Golden Ears

The “Audiophile Debate” is raging once again. If you want it all on one page (actually, the article is split into 2 pages for some archaic reason), check out “I, Audiophile” on Slate.com, which was published on February 20th. If you really want to see the debate raging though, check out the many comments below the article.

I could write up a steam about a special breed of audiophiles I detest, but commenter J2Hess did it for me, so here’s an extended quote from his thoughts on the issue:

“[…] I have never thought that anyone should apologize for being an audiophile. For using audiophile claims to sell snake oil, however, is a different thing. I think that if you want to claim your $5,000 cables sound better than my $20 cables, you should be able to prove at a minimum they make a discernible difference in sound. Yes, even wine tasting makes that demand.

There are several varieties of audiophiles; no one disparages someone for caring about sound quality. The debate is rather over the claims of the variety of audiophiles known as “golden ears”, who claim to hear differences that are non-measurable by highly precise electronic test instruments and below the thresholds of human perception according to the best evidence we have. (Here I note that anyone who has paid serious attention to the debate is well aware of the difference between a digital sampling rate and the frequency response of human auditory perception.)

A lot of the disparagement comes from the more risible claims such as that the proper application of the right color of magic marker on the non-signal side of a CD/DVD can improve sound quality. Kaplan ignores this part of the cultural conflict. Neglecting to set limits on the claims he accepts raises the risk that he will be lumped with those who make them, at the cost of his own credibility and ability to persuade.”

Yep.

Note (1): Did you know that “Sony wants to sell you an overpriced memory card ‘for premium sound’“?
Note (2):Do Coat Hangers Sound As Good Monster Cables?

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

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