Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks and Why am I posting these?

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks and Why am I posting these? (you might ask. Well, Neli did 🙂 ).

Neli doesn’t read comments when she is out-and-about on the Internet. But I do. Sometimes. And on YouTube, Stereophile, and many other places, sometimes over half of the comments have some very aggressive troll-like anti-audiophile sentiment.

The average person, a member of the general public, reading these, must think WTF? These angry nuts are so passionate with their attacks – can they be right?

Considering how often people believe ridiculous things these days just because the messenger is outrageously aggressive, this is a real worry if one has hopes, like we do, that more of the general public should join our hobby.

Some people [for example Michael Fremer and Myles Astor], counter this by publicly responding to the trolls – replying to their comments using either common sense or the troll’s own expletive-laden language.

Their responses help but the energy required to do this, by me anyway, would be difficult to sustain over time.

I am trying to weaken the trolls in a different way here by helping dispel any doubts about whether these trolls have a clue [they do not], and make sure that the readers of these Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks posts know exactly why what the trolls are saying is ridiculous and nothing but trolling.

Another purpose here is that when an audiophile reads these, it is upsetting. Here we are just grooving to the beat with as much fidelity we can afford, checking in what our friends are doing, seeing what’s new out there, and these angry haters show up?

One way to deal with this upset is to have seen these troll’s attacks before – and seen it dealt with in a calm, reasonable, logical, factual manner. Then, when we see these trolls, we can think “oh yeah, THAT one. Not just jerks but unimaginative ones at that”.

I am hoping these posts here on the Blog help do just that, but examining each of these class of troll attacks in the light of day and putting them to rest.

Perhaps we should go one step beyond and list copy-and-paste audiophile-approved pre-written responses that, if enough of us automatically post these as comments to the troll’s attack comments, might actually tire them out and make them go away.

Who are they? I think half of the trolls are just envious[who isn’t? we all want all the goodies, right? :-)] and the other half are dysfunctional men (or boys) who see another group they can bully.

[Personally, I also consider extremely negative anti-cable, anti-tube, anti-solidstate, anti-analog, anti-digital etc. comments as evidence that there is a troll about. There is overwhelming evidence that each of these technologies have a great deal to offer, albeit each with their drawbacks, that a reasonable person with adequate funds might indeed be making the exact right decision purchasing them. enuf said].

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks #1 – “All cables sound the same”

Stupid Audiophile Troll Tricks #1 – “All cables sound the same” (or “Cables Have No Sound”)

An ongoing series of posts where we debunk common comments made by trolls. Because trolls are quite unimaginative, this will not be a very long series of posts. I use the world ‘stupid’ to be charitable – these trolls are bullies seeking attention through their aggressiveness and they just so happen to choose audiophiles to pick on.

This particular stupid comment is often used to insinuate that, because, if true, our industry would then be lying about cables having a sound [which they are not], so they must be lying about most everything else as well and much if not all of high-end audio is therefore ‘snake oil’.

This is easy to disprove.

We start  by assuming they are right, that cables really do have no sound [or all sound the same]. Then no matter what the electrical properties (capacitance, inductance or resistance) of the cable, there is no affect on the sound.

But the cable is just another [albeit important] part [extension] of the electrical circuit consisting of the source, preamplifier, amplifier and speaker – so if the cable has no sound, regardless of its electrical properties, then nothing else in the circuit has a sound either no matter its electrical properties. All those capacitors, resistors, transformers, they have no sound. That, because cables do not have a sound, no matter how low or high its resistance is, for example, that we can just put resistors in any circuit, no matter how low or high the number of ohms, and it will sound the same.

Hopefully this is obviously untrue to most of you, and so it is obvious cables do indeed have a sound. And if cables do have a sound, there will be those that sound better and those that sound worse. And the ones that sound better will cost more if their manufacturer has any kind of understanding about how capitalism works [which most do].

Of course, most of us just need to use our ears to hear the difference in how one cable sounds versus another

One can also get a cheap sound meter, or sound frequency analyser, and see a visual report on the differences in SPL or sound frequencies if one cannot trust one’s ears.

[you do need a hifi system that is resolving enough to reveal the differences in sound. If you have a very inexpensive system, then cables may not make a measurable of a difference to you and you should spend your money on getting a better system, not cables].

*sigh* Feels good to write this but don’t expect the trolls to go away anytime soon :-/

 

 

 

Objective methods for describing the quality of music reproduction

I have been thinking a lot about objective methods for describing the quality of a HiFi system sound. Or even the quality of a single component.

Why?

THE PROBLEM

Because I am very very curious about how a lot of things sound that I will not have the time or resources to hear myself. And reviews and show reports are just not doing it for me.

To me, just about 100% of these read like this: “blah blah blah sounds great blah blah blah high price blah blah you should buy it. Next.”

First, very few people are qualified to review top-tier gear. When the world is awash in $15K(!) and above DACs few of our stalwart reviewers can afford to play this game.

Second, few people can, or even try, to describe sound in a way that readers can understand what they are talking about. Its hard, and it is certainly NP complete, and in the best case the press inspires, not describes.

Third, we all know what is third, no reason to bring it up.

THE ANALYSIS

I am thinking comparative analysis might be a good place to start. How does something sound relative to its peers. Does A have more bass than X but less than Y and Z? Good to know, right?

Then I ran across this old post on Romy’s site Do not “compare” audio equipment. In particular (as Amir quoted, and disagreed with for his own reasons):

You have to very clearly recognize what distinct the performance of a given component form “how it should be” instead to recognize the performing delta of a component relative to it’s competitive.

I interpret this to mean that one has to be careful – just because A has more bass than X does not mean it has better bass. X may have the perfect amount of bass and A may then have too much.

[I know, this “how it should be” is more of a gestalt – but we are forced, IMO, to objectify this gestalt in order to understand and communicate the quality of something]

These days, this “more is better or is it” dichotomy is very common with respect to resolution. Many things have more resolution than what might be considered natural – not that we can’t still enjoy them and buy them, but from an objective point of view, it really is probably too much resolution.

THE SOLUTION

We can look at other high-end domains as a guide, like cameras and autos, though they also suffer from the same primary problem we do: the quantification of the subjective in order to try and pave the way for objective comparisons is fraught. [fraught I tell you :-)]

Fraught or not, here we go:

We’ve done this a dozen times in the past but haven’t done it for several years, and I know Steve Rochlin at Enjoy the Music did it for a few reviews as well, but we are going to start comparing things to other things using tables.

Tables with a ton of attributes like Bass, bass slam, bass tightness, bass resolution, bass naturalness, bass harmonic richness, etc.

At the same time the numbers will not only be relative to other components but relative to ‘how it should be’.

A score of 100 is ‘how it should be’. A score of 110 is a little more than how it should be. A score of 90 is a little less.

WAIT. Before you think “Hey. My preferences are a little from yours Mike. Who gets to say what is 100 aka perfect?”

Well, if we are going to be able to communicate what something sounds like using numbers and words, we really need to try and to take ‘preferences’ out of the equation when it comes to reviews.

The assumption here is that there is indeed an absolute perfect sound. It doesn’t necessarily exist in the studio, on tape, on the original digital recording or in our living rooms, but there is a “how it should be”; a “what it is supposed to sound like”.

So… the flaw in the ointment … we have to encourage and verify that reviewers review things with respect to ‘how it should be’ and not ‘how they are OK with it’ [after they get a long lecture about how cold and sterile is not ‘how it should be’, sorry JV].

There can also be another table, that each of us fills out, that represents our personal preferences.

In the absence of being able to ever achieve that absolute sound in our lifetimes at a less than prohibitive cost, what are we willing to sacrifice and what to we absolutely insist on. These are our personal preferences.

My table would have soundstage depth, for example, at around 90. This attribute is slightly less important to me than it is to other people, in general, and a score of 90 is fine by me.

[There has to be another number associated with each attribute, a penalty fine for going over (for me, too much midrange energy is not good at all, too much soundstage depth is fine)- and for going below (too little resolution is also anathema for me, personally).]

In this way, I think we can move a good distance toward an objective comparison and communication of the performance of hifi systems and of individual components.