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steve_1979's picture
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"Geeks"
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On hifi forums whenever somebody starts talking about bit rates or posts graphs and scientific equations someone else usually ends up saying that they should just listen to some music instead. Do some people think that if someone's interested in understanding the science and technology behind hifi they can't also be music lovers?

 

IMO the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Hi-Fi - Yamaha RX-V667 > AVI DM5 > AVI subwoofer

Head-Fi - Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2Di > Sennheisser HD700

Portable - Sony NWZ-A847 > Westone UM3x

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RE: "Geeks"

steve_1979 wrote:

On hifi forums whenever somebody starts talking about bit rates or posts graphs and scientific equations someone else usually ends up saying that they should just listen to some music instead. Do some people think that if someone's interested in understanding the science and technology behind hifi they can't also be music lovers?

IMO the two aren't mutually exclusive.

I started a thread a few months ago that suggested that 'hi-fi' was a legitimate hobby in it's own right and separate from 'listening to music'.

I still believe that to be the case, though the thread did not end well....... :?

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RE: "Geeks"

I agree with both of you. Regardless of the hobby, some want to understand how it works, whereas others don't care how or why it does what it does, they just want to enjoy the end result. Of course, there are those that enjoy both. 

DavidF @FrankHarveyHiFi, Coventry.

"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light"

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RE: "Geeks"

I'm a bit geeky, in some respects. Occasionally I'm puzzled, however, why some cling vehemently to paper specs, when the best 'specmeter' is those jug-like things stuck each side of the shell. Ultimately, though, the end product is the litmus test of whether the choices is right or if you've dropped a clanger.

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RE: "Geeks"

I am pretty much with you guys here. There is music, and there is the geekier technical side. You like like both, either, or neither.

It's sort of like, there the guitar player on stage, and the sound man behind the mixer. Some guitarists might look down on the sound man, since he isn't a musician. Some guitar players have a house full of techie crap, produce their own albums, and secretly wish they could be the sound man. Plus some sound men are guitar players, and some of them are pretty good.

There are two types of 'just use your ears' posts. One is one side of a debate over numbers and figures, where one might say, the proof of the puddiing is the music, so just use your ears. That's legitimate. The other version, when people bad-temperdly interrupt a technical discussion to say, 'it ain't about all this, it's just about the music' - that basically amounts to trolling. Because even if the tail is wagging the dog a little bit, everyone is ultimately trying to make the music better - so what's the point?

As DDC says, there may be people out there who are more passionate about the equipment than the music they listen to on it. Showing disdain for these people is just wrong. The fact is that some people got really passionate about solving the problems of bringing recorded music to the masses, and making it sound good - we should be grateful since we've benefitted so much. It may not be curing cancer, but Thiele and Small, for example, have helped make the average person's speakers much better than they were 30 years ago. That is great for music lovers.

Love live the geeks.

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RE: "Geeks"

plastic penguin wrote:

I'm a bit geeky, in some respects. Occasionally I'm puzzled, however, why some cling vehemently to paper specs, when the best 'specmeter' is those jug-like things stuck each side of the shell. Ultimately, though, the end product is the litmus test of whether the choices is right or if you've dropped a clanger.

The important point is understanding what the 'paper specs' mean, and whether they are 'real' in the first place and whether they actually tell you anything important. The recent interminable thread on hi-res audio has prompted someone (fr0g) to try a very interesting series of tests and show the results. His methodology has been questioned and explained to a degree that I now consider the case against hi-res playback to be 'demonstrably proved' for real world applications.

Just as 'paper specs' can be missleading, deliberately or otherwise, your ears can be too. I have consistently encouraged anyone with an interest in hi-fi to try an organised blind test, not to prove anything in particular but simply to show how similar seeminly different equipment can sound once the visual cues are removed.

The 'geek' does not ignore what he hears but uses it 'in context', just as he does with 'paper specs'. We may be geeks, but it is not rocket science.

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RE: "Geeks"

It's certainly true that most people who love music have little or no interest in the technology whereby it is recorded or reproduced. I was once a Hifi obsessive, now reformed. It was a jolly expensive obsession. However I do find it interesting how the whole thing has changed over the years.

I had a large vinyl collection which is now gone – on the threads where people rave about the disks they have got from the charity shops, some of those disks were probably once mine! I gave up vinyl because it was a terminally inconvenient medium, bulky, fragile and requiring lots of care and attention. The equipment was expensive and also required a lot of attention. It did sound wonderful, but in the end was just too much effort.

I have reluctantly embraced computer based music and streaming, but as an IT professional, the last thing I want is to come home to more network configuration. There is a wonderful simplicity about ramming a CD into a drawer and pressing play, but dematerialised music is the future.

Posters on these forums enjoy the tinkering, analogue or digital, and there is nothing wrong with that. Where I get a bit puzzled is when I read posts from people who say their system sound fabulous. But they want to spend to improve it. This is the hallmark of a geek, caught in the spiral of diminishing returns. Just say no. Spend it on some music instead. Go to some concerts. Don't change the interconnects, buy some good quality whisky and have a glass before you listen. Relax, enjoy, live!

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RE: "Geeks"

Kamikaze Bitter wrote:

Where I get a bit puzzled is when I read posts from people who say their system sound fabulous. But they want to spend to improve it. This is the hallmark of a geek, caught in the spiral of diminishing returns. Just say no. Spend it on some music instead. Go to some concerts. Don't change the interconnects, buy some good quality whisky and have a glass before you listen. Relax, enjoy, live!

Welcome to the forum. You are talking far too much sense with this paragraph and the forum police will get you Smile

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RE: "Geeks"

Kamikaze Bitter wrote:

It's certainly true that most people who love music have little or no interest in the technology whereby it is recorded or reproduced. I was once a Hifi obsessive, now reformed. It was a jolly expensive obsession. However I do find it interesting how the whole thing has changed over the years.

I had a large vinyl collection which is now gone – on the threads where people rave about the disks they have got from the charity shops, some of those disks were probably once mine! I gave up vinyl because it was a terminally inconvenient medium, bulky, fragile and requiring lots of care and attention. The equipment was expensive and also required a lot of attention. It did sound wonderful, but in the end was just too much effort.

I have reluctantly embraced computer based music and streaming, but as an IT professional, the last thing I want is to come home to more network configuration. There is a wonderful simplicity about ramming a CD into a drawer and pressing play, but dematerialised music is the future.

Posters on these forums enjoy the tinkering, analogue or digital, and there is nothing wrong with that. Where I get a bit puzzled is when I read posts from people who say their system sound fabulous. But they want to spend to improve it. This is the hallmark of a geek, caught in the spiral of diminishing returns. Just say no. Spend it on some music instead. Go to some concerts. Don't change the interconnects, buy some good quality whisky and have a glass before you listen. Relax, enjoy, live!

Your first point is unproven, we have no idea of the numbers of hi-fi buying music lovers who are 'tech savvy' though if this forum is anything to go by there are a fair number who clearly need 'adult' supervision when buying.

A hi-fi enthusiast, a geek if you will, does not need to be 'obsessive', that speaks of predujice on your part, very common. You express a preference for 'good quality whiskey', does that make you a whiskey obsessive?

Personally I have no problem keeping the two interests separate, I barely give my equipment a thought when playing music, it's just there to do a job, no problem.

I see no problem with people wanting to improve their listening experience, even though they enjoy their current setup, unfortunately we often see poor decisions made that costs money and does not really improve the system. If people understood better how their system worked than they would make more informed choices and make changes that really made the system better.

You mention 'diminishing returns' and there are those who think that it 'sets in' at quite modest price levels, but I believe this is only really true when you make poor choices. Understand what you are doing, spend the money wisely and you will get good returns, chasing the latest 5* product is not the way forward, it is the lazy option and often does not work.

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RE: "Geeks"

Oh, God...

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RE: "Geeks"

Geeks or not, it is my belief that general consumer hifi has become so good, that few see the point in messing around trying to get that extra 1% of performance.  This, along with the very high development costs associated with developing modern software based systems, and the cynical 'lets make our money on the accessories' approach of the retailers is leading to the death of the hobby.

You have to look no further than this magazine, readership figures (print) were down another 11% last year, and even taking on-line subscriptions into account circulation was down 4%. It feels like the rate of posting on this forum is down as well (although I could be wrong about that). None of this indicates to me that the hobby is in good health.

 

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RE: "Geeks"

Nothing wrong with the technical side, but if all you're doing is upgrading/changing all the time where your listening time is actually minimised then it becomes a hobby no different to changing computers. To me hifi is inseperable to music. Hifi's goal is the music. Updating it to the extreme then makes the hobby no different to buying Lego/Meccano, or tinkering with cars or any other mechanical devices for that matter.

And anyway the best hifi is one that lets you enjoy the music, and only the music, to the max. That's all that matters. 

I'll give a great example:

I read an online review of Sony's HAP-S1 system, highly praising it for sound quality but docking it points for no network streaming or Spotify connection. So what? Sony is not advertising it as such and so it does what is says on the tin - a hi-res, hard drive player with a high-quality 40w amp - I'd take this over say, a Marantz 6005 combo. To give it 3 stars was ludicrous.

On the other hand Andrew Everard has been highly smitten by both Sony's new flagship integrated amp, and hi-res player (also HDD based). They're both discreet-looking devices, no bling, but they do what they say on the tin. And he thinks the amp will give many in its price range a good fright, and maybe some more expensive ones too.

And that's what matters - the music, And it's refreshing Sony is not following the herd.

 

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RE: "Geeks"

andyjm wrote:

Geeks or not, it is my belief that general consumer hifi has become so good, that few see the point in messing around trying to get that extra 1% of performance. 

I actually don't agree with that. Hifi prices over the decades have increased in real-world prices more than most other electronics. A really good amp, for example, is not as affordable as it was up till say the 90s.

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RE: "Geeks"

andyjm wrote:

Geeks or not, it is my belief that general consumer hifi has become so good, that few see the point in messing around trying to get that extra 1% of performance.  This, along with the very high development costs associated with developing modern software based systems, and the cynical 'lets make our money on the accessories' approach of the retailers is leading to the death of the hobby.

You have to look no further than this magazine, readership figures (print) were down another 11% last year, and even taking on-line subscriptions into account circulation was down 4%. It feels like the rate of posting on this forum is down as well (although I could be wrong about that). None of this indicates to me that the hobby is in good health.

I usually think you have a good feel for all things hi-fi, but in this case I think you have it wrong. 

Most budget hi-fi is mediocre, it all sounds the same. If the criteria is that, if there is no obvious distortion and that it plays reasonably loud then it is pretty good, then you are probably right.

To my mind (ears??) modern systems all sound pretty similar, well reasonably priced ones anyway. The only 'choice' seems to be whether to buy a speaker that has more or less bass and to pick an amplifier that does not get too upset (ie bright) by the speakers you have chosen.

The modern emphasis on loudspeakers is a big part of the problem, it is easy to tell the differences between speakers so this becomes important when in fact it is not. Butting better speakers into a reasonably balanced budget setup may impress initially but it soon fades, this is what many people experience and often seem to blame it on 'diminishing returns'.

It is nothing of the sort, just poor system building.

 

Edit.

Andyjm, just reread that and it reads as if I am suggesting that you think as I wrote in my second paragraph, I do not think that for one instant. I have never met you so I can not say if this is the case, but in my years in the industry I found it too easy to 'fall into' the established 'industry thinking' and it was only when I quit that I found it possible to look at things in a more dispassionate light.

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RE: "Geeks"

Every 15 years or so I become a geek for a year. I'm just doing all I can to buy the best possible, the most enjoyable system. When I buy it, I forget about it, don't read the mags, forums, visit stores or hi-fi show. I just play music. When I'm spending money, I want to get the best out it. If I was buying a guitar or a washing mashing mashine, I would do the same thing. Once the guitar or washing mashine is in my home, I just use it until it does its job.

It just happens, that the 15 years are around, and I'm on a hi-fi market again. Can't wait to be over with it.

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RE: "Geeks"

davedotco wrote:

plastic penguin wrote:

I'm a bit geeky, in some respects. Occasionally I'm puzzled, however, why some cling vehemently to paper specs, when the best 'specmeter' is those jug-like things stuck each side of the shell. Ultimately, though, the end product is the litmus test of whether the choices is right or if you've dropped a clanger.

The important point is understanding what the 'paper specs' mean, and whether they are 'real' in the first place and whether they actually tell you anything important. The recent interminable thread on hi-res audio has prompted someone (fr0g) to try a very interesting series of tests and show the results. His methodology has been questioned and explained to a degree that I now consider the case against hi-res playback to be 'demonstrably proved' for real world applications.

Just as 'paper specs' can be missleading, deliberately or otherwise, your ears can be too. I have consistently encouraged anyone with an interest in hi-fi to try an organised blind test, not to prove anything in particular but simply to show how similar seeminly different equipment can sound once the visual cues are removed.

The 'geek' does not ignore what he hears but uses it 'in context', just as he does with 'paper specs'. We may be geeks, but it is not rocket science.

Why is it important to understand 'paper specs'? Those specs are prodeced for an individual item tested, no doubt, in acoustically perfect environment. Once that product lands in your own living room or music box, size of room, decor etc etc. often renders those specs useless.

If you was ask me for a run down of the Leema, apart from wattage and inputs, I couldn't tell you. The reality is that hi-fi/AVs is not an exact science. I don't have a problem with people supergluing 'paper specs' to their wall, and anyone who uses that as the main barometer when purchasing, are running a risk of not getting exactly what they hoped for.

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