and evaluate.

Hey, get real man!! I am not here to write a full transcript of every possible thing I might have heard or picked up on at the debate! I have spent **more than enough time**, far more than I ever wanted to, writing all that I did write about the show. Even if I wanted to satisfy your wishes of not leaving a single word out of someone's response at the debate, because you think its imperative to show objectivity, well I don't remember every word of that discussion --- and neither would you. That should not stop me commenting on what I want to comment on, and it won't. If it's so important not to leave a single word out of the entire discussion when commenting on it, then be informed that the entire discussion went on YouTube before the evening was over.

So stop trying to create a tempest in a teacup with me. Else, I will ask you to get a life of some sort. You were at the show. You were at the debate. You heard the same systems I did. So what exactly is stopping you from submitting a report on this forum, if you so don't like mine? Am I in any way preventing you from doing that?! I don't think so. So why don't you set aside at least 16 hours to write a report on everything you heard and saw, making sure not to leave out a single word of all you heard and saw that might "skew" the neutrality of your report, and open up cans upon cans of little wormies. Above all, do not let honesty be your shepherd. You must be careful not to write a single negative thing about any of your audio experiences, because you will surely offend someone out there, and you could be wrong. (Although I find it hard to imagine what would convince you that you might be wrong about something).

Negative reviews serve no one...and time/space is limited. Why review bad stuff? Why occupy one's life and time with bad sounding gear??? Best to leave it on the shelf at the store.

I already answered this in my response here to someone else. To prevent someone from buying bad gear disguising itself as top quality gear - especially if they can't return it. While I always encourage people to listen for themselves, I recognize too that sometimes they might not have that choice. I put the same question back to you KBK. "Why occupy one's life and time with reviewing only good gear"? If you already know the reviewer is going to be thrilled by it, why read reviews at all? Everything is great, everything is good, just go and find the gear that looks nice to you and buy it, right? As Art pointed out during the debate, years of Stereo Review, and similar magazines helped kill the desire for good sound. They almost always had positive reviews, no matter what crap they were reviewing.

Your presentation of the facts of what went on in that room and debate regarding that given point/question ---is more than a bit off.

Bullshit. Don't start making accusations like that unless you're going to back up your charges. So far I haven't seen you back up a single thing. If you're claiming I completely misreported what Deutsch or anyone on the panel said, this should be easy enough to rectify, since there's a record of the whole thing. So state -exactly- what I wrote in my write-up that was totally not what Deutsch or others said (as opposed to your interpretation of the event), and then state what they said that proves otherwise, that proves that my "facts" were incorrect. But don't respond to tell me that I didn't read your mind and repeat every damn thing you got out of the discussion, or wanted to say about it. And if you can't do that, if you can't back up your charges, then don't respond at all.

Please ask yourself why you see and saw it that way. Why did your recollection come to some other conclusion?
The brain is a funny thing. You gotta watch it all the time.

I'm not sure if you've been watching too many years of Star Trek, because you don't seem to understand this basic concept: Everyone doesn't share the same brain among them. Like, say, an alien species you might see on Star Trek.
We each have different "brains". That implies we each see things in our way. I wouldn't want it any other way. You need look no further than Stereophile's reviewers to understand this concept. I'll bet that like any magazine, if you look back on their history, not every reviewer is going to get the same experience from every piece of gear. While there may be some agreement (as there is between us about the show), there is bound to be some differences of opinion. Yes, *over the same events*, yes. And it is these differences of opinion that you must embrace, not condemn. For it is not only what makes reading reviewers worthwhile, it is what makes being human worthwhile. How about you try turning the TV off and find out more what that's about.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Stephen Mejias:

>>Frog: Stereophile was kind of criticized at the debate by a reader, for having over 90% of their reviews positive ones. <<

Interesting. I didn't take that as criticism. People asked questions, and we answered them. The entire discussion can be viewed here.

I said "kind of" because it could be interpreted that way. Its fine that you didn't receive it that way, and I understand now the questioner did not have that motive for asking. But I've seen the question raised many times before of many review periodicals, and the implication is usually "How can we trust the magazine if over x% are positive reviews"?, and like most, I take that to mean readers are being critical of the magazine. At least "critical" in the sense that they are taking a critical look at the review, not necessarily accusing it of "nefarious collusions", as implied by the question. Anyway, it's great that the debate was made available so quickly, so the many who missed it can experience it secondhand - and might find some of their questions answered therein.

Jan Vigne: I'm heading out to the Lone Star event again this year. If anything like last year, not nearly as interesting as even a few of your worst experiences here.

All the same, I would be interested in reading your comments on the show (which I admit I've never heard of), and your opinions of what you heard or experienced.

"If" always comes off as either one of the strongest or the weakest words in the English language. It either shuts down debate or sets in place volumes of debate.
Apparently in this case it shut down any further discussion?

If you wish to discuss the ethics of reviews, or whatever one of the panelists said during the debate, I think you should start a new topic on that. I don't think this is the thread for it.

ncdrawl:

I'm not a great fan of Songs:Ohia, only listening very occasionally, but thanks for the offer. I will check out the references you mentioned, when I get a chance. I'd like to throw one out there too that might be related to Jason Molin/William Oldham, but the closest I can think of, and I'm sure it's not nearly that close, is "Morning Star", ie. 'My Place In The Dust'. This is an English artist, so I suppose the only relation here is that he's pretty low-key, if not lo-fi, but I prefer him to the others, myself.

Grosse Fatigue:

Oui.... j'ai toujours eu une probl

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Don't you have some where to be surrendering, Froggie?:D


Quote:
Could you edit your post and change all "Le" for "La"
On dit "la" chambre en Francais, "la" suite. Merci.

smejias
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
But I've seen the question raised many times before of many review periodicals, and the implication is usually "How can we trust the magazine if over x% are positive reviews"?

I have to say, for what this is worth coming from me, that I was incredibly proud to be sitting up there with JA, Art, and Bob Deutsch, knowing that they'd be able to give clear, straightforward answers to every question that came our way. It felt great, knowing that there was an answer to every question, knowing that we have nothing to hide.

Is a negative review necessary to build trust? I don't understand that way of thinking. What percentage of negative reviews are necessary in order to win the readers' trust?

Are there still doubts left in your mind? I wish you would have asked the questions during the discussion, or at least have introduced yourself.

I was happy that Bob Deutsch discussed his strategy for selecting review products. I was with him during the 2007 CES, when he was so impressed by the Flying Mole CA-S10 integrated amp that he decided to request a review sample. It turned out, however, that the Flying Mole did not perform well in RD's listening room or on JA's test bench, and we could not recommend it. So, here is an example of a negative review, despite RD's strategy of component selection.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
I was with [Bob Deutsch] during the 2007 CES, when he was so impressed by the Flying Mole CA-S10 integrated amp that he decided to request a review sample. It turned out, however, that the Flying Mole did not perform well in RD's listening room or on JA's test bench, and we could not recommend it. So, here is an example of a negative review, despite RD's strategy of component selection.

And that's the point I made in the debate: that unlike Stereo Review - which by the public admission of its own techical editor would "spike" negative reviews - while we try to seek out products that will work well, when we _do_ select a dog, the fact that it barks rather than make music makes its way into print.

As Stephen said, how many negative reviews do we need to publish to establish our credibility? We do publish negative reviews and negative comments and caveats, so why do we need to do more, other than to satisfy people who don't read Stereophile in any case?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

"Brief"...?????

I'd hate to see you get really wound up...lol.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
As Stephen said, how many negative reviews do we need to publish to establish our credibility? We do publish negative reviews and negative comments and caveats, so why do we need to do more, other than to satisfy people who don't read Stereophile in any case?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Speaking personally, I (no longer!) question the editorial wisdom of this on ethical grounds, but the policy does imply that there is a criterion for not selecting a component that readers do not know about - and that if a product remains unreviewed, the reader does not know if it is because it would be negatively reviewed, or for other reasons. Insofar as biases can unintentionally creep into all sorts of decisions like that, it's a little depressing.

However, there is a larger issue: it does mean that we are largely only seeing one side of the reviewers, because they are only being fed things that they are likely to review positively. I believe this skews the relationship between the reader and the reviewer considerably. Many readers trust the opinions of certain reviewers because their subjective evaluations best match their own - this is the whole point of the subjective equipment reviews, right? - but I would argue that differences between readers' and reviewers' perceptions would increase substantially if negative reviews were included. The negative reviews always seem to be the most controversial ones, after all. So by leaving out more negative reviews, one is potentially doing the reader a disservice by preventing important information about the reviewer to come through, potentially leading to imperfect decisionmaking.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Michigan, thanks for the GREAT work you did reporting on your experiences.

Fantastic.

Also great discussion, KBK.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


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Michigan, thanks for the GREAT work you did reporting on your experiences.

Seconded.


Quote:
Also great discussion, KBK.

And my thanks, KBK, for asking the question in person in Montreal.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Stephen Mejias wrote:


Quote:
"Frog: But I've seen the question raised many times before of many review periodicals, and the implication is usually "How can we trust the magazine if over x% are positive reviews"?"


Quote:
Stephen: I have to say, for what this is worth coming from me, that I was incredibly proud to be sitting up there with JA, Art, and Bob Deutsch, knowing that they'd be able to give clear, straightforward answers to every question that came our way. It felt great, knowing that there was an answer to every question, knowing that we have nothing to hide.

Is a negative review necessary to build trust? I don't understand that way of thinking. What percentage of negative reviews are necessary in order to win the readers' trust?

Are there still doubts left in your mind? I wish you would have asked the questions during the discussion, or at least have introduced yourself.

You misunderstand. I am not making an issue of this question, this was not my question. It was KBK who raised this question and took the issue up with me in this thread, and I tried to respond to him on that. I was only reporting what I heard at the debate (or interpreted thereof if you prefer), not my personal opinions on the issue. Since it's not my issue, I haven't really formulated an opinion on the issue (wrt Stereophile), and although I listened to the answers given at the debate, I do not recall having any particular opinion on the answers given. To put things into perspective, I only wrote one line about the debate in my show report! And that was just to say I attended it.

So believe me, there were never any such "doubts" in my mind to begin with on this question, one way or the other. Even if I cared to debate the issue or cared about it as much as you and KBK do, which I don't (on both counts), I know it's silly for me to try to because I don't read Stereophile enough to even get a sense of how few negative reviews it might have, or how many positive ones it might have - let alone try to answer a question about how many negative reviews it should have. So I can't have any strong opinions on this question either way, sorry! If you wish to get a sense of what readers think about KBK's question, then I would suggest you or KBK start a thread with a poll and foster a debate on it. But please, if you want to get into a debate in this thread over this question as it regards Stereophile, leave me out of it!

BTW, like everyone else in the room, I was very glad I was able attend the discussion. So I'll give you all another round of applause here, for coming to our city and providing us with an opportunity to have an engaging discussion on a wide variety of topics in audio. I hope you guys will return and provide us with the same opportunity at next year's show.

commsysman wrote:
"Brief"...?????
I'd hate to see you get really wound up...lol.

Sorry, I meant "brief" for me.

ncdrawl wrote:

Don't you have some where to be surrendering, Froggie?:D

I'm sure I have NO idea what you mean by that.

"I took a good look at my soul
and saw a liquid dancing fire light
and the seed of man's most evil stare
could not deny my joy tonight...."

- "Surrender"
Sananda Maitreya

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

JA: Seconded.

Thanks.

JA: And my thanks, KBK, for asking the question in person in Montreal.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

What about my question...

"High end audio is dying... new generations are favouring convenience over sound quality. Why do you think that is and what do you think you've done to change that?"

....don't I get any thanks for that?

BTW, I asked the question because it occurs to me that if industry leaders (like Stereophile) don't do more (and soon) to turn newer generations on to the pursuit of high quality sound in the home, then it seems the high end audio industry won't survive (well, not in any way resembling what we have known it to be). And I fully realize the problem is greater than what Stereophile can do about it, but it seems to me its something that should be looked at and discussed a lot more than it is. I also recognize that hi-fidelity has always been a specialist pursuit, a small minority of the consumer industry, but from what I survey, the mass-market puppet masters that are busy selling all these electronic trends to younger consumers are doing such a good job.... that minority seems more threatened today than it ever was. With the way that younger generations are more and more buying into everything but sound quality, I don't take it for granted that our hobby will still be alive in one or two generations from now. At least, not in any sense that I'd want to belong to it. I don't doubt there will always be a market for high priced audio. So long as vanity or materialism never go out of style. But if trends continue the way they have these past few decades, it might just be audio suitable for automatons. Not audio for humans, designed to communicate the human emotions inherent in the musical experience, and 'stir the human soul'.

For me, audio peaked in the 80's, and has been on a downslide ever since. On the hardware side of it, I've not found nearly as much to be excited about as I did then. Newer technologies have come out without manufacturer's even bothering to pursue the perfection of established technologies (just for the sake of marketing new things). And these newer ideas are often worse than what preceded them, and I think they have put the hi-fideltiy movement back quite a ways. The problem appears to be what happens when marketing gives way to what this was all supposed to be about: the pursuit of ultimate fidelity, in the realistic recreation of musical sound.

Not that I care as much, but they appear to be having the same problem in the movie business.

Buddha: Michigan, thanks for the GREAT work you did reporting on your experiences.

Thanks. It was a lot of work, especially trying to find out what it was I was listening to after the fact, but a lot of fun too. So was the show.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:

"High end audio is dying... new generations are favouring convenience over sound quality. Why do you think that is and what do you think you've done to change that?"

I don't think that Stereophile alone can change that. For it to change, there has to be a shift from the entire industry back to what it was in the 60's and 70's. Prices MUST come down to levels affordable to the middle class. The reason I say that ALL components must be within reach for the middle class is because that allows the perception that one can attain the "best of the best". If one cannot, then why bother? No matter what kind of money you spend, you will only be able to afford second or third rate.

The argument about car magazines and high priced autos, those guys buy their regular cars and only read magazines about them. Audiophiles actually buy stereo equipment and want to feel that they can indeed attain the best that the industry has to offer. It also removes the air of exclusivity, which is important.

This is what you see in Head-Fi forums. There is a greater sense of community because the best headphone gear is attainable. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but some day. This is what's missing from the Hi-Fi industry. Exclusivity excludes the sense of community.

As John so astutely pointed out, the US dealers stopped being community centers and have become boutiques. Once again, exclusivity excludes community.

There is no excitement in Hi-Fi because there is very little to get excited about. This industry needs to be shaken up so that it can remember its customer base.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Michigan, my comment was for the other frog, grosse fatigue.

not a slight at you.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

I don't think that Stereophile alone can change that.

Yup, I mentioned that.

For it to change, there has to be a shift from the entire industry back to what it was in the 60's and 70's. Prices MUST come down to levels affordable to the middle class. The reason I say that ALL components must be within reach for the middle class is because that allows the perception that one can attain the "best of the best". If one cannot, then why bother? No matter what kind of money you spend, you will only be able to afford second or third rate.

I've never heard of this sort of opinion, other than hearing it from you now. The state of the art has NEVER been affordable, so long as I've been in this hobby. I suppose back when people were exchanging high end grammophone needles, most could afford that sort of thing. I'm sorry, but your ideal isn't realistic. Nor is it necessary. The reason to "bother", is because you can buy a perfectly usable musical system on a middle class salary, and while it may not be 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 10th rate, it can still be enough to give you years of pleasure. No, I think not being able to "attain the best of the best" is not the problem with this industry. Not even in the top 100.

The argument about car magazines and high priced autos, those guys buy their regular cars and only read magazines about them. Audiophiles actually buy stereo equipment and want to feel that they can indeed attain the best that the industry has to offer. It also removes the air of exclusivity, which is important.

No, again, I think you're dead wrong about that. Stereophile's a good example, many people complain they can't afford most of the components in it. And know they never will. But they still read it, just like "those guys that read car magazines with cars they can't afford". High end audio has always had an air of exclusivity - that's why it's only a relatively small part of the electronics industry.

This is what you see in Head-Fi forums. There is a greater sense of community because the best headphone gear is attainable. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but some day. This is what's missing from the Hi-Fi industry. Exclusivity excludes the sense of community.

Sorry, I don't see how the Head-Fiers are any different than any other audio forums. They're certainly as proudly ignorant, judging from the threads I was reading there earlier this eve.

As John so astutely pointed out, the US dealers stopped being community centers and have become boutiques. Once again, exclusivity excludes community.

Oh boy.... He talked about how if you were lucky enough, on some days the owner of the record store would allow you into the back to listen to his Leeks, Radfords, Lowthers, Gerrards, etc. The whole story exudes "exclusivity", as these were things not commonly heard, so I don't know how you understood the very opposite.

There is no excitement in Hi-Fi because there is very little to get excited about.

This I can better relate to.

This industry needs to be shaken up so that it can remember its customer base.

It doesn't care about its "customer base", whatever that implies. It's all about the benjamins, my friend. If the entire audio industry could make just as much profit, or more, selling gold-plated audio equipment to half a dozen Hong Kong businessmen, you my friend would be playing a kazoo for your musical entertainment. You wouldn't even get to see the boxes that new audio gear comes in.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
Speaking personally, I (no longer!) question the editorial wisdom of this on ethical grounds, but the policy does imply that there is a criterion for not selecting a component that readers do not know about - and that if a product remains unreviewed, the reader does not know if it is because it would be negatively reviewed, or for other reasons. Insofar as biases can unintentionally creep into all sorts of decisions like that, it's a little depressing.

However, there is a larger issue: it does mean that we are largely only seeing one side of the reviewers, because they are only being fed things that they are likely to review positively. I believe this skews the relationship between the reader and the reviewer considerably. Many readers trust the opinions of certain reviewers because their subjective evaluations best match their own - this is the whole point of the subjective equipment reviews, right? - but I would argue that differences between readers' and reviewers' perceptions would increase substantially if negative reviews were included. The negative reviews always seem to be the most controversial ones, after all. So by leaving out more negative reviews, one is potentially doing the reader a disservice by preventing important information about the reviewer to come through, potentially leading to imperfect decisionmaking.

And this is why I read a variety of audio publications. No one magazine can be expected to review every single piece of audio gear that is on the market. So, just because one particular item, or an entire brand for that matter, doesn't get reviewed by a specific magazine is no indication as to its' quality.

I find that Stereophile, along with some of the other more worthwhile publications, do a most fair job of reveiwing equipment pointing out both the pros and cons of anything they critique.

Thumbs up to the folks at Stereophile.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


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I don't think that Stereophile alone can change that.

The argument about car magazines and high priced autos, those guys buy their regular cars and only read magazines about them. Audiophiles actually buy stereo equipment and want to feel that they can indeed attain the best that the industry has to offer. It also removes the air of exclusivity, which is important.

No, again, I think you're dead wrong about that. Stereophile's a good example, many people complain they can't afford most of the components in it. And know they never will. But they still read it, just like "those guys that read car magazines with cars they can't afford". High end audio has always had an air of exclusivity - that's why it's only a relatively small part of the electronics industry.

That's what I'm saying that the air of exclusivity that is the problem. By definition, it excludes people from participating. So, you can't be exclusive and long for growth. Pick one or the other. Seems to me like the Audio industry has gotten so exclusive as to be dying a slow death.


Quote:

This is what you see in Head-Fi forums. There is a greater sense of community because the best headphone gear is attainable. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but some day. This is what's missing from the Hi-Fi industry. Exclusivity excludes the sense of community.

Sorry, I don't see how the Head-Fiers are any different than any other audio forums. They're certainly as proudly ignorant, judging from the threads I was reading there earlier this eve.

They may be ignorant, lost or whatever, but the bottom line is that it's a thriving community. The reason it's a thriving community is because there is NO air of exclusivity. People exchange ideas, gear, etc. It's a club, not a boutique.


Quote:

As John so astutely pointed out, the US dealers stopped being community centers and have become boutiques. Once again, exclusivity excludes community.

Oh boy.... He talked about how if you were lucky enough, on some days the owner of the record store would allow you into the back to listen to his Leeks, Radfords, Lowthers, Gerrards, etc. The whole story exudes "exclusivity", as these were things not commonly heard, so I don't know how you understood the very opposite.

Go and listen to that segment again.


Quote:

There is no excitement in Hi-Fi because there is very little to get excited about.

This I can better relate to.

Why do you think that is?


Quote:

This industry needs to be shaken up so that it can remember its customer base.

It doesn't care about its "customer base", whatever that implies. It's all about the benjamins, my friend. If the entire audio industry could make just as much profit, or more, selling gold-plated audio equipment to half a dozen Hong Kong businessmen, you my friend would be playing a kazoo for your musical entertainment. You wouldn't even get to see the boxes that new audio gear comes in.

That's exactly the problem, isn't it? If they weren't so obvious about separating their customers from their money, perhaps they would actually do some business. Perhaps they would even be in a better position to weather the storm. Perhaps if they were excited about the products they were producing, if the products they were producing actually contained some R&D rather than being repackaged same old same old, perhaps the new generation would get excited about it. Perhaps if they were a bit more hobbyists and a bit less businessmen, things wouldn't be as gloomy.

Then again, maybe this industry deserves to die a slow death and fade into history along with computer enthusiasts, and ham radio operators.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

in regard to bringing younger people into the hobby: my 3 kids are all in a university near our home. whenever some of them are home with their friends, i try to get them to bring their music in to listen to on my good system. many are amazed at what the stuff actually sounds like. surprisingly, i find most are more into 70's and 80's rock that my wife and i like than the stuff the industry is now pushing on them (divas, rap, etc.). they also seem to like indie groups and they seem very fascinated with vinyl. with their good ears they can often hear the difference with cd and lp. i can't get them to sit still for too long, however as that is the nature of young people. i even gave one of my old collage turntables (i put a grado red on it about 2 years ago, so it won't damage records) to a boyfriend of my daughter and recently found a receipt that was his from a local used record store. the point is that a little audio mentoring can plant some seeds for those with the opportunity.
if we can do what we can to engage them, we can often have a meeting of the minds over the universal love of music that all humans have to one degree or another.
as to audio stores being communities - i agree that some could be more inviting, however, it costs time and money to host gatherings. i find that many audio people are somewhat "socially challenged". so it is hard to say and in my area, our one high end store just closed its branch near my home and the other store is just barely there now. what the owner said to me is that in this market, they must do home theatre installs to survive. the reason being that if you sell the tv, you get the rest of the equipment sales. of course, that market is contracting now as well.
no doubt about it, challenging times ahead. hi end will survive, just a great deal will no longer be made here or england, but will have an oriental flavor. i am not saying that is bad as everything else we buy has gone that way and we seem to be surviving it. it's just a shame that there will be yet one more catagory of products we no longer make.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Hey Frog, Just to take some of the potential sting out of the thing, I was taken to task for the very same thing this morning.

And, I don't own a television. No major media or entertainment of any kind, going on 15 years now.

The editorialization issue is the entire crux of the audiophile argument in a nutshell. It cuts into all areas and types of human interface.

As above, so below.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

That's what I'm saying that the air of exclusivity that is the problem. By definition, it excludes people from participating. So, you can't be exclusive and long for growth. Pick one or the other. Seems to me like the Audio industry has gotten so exclusive as to be dying a slow death.

It must be a very slow death, because it's been exclusive since its inception. What you seem to be missing is that it is exclusive by definition. Many people listen to music and have stereos. It's always been just a small community of few that care passionately about the quality of those stereos. Though I would argue that in my experience, in the last 20 years or so, those who care passionately about their sound and take an active interest in pursuing better sound, are much fewer and far between.

They may be ignorant, lost or whatever, but the bottom line is that it's a thriving community. The reason it's a thriving community is because there is NO air of exclusivity. People exchange ideas, gear, etc. It's a club, not a boutique.

I still fail to see how Head-Fi-ers are any more thriving than the other audio forums, say AudioKarma-ers, which covers audio components in general. Both forums hold meets, you know. AK's is bigger, thus more "thrive". And where do you think Head-Fiers buy their esoteric headphones, if not in boutiques? Last I checked, they don't sell Etymotics at Wal-mart.

There is no excitement in Hi-Fi because there is very little to get excited about.

>This I can better relate to.<

Why do you think that is?

If some people feel there's little be excited about in today's industry, that's a personal observation that will be different for everyone. For me, as I wrote in my message to JA here, it has to do with the industry going down wrong paths, that took us from the search for good sound, to the selling of fashionable sound. I'm talking about paths leading to surround sound music systems (the "new Quadraphonics"), compressed music from iPods or similar schemes that place conveniece above ultimate sound quality, one competing high-res audio format after another, all trying to steal away the consumer's dollar, instead of getting their shit together and being smart enough to learn from Betamax vs. VHS, and agreeing to a single standard. In a nutshell, audio manufacturer's took their eyes off the prize, and just pandered to what the consumer wanted; ie. so-called "lifestyle systems", instead of giving them what they needed.

The better engineers just left the business, making more room for the less talented ones. Now, the recession is just going to make a bad situation worse, with the more specialized companies being the first to go, I think.

That's exactly the problem, isn't it? If they weren't so obvious about separating their customers from their money, perhaps they would actually do some business. Perhaps they would even be in a better position to weather the storm. Perhaps if they were excited about the products they were producing, if the products they were producing actually contained some R&D rather than being repackaged same old same old, perhaps the new generation would get excited about it. Perhaps if they were a bit more hobbyists and a bit less businessmen, things wouldn't be as gloomy.

Pretty much agree. But that brings us back to my original question: What are Stereophile, and the rest of our community, going to do about creating interest in the younger generations for high fidelity music reproduction, to get our hobby back on track and not just give it up to the bean counters and marketing men?

Then again, maybe this industry deserves to die a slow death and fade into history along with computer enthusiasts, and ham radio operators.

I'm not ready to give up without a fight. Nor am I ready to join them if I can't beat 'em. The day I buy anything more than two good speakers for a music system is the day John McCain gets elected for president.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Find everything we can, that is in analog format and not owned or copyrighted in a sense of being legally 'punishable for rights violation'..and publishing it willy-nilly in HIGH RESOLUTION...on the net.

It looks bizarre at first, but that's about all there is left as a tactic to bring the reality of actual ears and music back to the human fold. This is vital to the basic human function. Do not allow it to be bastardized for and by corporate animalistic desire -any further than it has been.

Step up to the plate, or stay home. Your choice.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

What a great conversation here. I think there could be a revival in the hi-fi industry, if there are more spirited debates like this, not just amongst consumers, but amongst critics and manufacturers alike.

Just my scattered 2 cents. There undoubtedly is a connection between the attainability of hi-fi gear and the interest/relevance of the hi-fi industry itself. But it's not so simple a phenomenon as "these dicks are over-pricing these gears just to screw the common people over." The hi-fi industry, with the advent of other entertainment media, has been long on the wane. It seems pretty natural to me that whereas back in the 60s or 70s, a company can put into its R&D and other operational costs the profit from the sales of their units, which for some companies, numbered probably in TENS of thousands, now, a similar company will have to maintain similar costs (probably more, given the advanced state of technology & inflation) from the profit generated from selling only a tiny fraction of that volume, perhaps a thousand units, to sustain itself. Obviously, it's only logical that the R&D cost, etc. will drive up the price tag of each individual unit these days, since the volume of sales is dramatically down, from tens of thousand to thousand(s). Yes, it sucks, but it's basically that old law of supply & demand. Serious hi-fi has become a low-volume sale high-price boutique industry in the age of free internet via wi-fi and Netflix and 300 dollar netbooks. A $10K-15K system will seem alien and foreign and extravant and insanely stupid to most people. Hell, a co-worker at my work saw that I got a Zu 103 cartridge on sale, for 300-something dollars, and asked how much I paid for it. When I told her, she basically looked at me like I was bonkers, and this is coming from a person making 6 figures a year.

Which also contributes to the basic notion of audiophile gear & audiophiles being snooty, out-of-touch, elitist. When I got into this hobby and found out that some gears cost six-figures, I just laughed. Which is a common reaction. Undeniably, the cost is an issue. But also, there has to be more of a nuanced response from the audio writers to confront the issue from all angles, and they should not just rely on that comfortable argument, that a component merits the unobtanium price tag if it sounds divine. I don't think that's the right answer; only if you're already involved in the industry or familiar of its internal economics, yes, it makes sense. But to any rational person outside of the audio community, that's ridiculous. At best, that kind of answer is simplistic, and that's usually the only answer you get. And when any regular person unfamiliar with the hobby or its economic situation encounters writers and fans talking about a six-figure or five-figure component with no compunction, especially in these times, of course it will seem grotesque and ignorant.

Another factor is that there is largely a sloppy logic practiced by mainstream writers when it comes to hi-fi. When there are articles about analog, it's usually, oh, it's not for the sound but it's for the warmth of nostalgia argument. Or the recent NYTimes article by its chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini on why boxed CD sets are stupid, since one can download the mp3s. These are the same critics who can criticize the acoustics of a music hall with distinction. They are not deaf. But they are definitely prejudiced. It's a matter of culture, and if the audio industry and the people who care about hi-fi want to change how hi-fi is perceived, we must change the culture somehow by engaging with the general culture outside of audio, too.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

well said self. people inside of an industry or profession do tend to get a little insular. in the medical and legal profession, a lot of the continuing education now focuses on how to discuss what you do with people who are not members of your profession, i.e. everyone else on the planet who just happen to be the people who pay your fees. i agree that many of the sellers and other audio professionals who do not relate well to average folks, i.e. potential customers.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

I already started doing that myself, though in a more limited way than you describe. Not to "bring the reality of actual ears and music back to the human fold", but to bring the reality of a lost audio movement, back into today's fold. FWIW, I disagree with "that's about all there is left as a tactic to bring the reality of actual ears and music back to the human fold".

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Just my scattered 2 cents. There undoubtedly is a connection between the attainability of hi-fi gear and the interest/relevance of the hi-fi industry itself. But it's not so simple a phenomenon as "these dicks are over-pricing these gears just to screw the common people over."

Cost is not the issue. It is not what is preventing newer generations from getting interested in the fidelity of their music. In my day, with careful consideration, you could put together a decent sounding high end budget audiophile kit for about $1,000 dollars. Today, spending no more than $250-300 on each component, you still can. In fact, you can probably do better because we didn't have eBay and Audiogon in those days. We also didn't have $30 class D integrated amps, that allow you to put together a budget audiophile system for less than $1,000. My point is, most people can afford $1,000 for a quality stereo system, that will give them more enjoyment than those dreadful "mini-component" boomboxes so popular now. The problem is.... most consumers today haven't learned well enough to appreciate that they CAN get more enjoyment out of a proper high fidelity system.

Trust me, I know of what I speak. Everyone in my life, from my father to my girlfriend to my friend's friend, who had been around me long enough to know of my interest in high fidelity audio, took an interest in good audio (and good sound) themselves because of me. Mind you, this was by osmosis. Not by any overt encouragement to do so on my part. I was busy just doing my own thing. My ex, when I first knew her, started out with a Fisher system, more like a Fisher-Price system. The small integrated was all-plastic and about as light as a cereal box. It came with a tuner made so cheaply, it could only be plugged into the integrated, because it employed its power supply. The speakers were old relics form the 70's. When we broke up, she had a nice Rotel integrated, JPW Gold Monitors, QED cable, my home-grown IC's, Dual tt and a NAD player. More importantly, she was no longer satisified with her old Fisher-Price sound. I remember my father, who's about the furthest thing you could possibly get to an audiophile. Who I don't think had ever bought a record or CD himself in his life, and who was always perfectly fine with a small radio, or a hifi system with only one working speaker. But we would hang out a lot, and so I'd take him with me to visits to the local hi-fi shops around town. One day, without my knowing, he had gone himself into one of those shops and purchased a Musical Fidelity B100 integrated amp. To that was added a NAD CD player, a NAD cassette deck, and a Sony PSX-70 top of the line turntable.

Each one teach one. It's about educating the newer generations of consumers, and getting them interested in quality sound. It's always been about that. Except now, we have MIGHTY POWERFUL influences from the marketeers, selling mediocrity to them, like it's Beluga caviar. Both in the form of electronics, and as JA mentioned (in reference to Mellencamp's Huffington article), in the form of music. And we have the lack of community resources that JA mentioned, with the traditional record shops closing en masse. He also pointed out something I didn't realize: that we in Canada have better dealers than the US; in the sense that they are more community-oriented; ie. inviting people to come and check out the latest new arrival they might have. So we shouldn't forget that high end dealers have an important role to play here too. If they did something that would entice younger people to come in to their shops and just listen to their music on good systems (even or especially if they're not planning to buy anything), this might turn them on to the experience of hearing their favourite music

But if, as also mentioned in the debate, their music doesn't even lend itself to critical listening (ie. dance music), and if these generations no longer have the attention span to sit down and listen to music; if it is always a background affair, something to do while they're braiding their hair or talking to their boyfriends or playing video games or chatting on the net, then I do find it hard to see how they will ever come to appreciate true high fidelity (that attempts to reproduce the emotions of music, rather than just the noises of musical sound).

In whch case, we are doomed.

Which also contributes to the basic notion of audiophile gear & audiophiles being snooty, out-of-touch, elitist. When I got into this hobby and found out that some gears cost six-figures, I just laughed. Which is a common reaction. Undeniably, the cost is an issue. But also, there has to be more of a nuanced response from the audio writers to confront the issue from all angles, and they should not just rely on that comfortable argument, that a component merits the unobtanium price tag if it sounds divine. I don't think that's the right answer; only if you're already involved in the industry or familiar of its internal economics, yes, it makes sense. But to any rational person outside of the audio community, that's ridiculous. At best, that kind of answer is simplistic, and that's usually the only answer you get. And when any regular person unfamiliar with the hobby or its economic situation encounters writers and fans talking about a six-figure or five-figure component with no compunction, especially in these times, of course it will seem grotesque and ignorant.

Well, they're grotesque and ignorant in their ignorance, then. There are plenty of other endeavours in which the top of the line has very large price tags. I don't see them or anyone saying "I won't drive a car, because it costs like a million whole dollars to buy a Ferrari Enzo! Wow, that's crazy! You'd have to be crazy to get into buying cars! I'd rather walk, 'cos I'm just too ignorant to realize I could have a car for less! Or to avoid the envy I will feel if I had a car, and it wasn't the best car ever, like the Ferrari Enzo!". For that matter, I don't see them saying they won't buy jewelry, because some diamonds cost a million bucks. My point being, just like cost is not the issue to get into this hobby, the existence of expensive gear is not a roadblock either. Five or six figure items have always existed as long as I've known the high end. That did not prevent me from entering the hobby, nor did it prevent any other audiophiles I've known. The vast majority of audiophiles can not afford those five or six figure items, nor will they ever (good thing, since they are not designed for everyone). And yet somehow, they're still with us and they continue to thrive, and seek the best they can, within their means.

To any so-called "rational person" outside the audio community who has a problem with the six-figure component under review... well, what the heck are they doing reading the review if they are outside of the audio community? They can't try to understand the inner workings of a community, before starting at ground zero. Every non-audiophile I know who has heard 6 figure systems knows that they sound divine, and that this quality can not come cheap. Those who think that kind of quality comes cheap, I don't even understand what planet they were born on.

Another factor is that there is largely a sloppy logic practiced by mainstream writers when it comes to hi-fi. When there are articles about analog, it's usually, oh, it's not for the sound but it's for the warmth of nostalgia argument.

I would not put that kind of mischaracterization of analogue replay in words so kind as to call it "sloppy logic". I equate that kind of ignorant tripe with more of a criminal action. I call it The Great Seedy Conspiracy. Which is in fact responsible for much of the regression in the state of this industry (wrt quality sound) since the CD was introduced. CD lowered the bar of the quality of the sound medium with which audiophiles use to enjoy their audio. Then compressed audio (ie. mp3) lowered it even further. I fear that anytime soon, we're going to be 'treated' to a new reality in this hobby where the medium will sound much worse than the CompactCassettes we once had, but on the plus side, you'll only need to blink your eyes to change tracks. (That will probably lose favour, as people become just too weary of blinking their eyes. Kind of like what occurs in "Wall-E").

Or the recent NYTimes article by its chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini on why boxed CD sets are stupid, since one can download the mp3s. These are the same critics who can criticize the acoustics of a music hall with distinction. They are not deaf. But they are definitely prejudiced. It's a matter of culture, and if the audio industry and the people who care about hi-fi want to change how hi-fi is perceived, we must change the culture somehow by engaging with the general culture outside of audio, too.

Absolutely. But the problem is, our mainstream culture has adopted the lie that digital sound is always superior in every way to analogue, which the consumer industry has called for. There needs to be more voices in the mainstream press that counter that fallacy, so that at the very least it is met with controversy, and not automatically presumed to be true by those too ignorant to realize otherwise. For my part, I've been trying to counter that misinformation on the net for over twenty years. Again, dealers need to get non-audiophiles into their showrooms and demonstrate that fact to them. I like that there's a bit of a resurgence with vinyl among younger generations. But I don't like the reasons for why that is! If its because its just "cool" or "retro" or "dj friendly", and they simply don't know how it can be better than CD's, the problem remains.

linden518
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Well, I agree with a lot that's said, Michigan. But this statement -

Quote:
Cost is not the issue. It is not what is preventing newer generations from getting interested in the fidelity of their music. In my day, with careful consideration, you could put together a decent sounding high end budget audiophile kit for about $1,000 dollars.


kind of illustrates my point rather than yours, I think. In this media-should-be-free-mp3-rules-all culture, most people who are of the younger generation think it's laughable that someone would think spending $1K is a 'budget kit.' I know because I belonged to this camp as late as 2007, and my friends at Columbia who were both younger and older than me definitely think so.


Quote:
It's about educating the newer generations of consumers, and getting them interested in quality sound. It's always been about that. Except now, we have MIGHTY POWERFUL influences from the marketeers, selling mediocrity to them, like it's Beluga caviar. Both in the form of electronics, and as JA mentioned (in reference to Mellencamp's Huffington article), in the form of music.


I agree with this. And this education can only happen in the general culture outside of the audiophile community, if it's to reach the masses. How the audio community of listeners and writers will reach out, that remains a challenging but an interesting project.


Quote:
But if, as also mentioned in the debate, their music doesn't even lend itself to critical listening (ie. dance music), and if these generations no longer have the attention span to sit down and listen to music; if it is always a background affair, something to do while they're braiding their hair or talking to their boyfriends or playing video games or chatting on the net, then I do find it hard to see how they will ever come to appreciate true high fidelity (that attempts to reproduce the emotions of music, rather than just the noises of musical sound).


With all respect, this above statement is exactly why the audiophile community is seen as charlatans or hypocrites. The young kids I know listen to brainier music than typical audiophiles. There are kids with their crappy ipods listening to Nico Muhly or Xenakis, or archiving interesting African pop from the past. When I interviewed Alex Ross, the classical music critic of the New Yorker, these 19 year olds were asking questions about Wuorinen, as well as Dylan. On the other side of the coin, if we use the same kind of demeaning stereotype, we can say audiophiles usually listen primarily to Jacintha or some remaster of Rickie Lee Jones. I guess my point is that there are misconceptions on both sides, and any reductive stereotyping will get us only farther away from our showing them how to reproduce good sound.


Quote:
Well, they're grotesque and ignorant in their ignorance, then. There are plenty of other endeavours in which the top of the line has very large price tags. I don't see them or anyone saying "I won't drive a car, because it costs like a million whole dollars to buy a Ferrari Enzo! Wow, that's crazy! You'd have to be crazy to get into buying cars! I'd rather walk, 'cos I'm just too ignorant to realize I could have a car for less! Or to avoid the envy I will feel if I had a car, and it wasn't the best car ever, like the Ferrari Enzo!".


I agree. There is a strongly antagonistic feeling toward expensive audio gear EVEN among audiophiles, as this forum proves. This again, generally speaking, has to do with the fact that it has become culturally wrong, via misconception & miseducation, to spend money for good sound. But I'd submit that most people would find people who drive around in Enzos pretty ridiculous, too, as they would for a person who owns $200K monoblocks.


Quote:
To any so-called "rational person" outside the audio community who has a problem with the six-figure component under review... well, what the heck are they doing reading the review if they are outside of the audio community?


They aren't. The great problem is that most of them are not interested in trying to understand the inner workings of audio community, technology. They don't see it as being a part of "music."

Quote:
I like that there's a bit of a resurgence with vinyl among younger generations. But I don't like the reasons for why that is! If its because its just "cool" or "retro" or "dj friendly", and they simply don't know how it can be better than CD's, the problem remains.


I think you're underestimating the younger generation again. Those who know, know. That's why they listen to vinyl. And that's the crushing enigma: that once they experience how good their own music sounds on a proper system, it's so easy.

Buddha
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

So, Stereophile is a magazine for audiophiles. It preaches to the converted.

Why do we then proceed to demand that Stereophile be responsible for converting the unwashed masses?

Does Stereophile's mission statement have a missionary requirement?

Maybe we, as readers, should be required to create outreach programs.

I lean heavily toward Michigan's views on all of this, with a few modifications...

1) The Hi Fi of our youth was a much smaller endeavor. How many brands of high end anything were there? We now swim in a sea of choices - down to the damnable plethora of wires! Back in the day, the limited options made for less cognitive dissonance. Now, we have 31 flavors and loads of GD choice paralysis. The current magnitude of choice can actually create a barrier to entry.

The world of McIntosh, Fisher, Scott, Dynaco was actually much more mentally accessable for entry level thinking!

Heck, I think we have 25 times as many turntable companies now as we did during the original hey day of Hi Fi.

That actually matters.

2) It gets mentioned all the time, but Hi Fi is also a smaller proportion of the home entertainment world than it used to be. When I was a kid, there was Hi Fi, and there was the black and white TV with three channels. Add in a velvet smoking jacket and some vino/scotch and you pretty much summed up a connoisseur's sensory options.

3) Our intial sources of musical experience used to be more varied. It will be hard to draw people to Hi Fi when only two or three companies drive all the content of the musical airwaves.

We used to have limited TV and widely varied radio, now it's the fuckin' opposite.

Clearchannel is the enemy of Hi Fi. It dumbs down content.

I'm rambling, sorry. It's the Spottswoode.

On the plus side...

Soon, data will not need to be compressed. People are evolving toward music/content hunting in new media realms for new musical experiences...

I'm confident that Hi Fi has a robust future and our hobby will continue to draw in a healthy 0.1% of the population that is required to keep the audio industry creative and vital.

I need Clifton here.

The situation is hopeless, but not serious.

I'm not being as cogent as I would like. Ah, well.

michiganjfrog
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Well, I agree with a lot that's said, Michigan. But this statement -

Quote: Cost is not the issue. It is not what is preventing newer generations from getting interested in the fidelity of their music. In my day, with careful consideration, you could put together a decent sounding high end budget audiophile kit for about $1,000 dollars.

kind of illustrates my point rather than yours, I think. In this media-should-be-free-mp3-rules-all culture, most people who are of the younger generation think it's laughable that someone would think spending $1K is a 'budget kit.' I know because I belonged to this camp as late as 2007, and my friends at Columbia who were both younger and older than me definitely think so.

Well then y'all have to understand that "budget" in this context, means "budget audiophile". That means you're aiming for a higher class of hardware, and it's a "budget price" only compared to what the serious stuff costs. But if you want to get down to dollars and cents, how much does a consumer audio system cost today; separate amp, speakers, cd player, stands, wiring? It can't be far from $1,000 just for Pioneer scrap! Hey, I was a starving student too, so I knew all about putting together an audiophile system in those days on a very tight budget. I'd be at pawn shops, hifi shops that had second hand equipment, looking at classifieds, trading in gear I had to get a discount, and trading gear with my friends. I could get a pair of b&w DM100's for a c-note, and have the basis for a good beginner kit. It wasn't that hard and I'm sure it's even easier today.

That thousand I mentioned was talking about new gear. I could easily still put together a half-decent budget audiophile system for half that, from off the 2nd hand market. In fact, I did just that about a year ago, for the sister of a friend of mine. She gave me $500 as her budget. Most of it off eBay, I got her a Parasound CD changer, Rotel integrated, Denon tuner (beautiful tuner, won in a bid for .99 cents!), QED spkr wire, nice brand name budget audiophile IC's (not Monster crap), and a nice pair of 2-way Celestion Ditton speakers. (But she ended up with vintage PWB speakers I found on a street corner in my neighbourhood, because she preferred their sound). Now tell me how many students who can afford to go to Columbia University are going to balk about buying a bike for $500! I'm sure they spend more than that on beer alone, in a year. Again, I say cost is not the issue. Interest in good sound is. If they have a passion for good sound, $500 is no obstacle for most people, "even" a university student.

Quote:
But if, as also mentioned in the debate, their music doesn't even lend itself to critical listening (ie. dance music), and if these generations no longer have the attention span to sit down and listen to music; if it is always a background affair, something to do while they're braiding their hair or talking to their boyfriends or playing video games or chatting on the net, then I do find it hard to see how they will ever come to appreciate true high fidelity (that attempts to reproduce the emotions of music, rather than just the noises of musical sound).

With all respect, this above statement is exactly why the audiophile community is seen as charlatans or hypocrites. The young kids I know listen to brainier music than typical audiophiles. There are kids with their crappy ipods listening to Nico Muhly or Xenakis, or archiving interesting African pop from the past. When I interviewed Alex Ross, the classical music critic of the New Yorker, these 19 year olds were asking questions about Wuorinen, as well as Dylan. On the other side of the coin, if we use the same kind of demeaning stereotype, we can say audiophiles usually listen primarily to Jacintha or some remaster of Rickie Lee Jones. I guess my point is that there are misconceptions on both sides, and any reductive stereotyping will get us only farther away from our showing them how to reproduce good sound.

You totally misconstrued my paragraph. I don't even see where "charlatans" or "hypocrites" comes in. I was not implying any kind of "demeaning stereotype" about what 19-year olds with crappy iPods listen to, since I don't hang out with 19-year olds. I was actually following up on what (I believe) JA was saying in the debate about kids today not having the attention span to sit down and listen to "just" music. As his generation (and my generation of audiophiles) did. He referenced the practice of sitting down on the couch, listening to (an entire album straight through, heaven forbid!), and doing nothing more complicated than reading the album cover/liner. I was saying if that's the case, and so far I have no reason not to believe it is, then that's going to be the hardest thing to overcome. If these younger offspring are ever going to learn to appreciate high fidelity sound, as our generations have been able to.

As for newer generations of kids listening to "brainier" music than older adults of prior generations, which implies they are "brainier" as a generation, and consume "brainier" media.... no, I don't think so. Not in this universe, anyway. In general, popular music has gotten stupider (in order to cater to its audience), just as movies have, and reading books in general is becoming a dying art with the newer generations. Violent video games however, are increasingly popular wit' the young folk. It's a good thing they all come with music soundtracks now, because this it appears, is about the only way you can get these kids to sit down and listen to music. Here, this article should explain it all for you:

"American kids, dumber than dirt"
"Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history"

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/10/24/notes102407.DTL

BTW, I'll admit to having the first Ricki Lee Jones record (which to me is "brainy music"), but I've never been a fan, and it was purchased 15 years ago as a test record. "Jacintha", never heard of this artist.

I agree. There is a strongly antagonistic feeling toward expensive audio gear EVEN among audiophiles, as this forum proves.

Yes, I agree. Just the other day I saw the price tag for the speakers I liked at the show, the Arabesques. They're $80,000 a pair. That even made me raise an eyebrow. 'Cos for $80 large, I would not want to hear a single flaw in my loudspeakers. And I heard a couple of flaws in those, and I'm sure you could do better for that kind of scratch.

This again, generally speaking, has to do with the fact that it has become culturally wrong, via misconception & miseducation, to spend money for good sound. But I'd submit that most people would find people who drive around in Enzos pretty ridiculous, too, as they would for a person who owns $200K monoblocks.

I feel this is just the usual class envy. If people can afford $200K monoblocks, I don't have any sort of problem with them buying it. People buy all sorts of crap for more than it's worth, so it's all relative.

Quote:
To any so-called "rational person" outside the audio community who has a problem with the six-figure component under review... well, what the heck are they doing reading the review if they are outside of the audio community?

They aren't. The great problem is that most of them are not interested in trying to understand the inner workings of audio community, technology. They don't see it as being a part of "music."

Thing is, you don't have to understand the inner workings of the community or technology to appreciate well reproduced sound. I have friends who have high end systems, and interested in good sound.... but not as much as they are in the music, and have no interest whatsoever in the community or the technology, and don't necessarily identify themselves as audiophiles.

Quote:
I like that there's a bit of a resurgence with vinyl among younger generations. But I don't like the reasons for why that is! If its because its just "cool" or "retro" or "dj friendly", and they simply don't know how it can be better than CD's, the problem remains.

I think you're underestimating the younger generation again. Those who know, know. That's why they listen to vinyl. And that's the crushing enigma: that once they experience how good their own music sounds on a proper system, it's so easy.

Well I know there's a dj culture out there that buys vinyl not because they think it captures the essence of music better, but for mixing.

michiganjfrog
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

So, Stereophile is a magazine for audiophiles. It preaches to the converted.
Why do we then proceed to demand that Stereophile be responsible for converting the unwashed masses?

Well I don't think anyone's "demanding", but the reason I asked this at the debate, is because if Stereophile does nothing to change the situation, it seems to me it won't survive and continue for as long as it has been doing. And there's no guarantee it will, as many high end audio magazines have died during its run. The question I wanted people to ask themselves is, once our generation is gone, the generation that grew up on good hifi, what will be left of the audiophile community? Everyone in the industry who is serious about good sound should ask themselves that question, I feel. Because when I look at the way things are "trending" today, as far as hardware, software and newly developed social habits are concerned... things look very very bad, for the future of this hobby. As the older gear that used to sound better than the newer gear becomes rarer than hen's teeth, and by and large not ever heard by the newer generations, the current epitome of mediocrity that passes for hifi gear will be all that future generations will know about.

One way to imagine this is the story of tubes and transistors. Transistor amps came along and people thought it was a superior sound, because that's what they were told, and that's what they were sold. Eventually, tubes made a resurgence because some fanatics about high fidelity sound put the emphasis more on the music, and not the sound. So now there are many audiophiles that are into tube amps, an ancient technology by any standards, because they produce musical qualities not easily found in transistor units (and by that, I'm not talking about "warmth"). Now - imagine if it was simply understood by everyone that transistors were always superior to tubes, or no one cared about reproducing "musical qualities", or knew anything about that, or knew about it, but didn't feel there was a market for a more musical sound, or a more fussy machine. Then tube amps would not be sold today, and the parts wouldn't be available for the older amps, even if you wanted to buy one second hand. A lot of audiophiles would have missed the beautiful interactions they now enjoy with their tube gear. Only thing is, they would not even know what they were missing, because by the time they matured, tube amps were long gone and are no longer available. Replaced by the more convenient transistor amp, which can be thoroughly remote controlled, runs cool, doesn't need to have its parts regularly replaced... but which will never sound like a tube amp, and give you the experience only a tube amp can.

That, in a nutshell, is what is going to happen with the next generations of audiophile gear, if something isn't done today to change that. People will be fooled into believing they are living in the pinnacle of quality sound, because they never knew anything better, and never will. I think it was JA during the debate, who quite poignantly brought this example to light, when he said he had heard 78's sound surprisingly good on a good hifi, and in fact, better than some of today's recordings, because they compress the hell out of recordings today (since compressed crap is what the young'uns have been fed on, and expect to hear). It kills the life out of recordings, but yet its perfectly acceptable to new generation ears. Much like new generation audio gear (including audiophile gear), kills the life out of music reproduction by its built-in mediocrity.

Does Stereophile's mission statement have a missionary requirement?
Maybe we, as readers, should be required to create outreach programs.

Whether you're serious or not, I do believe we as audiophiles can be more "proactive" (and I think that's a word we both hate...) in reaching out to non-fanatics and introduce them to the benefits of hearing the music they like on a good system. It can be no more complicated than just... finding a teenager in your neighborhood, binding and gagging them, putting them in the back of your trunk and driving them to your house, and just strapping them to a chair and "encouraging" them by force to listen to the Chesky record sampler, or something. I'm sure they will thank you for the experience, after it's over.

1) The Hi Fi of our youth was a much smaller endeavor. How many brands of high end anything were there? We now swim in a sea of choices - down to the damnable plethora of wires! Back in the day, the limited options made for less cognitive dissonance. Now, we have 31 flavors and loads of GD choice paralysis. The current magnitude of choice can actually create a barrier to entry.

Me, I had plenty of choices in the hifi of my youth. Just in turntables, you could get Systemdek, Revolver, QED, Walker, Ariston, Linn, NAD, Rega, Oracle, Meitner, Thorens, etc. More importantly, the choices were better and more interesting than I see today. But in any case, if there are more choices today, why does it feel like the industry is crapping out? More choices for fewer people, it seems. That never works so well.

3) Our intial sources of musical experience used to be more varied. It will be hard to draw people to Hi Fi when only two or three companies drive all the content of the musical airwaves.

Ever heard of "myspace.com"? Although the audio scene in general may be depressing, I think one of the great things about being a music lover today, is that unlike the past, you have an amazing degree of access today (via internet) to all the music you could only dream about sampling, in your youth. Amazon alone, has changed my life as a music lover; allowing me to discover music and artists I never would or could before. Not to mention all the internet radio stations, many of which are independently driver.

I'm confident that Hi Fi has a robust future and our hobby will continue to draw in a healthy 0.1% of the population that is required to keep the audio industry creative and vital.

I'm really not worried about the number of members of the high end audio community, so much as I am about the standard of quality of music reproduction dropping. As it did with the compact cassette, as it did with the CD, as it continues to do with the iPod, and so on.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
Our intial sources of musical experience used to be more varied. It will be hard to draw people to Hi Fi when only two or three companies drive all the content of the musical airwaves.

If you are depending on recorded and reproduced music to engage listeners, then you're traveling down the wrong path. Ask the average audio buyer when they last heard live music and you'll probably be surprised. Ask them when they last heard live unamplified music and the numbers dwindle to a passing few. Ask how many have an iPod or MP3 player. Ask how many used their car stereo as their reference when last choosing components and get ready to be shocked.

The problem lies in the expectations of our generation for what needs to be taught to the next generation. It is not Stereophile's responsibility to educate the next generation.

If we are so busy chasing the next thing we can purchase to provide a momentary thrill, we will have no time left to point our children in the direction of live music. If we teach our children simply buying a $5k guitar is all you need to do to learn how to play an instrument well, then we have simply provided ourself with the ticket to that next thrill. If we cease our contributions to the local non-profit music scene because the tax credit is lowered, we haven't been giving the money freely in the first place and chances are those season tickets have been spent for empty seats each Friday night. If this generation has no idea where the symphony performs in their city - other than in the parks sometimes - how will the next generation learn that music sounds alive when it is played before a live audience?

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
So, Stereophile is a magazine for audiophiles. It preaches to the converted.

Why do we then proceed to demand that Stereophile be responsible for converting the unwashed masses?

Does Stereophile's mission statement have a missionary requirement?

Maybe we, as readers, should be required to create outreach programs.


Haha, thanks for the sarcasm, Buddha. Appreciate it as always. If you read my post, I never said it's Stereophile's job nor its mission statement to convert the masses. But I did say it's the audio community as a whole, including the writers and us common audiophiles. Look, if Stereophile did not give a damn about the state of industry, there wouldn't be topics like this approached by its editors and writers in the first place. I'm willing to bet that JA and AD and SM and whoever DO care, and they're willing to reach out however they can to the unconverted, and their writing bears this out their concern. Not in the least because the listening patterns of the 'masses,' the lossy mp3 files, sharing of the itunes libraries via wifi, further embolden the industry that accommodates this habit, and in turn, further marginalize the hi-fi industry. Which will only inevitably drive the prices even higher.

I do believe something can be done, at least, to dissipate the bizarre antipathy which exists in the mainstream press toward hi-fi, among some of the so-called elite critics who have a voice. This is not a call to Stereophile to change its mission statement or readership. My point is that on every level, there has to be a kind of a change in a dogmatic lull, the entrenched thinking, in both the audiophile community and the "mainstream" culture, if there is to be any change at all. And Stereophile is the leading voice of the audio community and its writers, and does have a strong voice & influence; it can definitely do something by at least voicing its opinions to its demographic of audiophile readers.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

I like to believe that the more we (audiophiles) stress how hi-fi can lead to the greater appreciation and discovery of music, the more people will be attracted to the hobby.

I also believe that the more we focus on hi-fi for the sake of sound quality, the less people will be attracted to the hobby. Maybe it's a subtle difference but I've never found the whole 'absolute sound' argument to be the least bit compelling.

linden518
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
As for newer generations of kids listening to "brainier" music than older adults of prior generations, which implies they are "brainier" as a generation, and consume "brainier" media.... no, I don't think so. Not in this universe, anyway. In general, popular music has gotten stupider (in order to cater to its audience), just as movies have, and reading books in general is becoming a dying art with the newer generations. Violent video games however, are increasingly popular wit' the young folk. It's a good thing they all come with music soundtracks now, because this it appears, is about the only way you can get these kids to sit down and listen to music. Here, this article should explain it all for you:

"American kids, dumber than dirt"
"Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history"

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/10/24/notes102407.DTL

BTW, I'll admit to having the first Ricki Lee Jones record (which to me is "brainy music"), but I've never been a fan, and it was purchased 15 years ago as a test record. "Jacintha", never heard of this artist.

We'll have to disagree on this point (and also on how Rickie Lee Jones' stuff is brainy music ). And again, I'd like to say this kind of preconception - the kids listening to drivel, 20 seconds at a time - is exactly the kind of stereotype that the older audiophiles have of young listeners. And it's strongly colored by these alarmist articles in the press. Look, there is ALWAYS going to be the dumb popular culture, any generation, and this generation's dumb populace will get the amplified attention in this media-saturated age. Even among the older generation, not everyone was listening to Mahlers, or bands like Big Star, I dunno, or Ornette Coleman. We're talking about people who are passionate about music, young and old. As I said, most young kids I know are omnivorous in their love for music. And I can't disagree more that the music scene is dead or uninteresting. In fact, I'm sure you can say that flippantly because you just haven't really listened to the bands.

I don't care if JA said the things about the kids, or whoever, but there are stereotypes being perpetuated in both the hi-fi community and mainstream culture, and it doesn't help. Sure there are kids listening to their 2 minute buzz single, doing their hair. But what about kids who are PACKING every venue at SXSW? What about crazy young bands like Mastodon doing an entire frickin' metal album on Melville's Moby Dick? What about Stereophile's own SM, have you taken a look at his top 10 list for 2008? Would you say he listens to dumb music of today?

Again, you can stereotype away, both at mainstream culture and hifi culture. It doesn't take too much digging in the AD's Listening archives to come across how so many audiophiels listen to brainless crap. And many people outside the hifi community do believe that the audiophiles listen to crap, brainless music but with matchless transient response or something (I agree with Michael Lavorgna, too, that the emphasis on 'absolute sound' is a pretty big turn-off). These are the stereotypes on both fronts that we can do away with.


Quote:
Well I know there's a dj culture out there that buys vinyl not because they think it captures the essence of music better, but for mixing.


Sure, but again, your point lends itself to another platitude. There are DJs who care about the sound, too. DJ Shadow and Jamie Lidell, for example, spin 45s when they create collages, obviously because of the sound. And DJ Carl Craig? His latest effort was released by Deutsche Grammophone as a 'classical' music release.

If we just go by our received notions, we miss out on the truly good music, of any genre, of any generation.

tom collins
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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

all: last night i listened to an lp of a guy named sufjan stevens, pretty cool indie music group. the night before, i listened to an lp of brubeck take 5. both of these were given to me by my 21-23 age kids. the other day, i came in and found a cd of tull's thick as a brick sitting on the table. i asked my son if he got it out, he said, yeah, i wanted to hear it on the good system. they get it, so do their friends. i have far better luck with these kids and their friends than i do getting some of my peers to sit and listen to good music.
i think there is hope. they love music just as we do and some may be led into our ranks by parents like me or more likely the new generation of dacs for digital devises that are inexpensive such as the fatman or wadia. i think that like us, once they hear good sounding music, some will want more.

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if

Tom, thanks for sharing and I really agree with you on that these kids will get it once they hear their music on our systems. Like I said, it's relatively easy once they listen. I had a friend over and he almost cried when listening to Art Blakey go nuts on my system, but now thinks that you HAVE to have expensive gear to get that kind of sound (this is definitely another thread.) I have 2 little baby daughters and my oldest one - 4 yrs old - loved listening to her tunes so much on my TT, that I got her a pink, toy TT. Not saying she's a born audiophile, but she also has a CDP, but she insists on listening to her records when she goes to sleep

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Re: Brief comments on the Montreal Audio Show (Son et Image) if


Quote:
I like that there's a bit of a resurgence with vinyl among younger generations. But I don't like the reasons for why that is! If its because its just "cool" or "retro" or "dj friendly", and they simply don't know how it can be better than CD's, the problem remains.

I think we need to be more tolerant and have a little patience. The problem can only be solved if we get people to listen, so I see nothing wrong with people choosing to listen for reasons other than sound. Sound will come later.

Why we do anything? We do things for fun, we do things to impress members of the opposite sex, we do things to make friends. All of that, to me, equals "cool." The question I want answered is: How do we make hi-fi cool again?

During the show debate, JA asked me to explain how I got into higher quality sound. At the time, I couldn't come up with an answer. But now I remember: John DeVore came over, helped me set up a system, and listened to music with me. That was it. And how did I get into vinyl? John DeVore and Michael Lavorgna came over and set up a turntable, and we listened to music. It was fun, and it was cool, and I felt like I was making great friends, and I felt like I belonged to something.

Now, when we're talking about "the younger generation" with their iPods and their MP3s, who are we talking about? Are we talking about the 10-15 year olds? That's what it sounds like to me. And if you're telling me that 10-15 year olds are filling up their iPods with thousands of songs and enjoying it, then, fuck!, that is awesome. Right? What are we complaining about?

My little sister is one of these kids. I took her to the Princeton Record Exchange recently, and I explained to her why I love vinyl. And I could tell that she was getting it. And I'd bet money that when she's a bit older, she'll want to know more about it because her older brother told her it's cool.

And when we talk about pop music being compressed to shit, what are we talking about? Britney Spears and the other shit they play on the radio? Well, yeah, I agree, but who listens to the radio? I've said over and over that there's so much outstanding, well-recorded music coming out these days that it's totally fucking freaking me out, man. Seriously. I can't look up without being smacked in the face by some awesome new music, being released on limited edition vinyl.

Another thing I failed at explaining during the debate (and maybe I'm failing now, too) is that, alright, vinyl is becoming popular again... So, what does this mean for music? I see so many indie bands releasing their work on vinyl, recording music specifically with the vinyl release in mind. They are creating music as art. They are recording albums, rather than strings of singles. They care about the final product, and they want it to sound good, and they expect it to be listened to from beginning to end. They are creating quality art with the intention of it breeding quality experiences. And that's hi-fi, isn't it?!

I may be relatively young and inexperienced, but I just don't see things to be as grim as some suggest. I'm having a great time listening to music on the hi-fi. And I think there are even better days to come. We're surrounded by positive signs -- we just have to look in the right places. And we have to share our fun with others who might care.

If we're not doing it because it's fun and cool, then why are we doing it? Because it hurts? Because we think we should be punished for something? If so, well, that's just weird, and we should stop doing what we're doing, and take up some other hobby.

This whole long rambling thing, by the way, is not specifically directed at Michigan, though I do thank him for starting an excellent discussion.

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