Why do Audiophiles feel the need...

Why do so many audiophiles feel the need to post opinions on gear they've never owned or had such limited experience with that their opinion is valueless to the OP? Not only here, but on other audio forums, at least 50% of the posts (and I think I'm being generous) start with: I've never heard the XYZ but...

When I was participating in an auto detailing forum, teaching myself the finer points of achieving an exquisite auto finish, if someone would ask about brand X polish, I would never see a post stating: "I've never used it, but..."

My opinion is that many people spend so much time dreaming about this stuff that they've convinced themselves they know what it actually sounds like. I know it's only a hobby, but I think a poster who asks about a specific piece of gear is better served by opinions of those with experience with that gear. Maybe it's just me. Sorry if I offended anyone.
Why do people give you directions when they are not sure where something is located? I suppose they want to be helpful and not appear stupid. So, they just act stupidly instead.
Sometimes there can be relevant information. For example, "I've never heard the XYZ but if you look at the abc measurements done by Stereophile on page ppp ..", but in most cases, it's just wanting to chat.

Also, if you have heard the specific piece of equipment under show conditions, but not owned it, it's hard not to add your 2 cents. We don't want to be left out of the dialogue.

It actually bugs me when a poster asks a very specific question about a piece of kit and prefaces it with "only those who have owned this should reply". You have to take the rough with the smooth.

Not just you, me, also. I really appreciate the people who have the gear, or who have actually auditioned it, sharing their experiences. Otherwise, its all talk, talk and more talk.
"...if you ain't heard it, you don't have an opinion..."

Didn't Gizmo say that?
Sort of like 3rd grade soccer where the kids don't understand yet the importance of position; everyone runs toward the ball. And sort of like behavior reflective of our times with corporate media blitzes, case in point being the current swine flu epidemic. From the pop media standpoint, we're often led to believe there is nothing else happening in the world of greater importance, that we should all run toward that issue, even though tens of thousands die each year in this country from "normal, boring old Type A influenza" every year.

We want to participate in communities that are meaningful to us, Audiogon is such a community. As in life it is important to contunally separate the wheat (opinion based on direct experience) from the chaff (opinion based on wishful thinking).
I don't think you necessarily have to own the gear to opine. When I was assembling my system, the dealer was using a certain brand of speakers I didn't own for demo purposes. I must have listened to them at least ten times and I would certainly feel competent to add something to a thread. With a really new piece, even a "show demo" might prove somewhat helpful, although the conditions are usually pretty bad.
Good point! I always wondered about that...also I would like to hear from the designers not the dealers in the replies...
I think a lot of us have a tendency to overgeneralize. We have owned X number of tube amps or moving coil cartridges or planar speakers , etc. For most of us this will rarely exceed a number that can be counted using our fingers. From this limited sample we make broad generalizations.
I've been spending too much time and money on music reproduction since the late 60's ( and don't regret a min. or dollar spent) - part of what is so challenging today is that even if we limit ourselves strictly to the reproduction of music - there is a incredible variety of good to great sounding gear available.Further complicating things is the reality that within a system we are seeking synergy and I gotta tell you over the years I have repeatedly made one "improvement" in my systems that totally craped on the sound.Was that component "bad" sounding or just bad when used with the rest of my equipment ?
I will say that on this or any of the unrelated forums I frequent - if you ask for first hand experience vs. philosophical opinions - you get a whole lot fewer responses - and probably a whole lot more information.
I think that will depend on what and why. Like myself, when I listened to the Manley stealhead, ARC PH7, Nagra VPA and other phono stages. I listened for week to all of them together and seperatly. That is still limited experience. I picked the Nagra over the others. If I see threads about any for the items I listened to, I post to inform the person of my observations of that item. Even if it is not the item I desided to purchase. This also go's with any piece of equipment I auditioned. My opinion is only that and should only loosly guide the person. I think that is all they are going to use it for. If they use it for much more than that, good luck to them. I myself would never buy an item from anothers opinion. Unless it is a cartridge. I can't get anyone to let me take one home to audition.

If we do not ask or answer questions here or on other forums then where would we ask and that includes your thread.

It's the almost same as asking a sales man. How much time do you really think they get to listen to all the equipment in thier store. They don't sit in the room with the customers listening. I listen to thier opinion but do not purchase on thier recomendation either without listening for myself. It just narrows the field.

How do you deside what is limited experience? A day, week, month or more?
I think it fullfills a fantasy that they could be on the staff of Stereophile or Absolute Sound and write an opinion that all would make a "intelligent" buying decision. Also we all have a need, as Samjohn states, to be helpful. And this is a place where one can do this with anonymity and nor real consequence. Whoops there I go again!
I'll second that Bravo!!
Some people have an overwhelming urge to feel a part of something and contribute. Just let them be and ignore their posts.
I agree with you. I never comment on equipment I haven't heard. Now I may comment on the musical philosophy of a particular company(each audio manufacturer emphasis certain aspects of audio reproduction over others because no one piece of equipment can do it all). An example would be Nordost. I find their cables to be on the analytical side; however I have not heard every cable in their line so it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a cable I haven't heard. Dynaudio is another example. They tend to have a more laid-back sound than the more in your face aggressive performance of other speaker manufacturers(I'm looking your way B&W), but I'm not going to comment on a particular pair of their speakers that I haven't heard.

So I think the salient point here is that I don't have a problem with people giving opinions about the particular sound a manufacturer has, but I do have problem about people commenting on equipment that they have never heard. It's a fine distinction, but an important one.
Jeff- "If you haven't heard it: You have no opinion" is a quote from Ivor Tiefenbrun, the founder of Linn Audio Products. Not really that profound, but completely accurate!
Limited experience is better than no experience. I've never driven a Porche 914, but as a passenger, I can tell you the ride was harsh. My point still has validity concerning comfort.
It would save a lot of time to simply post, "You're a moron if you don't buy X, which I own." Simple declaration, followed by potential condemnation is always more efficient.
I've never read a post like that, but I don't think it's a real problem. If I ever saw a post that began that way I would simple stop reading it and go to something else. Did you follow my advice?
I really have nothing to say about this topic but I did want to post something.
an opinion is neither true nor false. if someone owns a component it is still impossible to know what it sounds like. don't take my word for it. it can be proven, mathematically.

how useful is an opinion about a component one has owned ?

probably of some value. yet, there is a risk in taking opinions and acting on them,e.g., purchasing a component.

i think the most value from anecdotal reports is when there is a comparison between "a" and "b" .

for example, comparing the "sound" of two preamps gives a relative relationship between the affects of placing two components into a stereo sytem, without saying what each component sounds like.

i am going through the process of selecting a preamp. i am a little hesitant about asking for opinion about each of the preamps i am considering which are:

cj et2, audionote kits l2, art audio and gill audio preamps , cary audio slp 98 and audiovalve eklipse.

i am going to try to audition as many as i can rather than asking for opinion.

however, any comparisons between the affects of comparisons may help. perhaps if there were a consensus say, comparing the cary with an art preamp as to tonal balance, it might eliminate one of the products. unfortunately system dependence is a consideration.

the relevance of this to the thread is: owning the product does not necessarily make for more useful information, because an opinion has some probability of being true and false, and the probability is unknown.
i made an error in one of my posts. i mean to say: how useful is an opinion about a component from the owner of the component ? sorry for the error.
I find most opinions are useless. Your associated equipment may not be the same, your listening environment may not be the same, you may not hear as well, or the same, as what I hear. What you hear may sound yellow, where I hear purple. Only you can have the best opinion. The other folks mean well, but you may find their view doesn't meet your expectations.
Some dealers do the same thing. I've had a few dealers ask what I'm currently using and then tell me my amp or another component of mine "has to go" because it is dark, thin, or whatever derogatory comment is on the tip of their tongue. Most times when I've asked if they've actually heard the component that has to go they've admitted they have never heard one but are positive theirs sounds better! They probably spend their evenings reading the same unqualified opinions that this post refers to.
Couldn't agree with you more. For the most part, they probably think they are being helpful. What bugs me even more is when someone posts a thread which is hijacked by two or three other posters and the dialogue between them is totally unrealated to the original poster's question. That I think is rude!
I have not read any of the posts on this thread, but feel the need to disagree with all of you anyway. Which reminds me, what do you think of the Davone Rithm speakers? I have never heard them, but I understand if you turn them upside down they make a great rocking chair...
I do find that while I take knocks with a grain of salt - I do pay attention to endorsements of particular products and /or services. When someone says I owned and used X for X or XX years without a problem and enjoyed it - that's IMHO important information.
The reason I'm a little less interested in the knocks is I was a service manager in this industry for many years - people are sometimes disappointed in equipment for reasons that have very little or nothing to do with that particular product.
For someone to disagree with everyone on this thread without even reading the posts makes little sense. It only leads me to believe that they have little to contribute because they Knownothing!

Yes, many threads Knownothing does... know nothing. This thread though, Knownothing attempt to be "ironical". Maybe Cyclonicman attempt to be "ironical" too...
I've noticed many Know-nothings that have swirled through these threads, in a Cyclonic man-ner, for years. =8^)
Valueless? Is that even a word?
Does one have to drive a Lamborghini to know that they are some of the finest automobiles in production today?
It would be nice if we could audition all the high-end equipment discussed here but that is just not possible.
Opinions are formed on personal tastes , reviews, and here-say. Like you, I know a quality product when I see one. Take Playboy magazine for example. I can certainly appreciate the beauty of the young ladies pictured but chances are slim to none I will ever met meet them in person. That does not prevent me from forming an opinion on what I see and read. Just like theses beautiful women most High-end gear is way out of my league, not to mention price range.
We can dream though.
In all the years I've been on Audiogon, this is the best thread I ever remember reading. I love it when the obvious gets talked about - it seems so novel and yet so familiar at the same time. These posts, when read one after another, make for a terrific story - a fundamental one at that. It's one that everyone can relate to in some way. It is a question and an answer, in one. Too funny.

Audiogon is not a military camp where precision is required. Relax and enjoy the ride. Don't see why folks stress over issues like this. It’s just human nature to try and help even if it does not address the issue. I enjoy reading other’s opinions even if it does not pertain to the issue being addressed. Relax folks relax, there are more important issues to stress over.
Marc no; it's not just you. And this phenomenon (opining in ignorance) is hardly limited to the fundamental hardware per se. Some examples...

"I have never experimented with upgrade AC cords, interconnects, speaker cables, line conditioning, dedicated AC circuits, fuses, NOS tubes, but undoubtedly they all sound the same".

"I never sampled various racks, shelving, cones, footers, contact cleaners, record washes, static neutralizers, room conditioning, but undoubtedly they all sound the same".

"I have never tried x,y,z, because how could that possibly make any difference at all? It can't because I said so".

And I always like to sum it all up with my standard rebuttal: "All Doubting Thomas's sound the same".
look at this issue another way.

i would say it is not sufficient to own a component and provide an opinion.

here is my dilemma:

suppose one configures a stereo system. after , say, one year, can one describe the sound of the amplifier ?

one listens to the stereo system which contains the amplifier.

how does one ascertain the contribution of the amp to the sound of the stereo system ?

at best, if one introduces another amplifier, one can compare the difference in the sound of the stereo system when listening through each amp. such an explanation does not tell you definitively the sound of the original amp.

what i am saying is that one can compare the sound of two components in the context of a stereo system, without knowing what a particular component sounds like.
Great topic. My beleif is that if you haven't used it , you don't have an opinion.I get a chuckle out of people voicing opinions on equipment and acessories that they have never heard, let alone used in their systems, what a joke!!
This discussion or any other is not going to stop folks from responding to topics they know nothing about. If you have an issue with it, then don't post a topic.
We're all largely advocates and my sense is that we would benefit by increasing our inquiry to advocacy ratio. Anyone else share this sentiment?
can anyone tell me how it is possible to know (definitively) the sound of a component?

opinions are conjectures. most of what is said on any subject is an opinion because it is very difficult to attain knowledge.
But when someone has components in a system and they do change out something in the chain, that is still a valid opinion IMO. The reason being is that if I have a benchmark of what my system sounds like with specific components, regardless of what I replace, the overall sound might change, degrade or get better or may not change at all. From that benchmark, one could ascertain that for this particular configuation, an amp or premap harmonizes well with the rest of the system. To me, synergy seems to be a great part of the equation. When I listened to the Einstein preamp, I noticed a more in your face shout at me attitude compared to my 5th row Octave preamp.

I am stating that I did not like the Einstein over the Octave, but I prefer the soundstage that the Octave presents.

Soliciting opinions, or better yet, experiences from people who have different realworld experiences, usage with the equipment in question and in different configurations, aids tremendoulsy to someone seeking more information about a product.

If the trend pattern seems to indicate an amount of disparaging problems, setup complications, customer service and limited amount of synergestic equipment matches, I MIGHT think twice about a product. But, if I know about such issues and I am willing to accept them, I might just go and by the product, contrary to popular trends.

Soliciting an opinion in these forums is a means to measure the amount of comments, either negative or positive and then make your own informed decisions. If I based my decisions on what other thought of my equipment, I probably would not have as much musical satisfaction as I do now.

Therein lies another factor to the equation, it is your money and you intend to spend it as you choose anyway. make yourself a list of the components that you feel suit your needs, and then start trying to conduct research using the Internet, other forums, and of course in house demonstrations. I find these measures help me to establish a baseline that is far more satisfying then just soliciting opinions alone. Take the purchase; most likely an expense that is calculated, if you are like the rest of us in the lower income brackets, then create a process along the way that will help you evaluate what you want, need to like in that component. Again, it is for you in the end, not for anyone else, so ultimately, you will need to make the decsions, no matter how many opinions you solicit.

Ok, can someone tell me the best silver interconnect for tube amps! Your opinions needed, please.
Audioquest4life, I have not had any experience with silver interconnects nor tube amps but I can recommend copper and .......

So tell me how you really feel about the copper, and how was the purity, was it 9 nines copper purity. Since we discussed copper vs. silver cables, ad nauseam, then we should get some great impresssions, but I personally think that silver with WBT's exhibit........because they are silver. What do you think?