Why we need Audiophiles

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  • 04-15-2009, 10:19 AM
    Ajani
    Why we need Audiophiles
    Interesting article on Gizmodo - worth a read and a look at the photos:


    http://i.gizmodo.com/5213042/why-we-need-audiophiles



    There are two things I really like about the article:

    1) A non-audiophile was suitably impressed with the sound of a $350K stereo system.... So maybe audiophiles aren't totally crazy...

    2) Michael Fremer admits that it would only take $3,000 to $5,000 to build a system that will be deeply satisfying to most music fans.

    So essentially a satisfying setup can be had for a hundredth of the cost of Michael's reference system....
  • 04-15-2009, 01:29 PM
    JoeE SP9
    It is one of the few articles written by a non-audiophile that didn't try to make fun of audiophiles. Some of the responses were the same old tired crap. The detractors were the same type that claim all amps etc sound the same. All in all I liked what was written.
  • 04-15-2009, 01:51 PM
    Ajani
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    It is one of the few articles written by a non-audiophile that didn't try to make fun of audiophiles. Some of the responses were the same old tired crap. The detractors were the same type that claim all amps etc sound the same. All in all I liked what was written.

    I think one of the key factors is that even though Fremer might be over the top with the amount of money he spends, clearly his system is so damn impressive sounding that even a non-audiophile can appreciate what it does...

    To get respect for our hobby, we need to give more non-audiophiles demos of really good setups... just telling someone that their Sony iPod dock isn't high end, doesn't do much to convert the masses (though to be honest, the best we should hope for is to educate rather than convert)...
  • 04-15-2009, 02:05 PM
    I didn't know Michael Fremer was so messy. He must have a very forgiving wife.
  • 04-15-2009, 02:54 PM
    JoeE SP9
    Every non-audiophile that has ever been coerced to sit in my sweet spot has been impressed with the sound. Comments have ranged from "Holy Sh*t" to "I never knew a stereo could sound like this" and "I understand now why you spent all that money". Of course I have heard "that's the best stereo I've ever heard " and "it sounds like the musicians are in the room" more than once.
    There are more than a few regulars here who have systems that get that kind of response from non-audiophiles. What needs to happen is for all of us to actively proselytize our hobby. Invite friends and neighbors in to hear music or movies reproduced on a good system. I realize that our hobby is largely a solitary thing. What we have to do is make an attempt to share what we take for granted. Show off your good sound! At the very least you may keep someone from buying a Bose Lifestyle system. That in itself is reason enough.
  • 04-15-2009, 05:06 PM
    Ajani
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    Every non-audiophile that has ever been coerced to sit in my sweet spot has been impressed with the sound. Comments have ranged from "Holy Sh*t" to "I never knew a stereo could sound like this" and "I understand now why you spent all that money". Of course I have heard "that's the best stereo I've ever heard " and "it sounds like the musicians are in the room" more than once.
    There are more than a few regulars here who have systems that get that kind of response from non-audiophiles. What needs to happen is for all of us to actively proselytize our hobby. Invite friends and neighbors in to hear music or movies reproduced on a good system. I realize that our hobby is largely a solitary thing. What we have to do is make an attempt to share what we take for granted. Show off your good sound! At the very least you may keep someone from buying a Bose Lifestyle system. That in itself is reason enough.

    Exactly! We can't just complain that people don't know about good sound and make no effort to expose them to it... We really need to invite friends and family to bring their favourite CDs and just sit down and listen... Even if they don't convert from Bose and cheap ipod docks, at least they'll have an appreciation of our hobby....
  • 04-15-2009, 07:35 PM
    OzzieAudiophile
    Comments on Michael Fremer's article
    Hello, Anjani posted that Michael Fremer admitted it would only take $3,000 to $5,000 to build a system that will be deeply satisfying to most music fans.

    Well that's a generalisation, it's the same as saying "most people living in non third
    world countries like eating steak".

    It's not quite that black and white, it's a matter of the perspective of the consumer. Many
    music fans would be satisified with a $500 job. You can be rest assured these "music"
    fans who would be satisfied with a 3-5k system, to be put in a room which has 10k+
    worth of a setup, a proportion of those would convert more towards an "enthusiast".

    The people who cannot think outside of a $500-job, box, that mp3s sound as good or
    better than CD, DVD and SACD, are simply not interested in hifi, and have no intention of
    moving out of their comfort zone. Don't be concerned as many of these people are
    a high invested interest in something else, whether it's hi performance vehicles,
    landscaping, fishing, cycling etc... these people own very expensive equipment, us
    "enthuiasists" or audiophiles would react and ask, "meh, how can you justify spending
    $3000 on a bicycle ?" or $100 for a tie ? my wife brought me a 50c one and it's fine.

    We all have an invested interest in one thing or another, and many of them do cost a
    lot of money. I don't think we would really care what a friend's hifi system is worth, even
    if it's only worth 1/10th of ours. What we have a problem with is when they come to our
    house and try to convince us that mp3 is far superior/exactly the same quality as CD,
    and that spending anything more than $500 for a complete hifi system is a waste of
    money.

    If money was not a problem, we'd all have over 100k systems (if space wasn't an
    issue either).

    Then again it can be irrelevant if the listening room cannot support a decent setup
    because no amount of money thrown to making improvements will make it sound
    "excellent".

    One problem I have with the article is that 350K system ? yes 150K of that is for the
    vinyl player. It's not like we'd all invest into vinyl. I have a collection and had that before
    CD came out, I can easily life without vinyl, so that's 150K more I could invest making
    improvements to the room, upgrades to my equipment, or extend my music collection.

    I'm not saying the player isn't worth 150K, I applaud anyone who would appreciate
    it. I'm just saying it's not like an arm or leg for me, I can cut it off, and live without
    such a component.

    Besides the setup seems to have a large amount of components. The more components
    you have, the more potential weak links you will have in your system. Technology
    eventually degrades the value of any hifi system, unless deep in your mind you do 2
    things...

    1. You stop searching for components which have new superceding technology
    2. You make more and more comprimises and just live with that system for the
    rest of your life (i.e. the wife says no more toys for you).

    Technology, time, will force you to upgrade something eventually. It's human nature
    to keep up "with the Jones's", if you're an audiophile or enthuiast. Your music
    collection evolves, your music tastes, and so does your idea of an ideal system.

    3-5K will buy you different equipment from year to year, logically it should be better
    equipment as years go by.

    However one point I definately agree with, it's not that some enthuiasts/audiophiles
    find a decent system must be worth at least x-dollars, or must be very expensive.
    It's retaining the authenticity of the intended source music, without the need to
    "colour it in", enchance by adding this/that etc...
  • 04-15-2009, 07:56 PM
    filecat13
    That's a good read.

    The best thing about Fremer is that he doesn't give a s#!t what any of us think about him or his system. It's what he wants and what he can afford, and any opinions to the contrary are bollocks.

    This is what objectivists often overlook: committed subjectivists don't care about the DBTs, the clean signal, the electronic numbers. It's about how it makes them feel, not how it makes them think.
  • 04-15-2009, 11:21 PM
    pixelthis
    1 Attachment(s)
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by filecat13
    That's a good read.

    The best thing about Fremer is that he doesn't give a s#!t what any of us think about him or his system. It's what he wants and what he can afford, and any opinions to the contrary are bollocks.

    This is what objectivists often overlook: committed subjectivists don't care about the DBTs, the clean signal, the electronic numbers. It's about how it makes them feel, not how it makes them think.

    Easy to see how Fremer spent 150k on a record player, since he is a vinyl fanatic,
    has been for years.
    BUT regardless of weather he spent 159k or 1.5 million, a 50 dollar CD changer
    will beat it hands down.
    The days of vinyl are over, and that makes me sad sometimes, they were great days,
    but fanatically hanging onto the past while denying reality cant be good for the mental health of a person.
    I love my records, and they still sound great, but forget CD, that debate is over, even CD is being surpassed by superiour formats.
    And Fremer is increasingly resembling the addled old coot who sits around and listens
    to 78's all day, becoming more and more irrelevant , except maybe to those who rely on
    selling 150k record players to suckers.:1:
  • 04-15-2009, 11:46 PM
    Florian
    Quote:

    BUT regardless of weather he spent 159k or 1.5 million, a 50 dollar CD changer
    will beat it hands down.
    You an idiot......
  • 04-16-2009, 12:53 AM
    OzzieAudiophile
    I seriously cannot believe some comments made on this thread. However I am not here
    to badmouth other members on here.

    I wouldn't necessarily agree that vinyl is completely dead, some manufacturers are still
    producing new albums on this format. It is extremely unlikely there will be a total cease
    of vinyl albums being produced. The sales of vinyl players will help keep that demand.
    You also have DJs which still mix using equipment which require vinyl. Many of them
    have literally 1000's albums in their collection. These collections also get sold, they
    remain in circulation one way or another.

    Just because Blu-ray is a superior format means that it's the beginning of the end for
    DVD either. DVD will be here to stay for years to come at least, because they are still
    marginally cheaper to buy than the Blu Ray movie counterparts. The cheapest players
    brand new can be at little as $20.

    Forget CD ? CD is not going anywhere either. This has also been debated before, i-tunes
    will not kill the CD industry. Not everyone has a PC or an iPod to download. Regardless
    on how many more formats that will electronically store music for you to download off
    the internet, you simply cannot force people to throw away their CD players, or to buy
    a PC if they don't have one because the internet is the only remaining medium to obtain
    new music. Will not happen not now, not 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. The music
    industry is returning more than 1000% profit on CD sales because it costs about
    1c per CD to make. The artists however don't get a high proportion of that profit either.

    Now you're asking them to throw the CD format away because the technology is
    being superceded ? Give me a break !!!

    Vinyl is not everyone's cup of tea, but there will always be a demand for new vinyl
    albums. There too many people, and people in high places to keep vinyl around.
    Yes it's quite rare to obtain, but if you look hard enough on the net you can still buy
    it, plus you always have the e-bay option.

    If you're going to start arguing about there's no point buying a 150K vinyl player because
    it is not worth it, CD is much better, then why should anyone go out and pay 200K for
    a porche when you can buy a $50 car that can still get you from A to B ?
    The idea or entertaining such an argument is not even worth going on about.

    I agree with filecat, with the how the listening experience makes the listener "feel".

    I don't need to disregard anything that's under $500 just because some of my
    components are worth 5k or more, however, I have noticed that the shops that sell
    $500 or less, equipment are sold by people who know nothing about hifi or how to set
    up a decent listening environment. They get paid to sell you their stock and you're
    likely to hear, "Oh yes you must buy this, I have two of these at home myself".

    Yeah a 17 year old kid has 2x $1000 components in their home ? yeah which truck
    did they fell off ? three bags full mate.

    You can be educated or coached as to how to listen to a track to help the overall
    listening experience. The better quality build components will reveal other parts to a
    song that mediocre equipment cannot.
  • 04-16-2009, 02:41 AM
    Feanor
    Yeah, but ...
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Florian
    You [, pixelthis, are] an idiot......

    While comparisons between a $150,000 vinyl rig and $50 CDP are likely to be invidious, (especially if the rest of the system matches the CDP), the fact is the LP medium gives the enthusiast the opportunity to tune the sound to his/her personal, idiosyncratic preferences in a way that can never be achieved from digital source.

    Apart from the problem of compression which, (I'm told, since I don't listen to the crap), afflicts popular music genres, CDs would be improved for most vinyl lovers by ripping them to medium bit-rate MP3. The reduction in bandwidth from CD to LP is similar. Other than that it would be only the garnish of the listener's phono cartridge and preamp of choice missing from the MP3 playback.

    Granted, there was a time before CD recording technique and DAC design were quite adequate, but those days are long in the past.
  • 04-16-2009, 03:59 AM
    emaidel
    Before I retired, I spent a good deal of my professional life, either as a VP of Marketing, or a National Sales Manager, flying from city to city throughout the U.S. As my planes approached the runway for landing, I often looked out at the expanse of houses nearby and realized how few people in those houses actually owned stereo systems. Out of those who did, what was called a "system" was often nothing of the sort, but a cheap, plastic-y P.O.S. from the local discount superstore. I often thought, and still believe to this day, that if people could hear how good a quality system sounds, then more people would buy audio components.

    People hear my system and are usually blown away at how good it sounds, often staring wide-eyed saying (as others have posted on this thread), "I 've never heard anything sound so good." Recently, a good friend stopped by for a few days for a visit, and listened in amazement to a Beethoven Symphony performed by the Minnesota Orchestra on a BIS SACD, saying, "I never knew you could actually see where each instrument was placed!" Try using the terms "soundstage, " or "stereo imaging" in normal conversation, and see if anyone has a clue what you're talking about.

    My wife never had, nor had heard, a good system until we first met (around 1985). Ever since, and many new components since, she too spends a lot of time with me listening for hours to good music reproduced gloriously. My wife, a bottle of wine, and beautiful classical music at a realistic listening level, and I'm in heaven!
  • 04-16-2009, 04:46 AM
    Worf101
    Good points all round...
    I really have to agree with emaidel, the same situation occured in my house. My old lady never knew how good a solid mid-fi system could sound till she and tax exemption moved in. We'll be watching a movie and the next thing I know she's looking at me and saying, "why go out when it sounds this good at home?" Me, I'm a "pusher", I've lured many a co-worker to the "darkside" by showing them what a real system sounds like and my set-up is bush league compared to money that could be spent on separates and power conditioners and cables and all that. Baby steps, but change some minds, one step at a time.

    Da Worfster
  • 04-16-2009, 05:14 AM
    Feanor
    On the other hand
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by emaidel
    ....
    People hear my system and are usually blown away at how good it sounds, often staring wide-eyed saying (as others have posted on this thread), "I 've never heard anything sound so good." Recently, a good friend stopped by for a few days for a visit, and listened in amazement to a Beethoven Symphony performed by the Minnesota Orchestra on a BIS SACD, saying, "I never knew you could actually see where each instrument was placed!" Try using the terms "soundstage, " or "stereo imaging" in normal conversation, and see if anyone has a clue what you're talking about.

    My wife never had, nor had heard, a good system until we first met (around 1985). Ever since, and many new components since, she too spends a lot of time with me listening for hours to good music reproduced gloriously. My wife, a bottle of wine, and beautiful classical music at a realistic listening level, and I'm in heaven!

    A high proportion of people who aren't into hifi and heard my system have walked away completely indifferent. Yes, they allow that it "sounds really great" or words to that effect, but remain unconvinced that they need to update the boombox or compact system.

    Basically my whole family, wife, daughter, son, and daughter-in-law, are all in this category. Though permitted to do so, none can be bothered to fire up my system but instead are content to listen to their computer speakers, MP3 players, or boomboxes.

    I frequently visit a classical music forum where the major have nothing better than entry level stuff. Some of the most ardent music lovers there are perfectly content with compact systems and/or think I'm anal for wanting better than 320 kbps MP3.
  • 04-16-2009, 07:07 AM
    Kevio
    Anecdotes from Michael Fremer, emaidel and others not withstanding I've always felt that the a limiting factor in audio system performance is often those things on the sides of people's heads. Some people seem to be born with listening ability. Listening acuity can certainly be improved with experience/training. Most people would rather watch TV than learn to listen.

    None of this is going to stop me from enjoying good recording and good reproduction but it does give me perspective.
  • 04-16-2009, 11:13 AM
    atomicAdam
    Good read,

    But I've got a question..

    When did pops and hiss become part of 'real life'.

    ""It's like when you go to the symphony, and the old men are coughing—same thing," Fremer says. Necessary impurities. Reminders of being in the real world."" Reminders of being in the real world are the old men heard coughing on the recording, not the pops and hiss of the record.

    I think John Mahoney did a pretty good job trying to translate how an audiophile hears music compared to other, but completely missed the boat in other part of the article.

    The other issue I have is the whole concept of -- "These guardians in and outside of the recording industry ensure that, whether it's in a movie theater tomorrow or in your own home listening room on some far off future date, you'll be able always get back to a recording that expresses every frequency, every ounce of warmth and life, of the original performance."

    What you hear on the CD is not what you hear in the recording studio, or concert hall, or anything else other than what the engineer has decided to let you hear which is based off of the engineer speaker set up/room, not yours. The statement is fundamentally flawed.

    Other than that, great read.
  • 04-16-2009, 02:56 PM
    3-LockBox
    vinyl -v- CD...why? In audio, it's OK to keep a harem, boy is it OK. If I had the money and the room, I'd have both. Vinyl is fun.

    I don't know which one sounds better, both sound different from one another to me. A modestly priced CD player is definitely going to sound better than a modestly priced TT - you have to invest some jack if yer gonna listen to vinyl. That being said, I've heard vinyl that sounded superior to it CD counterpart, provided it was played on a good playback TT/system. Vinyl is easier to find nowdays than it was 10 years ago.

    Keep in mind, a lot of the vinyl sold in the US back in the late '70s and early '80s was made crappily - it warped within days of being taken out of the sleeve. There's good vinyl and bad vinyl.

    But I don't do vinyl myself. Too much money, too much ritual, skips in the car, etc. Give me convenience or give me death! But don't get me wrong, you get what you pay for - a good system must start with good speakers, or your playback equipment and amplification don't mean squat, CD or LP.

    Oh and BTW: I'd never own a 350K system. Or a 5K system...well, maybe around 5K. I'd rather spend the money on music...the reason any equipment exists in the first place.
  • 04-16-2009, 03:00 PM
    JoeE SP9
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    While comparisons between a $150,000 vinyl rig and $50 CDP are likely to be invidious, (especially if the rest of the system matches the CDP), the fact is the LP medium gives the enthusiast the opportunity to tune the sound to his/her personal, idiosyncratic preferences in a way that can never be achieved from digital source.

    Apart from the problem of compression which, (I'm told, since I don't listen to the crap), afflicts popular music genres, CDs would be improved for most vinyl lovers by ripping them to medium bit-rate MP3. The reduction in bandwidth from CD to LP is similar. Other than that it would be only the garnish of the listener's phono cartridge and preamp of choice missing from the MP3 playback.

    Granted, there was a time before CD recording technique and DAC design were quite adequate, but those days are long in the past.

    Sorry Feanor, I've tried ripping CD's to Mp3's at every bit rate up to 320K and MP3's still suck! Given a choice between MP3's at any bit rate and an LP I'll take the LP every time.

    What reduction in bandwidth are you talking about?

    The frequency response of an LP is about 10 Hz to 25 kHz, and it has a dynamic range of 75 dB.

    That is reduction in dynamic range not bandwidth. The dynamic range difference can't be that important as even the best CD's don't use all a CD is capable of anyway.
  • 04-16-2009, 06:19 PM
    Feanor
    Don't worry, Joe
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    Sorry Feanor, I've tried ripping CD's to Mp3's at every bit rate up to 320K and MP3's still suck! Given a choice between MP3's at any bit rate and an LP I'll take the LP every time.

    What reduction in bandwidth are you talking about?

    The frequency response of an LP is about 10 Hz to 25 kHz, and it has a dynamic range of 75 dB.

    That is reduction in dynamic range not bandwidth. The dynamic range difference can't be that important as even the best CD's don't use all a CD is capable of anyway.

    Look, sorry, I really didn't mean to reopen the "grand debate". Nothing I can say will change minds of the dyed-in-the-wool vinylphiles. I'll evem concede that LP and CD are really very close infidelity potential, it's just that it's achieved more consistently with CD since the vinyl playback chain has so many extreme variables.

    Not to quibble but bandwidth is a combination of frequency response and dynamic range. CD beats LP in both categories, (2-20kHz is a wider response than 10-25kHz). Here's a source that suggests that 10-24kHz is very optimistic for LP.

    Perhaps i'm biased against vinyl because, as a mainly classical listener, none of the music I want to acquire is on LP. (The day when you could find tons of clean, cheap LPs at garage sales is long over.)
  • 04-16-2009, 06:38 PM
    02audionoob
    I don't know if this thread is headed toward a digital vs. analog debate, but I don't understand why 10 Hz matters. My speakers can't play that. And 24 kHz...which instrument in the symphony plays that sound? Can I hear that?

    I consider the pops, skips and surface noise to be shortcomings of the medium, not charming reminders of the real world, but a well-recorded LP in excellent condition sounds every bit as good as and sometimes better than many (not all) of my CDs. And in my system it's not an unfair fight, either. It's a Music Hall turntable that currently lists for $875 (with cartridge) vs. a modded Music Hall CD player that currently lists for $700 plus mods.
  • 04-16-2009, 10:05 PM
    pixelthis
    [QUOTE=atomicAdam]Good read,

    But I've got a question..

    When did pops and hiss become part of 'real life'.

    Quote:

    ""It's like when you go to the symphony, and the old men are coughing—same thing," Fremer says. Necessary impurities. Reminders of being in the real world."" Reminders of being in the real world are the old men heard coughing on the recording, not the pops and hiss of the record.
    This is a psychological process called rationalization, trying to justify obvious
    truths to fit them into a paradigm that you beleive in, like the husband who drags
    his wife out from behind the bowling alley , telling himself that shes really a good girl.
    I have records too, but no way are they even close to modern recording media.
    Ther entire vinyl craze amazes me, its like a stubborn bunch of old coots insist that horses
    are better than automobiles, and keep trying to prove it.
    Why is the 33/half rpm record the end all be all?
    Why not the 78 rpm? The 45 rpm? the wax tube?
    Why is this the pinacle of recording technology?


    Quote:

    I think John Mahoney did a pretty good job trying to translate how an audiophile hears music compared to other, but completely missed the boat in other part of the article.
    this comes from a know nothing trying to explain something he knows nothing about,
    like the pizza man explaining quantum physics.
    For instance, he talks a lot about the record player, and fails to mention that just about
    anything is going to sound spectacular hooked up to a pair of 66,000 dollar Wilsons

    Like a fifty dollar CD player, for instance.:1:
  • 04-16-2009, 10:15 PM
    pixelthis
    1 Attachment(s)
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Florian
    You an idiot......

    Not enough to pay 150k for a record player, and then delude myself as to the quality
    by shooting the signal through 200k of speakers and electronics.
    In the analog world you need super expensive components, not so much in the digital age,
    where a cheap mechanism works fine because the digital filters out the flaws along with the flaws in the recording.
    Doesnt stop people from selling super expensive CD players tho, even tho they are pretty much engineering overkill.
    As for the CD not being "dead", look at the sales figures.
    I still buy CD's, but fewer and fewer people do:1:
  • 04-16-2009, 10:24 PM
    pixelthis
    I have a great deal of respect or Fremer , and have enjoyed his writings for years,
    but his type makes it damned hard to recruit new blood into this hobby, trying to explain the obsession with a tech from the 1950's that was always full of compromises
    to start with, like snap, crackle .pop, rumble, wow and flutter, and mostly, compressed
    dynamic range and frequency response in order to get the entire recording onto the disc.
    This is supposed to be a hobby about music, not playing a recording using antique
    tech just to show you can, when a few grand of modern equipment will beat the pants off of it easily.:1:
  • 04-17-2009, 01:10 AM
    basite
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pixelthis
    Not enough to pay 150k for a record player, and then delude myself as to the quality
    by shooting the signal through 200k of speakers and electronics.
    In the analog world you need super expensive components, not so much in the digital age,
    where a cheap mechanism works fine because the digital filters out the flaws along with the flaws in the recording.
    Doesnt stop people from selling super expensive CD players tho, even tho they are pretty much engineering overkill.
    As for the CD not being "dead", look at the sales figures.
    I still buy CD's, but fewer and fewer people do:1:


    if vinyl is dead, why did the sale number rise last year? and why do they still make so much turntables?

    and those digital filters do filter out the 'flaws' in the recording, as well as the soul of the music. The goal, even in digital age, is to use as few filters as possible. This is where your 'cheap mechanism' fails. over and over again.

    accept it, there are better things in this world than your cd changer.

    Keep them spinning.
    Bert.