Personal vs. Market Values

Take truffle oil. Or truffles. The mushrooms, not the confection.
Honestly I can’t taste it. I’ve ordered all sorts of dishes with "truffle oil" which commanded a premium and if there is any difference at all in the taste I could not tell you even after being told about it.

The point of this is that truffle oil holds no personal value to me. I’m not trading in it or running a restaurant or buying it in bulk. If I did that I’d feel and be willing to spend quite differently than I do now.

The point to this and how this matters in audio is that you should be true to your own ears. Use friends, reviews (cough) and other sources as guides. You may also evaluate a brand based on re-sale value. That’s reasonable as the resale could have a material impact on you in the future.

But if you can’t hear a difference or prefer a speaker/cable/amp no one else does then serve only yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the market value of a particular product has value for you or that it is a display of relative merit. It may not. Our hobby is filled with charlatans selling invisible clothes.

Those who say they can't taste the truffle oil or see invisible clothes spend less and are far happier I think.

Happy listening,

So... are you saying you cannot tell the difference between one truffle oil and another? This would not surprise me. But if you are suggesting you cannot tell the difference between WITH truffle oil and WITHOUT... I would find that shocking.

I am not sure the analogy holds up with designed, engineered and manufactured audio equipment, but I get your point, and will not disagree. Yet, I have a friend that claims he cannot recognize the difference (or chooses not to care) between his Two Buck Chuck wine and more expensive wines. I find this shocking as well but I still get much pleasure pouring him the best wine I have... currently open.
I cannot tell the difference between things that have truffle oil and don’t. Obviously, if a recipe calls for oil for browning, that’s something different. But cook it with extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil and I could not tell. At best I might like the olive oil better. :)

My point is, sometimes there is a difference for you and sometimes there is not. If you cannot hear a difference, don’t pay for it. :)

Also, my own personal goals are different. I’m not out to spend as much as I can. I’m out to spend as little as I can for the same value. So for me, finding a $20-$40 bottle of wine that brings me as much pleasure as a $300 bottle of wine is a win.

When it comes to whiskey, finding one I'll drink, at all, is hard. Whatever my whiskey drinking friends are fascinated by I usually can't drink them at all. So sure, some fancy Japanese whiskey may be worth $100 on the market, but for me, it is worth $0.

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Funny you should bring this up.  I often think about the concept of "Supertasters" and apply it to the world of audiophiles.  I suspect there are also "superlisteners" who can discern sound at a much more refined level than others, and I don't just mean hearing soft tones (i.e. hearing test) or wider frequency range but also sense the structure of sound on a more granular level.  Some of us may fall into this category.
Truffle oil is for drizzling and finishing not for cooking. I am a bit surprised you can't taste it the flavor is very strong and distinct. Have you ever tried it just on its own to get an idea what it tastes like?
Yes, there probably are supertasters in audiophile land, but what good are we? :)
I mean, if we could discern between 20 different amplifiers, are you enjoying music more, or did you just train some set of neurons to discriminate without an end goal?

Get some truffle potato chips or almonds from Trader Joe’s and compare them to regular. I would be very surprised if you did not notice a difference.
Erik - Do you see what you're started here? If you keep this up you might turn this into TrufflegoN(TM)...

The post betrays an underling feeling of insecurity: “I can’t tell the difference, what’s wrong with me?”

If telling people to just trust their ears was an effective strategy, wouldn’t it all be so simple.  In actuality, it’s anything but..
I love good music and quality audio.  I have no place in my pantry for Truffle anything.
Truffle oil makes a great contact enhancer, or so Im told. Or read it somewhere.  Something. 

To lower costs, I’m looking for one of those pigs that can search and find truffles. Win/win, if the pig doesn’t work out, we have a party and roast it.
Truffle oil makes a great contact enhancer, or so Im told.
Mmm, doubt it.  Truffles are fungi and do not contain oil.  Truffle oil is made from soaking chopped up truffle bits (the tough, not edible parts) which extracts the volatile elements containing truffle flavor and aroma (mostly the latter).

The conductivity of truffle oil would depend on what type of oil was used for a base.  Considering that most oils and NOT good conductors and plant and nut oils have especially low conductivity, I would guess that truffle oil would not make a good contact enhancer.  But I have not tried it so this is just an uneducated guess.

I like truffle oil, particularly on fries. I trust my taste buds and I trust my ears. Something that tastes really great is generally pretty apparent to me. I say "MMM, I like that." Something that sounds great to my ears elicits the same reaction.

In thinking about it, I have been eating different stuff for more than 55 years, and have only been messing around with high end audio for a couple (notwithstanding my earlier experience with the 1990’s generation of Adcom amp/preamp and Dahlquist DQM9 (Box) speakers)-- all of which drove signals from vinyl played on my Acoustic Research turntable with a Grado cartridge.

This all leads me to the idea that it takes a while to learn what you like, and takes some experimenting. Education from the old grumpy guys speeds up the process, and helps build systems from components that sound good together-- I don’t think I want truffle oil ice cream any more than I want lobster ice cream.

At the end of the day, I have had great experience with Conrad Johnson for my amps and preamps, Pass Labs (Reno Hifi) for my phonostage, Rega for listening to vinyl, ModWright Oppo 105 for CD’s, and I think Mikey was right about the EgglestonWorks Viginti speakers, so I bought a pair of those and never looked back. I would take this system over pretty much any kind of truffle oil or funky flavored ice cream or typical high-end audio system. And every male in our household (me and my 2 sons) listen to Grado headphones. What do all these brands and products have in common?  Great products, great sound and well-run, friendly companies.

Happy listening.

I think with all the people doing this crazy infighting and chest beating about which equipment is best and each trying to assert their superior knowledge, giving authoritative advice, the REAL smart ones are just kicking back to enjoy the music. I personally think it petty to argue about such nonsense. These are just overpriced boxes of wires...nothing more.
Erik - Do you see what you're started here? If you keep this up you might turn this into TrufflegoN(TM)...

Then my work here is done.

I'm a foodie and a fairly serious one. On a recent trip to Italy (to eat and research) I tried truffles several times. For some reason they had just never been on my gastronomic radar. I love mushrooms and morels (which grow on my property). On each occasion it was black truffle (white truffle is more prized) and I was surprised that they really didn't have much flavor for me. I wouldn't call myself a supertaster but in most other things I have a fairly discriminatory palate. My wife, also a foodie, was shocked that I didn't get much from the truffle. I got a vaguely earthy flavor and that was about it.

So for some, it may 'resonate'. For others it may not. I hope to try white truffle (20 euros to have them grated over your dish of pasta at Diana in Bologna!) one of these days.

As others have mentioned, truffle oil is not the best way to test your truffle affinity. It usually contains lower end truffle in any number of lower end oils. Fine for fries but I wouldn't want a fine dish to hinge on truffle oil.
How can someone not taste the truffle oil???

It's very distinct. 
I have fond memories of a Christmas spent at Columbe d’or in St. Paul de Vence, whose dining room was easy, casual and good on the nights we didn’t feel like "going out" to some of the serious restaurants. Freshly shaved truffles on a tart green salad every night-- I think we stayed for 5 nights before heading north to Paris.
When I got my Amex bill the next month, I realized that each salad was $44 dollars in 2008? money.
Yes, I could taste the truffles. No, I probably wouldn’t spend that for a green salad today.
Morels and sweetbreads are really yummy. Alas, the price of morels is also out of reach for mere mortals. (I think they were upwards of $200/lb at the local gourmet market here in Austin. I asked the storekeep why they were in a bin that anyone could access, having come from NY, where even batteries were under lock and key. He said "if somebody wants to steal fancy mushrooms and put them in their pocket, more power to ’em!" :)
erik, sorry that this has taken a decidedly foodie turn.....but that's not entirely our fault. ;-)

For what its worth I agree with your point completely.

whart, I own 250 acres in central SC. It has a fairly large creek bottom in which we find morels from time to time. Some years they are there, some they are not. One year we found 15-20 over a week's time. We thought that was a great bonanza and fixed them several ways.  Since then, nothing for years until this spring. They popped up everywhere and kept coming up for three or four weeks. We lost count at 60 or so and found many more and missed quite a few that got past maturity.

We ate them so many ways. Gave away quite a few as well. My favorite two ways are lightly fried in a very light tempura and in risotto which I made several times. So good. 

Who knows when we will see them again.

There is no truffle in truffle oil. It is artificially produced to resemble the taste of truffles. If you’ve ever tasted real truffles, especially white truffle, you have tasted something heavenly . . . and expensive! $6,000/lb++
I've seen truffle oil with truffle physically in it. So there may be variations.
Yes there is real truffle oil and there is fake truffle oil. And yes white truffles are absolutely amazing especially with scrambled eggs or anything with eggs really.
Personal taste is just that...personal.  I am one of the estimated 25 percent of the population that cannot taste truffles due to an inability to smell androstenone.  Discovered this in cooking school when the rest of the class was swooning over a truffle dish, and try as I might I could not taste it.

It’s  the same with stereo equipment:  some of us can hear better than others.  My hearing has certainly changed over the years, not only gotten worse but my music preferences have moved on from rock to bebop jazz.  Even if I were willing to spend any amount of money for the perfect system, that system purchased in my 20s would probably not sound very good to me now.  

So to to your point about happiness and charlatans, I completely agree.  Someone is always there to sell you something they say will make you happier.  I never felt I needed to spend a lot of money on stereo equipment to enjoy music; right now I have a Linn Axis turntable I bought second hand 20 years ago, an AT95 cartridge, an NAD 7020 I bought off eBay and had refurbished and a pair of Paradigm Atom V.2 speakers I just refoamed.  And I buy most of my records at flea markets.  But I did recently invest in a Pro-Ject RCM and am looking at a pair of Elac Debut series speakers for Christmas.  

If someone wants to spend more money on their music hobby, and can afford it, then more power to them.  Not my taste, but neither are truffles. 😁
Most “truffle oil” is crap. Made from inferior species, left over remnants, or from a perfumeries laboratory. 
Might one care not to spend money on fresh truffles, they might get better results with more modestly ( compared to high quality fresh ) priced products labeled truffle butter.
Most “truffle oil” is crap. Made from inferior species, left over remnants, or from a perfumeries laboratory.
Might one care not to spend money on fresh truffles, they might get better results with more modestly ( compared to high quality fresh ) priced products labeled truffle butter.

There are clear analogies between this and the audio industry. :) The difference between a great technology executed well and a great technology executed poorly is everywhere.

16f4, good points. There are also people who get a soapy unpleasant taste from cilantro. However, in the case of cilantro and truffles these folks don't necessarily have a "better" sense of taste. They may be "deficient" in other areas. So how they respond to one or two other things is not a measure of their discriminatory capabilities across the board.

I suspect the same could be said among audiophiles. In my brief time as an "audiophile" I have found that some tweaks, recordings, systems make a big difference just as described by other audiophiles while others make no difference whatsoever. I have no way of knowing if that is just inexperience or how my perception is wired.....and we all have to remember, hearing is not just an acuity issue. There is no 'hearing' without processing in the brain.

There is an extreme visual analogy of this:

 Certain types of brain pathology can lead to someone with normal eyes not being able to see. In this specific condition they are essentially blind because the eye is not connected to the visual centers of the brain even though the eye itself is perfect. Sometimes, however, a reflex tract will be preserved. When this is the case, the person is blind but if you throw something at them they will duck.

A similar analogy in terms of what people perceive be cilantro,  to roughly half the population cilantro taste good, to the other half (me included) it taste like soap.  A flavor I am all to familiar with because of the potty mouth I had as a kid. 

 My hearing is awful.  Each year when I get my physical, my internist checks everything, hearing and vision included, and each year his nurse or tech that is giving me the hearing test thinks their machine is broken because I can't hear any of the high pitch test tones they are playing.  I do ok hearing speech as long as there's not too much background commotion, but there's a range of frequencies that I can't hear, because of that I know that I hear specific pieces of music and specific qualities of certain pieces of equipment differently than others. 

 I recently bought a well reviewed and regarded piece of gear to add to my system.  I really want to like it, but I am beginning to think that I may have to move on to something else because to my ears it doesn't sound that pleasant.  Unfortunately I think the problem may be that I have gotten my system to a point that it is quite a bit more transparent and revealing than what I have ever had before, but with my hearing deficiencies I may need it to be colored a bit to keep from sounding harsh and brittle to me. I'll do some gear swapping to test my hypothesis, if it bears out than to me that higher value - more revealing gear may be of less value than that mid range piece of kit that smooths things out a bit.

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Personal taste is the only taste you get, and the good news is that it can be refined if you're aware enough and bother to expose yourself to things...keeping in mind some have a talent you may lack, or are simply more into something and you'll never match wine tasting geniuses who become high level can try, but you may not get there.
Agreed, but that striving can become a treadmill with a carrot in front of it if you can't find some level of satisfaction. As a foodie I have spent years trying things and cooking things outside of my comfort zone to attain those "acquired tastes". But when that hobby or this one or photography comes to the point that I am never happy then I drop it. Treadmills are for hamsters.
I've never met an actual (as opposed to poser...there's plenty of those around) "foodie" that got tired of exploring great food. It's time for therapy if that happens, and exploring things you're interested in can be an enjoyable lifetime thing with endless learning opportunities that enrich you. Treadmills are for losers.
Agree. But I'm not going to lose sleep over finding the singular most perfect nuance of nutmeg in tortelli di zucca and let it make me miserable. That would be a treadmill. Enjoying good food where I can find it (and make it myself) is a joy.

And I don't know what a poser foodie might be. I do not have an ID card or certificate and I do not know the secret handshake.  ;-)

I'm fully aware of my audiophile poser/wannabe status.
In the case of soapy tasting cilantro it could be your olfactory receptor genes so blame your parents. 
What I got from this thread so far is intriguing and asking for more research. It seems that people may have a "truffle receptor" of some sort. Maybe genetic variation like it exists for some smells which may make sense when lots of "taste" is actually "smell". Those who can taste truffles are baffled. Those who cannot are lucky. The taste is very strong for those who can taste them.

I am not sure how it can all be connected to audio, but so be it.

On the other hand, fries with truffles? Tastes do differ, but some things border on blasphemy.
Truffle oil...not to be confused with snake oil. 
Truffle oil...not to be confused with snake oil.

Well, sometimes they can be exactly the same thing ...

1 - I have had freshly shaved white truffle in Piemonte that was almost tasteless, and I have had French black truffle that was so flavourful that only a few shards were needed to flavour a dish.

2 - there are some things that some people are simply not able to taste/hear/smell. I am a wine nut. I have known otherwise gifted tasters that were not sensitive to trichloroanisole (TCA) the chemical that indicates that a wine has been 'corked', and when I was saying that a particular wine was corked, they didn't know what I was talking about as they couldn't detect it (a serious shortcoming in a taster as when TCA is present, it affects the fruit in the wine - sometimes rendering it undrinkable but sometimes just muting slightly the fruit elements, and that would seem to an TCA insensitive taster as just being a wine they just didn't like as opposed to a flawed wine.

Asking someone that has basically no hearing above 4000 hz (not uncommon for those with noise induced hearing loss - NIHL) to assess a system for high note reproduction is pointless.  

from the Wall Street Journal:

It's a fact -- people react to truffles in vastly different ways. Now scientists are closing in on why. Nearly 25% of the population do not smell androstenone, a chemical that contributes to truffle's signature musky aroma (and makes female pigs go into mating stance). Another 40% of people are keenly sensitive to androstenone; they say it smells like rotten wood or sweat. The rest of the population likes the smell.

No one has asked if you could hear the truffle oil. An important consideration imho. 

Certsinly i I wouldn’t use the stuff as record cleaning fluid. 
As far as it goes this has the potential to be a fascinating & terribly valid question. So let's take it where it's dying to go.  "Personal vs. Market Values"  necessarily also means Market vs Personal values.  This is where it gets (too often savagely) peculiar.  The psychological terrain of reacting to the unconscious forces made conscious & acted on by attempting to sell at prices rationalized as fair market value dominates it more assertively but is really equally present in both instances.  More neurosis acted on in the first instance with too many not understanding when it is time for something to go out of your life it is incumbent on you to do so as elegantly & quickly as you can.  The time, effort & energy money represents being squandered due to self-propelling neurosis of pretending to get it back by being stubborn in getting a too specific, arbitrary number -  is too often (by no means always) a constant wonder. 

It bears mentioning the charlatans the question refers to selling snake oil are often selling to those making fear-based decisions.  Concerning how the audio makes them look to others.  Status seeking is always a fear-based approach. As is most purchasing in the lifestyle category.  These buyers are often not looking for quality audio in the first place.  At least not primarily.  They fund the industry in large measure however & we should be grateful for their contribution. 
There are a lot of pronouns in your first paragraph. Could you be a little more specific, and what exactly does this mean:

The psychological terrain of reacting to the unconscious forces made conscious & acted on by attempting to sell at prices rationalized as fair market value dominates it more assertively but is really equally present in both instances.

and this:
The time, effort & energy money represents being squandered due to self-propelling neurosis of pretending to get it back by being stubborn in getting a too specific, arbitrary number - is too often (by no means always) a constant wonder.

I'm afraid right now this reads like a song to me, where anyone can interpret them in a variety of ways the author may not have intended.

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Wow ill have to think about this ill get back to you asap.
I think I’m some ways this is really simple. Trust your ears. Trust yourself. Act accordingly. 
So, I'll try a little truffle oil on my interconnects and speaker cables. Perhaps they will sound or taste better :)
So, I'll try a little truffle oil on my interconnects and speaker cables. Perhaps they will sound or taste better :)

Some one can make money on that idea, might as well be you. :)

To answer eric_squires concerns,  The first quote refers to people selling for reasons they do not themselves fully understand & become arbitrary about it & therefore unreasonable about the price they ask for & insist upon. They know they've had enough of that component, speaker or whatever in their life & need to sell it. That part is often very rational. It is the best reason to sell anything.

It starts to get negatively complicated when they then develop control issues concerning price. Much of the time when something is no longer satisfying your unconscious pleasure centers (what enjoyable listening fundamentally is) it is time to let it go & find something more appropriate that does (If you need the money for something else, that's another matter).  Control issues are always a sign of those feeling out of control of their own unresolved emotional issues & seeking to "control" exterior events & people to compensate. It never can of course.
As for the second quote, such people in order to feel more powerful, masculine etc. pick a high price in an attempt to persuade themselves both are somehow strengthened. They rationalize it is fair, market value with often dubious evidence. The economic sense of it is very often zero (not always but too often) as they waste so much of the time, effort & energy money represents in trying to do so.  It's common on AG (a recent thread was devoted to it & sent out as a forum topic in the AG newsletter) & bringing it up (& hopefully diluting it) makes AG a better place.  It's certainly at the heart of how personal & market values interact on AG.
Gustatory perception varies as much as aural acuity.   If YOU can't taste or hear it(whatever,"it" may be), there's little doubt, it wouldn't be of value TO YOU.   
Kind of accidentally, I'm reading the book "iconoclast" and in the middle of discussions about how the stock market works and how iconoclasts make money by going against group / market values.

Anyone who wants a deep dive into this should take a look:
To answer eric_squires concerns,

I guess I'll wait for a reply that was meant for me to come through, because I don't know who this "eric" is.


I tried cut & pasting erik_squires but this forum doesn't allow that easily & to be placed organically on the page. I then spelt the name incorrectly & if that was interpreted as to be an offence, it was not.  The body of my message answers the question asked as the main one posed - in addition to the follow-up.