What does Flat Earth mean in audio circles?

I have seen several references to Flat Earthers. My impression is that brands such as Naim, Linn, and Mana are associated, but why? What are they talking about?
I think of Flat Earthers as folks who deny the existence of differences if they can't be measured. Hearing differences is just an illusion which can be proved by doing double blind tests. So they say!
Newbee, maybe you need to change your name ;-) You are sounding like an old hand now.

Drubin, I believe there are many kinds of Flat Earthers. There are those who think that only a few of the measurable characteristics matter (take a look at a speaker comparison in Consumer Reports for example). Typically, these are novices with little training.

That term is also applied to folks who believe that a careful consideration of a battery of different measurements will tell the sonic story. These are much more sophisticated individuals who tend to believe that we have the ability to objectively measure almost everything that matters. Curved Earthers? I don't know. We probably need to come up with a different term though.

Either of these types also tend to believe that blind tests, usually fairly short duration tests, can also help determine which component or system is "better".

Another characteristic is that flat earthers think that most people are subject to psychological flaws (can't argue there!) which include falling victim to audiophile preconceived notions (you can argue here, but why bother since everything is so subjective at this point?). These notions include things like "power cords make a difference" or "more expensive equipment is better" or "equipment from certain manufacturers is better".

We need more terms, but flat earther gets to it: Only believe the obvious.
So I'm mistaken about the Linn and Naim connection?
Some folks who make very good audio equipment may still be flat earthers -- although very sophisticated ones. I've read of a highly regarded speaker manufacturer who doesn't believe speaker cables make a difference (can't remember which one). I'm not familiar enough with the owners of Linn or Naim to answer that specific question though.
For most practical purposes, the earth is flat.
Flat Earth is also the name of a distributor of European brand audio equpment like Mana, etc.
I thought they were being somewhat ironic and it had something to do with records being flat.
Check out this page and what I think below.

Well I think this thread proves the point above that we need some new terms. I thought I was a borderline flat earther that is until I read definitions that were just about the opposite of what I believe about audio. I believe in P.R. a.T. Pace, Rhytm and Timing. I also believe in tonality. The last thing in the world I care about is measurements and I am sure nothing makes much more difference than clean power and correct vibration control. May SETs and high efficient speakers live forever.
Resistant to change despite evidence to the contrary.
Eldartford, remind me not to fly with you!
Flat Earthers believe the equipment serves the music, rather than the music serving the equipment.
Humph...All my records are round.
Can't figure it out.

said above >>>The last thing in the world I care about is measurements

I hope we aren't giong to label anyone who measures anything a flat earther.

I remain
So I don't fall into Dmason's definition of same, I will happily stand corrected by Jack n roberts note. This does demonstrate how language changes and how muddled some of our definitions can be. Whenever I've run into the flat earther term, the context has been more of an "objectivist" meaning than it has been a PRaT or "source rules" meaning. Perhaps the A/B comparison context from Jack n robert's site reference has been expanded to a double blind test context.
Flat earthers believe it when they hear it. Others believe whatever they hear.
I thought I was a borderline flat earther until the definition having once owned both Naim and Linn at the same time. I also believe in Pace Rhythm and Timing and singel speaker set demonstrations. I question double blind testing because one has to say this is better than that without taking in the whole presentation.

Now I'm not sure what flat earth means is it a company or a thought pattern.

Trust your ears they are never wrong. Even if you are hearing the summation of many wrongs
If the earth wasn't flat (i.e. if it was indeed round) we'd have trouble keeping our balance and frequently fall for no apparent reason. This phenomena does occur though, usually when one is impaired. Whether or not the earth is flat or round loses it's mystique when your face is up against a dirty brass rail at the foot of a bar. Time for my meds...
i always thought it was the segment of audiofiles who prefered to buy, restore or just listen to vintage equipment
We need to ask Art Dudley. In the October S'phile, while discussing the Simaudio Moon i-3 integrated, he says, "Here was a product that could satisfy both the flat-earthers and the high-end snootyphile camps..."

I think that Art is referring to those, like him, who care about getting the beats right (the Linn and Naim school) and such things as opposed to those care about--what?--imaging and soundstaging, I guess.

Aside: remember the inaugural issue of Fi? Big editiorial position taken against the value of soundstaging, as if that was how Fi was going to position itself vs. the rest of the audio mags. As if anyone would care. Didn't bode well.
I use to read Fi. And I do care about those Linnie attributes but first and foremost soundstaging and imaging make it real for me.

I also like images that are real height. Maybe that's why I subscribe to the Linn/Naim attributes but there is so much more.
'Flat Earther' *should* mean someone who believes what their senses tell them. What the term actually *does* mean, in relation to audio, seems to have been a little more open to interpretation, as evidenced by the various responses above. FWIW, my impression has always been exactly the opposite of those positing an intimate connection between the Flat Earth school and the measurements uber alles crowd. I always thought it was about hearing musicality, for instance as in continuing to prefer LP sound after the advent of early digital. (I would not surprised if the preceeding example was in fact the very issue at the core of the term's genesis.) And I agree with Drubin that there was apparently some association between the philosophy and certain conservative (in the sense that they kept unusually long-running models in their lines and stressed fundamental musical values) British gear makers. Surely someone on Audiogon knows the definitive story? Where are our UK members?
Alex, I agree, and I have also been reading the other posts you've put up this morning, and you are really on the mark today. I am in strong agreement with all your posts this morning. I feel like I don't have to post now, because you've already said what I wanted to say, on several threads. Good work!
Hey, we just aim to make Tom's life a little bit easier... ;^)

Seriously though, there have been many occassions you wouldn't know about where I have declined to post on thread simply because you already did so, and said everything I thought was worthwhile to be said. (You only know about the occassions where I jumped in to add my $.02 :-) It all evens out in the end...

There was a very vocal hifi publication published in the UK in the mid 80's called The Flat Response. The Flat Response militantly extolled the concepts which have since become known as PRaT(Pace, Rhythm and Timing). They argued that a stereo system should be judged by how well it communicates musical values,tunefulness & emotion rather than stereophonic imaging effects & the pursuit of absolute resolution and tonality to the exclusion of the former. They were also strong proponents of the source first, garbage in- garbage out philosophy of system building.Invariably they became strong supporters of products from Linn, Naim, Rega,et al.
Opponents to the Flat Response's ideals, including the more established UK hifi press mockingly referred to their readers/followers as Flat Earther's. Whilst the term was intended to be derogatory , those who followed the Flat Response philosophy took on the mantle as a badge of honour much as they have since embraced the similarly ridicule intended term of PRaT.

Why is it not surprising that it took a man of your username to set the rest of us straight on this issue? :-) I personally never use the term 'PRAT', and now I know why I don't use 'Flat Earther' either...and why a guy who writes about 'getting notes and beats right' does.
Just a little sidenote-
At the same time that "The Flat Response" was publishing in the UK, another small audio publication with a very similar "Flat Earth" focus and attitude began it's own brief but influential run in North America.
That magazine was called "HiFi Heretic" and its contributing editor was a gentleman by the name of Art Dudley. Music reviews were handled by a young punk rocker named Rob Doorack.

Just a little side note...

First Earth is not flat nor it is perfectly round. Its elliptical.

Flat Earth is an approximation because over a small area(surface area). The surface of the earth may appear flat, since the "bending" of the surface is very hard to detect over small distances.

What does any of this has to do with audio?? Not a damn thing but I was bored and I figured I'd amuse you all...

Have a good day
I'm not amused.
Ffontan...Actually, not elliptical. It's an "oblate spheroid" with many anomalies. (We get into this in the field of balistic missile guidance). And the shape changes several inches during the day.."land tide", and thermal effects. This science is almost as complex as audio.
What that you say? Next thing you know some one will say there is no man in the moon eating cheese. The earth is not oblate or elliptical! Its flat, damm it!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeh, I'm having a very slow day too.

Thanks for the correction, this is too funny...I work on the defense industry too. I guess I was guilty of making yet ANOTHER approximation by saying it's eliptical.

I have never worked on Guidance Systems for Ballistic Missiles, although I've worked on tracking problems before. I work mostly on image processing, and pattern recognition(ATR)...I love the subject of Fuzzy Pattern Recognition(I also like Neural Network theory) but no one in the industry seems to give a damn about it...

Sorry to hear you weren't amuse...I guess not everyone has a sense of humor, and some people have a real high sense of self importance...


Yeah man, my day was dragging yesterday...
Ffontan...Fuzzy logic may be OK for some applications, but when you are delivering several H-bombs you really want to be sure. (Good thing that the Chinese embassy was not our target!) We are incredibly conservative in our technology, and perhaps that explains why your field is not widely adopted.
I would respectfully to disagree on the Fuzzy Logic subject. It it would be a long discussion and I'm not sure this is the forum. But I'll say, the problem is a lot of people don't understand that Fuzzy Logic is nothing but a more natural way of representing things(data, physical models, etc...).
Ffontan...I know what you mean, but the guy who thought up the term "fuzzy logic" was asking for ridicule.
That's funny...In reality the term "Fuzzy" is used because conventional logic uses very hard boundaries to define events(groups, objects, variables, etc...). For example, under conventional logic an object either belongs or does not belong to a group.

Fuzzy Logic does not uses such hard boundaries and instead replaces it with "degrees of membership". Instead of saying an object either belong or doesn't belong in a group, it says, it belongs to the group with a certain degree of membership.

You could think of conventional logic, as a special case of fuzzy logic...or you could think of fuzzy logic, as a generalization of conventional logic...

Anyway the word fuzzy was used because boundaries between objects or groups or whatever, are not "hard" or "well defined", they are "fuzzy".