Our Responsibility


As my music system competes with fireworks in the background (4th of July, after 9 pm) I’ve been reflecting on John Darko’s recent post (linked below). Specifically this section:

"Being a hi-fi enthusiast isn’t about the gear we own, the music we listen to or in which format. It’s about how we listen: attentively and mindfully, to the music AND to others."

Perhaps the significance and import of this very special day in our national history has opened up a window within me, to explore this further.

I’m asking our community: What is it that we can do to share and expand our interest and hobby, and this special love of music, with others?

From Darko.Audio: https://darko.audio/2019/07/the-know-it-all-audiophile-threatens-community-expansion/
Ag insider logo xs@2xdavid_ten
I admit, I didn't read the link, however, I feel my posts, taken in the correct context, address your concern. Therefore, IMO, it's on the reader to honestly address their system, with a history of taking their concerns in a honest way. Without one's honesty to themselves, there's no benefit or (true) way forward.


This hobby has something in common with religion. Denial of reality. Just like religion, this is a dying hobby, and plenty of folks want to deny it along with the reasons it's dying. I've never seen a problem get solved when the nature of the problem is denied. 

A BIG problem, and the basis of the most vitriolic exchanges, is the rabid embrace of snake oil by so many in this hobby. The general public really does think most of this hobby is snake oil and vanity and the kinds of advice I see lobbed at self-described freshman here does nothing to dismiss that perception. 

This snake oil nonsense that gets pawned off as "legitimate" audiophilia is distinctly different than the various philosophies on what constitutes a good system. Genuinely different philosophies are based on technical knowledge and personal priorities in what the listener is trying to accomplish. The line gets crossed into snake oil when "tweaks" are elevated to the importance of core technical specifications. For instance, imaging is poor, and rather than address the acoustics of the room (the real problem), idiotic solutions like cables, isolation footers, and fuses get suggested. That not only discredits the hobby, but it inevitably instigates debates to try to disprove and shut those nuts down. 

I make it a point NOT to employ such snake oil tweaks so that when I put somebody in this listening chair they know there's no hocus pocus at work. It's nothing but basically competent equipment in a treated room doing what it does. It's not the prettiest, but it sounds really good. The amp doesn't have a top so they can see it's guts and I can explain what it's doing with very simple analogies. The speakers are what they are, Focal 936's on their factory spikes. My gear sits on a solid oak table. There's NO magic beyond ordinary comprehension at work here. 

I've had several people in their early and mid 20's here to hear this thing. One guy has been lusting after it ever since, but doesn't have the space. The 23 year old girl was legitimately stunned after believing it couldn't be THAT good for 2 years. We sat together and she seriously listened for almost 45 minutes. She was so into it that she forgot I was even there. When she finished she asked me what everything in the room cost, piece by piece and I told her. She said it seemed "wise" even given the cost. She explained to me that she's spent so much on "frivolous" things like clothes and drinks and jewelry, but I have something that allows me THIS experience any time I want and that seems "wise". 

Young people, in my estimation, are groping for legitimate value in this world. All too often they're sold a perception of value. Insanely prices coolers that don't work any better than my Coleman. iPhones that crack and break if you look at them wrong and are worthless in 2 years. Outrageously styles cars that ape the looks of classics or track cars, but made mostly of plastic with their fake vents and scoops. Even their friends are fake digital friends. Put these people in front of something real and legitimate that legitimately moves them and they do not forget. 

That's how I cultivate the next generation. Give them an experience. Give them knowledge and explanations they can understand. The first thing I do before somebody listens is have them listen to the room. Let them hear the difference between my listening room and my dining room just talking. It's obvious. They instantly get it. There's no snake oil to it. It's not cheap stuff, but it's definitely worth what it cost in the experience it creates. 
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This thread has the potential to grow legs and meander and stumble, wandering far afield of the OP’s intent. Like locomotor ataxia and the involuntary movements of the dead, the barn door is now open for the know-it-alls, alluded to in the link, to exit.

All the best,
Nonoise
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Every hobby becomes YOUR hobby because something about it speaks to you in a way that gives you happiness and satisfaction.  The implication here is that if you never had the chance to hear a good system....or you did but someone did it in a way that was condescending, then it may not become YOUR hobby.

Usually, it up to an "industry trade association" to be supporting the manufacturers and stores in promoting that industry.  The closest the audio industry seems to come to is the various major shows around the country.

Darko suggested that "they/we/someone" needs to come up with a great system for less than $500 to help interest young people.  KEF, Audioengine, Klipsch and a few others are doing the best they can to make great sounding products at affordable prices available....but that doesn't answer the fundamental question....how to get people interested in the first place.

As a hobbyist, I think the best we can do is to gently encourage friends, relatives, associates to listen to our systems and if they seem mildly interested...point them in the direction of good sounding budget systems....and if they actually buy one and get the bug...then upgrades down the road will probably happen to them as has happened to most of us.

And....if you live in an area where one of the major audio shows occurs, bring a non audio friend and they might be really surprised by what they hear and decide that they should get their own system...and you can help them with guidance so that can get something that sound reasonably good with the budget they want to start with.
teajay, your point is duly noted. Now that you have said your piece, I trust we won't be hearing it again.  :)
I think this is a fascinating question, and clearly one that triggers passion.  One thing I would add is that quality has a staying power second to none.  The main reason we get to enjoy Shakespeare’s plays is that they are damn good, and generation after generation will discover them anew with passing time.  Time has a way of winnowing out what might be retained and what might fall by the wayside.  They kept getting printed because they had quality, and even though they went through long periods when they weren’t popular, they were rediscovered and bing, some group of artists and artisans puts one on.  It’s like it’s brand new again.  Think of all the stuff, ideas, arts, that have stuck around.  They have ups and downs, but if it has a quality that gets recognized, it’ll have legs.  My point is that quality will always get recognized, and once that’s done, it will be with us for awhile.  
So I don’t fear for the demise of our hobby, the satisfaction and thrill we get when we absolutely love how our system sounds this fine summer evening is us experiencing quality performance of art.  I think that appreciation isn’t going away. It may be that because of the ebbs and flows of the audiophile hobby, the snake oil will be left by the wayside, and quality will be available to whoever comes by to have a look.  It’s a truth about the human experience, we, as a whole, are always interested in quality.  In arts, in politics, in experience, whatever.  Quality never goes away for long.

Dave
I kind of thought that paragraph was to tell us to enjoy our music and allow others to also enjoy. Share opinions but respect what they are, opinions and none of us should be insulted because another feels differently. Something that appears to not have been done by the second response. Disagree but don’t hate 
Dseltz,

Do you support willfully deceitful people misinforming other people to serve their own interest at the expense of the community? 

I don't understand the mentality that directs someone to respect literally ANY opinion someone concocts, but dismisses actual facts as unfair, inconvenient trivialities. That kind of thinking is pretty expensive, yet relatively insignificant when confined to audio gear, but the pervasive nature of that manner of thinking applied to things that actually matter is problematic. I see the problems that arise here as superfluous microcosms of larger issues playing themselves out in the broader world. The behavior is exactly the same. 

But hey... Denial prevails and intelligent debate dies, and some call that real progress. 
<< That's how I cultivate the next generation. >> @kosst_amojan
Your "cultivation" sounds a lot like proselytism.  Most people react negatively to that kind of attitude, which is understandable.  I suggest some introspection on your motivations.
I see a lot of confusion between people's enjoyment of music and proselytizing the good sound. My assumption is that everyone enjoys
music. Hi-end gear is not required. 
kosst_amojan,

I am not sure where you see my support of deceit or misinformation.  I am not a denier in any aspect of my life.  I think I stated disagreement is fine, but sometimes it seems like it is not done in a civil way, and I do believe in civility also.  I certainly don't believe in, or agree with many opinions on this site and agree many so called tweaks are dust and shadows.  However, I have not personally tried many of these things and since hearing is subjective, who am I to say that someone is wrong in their belief of the difference a tweak makes.  I do think all readers need to read most posts with the phrase IMO after each post.  

Debate away, but let civility preside
Keegiam,

I'm very clear on my motivations. I want people to have deeply moving experiences. I don't meet to many people who're offended by that. 

Thank you for making yourself an example though. Your post is a text book example of the "leave people alone in their own opinions and never challenge them" thinking I was trying to describe, while dismissing the facts of what I said. 

Deseltz,

Many things are subjectively, but a thing being subjective doesn't exempt it from scientific scrutiny, and that's what I tend to take issue with when it comes to snake oilers. It's the reliance on the misnomer that because something is subjective that it's exempt from legitimate analysis and so the huckster can assert any claim they please, including that it makes an audible different. Maybe some tweaks make A difference, but it's entirely possible it's delusional in nature. People who JUST like music don't go to the lengths we do to listen to it. We're a different breed who not only like music, but the art of reproducing it well. 

I'm not saying it's necessarily bad to use things that make no Sonic difference to enhance the listening experience. I use my own. But unlike the guy who thinks his fuse makes this huge Sonic difference, I acknowledge I'm messing with my own head and I have some clue how the mechanics of that work. 
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kosst_amojan


Then I believe we are in complete agreement
In my opinion, comparing religion and audio is like saying pulling weeds and cooking pancakes are the same. 

Sone things are just too difficult to figure out, regardless of how intelligent we think we are.

In most all cases, there are smarter people than me on both sides of every debate. 

When it’s all said and done, you pays your money and you takes your choice. But everybody pays to play.
I'd like to see the 4 posts that were removed.
@roxy54 I believe the posts were from @geoffkait @douglas_schroeder and @teajay I may be missing one poster. I did not get a chance to read the post further in the thread that is also showing as removed.

Not sure why they were removed, but if poster driven, that’s fine. Otherwise, I’m also curious.
I wasn't expecting the topic to get existential. : )

Fascinating responses.
I’m getting a bad feeling. 
As a builder of components my 24 year old son and his friends have heard my system and what it is capable of.  They even play some of their own music on it form time to time.  Being that they are never in one place very often, the idea of having a system to them is not something at this time they are interested in.  Same with my old guitars.  No interest in buying one of those for themselves either.  They don't listen to music to hear the tone of the instrument or separation, etc.  They just sign along to what they like and have the ability to hear music whenever they want and for free. 
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"Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth...there is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."
To answer the OP’s original question, I do a few things. I work with children and teens professionally and make sure to keep a turntable in my office. Generally I usually have something spinning when they entered the room. Most haven’t ever seen such an archaic contraption and are curios. I open a lot my sessions by having them pick a record and teach them how to use the tt. I use music in my work as often as I can(I’m a trauma therapist) . 

The other her thing I do is ‘audio surprises’. I often have friends who , when they come over enjoy listening to my system. They often have only a Bluetooth speaker at home. When I discover this I quietly put together a simple system for, usually cobbled together from used equipment from my local Hifi store. It’s usually vintage or near vintage gear, but always well matched. I then show up at their house on a weekend day when they have an hour or so and surprise them with a new(used), stereo system and set it up for them. I call it ‘stereo bombing’. I’ve done 8 of these thus far. It’s pretty rewarding.. 

This crazy hobby is about not only enjoying our own but also bringing that enjoyment to others in my opinion. 

Signed,

The Audio Philanthropist (you all should try it... it’s fun)
@bigkidz

+1

I have two boys....both grew up with music, good gear and great sound.  At this point, one has more money invested in guitars and guitar amps than I have in my home system.  The other plays acoustic but not electric.

Both....love music, have much larger music collections than I do, and could care less about gear, sound quality, or devoting time to "just listening".  BUT...they listen to tons of music...while they are doing other things and almost always by ear buds.


Some things in life are "push"....others are "pull".

If audio enthusiast also means music enthusiast...then the hobby is alive and well...but if it actually means gear and sound quality enthusiast...then most young people are not into that (which could change after they themselves retire in 30-40 years)....so getting people of any age interested sooner rather than later will be a "pull" event....in other words, exposing those around you to good sound in a casual (not push) way and if they end up interested...guiding them as to how to get started easily and inexpensively.


These forums should be about audio stuff,  not social impact and the heady things that can go with it. This high end audio nonsense has nothing to do with the love/appreciation  of music. 

The only "responsibility" is to yourself, which is to not allow your wallet to disappear into the wall socket.

If the masses REALLY feel the need to listen to their music in a particular way, a market will always exist.
This crazy hobby is about not only enjoying our own but also bringing that enjoyment to others in my opinion.

Perfect. Thank You, Birdfan.

I had older friends take me under their wing when I started exploring Mountain Biking and, then as a young adult, Motorcycling.

With their mentorship, their helpful guidance, and their encouragement.... It was a far better, far safer, far more insightful, and much, much more efficient way for me to enter both endeavors/hobbies and grow within them.
tablejockey
These forums should be about audio stuff, not social impact and the heady things that can go with it. This high end audio nonsense has nothing to do with the love/appreciation of music.

>>>>Huh? Are you sure about that?
geoffkait-

there's likely plenty of people who have heard nice audio systems, like music and could care less about how it's delivered. I'm sure there are some among us who have actual musician friends who live/breath music,and are content with an awful Soundesign all in one from 1977.
I follow John Darko’s YouTube blog. I find him informative and not the least bit bombastic. The way he described the "know it all audiophile" could really apply to just about any "hobby" I think many of us who post here do not behave like "know it alls" and just have a passion and willingness to share knowledge/experiences with others.
Kosst_Amojan:  <<Your post is a text book example of the "leave people alone in their own opinions and never challenge them" thinking>>

Not sure how you inferred this from my post.  I neither said nor think that.  You simply seem much more heavy-handed than I in introducing people to higher-quality audio than they're aware of - thus my "proselytism" comment.

There are primarily two scenarios that might lead me to an introduction.  1:  people visit and see my system, and I make a light-hearted apology for the elaborate equipment, explaining that high quality music playback is a lifelong hobby.  If they respond positively or are inquisitive, then the discussion leads where it may.

2:  At home, or out and about, if someone comments on good sound they're hearing, I will follow up to see what they're thinking and if they're receptive to pursuing it for themselves.

I do not feel any duty to "spread the gospel" by bringing the topic up every time I realize someone just wants to listen to songs and has no interest in more realistic reproduction.
“I think many of us who post here do not behave like "know it alls" and just have a passion and willingness to share knowledge/experiences with others.”

+1, tuberist. 

I very much enjoy John Darko’s reviews / blogs and his no-nonsense approach. 
Assuming (uh,oh) that most people on here were born between 1945 and 1960, I think the reason behind the lack of enthusiasm  for our hobby might be because we all matured and first had our own disposable income available at the time when "stack stereo" was in vogue and hi-fi was being heavily advertised as something to aspire to.

There were stores everywhere and the golden age of LPs and music in general was well underway.
The improvement in SQ compared to the radio or parents console was readily apparent so that gave us easy reasons to get on the treadmill of further SQ improvement and away we went.
We had our own rooms at home to set them up in and likely moved out of home and into our own houses or good sized apartments when real estate was affordable to all. There, we carried on because we took our gear with us.
Today? No stores, no ads, no LPs and it is very difficult to enter the real estate market.
What do they have instead? Portability and poor sound. With some education, they might work on improving the SQ from their phones but it is not the goal that it was for us.
Of my 3 boys who have all been fortunate to buy their own homes, only one has shown any interest in separate component music reproduction. His wife thinks it is a waste of time, money and space so it seems unlikely that he will stay on the treadmill.


I love music, live music in particular.  I try to get live music sound in my home system.  By and large, I have been lucky, because I trust my ears. 

Speaking of snake oil...

I have been stung a couple of times though, by Conrad Johnson in particular-- not a dealer, but the owner of the company, Jeff Fischel.  

Prior to purchasing my LP260 M SE amplifiers, Jeff and I had a conversation about these amps, and he likened them to the CJ ART amps, costing nearly twice as much.  He explained away the cost difference as the cost of the fancy metal work.  So, I bought the amps.  Then, I discovered the truth when CJ was trying to sell me new amps (direct to customer-- sorry dealers), and he told me how much better the old ART amps were than my LP260M SE's.  It was amazing, in just a year, my amps went from being directly comparable to the top of the line, and then suddenly became "mid-level" Conrad Johnson products.

I think this qualifies as snake oil, or more specifically, fraudulent representation.

Anybody else want in on a class action suit?
Oh boy, there is always someone in every crowd that wants everyone to know their feelings about religion or politics. Almost like a badge of honor or a membership to club. If the analogy didnt suck I might be inclined to allow it. Of course kosst is correct about sharing the experience but this point have been made without the soapbox.

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ianrodger +1,

Nicely said, as if I were looking back, but without the kids. 😀

All the best,
Nonoise


I think it’s human nature to share with others what you enjoy, and just like many of us in this forum. We were somewhere where we could be introduced to a music system that captured our attention.

Hoping that we can pass the baton on, by introducing quality playback to others who may embrace the passion we have shared, I think it’s brilliant.

What that person may or not do if they get such an experience, it’s up to them I suppose.

Elizabeth, 

I generally appreciate your remarks and insight, and you're usually right.  But, there's 6 standards to meet the threshold of Fraudulent Representation, as opposed to "Puffery" and the court system takes a pretty dim view of the fraud part.  It's actually quite illegal.

Overselling may be a part of the audio culture, but if the wheels are set in motion by the manufacturer and it involves outright lying,  it puts the manufacturer in a very vulnerable spot.  All it takes is for somebody to get screwed, then get mad and be able to document what happened... and there's either a quiet settlement or court case that resonates throughout the industry.  Watch what happens with this one.
@kosst_amojan, great initial post. Well worth a second read.


"This hobby has something in common with religion. Denial of reality. Just like religion, this is a dying hobby, and plenty of folks want to deny it along with the reasons it's dying. I've never seen a problem get solved when the nature of the problem is denied.

A BIG problem, and the basis of the most vitriolic exchanges, is the rabid embrace of snake oil by so many in this hobby. The general public really does think most of this hobby is snake oil and vanity and the kinds of advice I see lobbed at self-described freshman here does nothing to dismiss that perception.

This snake oil nonsense that gets pawned off as "legitimate" audiophilia is distinctly different than the various philosophies on what constitutes a good system. Genuinely different philosophies are based on technical knowledge and personal priorities in what the listener is trying to accomplish. The line gets crossed into snake oil when "tweaks" are elevated to the importance of core technical specifications. For instance, imaging is poor, and rather than address the acoustics of the room (the real problem), idiotic solutions like cables, isolation footers, and fuses get suggested. That not only discredits the hobby, but it inevitably instigates debates to try to disprove and shut those nuts down.

I make it a point NOT to employ such snake oil tweaks so that when I put somebody in this listening chair they know there's no hocus pocus at work. It's nothing but basically competent equipment in a treated room doing what it does. It's not the prettiest, but it sounds really good. The amp doesn't have a top so they can see it's guts and I can explain what it's doing with very simple analogies. The speakers are what they are, Focal 936's on their factory spikes. My gear sits on a solid oak table. There's NO magic beyond ordinary comprehension at work here.

I've had several people in their early and mid 20's here to hear this thing. One guy has been lusting after it ever since, but doesn't have the space. The 23 year old girl was legitimately stunned after believing it couldn't be THAT good for 2 years. We sat together and she seriously listened for almost 45 minutes. She was so into it that she forgot I was even there. When she finished she asked me what everything in the room cost, piece by piece and I told her. She said it seemed "wise" even given the cost. She explained to me that she's spent so much on "frivolous" things like clothes and drinks and jewelry, but I have something that allows me THIS experience any time I want and that seems "wise".

Young people, in my estimation, are groping for legitimate value in this world. All too often they're sold a perception of value. Insanely prices coolers that don't work any better than my Coleman. iPhones that crack and break if you look at them wrong and are worthless in 2 years. Outrageously styles cars that ape the looks of classics or track cars, but made mostly of plastic with their fake vents and scoops. Even their friends are fake digital friends. Put these people in front of something real and legitimate that legitimately moves them and they do not forget.

That's how I cultivate the next generation. Give them an experience. Give them knowledge and explanations they can understand. The first thing I do before somebody listens is have them listen to the room. Let them hear the difference between my listening room and my dining room just talking. It's obvious. They instantly get it. There's no snake oil to it. It's not cheap stuff, but it's definitely worth what it cost in the experience it creates."



"Put these people in front of something real and legitimate that legitimately moves them and they do not forget."

Let me help you guys out a little bit.

First of all you can’t debunk something that’s not bunk. But don’t let that stop you. Here are a few tips.


• Employ vague, subjective, dismissive terms such as "ridiculous," "trivial," "crackpot," or "bunk," in a manner that purports to carry the full force of scientific authority.

• Keep your arguments as abstract and theoretical as possible. This will send the message that accepted theory overrides any actual evidence that might challenge it -- and that therefore no such evidence is worth examining.

• By every indirect means at your disposal imply that science is powerless to police itself against fraud and misperception, and that only self-appointed vigilantism can save it from itself.

• Portray science not as an open-ended process of discovery but as a pre-emptive holy war against invading hordes of quackery-spouting infidels. Since in war the ends justify the means, you may fudge, stretch or violate the scientific method, or even omit it entirely, in the name of defending it.

• Reinforce the popular fiction that our scientific knowledge is complete and finished. Do this by asserting that "if such-and-such discovery were legitimate, then surely we would already know about it!"


I’m not sure why the guy who writes the blog described in the OP is complaining so much about bickering in this hobby. If I can speak frankly, I’m here mostly to watch all the bickering, 🤗
What is snake oil? Who gives the right of 1 person to call something snake oil? For example: who gives somebody the right to call cables snake oil? How about power conditioners? How about room acoustic pieces? Who qualifies as an expert to label a product snake oil? 

This hobby is no different than being into nice cars. 99% of people drive a car to work or to the store and don’t really care too much about quality or technology, same goes for our audio hobby. Let’s call this group the ‘corolla’ group. If I ask anybody in this car group if they would like to buy this particular tire that has helped my Porsche handle better but costs 5x more than the tires they now have, they would think I was stupid to spend that kind of money on a tire. How about a more expensive spark plug, air filter, or a better spark plug coil adding another 10,000 volts to the plug? Same goes with our audio hobby, a guy with a good system or good ears claims that X product makes his system sound better, he is labeled as a snake oil vendor or promoter. A cable is a cable, right? (I’m not talking about con artists that want to charge you a lot of money to change your muffler bearings, there are definitely crooks out there)

There are more people out there that think the $ we spend on audio or cars is a stupid thing to begin with. 99% of all people don’t care about top quality audio systems or top quality cars and that won’t change anytime soon. 

I don't need anybody to tell me (especially if they are in the ‘corolla’ group) if X product is good or bad, I’ll let my ears or if talking about a car, my right foot or the seat of my pants, tell me if it’s good product or not.
rbstehno
What is snake oil? Who gives the right of 1 person to call something snake oil?
Those who rail against other people’s religions and dismiss them as "snake-oilers" are nothing new here or on other forums. It’s sad, and the result of hate and ignorance.

Beware the audio guru.

Snake oil derives from 19th century Chinese railroad workers who used medicine made from the Chinese water snake. Its a wonder today's perpetually triggered wokesters haven't gotten around to declaring it racist. Yet.