Why do so many members seem afraid of making an audio decision?

I mean it's a hobby sort of.  It should be fun.  If you cannot hear the difference between two components, cables, or tweaks, then you can't.  It's ok not to.  Honestly, I sometimes think that some mass hysteria hits the audio community over a new product that later doesn't pan out or some (big)scandal, and people get bent out of shape over it. 

    Here in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs I'm fortunate to have a pretty good slice of audio dealers plus having very different opinions on the subject.  That I think is great.  I may not agree with some dealers' tastes or recommendations but that's also ok.  After doing this for a while, you learn from your mistakes and also get a handle on what you, yourself like without having to have someone else always telling you.  What I have learned over decades;  if I like something, I like something, and if I don't like it or hear it, or think it's an improvement, well I pretty much trust my own decision making.  I come to Audiogon hopefully to learn from the more experienced enthusiasts about recent developments and about my own stuff. 


some develop their own mental listening reference for decisions, and their own decision process. some prefer to rely on other’s opinions and trust their references. for some the process of investigation is work, or maybe not something they have the time (or opportunity) to do.

both are legit approaches.

personally one of the most satisfying parts of the hobby is system building decision making. just love the personal listening investigations.....and posting about it.

i went a couple years of reading reviews and getting recommendations for gear purchases and eventually 20 some years ago, found my own ear for things. it’s something one can learn.

The stuff costs a lot of money. It can make a mess of a room. Putting it to full use can drive other family members...not to mention neighbors...nuts. The magazines and websites that cater to the trade possess writers who are talented and convincing enough to make you think that your opinions...or shall we say your ears...are less than stellar. In other words, the pursuit isn't exactly guilt-free.


Then again, it ain't like a motorcycle. The worst that can happen to you is a bit of tinnitus, and a hernia from lugging the components around the room in order to find their perfect locales.

Having gone from a city once rich in audio retail (NYC) to Austin (which is pretty thin on the ground), many people cannot get the opportunity to audition equipment before they buy- let alone in their own systems. That of course is the ideal before plunking down your hard-earned.

The direct to consumer models, where home trial is offered, with some adjustment on returns/shipping costs borne by the buyer, is OK- I guess for smaller items- say a DAC-- it may not be a big deal. But, for larger items, turntables that require set up, cartridges- which are usually not returnable unless defective, people simply don't have the opportunity to assess for themselves. 

Thus, the agonizing. I think people are better served by user input from those who have actual hands-on experience than by the legacy audio press. Obviously, no two systems and rooms are the same either. But a broad cross section of users of a specific piece of gear should give the reader a fairly good gauge of what the unit in question can do, what its weaknesses are, where the synergies lie. 

Nothing wrong with that in my estimation. That is one of the values of a forum such as this.