Observations on Audiogon Posts

There has been something that disturbs me about the posts I see on Audiogon. I am specifically talking about the posts that ask members to make suggestion's on equipment.

Here is the problem I have. I rarely (and I mean I can count on one hand the number of times) see people post what kind of sound they are looking for. Instead people ask if such and such a piece will sound good with these other twenty pieces in their systems. What's the problem? Well, how do we know what you are looking for? Is sound-staging the most important thing to you? For some people it is. Do you like a forward aggressive sounding presentation or do you like a more laid back sound? Is musicality the most important thing to you? Do you want a system that produces accurate timbres? Knowing what you're looking for can save you thousands on equipment that doesn't fit you're criteria. It also helps us in making suggestions.

It seems to me that if more of us spent more time on what we are trying to get from our systems then on what brands we should buy we would all be a lot happier.

Just some food for thought.
I agree with you completely,but unfortunetly some people don't ( or won't ) do there homework and hope someone elses suggestions will cut the trip short..Sometimes we all get a little gun shy too..Most don't want to make a costly mistake and feel if they ask questions it will help in the search..Sometimes it does help but often all it does is confuse the person even more...I can certainly relate to the problem........
Good points. I'm not letting the lazy thinkers off the hook, but I think that what many people are seeking is validation. They've largely made up their mind and are now running interference against cognitive dissonance (i.e. buyers remorse). In other words, all they need or want is someone to tell them they are making a good choice, and they're off the races.

Interestingly, the validation doesn't even need to be specific (i.e. "the Megatron Kilobuck images better than a solo pianist at Carnegie Hall."). Rather, "You won't be disappointed," or "I have this model as well and it's fantastic" are the statements the buyer has yet to hear. Of course, there's that "objectivity" (as if ANY of us on this or any other forum are actually capable of being objective about our gear. . .it's OUR GEAR!

As a salesperson and sales trainer, it's a powerful bit of psychology to know about. Now, I expect to get flamed for that statement (bring on all the "smarmy salesperson" comments). But I respectfully disagree with the general notion that sales people end up taking advantage of, and foisting product upon the unwitting public. . .that's another thread completely and I'm happy to contribute a POV.

In reality, the buyer has probably conducted significant due diligence prior to getting to the point where they are asking for validation. Assuming that's the case, they've often qualified their choice across the objective criteria (price, build quality, environmental/system suitability). Now they just need to hear that they're right via that last bit of subjective validation.

On the other hand, some people are just lazy and want others to think for them. . .enter Sales Vulture (i mean sales person)!
Have you considered that people come here to learn and that many may not yet know: 1) that their own listening priorities are a key factor in building a satisfying system and 2) that it helps members of the community to respond if we know their priorities? I agree with your observation, but it's all part of the learning curve. I take as a good credit to this Audiogon community that so many are willing to come here and ask without a lot of fear of being derided, bashed or otherwise made to feel unwelcome.
I totally agree with the two replies above. Not everyone is as experienced as you are.

most people already know what they want, and what they need. asking for opinions, is nothing more than that. the happiness one gets in this hobby is often a moving target.
I also agree with the first 3 posts and Kjweisner hit it on the head -- validation - or confirmation of the validity of what that person heard/saw/read/surf'd/etc. You have to also remember there are audiophiles out there who do not have access to quality gear, primarilly because of geographical inconveniences. So, keep that in mind & BTW, who cares if someone asks a question on gear -- the last I checked, posts are free of charge.
All of the above are good points.
I just wonder why those folks are so willing to put faith into responses to questions of what is best.. that may be just a sales pitch!
Agree that the needs of the listener is first priority, and that most do not understand that they REALLY want what 'sounds good to them', and not what sounds good to some audio guru.
How many of us have built a system based on others opinions!
(me too!) (knowledge)
And how few have built a system based on knowing just what we want, dealing with the compromises we have to make building a system. (wisdom)
I agree with what has been said thus far but do find that many do not seem to have done any research and want a pat answer to an elusive question "how will it sound to me?" Or worse want someone (sales vulture?) to just tell them what to buy.

The real answer - only the poster can know from really listening to the gear but I do understand the value of ancedotal reports and experience with equipment.

I have bought and sold gear for 9 years before discovering piece by piece what I liked to hear from source (smooth & warm), amps (OTL speed and definition), wire (neutral clarity), speakers (involving & musical) preamp (passive) and synergy (warm, emotional, quick transients, not forward, coherent, maybe sacrificing some detail to gain that). The trip was remarkable but the end result is like coming home.

I still swap gear but not as much and look for things up my auditory alley so to speak when I do.
i think most people don't have a clue what they like because the qualities that they allegedly value contract each other.

there is an example on this thread, but i am not trying to nitpick o0r be critical.

if one desires the quality "x" and the quality "y", and x and y are inconsistent with each other, it is not possible to attain both.

here is an example. wanting to achieve warmth and transparency. the idea of warmth involves suboth subtractive and additive colorations, while transparency ,ideally entails no coloration. off course nothing is perfect.

it is best to be consistent with one's goals, so as to avoid disappointments. one should be aware of the meaning of adjectives to ensure they are consistent with each other.

again, i am not trying to be critical. rather just suggesting that one be aware of what one really wants as to presentation and examines the possibilities of attaining them.

i have a reputation of preferring a dark sound. it would be counterproductive if i suddenly wanted resolution with my "darkness'.

if you have the facility to alter the sound of your stereo system, you can have warmth and transparency, but not at the same time.
Frankly, I think it takes a while (and an ear with some real listening time and experience) to figure out that there is not one objectively "right" sound that you can get out of a system at a particular price range for all your purposes and all your music. I think that is what sparks a good bit of the arguing that goes on among audio hobbyists. As noted, the question "which sounds best" is the wrong question. The better question is "which sounds best if my end goal is X." But that's not the one that gets asked much of the time...and that's because it takes some time...maybe quite a bit of time...to figure out (1) that there is no one "right" sound; (2) that each of us tends to value one or the other different characteristics of higher end audio gear, often depending on where we are in our listening histories; and (3) that all of this is affected by what we continue to learn by listening to real, live music.

I have a music degree and 25 years of listening to (relatively) high end gear, and lots of listening to live music is fine venues, and am still surprised at my own listening "stupidity" from time to time. I'm still discovering what I like in reproduced sound, and I'm still discovering its limits. (It's just a recording, after all. It's not the real thing...but every now and then, it reminds me of the real thing...)
I think that this and other online forums can be a hugely valuable tool because it gives a person access to the experience of the collective. I think the most valuable use of audiogon is in the actual research leading up to a purchase, not just validation. This is where you can find equipment to stay away from or if there is a new model, an upgrade, etc. I see a lot of posts from people wanting to learn, asking good questions, and I am sure they are studying the archives trying to optimize how they invest in a good audio system.
One should also read the posts mr t in addition to understanding the adjectives.

I have reread mine twice and did not find warmth and transparency adjectives mentioned together. I did even see the word "transparency" mentioned at all. I did see "warmth with fast transients" which are not in my opinion contradictory. I also said "neutral clarity" in decribing cable which means to me a cable that transmits signal with minimal alteration.

Also there are adjectives that can be very subjective as far as meaning from one to another. Not everyone has an ADOA (audio dictionary of adjectives) to describe specifically with precise meaning the auditory experience for them exactly to every reader.

It goes to make the point in the difference of reading about audio versus hearing it.
Hey Everyone,

I think that everyone of these posts has something interesting to say.

I put this post up so hopefully some newbies will read it and start thinking about it.

I would also like to point out that I am well aware that a lot of people don't know what they are looking for. I understand why they ask about gear. However, I have also noticed that a lot of us don't take the time to say "Hey what kind of sound are you trying to achieve?" I can't tell you how many posts I have read where 50 people respond to some newbie with 50 different opinions and it's all about the gear. If I was new at this hobby or not that well educated I would be so confused.

Lastly, I (and probably a lot others) spent a lot of money(thousands) on gear because other people said it was the best. I had no clue what I wanted. I put up this post so people would think about it and maybe, just maybe, it can save someone some money.
Good points made above.

While it's smart to have an idea of the sound one wants, I agree that the goal is sometimes a moving target, and we often don't know it until we hear it. Worse still, it's tempting to mess with a good thing when we've found it. That's the definition of Audiophilia Nervosa.

Part of this obsession unfortunately involves diving in without knowing all the facts, because the other part of this obsession is an art (o the elusive "synergy")...and the facts don't necessarily translate into art.

The result is a necessary period of trying and swapping system elements. It's the unavoidable learning curve.

However, with some homework the curve can be flattened.

My curve has been steep. I have recently purchased new loudspeakers, and I have gone straight to the speaker builder for his amplification and wire recommendations. Thus far, he has provided good advice, but I also have a couple of ideas of my own to try.

I believe asking the manufacturers is a good method to employ, especially when matching amplification to speakers, and particularly if the speaker builder is a smaller operation (not sure B&W or a similarly sized manufacturer would provide the same service)). It also may not be quite as effective if matching speakers to amplification (if the amp was purchased first).
All good answers ( even my own )..I guess the thing we have to keep in mind is that we ( Audiogon folk ) are a family of sort and I for one get a kick at helping someone if I can..I have been buying equipment for 40 years and though I certainly don't anywhere near know it all.I feel that sometimes I can help and it does feel good to help a fellow Audiophile..
The bottom line is that people need to learn to listen and determine their own requirements. I think in this age of instant gratification people want an instant answer and that's not possible. It takes lots of dedicated time and listening to become astute about sound and music.
I think we have yet to standardize our definitions for a start. This thread demonstrates that well. The new audiophile must have been attracted to the sound of music (not the musical) and should have some notion as to what sounds good to them.
Therefore they seem to be struggling quite hard to use such bland descriptives for which there is no standrad.
My favorite saying when Itaught wine tasting was in response to this question.mWhat is the best wine in the world? My answer was always the wine you like the best.
There is always another vintage, another region and so on which may replace your current favorite. It is an evolving process. The oringinal poster had it right the person asking must guide the audience by expressing some fundamental desired qualities. What they seem to be asking more often than not which wines do wine experts admire. What Should I like? People want definitive agreement on what represents the best ever available at any price. You would be hard pressed to find a concensus on a single wine.
If your taste is for Sauterne then a single vineyard cabernet from California will likely not appeal to you. I am afraid these kinds of gross generalities are the only ones that can be expressed
TVAD's words of wisdom should be engraved onto brass plaques -- or even better on instrument-grade boards of solid African Blackwood or Lignum Vitae -- and be featured above the system rack of every audiophile on this site. G.
I've played the audiophile game for over 35 years and enjoyed all of my systems regardless of flaws simply because of their faint ability to bring Dinah Washington or Lyle Lovett into my room less a ticket.

The DISsatisfaction oft expressed by those attempting to capture wholly a performance to me is foolish on many levels. It cannot be done any more than capturing the Grand Canyon on film and sharing it.

I commend those searching for audio Nirvana with the understanding that it is without destination, only an enjoyable journey complete with missed trains and bad weather at times.

Ever notice how you forget your system entirely whenever you are enjoying a great live performance with all of its energy, artist/audience commenseration and interaction with attendees? There's the magic.
Audiophiles make too much of the differences between how components sound. To the average concert going music lover any decent $1,500 system will sound pretty good. Yet as audiophiles some of us obsess about the truly miniscule audio differences between $1,000+ power cords. The average music lover can hear the difference, but shrugs about asks "what the big deal?" Not all sonic differences are musically significant.

There are many different motivations for people to use the forums. I've been reading them for years and find them very useful for gaining information about technical and system setup issues, but virtually worthless regarding buying decisions. If you know what to look for the virtual systems section, particularly those with picture, is invaluable.

Actually I don't think the average music lover can hear the difference. This isn't a put down of them it's more of a sad commentary on how obsessive we are.
They can hear it. They won't use the approved audiophile language to describe it, but they can hear. As a musician friend of mine once responded when I pointed out the depth of the soundstage -- "So?" But then again, without prompting the same friend on another song described the electric guitar amp and the approximate control settings.
Mine can'. Maybe I need better friends.
perhaps, we can agree on definitions so that when people seek a componet with specific attributes, it is easier to assist them.

i'll start.

warm: slight dip in the upper mid/lower treble region walong with a slight peak in the range 100 to 200 hz.

transparent: a lack of audible coloration in a frequency range. for an example, take a speaker which is so-called flat between 50 hz and 20,000 hz. if one cannot detect any distortion in the aforementioned range, the speaker would be deemed transparent. of course it is not that simple, but at least its a definition.

hopefully others will discuss other attributes and a discussion can ensue.

ultimately these definitons can reside somewhere accessible to all.
Nrostov, whether they can hear it or not really isn't that important. What matters is whether the audio minutiae is musically important? Sometimes it is, but just as often it's not.
I think the simple reason is that they are looking for life-like sound!

Like we all are or most of us are. If this is really possible or not is whole another thread. What sounds neutral on an audio system is not how real life neutral sound sounds like.

Readers' inputs tells them that a component A brand is brighter or component B is warm and so forth. If that's not what they want they eliminate from the wish list.

I for one am looking for new amps and have started with few makes that have read heard about are very good mono blocks. Searching the past posts let me zone in and confirm that one particular amp is not for me and I should not waste time for home audition (I always home audition prior to purchase). So I think it does help to post such posts.
I agree, it would be better if there is an indication for sound preference when a thread is posted, but even if a sonic preference is perfectly described by the poster, any recommendation given is still approximate. There are no guarantees. If to me it sounds just the way you describe the sound you want, but when you place this component in your system, you may have a totally different sonic picture.

I look at the equipment and cable suggestions on the forums as guidelines. Every suggestion given here is a lot of help whan you are researching. In my experience, exactly the same components and cables most of the time will sound different in a different room. There are just too many variables to consider.
As mechans points out, I believe the problem is the lack of standardized definitions. More specifically, what are the broad stroke attributes, options that are available and examples of components that represent them. I think audio components are a lot like wine in that they have specific attributes and are available in a host of varieties. Perhaps categorizing them like how wines are divided into whites or reds, and then subdivided into varieties like cabernet, zinfandel, etc. would help to narrow the field. There’s a thread entitled “reference dacs ?” that I found most helpful and could be used as a building block for other components as well.
i think what is important is relative differences, not absolute differences. it is more useful to find out what affect a component has on a stereo system. very often a component has a consistent affect on most stereo systems.

sometimes there are relative differences between two or more components, that are consistent accross many stereo systems. such information is very useful.

if someone has had the experience of comparing say, 4 cd players in a variety of stereo systems, the results are most informative.