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Thread: The international audio industry- operating as any big business does ...

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    Default The international audio industry- operating as any big business does ...

    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.

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    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?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Tertiary marketing by the media

    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?

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    Default Marketing rules 1 & 2 - the media and the messenger

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    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.

    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 and here. 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.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default

    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.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Marketing is the oxygen of production

    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). Donīt need to listen.

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

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    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.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Unhappy When you realise you're in a hole, do you respond by digging deeper?

    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 Ģ200 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 Ģ25,000 pre/power which measures worse than a Quad 306? Dump the Ģ6500 SACD player (SACD? Is that another marketing gimmick?) for a Ģ200 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 Ģ10 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!

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    Default It simply beggars belief....

    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.

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    Default Have we learned nothing from history?

    @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.

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    Default Why can't we celebrate without scoring absolutes?

    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. 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. 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.
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    Alan A. Shaw
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    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by thurston View Post
    @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.

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    Default Batteries low on my abacus

    ...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...)

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    Default Grow up and cease rainbow chasing - a self-worth problem

    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.

  15. #15
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    Default Weaknesses in me being manipulated?

    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.}

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    Default The ever changing face of economics and how it affects our ears

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    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.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kittykat View Post
    ... 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.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Kiddology ....

    Quote Originally Posted by jack667 View Post
    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?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Marketing blah-bla

    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 isnīt 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, isnīt it?)

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    Default

    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.
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    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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