What do "audiophiles" use to judge equipment?


The hypothesis: "Audiophiles" are mostly techno-cats who listen with their eyes - they read reviews and look at spec sheets... END. That is my opinion and I'd like to hear from music lovers who do NOT look at the specs; who do not get their info from forums like this - where you cannot HEAR the music but you can READ about the music - well, maybe a few of you can read music, right? Are there any others who trust their own ears and go into a music store and BUY something without the psychological hand-holding of a forum or spec sheet?
49fc3472 8dbe 4922 8d28 514722ce100bAg insider logo xs@2xcmariner1
You are very confused. I mean that literally. You jumped from audiophiles to music. Component selection, system building, listening evaluation, and music appreciation are related but very different subjects.  

Assuming for the moment what you are saying is audiophiles buy components based on specs and looks, we definitely have some of those here. We also have some, yours truly being the preeminent example, who value listening impressions over all.   

Search through my posts. Highly recommended, highly educational. There you will find repeatedly stated the only two specs worth consideration are speaker sensitivity and phono cartridge output. Even then those specs are used not to select components but as a filter to remove unsuitable components from consideration. 

Specifications are near useless for the simple reason so little is understood about the relationship between sound reproduction and hearing. We have no measurement of soundstage imaging focus, width, or depth, yet many of us hear them easily. 

As for forums and reviews, we have our share who misuse them both. We also have some such as myself who use them to help learn about and evaluate components. This in itself is a skill, and highly prized at that. If you can learn to do it well you can accomplish much. I have not been in a store to audition or otherwise in years. Yet look at the system. No one in their right mind would say it is there based on looks! Read the comments. They are complimentary in the extreme- about the sound quality. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367

In short your "hypothesis" to the extent we can glorify it as such, bears at best a tenuous relationship with reality.
cmariner -- I appreciate your inquiry. The way I now go about reaching purchasing decisions is to find reviews of components that coincide with both my pocketbook and my listening preferences. I get 'em home and plug 'em in. And oh yes, I also make sure I've cleaned wax build-up from my ears.
@cmariner1:

"Are there any others who trust their own ears and go into a music store and BUY something without the psychological hand-holding of a forum or spec sheet?"

Are you actually suggesting that walking into a store, sans any prior research and buying gear solely upon a showroom demo, is a smart move? ? ? 


 CLEARLY a post just to draw attention and get people to think.... a juvenile and simplistic way of looking at our hobby which we all realize has many variables that go into making a  purchase decision. Try again hombre. 
What was the question again?

Do I trust any one else on the planet? For anything? NO NOT ONE!!

Spec sheet, pictures inside and out.. MAYBE.

If I like the BS they are trying to hand me.. (Usually it's BS, too), I'll listen.. But years ago I settled on what I like and use, very little has changed other than the wrinkle are a little deeper on my end..

5 or six years to try class ds, then 5 more years, that was 6 years ago.
They are pretty good now.. ;-)

Pass designs, Sony ES series SACDs, Mac tube front end, Cary and Mac valve amps (gave up on VTLs), certain class Ds in certain places, Small planars and ribbons, GRs servo bass system (6 years now) and of course direct coupled MB columns..

I'm looking at a STL BIG valve EQ balanced in balanced out. I can add additional TUBE boost (2, 4, or 8 ?) above the +6db -6db in a given region. Great for a step in an OB design..

If know how they are made that's the ONLY reason I consider buying  them. No SEE, NO BUY...

I'll never support potted passive XO either.. If I can't see the OX I'm not buying it.. TRUST NO ONE... :-) X-Files..

Regards
I use my ears ONLY not reviews or Audiogon been doing this before you were born.Good luck!!
I may often buy "sound unseen". But it is purely the long term evaluation that I use to judge a products sound. Often mixing it with other equipment and setups to give it the best opportunity to shine. The only thing that keeps it in the lineup is it's sound quality. 
Question posed by OP:

Are there any others who trust their own ears and go into a music store and BUY something without the psychological hand-holding of a forum or spec sheet?

Response by MC:

You are very confused.

Search through my posts. Highly recommended, highly educational.

OP's question dismissed out hand.  How dare you inquire whether you can just use your own ears and emotional response to the gear you're auditioning!  You're confused and the only antidote is to search MC's posts to give you the exact hand-holding that you'd deliberately like to avoid.  No one can do this properly just using his own ears....please go read everything ever written by MC and avoid such a costly mistake as trusting yourself.


Post removed 
I've been fortunate to find a good dealer who's tastes mirror mine and I always trust my ears and my dealers advice.
@cmariner1  Robert Harley's well-known Complete Guide to High End Audio provides some very sensible approaches and considerations to purchasing components or a complete system.  He outlines very well the role that specs, reviews, speaker/amp synergy, dealers, listening, and individual needs/tastes play in making good decisions.  The reality is that there are a myriad of considerations that all do matter - some more than others.  I suggest starting with a guide like this and certainly not getting bullied into taking advice from "some dude" on the internet who publicly dresses you down by concluding: 

In short your "hypothesis" to the extent we can glorify it as such, bears at best a tenuous relationship with reality.
@three_easy_payments 

MC believes that posters use his posts as reference. No jokes - he honest-to-God actually believes that. 😂🤣




I trust my dealer too, I bought a Rolex for just 75.00 buck MORE. Great watch. I traded my Rolex for his Rolex, he told me it was a step up.. I only paid 12k for my Rolex. I wonder why the second hand keeps going tick tick tick...:-)

Regards
Oldheavy, they have fakes with sweep motion now.
The sweep second hand is incredibly smooth on my Rolecks. Also it is waterproof to 300mm and is Chromometer Certified to 1 sec per minute. Says so right on the dial. Genuine Rolecks Barnacle bracelet too.
I buy products based on my own past experiences and based on reviews. When a product is favorably reviewed by multiple reviewers, it’s a component worth considering. I also consider products from manufacturers whose “house sound” I enjoy.

I avoid products posters with hearing deficiencies own. If somebody tells me they cannot hear the difference in cables/capacitors/fuses, whatever he owns is worth avoiding.

Ditto for equipment owned by those who seem a little “off”. Those with overinflated egos and exaggerated self worths tend to promote products based solely based on the fact that they own them, no matter how flawed the sound. Worth avoiding.


Interesting question. I’ve had this very discussion with a coworker who is primarily equipment specification driven. He favors components with better specifications and measurements over sound. His system sounds really good, but it’s not a sound quality I prefer. I’m the opposite and look at equipment specifications after I’ve listened to the equipment. My current speakers were purchased after going to my local dealer to listen to another specific make and model. I preferred the sound (and design) after he recommended the speakers to me. The sound of the music is always the first priority to me. 
Regards.
Yes, I purchased
  • Moon by Simaudio 280D DAC.  It was a significant upgrade from my Node 2i
  • Rega P8 (previously owned Dual 515CS and Rega RP 1
My ears were pleased and still are...
I would look for a person with no skin in the game who has been
into stereo gear a long time and has hearing that is very good
and become friends. This guy is hard to find.

He may the guy who walks into a store and points out that the
speakers are wired out of phase.
 
I fear you may have been reading these forums too long.
My mentor told me many times- The stuff you read on line
is wrong over 50% of the time.

How are your divining skills?

Not sounding so simple? 


Specs provide valuable information required to make an informed purchase.  Without specs how would you know which speaker wire is long enough?
Specs can also be misleading and unimportant.  Discerning which spec is truly important takes either a lot of trial and a LOT of error or learning from the resources available.
I suspect that a lot of the people on this and other related forums do read music and trust their own ears and the ears of the more experienced.
To me the hobby is the journey not the destination.  It can always sound better,  there is always a new artist their is always information that I'm not aware of.


There you will find repeatedly stated the only two specs worth consideration are speaker sensitivity and phono cartridge output.

How anyone can utter such foolishness and also be taken seriously by even the few on this forum is beyond reasonable comprehension. Using this logic Robert Harley’s book should have been reduced from 596 pages to a paragraph or two.

When I inquired with Keith Herron a few years ago about matching his wonderful VTSP-360 preamp with my existing amp the very first question he asked was about my amp’s input impedance. Why would Keith have been the slightest bit concerned about such a meaningless spec? He apparently knows far less than other posters on this forum.

And why is Kevin Hayes at VAC so obsessed with the performance of his output transformers, putting tons of effort into his current delivery specs and optimizing power delivery into higher and lower impedance speakers? How misguided he must be.

Why does John DeVore believe that the entire load the speaker presents to an amp matters more than speaker sensitivity? He must be confused as well. I really don’t know how these guys ever managed to be so successful while being focused on specs that don’t matter at all.
Like with any other product, there are likely to be different segments of even "audiophile" buyers. My observations of audiophiles is that there are at least several likely "audiophile" segments that have different drivers and processes for purchasing:

  1. Specs: purchasing based on how equipment "objectively" measures.
  2. Visuals: purchasing based on how equipment looks. May overlap with the next segment in that impressive visuals might overlap with higher price as a means to impress others.
  3. Higher Price: Based on a perception that higher price = better sound "quality" or higher price = more impressive to others.
  4. Reviews: The latest and greatest well reviewed product is exciting to this crowd.
  5. Listening: Equipment either sounds good or it doesn’t.
IMHO, #5 is the cheapest way to a good sounding system. Expensive equipment doesn’t always sound better. Less expensive equipment doesn’t always sound worse. Lots of good audio values out there if you use your ears.

In terms of reviews, well...I find reviews entertaining, but there's no substitute for listening. Plenty of "well-reviewed" gear has sounded surprisingly bad to me. Perhaps that gear was good from the perspective of "objective" audiophile metrics, but what they produced was not music.
@three_easy_payments:

"OP's question dismissed out hand. How dare you inquire whether you can just use your own ears and emotional response to the gear you're auditioning! "

I'd ask you to more closley examine the OP's question  "Are there any others who trust their own ears and go into a music store and BUY something without the psychological hand-holding of a forum or spec sheet?" 

Keep in mind that this question followed his opening salvo:  "The hypothesis: "Audiophiles" are mostly techno-cats who listen with their eyes - they read reviews and look at spec sheets... END".

He certainly appears to be starting from a confontational and dismissive posture. The phrase "psychological hand-holding", as he uses it, comes across as mocking. 

I won't attempt to speak for anyone else, but the tenor of the OP's  language combined with a question that I cannot imagine anyone with much experience seriously asking, struck me as ignorant at best.

As I perceive his post, he very much comes across as looking to start a fightrather than intent upon earnestly defending the value of using one's own ears and emotional responses. 

How many here would seriously deny the value of listening? ? ? 

While MC's post is, as is his fashion, O.T.T.,I can't fault him for the points he brings up. They strike me as appropriate, given the OP's actual words.

Of course, you or anyone else certainly has the right to interpret the text (and subtext) differently.
Audiophiles are individuals committed to recreating the best possible sound quality and musical experience possible. The term indicates a commitment far beyond a typical music listener. The tools include listening and acquiring exceptional listening skills, vocabulary and wide range of music experience. It includes reading reviews but seldom includes paying much attention to specification. Listening tests always trump specification. Their system is constructed and upgraded over decades in the continuous effort to improve its performance.
From those generalities there are sub-groups. There are some that attempt to recreate music with absolute fidelity, some to create the most enjoyable experience to them (maybe heavy rock as imagined they heard or wanted to when young), equipment / process fanatics (enjoy the pursuit of ever better SQ as opposed to just listening), and trying to achieve the most engaging emotional experience. And folk in between different goals.

In contrast I have met some music fanatics that collected thousands of albums and absolutely could care less what they sounded like… a transistor radio or $50 turntable system was fine. The simply liked the notes and how they were connected. 
Still, I bet $3 k that Keith Herron knows the not  so subtle difference between an Op Amp and a FET
surprised such a trolly proposition tendered by the op has garnered some serious responses here... as for me, no thanks...
The opinions of pretentious bloviating gasbags on websites.
@wolf_garcia 

Indeed...Perhaps AGon could initiate *Carousel* when they hit 10000 posts 
Audiophiles judge by listening and double blind tests. Audiophools judge mostly by price. 
"Search through my posts. Highly recommended, highly educational."
Blowing your own trumpet again Miller.
What a schmuk.
By the way, I recommend my posts as more educational than Miller's.
And much more varied too.

And Miller, please learn to spell 'Rolex', sic.  Your attempt is bo**ocks.

On my 1980 Submariner I can see each 1/5 second movement as discrete.  Perhaps Miller's eyes are poorer than he claims for his ears.

Can we hope that he will high dive wearing his Sub into into water 300mm deep which will be just sufficient to immerse his head.  300m (meters), you fool.

Further, a chronometer accurate to 1 second per minute would be useless.  It would be 24 minutes out by the end of the day.
My Sub currently gains 2.4 seconds per day.  Pretty good.

Very poor post man.



By the way, I choose equipment by listening, and the specs and performance tests, when there are any.
"It doesn't matter, it's nothing but dreaming anyhow."

Forum posts, reviews and buying with a trial period.
WOW!  And I thought starting a discussion about cables was the quickest way to start a fight in an empty bar!

Clearly, modesty, humility and respect are not principles some audiophiles live by! Surly animus serves only to reinforce the OP's preconceived notions about audiophiles. Wonder where s/he got that from?
Complete Guide to High End Audio is not a spec sheet.
The childish troll is back.
The hypothesis: "Audiophiles" are mostly techno-cats who listen with their eyes - they read reviews and look at spec sheets... END. That is my opinion

Logic 101: hypothesis ≠ opinion
When farcebook eventually goes down, this will be the place for idiots, xenophobes, malignant narcissists, and all manner of jackholes.

All the best,
Nonoise