Are Audiophiles Obsessive Nuts?

The following is from the website of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Agree? Disagree? Why?

“High-end equipment is aimed at the most obsessive audiophiles, famed for worrying about small details which most people ignore or cannot even hear...

“The rise of high-end sales was influenced by the statements of subjective audio reviewers, whose nontechnical and rarely rigorous listening tests at times encouraged near-hysteria among magazine readers. A positive review in a powerful magazine such as Stereophile can trigger hundreds or even thousands of unit sales, and turn an unknown manufacturer into an instant success. A negative review can sink a small firm just as easily (and has done so)...

“Much of high-end is conducted in a gold-rush fashion, with companies advertising exotic connecting cables and acoustical treatment devices while making wild claims
about the supernatural results achieved. The result: negative comments from the professional engineering fraternity. Items have been published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, in electronic-industry journals such as EE Times, and elsewhere that attack the methods and conclusions of the audiophiles...
EE times and any other journals can attack the methods and conclusions of audiophiles all they want. I hear what I hear. Thats good enough for me.
One thing that is missing from all of these annoying threads (cables sound the same, power cables don't make a difference, etc.) is a recognition that it takes a trained ear to hear many of the differences between cables, equipment, etc.

Now that I know what to listen for, I can hear phase problems, frequency problems, hissing, rattling, edginess, etc. that very few non-audiophiles can hear even when it is pointed out to them. And when they do hear it, they say "so what!".

I haven't always been able to hear these things, it is through lots of critical listening session that I have LEARNED to hear them. Maybe "hear" isn't the right word, maybe it should be "notice".

When someone like STEVEMJ says that you can not hear the difference between cables, maybe he should be saying that he hasn't learned to notice the difference between cables.

So, in response to this thread's question: Yes, audiophiles are obsessive because they notice lots of things in music reproduction that most of the population doesn't.
BTW, the article was written by Eric Barbour, an applications engineer with Svetlana Electron Devices Inc. (the tube manufacturer).

He makes several points worth discussing:

1. Audiophiles are unnaturally interested in details that most people cannot hear or don't care about. The implication is that a normal person wouldn't spend the kind of money audiophiles do on equipment. You probably know audiophiles -- I do -- whose hobby is not fascination with listening, but fascination with equipment.

2. Reviewers' opinions are completely subjective. What they hear may not be what you hear, yet companies rise and fall on whether on not a reviewer says their product squeezes the last fractional Db out of the striking of a triangle. How are they influenced by how much that company spends on advertising in the publication they are writing for? Why is it that Stereophile, for one, won't review certain equipment, no matter how great it may be, that hasn't sold well already?

For more on this subject, check out

and be sure to read his "Reviewing the Reviewers," his expose of Sterophile's "Recommended Components" and his vitiolic exchange with Stereophile reviewer Michael Fremer.

3. Audiophiles, lemming-like, read the magazines and rush out to buy the flavor of the month -- they pay thousands for boxes with $50 worth of parts and for power cords that are nothing more than zip cord with a fancy cover. Of course they say they hear a difference. If they disagree with the reviewers, what will their audiophile friends think? What will their spouse think? "Gee, honey, you know that $2,000 power cord "we" just bought? It doesn't improve the music at all." They'd have to admit they were conned, and most people's egos won't permit that.

About five years ago i was going round and round with a bunch of "Extra" class amateur radio operators and EE's via the net about a specific subject. They kept quoting me all of this "text", blah, blah, blah, etc... that i was "wrong" or "mistaken" about what i was experiencing and describing. It took me almost two years of arguing before i was actually able to get one of them to do testing and measurements to verify or deny my claims. They were so content with their "books", "theories" and "teachings" that they thought i HAD to be wrong and wouldn't bother seeing for themselves.

The "hands on" testing only happened after i shipped the necessary equipment to one of the debaters. Even though he disagreed with me 100%, he said that he would run through the tests and report his honest findings. I had always found him to be straightforward and very methodical, so i was glad that he was the one to step up to the plate.

As it turns out, he verified everything that i claimed. He did this even though he didn't understand why the results were coming out the way that they did. I knew why it was happening and had tried to explain it to them for two years, but they had refused to listen or learn. The funny thing about this one is that i had learned what i knew from the very same books that they were trying to use against me.

On another note, a very large manufacturer based out of the Orient had sent me several different prototypes all based on the same design. This company does "badge engineering" and builds many, many models for other companies. They simply "tag" them with the various brands and features as desired. This happens ALL the time in the electronics field.

After looking the prototypes over and putting them through their paces, i found some circuitry that i was unhappy with for specific reasons and asked them to change it. I went through all the technical reasons why and how it needed to be changed in our communications via email. The corporate response to me was that what i was seeing take place was IMPOSSIBLE to happen. As such, nothing i could say or do would prove to them that the design was not up to snuff.

To make a long story short, the President of the company, their head electrical engineer ( EE ) and their head mechanical engineer ( ME ) flew in from Malaysia to visit me. Along the way, they picked up their corporate attorney in California. Since he was the one that had originally contacted me about doing R & D for them, they wanted him there "just in case".

As it turns out, once they could see that the "impossible" WAS happening and experiencing first hand what i was trying to tell them, they halted production on the model wearing their corporate name. We went about redesigning the offending circuitry and then put the "new and improved" design into production.

Another company that they build for said that they liked the original design and ignored my findings. They wanted their version of the product built as originally planned, so their units where not held up by the necessary redesign.

Since the secondary company was able to get their models out the door quicker due to staying with the original design, their version of the product hit the market first. Within two to three weeks of introduction, comments were showing up on the net as to the specific problems that i had mentioned. The EE from the secondary company called me up and wanted to know what he should do. I told him to follow my original directions or "go scratch". I wasn't helping them if they weren't willing to listen. Needless to say, they ended up changing their version over to match the corrections that i had pointed out in the first place.

All of the EE's wanted to know how i was able to find the problems that i did. They had done ALL kinds of testing, measurements, put the the design into computer simulation several times as the product evolved, etc... I simply told them "i used the product like an avid enthusiast would and went from there". My detailed notes from actual use led me to check into specific functions and operation of the unit, which obviously were under-designed.

This is a step that many manufacturers overlook. If the product looks & feels good, has good measurements on the bench, it should perform as intended in the field. Right ??? I think you know better.

There are DOZENS of situations and experiences like this one that have taught me many great lessons about just how good most "EE's" and "manufacturer's" really are. Don't take for granted that just because someone can design a product that "works" that it is as good as possible or that it is "correct" to start with. Most EE's are limited by their own willingness to learn or experiment and the budgets that they have to work with. They follow "textbook" examples and are therefore limiting their own personal growth and knowledge along with technology that could make our lives ( and systems ) better things. It is the "rare bird" that is willing to challenge what is commonly thought to be "fact". It is to these people that we owe many of our great inventions and breakthroughs to. Don't underestimate the "tinkerer" or "tweaker". Sean
For a lot of us this is a hobby. Passion is a component of a hobbiest interest. Look at other people's hobbies and you will see the level of passion varies considerably as well. My current setup took many hours of experimenting and auditioning. I feel the time (and money-ouch!) was well spent.
Meta, I think the word you want is "observe", as in S-Holmes' caveat to Watson: "you see but do not observe, my dear Watson" (about the number of steps leading from the entrance to the living room: Watson saw these many times a day...).

Certain thoughts come to mind.

1. Comparing & contrasting undefined "audiophiles" with "others" (??? ditto) is a sophism at best; hi-end purportedly strives to reproduce music at home better than (i.e. the "hi-end of) other equipment (hence the old word, fidelity). Henceforth, we either we define premises, perhaps by comparing, amongst music lovers, those that have invested (time, effort, mega$$) in their home reproduction system and those that have not --- or IMO we are confusing the issue.

2. If the above holds, how is it that musician friends can (have, and still do) help me with pre-amplifier choice, speaker placement, placing cones under the CDP (including the best "sounding" point to place said cones!), and LP vs. CD preferences?

3. The article may be paying only lip-service to users' (consumers') opinion: anyone remember "new coke"? Maybe not a top example, but that, too, measured better on ALL tests -- except in the market.
Also, I beleive that audiophile go looking for "things" of which "others" are not aware could be experienced during reproduction.

As to mags making the bags (of money) for unknown manufacturers... a good review is good publicity and, ofcourse, introduces the brand if little known. BUT, if the product does not deliver, I doubt its manufacturer will end up with millions.

Very interesting post, Plasma.
In 2 above, I mean "...musician friends belonging to the "others" category..."
Sometimes, it helps to be a little nuts to thoroughly enjoy life and others. This goes well beyond the scope of these forums.
I am nuts, just ask my wife! We audiophiles do what we do because 1) we can and 2) we don't necessarily need the confirmation from other mere flawed mortals to pursue audio's ultimate goal. Any way we can rationalize what we do and why we do it, is certainly reason enough to do it! Enjoy it for what it's worth and don't worry about it...
Yes, obsessive nuts is right. Isn't it fun? I love the music, the hobby, the gear and the chase. Some guys are obsessive about cars or fishing or beer etc. If someone else doesn't get it that's fine. I hear what I hear and I'm having fun. It is not important that all of my friends get it. In fact I won't argue about this with someone who doesn't get it. It is okay if they don't. It doesn't diminish the fun I am having and I don't feel the need to justify it to everyone.
What about the issues of the reviewers, the "gold rush syndrome," the allegedly fixed "Recommended Components," etc.? Did anyone read
Plasmatronic; I am nuts too-- and obsessive about this hobby. I'm also much more able, than the quoted EE, to select good sounding hifi gear, IMO. It's obvious that the EE that wrote the article you quote has not taken the time, spent the money, or expended the effort to have a meaningful opinion on this subject. He is just regurgitating the entrenched rhetoric of his "field".

Metaphysics has it right; it takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication to be able to discern the nuances in music that an experienced audiophile can. I can say for sure that it took me several years and a LOT of listening through a lot of gear to become just a competent listener.

Three listening requirements for me are relaxation, plenty of time, and familiarity with the music. I seriously doubt that the EEs referenced have ever listened in this context. Sean's experiences, related above, are really interesting, and maybe not surprising. Interesting post Plasma; BTW what is your opinion of your quote by the EE? Your answer will probably determine the kind and number of votes you get on this thread ;>) Cheers. Craig.
No more "nuts" than any enthusiast. What about boating, cigars, wine, carpenters, car, antique and art aficionados? When people sense the beauty in something well done they are attracted to it by nature. Someone once said "God is in the details",well... I think God is everywhere, but perhaps a little bit more noticeable when we encounter a refined effort. Anyone with a passion for something understands this, either consciously or intuitively. Engineers can sometimes answer "how", but never answer why?, so let's hope the close minded blockheads join the party, they are missing all the fun, and sometimes seem to enjoy spoiling the fun for everyone else. I don't need an engineer to tell me when music has touched my soul, and I don't need anyone to tell me that the equipment I select doesn't make a real contribution towards my experiencing that brief moment of bliss. "the gold rush syndrome". A statement like that in a EE mag. probably makes for interesting (but very misguided) reading for the intended audience, but is just so much establishment BS, IMO.

While it's true good magazine reviews can be a huge benefit to especially new, or small companies, it's not true that just because a piece of gear gets a good review does not mean that it's "bad", ie that seems to be what the EE is implying. Personally, I've found that good reviewers are almost always pretty accurate, and further, their conclusions are usually a recommendation to audition, not to buy.

In my early audiophile years, I did give more weight to (especially) Stereophile's reviews, and was even guilty of buying by review. And it worked very well, but now I don't need any mag. reviews, 'cuz I can do my own reviewing-- and do. As I've been responding to the EE's inflammatory rhetoric, I haven't yet looked up the recommended wesite, but will. Cheers. Craig.
At least one point that Plasmatronic makes is entirely correct -- there is indeed a herd mentality in audio that is at the very least, interesting to watch. Over many years, I've seen styles and tastes in audio sway back and forth, each time concluding that prior ideas were not true to the music, but at long last the current ones finally work. I remember back in the 70’s, MOS-FET devices were supposed to make all tube and other SS equipment obsolete. The reviews on the first units to use them were sensational and full of over the top hyperbole, and everyone ran out to buy, and manufacturers to produce, MOS-FET audio equipment. After a few years, the reviews started to change, and the general feeling was that the sound wasn't real enough, and in general, the prior technology was much better. So back went the pendulum. Did it actually take several years to finally hear what was inferior? Not likely, but the rush to both own and praise that equipment which is regarded so highly by the "professionals" apparently took precedent over basic, enjoyable listening.

We’ve certainly seen this pattern repeat itself over and over, and its not likely that it’ll ever end. Its very hard to make the conscious decision to purchase an expensive piece of audio equipment that isn't highly praised by the audiophile public without thinking that somehow your ears, or your evaluation methods are flawed. I wrestled with this myself when I upgraded my system last year, preferring the less touted equipment over the most highly praised brands. Interestingly enough, the applause for the ‘best’ equipment two years ago is somewhat quieter now, and the discussions I read about those pieces these days include far more balanced opinions.

From what I can see, the population of true audiophiles – those that know what they want and spend the effort and money to get it -- is quite a bit smaller than the general buying public. As a consequence, good marketing, good press, and a good reputation are essential to the high end audio business. Looking at this from a non audiophile perspective, its no wonder that the conclusions drawn are that audiophiles don’t actually hear more than the rest of the public, they just spend more and believe they can tell the difference. Now, being an audiophile I know this isn’t true, but then again…

Plasma; I just spent some time in the website. It impressed me as being just one audiophile's opinions and rhetoric-- no more, no less. My own opinions are more valuable to me than his, and that's the way it should be. Cheers. Craig.
Nice discussion. He says unnaturally interested. Feels pretty natural to me, though I would have bought a description that used the word "cursed". I think sound just makes a different impression on me than it does a lot of other people. I have friends that think I'm nuts. But they, like the EE, don't seem to hear sound the way I do.

I may not be the bestest critical listener, but I can paint a picture in my mind what sounds looks like. Sort of translate sound to an image like. I like that picture to look a certain way. I don't know too many that also can build such an image (hence my presence in this forum). I also don't know when it happened, or how, it just did. But I don't feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for me.

I sort of wish I never noticed a difference between sounds. Because once you start to, you can't not. Once you are at the point where you can't not, you are ruined, and it gets expensive. Shitty sound (or sound that may not be to your preference) just doesn't work. I want it the way I like it, and no other way. Obsessed? or human?

Could be the same for any other thing, food, drink(time for a joke--I'm not an aficionado of wine connoisseurs), cars, whatever, GOLF! (talk about obsessed wacko's for a hobby, most of 'em I know) Right?, otherwise there wouldn't be such a thing as a cafeteria, and we'd all be eatin white rice and water for every meal.

EE's may just not be impressed by music and sound the way I am. Fine. I'm not impressed by clever math formulas like they are. I think in this sense, thay have no business commenting on something they do not understand, not about the equipment and math, but about people. Small details are everything in anything. It's not about better, it's about what I like. I agree with one, it is a chase. I for one, wish I would finally find it.

I also think maybe audiophilia (to borrow a term) does have A LOT to do with stuff that has nothing to do with sound and how one hears it. All else equal, I want the thing costing $10 more, but looks trick, and sounds less to my preference (by up to 2-3%), than I do the yuck job for less that sounds slightly better. By the same token, I don't care how good it looks, it better sound good too, or it can't stay. But again, personal human preferences that just as easily translates into anything else. I'm a walking dichotomy.

One last thing. I have already said this on numerous occasions: Stereophile sucks for anything other than the letters to the editor and the pictures. On the whole, the ink is useless. Even when they do say something, they usually say nothing. The only other waste of ink that compares is with legal documents.

Again, nice discussion.
I feel the need to defend the honest-to-God electrical engineer. A number of the posts above imply that having a EE degree (as I do) is incompatible with having a good or trained ear, or an interest in music. This is just plain unsupportable by any means at all. First, if you look at the engineering population you'll find a pretty high percentage of musicians; probably greater than in the population at large - there's a strong correlation between math and music skills. For what it's worth, I'm also a musician and I used to work for a guy with an MSEE from MIT; he'd double-majored in performance on flute as an undergrad. I play in groups chock-full of EEs, CSs and other technical types. Anecdotal, of course, but that certainly seems to pass for sufficient evidence in most audiophile discussions!

Second, there's also a bit of "EEs just have book-learning. They can't really design anything." True, I guess, discounting your computer, all of the networking equipment, your TV, your cell phone, your microwave, the control systems in your car and about a bazillion other things that you take for granted every day. Yes, the "tweakers" have brought some good stuff to light, but most of it falls into the realm of green pens, power cords which need to be burnt-in, blue-light CD players (actually, I think that Monsieur YBA has an engineering degree, could be wrong though) and other fairy tales.

Having an EE degree doesn't automatically make somebody a good designer. An undegreed tweaker may be truly gifted. But all else being equal, I know which way I'd bet!

Let's be honest, Plasma's IEEE reference is spot on. The ensuing references to differences in sound detectable only by well-trained, golden audiophile ears is a classical manifestation of the placebo effect, pure and simple. Do I dispute that many above honestly BELIEVE that they hear differences? No, but their beliefs/reactions are no different from those of participants in clinical studies that report improvements in various symptoms occurring as a result of having taken nothing more than a sugar pill.

In the end, audio is/should be a simple and fun diversion. Unfortuately, there are many in pursuit of an agenda, the audio press chief among them, that get caught up in pretense, puffery, and outright deceit. These individuals invent terminology without offering operational definitions and they wouldn't know the scientific method if it bit them in the ass. If you doubt this, when was the last time that you read any review that used a double-blind panel when evaluating equipment?

I've read lengthy replies to precisely that criticism made by the audio press --- "Gee, we just don't have the time, money, nor inclination to use anything approaching an objective method, besides our reviewers are so "objective", we don't need no stinking scientific method, trust us." The truth is that the majority of claims that they make about the sonic superiority of this or that would never survive empirical testing.
I can't say exactly what agenda Plasmatronic is selling, but there's plenty of truth in his statements. #1 - high end audio is aimed at obsessive people. Using myself as an example, I am totally obsessed with attaining high quality home music playback. #2 - subjective oriented magazines have strongly influenced the development of high end audio. Is there any doubt about the influence of Stereophile and TAS? #3 - manufacturers do make wild claims for their products. Every other product is claimed to be "reference", "signature" or "ultimate". I suspect that Plasma draws a different conclusion from the above obeservations, but I actually agree with them a factual representation of the audiophile community. The truth be told, high-end audio is full of dubious, poorly conceived and over priced products. The subjective listening process can give undo credibility to a few of these unworthy products, however, the best testiment to the subjective method is that overtime there has been significant progress in high-end audio reproduction.
Sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in two worlds. One of total enjoyment of my music and the system I've built and the other when I don't like the sound and it's time to change something. There have been times when I absolutely loved a performance by Cassandra Wilson and actually felt punch drunk when it was over and then there are times that she doesn't inspire me half as much. One minute I'm happy with the sound like the time when I had company over and everyone really enjoyed what came out of my system (including myself) and then there are times that I'm not moved at all. I finally decided to look at myself and listening practices more than I listen to my equipment because the changes were too frequent as far as how my music sounded to me. I also noticed that whenever I figured out which piece was the culprit I already knew in the back of my mind which pieces may be suitable to take the now failing piece of equipments place in my rack(reading too many reviews..maybe?). Recently, I challenged myself to start judging "songs" as they are presented and to learn to enjoy music for musics' sake as opposed to blaming my equipment for any lack of enjoyment that I may be experiencing. Although I do believe that I hear differences in many of the pieces of equipment that I've heard and owned, I truely believe that I've reached the point of deminishing returns and that aside from new speakers and tubes for my pre amp I'm pretty much set as far as hardware goes. I'm not sure where I'm going with this but I have to learn to differentiate between enjoying music "as is" and reviewing music through electronic gear. I wonder if the reason why I haven't connected to "Kind of Blue" by Miles is because I'm more interested with what I'm not hearing through my system as opposed to what the artist is feeling and putting out there. It doesn't have the full bodied texture that todays music has; is what I first said about the album which I own in fact, because deep down I believed that one day I would get what everyone loves about this album. The ultimate question for me to answer is can I learn to enjoy my music despite my components(percieved) short comings? Should I complain about a lack of attack or decay on an instrument on a live performance even though I wasn't there to hear it live in the first place? Is the piece still enjoyable? How much should I pay to get that attack or decay to the level of my standards? Is it to the standards of the rest of the audiophile community? What if my piece doesn't make it to the "Recommended Componenets List"? So here is where I reside. However, I've made a conscience effort to analyze my listening habits more than I analyze my equipment because if I can't enjoy music after investing $15,000 (that's plenty for me) than I guess music may not be my thing after all.
I got hooked into this hobbie twenty years ago without the money to really play and a major conflict of priorities with three samll children to raise. After twenty years, I am back. I have a technical degree, and after thirty years in the heavy construction business, significant hearing loss. My technical degree causes serious bouts of doubt about the value of Power cords and burning in cables. Despite all of this, I find myself awed by the difference a change in speaker cables or IC's have made to my recently constructed system. I almost threw away o pair of IC's that solved a brittleness problem because I didn't give them sufficient time to burn in!! Perhaps it has more to do with my awsome respect for things that I can never truly understand such as the artist or musician's creative abilities. This does not mean that I can not appreciate the results, only that I can not create them.
I am obsessive / compulsive to the MAX. I hear differences in every aspect of an audio system. In an attempt to understand the reasons for the differences I went to school and got a EE degree. All the profesors dismissed me as crazy because of the questions I ask them while in school. My experiance has lead me to believe that you can not learn in school how to design state of the art audio gear but without the schooling it would be difficult to design even a mid-fi piece. I am a LONG way from understanding all the interactions between gear but I know for a fact that the reviewers are not any better at telling me what is good for me than I am. My opinion about a piece of gear does not have to be 'approved' by anyone else.

Everthing is relative.Most of the really exotic stuff is hand built and built in rather small QTY.Thats the main reason some goods are so expensive.
A Pontiac Grand Prix will get you where your going.A Ferrari will get you there too.
If you can afford one over the other and precieve there is a value and premium to pay go for it.Same is true for Audio.
I AM NOT OBSESSIVE. I'M NOT, I'M NOT, I'M NOT. IF I WAS OBSESSIVE I WOULD KNOW IT. Wouldn't I notice obsession on my face in the mirror at even one of the 435 times that I was my hands. If I was obsessing over my audio equipment, I would never be happy with it. And I am always happy with it. I just know that it can be better. Every time I listen to it I know that it could be better. Every second of every minute of hour of every day of every month I know that it could be better. And whenever I go to an audio store and hear something better, I cannot not even listen to my stereo until I purchase that item. One time I didn't listen to my stereo for an entire year until I saved up enough money to purchase a $60,000 amp. But I don't think that this is obsessive. Do you? I don't. I really don't! I gotta go wash my hands.
As a shrink and an audiophile, I can say that in my experience, many philes are "o.c." But, so be successful, we need an optimum level of o.c. Sucessful people tend to be more "o.c." than non-sucessful people. Further, empirical evidence does not reflect the totality of human experience. In audio, hearing is believing, which, ofcourse, is subjective. My spouse, who is not an audiophile(far from it), can readily identify differences sonically, between componants and cables, as well as "tweaks". Lastly, audio is a great hobby, bringing untold pleasure and fun, as well as being a great source of meeting like-minded folks, who, as mentioned earlier, tend to be more sucessful, but more importantly, more fun!
Plasmatronics; (1) you have quoted much info. that many (most?) audiophiles would consider "fighting words", or at least inflammatory, but you have not expressed YOUR views on all of what you talk about. I have expressed my opinions on some of your quotes above as have others. How about giving us yours?

(2) I am not lemming like, and resent the implication(s). Nor am I part of a herd. I have, however "heard" much music ;>). Cheers. Craig
Yes. And that's what makes me so damned pleasant to be with.
Larryr, I agree that not all of existence or experience lends itself to empirical confirmation. Yet, as imperfect as it is, empiricism is ultimately the only guard that we have against hucksters and opportunists. When you have a hobby that involves $80K speakers, $10K amps, and $2K cables, there is no shortage of hucksters waiting and willing to exploit the unwitting.
God I hope not. I know the usually have empty wallets after going to the local dealer, hopefully I'm not the only one who experiences this.
Obsessive? Cmon, just because I buy a new component every year, and spend more time changing cables and auditioning equipment, does NOT mean that I am obsessive. In fact, last night I spent two hours adjusting the toe angle of my speakers while listening to a "reference" song, over and over again. (I never had time to actually listen to any other music though, but I'm pretty sure that this part of my system is now "dialed in"). After I clean all of my contacts on each of my interconnects and rca jacks this weekend, I will then be ready to demagnetize my favorite cd, treat it with a special optical cleaner, and play it. But wait: Since I had to power down my system to clean the contacts, I'll probably need to run it for a couple hours before it is truly warmed up and sounding right. You should be ashamed of even implying that I as an "audiophile", could be an obsessive nut!
Thanks to all you folks that are able to toss in a smile here and there. Even with all of the various dispositions that have made themselves known on this thread, i still enjoyed a few chuckles along the way. Sean
Docwarnock, very true, "there is no shortage of hucksters". Unfortunately, this is a reality in our society, that generalizes way beyond audio. "Caveat Emptor" has always been true. But if someone is willing to pay $80,ooo for an amp, and derives great pleasure in the process, who are we to say....
I thought we agreed on honey roasted nuts?
All I can say is "Let those who can hear....hear" those who cannot.....just try and listen.
What's an audiophile?
What's obsessive?
What's a nut?

High end audio. I am not for it. I'm not against it. Quite the contrary.

You can't really trust your eyes and ears, and that's what hardcore audiophiles can't or don't want to understand. A good system sounds better than a poor system, that's a given. The problem is that any perceived difference between two systems has to be explained to ourselves, and where some feel confident that they have magical, mystical powers, others are convinced that their own judgement, their own senses, may not be the final or best arbiter. In their purest form, the former mindset has probably given us mentalists and ufologists, and the latter, persons who have made their mark in pure or applied sciences. Pushed to the limit, in their own respective ways, both often, if not invariably, are "obsessive nuts" (your expression not mine). The more pointed question, however, is whether we are dealing with someone who is more "obsessive" or more "nuts".

While, a person may be of the egotist/magical/mystical shool or of the objective/scientific school and be properly qualified as "o.n.", I feel the former is way more nutty than the latter, while both can be equally as obsessive, it's much more of a challenge, requiring equipment, personnel, labs, anechoic chambers, listening rooms and human aural guinea pigs to really act upon a scientific bent, leaving aside the prerequisite of a scientific foundation built over the years with talent and studiousness. No immediate gratification there if you ask me. On the other hand, any one with a vivid imagination, a fondness for argument (some ability in that matter helps, but is not essential) and an ego that makes him/her (although it seems audiophilia is a male concern... thorny subject with which the ten foot barge pole owners may wish to dwell and comment upon) believe that they, and a very few other initiates, can hear things no one else can, may opine in the "subjective school" to his/her hearth's content. There is nothing more practical than a good theory. So if you can't objectively and rationally, based on proper, repeatable observation under controlled conditions explain what, and hopefully why, something is happening what great purpose is there? It doesn't advance the art that much. Sure, there can be a gap between the observation and the scientific explanation, but first you have to be sure there is an observable phenomena, which is exactly what is usually missing when things are done in a haphazard way, and then the explanation has to make some sense in the overall context of science generally. Failing that, all we have are people having fun making freewheeling comments to flatter their egos and make them feel that they are rising above the group by being an initiate. Add to that the power of suggestion introduced by other well meaning audiophiles and the specialty press and the need to justify the money you spent as more than a con, and not much good can come of it, except for the fun factor. I'm just happy to know that in our modern western world, everybody is entitled to his/her own ridiculous opinion. It's just that the more serious ones usually advance society more than the crackpots, and I'm not talking about the essential and very rare genius that sets the scientific world on its collective ear, precious persons such as those are few and far between, (some genuine hard working audio tweaks are certainly among them) and should never be confused with anxiety laden cone owning, power regulating, cable sniffing, 200 hour speaker burners.

LISTEN TO THE MUSIC, not just hot air, and that includes mine. No hard feelings. I'm ok. You're ok. OK? I'm just more right (or is that to the right?) than you, that's all.
Yes, your baloney sounds more scientifically right than my baloney. I congratulate yourself. But easy is better than complicated! Dale
psss. There really is a spiritual world. I know this because music is spiritual. Did you know that?
I don't think that any celibate monk has yet designed an amplifier circuit, correct me if I'm wrong. God bless sientists for they have given us sound systems in the first place. Tweakers and futzers may have put some sparse and thin icing on the cake, but that's being generous. Yes I will say it again: cone heads and cable sniffers make Linnites sound like Nobel laureates. Maybe I'm not getting the point (oh yes, it happens to the worst of us) but what does spirituality have to do with the equipment? I understand that some might say it's not all science, that there is some art involved, but spirituality? When one is sick, is a visit to: (a) a medical doctor, (b) a herbalist (c) a chiropractor or (d) a witch doctor called for? The cure for any lacunas in science is not sprirtuality (although it exists and people should not forget that it is within each of us) but surely more and better science. The same holds true for the science and art of reproduced sound. You can over-analyse composition, arranging, conducting and performing music into nothingness, and lose all spirituality in the process. Can it be said, however, that analysing and measuring the equipment that reproduces it leads to the same fate? Hardly, simplicity is way oversold. You can't explain complex things with simple language. There is a point were reductionism simply won't work. The opposition you postulate between science and spirituality simply does not work in this context, but like I said it's a free country.
What does equipment have to do with music? Yea, it's a bit out of context for this forum. We are talking about cable here. It was not an excuse for neo-maxi-wiggedout cable design. My point was, you can't see the forest for the trees. It's all about music. Getting that moving feeling over a piece of music. If that piece of copper got you there and the other didn't. Then it is worth every penny. Maybe I am just weird in that I try to connect to the music with my heart instead of just listening to the sounds coming out of the speaker? Maybe some just feel more connected spiritually than others? Maybe not. But this is not about mathematical differences. It is about music. And the enjoyment of it. I don't need to analyze it. I just need to hear it. That is enough for me. You know, different strokes. Dale