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Insanely Audiophile

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the for-those-with-cash-to-burn dept.

Music 508

wiredog sent us a choice quote from a Washington Post story about high end audio. It compares audiophiles to drug addicts and talks about six figure stereo systems that make me cry with jealousy. Anyway, the true gold mine quote is "For that money [$140k], a local company called the Gene Donati Orchestras will send a string quartet to your home and play on your patio once a week for more than a year. Which is why audiophiles spend a lot of time defending their sanity." I dunno about you guys, but that makes my technology buying habit look like my chewing gum budget.

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What's the big deal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152903)

Super expensive stereo gear has been around for decades. Stereo gear is nothing compared to videophiles (aka home theater nuts). It's all about what gets you off. There are plenty of people who buy $13,000 Civics and add $50,000 worth of parts. Or how about the weirdos who buy dual Athlon 1.2GHz, a 760MP board, 4 gigs of ram and a new 550W PSU for $2,000 so that they can run a free OS like Linux? ;)

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152904)

Our forefathers did not give their lives to found a nation where we could scamper around with our goldplated headphones and 10 megawatt amps in one giant aureal masturbatory frenzy.

Copy-Paste right into the .sig file.

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152905)

seek help.

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152906)

But vinyl is so much warmer.

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152907)

I would say excellent troll, but you actually got me to AGREE with you.

Re:Is it really worth it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152908)

This question really gets to the heart of the issue. Audio researchers (as opposed to self-described audiophiles) generally try to use objective criteria in evaluating vague statements like "system X sounds better than system Y," or figuring out if speaker Z's "extended high-end response" is actually audible to human ears. The study of these things (perceptual audio or psychoacoustics) is an important part of developing things like MP3 and other perceptually-based codecs.

The thing about audiophiles is that very few of them ever talk about double-blind listening tests, which are one truly objective way to determine whether or not differences between two pieces of equipment are actually perceptible.

It's one thing to freely and openly admit that you're buying some luxury item because you admire the craftsmanship, aesthetics (think Bang & Olufsen), functionality, or whatever. It's a whole other thing to claim that it sounds better without actually demonstrating that you can hear the difference.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of the high-end audio stuff is very, very well-made equipment, but I have yet to see any even vaguely scientific evidence that shows people can hear the difference between, say, gold-plated speaker contacts and plain copper ones. As an undergrad at MIT, I took Amar Bose's class on acoustics and did a lot of reading on the various psychoacoustic tests that researchers have done over the years. Not one of them has ever shown that the nitpicky measures most audiophiles take to improve sound quality actually have any perceptible effect.

The sad thing is that the guy mentioned in the article got an engineering degree from MIT -- ostensibly a place where you learn to think critically and objectively -- and yet he still claims his refrigerator turning on has an audible effect on the music. I'd be willing to bet he'd fail any properly designed double-blind test on this point.

(And yes, before you start flaming Bose, there are many systems out there that sound better than their stuff -- but realize that their components are built with certain engineering/economic tradeoffs just like anyone else's. Dr. Bose himself is a very, very good engineer.)


Re:It is somewhat relative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#152909)

You're just addicted to a costlier substance that does less bodily harm.

Less bodily harm? An amp/sub of that value could easily have enough power to make you deaf instantaneously. I also suppose there has got to be some point at which something is so loud that it will kill you, much like how the stereo systems hitting upwards of 160dB can blow up a baloon.

Re:So, you can get a local string quartet for $140 (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 13 years ago | (#152935)

For $140,000 I could FLY to London, Boston or where ever and listen IN PERSON...

No... (2)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 13 years ago | (#152936)

It shows that you are in the same boat as the guy in a straight jacket... $20,000 for a set of speakers...Insane

making music (1)

bcboy (4794) | more than 13 years ago | (#152942)

My interest in audio equipment nearly died after I learned an instrument. Performing music is much more satisfying than listening to a canned recording of someone else performing music.

I suspect audiophiles have a misdirected desire to make music.

The best part ... (3)

rho (6063) | more than 13 years ago | (#152962)

... is that after the years spent in the (related) car audio fanciers (addicts), with jillions of dBs hammering my eardrums, I'm now happy with a 10 year old Pioneer tuner/amp, because I'm so deaf I can't tell the difference between it and a $10K Levinson.

Re:Is it really worth it? (3)

jeff.paulsen (6195) | more than 13 years ago | (#152963)

Unfortunately, I can easily hear the difference between a $1k and a $10k setup. This is depressing when I can't afford more than about a $300 system, so I just don't even try anymore.

Insane Audio Gear.... (2)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 13 years ago | (#152968)

As a DJ I find myself buying all sorts of cool gizmos all the time, but my hi-fi gear is eclipsed by my record collection which costs me about $1000 a month in new vinyl acquisitions. (BTW - if anyone in the bay area needs a DJ for their party my rates are reasonable)

Its not about 12Khz.. (3)

Axe (11122) | more than 13 years ago | (#152988)

Go, do yourself a favor and read some good book on signal physics. If you hear up to 12Khz, you want you equipment to be linear and sampling of the digitization to be up to at least 24Khz. Even then you may get VERY noticable artifacts due to nonlinearity of the system in the area well above 12Khz.. Basically 96Khz/24bit sampling seems to be where you really hit physiological limits. It would seem to me that for all the high end systems, room acoustics would be a bigger factor. It is definitly a huge factor in live performances.. Personally I listen music only in my car. Where even MP3 256kb quality is sufficient. But I DO hear the difference between MP3, CD, and life performance. I just do not care enough.

I saw one of those once. (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 13 years ago | (#152992)

I worked for an architects firm that had the task of designing a listenign room for this guys stereo, he quoted teh price as over 100,000. I saw this here are teh specs.

Two Bass speakers, consiting of 8 - 10" woofers at $300 a peice. they were made into a sculpted speaker box that looked like teh washington monument.

Two midrange boxs that were actually well they looked sort of like a potatoe chip, cept only curved in one dimension. the tweaters were ribbon tweeters with one long one going down the middle.

the speakers were connected with licquid nitrogen wires idea being super cooled equal little resistance and noise. ohh yea the wires were silver and shielded.

the amplifier was a tube amplifier custom built in russia. delivering only about 200W per channel at 5 channels.

he had what looked like a rack of preamps, about 4 feet tall. and last of all was his custom made CD player which was made from granite in the shape of a greek cross. you played teh cd by placing on top of the cross and putting a weight on it.

there was only a single chair in the room which could not be moved.

and all I will say is this it sounded like it was a 100,K stereo, I was completely blown away.

suffice it to say my fisher second hand stereo and teh jenson speakers I bought on sale was significanlty cheaper.

Re:Is it really worth it? (2)

ywwg (20925) | more than 13 years ago | (#153005)

ah, but that depends on how much 9000$ is worth to the buyer. For me, 3000$ for an SACD player (tho they have come down a from that) is totally out of my reach, for others it is chump change. There was a guy on the hometheaterforum(.com) that dropped 3K$ on two dvd players because he couldn't choose between them.

Re:Is it really worth it? (5)

adolf (21054) | more than 13 years ago | (#153007)


The world of high-end audio is somewhat amiss from the norm of more money buying additional features. A high-end system is typically as -minimal- as possible - extra components are all destructive of the audio signal.

Rather than spending X thousands of dollars on, say, all-wheel drive in a new Audi, an audiophile will spend X thousands just for the assurance that a common feature (simple tone controls, for instance) is not present.

Those features which remain because they're needed for the system to function (crossovers in speakers, for instance) are so ghastly overbuilt, from such stuff as hand-rolled matched capacitors, flat-wire inductors made from .9999 silver, and other hugely-expensive, measurably (and marginally) better parts.

And still, the use of these parts is minimized - every component counts as another way to introduce distortion between the microphone in some music hall and the listener's ears in a different time and place.

Joe Consumer buys based on features, because that's what they're accustomed to doing while shopping for cars, electric ranges, and all manner of other expensive items. An automotive purist, in love with driving, will ignore the sticker price and associated list of flash, get behind the wheel and experience a vehicle, and then another, and another until he's found something with the correct balance for his taste. Issues of what color and material the seats are fall aside in favor of their ability to properly support the driver. If the cheapest, low-end fabric seats provide better posture than the supposed-high end, heated leather monstrosities, the choice is obvious and a cow's life is saved. That the buyer saved money is insubstantial.

Audiophiles don't buy components based on what "features" are present, as they can do nothing but color the sound in one way or another - something they're certainly not interested in while questing for absolute transparency. The best component is one which is not present.

Much as someone fixated on performance driving might like to feel every stone in the pavement through the chassis of the car, and would be comforted by the steering wheel reporting the exact condition of a road in an attempt to feel more connected, an audiophile seeks the same experience with music. If someone sneezes in the sixteenth row of a Bethoven performance, or a Zippo is lit in some smoke-filled jazz bar, they want to hear it - and hear it with enough character that they can visualize the person who sneezed, or identify the type of plating on the Zippo.

Whether or not they're insane for wanting such things is left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:Reminds me of... (2)

Matt2000 (29624) | more than 13 years ago | (#153020)

You know I was wondering what these people would do when faced with the digital era. No longer will qualitative descriptions be relevant when you can actually say "Yup, the whole signal made it to the speaker."

When will someone just lay some ethernet cable on this, put a few megs of memory in speakers and just cut out the whole cabling dilemma altogether.

Re:Headphones (1)

htmlboy (31265) | more than 13 years ago | (#153028)

That gives you the sound, but not the *feeling* of the music.

I'm not one of the people discussed in the article, but I roomed with a guy who had a pair of $500 headphones (with their own amp) hooked up to his computer. He was always bitching about things like that. Apparently, he has a nice room that's built underground apart from the rest of the house, which allows better appreciation of nice equipment than a dorm room.

I'd take the live performers.

Re:Fabio's system (2)

jordang (31620) | more than 13 years ago | (#153030)

Fabio has (allegedly) a custom made Krell Reference amplifier - one of a few in existence, with Dan D'agastino (ownder and founder of Krell, owning another. These beasts put out 650 Watts/Channel at 8ohms and will drive a load as low as .5ohms with a clean division.

If I'm not mistaken it looked like all of his other gear (cd players, preamps) were Krell as well. The amp goes for around 250k (for a pair of monoblocks - these don't come multichannel and you don't want them to), weighs several hundred pounds, and sounds CLEAN. You can make out every detail of the recording at full volume or at minimal volume. The cd players looked like model 25's, a top loading design, which retails for about $25k.

Alas, I had to settle for an intergrated amp/preamp combination - quite a bit cheaper but blows anything you can find in a retail store out of the water in terms of clarity and soundstage

Re:MP3 player (1)

coldguy (31631) | more than 13 years ago | (#153031)

anybody who claimed to be an audiophile in my presence and then went on to talk about his mp3 collection would be severely ridiculed.

if you can tell the difference between a $1,000 stereo and a $10,000 stereo, you sure as hell better be able to tell the difference between a waveform that's been smashed, crumpled, and gnawed on by small woodland animals and one that hasn't... i know i can, and i don't even own any audio gear that cost over $200...

i don't care how high you want to crank the bitrate, mp3 always sounds like crap compared to the original recording (assuming the original recording wasn't crap to begin with).

Rob Zombie on crappy stereos (1)

xixax (44677) | more than 13 years ago | (#153051)

Once I read an article that interviewed various stars and their stereos (Robert Palmer has a soundproof bunker with the ultimate behemoth) and Rob Zombie had the same shitty Teac 3-in-1 I used to have. He pointed out something like, "most of my favorite records were recorded on budgets less than what this stereo is worth".

Interesting how some music sounds *better* if it's coming through cheap, tinny speakers. LoFi...


MP3 player (1)

chrysalis (50680) | more than 13 years ago | (#153056)

The article doesn't tell what software they use to play 64kbps MP3. Xmms ?

Re:Is it really worth it? (1)

BWindle (54348) | more than 13 years ago | (#153064)

OK, so you can hear a difference; but is it $9,000 worth of difference?

super sounding gear that isn't that expensive (5)

cporter (61382) | more than 13 years ago | (#153072)

There is really a lot of equipment available for reasonable prices that far surpass the average "consumer" components. Some are recognizable names like Sony's ES line [] or Pioneer's Elite line. [] Also check out auctions for older gear from these manufacturers - many offer 5, 10, or 20 year warranties on it, and have extensive lifetimes

other names are less recognizable like Arcam [] , Marantz, [] Rega [] , Rotel [] , NAD [] , and Nakamichi [] . But all make superlative gear for less than you'd think.

my habit has recently been Krell [] and Vandersteen []

above all, any audiophile will tell you to listen, make adjustments, and buy and enjoy what sounds the best. all it takes is love of music

bass ... how low can you go (3)

joq (63625) | more than 13 years ago | (#153077)

I've always been puzzled why people would spend so much money on a home stereo system. Recently a friend was going to purchase the Beosound 3000 from Bang & Olufsen, and I could not tell the difference between that and a Bose Wave until the salesman played different classical CD's in which certain instruments sounded crystal clear on the Bang player, and it was a bit louder.

Personally I don't need music to give me Tinitus just one to enjoy crisp sounds, at a decent price. Hell for a 6 figure price I'd have Gwen Stefani sing to me for a few hours, so this would be monstrous system at a fraction of the cost.

Technics 1200MKII about 450.00

Bose 901's about 1200.00

NAD T770 Receiver about 1200.00

Pioneer combo DVD/CD about 1,000.00

And then a house to go with it. Or I'd just get a Nakamichi SoundSpace8 [] (unf) instead of beating around the bush. I guess when you have money like that, it shouldn't be a problem to enjoy your life, however people shouldn't be so materialistic, since there are other more important things in life you could do with that money, send a needy person to school, feed some people in a foreign land, etc, etc.

compact discs are harmful? (1)

TomL (63825) | more than 13 years ago | (#153078)

... and we're gonna have a press conference about it?

anyone else think that was rather odd? just wondering, heh

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (5)

TPx (64118) | more than 13 years ago | (#153080)

This sounds EXACTLY like a description of a Linux zealot :)

Re:Is it really worth it? (2)

dboyles (65512) | more than 13 years ago | (#153082)

Unfortunately, I can easily hear the difference between a $1k and a $10k setup. This is depressing when I can't afford more than about a $300 system, so I just don't even try anymore.

I think I could piece together a system for $300 (provided that I'm allowed to find used pieces) that will sound better than the $1000 system that John Doe just bought at his local Circuit City. It truly isn't all about money with audio equipment. The other day I went up to my local hi-fi shop and listened to a rig that goes for about 60% more than my system. I thought I needed to upgrade something on my system, but listening just reassured me that I'm still happy with what I've got now.

When I graduate and have some disposable income, I probably will upgrade - carefully. Throwing money at the problem is not the way to go about upgrading a stereo. I don't listen to reviewers much, I find a dealer that I trust and who has similar tastes, and I listen to his suggestions. There's always the haunting fear in any audiophile's heart that there's something better out there. That's exactly why a good dealer is imperative.

So, you can get a local string quartet for $140K (1)

R.o.Q. (67970) | more than 13 years ago | (#153091)

Would you rather have a local gig, or be able to listen to the London (or Boston, or pick your other favorite musical source) as if you were sitting in the choicest seat in the house?

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#153096)

Audiophiles, in contrast, aren't content to waste their money in private or among other like-minded individuals. Oh no. They have a compulsive need to prosthelitize about their audiophilia.

Ah - you hit it on the head - it's not an addiction - it's a religion ... you gotta have faith .... of course they're protected by the 1st ammendment .... be carefull - don't make fun of them or you'll get prosecuted for 'interfering with a religion' and end up in Canada like Keith Henson ....

Re:Listen!! (1)

technos (73414) | more than 13 years ago | (#153100)

My audio hardware is of excellent quality and will outlast any of the mass-market Circuit City units by 15 years, easy

True, but if and when that tube goes, you're screwed. As is, you try finding a triode that was in common use in the sixties, with millions of devices using them, and you're SOL. Or if you're not, it's because the Russians still use them in their radar stations and it's cheaper for them to keep the factory open then it is to refit for SS..

Re:doesn't really translate ... (3)

technos (73414) | more than 13 years ago | (#153101)

Um, yes it does. Addiciton is addiction. Be it psychological or physical, its still an addiction.

You're just addicted to a costlier substance that does less bodily harm. I smoke, and I'll put myself in the same boat with the crack fiend and the audiophile.

Perhaps you're still in denial, trying to rationalize your purchase of that $30,000 preamp away, by calling it a hobby, instead of what it is.

Who needs sex? (1)

Webmoth (75878) | more than 13 years ago | (#153105)

Seems to me that many audiophiles tend to be .com nerds with lots of money sans the ability to get a date. Seeings how they have no outlet for their pent up desires, they spend money on audio systems instead of pr0n. A friend of mine actually compared a fine classical performance to sex: a gradual buildup to a climax that leaves you breathless, your heart pumping; begging for more.

This same friend, of course is a .com nerd with lots of money sans the ability to get a date........ somewheres between fifty and a hundred k invested in his home audio system.

A pair of Classe Omega amplifiers (yes, I said "pair"), Magnepan Magneplanar main speakers, all digital sources & preamp (don't remember the brands, but they're expensive, too).

Now here's where it gets a little strange. Subwoofers are his own design, homebuilt, based on 15" MTX piledrivers (yes, they look like crap but they sound sweeeeeet; crisp, clean bass). It's not the drivers that make the system, it's the design of the cabinet. He claims he has yet to hear subs as good as these ones, and I'm inclined to agree.

Speaker wires are hand-made using gold-plated copper wire with insulated strands in a woven pattern. Very impressive looking. But because of his electrical engineering background, he just can't believe that spending $30,000 on a speaker cable is gonna make a noticeable difference -- so what he won't tell you is that his speaker cables are homemade out of telephone base cord. The flat stuff. Considering the time he spent making them, however, they're probably worth about $30,000 ;-)

Re:doesn't really translate ... (2)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 13 years ago | (#153108)

On the other hand, dropping $20k on speakers when you only make $21k a year then you probably are in the exact same sinking boat.

An addiction is unhealthy because it interferes with a person's normal interaction with the world. If you start caring about audio fidelity more than feeding yourself that is IMHO abnormal behavior.

Costs (4)

Eric Seppanen (79060) | more than 13 years ago | (#153109)

I find people that think expensive stereo equipment is a waste of money have probably never heard any. They seem to think that the big flashy stuff at <insert name of stereo chain> is just the best there is, and they're always amazed at how a good recording on a good system can sound.

Besides, at $10-$15 per CD, I bet everyone knows somebody who owns several thousand dollars worth of music. Why play them on a $200 stereo? It's like putting a 60GB hard drive in a 486.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

wljones (79862) | more than 13 years ago | (#153112)

I deal with the computer fans every month at user group meetings. They spare no expense on hardware, then search the WWW for free software and music. I prefer their company to that of any of the local immorals. Music people that insist on tubes are my favorite target. They do get less distortion, but only by increasing thermal noise. Do not waste your breath arguing either side of this discussion. My own hearing has a frequency response sloped like Bob Hope's nose. Radio Shack hifi is overkill for me. I do enjoy computing and computer users.

Drug addict audiophiles (2)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 13 years ago | (#153118)

They sell all the crack they own at fire sale prices to buy more audio equipment

I am afraid it is you who are mistaken (5)

Alpha State (89105) | more than 13 years ago | (#153124)

Most people just don't understand, even those who like music. They shell out money for their sony integrated system, turn the bass up and think their sound is great.

What they don't realise is that for a relatively small amount more you can buy a system which is really good at reproducing sound. Those "companies with name you've never heard" are experts at reproducing music, comparing them with Sony or Panasonic is like comparing Porsche to Hayundai or GM. And the price difference is not necessarily that much, many hi-fi companies are producing cheaper components which are still high quality, to compete with the generic brand names. They continue to develop and use technology to reproduce music with cheaper equipment at higher quality.

If you're one of these people, I urge you to go down to your nearest hi-fi shop and ask to have a listen to some of their systems. If you have a typical integrated stereo at home, even the cheapest setups will amaze you. If you're willing to shell out a bit more, the music will be so realistic you can imagine the musicians standing in your living room when you close your eyes.

Admittedly, it can be a slippery slope but spending $140,000 is rare and really ridiculous. My system cost a bit over $3000 australian ($1600 and falling for you yanks) and I'm quite satisfied with it for any type of music (until I can afford a better one :-). But these days you can get a reasonably cheap system from companies who actually care about the music rather than their brand image. And you can also buy them from more local businesses, instead of sending the profits to some head office in Asia for products made as cheaply as possible in Taiwan.

Re:If you would like a taste of this (2)

blakestah (91866) | more than 13 years ago | (#153128)

If you have a tin ear, consider yourself fortunate then go buy that Mercedes Gull Wing you always wanted, instead of the car you actually did.

This is the thing that amazes me most about audiophiles. The things they claim they can hear. I can easily hook up my Bruel and Kjaer sound level meter microphone, and demonstrate perfect reconstruction from cheap speakers. I can demonstrate to them that they can hardly hear anything over 12 kHz. I can demonstrate that their hearing threshold at 15 kHz is about 50 times higher than it is at 5 kHz.

Yet still, they continue to buy $10k+ speakers. They continue to buy 96 kHz sound cards. It is not a form of addiction - it is a way of peacocking around. Ludicrous. It is as though they were unaware that total harmonic distortion had been a non-issue in even cheap sound amplifiers for over a decade.

Then walk over to the same person's computer and listen to the 50 dB whine from the hard drive...

Reminds me of... (5)

jmv (93421) | more than 13 years ago | (#153138)

I remember when I bought my last CD player and the guy was explaining to me that there are different qualities of fiber (for CD digital IO). He told me he could hear the difference, that the sound with a lesser-quality fiber had a different "color" (I didn't tell him I had an EE degree). I would have liked to see this guy to do a listening test and try differentiating fiber quality.

Sure, there's a lot of different quality, but at these distances they're all equal. Moreover, bit errors will sound like (additive) white noise and will not "color" the sound. I don't know whether the guy believed what he said or was just trying to sell expensive stuff.

Re:High end audio (5)

El (94934) | more than 13 years ago | (#153139)

The point of diminishing returns is the point where your own ear can no longer tell the difference between a system and a more expensive system. For me, this is probably about the $2000 range. For others, electrostatic speakers and absurdly large tube amps may be worth it. But I suspect it's a lot like wine; can they _really_ tell the difference in a blind side-by-side compairison?

One thing that may be worth it because you can actually _feel_ the difference is subwoofers. These should preferably shake the entire house when "Alzo Spake Zarathustra" is played at high volume (for those of you that don't recognize the name: you have heard the music, it's usually refered to as "2001").

Re:Personally... (2)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 13 years ago | (#153149)

But if they could, that'd be one awesome string quartet.

Hey, why not? Electrify the instruments (it can be done, with great results), maybe slap some distortion pedals on... wow. I wish I still played the cello now....


A Common Affliction ... (2)

OmegaDan (101255) | more than 13 years ago | (#153152)

An iranian friend of mine (who has a much better perspective on America then most americans, including myself:) Told me, "America is about 1 phrase ... 'gotta have it.' My friend, if you can make people think they've gotta have something, you'll be a wealthy man"

In a society where business is actively trying to induce desire (for goods) in people is this really so surprising?

It reminds me alot of people obsessed with modifying their cars -- its always "Im gonna get this new window tint..." , "Im gonna have it lowered another 1.5 inches ...

In hobbies like this, acquiring the stereo *IS* the hobby. Its easy to get addicted to purchasing gear, (im a hobby musician myself) its called "Gear Lust" and is quite common ... Its only really "dangerous" if you debit finance the thing -- because at some point you have to pay off the credit cards and can't get your next "fix" by purchasing something.

Re:Personally... (1)

phossie (118421) | more than 13 years ago | (#153169)

Electrify the instruments (it can be done, with great results)

But if you're that much an audiophile, then you're going to need that same rig to handle the output... not to mention the team of engineers to set up and tear down every time the instrumentalists show up.

Decide what is right for you (1)

vinyl1 (121744) | more than 13 years ago | (#153187)

Yes, you can get carried away and go nuts. You can spend all your money on audio equipment. But before you laugh at these guys, you might want to take a listen, particularly if you like music. It doesn't need to be extremely expensive if you've got a brain on your shoulders--in fact, many of my audiophile friends are pathologically cheap. There's 'budget' audiophile equipment, getting cheaper and better every year, and there's used stuff ten years old, that has another thirty years of use left.

As for playing with cables and stuff like that, it's part of the game. Some of my friends change things every week, buying used and selling used and usually making money on the deal. Or listen for free at other guys' houses and the local audio club before buying.

Constant trading up will result in a good, well-matched system at half the price of new. I've got a very nice $25,000 system on which I've spent maybe $14,000 over ten years. I do use a $1200 interconnect, but it didn't actually cost me anything.

I also 'pay myself first' and keep many times this money in financial assets. No use being a damned fool about anything...

Possible Reason: Better ears (1)

Naerbnic (123002) | more than 13 years ago | (#153188)

My roommate last semester in colledge was at least a form of audiophile. Although his equipment was well around reasonable (he had the frugality representative of many technical profesions) he still complained of the strangest things. The most apparent was his complaint about mp3 audio. He said that there was always a 16KHz tone which always bugged him. I, on the other hand, had never heard it. So one day, we performed a small test.

At the local engineering lab, we hooked up the wave generator to a small speaker, adjusted it to the right volume, and started cranking up the Hertz. My hearing petered out around 14KHz. When we hit 16KHz, several of the nearby people were covering their ears in pain, while others (and myself) were completely unphazed.

Which brings me to my point. I theorize that those people who complain about the quality of audio equipment are probably those with the best hearing among us. Although there are probably a handful which are doing it just for the status symbol ("I have a 140K$ sound system. What do you have?"), I would assume most of them actually can make some sort of differentiation, leaving us people with poor hearing wondering what the heck the problem is.

In that case, I guess good hearing is sort of a curse. IMHO, Never being completely satisfied with a recorded version of a song, being forced to buy fantasically rare and expensive equipment, and so on seems like sort of a personal hell to me.

So, to summarize a final time, Don't knock all those audiophiles out there. We, literally, don't know what we're missing

Save a life. Eat more cheese

doesn't really translate ... (3)

Frizzled (123910) | more than 13 years ago | (#153189)

just because it's an addiction doesn't mean it's unhealthy ...

just because i drop 20k on speakers doesn't mean im in the same boat as the guy who hops down to the local steet-corner to grab some smack.


Re:Hmm.. (2)

hrieke (126185) | more than 13 years ago | (#153192)

Oh.. didn't /. feature a house with a half million dollar subwoofer that some guy built into his foundation and was the size of a swimming pool?
That guy was Oracle founder and all around rich guy Ellison.

I love 901's (1)

cide1 (126814) | more than 13 years ago | (#153193)

I acquired a pair of series IV 901's and I love them for music. Really fill the room. As a general speaker, however, they do not work well in a surround sound setup due to the wave propagation. They also need a large amp and the perfect shape room to sound right. For anybody who can't remember, these speakers were / are sort of a pentagon shape with 8 drivers, all the same size pointing out the 2 back sides, and one driver pointing out the front.

I don't like this article. (1)

ralian (127441) | more than 13 years ago | (#153194)

It seems to be too mocking, attempting to cast audiophiles in a freak-show light, which I find is unfair. If you have a $10M, $100K for a stereo isn't really all that much. Hell, I wish I could afford half that stuff!

And what was that weird thing about CD's anyway???


Well... (2)

Triode (127874) | more than 13 years ago | (#153195)

As someone who has "gone down the road to hi-fi" so to speak, I see a lot of reviews/interviews that look at the megabuck systems. You can actually get close to that for a fraction of the cost, say about 1500-2000. That seems reasonable to me, considering that the gear will last long enough so that if you purchased "consumer" gear you would need to replace it enough to make up the difference. As a note, stated previously about price depreciation in high end audio, the other good thing is that the service what they sell to the death. My (multi kilobuck) amp is 20years old last month and I can call Audio Research and get every part ever made for it, and still get service. Try that with a (insert your common mid-fi stereo here) unit. Ah, enough with the good things... it is still hard to justify buying an amp/cdplayer/preamp/speakers that costs more than a new car. :)

Supreme irony (2)

SClitheroe (132403) | more than 13 years ago | (#153202)

I don't understand..the goal of an audiophile is to attempt to reproduce the sound of live music, which, ironically, was recorded using audio equipment, and subsequently mixed in the artificial confines of a studio..let's not even begin to contemplate what exactly audiophiles are attempting to reproduce the experience of when playing stuff recorded in the studio, where the creation of music has basically nothing to do with playing live...

Truly amazing.

Re:Spend the money where it counts (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#153204)

For people who think that all high-end audio is bunk, I'll say that the difference between what you can get at Circuit City for $1000 and a high-end stereo store for $3000, even, is pretty considerable,

Actually, though, the really significant thing is the difference in quality between a $1000 system from Circuit City and a $1000 system from a high-end stereo store. It's real, noticable, and probably bigger than the difference between the $1000 system and the $10000 system at the high end place. The difference is between a system that was designed with good sound reproduction as its primary goal and one that was designed with features and raw power as its primary goal.

When I was in college, I got a stereo from a high-end store that cost about the same as the systems that several of my friends got from big chain stores. Mine couldn't shake the whole house the way my friends' could, but it sounded a whole lot better at reasonable listening volumes. At just about any price point beyond bare bottom you can get a better sounding system- often much better sounding- by finding one that focuses on quality over gizmos.

Re:High end audio (2)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#153205)

So what about higher? Is true High End worth it?

That depends a lot. There are probably genuine, if marginal, gains in theoretical sound quality all the way up the scale to that $100,000 system you mention. But my impression is that at just about any price point you can get further by careful comparison shopping than by throwing 2x more money at the problem blindly. It's definitely worth your time to go to the shop with your favorite music in hand and have the guys there hook up the different components you're considering for you to listen to. Even better is if you can get a home trial, since different set ups can sound different in depending on the environment.

Eventually, you'll find that the limit to your system is either your ears or (more likely) your listening environment, rather than your equipment. For most people that's going to be well before they reach the true high-end. Let's face it, most people don't have a place where they can listen to their music that would let them get anything close to the full available range out of a mid-range system, much less a super high end one. Unless you also have the money to invest in an anechoic room for your house, that $100,000 system is going to be money down the drain no matter how good your ears are.

Is it really worth it? (2)

nkpatel (136330) | more than 13 years ago | (#153211)

Can you actually hear/notice the difference between a $100,000 system and a $10,000 system? Between a $10,000 system and a $1,000 system? A lot of times, the more you pay, the more features you get. What features besides being able to provide good, clean sound for your music and movies do you need? Will is wash my dishes?

Have you tried listening? (2)

Sara Chan (138144) | more than 13 years ago | (#153213)

Yup, I'm one of them there audiophiles. NO, I don't normally go around shouting about it. But do you like music? Do you like lots of different bands and styles? Would you like to be able to listen to them live, whichever songs you want, whenever you want? That's what most audiophiles want.

I like music. And if you cannot tell the difference between live music and music played back through a $2000 stereo, then you are deaf. Live music is much much more enjoyable. Indeed, it is a different experience. Many people seem to think that this is because of the different physical environment in which live music is played. They are wrong. The experience that I get from my stereo is fairly close to live. People who visit me who would not think of themselves as audiophiles have found the same.

Why are some people, who have obviously never had the experience, complaining about others enjoying music at something closely approximating the way the musicians played it?

Percent of income... (1)

Perdo (151843) | more than 13 years ago | (#153230)

It is better to look at a techno junkies spending habits in comparison to their income. A cocain addict may spend 100% of their income plus whatever they can beg borrow or ho for. I get the distinct feeling that 140K is just a small percentage of this guy's disposible income. Personnaly I spend about 60% of my disposible income on techno gadgets.. Not everyone wants a beowulf cluster in their garage though.

Listen!! (5)

TTop (160446) | more than 13 years ago | (#153240)

High-end audio can be addictive, but it doesn't have to be. I got the bug and my current system is worth "only" about $5,000. But it's a wonderful investment -- music sounds beautiful and considerably better then many people realize stereos can sound.

The thing is, most people have never heard a high-end (or moderately high-end) system. So it's easy for them to dismiss it as people blowing money. My audio hardware is of excellent quality and will outlast any of the mass-market Circuit City units by 15 years, easy. It's highly unlikely I'll ever have to replace my stereo due to it being broken.

Perhaps the most important thing in buying high-end equipment is listening. A surprising number of people don't do this. They look up specs for watts and distortion not realizing that the stereo companies actually engineer their equipment to come in with "better specs" but in doing so they completely ruin the actual sound quality. I have a very good system "on the cheap" (comparatively) because I spent a lot of time in my local dealer's showroom matching components with speakers. You wouldn't think you could tell a difference?? Even my wife could, and she's deaf in one ear! She had very distinct opinions about the various equipment we listened to, even though at first she thought the idea of expensive audio equipment was pretty silly. She even wishes we could've got the more expensive integrated amplifier because it sounded obviously better.

It's easy to think some of these audio nuts are smoking crack -- thousands of dollars on speaker wires or interconnects (patch cords)?? I borrowed two sets of interconnects from my local dealer for a week to decide which set I wanted to keep (each one was about $100). A friend and I sat around for hours comparing the two and there were obvious differences! If you'd told me five years ago that there are significant, audible differences between two patch cords (which just conduct the electric signal) I would've called you crazy! Alas, it's true. You just have to make out a budget and then stick to it -- try different combinations of components until you get the one that sounds best to your ears.

And oh yeah, Bose is not the best [] , not even close. They just have marketing that has convinced people that they are the cat's meow. Walk into your local store and listen to Bose, then go into a high-end dealer and listen to their cheapest equipment--you'll laugh at yourself for considering Bose.

ultra hi-fi very limited in scope (2)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | more than 13 years ago | (#153242)

Mainly because the music you listen to doesn't require a high end system to be reproduced correctly.

First, if you mainly listen to MP3's, why bother. You're already cutting away ~20% of the frequency response. Any kind of rock(pop, rap, punk, basically anything with a guitar and drums in it), the technology going into creating the music in the first place isn't as good as these stereos. Guitar in particular is very lo-fi - hell, we purposely distort the guitar signal to make it sound better. Basically you need to be listening to classical music or something sonically similar to Pink Floyd to need a high end system. That throws out about 95% of all recorded music right there.

I love classical music, and I love Pink Floyd, but that kind of stuff represents 5 percent of what I listen to. I also really get off listening to hard rock played loud through an average system.

I suspect the vast majority of us would be quite happy with a $300 receiver and a set of surround speakers. I know I am, and I've listened to 70,000 dollar systems.

Examples of crazy things Audiophiles do (2)

proxima (165692) | more than 13 years ago | (#153243)

All men. Men love stuff with knobs, plugs and lights, and they adore technical jargon about ohms and impedance. Women spend just as much on CDs and cassettes, according to industry surveys, but men are typically more ardent about music, more willing to contend that only an idiot could think "Imperial Bedroom" is Elvis Costello's finest album.


I know of at least one female audiophile. She's a teacher who uses her excellent knowledge of science to put together a great system. Instead of simply plunking down loads of money (though I'm sure she's done that too), she has carefully constructed a special room in her house dedicated to excellent listening. Some examples of her modifications include:

- She re-twisted each or her speaker cables at just the right twists per length to get the best sound of the music she's used to.

- She measured exactly the length of each wire and suspended on the walls.

She claims if she's hearing a recording of a building she's been in, she can tell where a person is standing up (which seat) when they perform a solo.

Because of ineptitude.... (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 13 years ago | (#153245)

Case in point: Cables. There are people (like the one mentioned) that spend $20,000 on cables. Some are silver, but a lot are copper. In double-blind tests, even the audiophiles can't tell the difference in sound between the $15,000 cables and some 0-gauge welding wire.... but they still swear up and down that they *can*.

"Here, sir. I've got a dollar and a half worth of copper, but because it sounds so darn nice, it's going to cost you $10,000."

I suppose that quite a few other 71-year olds are paying $6,000 for a hearing aid, he's just a little more ambitious.


Does anyone else find this ironic? (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 13 years ago | (#153246)

"Who are these people? Fabio, the hunky romance novel cover boy, is an audiophile. So is Slash, the former Guns N' Roses guitarist"

What? The same Slash that used to whine and cry about his tinitus?


Hmm.. (2)

loraksus (171574) | more than 13 years ago | (#153247)

Yes it is an addiction, but such a wonderful one. Seriously though, some lines should be drawn between the hard core audiophiles, and those who want to get a great sound.

Oh.. didn't /. feature a house with a half million dollar subwoofer that some guy built into his foundation and was the size of a swimming pool?

I love this part.

Hoang was so amazed by the sound, and so depressed by the life of a doctor, that he quit his job. "I sold my stuff, including my stereo, and lived on it for two years. I tried a few other jobs, but mostly I just wanted to listen to music.

It's kind of like cocaine, the rich pricks that can afford it, deserve it. Me - I'll just go to a live show and sit way the hell in the back with the rest of the vulgar.


The slashdot 2 minute between postings limit:
Pissing off hyper caffeineated /.'ers since Spring 2001.

Fabio's system (1)

krappie (172561) | more than 13 years ago | (#153248)

Have you guys seen Fabio's stereo system? He was on one episode of Tom Green. Its HUGE. Tom was sitting next to one of these speakers that had to be like 6 feet tall, and kept asking him how much it costs. He kept saying he wouldnt say. Tom was like "did you spend over 100 thousand?!" And then he admits that one of those speakers costs over a million dollars. wow.

Coming from a Recording Engineer (1)

VividU (175339) | more than 13 years ago | (#153252)

I can tell you that a good 80% of audiophile hardward is nothing more than ego stroking.

Ask any audio professional. We all laugh at these so called "audiophiles".

Why? Because all this "audiophile" gear only serves to sweeten the sound rather accuratly reproduce it in a way intended by the musician, producer and engineer.

Although a recording studio can cost millions of dollars, most of that is spent on gear used to capture and record the audio signal. Not play it back.

The play back chain is as simple as it can be:

Source -> Amp -> Monitors -> Ears

Granted, the amp and the monitors can cost thousands of dollars but its still nowhere near the amounts spent by these so-called "audiophiles".

Its really silly to think that they can somehow make it sound "better" than the recording studio from whence it came.

Any audio recording engineer will tell you the same thing:

We'll take a good clean amp feeding two good montitors in a good room over these sweetened "audiophile" systems any day.

It is somewhat relative (4)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#153273)

Let's face it - If I had the big bucks, then 100k+ for a system might be pocket change.

but if it was an obsession, taking up substantial portions of my income to a destructive level, then there is a problem.

A human can be obsessed with anything. Take the previously discussed example of hypnotism. Now if you have people in a chronic hypnotic state, such as via you favorite recreational chemicals, or what ever, - well I imagine that advertising might be much more effective.

heck, any positive feedback loop can be addictive. Maybe we should just make sure that only negative feedback loops are legal?

sounds like a plan to me.

My point is that Positive feedback loops are destructive if there is not a limiter on them. The word Addiction is used too broadly to cover things and classify positive things as negative.

"He was addicted to life. But we cured him"


Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

CD's are harmful to people ?? (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 13 years ago | (#153274)

From the Article : quoted by Mark Levinson

And in the middle of the interview, he suddenly announces that CDs are harmful to people.

I think he meant to say "RIAA harmful to Music" :)

Same things apply for geeks too .. (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 13 years ago | (#153275)

On a lower scale though. I do want to have the latest Video Card, latest chipset, latest Soundblaster Platinum card, and THX certified speakers..which could set me back a couple of thousand..

But then again theres one thing that sets us apart. The Son of a gun has money, I am broke!

Spend the money where it counts (2)

habaneroburger (184321) | more than 13 years ago | (#153277)

I consider myself an audio snob, though I haven't spent what I consider to be boatloads of money on stereo gear. I have $250 headphones, and that sounds like boatloads of money to most folks, but they sound reeeeeeeal good. When I get a house big enough to have them, I will likely spend five digits on a sound system, but I don't think I'll ever wind up a case study for an article like this.

For people who think that all high-end audio is bunk, I'll say that the difference between what you can get at Circuit City for $1000 and a high-end stereo store for $3000, even, is pretty considerable, and the differences between $3000 and $25,000 are noticeable, and it's diminishing returns after that. You have to care about sound, though, and not everyone does, which is fine.

What burns me is the amount of money that high-end stereo stores try to get you to spend on things that don't make a difference, especially cables. We're not just talking about multi-thousand-dollar speaker cables. We're talking about multi-hundred-dollar digital interconnect cables. Hello? Do you understand the concept of digital transmission? I thought not.

Or, for example, the high-end audio store I was in this weekend that had high-end AC power cables running to the amplifier that were bigger in diameter than your typical garden hose. Kinda silly when you consider that on the other end of that wall plug is very low-tech 12-ga copper wire.

The example in the article about putting an air bladder underneath your equipment so the vibrations don't disturb it sounds to me like so much hooey. As long as your CD transport isn't shaking so much that it's getting a lot of errors, what difference can it make? The improvements that the owner claimed are probably placebo effect.

Spend your money where it counts. Speakers, first and foremost. Amplification next. Then a halfway-nice CD player. Forget about the rest.


Not the only expensive hobby... (1)

Jetifi (188285) | more than 13 years ago | (#153278)

To take from a list [] of past-times which cost more than drugs if you get too deeply in to them:

  • Anime
  • Computers
  • Photography
  • DJ'ing
  • Astronomy
  • Paintball
  • Cycling
  • Skiing

... The list goes on. Audiophiles are no different.

Poor Recordings vs. Audiophile Hardware (1)

Gumshoe (191490) | more than 13 years ago | (#153280)

The problem I've found with high end hi-fi equipment is finding the software that puts it to good use.

It's all very well buying £2000+ speakers, but if your favourite music isn't mastered to the quality that is demanded by such hardware, then you'll suceed only in highlighting the flaws in the recording. MP3s are particularly good at this (sounding crap I mean.) They sound "good enough" through low end hi-fi equipment, but really are a tortuous experience through an expensive set up.

Re:i'm more of a bass audiophile.... (1)

ASIO (193653) | more than 13 years ago | (#153281)

I took it to a new level ;) I decided not only did i want to hear the bass from the music while driving down the road, but if I had a movie on I wanted to feel the monstrous sound effects as well.
Accordingly I bought an Alpine Multimedia head unit and Alpine in dash DVD player. Now we can watch The Matrix while cruising down the road :) People say to me, you're mad, spending $10500 on a car stereo, but what the hell, it's my money, I'm going to enjoy it the way I want to.

Re:doesn't really translate ... (1)

ZeroConcept (196261) | more than 13 years ago | (#153284)

Denial, the first symptom.

Out of the PC realm (1)

Hagmonk (201689) | more than 13 years ago | (#153289)

Could you possibly spend this kind of money on a computing rig?

I challenge someone here to rough up some specs for a US$140,000 general purpose PC rig, running whatever OS is appropriate for its purpose.

Speculating on why audiophiles spend so much - I guess it's a question of standards. Even your granny would not be happy working on a 286 with Windows 2.x (she'd have a shit of a time connecting to the net ...), whereas she probably wouldn't mind if you gave her a $100 CD player (assuming she can still hear).


put it in context (1)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | more than 13 years ago | (#153290)

they spend $100k on their stereos, $1k on their car itself, $2.55 for duct tape reparing it and it's 'custom exhaust'... and nothing on anything else.

Re:I can see spending about 5k on a home theater (2)

GoodFastCheap (209947) | more than 13 years ago | (#153292)

I agree! Except that my price point is - or should I say was - $2K. I got the Cambridge Soundworks [] MovieWorks 5.1 with a Marantz SR5000 receiver. (Don't worry, I have no relationship with CS other than as a happy customer.) It is a $2K system that is currently on sale for about $1500.

It sounds better than any movie theater I've ever been to, except for the Sony Metreon theaters in San Francisco.

Plus, I'm free to drink a malted barley beverage while I watch...

It might be cheaper (2)

Cardhore (216574) | more than 13 years ago | (#153298)

and sound better to send the sound directly to your brain. (In the future.)

High end audio (2)

Pravada (217899) | more than 13 years ago | (#153301)

Just spend a few minutes browsing through Stereophile. 100k for a pair of JM Labs Grand Utopia speakers, plus amps, transports, preamps et al.

But still, it's addictive. I'm working on my own (low) high end system right now and the difference is amazing between a five hundred dollar system and a fifteen hundred one. So what about higher? Is true High End worth it?

If you would like a taste of this (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#153304)

Visit the Alexis Park Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, during the next CES. You can easily find speakers alone, priced at $70K. They are, actually, quite impressive. Maybe when I when the lotto. I've got enough tied up in my set, which last was updated about 3 years ago. If you have a tin ear, consider yourself fortunate then go buy that Mercedes Gull Wing you always wanted, instead of the car you actually did.

All your .sig are belong to us!

Spend money on that which brings you joy... (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#153310)

I can understand spending on something which you enjoy. For me it's home theatre, and I'm probably still on the low end of the scale because that's all my budget can hanele at the moment, but Who's to say what's crazy. I was suprised to fin that the author of the author was a guy, because this is does seem to be a male dominated spending habit, but hey, who am I to judge?

Jay Leno has how many cars now? He works how many hours per day? Is he crazy... well maybe but no one would say it to his face (read: chin).

So, what's wrong with investing in the high end of anything, really? DO I need a rack of 1.2Ghz servers in my home? PRobably not, but, if you asked me if I needed them all, I'd come up with reasons that each one was essential to my wellbeing. OK, well the article is worth a read for it's entertainment value, which, of course is it's intent, as far as I can tell.



Ha, this is funny (1)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 13 years ago | (#153321)

My "Audio System"
consists of an ancient Zenith Amp (it has an 8-track in it ;-) and 6 speakers I bought at the Flea market, 2 in front, 2 in back, and 2 as my center channel on the ceiling.
My speaker wire is actually Cat-5.
Works great though, I have never took the Volume past half way, as I'm afraid of blowing my front speakers (which are actually pretty good, they are semi-audiophile grade from the 80's).

I just like the music (1)

Omerna (241397) | more than 13 years ago | (#153326)

I'd rather listen to music by throwing a CD into my CD-Player or grabbing my MP3 player. No complications. Even if it doesn't sound like the band's playing 6 feet away.

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

Jon Howard (247978) | more than 13 years ago | (#153329)

That is both an extremely witty critique of the silly topics Slashdot often covers as "news", and a precise argument against the social impact of masturbatory corporate-funding consumer practices. Bravo.

Why waste hard earned cash on CDs? (1)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 13 years ago | (#153334)

The question is whether hearing that difference is worth $139,000. Circuit City is now carrying some pretty fine gear for less than $1,000, no air bladder required. With money you didn't spend on a Campbell-quality stereo, you could buy about 8,300 compact discs.

Yeah..but imagine how many mp3s I could download on that budget. That's enough to buy a T3 line for a year, and maybe a hundred cheap ATA hardrives. I think more people would be impressed if I had a 6 Terrabyte SAN in my bedroom than if I had one of those sound systems. While i'm stil dreaming I'd also buy a Sun E10000 and a....ok, I digress :)


gratuitous plug from a satisfied customer (1)

Quietti (257725) | more than 13 years ago | (#153336)

Try the Jamo [] CS-5 multimedia speakers. Real audiophile powered speakers with bi-amplification, Surround output and sub-woofer output, gold-plated connectors, etc. and amazing basses. Meant for the geek with deep pockets. Paid mine 1500 FIM (about 250 USD) and they are worth the price. My stereo became useless after that and is currently gathering dust in the basement.

Re:Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (1)

Ancient Eye (300895) | more than 13 years ago | (#153345)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I laughed my ass off at this comment

Now to figure out why this is modded up as "insightful" instead of funny....

defend your sanity? how about your backyard! (2)

teambpsi (307527) | more than 13 years ago | (#153350)

dude i'm not sure i'd want some orchestra showing up weekly to play for me...

now having Britney Spears show up on a regular basis.....

Maybe, but not as much as you'd think (3)

McSpew (316871) | more than 13 years ago | (#153359)

I once read an interview with Bob Carver in Stereo Review. He was talking about the psychology of high-end audio and how even though he'd been able to perfectly duplicate the sound of any tube amp ever made with a pure transistor amp, there were always going to be some people who looked at their tube amps and saw the tubes glowing and automatically knew that the tube amp sounded better than any transistor amp and there was no way they'd be convinced otherwise.

The problem with many audiophiles is that they'd never bother with double blind a/b comparisons to test their beliefs. Carver performed such double-blind tests with audio critics who never believed he could make one of his amps sound like any randomly-chosen amp. The test in question occurred at a high end audio trade show. Carver was given 24 hours notice of the exact amp he needed to duplicate. He'd put that amp on an oscilloscope and as closely as possible matched what he called the amp's "transfer function."

When the tests were run, the critics couldn't tell the difference between Carver's amp and the amp he had cloned.

Carver also told a story about the time he tested some $1,000 silver patch cables. He and a friend were astonished at the amazing quality difference. When he switched back to his original patch cables, he and his friend marveled at how sonically dead and flat the soundstage had become. They swapped back and forth a few times, with Carver's friend continuing to hear the difference, but eventually, Carver was able realize the effect had been completely created within their own minds. When he listened to the sound as critically and objectively as he could, he no longer heard the difference.

In general, audiophiles are an irrational bunch. Yes, there are differences between high-end audiophile components and even the best "audiophile-grade" mass-produced consumer stuff, but don't tell me putting your power supplies in sandboxes will make that much of a difference. And definitely don't tell me your CDs sound better when you paint the circumferential edge green with a felt pen.

Audiophiles are *worse* than drug addicts (5)

fishwife (325255) | more than 13 years ago | (#153365)

Drug addicts will at least leave you in peace, shooting their arms up in abandoned alleyways and passing out with friends around the bong. Moreover, when drug addicts throw their money away, they're usually pumping it back into the local economy instead of shipping it off to hardware manufacturers overseas.

Audiophiles, in contrast, aren't content to waste their money in private or among other like-minded individuals. Oh no. They have a compulsive need to prosthelitize about their audiophilia. As if there weren't enough of their kind in this world as it is, they will openly moan and complain about the quality of others' audio equipment and wax on end about the relative merits of whatever their latest hobbyhorse format is over mp3 which is far too lossy or whatever they're bitching this week.

In all my years of knowing dope smokers and heroin addicts, I've never known any to spend half as much time trying to justify the benefits of their drug of choice as audiophiles do about their wares. It just isn't done. Drug addicts are content to enjoy their recreational substances and leave it at that. Audiophiles feel a need to go so much further.

The other day, I was reading about the US Supreme Court's latest court case upholding the constitutionality of religious groups' use of public school space for after-school bible classes. But what I think was left out of the debate was how religious groups are such a small threat when compared to other secular groups. Whereas the liberals would like to bar the Good News club from coming to elementary schools, they would happily and cheerfully admit an audiophilia club. Whereas the Good News club is just trying to save your soul, the audiophiles are both trying to steal your soul and bilk your wallet at the same time. That is the true threat in our society today.

I'm glad someone is finally casting the light of public scrutiny upon this pestilence in our midst. Audiophilia must be banned and criminalized as it has no place in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Our forefathers did not give their lives to found a nation where we could scamper around with our goldplated headphones and 10 megawatt amps in one giant aureal masturbatory frenzy.

Re:doesn't really translate ... (2)

koreth (409849) | more than 13 years ago | (#153366)

That's right. I'm sure you can stop any time you want.

cd's bad for your health? (1)

mrmoj0 (446060) | more than 13 years ago | (#153383)

anyone else curious about the bit on cd's being bad for humans? my first thought is the digital reproduction is not full enough and the ear has to work harder to fill in the "imperceptable" gaps that accompany any digital scan of an analogue wave. my second thought is that he's just joking.

Why We Are Worse (2)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#153389)

I dunno about you guys, but that makes my technology buying habit look like my chewing gum budget.

The difference is probably that: (a) audiophiles run around in far less numbers than computer addicts and (b) when you buy an amplifier for $50k, you can be fairly assured that in five years you're not going to see it on eBay for $50.

Upgrading is fun, it's that simple (2)

ColGraff (454761) | more than 13 years ago | (#153390)

Whether you're upgrading a car, stereo, or computer, there is just a real thrill in knowing that you and you alone are determining the components going into your system. Your upgraded car or stereo or whatever is uniquely you, with any custom tweaks or whatnot that you inserted through your own skill. Overclocking a CPU, when one takes into account the expenses of cooling systems, is rarely economical - but it delivers a powerful feeling of accomplishment.

Building your own custom rig isn't just a matter of "mine is faster/better/bigger". It's a way of displaying your own abilities in a very specialized hobby. It's a source of pride. If I can keep my Athlon T-Bird stable at just ten more megahertz than my friend, that is very cool to me.

But if we electrify the instruments... (2)

ColGraff (454761) | more than 13 years ago | (#153391)

...we'll get the same loss of quality we'd get with the 140,000 dollar sound system. In that case, I guess I would prefer the sound system.

Personally... (5)

ColGraff (454761) | more than 13 years ago | (#153392)

...I'd prefer the string quartet. Then again, I doubt they can play Pink Floyd loud enough to induce brain damage in small children.

don't mock my car, it cost 1200 (1)

OR_BraveHeart (456922) | more than 13 years ago | (#153394)

but stereo cost about 1500....and i use electrical tape cause it looks better and stretches

i'm more of a bass audiophile.... (1)

OR_BraveHeart (456922) | more than 13 years ago | (#153395)

i just want to feel the music so when i'm driving down the street and the bass kicks in my stomach flutters and i can feel my chest that is power

Re:I love 901's (2)

hrhansen (457847) | more than 13 years ago | (#153399)

Did you even try to listen to other similar prices speakers?

Bose is as close as you get to fraud without being sued :-)

Bose FAQ []

The sad part is... (1)

Lemur catta (459575) | more than 13 years ago | (#153404) for albums from the largest studios, these systems cost more than the recording equipment used to make the recording you're listening to.
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