The future of hi/end audio & a rant on honesty in reviewing…..addendum

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fastfred

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  • Fred Petersen
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In another topic titled The Future of Hi/End audio and a rant on tuning fuses,  the topic

began with this sentence……. 

A plea for someone to take on the task of honest review; or how do we go about reclaiming our hobby?

………… One paragraph down, I went on to say…… One recurring theme I see in the current audiophile
press is dismay over the direction to which “HI END” AUDIO is turning. If you go to my website you will see
references to many articles which try to help the neophyte audiophile, spend his audio dollars wisely. Is it any
wonder that when a normal well adjusted human being is introduced to our hobby, that they throw up their
hands in dismay and run for the Bose boutique in terror, when confronted by a sales person who having
convinced them they need a $10,000 plus system, who then tries to extract from their wallet another
three to four thousand dollars for speaker wire, interconnect, and mains cables. In most cases all this
person is looking for is a quality sound system to listen to music on.

From time to time during the most active time for this thread I tried to steer the conversation toward
audiophile magazines which tended toward honest reviewing. I wasn't successful for the most part.

Most hi/end magazines tend to review products in a subjective rather than objective manner. I think the
pendulum has swung from the Julian Hirsch paradigm of all amplifiers sound the same, reviews done with
emphasis only scientific measurement only. To the totally subjective review where unsubstantiated claims
are made for how a product sounds. I believe sanity rests somewhere in the middle.

Having said all of that, imagine my surprise when I read the following interview in Positive FeedBack Magazine.
An Interview with John Marks - "The Editors" Series. ( http://positive-feedback.com/Issue74/john_marks.htm ).
Taken from their polish affiliate. PFO cherry picks excerpts from the monthly editorial content of this  on line magazine.
This link is to the polish site, ( http://www.highfidelity.pl/@lang-en ), which is published in several languages including
 english. While there are subjective reviews, their focus is quite interesting compared to most audiophile magazines I’m
familiar with. The editors series covers quite a few interesting interviews.  ( http://www.highfidelity.pl/@main-490&lang=en )

Amazingly I have something to be grateful to PFO for. Unfortunately not much else of interest so far this month except maybe
Roger Scoff’s article titled “Hi-Fi is All a Scam - Roger Skoff Finally Admits All” ( http://positive-feedback.com/Issue75/skoff.htm ).

                            ................................ cheers

                                                   ............................ fastfred

JohnR

I have VTV #19 (but not #20, for some reason). However, you can find the PDF online if you look for it.

Roger A. Modjeski

By its title I hoped Skoff was about to expose the scamers in the industry, however this is not the case. I read the Skoff article and note the word vibration and vibrate used 23 times which made my brain vibrate on hearing that sound was a bunch of vibrations. He only needed to say that once as that is what sound is. In my opinion the article is foolish. Of course sound is vibrations in air caused by vibrations of the instruments producing it. I don't see his point that this makes sound something it is not. What is voodoo about sound, its just what it is and some of us have spent a lifetime learning how to record and reproduce it as best we can.

I think he is saying that since sound is simple vibrations it is easy to capture and reproduce these vibrations accurately and there is no need for High End at all. Since its all vibrations we might as well use a tin can and string link to the concert hall. That will carry vibrations too.

To save you time I think this quote from the article is the gist of his drivel.

Even so, that's not the real problem. What the real problem IS is that audiophiles, music lovers, Hi-Fi Crazies, and all the rest still fail to recognize that what they think they hear is NOT "sound" (as they, despite all rational explanation, still insist on calling it) but simply a pattern of vibrations—initiated as vibrations; recorded as vibrations; reproduced as vibrations; picked-up by their ears as vibrations; and transmuted to "sound" only IN their minds, BY their minds.

Other than that, sound is a complete fantasy; a hallucination—just one more example of Hi-Fi voodoo and possibly even the dread "placebo effect".

I think he is saying we are listening to isn't what we think we are listening to or something like that. I'm confused why he wrote this and why it means anything to what we are discussing here.

He has mentioned nothing about how an amplifier can intermodulate those vibrations, how crossover distortion at its worst simply ignores small signals (that's really what it does and that would be an interesting discussion for those who want to look at distortions in a new way). Of course this is an ex-cable guy and some of them never knew much about science which benefits their un-scientific view of things.




THROWBACK

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I have nothing scientific/engineering to add. All I can do is say that I personally--along with my audiophile buddies--hear differences in cables and that we develop preferences based upon those differences. We had a phono cable shoot a few days ago, repeating the same test we performed a month or so again. It was a single blind test: the swapees did not know which cable we were listening to; only the swapper did. The results were entirely consistent with those of the first test. All were high-quality cables in the $3,000 range.

Even though the scientific community is telling me otherwise, like Galileo** I cannot disregard what my ears are telling me.

** “Eppur Si Muove” — And Yet It Moves

Legend has it that Galileo Galilei said this under his breath after being forced by the Inquisition to disavow his statements that the Earth moves around the Sun. (It took until 1992 for the Catholic Church to formally apologize for this, and recognize the mathematical and scientific work that Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo did to validate heliocentrism.) I don’t know if the quote is historically accurate; I imagine that the Inquisition probably did not take snide comments lightly. But I like the spirit, the sense that we all must act, at times, in self-preservation against great and ignorant powers, and that it is possible to do so without losing sight of the truth. (A blog quote, not mine.)

macrojack

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Excellent spelling and punctuation. Clear, well-rendered arguments presented calmly and with dignity.

You really are a THROWBACK.

/mp

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I hoped Skoff was about to expose the scamers in the industry, however this is not the case.

As usual, Shakespeare said it better than I, "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Macbeth Act 5, Scn 5).
I would have only come up with the far inferior, I scoff at Skoff.

fastfred

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  • Fred Petersen
    • audiofyle.com
As usual, Shakespeare said it better than I, "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Macbeth Act 5, Scn 5).
I would have only come up with the far inferior, I scoff at Skoff.

I too Scoff at Skoff. Hard to believe his attitude, he looks like such a happy guy on his PFO column.

Having said that I was quite impressed by the John marks interview, any thoughts from the MR circle?

                                          ....................... fastfred


bdp24

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I believe Mr. Skoff's tongue was firmly planted against his cheek. it was intended to be heavy sarcasm, a wink to fellow audiophiles.

corndog71

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I read the Skoff article and note the word vibration and vibrate used 23 times which made my brain vibrate on hearing that sound was a bunch of vibrations.

 :lol:  Oh good!  It wasn't just me.

THROWBACK

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MACROJACK: Thank You (I think.....)

macrojack

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THROWBACK: You're Welcome (I'm sure.....).

After I wrote that I started worrying that the name might reflect your fishing policy rather than a reference to anachronistic status, which is the way I took it for my comment.

Roger A. Modjeski

I believe Mr. Skoff's tongue was firmly planted against his cheek. it was intended to be heavy sarcasm, a wink to fellow audiophiles.

I had not thought of that possibility. Lets vote!

fastfred, please add a poll if you will. Only the OP can do that as far as I know. If you can't I will start a new post with one.

As usual, Shakespeare said it better than I, "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Macbeth Act 5, Scn 5).
I would have only come up with the far inferior, I scoff at Skoff.

I do agree that the writer is some kind of idiot, though I know not what kind.

fastfred

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  • Fred Petersen
    • audiofyle.com
I too Scoff at Skoff. Hard to believe his attitude, he looks like such a happy guy on his PFO column.

Having said that I was quite impressed by the John marks interview, any thoughts from the MR circle?

                                          ....................... fastfred

It's interesting how the link to the Roger Skoff  column hijacked the thread. I included it because i thought it was sort of funny.

I think Mr. Skoff has aspirations to channel Harvey Rosenberg. ( wait a minute that's it he's possessed )

      I was hoping to get more responses about the John Marks interview. The comments he made on affordable hi/end audio

resonate with me, & he has some interesting ideas on re-igniting interest in audio. High Fidelity On Line as I said in the original post,

has a different flavour than it's competition. It's interesting to see this eastern european viewpoint. Wojeck Pacula through this interview

rekindled my interest in Stereophile Magazine.

 
                                                                                      ....................... fastfred


p.s. Roger I'm not sure how to upload a poll. I'll do some research.

                                                             

tubegroove

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Did anyone ever read International Audio Review (IAR) - J Peter Moncrieff? 
I recall reading a few reviews on that e-zine and they came across as a no-nonsense tell-it-as-it-is editorial team.  I also recall they were ad free and which they stated helped preserve their editorial integrity. 
Are they still around? Wonder what became of them....?

Speedskater

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Did anyone ever read International Audio Review (IAR) - J Peter Moncrieff? 
Was that the one that was printed on red craft paper and was a challenge to read?
Was that the one that reviewed two dozen cables and gave each one a different sound?

THROWBACK

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I am surprised that no one took me up on my comment about listening versus measurement. Here's where I believe we are on this:

Listener group: “We hear differences when swapping cables”
   Valid (?)
               Appropriate sources
               experienced observers
   Repeatable (?)
      Similar conditions
   
Scientist/engineer:  “OK. What differences?”

Listener group:  “Cable #1 sounds sweet and musical; Cable #2 sounds trashy and discontinuous; Cable #3 has no bottom end compared to #1 and #2.”

Scientist/engineer: “What the heck is anyone supposed to do with those observations?”
                 “I can’t measure musicality or sweetness”
                 “My instruments show only minute differences in bass response, noise, and phase.”
                ” Those minute differences could not possibly account for the perceived differences.”

Listener group:  ““Eppur Si Muove” — And Yet It Moves (see my earlier post)

And here we are.

macrojack

"THROWBACK" because I'm still swapping tubes and phono cartridges after 60 years as an audiophile.

bdp24

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FF---Thanks for the link to the interviews. I just read the one with John Marks, and it's great. His ideas for high-performance audio stores attracting new customers should be put into action. Come on dealers, get creative! High-end stores are just like Audio Research customers (coincidence?)---the same people buying the same thing (revision after revision) over and over again. Well, those customers are getting old and dying, and no one is taking their place. There are a lot of reasons for that, cultural, artistic, and economic. Having a good system was important to my peers (except, ironically, most musicians) and I (I'm 64), to enable a deeper musical experience. But that generation may be the last gasping breath of Hi-Fi; the vast majority of people just plain don't care. How do you change THAT?

macrojack

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FF---Thanks for the link to the interviews. I just read the one with John Marks, and it's great. His ideas for high-performance audio stores attracting new customers should be put into action. Come on dealers, get creative! High-end stores are just like Audio Research customers (coincidence?)---the same people buying the same thing (revision after revision) over and over again. Well, those customers are getting old and dying, and no one is taking their place. There are a lot of reasons for that, cultural, artistic, and economic. Having a good system was important to my peers (except, ironically, most musicians) and I (I'm 64), to enable a deeper musical experience. But that generation may be the last gasping breath of Hi-Fi; the vast majority of people just plain don't care. How do you change THAT?

Excellent post --- and a very good question.

I think a variety of forces conspired to energize the original push for home hi-fi. When I was selling audio in the late 70s, families came in to buy a stereo every day. It was a cultural push - a fad. And a certain number of those who entered the game with a receiver followed the invitation of Mr. Hafler to explore the next level. From there the Reagan go-go, penny stock yuppie thang emerged and the Krell was born. From there the ranks thinned and the prices escalated until we reach today when few are buying ridiculously high priced gear at enormous discounts. The families are still buying receivers but now they have a lot more than 2 channels. And the kids, mostly they just want their portables. A phone and ear buds are enough to keep them happy. It affords them a game console, video and a communications center in a compact, portable and personal package. High end audio is on life support. Reviewing is too.

JohnR

Headphones?

fastfred

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  • Fred Petersen
    • audiofyle.com
Was that the one that was printed on red craft paper and was a challenge to read?
Was that the one that reviewed two dozen cables and gave each one a different sound?

Hello Kevin:
  I “googled” international audio review and came up with this link to IAR  ( www.IAR-80.COM ).
It looks like they stopped publishing in 2009, that's when their their copyright expired.
It looks like print back isuues are for sale, if the e-mail address still works.

                                         ....................... fastfred

p.s. Although somewhat dated Arthur Salvatore’s sight is still a good source of audio info. Magazines he likes
as well as those he doesn't. His comments on some of the reviewers are still valid because the ones he likes
and dislikes are still working in the field.( www.high-endaudio.com )