What makes anyone think that those were audiophiles milling around T.H.E. Show? No one knows anything about the people who wandered into that show. They might have been at CES to check out the latest in refrigerators...
This test is 100% meaningless...
All audiophiles don't spend $50,000 on turntables. This guy is one of the many reasons I quit reading the newspaper. Seriously, why would I listen to a guy whose medium is dead??
No surprises here. It is indeed extremely difficult to hear such small differences (for most mere mortals)
I did extensive test with Sony's Atrac compression and concluded I could hear a difference but it was not at all easy. The same result for iTunes files AAC 128 Kbps - often it is extremely hard to tell them against uncompressed files but generally you can with careful & extensive listening. Hoever, somewhere above 256 Kbps compressed files the ability to tell the difference becomes exponentially harder...just my experience with my tin ears....so I am hardly surprised by the findings in this article.
How does the WSJ know which is the better product?
If most people picked the other one, maybe it is the better product, and not the one the WSJ thinks is better.
The one the WSJ thinks is better might be an overpriced piece of hype. Not all that uncommon.
How do you define better?
Well I agree with the totally insane versus the merely crazy part.
I agree that the Wall Street Journal article had a biased view of audiophiles - but don't forget it's still the nation's leading financial newspaper.
And their website is one of the most active on the internet.
If WSJ did picture quality test at Best Buy and asked 100 rendom shoppers which display is 720P and which is 1080i/p.
Results would be very similar.(if you hand the WSJ and Sears Winter Catalog (SWC) to the illiterate kid, SWC might win......... by the hair)
Trained eye will allways spot the fake art of B.S.
Trained ear will allways know it even with the eyes closed.
"financial" is the keyword........
"Seriously, why would I listen to a guy whose medium is dead??"
Well, let's see. The print edition of the WSJ, just in these United States, has a circulation of more than 1.6 million. The online edition has a million paid subscribers. (One can't simply add those numbers to reach a total, as there is some overlap.) If you don't want to listen to a reporter because you don't like what he writes, that's just fine. But I should think that his medium is quite alive and well. And, no, I don't work for the Journal, though I do subscribe to the online edition. And I own only four turntables, though that's another matter.
OK, I'm an audiophile. I admit it. But for me to go in and compare two different speaker cables in a system and, just as importantly, in a room I'm not familiar with is a tall order. There are simply too many sonic variables that are new that would preclude me from reliably discerning the subtle yet often very meaningful differences cables can make.
Now, put me in front of a system that I'm very familiar with and I'd be happy to take that test. I think the approach taken in the test, while on the surface seeming very valid, just doesn't work in trying to identify the fine differences cables can make. I agree the differences between speaker cables are small on an absolute level (and much larger for interconnects in my experience), but once you're happy with the rest of your system the right cables can really bring things together (or not). This is something you can only assess over time in the context of your own room, system, and tastes -- not something you can readily assess in a completely unfamiliar situation.
One analogy to the non-audiophile world might be like tires on a Ferrari. For the person who views cars as transportation they might be just as happy (or even moreso) with Sears Roadhandlers on wet roads as with a $3000 set of performance tires. But being able to compare the two over time and through a variety of situations the differences become much more meaningful and significant. This, to me, is very similar to how cables become imporant within the context of an audio system.
Then again, I can certainly see that it's much easier to just dismiss cables as a scam. To each his or her own.
Michael Fremer's article in the February issue Stereophile talks about these types of comparison tests. What the reporters and skeptics fail to take into consideration is that we are listening to MUSIC over a SYSTEM, in a listening ENVIRONMENT, which means there is a world of interacting emotions, thoughts, physical/technological factors and other tangible and intangible variables (e.g, our own personal histories with a particular piece of music) simultaneously interacting that result in a gestalt experience when listenting to music reproduction. Change the variables and you've changed the experience.
In business we talk about findings that are statistically significant and that are managerially significant. Some finding might not reach the point of being statistically significant, but managers might still act on it because it is "meaningful" to them. Conversely, some finding might be statistically significant, but it is not managerially significant, and lacks "meaning". It is the same with listening tests. We can, and do, extract "meaning" from music that goes beyond conscious thought, and certainly beyond statistical results from listenting to unfamimlar music through unfamiliar equipment in an unfamiliar setting where "meaning" is non-existent.
All in all, I learn nothing surprising or of value from the article.
I thought it was an entertaining, light-hearted read. To a great extent, I agree with the premise of the article that this hobby is a bit crazy & self indulgent. I don't care what others think of my hobby or if they think I'm wasting my money. I like the feeling that being an audiophile brings.... one of uniqueness and being part of a small following that few understand.
I caught the article on the train tonight and found it both funny and a lot better than most non-audiophile pieces about audiophiles -- the mere fact he mentioned that listening over time can draw out differences in gear was impressive. Of course he missed things that a person with deeper knowledge will understand (e.g., the crucial importance of synergy to cables), but at least he demonstrated an awareness that there are things like expensive turntables out there.
Sorry to offend and maybe I should have stated dying as news print is continuing to loose readers on a yearly basis. I just don't enjoy my hobbies being the pointless/needless sarcasm of someone who doesn't understand why we love what we do.
I was at THE Show last week, and the word on the street (from even a pseudoaudiophile friend) was that the test was really a sham.
I did not take part in the test, so I have no personal opinion as to whether the test was valid or not. Hopefully, some of the people I met there were involved, and can comment
Gee, I wasn't the least bit offended. The results were about what I would expect, if not even a bit better. Considering, as has already been commented on, the brevity, and unfamiliarity with room (which as we all know is extremely important), all in all, I think the writter was fair and did a good job.
Nowhere was it mentioned if the gear used was broken in. How long were the pieces used? Was anything actually run-in enough to the point where it was working to it's fullest capacity? Most take quite a bit of time to fully break in. Not very scientific, to say the least.
Looks like *BOSE* "stocks" will be going up again.