Why do many discussions about sonic performance disintegrate into technical discusions?

Guys I have noticed that certain members start with technical back and forth in discussions which look like they are self serving, to prove how smart or knowledgable they are, rather then forwarding the OP's original question.

Shouldn’t these discussions be moved into a separate post about technical stuff ie the techical merits of bibolar vs mosfets for example, if these members want to do that?

I think most member don’t care if a Krell amp uses brand x or y for transistors vs a Pass or any other amp, I think most people are more concerned with what the sonic differences there are vs specific technical arguments that are not related to the sonic flavor or design methodologies that these product use to produce their sound, what do you guys think?
I tend to agree with your assessment. I'm not really sure why certain folks, and only a few, tend to get bugged down on technical arguments which in most cases the OP didn't even ask or care about. A more annoying but related gripe I have is some of these members challenge other members who are obviously more qualified in expressing their position in an objective manner. We can argue all day long on subjective opinions but technical subjects are generally based on data and facts, both of which are absolute by definition.
That’s a little like asking car fans not to talk about the engines and wheels.

I think there’s plenty of room for both, but I also think a lot of what passes as technical discussions is not backed up by very much.

There is also a great deal to be said about how vendors market their product. Much of the advertising IS about technology, and goes something like "Tweeters made of unobtanium are finally able to reproduce music, let us show you the cool pictures." so this isn't just about the fans.

I think audiophiles who care a lot should in fact make their own stuff. Preamps/Amps/ Speakers. You learn a great deal even if you buy it all from a kit.
+1 @erik_squires   Yea, the car analogy is appropriate.  In trying to explain what being an audiophile or enthusiast is about, I often use the car analogy.  In the same way that we tweak our systems with different footers, fuses, cables to tailor the sound to our liking, auto enthusiasts will install special struts to tune the suspension, sculpted pistons, or fancy exhaust manifolds to eek out  a few more horsepower and torque from their rides.  

Just as the car guy/gal will describe the enhanced handling or acceleration of their vehicle we extol the sonic virtues of transparency textural smoothness etc. that we realize from tweaking our systems.

I like to read about the technical changes AND the sonic changes that they brought to a system.
What what percent of forum members are women? I’m also semi-active in a car forum and I’ve never seen a post by a woman. I wonder if all the gear talk, and the technical jargon, is just totally outside the realm for women. 
Penalty flag! 😠 Some women might consider your post to be a micro or macro aggression.  "The Horror"

 I am pleasantly surprised to hear so many members here mention their wives as anecdotally confirming the sound improvements they hear.  I must agree with you though that there appear to be few women who get into the gear part of this obsession.  Many do appreciate the nuances of fine sound in their homes, however.

The "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing has a lot to be said for it.

Lots of cliches arise from that reality.  Men purchase, women shop.  Men get lost, women stop to ask for directions etc.
So does lack of encouragement for women to be involved in STEM

I look forward to seeing more women engineers and fans in all areas of science and technology.

Look up Heddy Lamar. I bet if she was alive today she'd have lots to say about speaker and amplifier design.

I think that audiotroy is talking about two separate topics here:

1) Threads that go off the rail, off topic what the OP is asking about.

2) Whether technical jargon should be discussed in the forums.

Forgive me if I misread you, as I'm not exactly sure which thread you are referring to, but that is what it looks like to me.

As for 1, I do agree that I have seen many threads go off the rails, and it is rather disappointing to witness. Some threads have done this so badly, that I've deleted all of my posts in that thread, just so that it won't appear in my feed anymore. I've lost interest in the derailed thread.

For the second question, I don't like to totally focus on technical aspects, but I am very interested in some technical details. What kind of transistors or tubes an amp uses, MM, MI, or MC phono cartridge, metal dome or soft dome tweeter, dynamic, electrostatic, or planar speaker, can all be helpful information when trying to contemplate a reply.

These details, and many more, about a product I think can be useful information in these forums. Sure, some folks can go too far, with too much information. However, others can not provide enough information to get any helpful responses as well.

I think following topic number 1, if the OP clearly states that he is only interested in sound, and not technical aspects, that his request should be honored, and if someone wants to go into technical details about that topic, they should start their own thread.
However, if the OP does not rule out technical questions, the forum should be open to ask them.
Why do you continue to post here?


Without technical reasons as well as subjective reasons for X vs Y, then the BS will flow unquestioned, and then that would be a voodoo forum. 

When posters ask for advise for a problem or choice on something, I think it only helpful to give them not just recommendations, but a technical reason why those recommendations are given, otherwise you could be talking through your hat.

Too many times I've seen advice given on say what to amp to buy, without them first knowing what speaker that amp is going to have to drive, or visa versa.
Or on the danger side of things, suggestions of some to owners play to around with different value mains fuses, by those that should clearly not be suggesting anything in this area. 

Cheers George 

It's the technology that makes the sound.

I enjoy talking tech, but I am happy to leave discussions that stick to subjective impressions as well.

Neither is perfect.

Lots of "subjective" opinions don't match up to what I hear at all, or seem overly effusive in ways that seem more tied to price tags than actual performance.

On the other hand, lots of "technical" discussions I see are naive, or ascribe subjective results to a particular type of tech. A really good example of this is fans of a particular brand of DAC chipset used in a DAC as being responsible for all of the sound.

My point, I think, I hope, is that we can have both. I think there is something to be said about focusing more on the results, especially when armchair geeks start attacking designs for x or y flaw which isn't actually in the product.

Like wine, some want to talk taste, some price, and some fermentation. Let's enjoy the journey and discoveries together.



Technology is in reality in terms of subjective ways of telling a difference are useless in correlation to what you can perceive.

The only way to know the affect on a circuit of a particular part is to build x then take out the part  in question, and put in the other part and then listen. Some speaker designers have tried many brands of the same level of cap in their circuits before figuring out exactly which one they use.

In terms of pure statistical data guys. Take a gas chromatograph pour in
a bottle of ripple, a bottle of 15 dollar table wine and a 1,000 bottle of wine and see what your results look like?

Drive three different sports cars on the same road and see what the specs tell you.

Erik subjective experiences are just that, a particular set of criteria for that person, we usually don’t pass judgement on a product until we have heard it on a number of occasions.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
The only way to know the affect on a circuit of a particular part is to build x then take out the part in question, and put in the other part and then listen.
 Yes, using what before listening?           That's right!!  the dreaded laws of electronics test equipment and measurements.
There isn't a piece of audio equipment worth it's salt that hasn't been designed using these, and if there were, I'd suggest a very wide berth.

Cheers George  
Men are from Mars and women are from Earth. They are not interested in this infantile nonsense and rightly so, they have better things to do. As for some members mentioning their wives and girlfriends, if they really have them, it is because they are part of their audiophile gear to be proud of and to exhibit.
There is always room for some technical discussion in any thread, I think, just not to the point of overtaking everything else.
Gosh, whatever happened to good old (1) psychology, (2) evolutionary biology, and (3) the study of sensory perception: philosophical, subconscious and physiological.

Maybe add (4) flaws inherent in testing procedures. 😛
With mostly geriatric listeners and a crowd that hear the heavens open up from some gunk they threw on their contacts or a mere replacement fuse, I guess you should ask “is there actually any point in discussing sonic performance at all?”
I'm deaf. But thank God I can read.
Ignorance is bliss
Because usually there is a purely technical reason why some equipment or combination of equipment sounds the way it does.  We may not always know exactly why or even be able to measure these subtle differences, but they are subject to engineering analysis.  It's not magic.
Wow this is very important ill think about it and get back to you ASAP!!!
From a practical perspective, understanding the technology mainly helps one to achieve their own objective listening goals faster and probably more affordably than otherwise.

Not to say there are not other ways to achieve subjective personal listening goals as well leaving the technology totally out of it.

Technical and non technical people both want good sound. They just have different tools and means at their disposal to get it. It’s not reasonable to think they will agree on the same approach.

Isn’t that pretty much what makes the world go round? Move on...nothing special to see here.....
One problem I can foresee is some folks who demand or at least encourage are non technical. You cannot explain things that are technical to non technical people. Period. The issue is they think they know what the word technical means but they don’t. They assume it’s something everybody can easily grasp, something that makes sense. But obviously that’s not really true. 
Without techology we’re not having this sonic performance discussion. 
Without philosophy we would not be having this discussion.

Try designing and building an amplifier or pre-amp or DAC without using technology.

There is a lot of subjectivity in the high end audio world, but without technology we are back in the stone ages.

Want to talk subjectivity?  ask almost any high end audiophile how they feel about Bose......  then ask a regular off the street person that questions.  That subject, like politics are what I typically stay away from with people and non-audiophiles.  They just think we are real snobs.

I have absolutely no problem talking technology.  Often it is a technical reason that is the proper response to an OP's issue.

I remember my first amplifier design class in college.

Build an amplifier with the following specifications:

1.  output impedance of X

2.  Input impedance of Y

3.  power output of z wpc into 8 ohm load

4.  Totally discrete circuitry. your choice FET or BJT or both

5.  Frequency range of 20 hz to 20 kHz minimum and stable

6.  Class A or AB

7. include all equations showing operating characteristics

8.  Gain of P

First an Engineer must design suitable circuitry and then sound the device for the sound one is looking for.  Today, most are using modifications of existing circuit designs that are well know for their operating characteristics and sound quality.

Technology comes first.


Why do many discussions on religion end up talking about God?
@mapman  Dilly Dilly!!🍺
onhwy614,007 posts01-25-2018 1:30amBecause usually there is a purely technical reason why some equipment or combination of equipment sounds the way it does.

minorl571 posts01-25-2018 6:01am

Try designing and building an amplifier or pre-amp or DAC without using technology.

There is a lot of subjectivity in the high end audio world, but without technology we are back in the stone ages.


The only ones complaining about it are just "some" (not all) of the ones that don’t understand technical reasons, it baffles them, they tend to bury their heads in the sand and believe it’s all witchcraft that gets the good sounds, they can speak that BS as there’s no proving anything.

If they just did a 2 week basic electronic course they would understand a lot better and stop whining about what they don’t understand.

PS: They wouldn’t last 2 seconds at these places, where all the brains of this industries live and breath for a bit of banter.
People like Pass, Curl, Hansen rip, ect ect ect all reside at these links, why because there’s no BS witchcraft in design, just technology and measurements.


Cheers George
The fact different folks have a different basis to look at and understand and make sense of the World around them.
The most basic would be a divide between thinkers and romantic types.
Thinkers want an explanation, Romantics want to know how it feels.
And, often, never the two can agree on much at all.
Thinkers want the technical detail and call that the truth. Romantics dismiss that, and call the way they respond and feel about the things to be the truth.
This very simplified but does point out the difference and why the problems arise between the two (most basic) types

People write what they know from experience…shocking! Also, I’m not sure if a car analogy (in which I’ve indulged as I want people to know how sophisticated and cool I am) actually works as cars have design absolutes that can be easily tested, although how you "feel" about cars is another thing. Also it’s sexist and utterly inaccurate to state things like "They (women) are not interested in this infantile nonsense and rightly so, they have better things to do." I can’t let a lame comment (and any other ignorance based sexist nonsense) like that slide as it simply perpetuates stereotypes that just don’t fit in the world today, and it’s not good for anybody. I live in a world populated by many smart, artistic, and strong women, always have, and sexist generalities are simply lazy and kind of dumb. Note that the only reason many women are less likely to be part of the technology world is due to those exact stereotypes promoted by frightened men, religions, and subsequently weak minded women.
What percentage of Audiogon members are women? If you are referring to my comment above, I think you misconstrued my intent. I was not making claims about women’s intelligence and scientific capabilities, which I believe are absolutely equal to men’s. It’s a fact, that technical fields are dominated by men. There are well-documented cultural and historical reasons for this. How many women are choosing to go into EE? Why when I watch videos from the audio shows are the great percentage of people there male, white, and over 50?

The gear-head discourse is important to those who enjoy and find it meaningful. It’s not accessible to a great majority of folks, not because they lack the apptitude, but because they lack the background and the interest. The early days of personal computers were all about CPU performance and clock speed. How many people know or care about the CPU they have in their laptop? Hobbyists, gamers, those in the industry? We need both approaches. The highly technical will lose the vast majority, but perhaps that is of no consequence.
The American hifi mags have perpetuated the myth that it’s all about components. This CD player is class A and that amp is class B. Any component can slot into any system.

We don’t listen to components, we listen to systems. In some systems the components integrate well and are more than the sum of their parts, and some systems just sound disjointed and out of sorts. The Brits have emphasized this for years.

Some of that has to do with specs and how various components electrically interrelate, and some just comes from a knowledge base of others who have tried various combinations of components. 

It would be hard to buy a fine watch without knowing how many complications it has, and hard to buy a car without knowing how many cylinders it has, it would be hard to buy a diamond without knowing the three Cs, of course, unless it was going to end up at the end of your cantilever. We live in a technical world where we try to quantify our purchases using various metrics.
I addressed your first paragraph by noting sexist discrimination and cultural issues that contribute to your "it's a fact" statement, and the second paragraph does't apply to anything I've said although maybe that wasn't aimed at my comment…I welcome any approach as relevant, and anyone who doesn't should get out more…example: "You like it because it sounds good to you or maybe because you think it's technically superior, or both." Or maybe it just looks cool…smells good…it's shiny!
Thinkers want the technical detail and call that the truth. Romantics dismiss that

Hang on Elizabeth!, just because one understands the technical side, doesn’t mean your not an "Audiophile" who doesn’t love music also. Because if they didn’t love music they wouldn’t be here!! They’d be on "fridge circuits anonymous" or something, or some pure tech head forum.

The gods of Audio EG: Pass, Curl, Hansen ect hang out for tech discussions, and they are Audiophiles.

But an "Audiophile"/Romantic who also loves music, can have not one shred of knowledge, and will therefore not understand it and tend to dismiss if an ignorant or snake oil purveyor .

Cheers George
Tastes Great!!
Less Filling!!

Well I can see that this thread is moving along nicely, well done!
Carry on!

Dear George,
The flaw of Western thought is the 'either/or', yes/no, black/white attitude going right back to Classical Greek thought.
This is in contrast to Eastern thought which considers both side to be part of one whole.
I see you are a strong believer in the West's crowning achievement of making it all as divisive as possible.
Elizabeth I am glad you are posting again. A voice of reason and practicalness. Thank you. Yes practicalness is not yet a word in the dictionary, but I like it. 
@elizabeth   yin yang...the golden mean   Light is needed to define darkness.🤔
Classical Greek thought was greatly influenced by Middle Eastern thought. The other way around is also to a degree true.
One can be both a "thinker" and a "romantic", but balance will vary, yes.
Gee, and all I'm trying to do is learn about the science behind the Synergistic blue fuse which uses Quantum Inductive Coupling.  Can anyone explain that to me in a non-technical manner?
falconquest332 posts01-25-2018 10:49amGee, and all I’m trying to do is learn about the science behind the Synergistic blue fuse which uses Quantum Inductive Coupling. Can anyone explain that to me in a non-technical manner?

This is going to be real good and how it applies to a fuse !

Your up Geoff!!

Cheers George
I believe Elizabeth was referring to the far east...specifically China, India, Pakistan. Not mush contact between classical Greek society and those folks!😲
I think this, quoted from above, sums up most of it:

"I think that audiotroy is talking about two separate topics here:

1) Threads that go off the rail, off topic what the OP is asking about.

2) Whether technical jargon should be discussed in the forums.

Forgive me if I misread you, as I'm not exactly sure which thread you are referring to, but that is what it looks like to me."

Beyond that - and not defending arguments, flame wars, or pedantic back and forth, technical details result in the sound.  Often, an observation that "A sounds great" is really only true in a specific context - due to technical stuff :-)

So if we understand what is REALLY going on, we can have far better understanding of what will result in great sound.

That said, finding the root cause, while holding all the other factors constant is really, really hard.


@hifiman5   There was a decent amount of contact and engagement between the 'ancient' Greeks and the 'less ancient'  "~India~"

@innaI believe Elizabeth was referring to the far east...specifically China, India, Pakistan. Not mush contact between classical Greek society and those folks!

Here's a highly summarized version, courtesy of Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece%E2%80%93India_relations):

For the Greeks "India" meant only the upper Indus till the time of Alexander the Great. After "India" meant to the Greeks most of the northern half of the Indian subcontinent. The Greeks referred to the Indians (people of present-day India and Pakistan) as "Indói" (Ἰνδοί), literally meaning "the people of the Indus River".

Ctesias in his work Indika (Greek: Ινδικά), records the beliefs and view of the Persians about India.

The Greek explorer Scylax, in about 515 BCE, was sent by King Darius I of Persia to follow the course of the Indus River and discover where it led.

Alexander the Great and his army fought the Indian army of King Porus at the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great and later in another Greek invasion Chandragupta Maurya of India defeated Seleucus 1.

Part of today's India became the Indo-Greek kingdoms founded by the successor of Alexander the Great. (Greek conquests in India)

The Greek ethnographer and explorer of the Hellenistic period, Megasthenes was the ambassador of Seleucus I at India. In his work, Indika (Greek: Ινδικά), he wrote the history of Indians and their culture. Megasthenes also mentions about the prehistoric arrival of God Dionysus and Herakles (Megasthenes' Herakles) in India.

In addition, the epic poem Dionysiaca, mention about the God Dionysus expedition to India.

Arrian, in his work Indica (Greek: Ἰνδική) has written about India.

Dionysius was also a Greek ambassador at India, sent by Ptolemy Philadelphus.

The Heliodorus pillar is a stone column that was erected around 110 BCE in present-day central India in Vidisha near modern Besnagar, by Heliodorus (Greek: Ἡλιόδωρος), a Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas to the court of the Shunga king Bhagabhadra. The site is located only 5 miles from the Buddhist stupa of Sanchi.

The Greek historian Apollodorus and the Roman historian Justin, affirm that the Bactrian Greeks conquered India. Justin, also describe Demetrius I as "King of the Indians". Greek and Indian sources indicate that the Greeks campaigned as far as Pataliputra until they were forced to retreat following a coup in Bactria in 170 BC.

The Greek sophist Philostratus, in his work Life of Apollonius of Tyana (Greek: Βίος Απολλωνίου του Τυανέως), mention that the Greek philosopher Apollonius have travelled to India.

The King Phraotes received a Greek education at the court of his father and spoke Greek fluently.[1]

Diodorus, quoting Iambulus mention that the king of Pataliputra had a "great love for the Greeks".[2][3]

Eusebius mentions that according to Aristoxenus, Indias went to Athens and conversed with Socrates.[4]

Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greeks, leading to the Greco-Buddhist cultural syncretism. The arts of the Indian sub-continent were also quite affected by Hellenistic art during and after these interactions.

I did't know the Greek-Indian contacts were so extensive for centuries. To add - Persia, also being part of Indo-Iranian civilization, had complicated relations with Ancient Greece, often confrontational but not only. Significant part of Alexander The Great's army settled down in Persia, and not because they really had to. Persia was militarily defeated by Alexander but not quite conquered in a usual sense.
Chinese civilization is a totally different thing.  
Don't beat around the bush. Just call me out. 

As far as I can tell a great deal of these debates begin with heated banter about superficial specs. Eventually somebody makes some more technical claims with unequivicating certainty which in fact can be hotly debated. I think the ultimate truth when it comes down to discreet components is how you implement them and the compromises you want to make to achieve a given result. For whatever reason some feel only one result is ideal and ardently advocate for it. I tend to think the ideal result for a given component depends on a lot of factors. 

Did the Egyptian's create the sub-woofer? I did wonder what the pyramids were for. Not alien after all...
@david_ten   I believe you are missing the point!  The Greeks under Alexander sought to "uplift and civilize" the savages of the East by imposing the superior? Greek culture on Eastern societies.  That was the whole point of the Hellenistic Age.  Alexander's adoption of some of the trappings of Persian and Indian culture were an effort by him to alter his image as conqueror to affable civilizer.  🤔

Put simply Greek civilization was imposed upon the East.  The East's culture was seen as inferior by the Greeks...indeed the Greeks referred to them as "barbaroi" the origin of the English term, Barbarian.