PDA

View Full Version : The international audio industry- operating as any big business does ...



HUG-1
17-02-2012, 09:04 AM
The music (recording) industry and the audio equipment industry share many characteristics. Both are driven by the for-profit motive, both appeal to emotions over logic, both are economically and technically stagnant. Both are masters at self-promotion and creating demand for mediocrity dressed up as revolution. Both are vicious, ruthless businesses.

The audiophile (a person willing to spend heavily on exotic audio equipment) is chasing a sonic dream, one which the cost-conscious recording industry does not recognise and does not provide. The illusion of limitless improvements in fidelity is a fantasy created by the marketing machine of the audio equipment industry not the record industry. This thread hopefully pulls-together the many words written here over the years cautioning consumers about getting caught-up in the pitiful mental torture of audiophilia.

A.S.
17-02-2012, 09:19 AM
If you read nothing else in this thread, read this!


The high-end audio industry need big spenders as Las Vegas needs big gamblers! On behalf of the audio industry I encourage you to spend, spend and spend again as you chase the impossible dream. Don't hold back! You have a credit card (or several) .... max them out on audiophile gear. Re-mortgage your house, sell your car. Live on baked beans and cornflakes. Do whatever is necessary to keep spending. Your Industry Needs You!

So, just for clarity, we here at HUG are positively encouraging you to support your hobby. So why this thread? Because audiophiles waste their own time, natural resources and cash making irrational, illogical purchase decisions which make others richer and do not give lasting satisfaction in exchange. That's downright disgraceful. Only a fool would repeat that mistake, but I see it day after day.

Audiophilia has characteristics of compulsive behaviour. From a marketeers perspective, that provides direct access to the emotional regions of the human brain bypassing the higher, logic, rational and self-control mechanisms. It is the fastest, cheapest, most sure way to induce consumption behaviour (i.e. going and buying) in the victim. If the marketeer can hold the victim in this state of suspended anxiety, and many audiophiles tragically exist in this condition, he is exceedingly vulnerable to suggestion, first from marketers, second (and crucially) from fellow audiophiles who are also in submissive anxiety. This creates a powerful positive-feedback trap which is as effective as crack cocaine and the longer the marketeer can hold the victim in this state of readiness to consumer, the better.

What adult would wish to find himself in that torture? Interestingly enough, wives and partners living with the afflicted reluctantly adapt and to and (barely) tolerate audiophilia. They can develop a lasting distaste for audio equipment and worse, music. We see far too women in audio.

What has become of intellectual freedom? What has become of listening to audio equipment under controlled conditions and arriving at proper, valid, repeatable, scientific conclusions about A v. B?

EricW
17-02-2012, 10:37 AM
Here's what seems different to me about audio, though.

I'm hard-pressed to think of another product for which so much of the "marketing" is in fact not done by the manufacturers themselves, but by the review and hobbyist press (including review websites now, of course).

I mean, there are (for example) a number of car enthusiasts, and several trade/review publications, but the hard-core marketing is done by the manufacturers, who spend a fortune on TV, radio and print ads (and have for a long time) designed to convince you that buying their particular product will be a life-changing experience. The car-review magazines, by contrast, are relatively objective and data-driven - speeds, acceleration, gears, fuel consumption etc.: sure, there's a subjective element (how the car feels to drive), but it tends not to dominate.

In audio, it's almost as if this paradigm is reversed. Most audio advertising that I've seen is relatively restrained (cables and exotica are perhaps an exception). The breathless, over-the-top promises of incredible sonic advances, 'blowing away' competing products, etc., seem to come more from reviewers than from the manufacturers themselves. It's as if the reviews create a specific language, which in turn the "audiophile" learns to speak. And with the language comes a set of beliefs, and those beliefs shape perception.

Is there any other field where so much of the "marketing" is done by third parties who don't have a direct financial interest in the product being marketed?

A.S.
17-02-2012, 11:16 AM
Here's what seems different to me about audio, though.... Is there any other field where so much of the "marketing" is done by third parties who don't have a direct financial interest in the product being marketed?I absolutely agree with your observation that in high-end audio, that the messenger appears to have more influence than the manufacturer. But it's not as simple as to say that the messenger is disconnected from the maker as a truly third party. The medium, the product and the messenger are rather better integrated than you may think. They must all generate enough income to feed themselves. But what of the modern communication tools available to a marketeer? Is the journalist still vital in modern marketing as he was in the glory days of hifi? To quote from the link 1c below ...


Accessing sources is crucial because information and knowledge do not exist as a natural resource that merely has to be harvested. It must be constructed by someone. The journalistic skill of identifying and reaching authorities or others who construct expertise traditionally gave journalists opportunities to report in ways that the general public could not.

Rule 1 of Marketing:
------------------

a) He who controls the channels of communication and the message reaching the consumer controls his marketing success.
b) He who control not only the direct channel (adverts, PR, give-aways, competitions, exhibitions, product placement etc.) but recruits an army of unpaid, unwitting 'volunteer messengers' can multiply the marketing message manifold
c) Recognises the declining importance of traditional journalism and increasing importance of social media (the army of unpaid messengers). More here (http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0519/p09s02-coop.html).

What 1b means, as you suggest, is that every time someone posts here and makes an warm, approving comment (based on an uncontrolled test) that equipment B is so much better than equipment C, a marketeer associated with B rubs his hands together. The volunteer has unwittingly been used, as we have here on HUG, as an unpaid agent in another brand's marketing success. And that I object to.

Did you know that media coverage is of such immense importance to marketing people themselves that there is a sub-set of the marketing industry who do nothing other than trawl the world, hourly, looking for mentions of a product or brand (for a fee)? These 'press cuttings' (as the used to be) are collated as daily reports and fed to the client's marketing director. Examples of media intelligence (aka press cutting) agencies example here (http://www.durrants.co.uk/?gclid=CKT7k_vypK4CFaQmtAodl1K_Pw) and here (http://www.ipcb.co.uk/). So every time someone posts here that amplifier A 'blows-away' amplifier B, this is being monitored, and being fed back into the marketing machine, to appear later as a brand endorsement - based on a total absence of objective testing.

And what happens if the enthusiastic owner of A discovers that it fails after six months and the after care is non-existent? Too late: his voice is of no interest.

Rule 2 of Marketing:
----------------------

The only news that is good news is GREAT news.

Las Vegas is the example of brilliant marketing. We are told that the new stage show is bigger, better, brighter, more exotic, more sexy, better lit, better sound, more incredible costumes and sets. Not only can the magician make a lion disappear he can now make an elephant vanish. No! Two elephants. Marketeers cannot live with 2% product improvements - which is probably technically doable - they have to have 40% which isn't doable. As EricW says, this amplification of reality leads to a language of excess. Every time outrageous and unsubstantiated product endorsements are made here or elsewhere the entire lexicon of engineering credibility is trashed.

A.S.
17-02-2012, 02:10 PM
Rule 3 of Marketing:
----------------------

Recognise the fact that 95% of people have no technical understanding. That's very good news! That means that ...

a) They cannot differentiate a technical fact from BS
b) They will not/can not ask awkward technical questions nor do they know what questions to ask
c) They can be bamboozled with techno-babble BS that has no engineering truth behind it

and best of all ...

d) they will then absorb the BS and regurgitate it as fact to others who like them have no means of separating technical truth from fantasy. A self-perpetuating BS marketing machine with strong positive feedback will keep the vendor in business for years!

Rule 4 of Marketing:
----------------------

Isolate, disconnect, manipulate, repackage and polish the product designer from the public through the marketing channel as if he/she were just another element of the marketing mix.

Designers are either ...

1) Living in a cloud of permanent, clinical self-delusion - i.e. they have reality/perception issues that touch other areas of their life, as would be obvious if you spent a few hours with them or
2) they are posturing in front of the consumer ('I'm a ruthless, profit driven monster at work, but the golf club know me as a charming, warm, generous pussy cat' or vice versa) or
3) they are just ordinary rather dull people* who are dedicated to their work and are trying to do their best, and want to concentrate on just that and leave all the dirty (buy essential) marketing stuff to others

Warning! The public do not have the ability to determine whether the designer truly falls into categories 1, 2 or 3. Whatever side of the designer's personality the public see is filtered through the tinted lens of the marketing/PR department. They can turn type 3 into type 2 with ease. It's vital that the designer remains enigmatic just in case the public catch him off guard! WHATEVER HAPPENS the public image must be maintained at all costs or the brand personality will suffer. The public image of The Great Leader must be honed and polished and above all else, consistent. If he wears black he must always wear black. If he sports a dandy little ginger beard he must always show a dandy little ginger beard, even in his seventies.

*Disaster! A shrinking violet is a dead loss in marketing. This personality ABSOLUTELY MUST be kept away from the consumer and media or ways found to elevate him to stratospheric, untouchable guru status.

thurston
17-02-2012, 02:53 PM
Quote:
I'm hard-pressed to think of another product for which so much of the "marketing" is in fact not done by the manufacturers themselves, but by the review and hobbyist press (including review websites now, of course).

But very much of that hobbyist-reviews are made under the influence of the romantic story that has been installed by the marketing-divisions before.

Of course this applies to Harbeth as well (although I guess they are part of category 3 of Rule No.4; hope they are not all dull though).

So if there is a review of a Harbeth speaker I already know what will be written when the sound is described: Very musical, slightly on the soft side, very nice for female voices and small acoustic jazz, not enough bam! for real rocking, very likely there is a sentence about the bass lacking to be a slamming enough, but hey they are not made for Party-music!

And when I met someone who had 2 pairs of SHL5s he talked all those sentences finally getting to "of course it has no real deep bass", as if the speaker were to good mannered to do that. And the fact is that the SHL5 goes as deep as 40Hz which is REALLY deep. But that did not fit the fairy-tale of an well behaved acoustic-music speaker. And it plays loads of electronic music I threw at them more convincingly than other (big floorstander-) speakers I know.

The same with CD-Players (where this thread somehow originated): Of course a Rega player sounds more rythmic, musical and analogue (hey they are a turntable-factory after all!) in these reviews.

Also there are myths that originate somewhere else: in German audio magazines (surprisingly) German highend-brands had a rather difficult standing for a long time. Every German product sounded somewhat perfect, was perfectly assembled but lacked musicality! Sort of "correct but lacking heart"! How fitting that this is how many people see Germans anyway! How could these machines sound any different!!??

...British audio sounds musical and well mannered.

...American audio sounds big, muscular, impressive, huge bass slam.

Therefore I could write a random review to any audio gear just by having some basic facts: what company, where from, how expensive is it (because that in the end indicates how good it sounds). Don´t need to listen.

For me that´s proof that the marketing guys did very good work for many years already. Marketing is not something new. We inhaled it.

A.S.
17-02-2012, 03:17 PM
Rule 5 of Marketing:
----------------------

There is no automatic correlation between actual cost and retail price. But the consumer has an unshakeable belief that there is!

If you design a new generation of car and because of improved design efficiency, new materials, new techniques, better cost control and performance although it actually costs less to make, you cannot reduce the selling price. The consumer simply would not be able to accept the counter-intuitive notion that more performance could cost less. The marketeer is obliged to increase the selling price simply to fulfil the consumers expectation of cost/performance and in doing so, increase profit even though that was not his direct objective. Not one consumer in a hundred would expect to pay less for more. Best way to disguise this reduced actual cost is to add some external adornment that justifies the higher retail price. This leads to rule 6:

Rule 6 of Marketing:
----------------------

If you are going to add cost to a product, make sure that it is visible cost, preferably on the outside of the case not buried inside where only geeks and boffin can discover it. If possible use exotic metals, fancy trimmings, mouldings/castings and unusual screws. None of these things add anything to the product performance but enhance the pride of ownership (i.e. ego). If you have to, or chose to, or are forced to add cost to the interior of the product not normally exposed to the consumer, justify that with technical words. If there is no hard technical justification (because for example, you do not have access to new generation super-ICS that your bigger competitors have and you have to use fifty chips when they use one) invent a justification for that.

Rule 7 of Marketing:
----------------------

Pare down the heart of the product to the bare essentials to perform the function. The money saved on material/labour cost should then be diverted into marketing and promotion where, $ for $, it offers a far better return. The total overall cost remains about the same, but marketing (indirect) spend is variable and can adjusted up and down depending upon sales. Material cost is fixed.

Rule 8 of Marketing:
----------------------

Don't worry too much about durability and brand longevity. If the product/brand fails it's not the end of the world.

Rule 9 of Marketing:
----------------------

You can sell anything if it's in an attractive package.

GregD
17-02-2012, 04:31 PM
I've read this thread and the one about CD players that this one sprang from. I have the following thoughts on the matter.

Audiophilia is very difficult to walk away from. A typical audiophile will have invested vast amounts of time in reading hi-fi magazines/internet articles, spent possibly tens of thousands on audio equipment and accessories and developed a whole circle of friends based around the shared hobby.

The audio hobby may well take up a large amount of their time - both physically and mentally. To be told that effectively all this is BS is not an easy thing to deal with. It's not simply a question of looking at the clear evidence and realising you've been duped for years and so just move on. People are being told to give up something that is important and perhaps all-consuming to them. They are being told to accept that they have literally been burning wads of cash in a bonfire for years and wasting their time on fruitless endeavours based on delusion or guruism. A pretty terrible thing to have to accept, even if it may be true. I can see why many wouldn't want to accept it.

What of myself? I've been in every camp on this issue. Sometimes I feel sick at what I've spent over the years and how much I've wasted on buying and selling. Other times I listen to my current system in a more equivocal mood and conclude that my expensive CD player and amps are wonderful and I wouldn't give them up for almost anything. At this point I can easily end-up reading about special equipment feet for £200 each and feel a real tension between what I'm told from the different camps. That probably sounds mad to Alan, I know. But the pull of the psychological forces mentioned in the first paragraph is very strong. And very real.

So what am I to do? Do I ditch the £25,000 pre/power which measures worse than a Quad 306? Dump the £6500 SACD player (SACD? Is that another marketing gimmick?) for a £200 machine?

I could dump the lot and recoup a fair few thousand pounds of my investment. Purchase a sensible, no BS audio system consisting of eg. cheap universal disc player, Quad 34 preamp to match my spare Quad 306 and keep the Harbeth P3ESR of course. Probably exactly what many would suggest I do. But I'd have to train myself to accept it!

Another point here is that to be honest, I am not obsessed with listening for the differences between audio equipment as some are. I do not really sit and listen for upper midrange harshness, or sound-staging blah blah. I just listen to my music and enjoy the melody and things like that! Shock! horror! Throw me out of the audiophile club!

I like reading about well-made equipment and am interested in some aspects of the technical performance. Maybe my interest in hi-fi is more akin to the way mechanical watchmaking is still admired. Mechanical watches are totally obsolete, no question, but they are still made and still technical innovations occur like silicon hairsprings which cost a fortune to make. Yet still the performance falls short of a £10 Casio! So very often I don't care that (allegedly) the same sound quality could be bought for less money. I like how dCS operate, the technical ingenuity of their products and the sound is in no way unpleasant either. I could say the same about Nagra Kudelski who made my amplifiers and have a wonderful history and heritage that I enjoy taking part in as an owner. My Harbeth P3ESR loudspeakers fit in with the above too, but have unquestionably improved the sound and enjoyment I can get from listening to my hi-fi system. I'll leave the implication for others to work out.

It's a difficult hole to get out of once you fall in, you just have to decide whether to climb out, keep digging or stay there because you like the peace and quiet down there!

Pluto
17-02-2012, 06:53 PM
Your level of sympathy for the "suckered" audiophile is commendable but....

...if you were setting out, say, 10 years ago on the road to good-sounding music in the home there are aspects of the decisions made by many that must be questioned, some more than others. Let's assume that the putative audiophile is of average intelligence and reasonably well-educated but not in science or engineering.


What purpose do the magazines serve other than to make a profit for their publishers? They are not there for the vocational scholarship of would-be audiophiles. Readers not realising this will become easy victims.
If you are told that two identically made cables sounded "different" would you not, at the very least, be highly suspicious and require proof?
If told you could use these "different sounding" cables to adjust the tonal balance of your system, doesn't a certain degree of common sense kick-in to ask, "wouldn't the provision of some tone controls be a better way"?
You are then told that such tone controls somehow destroy the "musicality" of your intended purchase. You might think it sounds harsh and nasty right now, but wait until it has burned-in after a few hundred hours of use have passed. Aren't these sufficiently bizarre concepts to set some kind of alarm bell ringing?

I could go on...

There is so much in audiophilia that simply beggars belief, defies common sense and certainly withstands not the slightest prod with a measuring instrument that it really makes me wonder how people get sucked in. I can only conclude that the marketing people have done a truly remarkable job in separating the desire for music in the home from the actual electronics that make it possible, that some loony retro-gene takes over the decision-making from rationale and the desire to, at least, understand a little of the underlying science.

thurston
17-02-2012, 08:28 PM
@GregD: I surely understand that it is very hard for an audiophile to dump all his beliefs within just a few posts in a forum.

What I do NOT understand that (and i assume that most people here are in audiophile wonderland for many years) people are so uncritical. Come on! You have heard it before!! The thesis that cd-players and amps sound virtually the same and cables DO NOT make a difference is not new. Remember Peter Walker of Quad!

Another example: In a German forum the thread "Do amplifiers sound the same" in the end had (no joke!) 540 pages (not posts, pages!!) and the people were already quite rude to each other. If I remember right on the very second page of this thread was an article of the German audio magazine "Hifi Stereophonie" where seven amps were tested against each other. In a blind test!! They concluded that "By today's standards the differences between amps were, no matter what music, no matter what volume, not noticeable." ..and so on. And that was 1977!!!!!!

How did people manage to withstand the need to be critical with themselves the following 25 years?? Similar things surely were published around the world lots of times.

How did the marketing-machine manage to put these results back under the blanket???

In a way it shows that marketing is stronger than our belief in ourself?!

PS
Mechanical watches are not about the exact time measurement. They are about fascination for anachronisms. Today an exact watch is possible for a few cents. The additional value of such an old-style-watch is more of a sentimental value (I am a marketing victim there as well, wearing an automatic-watch myself...) In audio instead people always insist of a real value/difference in sound quality.

A.S.
17-02-2012, 09:29 PM
It's a curious thing that we, as a society, have lost the interest in and ability to appreciate and value hand crafted, one by one skilled manufacturing - the village clock maker or carpenter. What's wrong with us?

As stated above, an analogue watch/clock is not a precision time keeper. It doesn't need to be. Its appeal is to those individuals who are less concerned about a second or two in their lives than the pleasure of ownership of something unique. Do they try and justify their analogue clock to other people? No. Do they concoct spurious quasi-engineering quasi-science to justify its use in a the modern world? No. They just get on with using the time piece with a quiet pride and pleasure. Marketing per se is not evil. What is, is folk tarting up mere unsubstantiated opinions about audio equipment as psuedo-scientific fact and then hoodwinking other even more gullible souls.

Can't we just celebrate equipment for the creative spark that brought it into existence without needing to justify its technical superiority? It probably isn't superior - so what? Does that diminish it's value or usefulness?

Rule 10 of Marketing:
------------------------
Get inside your target! A profiled consumer is a managed consumer.

Marketeers have to winkle out those in the general population who potentially could be motivated to buy a product or service. Marketing cannot afford to mailshot the entire population seeking buyers. It uses sophisticated data-mining techniques to combine analysis of bank account, credit card and warranties data with internet activity, searching and forum membership to build a detailed profile of the user. Modern consumers are always on several simultaneous marketeer's radar. Even here.

Here is the sort of profile that could result: '98.7% male, 79% living alone, little or no regular social contact with humans, less than average proportion of income spent on clothing, footwear, holidays, car, newspaper, cinema. $2/month spent on CD/DVD media. Regular purchase of magazine A, B and C. Subscription to magazine D. Attendance of trade shows annually. Average spend on product family PQR $120/month. Irregular burst purchase on single item $2500 every three months funded by credit. 8.2 hours/week spent on internet forums discussing XYZ products. Demonstrates all-consuming burning fascination with technical minutia ... an introverted self-absorbed lifestyle. Ideal for targeting with products groups XYZ, PQR and DEF.'

This profile would then be cross-correlated for associations with other similar individuals, brand associations (cross-checked against purchases), receipt of automatic promotional emails, typical response cycles (how susceptible he is to take-up of upgrade offers and at what price point he was triggered etc.). The consumer's profile would then be sold to companies selling products in the XYZ, PQR and DEF families. Their sales success (for example, in family PQR) would then be reported back to the market researchers who would update their records and sell on to XYZ and DEF for more selective targeted marketing.

Example of Google's reach into every corner of our on-line life here (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/identity/google-sugarcoated-privacy-policy-changes-to-mislead-users-group-charges/272?tag=nl.e550). Thumbnail (at bottom) shows that even by clicking on that page, twelve marketeers have recorded your interest .... they build another piece of your profile jigsaw.

Audiophilia and similar is, as I have sadly observed at close quarters, an extremely distressing condition for loved ones helplessly looking on which, as Pluto postulates with his retro-gene, seems to afflict a certain identifiable demographic group. Individuals lost to audiophilia are putty in the hands of the marketeer who through profiling manipulates mental pressure points with precision - as this doctor does (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpw31bvoLpg&feature=related). The marketeer switches of at 5pm and is out in clubs, pubs, cinemas, concerts interacting with others without a thought for the day job, his victims and his products. And whilst he's living and loving, his victim is incarcerated alone late into the night, huddled into a prison cell surrounded with his electronic gear. Is that a healthy lifestyle or a tragic, miserable existence? Does it have anything at all to do with the enjoyment of music? Is it avoidable? Is it right that marketeers should prey on the vulnerabilities of that type of consumer? Is it right that the industry positively encourages and feeds the the neurotic thread in a certain strand of consumers, seeking unachievable nirvana? That lifestyle is the fast track to serious ill health. Hardware is not a adequate substitute for meaningful, human contact with others who have no interest whatever in audio equipment.

Once in this submissive state, the marketeer has complete hypnotic control over his victim, the hapless, vulnerable, susceptible video gamer or audiophile. Believe me, this is a highly refined and honed art form. Best of all, as a 'consumption opportunity', these highly enthusiastic individuals do the unpaid sales legwork (via internet chatting, meetings at trade shows) of exciting and motivating "winding-up" other purchasing units into becoming further consumption opportunities! Bingo! A closed, low-cost marketing loop. It is this subversive marketing led positive-feedback to which I strongly object. The process I have explained above is not some Orwellian future - it is how marketing has operated for many years.

Fact: The appreciation of good music has little to do with the ownership of exotic audio equipment and absolutely nothing to do with the colour, styling, size or weight of any item of audio paraphernalia.

GregD
17-02-2012, 09:42 PM
@GregD: I surely understand that it is very hard for an audiophile to dump all his beliefs within just a few posts in a forum.

What I do NOT understand that (and i assume that most people here are in audiophile wonderland for many years) people are so uncritical. Come on! You have heard it before!! The thesis that cd-players and amps sound virtually the same and cables DO NOT make a difference is not new. Remember Peter Walker of Quad!

Another example: In a German forum the thread "Do amplifiers sound the same" in the end had (no joke!) 540 pages (not posts, pages!!) and the people were already quite rude to each other. If I remember right on the very second page of this thread was an article of the German audio magazine "Hifi Stereophonie" where seven amps were tested against each other. In a blind test!! They concluded that "By today's standards the differences between amps were, no matter what music, no matter what volume, not noticeable." ..and so on. And that was 1977!!!!!!

How did people manage to withstand the need to be critical with themselves the following 25 years?? Similar things surely were published around the world lots of times.

How did the marketing-machine manage to put these results back under the blanket???

In a way it shows that marketing is stronger than our belief in ourself?!

PS
Mechanical watches are not about the exact time measurement. They are about fascination for anachronisms. Today an exact watch is possible for a few cents. The additional value of such an old-style-watch is more of a sentimental value (I am a marketing victim there as well, wearing an automatic-watch myself...) In audio instead people always insist of a real value/difference in sound quality.

It's nothing new, people go with the crowd and stick with what feels good and familiar. Things that back-up what they already believe and don't challenge them. Intelligence has nothing to do with it. Intelligence never stopped anyone going insane, or from doing dangerous things or from rigidly sticking to ideas that are irrational. Just look at religions and all those anti-Darwin people in America. They're all together and they feel good about it. It doesn't matter whether there is or is not a shred of real evidence for what they're saying - it feels good and gets them excited. The alternative does not. And they are average people in every way.

As for the watches analogy, I was not comparing high-end audio with luxury mechanical watches, as so many have in the past. I don't believe there is a parallel between the persuit of the perfect audio reproduction system and the measurement of time using the mechanical watch. This is because as we have both stated, the mechanical watch is already not the most accurate tool we know how to make for the job.

My reference to these watches was to highlight the fact that certain technical developments do still occur in that field despite there being no practical reason to persue them. They do not advance the usefullness of the device in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, these developments still add to the attractiveness of the watch for enthusiasts. High-end audio too has technical innovations from time to time. Like DSD recording for example. There are a significant number of studio-types who will say there is no audible difference between 16/44.1, 24/96, 24/192 or DSD sampling. But it's still a fascinating development for me and so I like to own DSD-recorded SACD discs and use a SACD player that can read them, made by a company heavily involved in DSD from the beginning. Maybe DSD is not a good example but I choose to spend my money this way whilst fully aware of the naysayers views - I like the way music sounds on my equipment and the way it gets there.

If I was strictly only interested in pure sound quality maybe I would own different equipment. Probably some pro-studio equipment that's reliable and decently-priced with no frills casework.

thurston
18-02-2012, 10:15 AM
...just noticed my poor mathematics: since 1977 not only 25 but 35 years passed...

(should have been obvious as I am born before 1977 and I am older than just 25...)

Kumar Kane
18-02-2012, 11:00 AM
Periodically, one keeps hearing the high end audio industry wailing about it being a dying one. Deservedly dying I would say, from all one reads here.

One can't fool all the people all the time.

Even if the value numbers of industry sales aren't dropping as a reflection of this, I suspect unit sales would be, drastically. One reason for value numbers still staying up, could be because of higher and higher priced ultra high end equipment. I remember reading about a speaker pair for more than 150000 dollars. One of these days, there will be a million dollar pair.

As long as there are people in the world whose self worth is defined by their toys being more expensive than those of their peers, this state of affairs will continue, I guess.

On my part, I am very happy with the sound that my C7s make, from Quad amplification and some brand name interconnects and cables. Could there be cheaper electronics and cables that do the job? I am very sure there could. But I won't gain much in the bank by downgrading now, and I am happy with the Quad reliability. Upgrading and adding more kit like DACs - for sure that isn't something I will ever be doing.

Was I fooled for the many years I was an audiophile? Of course I was, I am as human as the next guy. And there isn't any point in singling out audiophiles for this, this behaviour is visible in every thing we use today - autos, mobile phones, even jeans - I am comfortable in 40 dollar Levis, but I am sure there are brands that sell them for some multiples of that price.

Opting out of this rainbow chasing is part of growing up.

STHLS5
20-02-2012, 12:02 PM
As I sit listening between these two players, I ask myself why I have not practiced what I preach. I should have disposed the 10 times more expensive player and settled down with the cheaper one. This is a sign of weakness. Without realizing I am materialistic. My ego of owning a so called better brand prevents me from doing what is right.

Perhaps, these are the weakness in me that are manipulated by the marketeers.

ST

{Moderator's comment. Don't be too hard on yourself. Nobody here has said that the cheap one must be better than the expensive one or the expensive one must be better than the cheap one. That would be a lunatic assumption. What we say is ~ firmly kindly and repeatedly ~ that IF you take the trouble to equalise the loudness between equipment, suddenly and mysteriously these marketeer-hyped sonic differences diminish or vanish. The buyer can then concentrate on the real issues of build quality, brand reputation, engineering innovation, user features and longevity/serviceability which are usually worth paying more for. Perhaps much more for. They are very difficult product benefits for the marketeer to sell.}

kittykat
21-02-2012, 05:50 AM
Periodically, one keeps hearing the high end audio industry wailing about it being a dying one. Deservedly dying I would say, from all one reads here.


Your wish has already come true, many years ago but they didn't wail.

Were the 70 and 80's the peak of sound equipment state of the art when engineering and technology was stretched to the limits? Philosophy and conviction seemed to be the order of the day and it pushed issues like stylus shape and cartridge type to the forefront of discussion. There seemed to be more intense competition as well in technology eg. Pioneer vs. Yamaha when it came to FM tuners or use of available technology like vfets between Yamaha and Sony. All in all, the customer got a good deal through "better" products when technology trickled down and performance gaps closed between models.

I'm all for state of the art and high end. If it weren't for "high end" products, big spenders and "first mover" consumers, we wont have common technology like anti lock brakes and air bags today. We probably even might not have the transistor and how it is applied as we know it. Today's "high-end" however seems to be a manifestation of the demise of big moneyed organisations, replaced by relatively low investment, low research but high machining and design organisations. its just a sign of the times.

The large organisation tinkerer and engineer (think Philips and Sony) who sat at tables playing and measuring circuits all day is more or less over, sad to say, at least when it comes to "hifi". Few organisations can afford that luxury . There just isn't a market for that and the small specialist companies you describe just don't have the funds or skills for paradigm moving technology. The last innovation in our hobby was the compact disc. Almost everything else was just tinkering around the edges or an inheritance from the personal computer market.

A.S.
21-02-2012, 09:58 AM
... the customer got a good deal through "better" products when technology trickled down and performance gaps closed between models. I'm all for state of the art and high end. If it weren't for "high end" products, big spenders and "first mover" consumers, we wont have common technology like anti lock brakes and air bags today. ...The curious thing about the audio business as compared to the car business is that the car buyer is (usually) benefiting from real, technical progress decade after decade, like ABS brakes. In the audio industry though, it is as if the ABS hardware is not actually fitted to the car, but in it's (costly) place, a little illuminated switch fitted on the dashboard labelled 'Super Protection Anti-Accident Mode'. A cynic would ask how it worked and how it related to the (non existent) ABS system, but in the upper reaches of audio fantasy, that would be an irrelevant question with the answer 'it works because we believe it works'!

Or better still, an after-market magic aerosol spray accessory which when dusted over the outside of the car before driving would confer a force-field of protection. The consumer can be fantastically gullible as all marketing people know to their great glee.

Some more here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?1538-SHL5s-balance-in-my-room&p=17761#post17761).

A.S.
21-02-2012, 04:26 PM
Honest answer? Not once - ever. The cables we care about are ones that are reasonably priced, durable and stand the test of time....

Whenever I talk to anyone who is involved in the industry, the number one thing that's discussed every time is simple: Room acoustics.

I agree with you completely - people really need their eyes-opening. I don't want to name-names but some of these companies that sell an array of after market products really saddens me, and it's even worse when marketeers have tricked people...It really is depressing isn't it. The fact is though, that the marketeers are just doing what their client pays them to do.

You don't think that those involved in marketing anti-wrinkle cream to women ask for hard evidential validation of the product claims do you before they take on the client? Of course they don't. And they don't ask because they know perfectly well that they and the manufacturer are both playing the same game of kiddology, both for profit. The fact that the product can't work and doesn't work is the truth that dare not speak its name! But the public - ah (sigh) the public - they're outsiders to 'the game' and open their mouths as wide as they can and let the hook drop in good and deep. Then they swallow it right down.

Even fish recognise what bait looks like.

Is it too late to make a killing in marketing do you think?

thurston
22-02-2012, 09:03 AM
What I find even more interesting is that most people at the same time insist on having their own beliefs, thinking that they would not be influessed by marketing.

But isn´t it hard to see the line between marketing-blabla and real informations?
I believe it is.

I want to bring in some new vocabulary:
common sense

....just a joke, but in the end that rather vague thing "common sense" helps a lot, cause there is truckloads of real total ultra-BS out there.

I like your example of an anti-wrinkle-cream. Here in Germany I find that since maybe two years they are advertised differently now:

The creams now make 70% less wrinkles, make eyelashes 60% thicker and 80% longer, make hair shine 30% brighter
(...which in comparison is quite poor, isn´t it?)

A.S.
22-02-2012, 10:22 AM
Rule 11 of Marketing:
-------------------

Marketing people are engaged by and paid by their client. They are legally bound to the client by a contract. There is no legal or moral relationship between marketing people and the consumer. Marketing people are answerable only to their client, and only in extreme cases of public outcry, to the Advertising Standards Agency or the law.

Rule 12 of Marketing:
-------------------

Marketing people are paid to present the ordinary as the fantastical. Facts are of little or no interest to the ordinary consumer. Marketing is about creating an emotional response to the product in the consumer's mind without involving facts which the consumer wouldn't understand or may misinterpret anyway. (Examples follow).

Rule 13 of Marketing:
-------------------

Marketing people are neither the guardians of public morals, decency, honesty, health, well being, integrity or value for money. They are not paid to stand in our shoes and judge the truth of the products the promote. They are not on our side of the desk: they are entirely on the supplier's side. They are not working for the consumer, they are paid to work exclusively for the client. They cannot and do not run from the clients side of the desk to the consumers side as advocates for both. The only represent the manufacturer's perspective and will push that as far as the law permits them to do so. They do not actually give a damn about you as an identified individual - all marketing decisions coagulate individuals into a target group.

They will agressively promote cigarette smoking even when it is a fact that smoking causes innumerable health issues up to the maximum extent that the law permits. They will cheerfully promote cigarettes even when the product packaging, according to UK law, clearly states that the product will kill you (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3099936.stm).

A.S.
23-02-2012, 09:39 AM
Rule 14 of Marketing:
-------------------

When human A tells another B of his positive experience, it motivates B to replicate the experience. People respond to product endorsements when they recognise themselves or their needs in the product. It is the task of the marketeer to marry the product with the needs of a certain sector of the public. Never underestimate the power of endorsement even from invisible third parties to prompt others into action!

It may or may not be necessary for person B to actually see person A, or even to see the product itself. If promoter A (or indeed the product itself) has physical characteristics which are considered to be in-step with the brand image, then showing A or the product may positively reinforce the brands ethos in the consumer's mind. If promoter A (or the product) has physical characteristics which are at odds with the brand image, then it or promoter A should be hidden from the consumer and the brand appeal should be through the voice of an invisible third-party using corporate speak.

Example:

- In Europe, it is prohibited to market tobacco products showing images of people actually using the product so the promotion has to be by more subtle influence. Marketing is adept at inverting serious product disadvantages - surely the best example is tobacco: it cripples you yet is promoted for a healthy, relaxed, glowing lifestyle. Remember the Marlboro cowboy (http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://hollywoodhatesme.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/marlboro.jpg&imgrefurl=http://hollywoodhatesme.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/joe-camel-vs-the-marlboro-man/&h=549&w=400&sz=57&tbnid=iXLhku76MHG3aM:&tbnh=104&tbnw=76&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dmarlboro%2Bcowboy%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo% 3Du&zoom=1&q=marlboro+cowboy&docid=kqPhI5HOzR8uUM&sa=X&ei=nAlGT8X2C86o8AOY5tmxDg&ved=0CCsQ9QEwAQ&dur=315)?

- The actual designer of a Sony CD player is unknown, so marketing cannot engage with the designer, who remains invisible, ethereal, anonymous. As we have no access to him, we are unable to begin to estimate his value system, what commercial/costing/technical pressures he was under. We are buying blind.

A.S.
23-02-2012, 02:53 PM
Rule 15 of Marketing:
-------------------

Breed discontentment, anxiety and neurosis in the consumer. Then to alleviate his stress sell a solution which is only just available and just out of reach .... it merely requires cash to bring it into range. Allow a decent interval to pass then repeat. And repeat.

A.S.
24-02-2012, 06:42 PM
Rule 16 of Marketing:
-------------------

'Born to buy'. Hook the consumer and hook him/her early.

---

Interesting book just available: Brandwashed: Tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy. Read more here (http://www.cim.co.uk/shop/books/bookDetails/brandwashed.aspx?utm_source=%20Brandwashed?&utm_medium=SFemail). Extract ...


Brandwashed is a shocking insider's look at how today's global giants conspire to obscure the truth and manipulate our minds, all in service of persuading us to buy

Free chapter preview here (http://cimcomms.co.uk/AEM/Clients/CIM001/CIMDirect/BrandwashedChapter1.pdf). It's all very obvious and simple to us on this side of the desk, but the consumer may have the greatest difficulty believing how easily and continuously manipulated they are.

Meanwhile, over at Apple, a through understanding of consumer needs and the great rewards that brings .... here (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/electronics/9102279/Apple-has-more-money-than-it-needs-says-chief-Tim-Cook.html). Proof positive that profiling the consumer and appealing to him/her through the heart is what modern business marketing is all about. This is no plan B.

Stephen PG
01-03-2012, 10:26 AM
thurston,

As Alan said...


The illusion of limitless improvements in fidelity is a fantasy created by the marketing machine of the audio equipment industry not the record industry.

It's quite simple.

So far, no one has been able to tell the difference between a CD player, costing over a thousand pounds (£), a 10+ year old dvd player and a couple of squeezeboxes (A Touch & Duet - £200 each-ish...).

Interestingly, the hard core subjectivists have ignored the challenge completely at the other places I've posted this. I guess the golden ears really do only work when the eyes are there...

A.S.
04-03-2012, 12:11 PM
Rule 17 of Marketing:
-------------------

'Work with people's prejudices, not against them'.

If the consumer belives that green apples are the most nutritious and healthy, there is no point whatever in creating and trying to sell blue apples even if they are proven in the lab. to be more nutritious, more healthy and taste better.

In audio: if the consumer believes that analogue is better than digital, it is better.

A.S.
06-03-2012, 05:49 PM
As I'm sure you've deduced from my comments over the years I've never ceased to be amazed at how easily hoodwinked the audiophile is by convincing salesmen/websites/blogs/forums/chat rooms etc. etc. etc.. I thought that such people were as instantly identifiable, just as you would immediately detect a non-native speaker of your own language or spy a burglar in a yellow and black striped top creeping about. I've just had a nasty experience that's disturbed me. I now see the issue in a new light from your side of the table......

I have been introduced to a hardened audiophile who has invented an audiophile gadget that he wishes to bring to market. He was a personable, well dressed, eloquent gentleman who, had he not been involved in the audio industry could have been a bank manager or teacher: respectable to the core. My defenses were obviously lowered.

I know little of the detailed physics of his invention, but even giving him the benefit of the doubt, it became clear from my prior and basic knowledge of the universe that he was completely deluded. The gizmo simply could not work as he was describing it, if at all. This was not an issue of performance somewhere in the grey area between science and art - it just couldn't conceivably work. The more I resisted his pitch, the more convincing he became; the more examples of happy customers, the more accolades, the more industry insiders had blessed the wretched device. Eventually I made my escape and set off for the pub alone to think the experience through.

I was lucky. Starting from a position of incredulity and drawing on a wealth of pragmatic experience of the real world, I made my mind up within the first minutes that this device could not fit with my prior-knowledge. Nothing more than common sense told me that. Either I had to re-appraise 40 years of audio or walk away. And there was no good reason to throw away a lifetime of experience 'just in case' this was a real breakthrough.

The difficulty I now understand that you face daily in audiophilia is that, without a reservoir of knowledge to draw on and/or self confidence and/or strong will power and/or a psychiatrists training, all audio marketing men and all audio gadgets look equally credible.

How on earth do you navigate through the infested waters? It beggars belief that even one ordinary music lover has the wherewithall to stand up and say "BS" against an army of marketters peddling what is, without a shadow of doubt, nothing but BS all presented with such astonishing conviction. Indeed, how do you know what you read here isn't a another massive confidence trick eh?

Very alarming indeed.

(How I am going to get through the Munich show in May without sedation is already worrying me ..... [no joke]!)

EricW
07-03-2012, 06:10 AM
The difficulty I now understand that you face daily in audiophilia is that, without a reservoir of knowledge to draw on and/or self confidence and/or strong will power and/or a psychiatrists training, all audio marketing men and all audio gadgets look equally credible.



Precisely. Discriminating between BS and reality can only be done on the basis of sufficient knowledge of the subject. Otherwise judgement is made on the basis of secondary factors, chiefly the confidence and persuasiveness of the speaker. And sometimes quite untrustworthy people can be the most persuasive. Not infrequently, they've even persuaded themselves.



Indeed, how do you know what you read here isn't a another massive confidence trick eh?



Easy. Although you're generous to a fault with your time and energy, you are occasionally a bit crotchety and irritable. Someone who's trying to BS you to sell you something will never allow himself to be that human - might scare away the potential purchaser.

Dougal
08-03-2012, 10:26 PM
Perhaps while in Munich you could ask the local exhibitors how they regard Nietzsche's notorious statement,

"Men believe in the truth of all that is seen to be strongly believed in".

Rather disturbing, to say the least.

A.S.
24-05-2012, 03:33 PM
Time after time we come across examples both on HUG and quotes from wider afield of the deliberate manipulation of engineering/commercial facts into something deemed more 'palatable' for the consumer, more in-keeping with corporate objectives. We can trace PR back to Edward L. Bernays, here (http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1999Q2/bernays.html).

To quote:


"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society," Bernays argued. "Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."

PR and media manipulation is not new (http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/1058281/PR-spin-not-blame-lack-trust-politics/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH). It's as obvious to me as a bad smell when I see it. But it is a persistent worry that the public are swept along so readily and there is no better example of the effectiveness of PR than in the audio industry.

So, here are some examples of fictitious marketing-talk of the sort you'd read on an advert, brochure, review or a forum somewhere. See if you can suggest what the engineering truth is behind them: I have my own suggestions for later. I'd strongly suggest that unless you have the ability to visualise what is really being implied here, you are putty in the hands of the marketeer, as Bernays says.



1) "We recommend that you leave your new ABC brand TV powered continuously, day and night 24/7 ... that's the sure way to see rich, faithful colours as nature intended ...."

2) "If sitting in traffic we recommend that you consider the environment and take your foot off the clutch and put the car in neutral ...."

3) "Please ensure that this product is used out of doors ...."

4) "The super new 'magiali' tweeter material reproduces the sound of the spheres ... accurate, fast and revealing ....."

5) "Naturally, there is no ugly grille over the tweeter dome .... we want the sound to flow out to you unimpeded ....."

6) "It's always a good idea to retain the original cartons ...."

7) "We offer the cheapest car service in the town ...."

8) "FrenziWash leave your whites whiter than ever .... the pride of every good mother ...."

9) "We have invested a billion dollars in environmentally friendly furnaces ...."

10) "Nuclear energy will be too cheap to meter ...."



The list is endless. What is the real message that the savvy consumer can read between the lines? (There are no right answers).

Wake-up people!! Remember when you used to make your own decisions based on common sense before being told how to think and act?

A.S.
26-05-2012, 09:13 AM
Right-oh. Let's have a look at these and decode the marketing/PR talk into the cold reality. Naturally, these are fictitious examples (well, some are), so we've freely applied a little imagination. Can you come up with better alternatives?


1) "We recommend that you leave your new ABC brand TV powered continuously, day and night 24/7 ... that's the sure way to see rich, faithful colours as nature intended ...."....

Truth: 'We have pared down the design to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Engineer's calculations and dire warning, Marketing must hit a certain retail price point for this TV to sell. His advice was that the elimination of the anti-surge PSU protection circuit (saving: $4.33) means that the PSU is prone to instantaneous failure when the set is switched on more than three times in 24 hours. Marketing say that warranty claims are not their problem ....'

2) "If sitting in traffic we recommend that you consider the environment and take your foot off the clutch and put the car in neutral ...."

Truth: 'We have pared down the design to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Engineer's calculations and dire warning, Marketing must hit a certain retail price point for this car to sell. His advice was that the use of flimsy pressed tin parts in the clutch mechanism (saving: $2.97) means that the clutch is prone to burn-out when engaged for more than a continuous 55 seconds in any one hour when the ambient temperature is above 25 degs. Marketing say that warranty claims are not their problem and that this car was never designed for use in 'tropical climates'.

3) "Please ensure that this product is used out of doors ...."

Truth: 'We have pared down the formulae to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Chemist's dire warnings, Marketing must hit a certain retail price point for this household cleaner to sell. His advice was that the use of highly corrosive, industrial strength substances (cost saving: $0.88) means that exposure to the noxious fumes could kill, and is positively addictive to solvent abusers. Marketing say that claims they've made in a TV advertising campaign that this product works 'three times faster, twice as well' as the competitor products is why it is now the No.1 brand leader and that they have no choice. Consumer deaths are absolutely not their problem and any such ill-founded, mendacious approaches will be met with a stiff rebuttal by the legal dept.. Anyway, the product is imported pre-packed from the far east and they say that it's perfectly OK to sell and use it there'. Legal have doubled the public Liability cover just to be on the safe side.'

4) "The super new 'magiali' tweeter material reproduces the sound of the spheres ... accurate, fast and revealing ....."

Truth: 'We have pared down the design to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Engineer's warning last year that stocks of the original cone material were running dangerously low, he was not given the resources and budget to tool-up for an alternative. Marketing are now in a panic because Purchasing say the source has dried up. A couple of lads from Sales were sent down to the street market to see if they could find something 'shiny and sexy looking' that could be turned into tweeter parts. Luckily they did find an interesting-looking material with a beautiful metallic sheen being sold by a very nice lady of middle eastern descent. After some ferocious haggling they bought all she and her uncle had - enough for a few thousand tweeters - and the crisis is over (this week). Chief Engineer advises in Memo that alluring the material is, he doesn't have a suitable glue and he's worried about reliability. The Marketing Director called all the magz to announce the new tweeter - several excited reviewers have begged him for an exclusive and he's gone to the golf club to celebrate the fastest new product launch in the company's history. Technical Director (last heard of throwing a chair across the lab and shouting "How the **** can I be expected to work with this ****?" barricaded himself in the rest room early this morning and hasn't been seen since. Strange smell.' (This one is very nearly the truth not once, but twice in the tweeter industry. If only you knew what really goes on!).

5) "Naturally, there is no ugly grille over the tweeter dome .... we want the sound to flow out to you unimpeded ....."

Truth: 'We have pared down the design to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Engineer's dire warning, Marketing have said that this is surely the best money spinner in many a long year. Legal have been instructed to carefully review the Warranty exclusions to be absolutely sure that there is no way that the company can be held liable for accidental damage which is, according to over-dinner chit-chat at the annual Audio Maker's Association (followed by much guffawing and raised glasses '"to the asses who buy this junk"), "a virtual dead-cert". Finance say that if this caper works, they won't cancel the annual sales shindig so everyone is praying for little curious fingers exploring the shiny domes (repeatedly). NOTE: Concerning 4) above - hopefully the user will destroy the tweeter just before the glue joint collapses, and providing this keeps happening in a cycle of just a few months, it's one-up on that sissy Chief Engineer. Warranty implication: zero.''

6) "It's always a good idea to retain the original cartons ...."

Truth: 'We have pared down the design to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Engineer's calculations and dire warnings, Marketing must hit a certain retail price point for this product to sell. His advice remains that the overall effect of the recent cost-down initiative (saving: $14.22) means that the life expectancy of the cheaper parts used throughout is likely to have an impact on overall reliability. After Care have chimed in with their estimations of the consequences of field failures (and are daily reminded of last year's disastrous cost-down drive) and said that whilst the repairs/mods is one issue to cope with, a far bigger ongoing frustration is customers returns to the factory arriving in ex-supermarket cartons and as a result, trashed in transit. Legal say that we have to insist on original cartons as the hassle of dealing with angry customers is out of control and two girls in Customer Services are already on long-term absence with stress...'

7) "We offer the cheapest car service in the town ...."

Truth: 'We have speeded-up and pared down the service to save as much cost as possible. Despite the Chief Mechanics warnings, Marketing must hit a certain retail price point for this promotion to sell. His advice is that it's well known in the trade that the use of cheap 'pattern' replacement parts (filters, oils, seals etc.) made in sweatshops in the far east are prone to failure weeks or months after fitting, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Marketing say that the small print on the back of the sales invoice limits Warranty to 14 days/500 miles after fitting so any liability claims are unlikely, and should the vehicle break-down on a motorway and the driver be injured or killed, if he is that sort of high-mileage driver he should have gone to the main dealer and paid through the nose for a Manufacturers Service which we definitely are not offering (at this price).'

8) "FrenziWash leave your whites whiter than ever .... the pride of every good mother ...."

Truth: 'We have pumped-up the formulae as much as we dare within what Legal say we can get away with. Despite the (outsourced) Chief Medical Officer's vague warnings, Marketing insist in sticking to their bombastic claims to get a foot hold in the lucrative detergent market. His advice was that the use cheap industrial strength bleaches (cost: $0.02) rather than less aggressive (although admittedly less effective and more expensive) modern alternatives means that the upon opening, the user will be hit by a wall of noxious fumes which whilst not necessarily fatal, repeated exposure is likely to burn-away the sensitive tissues inside the nose. Marketing say that they're delighted with the cleaning performance which fully endorses their advertising campaign slogan '... the pride of every good mother ...' and sales are soaring especially in the developing world amongst the up-and-coming middle class. Consumer health issues through use (read: ludicrously excessive daily use) are absolutely not Marketing's problem as they never said this detergent could be (or even should be) used daily or even at all at home. In actual fact, the chemistry is so strong that daily use will rot-away a typical 60 poly/40 cotton shirt within a week so the strong chlorine (read: sea-side freshness smell) vapours are a very good thing in that they act as a brake on the idiotic, dimwitted users over-enthusiastic application of the product. (Note: product disguised but very similar conversation overheard by AS in a train in southern China where travellers in front were unaware of another westerner (with flapping ears) sitting behind.)

9) "We have invested a billion dollars in environmentally friendly furnaces ...."

Stephen PG
06-06-2012, 12:17 PM
So what am I to do? Do I ditch the £25,000 pre/power which measures worse than a Quad 306? Dump the £6500 SACD player (SACD? Is that another marketing gimmick?) for a £200 machine?

I could dump the lot and recoup a fair few thousand pounds of my investment. Purchase a sensible, no BS audio system consisting of eg. cheap universal disc player, Quad 34 preamp to match my spare Quad 306 and keep the Harbeth P3ESR of course. Probably exactly what many would suggest I do. But I'd have to train myself to accept it!

Hey Greg,

Guess what I've just done?

http://i246.photobucket.com/albums/gg120/Basil_023/IMG_0002.jpg

Well I never fell for the audiophool BS as hard as you did, but I just found a nice 306 on ebay for £122. :-)

Completely original, 1986, slight hum - not surprising the PS caps being 26 years old!* But it just sounds so damn good!

Best advice is to just stop reading the hi-fi comics and restrict your internet browsing to this website... oh and listen to more music, of course.

New caps ordered from RS, £20.

Pharos
17-07-2012, 03:34 PM
This thread deals with profound problems not only in audiophilia, but in the whole of the way our economy as laissez-faire capitalism functions, audio being just one subsect of this psycho-socio-political functioning in modern life.

A major contributor to the predatory nature of capitalism. (even the leader of the opposition has been using that phrase recently, and I believe the P.M.), was the work done by Edward Bernhays, a nephew of Freud, in forming the 'disclipline' of Public Relations. He pioneered the use of the principle in psychology of association, creating certain associations in the minds of the public. He deliberately got them to associate in their minds, the fulfilment of needs, with the fulfilment of wants, the latter being a creatable agenda.

(I may need a watch to be able to get to work on time, but I might want a bejewelled Omega).

His work was used directly in the promotion of cigarettes, and he must be responsible for millions of people's disease and deaths, particularly women whom he 'taught' to associate cigarette smoking with independence and liberation. This is a vile and extreme example of the principles in operation.

I think that as a society we are controlled by certain subsets of the middle class; a layer of colluding advertising specialists psychologists, lawyers and accountants. They are probably in boardrooms as we sit, discussing new approaches to 'programming' us away from our healthy instinctually derived needs, towards created wants. Behaviourism is also now being used extensively for the same purposes.

One only has to look at TV and observe car advertisements in which the driver is fresh faced and unstressed, there is no traffic on the road, the sun is out, and the satnav is telling the driver that he can have the day off and the boss won't mind, to see the absurdity of the images to which we are subjected. This in an attempt to 'virally' programme us into behaviour patterns.

(It is also no wonder to me that the playing of violent video games leads to a behaviour devoid of sensibility to the pain in others that violent behaviour causes.)

This is underpinned by the belief that we live in a "free society", in which we all autonomously can make our own decisions as self determining individuals, based on our own thoughts and beliefs. One can assume that the money spent on TV ads., which cost many {hundreds of} thousands of pounds per minute, is based on a valid investment payback analysis.

What does this tell us about the individuals who are prey to these forces? That they lack not only self possession, but that they are not scientifically enquiring, and I'm sure that it is no coincidence that we are as a nation poorly scientifically educated.

Science to me is not a learning of masses of data, but an enquiry in which experiment is designed to test and measure reality, and from that theories formed which can be tested and verified, and with which we can reliably make decisions.
But in my experience it is taught as a database, and that is political.

I realised after spending much money on four pairs of a well known company's active speakers, and whose products I admire in many respects incidentally, that I was going round in circles, and had been for years as an audiophile.

When I changed in '91, from my previous speakers to the first of these, my fellow workers said to me that the sound had worsened, but I could not hear it, and was controlled by internal factors other the perception of sound quality.

One other thorny issue on the horizon apart from the conning by producing products which are no better, promoting them and wasting the individual's resources, is that we cannot keep on turning the world into a massive rubbish tip of used consumables, accelerated by the tendency, manifest in the Japanese motorcycle industry in the 80s, to produce new 'improved' models every few months.

I think a major factor in the demise of high end audio, is the promotion of, to say the least, mediocre modern music, this controlled again by powerful marketing men. Why have high quality Hi-Fi when the music is not enhanced by the revealing of subtle nuances by better equipment, when it is not captured in the recording or even in the 'artists' work in the first place?

So in 'every' home now there is a £150 'midi' system; two beech coloured 'bricks' surrounding a 9" plastic cube which contains a CD player + amplifier + tuner, with the speakers at best 2 feet apart and immediately around it.

I am heartbroken at the decline of really creative 'pop' for want of a better word, with words which stir up and challenge the emotions and the belief system, some of which from 40 years ago is to me still valid, it containing profound statements, and the substitution of pap and candyfloss performed by people who are preoccupied with their appearance and marketing themselves.

Will musicians and musicologists be eulogising about current music in 40 years time?

Although now probably regarded as an old git, that is why I decided to build a studio and try to write some good and poetic music of substance.

Macjager
17-07-2012, 08:37 PM
This thread deals with profound problems not only in audiophilia, but in the whole of the way our economy as laissez-faire capitalism functions, audio being just one subsect of this psycho-socio-political functioning in modern life.

A major contributor to the predatory nature of capitalism. (even the leader of the opposition has been using that phrase recently, and I believe the P.M.), was the work done by Edward Bernhays, a nephew of Freud, in forming the 'disclipline' of Public Relations. He pioneered the use of the principle in psychology of association, creating certain associations in the minds of the public. He deliberately got them to associate in their minds, the fulfilment of needs, with the fulfilment of wants, the latter being a creatable agenda.

(I may need a watch to be able to get to work on time, but I might want a bejewelled Omega).

His work was used directly in the promotion of cigarettes, and he must be responsible for millions of people's disease and deaths, particularly women whom he 'taught' to associate cigarette smoking with independence and liberation. This is a vile and extreme example of the principles in operation.

I think that as a society we are controlled by certain subsets of the middle class; a layer of colluding advertising specialists psychologists, lawyers and accountants. They are probably in boardrooms as we sit, discussing new approaches to 'programming' us away from our healthy instinctually derived needs, towards created wants. Behaviourism is also now being used extensively for the same purposes.

One only has to look at TV and observe car advertisements in which the driver is fresh faced and unstressed, there is no traffic on the road, the sun is out, and the satnav is telling the driver that he can have the day off and the boss won't mind, to see the absurdity of the images to which we are subjected. This in an attempt to 'virally' programme us into behaviour patterns.

(It is also no wonder to me that the playing of violent video games leads to a behaviour devoid of sensibility to the pain in others that violent behaviour causes.)

This is underpinned by the belief that we live in a "free society", in which we all autonomously can make our own decisions as self determining individuals, based on our own thoughts and beliefs. One can assume that the money spent on TV ads., which cost many {hundreds of} thousands of pounds per minute, is based on a valid investment payback analysis.

What does this tell us about the individuals who are prey to these forces? That they lack not only self possession, but that they are not scientifically enquiring, and I'm sure that it is no coincidence that we are as a nation poorly scientifically educated.

Science to me is not a learning of masses of data, but an enquiry in which experiment is designed to test and measure reality, and from that theories formed which can be tested and verified, and with which we can reliably make decisions.
But in my experience it is taught as a database, and that is political.

I realised after spending much money on four pairs of a well known company's active speakers, and whose products I admire in many respects incidentally, that I was going round in circles, and had been for years as an audiophile.

When I changed in '91, from my previous speakers to the first of these, my fellow workers said to me that the sound had worsened, but I could not hear it, and was controlled by internal factors other the perception of sound quality.

One other thorny issue on the horizon apart from the conning by producing products which are no better, promoting them and wasting the individual's resources, is that we cannot keep on turning the world into a massive rubbish tip of used consumables, accelerated by the tendency, manifest in the Japanese motorcycle industry in the 80s, to produce new 'improved' models every few months.

I think a major factor in the demise of high end audio, is the promotion of, to say the least, mediocre modern music, this controlled again by powerful marketing men. Why have high quality Hi-Fi when the music is not enhanced by the revealing of subtle nuances by better equipment, when it is not captured in the recording or even in the 'artists' work in the first place?

So in 'every' home now there is a £150 'midi' system; two beech coloured 'bricks' surrounding a 9" plastic cube which contains a CD player + amplifier + tuner, with the speakers at best 2 feet apart and immediately around it.

I am heartbroken at the decline of really creative 'pop' for want of a better word, with words which stir up and challenge the emotions and the belief system, some of which from 40 years ago is to me still valid, it containing profound statements, and the substitution of pap and candyfloss performed by people who are preoccupied with their appearance and marketing themselves.

Will musicians and musicologists be eulogising about current music in 40 years time?

Although now probably regarded as an old git, that is why I decided to build a studio and try to write some good and poetic music of substance.
Perhaps you should put away any sharp objects that are within reach...while I tend to agree that we can be suckered in by marketing, I don't believe that things are as bad as you may be describing them.

Without marketing, you would not know about Harbeths, and then you would not be listening to music that helps work at a deeper level. We all have a mind, and really, it is up to us as individuals to seek truth, if what we see and hear bothers us...hype is hype, and we as emotional creatures have a tendency to want to believe the hype...that's just human nature....now, back to listening to my Harbeths....;-)

George

EricW
17-07-2012, 11:11 PM
George:

Personally, I think you are making too light of a serious issue ... of course, it's up to each of us to seek (and hopefully even find) the truth, whatever that may mean in a particular context. But that's a difficult task even without all the obstacles that the modern industries of media, politics and public relations put in our ways. If you can slough it off, then more power to you. But many people are extremely powerfully affected by it.

Case in point: for a long time after the tragedy of 9/11, a majority of Americans believed (and possibly still do, for all I know) that some or all of the hijackers came across the border from Canada, even though in fact none of them did. This kind of thing has real consequences. The same with the obsessiveness that people develop about various consumerist fantasies - this is not consequence-free either.

There is an old Zen expression about the limitations of language, equating it to a finger pointing at the moon. The trick with consumerism and other forms of manipulation is to get people obsessed about the finger. The beauty of Harbeth is that it's more about the moon.

Pharos
18-07-2012, 01:17 AM
Perhaps you should put away any sharp objects that are within reach...while I tend to agree that we can be suckered in by marketing, I don't believe that things are as bad as you may be describing them.


"Without marketing, you would not know about Harbeths, and then you would not be listening to music that helps work at a deeper level. We all have a mind, and really, it is up to us as individuals to seek truth, if what we see and hear bothers us...hype is hype, and we as emotional creatures have a tendency to want to believe the hype...that's just human nature....now, back to listening to my Harbeths....;-)
My stance is not one of personal despair or depression as perhaps you are implying, but more concern at the philosophical nature of the situation; predatory persecutor, and victim.
Many people's lives are such that they do not have the time or energy to think about their lives, the decisions they are making, and where they will lead. Not everyone has a good start in life, promoted by nurturing parents who guide with the interests of the progeny placed in a position of primacy, and many struggle to even survive.

If we had the knowledge and insight into human nature which the years give us, providing that we have paid attention to reality and grown, at an earlier age, we probably would have more autonomous personalities at an early age, and hence be more able to sort out the wheat from the chaff and produce a better life for ourselves.


"Without marketing you would not know about Harbeths"
??
It is said that Rolls Royce do not advertise, and I have never seen one for their products, they sell themselves because they are so well built, and a seeker of well built cars will probably consider them without coercion.

I would, as you say "by seeking truth", also search out sound equipment for myself, this borne of my internally based interest in sound, and not prompted by some promotional material. Dry specifications would suffice, and indeed be preferable to the ubiquitous exaggeration and hype, so often encountered.

I do not believe that we as human beings have a tendency to believe hype any more than other forms of communication, except that it is often 'loud' in nature, and the undeveloped self, which is more pronounced in the trusting child, tends to grasp at things with little thought. I regret much of my early decision making, and have just remembered the rows of coloured sweets at the local supermarket checkout, designed to cause the nagging of parents by their children.

My intensity of concern is a response to the victimisation of those with little power to see or to gain insight into what is being done to them. My Mother smoked herself to death.

A.S.
18-07-2012, 09:51 AM
...I would, as you say "by seeking truth", also search out sound equipment for myself, this borne of my internally based interest in sound, and not prompted by some promotional material. Dry specifications would suffice, and indeed be preferable to the ubiquitous exaggeration and hype, so often encountered....As an industry insider, it never ceases to amaze me how the marketing people are able to create ever newer hyperbole to attract the consumer's attention (step 1), pique his curiosity (step 2), motivate him to go and seek out the product (step 3) and buy it (step 4). Nothing wrong with that providing the fantasy is actually delivered, and today's global business model (and I know of no real alternative) generates the financial glue that holds society together, pays for our schools and hospitals and pensions.

The secret of being a satisfied consumer is of being simultaneously a peripheral purchasing cog in the economic machine yet not being at the heart of the engine. What's needed is personal objectivity. That is, standing outside the car showroom window and observing the beautiful creations therein, but peering into your own brain and watching the thought processes running round leading to some propensity for action. I'd expect that few could view a shiny new car without visualising themselves in it, driving at speed in empty roads with a beautiful and admiring passenger, the envy of all. That is the marketing slant*. Naturally, that is precisely the fantasy that the trained salesman would promote - he merely reinforces the would-be consumers preconceptions - but he knows, and we know that the roads are choked, the depreciation is horrendous, the running costs crippling and finding that beautiful passenger isn't a given. The fantasy from outside the showroom is not deliverable but the illusion is so strongly embedded in the consumer's mind that he ceases to be rational. There is no better example than the Marlborough cowboy (http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=marlboro+cowboy&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=DAm&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&prmd=imvnse&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=iX0GUJOvPPGQ4gSp6qWrCQ&ved=0CFwQsAQ&biw=1440&bih=774).

All it takes is for the consumer to ask himself this: is the marketing prose likely to be supported by scientific fact or is it (as it mostly is) written or spoken with the tongue very firmly in the cheek? That means, is the marketing sweet-talk intended to be taken literally, or is it a joke presented as a fact. When XYZ Corporation run an advertising campaign saying that their motor oil will 'make your car drive like new' they don't literally mean that (although that's how they want the average consumer to interpret it). If ABC Audio Equipment company says that 'this room tuning device will blow the walls away giving you total reality at home' they are just pulling your leg. Obviously they don't literally (or even metaphorically) mean that; that's the shorthand language of marketing. That's what's known in the trade as a 'tease' - no different from the Seven Veils in intention.

*Take a look at TV adverts for new cars. Almost universal ingredients - 1) empty roads, no other vehicles 2) wide open spaces 3) clean, fresh, garbage-free, well lit, safe environments 4) sunshine, blue skies and never rain, flood or mud 5) sparkly new car ex-showroom with waxed wheels never to look like that again 6) exciting photographic angles enhancing vision of independence and freedom 7) audio/video/satnav system playing stimulating music 8) well dressed driver and passenger, handsome young professionals ) no parking limitations 10) travel at your own speed 11) no police or emergency service vehicles 12) no traffic lights, roadworks or breakdowns 13) engine performance far in excess of what is legally permitted or usable 14) no mention of running costs and so on. It all adds up to a completely undeliverable fantasy.

Macjager
18-07-2012, 01:00 PM
??
It is said that Rolls Royce do not advertise, and I have never seen one for their products, they sell themselves because they are so well built, and a seeker of well built cars will probably consider them without coercion.

This was David Ogilvy’s all time famous headline to market Rolls Royce Cars which reads as "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock".
http://www.mediatrips.com/famous-advertisements/david-ogilvys-famous-rolls-royce-advertisement.html

One always had to advertise their product to get it noticed; some things have gotten a marquee name whereby others now do the advertising for them (movies, commentary, forums, etc).

And two quotes that seem to reflect the view of selling from both sides:

"There's a sucker born every minute" and
"Snake Oil salesman"

Sadly, as noted , most people would like to believe what they hear because they want a quick easy answer or solution to their problems... Is advertising coercion?

Pharos
18-07-2012, 10:46 PM
"Sadly, as noted , most people would like to believe what they hear because they want a quick easy answer or solution to their problems..."

That is very true, and the concept of comfort zone is entirely consistent with this tendency.

Related;
"A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still". Blake I think.
"The naked truth is still taboo wherever it can be seen" Dylan.

I am a health food consumer, and have been since about '75, and often chat with the proprietor of our local health food shop. He says that many people who have lived their lives poorly from a health perspective; take little exercise, smoke, eat poor diets, and use their brains little, expect to be able to go to the health shop and just buy a pill which they take regularly which will undo all of the years of poor living. Easy quick fix.

Perhaps more contentiously, I believe that many of the belief systems of much of the population are erroneous and fantasy based. Further, an important factor sought by by those in power when employing people to interact with the public, is that the chosen do not have radical views of what is true, and resultantly which may disturb the public's comfort zone.

Look at what was done to Galileo for revealing his new truth.

I seem to remember that a few years ago we were urged to glue tiny strips of aluminium foil onto our speaker cones to 'improve the sound'.

Macjager
19-07-2012, 10:12 AM
I seem to remember that a few years ago we were urged to glue tiny strips of aluminium foil onto our speaker cones to 'improve the sound'.
"Modern armed forces use chaff (in naval applications, for instance, using short-range SRBOC rockets) to distract radar-guided missiles from their targets"... I am sure that the idea was to distract unwanted sound...

I think you hit the nail on the head with the idea of the disturbing the public's comfort zone; having one's beliefs challenged is akin to declaring war on the person themselves!

A.S.
19-07-2012, 11:07 AM
Is it possible that monthly consumer electronic magazines are actually written by computers not humans? Flicking through one of these today, I am convinced that the highly polished prose is just too smooth to be the product of hard pressed, deadline oriented journalists. Could consumer electronic reviews be written entirely by computer?

Yesterday at poet William Wordsworth's home, there was a poetry-writing kit for sale. It comprised fridge-magnets onto which were printed words which a budding poet could combine into 'poetry'. I've never written poetry before, but in just a few minutes I concocted from the word pool what superficially read like poetry as it warmed the heart. The true meaning - there wasn't any - was entirely suppressed by the structure.

It must be possible then to devise rules which string words together into readable prose. After all, how big a vocabulary pool do you actually need to critique consumer electronics?

hifi_dave
19-07-2012, 12:57 PM
Definitely not written by computers, as the grammar and spelling are appalling !!!

Pharos
19-07-2012, 11:21 PM
I gave up receiving HFN in 2005, even though a wealthy and kind friend had bought me several years' consecutive subscription.
This was due to my then feeling an increasing sense of the tedium whilst reading it, caused by what I feel to be its increasingly vacuous nature, and also of audio magazines in general.

My memory of reading such in the 70s was not only of scientifically rigorous reviewing, but of debates about what was going on, which demanded concentration and analysis, with a selfless pursuit of the art form of music reproduction at the core of the magazine's writers and readers.

What seemed to me to be presented in '05 was an increasingly self indulgent platform for a few well known journalists to show off and to flaunt their powerful position; that of listening to very expensive equipment and get paid for it.

In particular an American writer who had been to Maine University in youth, would write indulgently about his love of other artefacts, for example expensive watches and cars, and his style I often found obscure to the point of being difficult to read. I felt that I was being stressed into reading irrelevance to my interest, this pressurised by the high cost of the magazine.

At about this time, or a few years earlier it was becoming widely thought that the magazines were in the pay of the manufacturers, and hence would avoid bad reviews, and also that the equipment reviewed was very often in a price bracket which precluded most people.

What was in evidence though, was that a smooth style was developed by the writers in their image based and egotistical self indulgence for which they were paid.

Apparently he sold all his vinyl and equipment and returned to the States a few years ago; perhaps he realised that the circus of reviewing never ending models which the manufacturers produced, thus priming the consumer pump, was over.

A.S.
20-07-2012, 10:10 AM
... My memory of reading such in the 70s was not only of scientifically rigorous reviewing, but of debates about what was going on, which demanded concentration and analysis, with a selfless pursuit of the art form of music reproduction at the core of the magazine's writers and readers.

What seemed to me to be presented in '05 was an increasingly self indulgent platform for a few well known journalists to show off and to flaunt their powerful position; that of listening to very expensive equipment and get paid for it...The life of any journalist is not a simple one. The pressure generate a decent living, to write publishable prose on time and to the word count required and in a style appropriate for the magazine is not a task any of us would take on lightly. It's one thing reading a novel on holiday, quite another writing one, and yet another to write with one eye on the clock.

Yes, there has been a huge shift in presentational style between the audio magazines of the 1970s (I have many of them) and those today. I recently skimmed a current (July 2012) consumer electronics magazine and I read a review something like this ....



... Opening the carton sent a shiver of sensuous delight down my spine to my trembling fingers. I could hardly restrain my excitement as I unpeeled the clinging cotton inner wrapping revealing the naked beauty of the satin-finished body. I had to take catch my breath as I stroked the controls, the barely raised buttons inviting a deep investigation of the multi-faceted personality of the inner workings... when I nuzzled part A up against part B the sheer magic of this design flowed ...

Now that's very sensual writing - vaguely erotic - and it appeals to us on a very deep emotional level. It bypasses our rational, logical brain and goes straight to the core where it creates strong motivational associations. Nothing wrong with that of course. The issue is that it is a very broad, crude and imprecise way to evaluate a technical product, and assumes that we all respond to base nature in a similar way, which may well be true! Logically then, a manufacturer assessing the positive media attention the design, packaging and presentation of his product receives would be encouraged to divert more money into those external touch-feely features, and if necessary pare down the engineering core to the bone, keeping the overall cost the same. Since manufacturers don't meet their end consumers (this HUG is an exception) they assume, rightly or wrongly, that journalists speak for the public at large. That's surely reasonable, since by implication if they didn't, the (printed) magazines would fail through lack of sales. And that is not what we see - generally speaking the mainstream "Which?" type magazines are doing well. So those journalists we read must be writing in a style that the public will pay for.

My car is serviced by a little local garage run by a very gifted mechanic. The premises are not impressive, but he is. Sometimes if I'm passing I call in for a chat just to see what his latest challenge is. I usually find him under a car and have to insist that he just carries on, not hauls himself out to greet me. He seems to specialise in one particular central-European made small hatchback, now in its fifth or sixth generation. Its TV advertising has evolved to lifestyle orientation compared with its utilitarian beginnings. He has serviced and repaired every generation of the car during its 20+ year product life span. His opinion of the build quality of the later generations compared with the earlier ones is scathing and has pointed out parts that used to be metal and are now nylon, parts that fail more frequently due presumably to cost-down initiatives, and layer upon layer of added complexity - especially electrical - which are doomed to fail.

Wherever you look you see weight reduction, material substitution, reduced durability, cosmetic enhancements and needless or rarely used features added to consumer products. Is it any wonder that the media merely reflect changes in consumer purchasing behaviour? Or do they lead it?

Want to try your hand at being a journalist for an hour to see just how difficult it is to be a critic? Try writing no less than 300 words about your TV here ..... all submissions will be published. I've just mulled this over and realised that a) I can't/mustn't disassemble the TV to see what's inside b) I wouldn't be able to recognise any of the chip function blocks even if I did c) I could never design a modern TV so I have no basic skills to be able to critique someone else's design d) I would have to write entirely about the externals. And that is precisely what we see in contemporary reviews: a total focus on the outside not the inside.

Go ahead - try it!

hifi_dave
20-07-2012, 12:55 PM
At one time I wrote for all the UK magazines, most now sadly have disappeared. I found that writing articles and reviews was easy, the only minor pressures were to stick to deadlines and to (occasionally) adhere to a strict, tight word count. It was far easier to write several pages than to be informative and at the same time, concise.

Unfortunately, the mags have agenda hidden from the buying public which, to me, makes them nothing more than a tool for certain manufacturers and advertisers. Personally, I don't trust anything I read in the mags, not even the prices which are often wrong. I receive free copies of a few mags each month and these I skip through, sometimes attacking them in anger with my red pen. After this onslaught they are relegated to the recycling bin - I no longer keep them filed for reference.

Pencey
25-07-2012, 10:36 PM
It's easy to be suspicious about business practices these days what with likes of Murdoch Inc., Barclays Diamond and JP Morgan Dimon and on and on. Once again - How much on exit for Mr. Jerry de Missier (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9427881/Libor-scandal-Barclays-executive-Jerry-del-Missier-given-8.75m-pay-off.html)?

Kumar Kane
17-08-2012, 04:22 PM
I found this on the net, and it is surprise to read about how long this audiophile controversy has been around. The quote is from an interview in 1989 with Ross Walker, the son of Peter Walker, Quad founder.

"Do you try to appeal to the audiophile market?

"No. The audiophile is on an endless quest He wants change. He is not interested in something that is good enough to remain unchanged."

But if Quad is the best, shouldn't he end up with Quad?

"But he wouldn't be an audiophile; that would be the end of it. How dull it would be."

For Quad, replace Harbeth!

Rated
03-04-2014, 12:39 PM
Something that never really occurred to me until i read this forum topic was how inescapable the global marketing juggernaut really is, particularly with hi-fi equipment.

I have devised a small test for everyone....
Using a popular search engine, search for a well known piece of "hi-fi" equipment (manufacturer and model), ideally from a brand that is very familiar to you. The first couple that came to mind when i tested this were "Naim supernait" and "pmc gb1i"

The results may vary depending on geographical location and the search engine used, but I was staggered as to how many audio magazine/website entries about the particular piece of hi-fi equipment appear as the first, second, and even third result. To my surprise, the manufacturer's website specific to the equipment was typically buried somewhere near the bottom of the search results on the first page. Why?

I don't know if the search results we receive are deliberate acts of marketing, or if search engine results are classified based on the popularity of a certain webpage, but i thought this observation was worthy of mention in light of this topic. Your results may vary....

A.S.
10-06-2014, 06:01 PM
Another twist... catastrophisation.

I was teasing my physiotherapist (when he had me in a vice-like lock) about the range of practitioners who offer back treatment, and he cautioned me about trying the well known alternative out.

"The problem with those guys," he said "is that they are masters of catastrophisation of the patients ailments. Example: 'If you don't spend out on these special shoes your limp will worsen and you'll quite possibly end up wheelchair bound. Imagine the burden you'll be to your siblings then. Can you visualise being completely house bound on a diet of Jeremy Kyle and microwave dinners? Eh? Shopping will be a thing of the past as will days out in the countryside. You'll be isolated from society, forgotten, unloved, unwanted. It's all avoidable you know. All that misery can be escaped from for a tiny investment in these ComfortXXX shoes..."'.

"Ummm," said I, "I see what you mean. "We have that sort of game in the audio industry. Example: 'If you spend two hours a day hours every week engrossed in music at home, that's the equivalent of one full waking day in seven. One in seven! Imagine how you'd suffer, how miserable you'd be, how isolated from the activity you love if you were not maximising the pleasure of your hobby for the sake of CD player platter isolators. Imagine the degradation in your hearing, week-in, week-out as your poor ears wear themselves silly trying to resolve detail that's buried. Buried, but luckily accessible if you know how. That's a sort of self-inflicted torture.... a bit kinky don't you agree? And all solvable with a paltry investment of $249.99 ....' "

There then followed a god awful crrrrrrraaaack; time stood still. We looked at each other. I couldn't tell who was the more concerned. I couldn't breath. Was this how it was all going to end?

No! Not a bit of it!

"That's what I was hoping for," said Paul, barely convincing me (and himself). "You see, had I not manipulated you the toxins would have continue to build up until they could have, quite literally, dissolved your spine. That would be a life-changer wouldn't it! Just imagine you're out and about minding your own business - in the supermarket perhaps - and wham!, you literally hinge in half backwards! In half! Just above your hips! But no, you've seen sense, you've recognised the danger, put yourself in the hands of a true professional and now you'll see the benefit of a full, active life, thanks to me."

He paused. "Same time next week Alan?". I meekly confirmed. After all, who wouldn't want the benefits of a 'full active live' for just another $60?

I dared to twitch a toe. Mercifully, I still had sensation.

pkwba
11-06-2014, 02:58 AM
Another twist... catastrophisation.

"That's what I was hoping for," said Paul, barely convincing me (and himself). "You see, had I not manipulated you the toxins would have continue to build up until they could have, quite literally, dissolved your spine. That would be a life-changer wouldn't it! Just imagine you're out and about minding your own business - in the supermarket perhaps - and wham!, you literally hinge in half backwards! In half! Just above your hips! But no, you've seen sense, you've recognised the danger, put yourself in the hands of a true professional and now you'll see the benefit of a full, active life, thanks to me."

What is definition for a/m affliction in medicine?

A.S.
11-06-2014, 10:52 AM
What is definition for a/m affliction in medicine?Are you concerned that you might be afflicted with it or have even experienced the inevitable outcome?

pkwba
11-06-2014, 06:18 PM
Are you concerned that you might be afflicted with it or have even experienced the inevitable outcome?

No, in this specific case of your description simple curiosity. But I wouldn't wish to have this kind of injury upon anyone . When I was 29yo, I had to lift up very heavy steel element laying over a man, together with unit of very experienced workers. Fortunately nothing happened to him. Guy was very lucky and completely unscratched. It was immediate action, no time for thinking about any tools etc. As a result almost all of these very strong people got injuries of muscles or tendons. Me only, comparatively very weak engineer, got spinal disc herniation (slip) which resulted in as you described "literally hinge in half" but forwards, with abnormal pain few days later.

I was cured in our local medical centre for miners pharmacologicaly and mainly by means of electric currents by fantastic medical staff (and my dearest wife at home) for few long weeks; in drastic cases man must go through surgery (which can be dangerous) but total recovery is almost impossible or takes years.

Any problems with e.g lever or kidneys failure (toxins) endangering vertebral column? Is it possible? Or am I too serious?

pkwba
20-06-2014, 07:16 AM
Guy visits health specialist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRQbCJLuSCs

Enjoy folks!

Pharos
07-09-2014, 12:17 AM
In reply to your perhaps rhetorical question in post 157 Alan, about what the snake oil foo sellers will do as the truth comes out, the following might be am example; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UQDTZcpsDE

Pseudo science, Loony Tunes .... here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG-3KyURXqk)