Pro v Audiophile - Science v Snake Oil?


I have a long time friend Mike who has an interest in audio gear that broadcasters/pros use unlike myself who remained mainly confined to domestic audio. He reads journals written for industry professionals and is mainly interested in using pro/semi pro gear. 

Of course there is no hard and fast distinction between professional and domestic audio, as companies such as ATC, B&W, Harbeth, JBL, PMC, Sony, Technics etc. often have product lines for both markets. However there does seem to be a feeling of two separate camps each with its own aims. This feeling is probably enhanced by the different way the products are often reviewed and sold (with the possible exception being headphones) which often don't seem to care which camp they fall into.

Domestic audio used to be sold by retail outlets whilst pro gear was often sold via catalogues. The rise of internet shopping through retailers like Amazon now sees such products often sold side by side. Still, the way they are reviewed are remain separate between industry publications and domestic magazine press. Professional audio gear remains largely ignored by the domestic press and vice versa. You can almost sense the feeling that each camp might regard the other as being beneath contempt. 

Industry users and reviewers seem to have a no nonsense approach to audio gear and go by technical specs and durability whereas domestic reviews major on vague subjective impressions. Yet once upon a time domestic audio too used to be reviewed in a similar fashion. 

As the years have rolled by I increasingly find myself asking whether by reading domestic audio magazines and the like, I was on the wrong road all along. Especially when I consider how 99.99% of all the film, music and TV/ radio output that I've enjoyed was originally produced and recorded. Mike just knowingly smiles in a 'I told you so' way, and just this once he may well be right.  

Anyway, here's a great resource showcasing  how audio journalism once used to work.

https://www.americanradiohistory.com





cd318
@ks2, you're new here. Geoffkait delights in taunting others.
Try getting a sensa humor sometime, guys.
I think it's also fair to say that there is an entirely different expectation from professional and domestic audio. One is a tool for work and the other for hopefully, a route to pleasure.

Professional audio gear is there primarily to serve a purpose ie help the technicians and engineers to get a job done and is judged by reputation and performance specs. Design and ergonomics must follow function.

Audiophile gear is sold on cosmetics and styling first. Performance specs and reliability appear to be an afterthought or even unimportant in many reviews!

Snake oil does exist in both camps but I can't imagine many engineers worrying too much about cable directionality, or sound quality differences amongst digital hardware - it either works or it doesn't. Domestic audio has always been littered with surplus 'eye candy' junk such as glitzy connectors or ephemera such as bi-wiring, spikes, or Dolby B whilst useful features such as tone controls or a mono switch are often omitted altogether!

The world of domestic audiophilia can easily look like a dangerously expensive place infested with snake oil sellers where the promise of audio satisfaction is forever kept tantalizingly just beyond reach.

For the uninitiated, a safer course to  follow might be to look at those manufacturers who have some association in both camps (ATC, Audio Technica, B&W, Beyerdynamic, Focal, Harbeth, Harman Kardon, JBL, KEF, Kerr Acoustic, PMC, Sennheiser, Sony, Tannoy, Technics etc) and ask yourself just what the differences between their offered product lines might be.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_audio

One of the audio greats of our time sharing some of his immense knowledge.

Floyd Toole on Sound Reproduction - art and science / opinions and facts

https://youtu.be/zrpUDuUtxPM
For all the "pro" and "science" that goes into it, why doesn’t a much larger percentage of recorded media sound awesome? There are those who do outstanding jobs and could justifiably be called experts and I applaud them.

But it’s obvious being a "pro" doesn’t mean you all have the answers, I don’t care what equipment they use or what their opinions are. My proof is the huge amount of average or below sound quality of so many recordings. We shouldn’t forget that "pro" can mean excellent, average or even below average so to hold up the whole group as some kind of audio exemplar is pure hubris IMO.