So, I can’t spell Audiophile. Doh.
Again, moving this to a new thread to avoid polluting the OP that got me thinking about this.
A couple of events have intersected for me which made me realize just how very different audiophiles can be. Not just in their tastes but the very way in which the ear/brain mechanism is wired for them. This then profoundly affects their priorities in equipment and rooms. There is no one right way to be but those who argue purity of reproduction is the only reason to be an audiphile, well, I have news for you...
At a show many years ago the rooms varied a great deal in the amount of acoustic treatments. Some very expensive gear was in some really poor sounding rooms. From a couple of these rooms I overheard several participants talk about how great the demos were. I was a little surprised. I couldn’t hear anything. All I could hear was the ocean spray of the room.
After this somewhere I read about how exhausting meeting room and class rooms can be. Our brain is always listening through the room acoustics for words. This takes effort. In a reflective room we literally burn more calories just listening than we do in a dampened room. It makes it harder to study or listen, and we get tired more quickly. I’ve also thought about how musicians listen and how many of them don’t hear the recording or the room, they hear the musician's technique. Their brain’s entire symbol system and language is wired to feel technique and expression.
I have hypothesized these things:
- Some of us can listen through bad room acoustics much more easily than others
- Being able to hear minute differences (say in DACs) which don’t appear in steady state tests may very well be possible given long term averaging or some other feature we replicate in modern machine learning/neural networks.
- We train ourselves to be different types of listeners.
And as a result:
- Different listeners have different ear / brain wiring which focuses their preferences one way or another.
- At least to some degree this must be something we learn/train ourselves to do.
- If this is something we can train ourselves to do maybe we should be careful to train ourselves to listen for musical enjoyment rather than discriminating across equipment.
- We should embrace the diversity of audiophiles rather than claim a single purity of purpose.
- Charlatans and snake oil salesmen will never go away.
All of this is just about ear / brain mechanisms. It’s also possible some of us have physical receptors or a combination of different ears/different brains which cause us to hear differently. I remember chatting with a rare lady who was an audiophile and she pointed out that for years she couldn’t listen to DAC’s. They gave her headaches. This was about the same time that DAC’s started getting good at Redbook playback.
What are your thoughts?