What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sources]

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McCharley
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What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sources]

Post by McCharley » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:07 pm

I recall when people spent hundreds of dollars on a phono cartridge. I worked in a stereo store when CDs first came out -- wow, all of a sudden, good sound was cheap. Mind you I was a snob (and still am) -- those analog recordings had something that the CDs didn't: they sounded less harsh (hard to describe). But they also had clicks and pops and hiss -- OK, win for CDs.

Now, though, it seems that people download music, and it is almost all MP3s. Granted, you can fit thousands of these on your iPod but the sound quality is really terrible. We would have sneered at these in my stereo store days. But this seems to be what music is now. Am I missing something?

Where do you go to download high quality music (not pirated, hopefully)? Or do you just buy CDs and burn FLAC files?

Luckily as I get older my hearing gets worse so those MP3s are sounding better and better! :happy

Mike Scott
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Mike Scott » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:12 pm

True audiophiles have been left on the curb side of technology. You can still spend a lot of money on equipment to listen to music but the quality is pretty awful.

bhsince87
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:13 pm

I used to be one! I also sometimes wonder where the thrill went .

Some older CD's still sound better than anything we ever heard before or since.

But in my own case, there are just to many other distractions vying for my attention now.
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Bungo
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Bungo » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:26 pm

McCharley wrote: Where do you go to download high quality music (not pirated, hopefully)? Or do you just buy CDs and burn FLAC files?
I used to be something of an audiophile and still own several hundred CDs (gave my LPs away long ago), but they are in storage and I haven't bought more than a handful in the past decade or so. I don't buy music in any form anymore, really. These days if I want to listen to something on-demand, I use Spotify. If I want to be surprised, I have about 20 good streaming stations bookmarked. Sound quality is decent through a pair of Sennheiser headphones. I also still have my legacy audio system (nice amp and speakers) but I use it primarily for movies these days. In the car it's either NPR or the local classical station. Guess I'm getting old. :D

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ogd
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by ogd » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:42 pm

McCharley wrote:Now, though, it seems that people download music, and it is almost all MP3s. Granted, you can fit thousands of these on your iPod but the sound quality is really terrible. We would have sneered at these in my stereo store days. But this seems to be what music is now. Am I missing something?

Where do you go to download high quality music (not pirated, hopefully)? Or do you just buy CDs and burn FLAC files?

Luckily as I get older my hearing gets worse so those MP3s are sounding better and better! :happy
Try a double blind test sometime. It might come as a surprise how hard it is to tell a good compressed file from its master when you're not told which is which, even with really good headphones let alone speakers. And after that, convenience wins.

This won't work with vinyl as it's easy to recognize that specific sound / distortion (which is what it is).

And to think that a decade ago companies were trying to get us to buy high resolution audio. As in, above CDs :oops:

The other thing that I think has happened is digital everything. I walked into a store ready to spend some decent chunk on some higher end stuff if it sounded good, only to find out that I'm expected to put up with hiss in my system and try to eliminate it with $500 cables and power conditioner something something's. No dice. That one is the equipment industry being 20 years behind what they should be doing.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by RustyShackleford » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:46 pm

I think it's part of a general trend, in America at least, of people more and more prioritizing cost and convenience over quality. You see it everywhere, perhaps most disturbingly when it comes to civic infrastructure. There are plenty of audiophiles left though.

WhyNotUs
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by WhyNotUs » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:19 pm

McCharley wrote: Now, though, it seems that people download music, and it is almost all MP3s. Granted, you can fit thousands of these on your iPod but the sound quality is really terrible. We would have sneered at these in my stereo store days. But this seems to be what music is now. Am I missing something?

Where do you go to download high quality music (not pirated, hopefully)? Or do you just buy CDs and burn FLAC files?
You can download good quality with Applelossless files (the same as FLAC) through iTunes. They are cd equivalent but what happens next affects what you hear. Most sound cards are designed with gaming in mind rather than connection to stereo. Computer speakers are another challenge.

Some time over the next year, I am going to take the plunge and buy a digital to audio converter for my computer, looking at NAD DAC-1 at this time, for streaming uncompressed signals from some high quality web streams. There is some pretty interesting stuff out there when you have the whole world to choose from. There are other emerging units that may be better/cheaper by the time I am ready to buy but I love the simplicity of this system. Need to physically connect computer to receiver or amp though.

Vinyl definitely has its place but digital files are so much easier and I listen to a lot of music while working and appreciate not having to deal with LPs every 20 minutes.
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telemark
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by telemark » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:51 pm

ogd wrote:Try a double blind test sometime. It might come as a surprise how hard it is to tell a good compressed file from its master when you're not told which is which, even with really good headphones let alone speakers. And after that, convenience wins.
Key word here is "good". MP3s compressed at too low a bit rate, as the early ones were, do sound terrible, but at higher bit rates they quickly converge on CD quality. Using variable bit rate helps too. I rip my CDs to FLAC because I can't see any reason not to, but I rarely buy CDs any more except for things I can't stream. I used to subscribe to MOG, which made a big deal of streaming at 320kbs. Now I stream from Rhapsody which is normally around 192kbs, and my ears don't notice any difference.

See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fJmmDkvQyc

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sdsailing
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by sdsailing » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:04 am

We still exist. Audiophile was never a significant part of the total audio market.

Not necessarily for audiophile reasons, but LPs are hot, especially with the younger set. This includes new pressings.

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ogd
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by ogd » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:27 am

telemark wrote:
ogd wrote:Try a double blind test sometime. It might come as a surprise how hard it is to tell a good compressed file from its master when you're not told which is which, even with really good headphones let alone speakers. And after that, convenience wins.
Key word here is "good". MP3s compressed at too low a bit rate, as the early ones were, do sound terrible, but at higher bit rates they quickly converge on CD quality. Using variable bit rate helps too. I rip my CDs to FLAC because I can't see any reason not to, but I rarely buy CDs any more except for things I can't stream. I used to subscribe to MOG, which made a big deal of streaming at 320kbs. Now I stream from Rhapsody which is normally around 192kbs, and my ears don't notice any difference.

See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fJmmDkvQyc
Yes. They have to be good. But a lot of them are good these days. Past 192 kbps it's getting really hard, and one is so much better off focusing on speakers & headphones (up to a point) and finding good darn music in the first place.

inbox788
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by inbox788 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:33 am

Answer: PONO: see below. https://ponomusic.force.com/


Well clearly it's digital music.

First it was CDs with digital music.
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/question487.htm
http://mentalfloss.com/article/51704/do ... warmer-cds

Then came MP3s with compression and eliminating some of the less important sounds to save space.
http://www.keithstead.com/and_more/cd_vs_mp3.html

Then came iPods and headphones that replaced expensive amplifiers and loudspeakers.
http://www.cnet.com/news/how-to-buy-a-hi-fi-system/

But there are holdouts:
http://gizmodo.com/why-vinyl-is-the-onl ... 1527750499
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD-Audio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Lossless

And more recently:
http://www.wired.com/2012/02/why-neil-y ... -about-it/
“STEVE JOBS WAS A DIGITAL PIONEER, BUT WHEN HE WENT HOME, HE LISTENED TO VINYL.” — NEIL YOUNG
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/10 ... vers-music
Pono's mission is to provide the best possible listening experience of your favorite music. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio. We offer PonoMusic customers the highest resolution digital music available. PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating. PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.
On the “low end” of higher resolution music (CD lossless, 44.1kHz/16 bit), PonoMusic files have about 6 times more musical information than a typical mp3. With ultra-high resolution recordings (192kHz/24 bit), the difference between a PonoMusic digital file and an mp3 is about 30 times more data from which your player reconstructs the “song”.

Mingus
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Mingus » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:46 am

Where did they go? Most died out or lost interest. There are some die-hards left though.

The integrated circuit became too inexpensive to manufacture compared to vacuum tubes and point to point wiring. The advertising agencies made people believe the more watts the better. A 35 watt per channel tube stereo could not compete on specs compared to a 100 watt per channel solid state stereo that cost 1/20th to manufacture.

Newer tech is better tech...

Then environmental regulations made manufacturing tubes even more expensive in the western world. So 90% of what was/is on the market comes from low to none existent quality control factories in China. However, there are some decent tubes coming out of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block.

Then the 1980's happened. Music studios which had previously mastered recordings to a high common denominator, began mastering recordings to sound the best on really low grade gear and speakers. Think the boom boxes from the 80s.

The tube gear studios were using began to get old. And tubes hard to find. So it was upgraded to solid state. Or just upgraded to upgrade.

Stereos lost quality. Studio recordings lost quality. And society values switched from investing in high quality stereos to a new something.

Yes, there are new pressings of vinyl from 2014. But unless the studio is using vacuum tube gear, it's really the worst of the worst. Thin compressed over processed sound on bad pressings of vinyl. The equipment used to press records today is not the same quality it used to be when everyone bought records. And not only that, the industry knowledge base has passed on.

And even back in the day, there was quite a bit of variance in record quality. From my personal experience, I've found pressings from Japan, England, and Germany to be a lot higher quality than the USA. Additionally, I've found English and German vacuum tubes to be superior to what was coming out of American factories. No experience with Japanese tubes.

I have a piece of vintage gear. And I know how much the advertised cost was back in the 1960s. Adjusted for inflation, someone in 2014 could buy a 60" LCD TV, a surround sound receiver with lots of buttons and settings, a whole slew of speakers, a blu-ray player, an iPhone and still have money left over for a whole bunch of .mp3 recordings.

In a nutshell, "audiophile" gear became too expensive, and consumer interests changed.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by paulsiu » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:06 am

I am pretty sure they are still around. Keep in mind one of the music market making money are the records.

Like any hobby, it is subject to competition. There's just so many other stuff you can be into. Audiophile also have the issue of cost. It would be best to be an audiophile when you are young and have good hearing, but you usually only come into money later in life when your hearing have gone south.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by dumbmoney » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:51 am

Bad sounding MP3s existed for a blip of time, and disappeared 10 years ago. The baseline standard these days is perfection. So I can't relate to complaints about the purely technical aspects of music. Everything is so good, it's boring. There's no excitement in a mature, stagnant technology.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by saladdin » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:30 am

There are snobs for everything. There is nothing wrong with the sound of mp3s. The only people who think they sound "terrible" are the small few who work or dabble in sound design.

Regardless of profession, the professional always thinks the layman's way is inferior. I know plumber's who think you have to do something this certain way yet millions of homes never get leaks. I know mechanics who think this name brand is horrible yet millions of cars use those parts and yet there is no rash of combustible explosions. It's universal.

I have never seen a blueray or HD movie -GASP- and only rent SD movie titles. Oh the humanity! And you know what? The picture is good. I don't have surround sound yet the sound is good.

Hundreds of millions of people listen to mp3s and sd pictures and think they look and sound good. People let their desire to be know it alls trump common sense.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by cjking » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:24 am

I used to have CD's ripped to disk in two formats:-

WMA lossless because I use a Windows computer (and Windows was better than itunes for find album art.)
Apple lossless for the ipod I used in my old car.

mp3 might have made sense ten or more years ago, but I always wondered why people didn't use lossless nowadays when storage is so much cheaper. Then I got my new car and found out: it claimed to support all sorts of formats off an SD card, but it turned out that it didn't support the lossless version of any of the formats. I did create a third copy of my music in lossy MP3, but in fact the car system has more functionaly when used with the ipod than the SD card, for example I can select ipod intelligent playlists. And using the ipod I get lossless as a bonus. (On the other hand, the car won't display album art from the ipod and will from the SD card. I'd rather have my playlists than the album art though.)

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by deanbrew » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:40 am

saladdin wrote:There are snobs for everything. There is nothing wrong with the sound of mp3s. The only people who think they sound "terrible" are the small few who work or dabble in sound design. ...

I have never seen a blueray or HD movie -GASP- and only rent SD movie titles. Oh the humanity! And you know what? The picture is good. I don't have surround sound yet the sound is good.

Hundreds of millions of people listen to mp3s and sd pictures and think they look and sound good. People let their desire to be know it alls trump common sense.
I have to disagree. Snobs/hobbiests/aficionados are the ones who get in early or pay lots of money for marginal gains. Higher bitrate MP3 files, HDTV and surround sound are now commonplace and are the standard for most people. If you think an SD TV picture is "good", I would suggest visiting your eye doctor. HDTV was a substantial improvement over SDTV, and hasn't been in the snob category for about a decade. That doesn't mean you have to upgrade if you don't feel the need, but snobs are now spending their entertainment money on the latest iphone and tablet every 6-12 months, not on HDTVs, which have come way down in price and are now in 77 percent of US homes. Are you suggesting that 77 percent of TV viewers are snobs? That seems obviously untrue.

As for the OP premise, it's absolutely true that convenience and portability drive the market. I would disagree, however, that most CDs sound inferior to most vinyl albums. There are great sounding CDs and lousy ones, and the same holds true for digital sound files. As for putting on a music album and listening attentively, I have to admit I haven't done that in many years.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by nisiprius » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:48 am

I was not a true audiophile, but I did use an AR turntable, a top-of-the-line Shure cartridge (several--Shure VR III and VR IV Super Tracks), and did most of my listening on headphones because I could afford good headphones--starting with Koss electrostatics if anyone remembers those, and ending with, forget the model but $200 Sennheisers (as opposed to $400 Sennheisers).

Even back then, the weak link in the chain was almost always the original recording. If you're dead serious about sound, you will be dissatisfied with 90% of the recordings you buy, regardless of medium or technology. Even at my level, I had a select group of recordings I liked to play because they had really good sound. (Anyone remember the days before the SPARS codes, when you couldn't tell which CDs were digitally recorded? You would pay $20 for a CD, start to play it, and hear tape hiss).

What happened, to those of us who simply like very good sound, as opposed to those in quest of some ultimate perfection, is that cheap consumer electronics got to have very good sound.

People may not realize it, but, after all, an Apple iPod with the $29.95 earpods that come with it--and similar grades of equipment--are completely free from 60 cycle hum, hiss, ticks, pops, scratches, surface noise, wow, flutter, and rumble. They are extremely low in distortion. And the frequency response ain't half bad. To anyone who really remembers what audiophile sound was like, the absence of that long list of deficiencies is huge, huge, huge. The "best" sound system I ever heard belong to a purist who had built a special acoustically treated room in his house, and had, if I recall correctly, a pair of 18 inch woofers. I can't remember whether his turntable was actually a "transcription turntable" capable of playing 16" disks, or whether it just had a super-long tone arm. The cartridge shell was not only lightweight, but the manufacturer had drilled it full of holes. It had some amazing bass like I've never heard before or since--he had one recording in which people were dancing on a stage and you could quite literally feel pulses of air hitting you.

And, on almost every recording except on or two test records, the sound was dominated by very very low frequency rumble. You could sort of feel it sucking at your ears once per revolution, and you could see as the record turned that they all had very slight amounts of warp. The tonearm was so long and well built that the warp did not create any wow at all, but you could actually see the tonearm remaining stationary in space as the record moved up and down underneath it, and the magnificent high-compliance cartridge and those big woofers had no trouble at all tracking and accurately reproducing that circa-1-Hz information. No, it was not a glub or anything audible--it was not distorting--but it was amazingly distracting.

Anyway. Your run-of-the-mill iPod or equivalent produces sound that is better than 99% of what you could hear on high-quality home audio systems, and the curve of cost versus actual sound improvement is so extremely level that it is truly a hobbyist's pursuit now.

As for the cult of vinyl, everyone to their own taste. I am quite prepared to believe that the customary level of MP3 compression, or even the high-frequency Nyquist cutoff of CDs, loses something audible. The idea that you can "listen through" all the crap that comes with vinyl, and that the absence of degrading from digitization outweighs the presence of ten other kinds of degraded sound... well, you have to weigh what's important to you. To me, if I hear a single "tick" in a recording, I notice it; and if I hear two ticks 1.8 seconds apart, it irritates me.

P.S. And there has never been a LP in the world that did a decent job of reproducing the climax of a symphony in the end-grooves.
Last edited by nisiprius on Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:55 am, edited 4 times in total.
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nordlead
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by nordlead » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:52 am

My audiophile tendencies never were about listening to recorded music.

My home theater setup is great and is for listening to movies (on blu-ray). Let's say I enjoy my home theater setup being better than actually going to the theater, and that really isn't that hard to beat. My Sony dual driver IEMs are for listening to live music (the band I'm in), and rarely get used for listening to spotify, despite sounding significantly better than the cheap throwaway skull candy ones my 4-year old bought me as a gift. (Some of the other band members use 1964 EARS 4-driver IEMs, and were willing to pay ~$500 or more for them). I use the skull candies for working in the yard, and they sound good enough.

So, audiophiles are still around, but the fanboy kind died off a long time ago when MP3s, iPods, and cheap Apple ear buds took over.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by nisiprius » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:57 am

P.S. Anyone else besides me ever mistake recorded sound for live? It happens to me several times a year, at outdoor events where I know there are going to be live performances and the outdoor speaker systems are good. I hear this crisp sound from a distance, and only as I get close enough to see that the stage is empty do I realize you've been fooled.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by nisiprius » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:59 am

P. P. S. ON THE OTHER HAND... just as computer bootup times have revived the experience of tube warmup for today's generation, the amazing-for-their-size speakers they put in tablets these days have pretty well re-created the tinny sound of a 1960s "transistor radio."
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by FullYellowJacket » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:00 am

Sorry to say, but you guys sound like some old farts. Being an audiophile, vinyl, and caring about the quality of the music is alive and well with the younger generation.
http://www.reddit.com/r/zeos
http://www.reddit.com/r/vinyl
On any sort of music forum, young people demand that any linked music download be 320 kbps or in a lossless format, and they will check the sound spectra to check for any clipping or to see if it truly is lossless quality.

For example, on a fairly popular hip-hop forum, everybody claims Kanye West's My beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a masterpiece (which it is), but everybody complains about the clipping on the record. People have tracked down an unmastered version (illegally), and everyone agrees that this version is much better.

Of course there are still people that do not care about quality and have no problem listening to music straight from the phone speakers (shudder).

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by saladdin » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:03 am

deanbrew wrote:
saladdin wrote:There are snobs for everything. There is nothing wrong with the sound of mp3s. The only people who think they sound "terrible" are the small few who work or dabble in sound design. ...

I have never seen a blueray or HD movie -GASP- and only rent SD movie titles. Oh the humanity! And you know what? The picture is good. I don't have surround sound yet the sound is good.

Hundreds of millions of people listen to mp3s and sd pictures and think they look and sound good. People let their desire to be know it alls trump common sense.
I have to disagree. Snobs/hobbiests/aficionados are the ones who get in early or pay lots of money for marginal gains. Higher bitrate MP3 files, HDTV and surround sound are now commonplace and are the standard for most people. If you think an SD TV picture is "good", I would suggest visiting your eye doctor. HDTV was a substantial improvement over SDTV, and hasn't been in the snob category for about a decade. That doesn't mean you have to upgrade if you don't feel the need, but snobs are now spending their entertainment money on the latest iphone and tablet every 6-12 months, not on HDTVs, which have come way down in price and are now in 77 percent of US homes. Are you suggesting that 77 percent of TV viewers are snobs? That seems obviously untrue.

As for the OP premise, it's absolutely true that convenience and portability drive the market. I would disagree, however, that most CDs sound inferior to most vinyl albums. There are great sounding CDs and lousy ones, and the same holds true for digital sound files. As for putting on a music album and listening attentively, I have to admit I haven't done that in many years.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:09 am

Once upon a time, I would watch a movie by pressing a button to lower my Stewart MicroPerf 110" screen, warm up my front projector and Theta/Linn 5.1 sound system, and enjoy the movie... until the kids needed a ride somewhere, the dog needed to go out, etc. After a while, it just wasn't worth it. I have sold most of my equipment and replaced it with a large Sony (iirc 70") in the Living Room (with 3 speakers (L,F,C) & a subwoofer only) and just purchased a 55" OLED TV for the bedroom (just the built-in speakers).
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by deanbrew » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:14 am

saladdin wrote: I've had lasik. My eyes are 20/20.
Then the obvious explanation is ruled out. Have to look for another explanation, I guess. :wink:

I'm not trying to bust your chops, and go ahead and keep watching SD if you like. But HDTV is so superior, particularly for sports, and has gotten so reasonably-priced, that it's a must-have for me.

Now if you told me that my hearing is going bad and I can't hear the sonic differences I used to, I'd say you're absolutely right. My high-frequency hearing is shot, so listening to music is not as enjoyable as it used to be.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:24 am

deanbrew wrote:
saladdin wrote: I've had lasik. My eyes are 20/20.
Then the obvious explanation is ruled out. Have to look for another explanation, I guess. :wink:

I'm not trying to bust your chops, and go ahead and keep watching SD if you like. But HDTV is so superior, particularly for sports, and has gotten so reasonably-priced, that it's a must-have for me.

Now if you told me that my hearing is going bad and I can't hear the sonic differences I used to, I'd say you're absolutely right. My high-frequency hearing is shot, so listening to music is not as enjoyable as it used to be.
Ice Hockey, for example, is almost unwatchable in SD (which is why some broadcasters for a while experimented with ways to show the audience the track of the puck). With HD, I usually don't bother attending the games live; at home, I see just as well or better, and if the game is boring, I can turn it off without feeling bad for the hundred or more dollars I just flushed down the drain.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by midareff » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:27 am

Mingus wrote:Where did they go? Most died out or lost interest. There are some die-hards left though.

and one of them is right here.

Then environmental regulations made manufacturing tubes even more expensive in the western world. So 90% of what was/is on the market comes from low to none existent quality control factories in China. However, there are some decent tubes coming out of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block.

decent tubes are a MAJOR problem. .. and what's really good has gotten scarce and demands a huge price premium. Late 1950's Valvo's from Holland and early 1960's Siemens & Halske from Germany to name just a couple. What I could buy a decade ago for $60 are now $300 to $400 each.

Then the 1980's happened. Music studios which had previously mastered recordings to a high common denominator, began mastering recordings to sound the best on really low grade gear and speakers. Think the boom boxes from the 80s. and cheap car radios.

The tube gear studios were using began to get old. And tubes hard to find. So it was upgraded to solid state. Or just upgraded to upgrade.

Stereos lost quality. Studio recordings lost quality. And society values switched from investing in high quality stereos to a new something.

Yes, there are new pressings of vinyl from 2014. But unless the studio is using vacuum tube gear, it's really the worst of the worst. Thin compressed over processed sound on bad pressings of vinyl. The equipment used to press records today is not the same quality it used to be when everyone bought records. And not only that, the industry knowledge base has passed on. Not to mention the deterioration of the originals (if it's classic stuff) from age and use doing remaster upon remaster.

And even back in the day, there was quite a bit of variance in record quality. From my personal experience, I've found pressings from Japan, England, and Germany to be a lot higher quality than the USA.

It's about the same in the CD world. If I'm filling a catalogue hole I'll look for a Japanese pressing (and pay the premium) first. When I ran vinyl German or European was much better than US issue. Another issue is the huge variation in original recording, mastering and production whether it is vinyl or CD. Some stuff is just unlistenable junk while others are so good they are emotionally touching.

I have a piece of vintage gear. And I know how much the advertised cost was back in the 1960s. Adjusted for inflation, someone in 2014 could buy a 60" LCD TV, a surround sound receiver with lots of buttons and settings, a whole slew of speakers, a blu-ray player, an iPhone and still have money left over for a whole bunch of .mp3 recordings.

LOL, almost all my gear became vintage because I never changed it. .. except the SACD player and some cables. To even think of "upgrading" anything today would require in home auditions first and then we are talking gear as expensive to purchase as a couple of week European tour.

In a nutshell, "audiophile" gear became too expensive, and consumer interests changed.

Mingus brings up many good and accurate points. Interests changed, kids, work, careers, travel... everything competing for your free time and disposable dollar.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Rob5TCP » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:28 am

I was a second hand audiophile - when my friend upgraded his I bought his "old equipment"
Thiel CS3.5; I had an adequate Adcom amp;
Grado cartridge to an old turntable (it might have been Rekotut)
The cables he gave me cost almost what he charged me for the system (mid 1990's)
This system had incredible sound. I had a CD player, but the vinyl did sound much crisper, cleaner.
As MP3 players came out and I ended up using headphones more and more. Then I went to surround sound
for my new plasma, Thiel wasjust too expensive to develop into a surround sound system (sub woofer was something
like $5000); so I went to a smaller 5.1 surround system.
I sold all my old equipment for pretty close to what I had paid for it. (I bought it fairly cheaply).
When I do listen to music, it's almost always through headphones.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Rodc » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:32 am

They all got old and they lost their ability to hear anything over 10KHz so it no longer matters. :P
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:33 am

Periodically I see an article about dedicated folks who still care about sound quality. They're out there.

I still have two excellent ancient setups, and vinyl, but I don't devote much time to music in general, never have.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by midareff » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:35 am

nisiprius wrote:P.S. Anyone else besides me ever mistake recorded sound for live? It happens to me several times a year, at outdoor events where I know there are going to be live performances and the outdoor speaker systems are good. I hear this crisp sound from a distance, and only as I get close enough to see that the stage is empty do I realize you've been fooled.

Yes.... my father played almost everything with strings and classical guitar was his favorite, practicing almost daily so I am quite tuned to live guitar, violin, mandolin, etc. I have heard reproduced guitars (and other instruments) hanging in space that accurate, and piano as well. Don't try that on your earbuds.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by rob » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:37 am

saladdin wrote:I'm not trying to bust your chops, and go ahead and keep watching SD if you like. But HDTV is so superior, particularly for sports, and has gotten so reasonably-priced, that it's a must-have for me.
The issue might again be the source.... Verizon in my case compresses the signal so much on most channels that it's not really HD..... My amp shows most channels inbound at 1080i or lower and I still get digital blocks and colour shading or worse in the shadows. Obviously BR is far better and even DVD's mostly look better than the cable signal.

For audio.... I'm old enough to know the hiss and hassle of vinyl and while I still have some (and have a good turntable still).... I mostly use CD's (which I rip to MP3 at the max rate for convenience). I have a couple of recordings that I love on vinyl - mostly direct metal masters but it's mostly nostalgia NOT quality. I play the CD's mostly but it's hard to argue with the ease of use on a phone with playlists and stuff.
Last edited by rob on Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Rodc » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:42 am

I was not a true audiophile, but I did use an AR turntable, a top-of-the-line Shure cartridge (several--Shure VR III and VR IV Super Tracks), and did most of my listening on headphones because I could afford good headphones--starting with Koss electrostatics if anyone remembers those...
I had pretty much the same set up. A long time ago... :)
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by dwc13 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:40 am

I'm not an audiophile and never was one. I don't have the ability of a symphony conductor, who can distinguish an off-key note for a fraction of a second from one instrument, or anything even approaching that. Still, at one point I had a few better-than-average pieces of stereo equipment (Denon, Sony ES, Klipsch), though nothing that would break the bank. Most of it has long since been retired (sold/given away/disposed). The few components I still have are packed away and have not been used in years.

For the most part, I only listen to music now while I'm driving a car or when I'm riding pubic transportation commuting to work. Portability and the ability to create/use play lists are far more important considerations and digital music is a perfect fit. Songs ripped at 192 kbps (or higher) are quite acceptable to me.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by linenfort » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:46 am

nisiprius wrote:P.S. Anyone else besides me ever mistake recorded sound for live?
Not music, but the first time I heard a voice recorded with a portable MiniDisc recorder. What a difference from (cassette) tape!

Definitely interested in Neil Young's PONO player.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by enc0re » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:26 am

www.head-fi.org - Sorry about your wallet.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:28 am

rob wrote:
saladdin wrote:I'm not trying to bust your chops, and go ahead and keep watching SD if you like. But HDTV is so superior, particularly for sports, and has gotten so reasonably-priced, that it's a must-have for me.
The issue might again be the source.... Verizon in my case compresses the signal so much on most channels that it's not really HD..... My amp shows most channels inbound at 1080i or lower and I still get digital blocks and colour shading or worse in the shadows. Obviously BR is far better and even DVD's mostly look better than the cable signal.
I assume that you have non-FIOS Verizon? My FIOS HD is noticeably uncompressed in comparison to Comcast (long story, but there was a time when I had both coming into the same TV).
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by rob » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:44 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
rob wrote:
saladdin wrote:I'm not trying to bust your chops, and go ahead and keep watching SD if you like. But HDTV is so superior, particularly for sports, and has gotten so reasonably-priced, that it's a must-have for me.
The issue might again be the source.... Verizon in my case compresses the signal so much on most channels that it's not really HD..... My amp shows most channels inbound at 1080i or lower and I still get digital blocks and colour shading or worse in the shadows. Obviously BR is far better and even DVD's mostly look better than the cable signal.
I assume that you have non-FIOS Verizon? My FIOS HD is noticeably uncompressed in comparison to Comcast (long story, but there was a time when I had both coming into the same TV).
Nope... FIOS (fiber) paying for 25/25 (although in speed tests it's usually 15/10 ish). It is certainly better than comcast in the dim past which was always blocky......

I'm almost to the point of cutting fios for tv and phone..... still playing.
| Rob | Its a dangerous business going out your front door. - J.R.R.Tolkien

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:53 am

Rob, that surprises me. If you don't mind saying, what region of the country are you in?

ETA: too lazy to test on a wired PC, but over 802.11ac, a few runs averaged to roughly 80/50 Mbps for my 75/75. Latest iPad.

Pps. And my iPhone 6, bless its bendable heart, averaged to 78/78.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by inbox788 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:10 am

nisiprius wrote:People may not realize it, but, after all, an Apple iPod with the $29.95 earpods that come with it--and similar grades of equipment--are completely free from 60 cycle hum, hiss, ticks, pops, scratches, surface noise, wow, flutter, and rumble. They are extremely low in distortion. And the frequency response ain't half bad. To anyone who really remembers what audiophile sound was like, the absence of that long list of deficiencies is huge, huge, huge.
...
Anyway. Your run-of-the-mill iPod or equivalent produces sound that is better than 99% of what you could hear on high-quality home audio systems, and the curve of cost versus actual sound improvement is so extremely level that it is truly a hobbyist's pursuit now.
The audiophile today may forgo the $300 iPod and $30 headphones for this combination of $30 Sansa Clip/Zip and $300 Etymotics. (like this fellow https://www.flickr.com/photos/72932615@N05/6585998855/ )

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/san ... sured.html

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Mingus » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:26 am

midareff wrote:
decent tubes are a MAJOR problem. .. and what's really good has gotten scarce and demands a huge price premium. Late 1950's Valvo's from Holland and early 1960's Siemens & Halske from Germany to name just a couple. What I could buy a decade ago for $60 are now $300 to $400 each.
When I bought my piece, NOS output tubes weren't in too abundant of supply but were available without too outrageous of a price. Originally I bought some JJ Tesla brand new manufacture tubes out of one of the Slovakia countries which sounded atrocious.. Amazingly, the factory branded tubes probably what the unit came from the factory with, which were way out of spec... old and tired sounded better than the new. They just didn't have much oomph, and were a little muddy sounding. But they didn't make my ears bleed.

Then I bought some NOS Sylvania outputs and wow what a difference in quality between communist era manufacturing tech compared to what was being made every day in the free world decades earlier. So I hunted some more and have two NOS sets of GE branded 7591 tubes.

Last time I checked, NOS 7591s had a pretty high price. And how does one truly know they aren't just being advertised as NOS until after the sale?

The world has moved on.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by scouter » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:43 pm

The question isn't so much "What happened to the audiophiles?", it's "What happened to just listening to music?" For decades, listening to music was considered great entertainment and every album release by your favorite artist was a big event. There was no other competition for the entertainment dollar except for the movie theater.

Now there are movies on your TV, your tablet, and your phone, even on an airplane. Video games, social networking, web browsing, YouTube and Skype. Music has become something that is only experienced as part of another activity, as in the musical score for a film, TV show or video game, or music as background ambiance for a party, driving the car, running or exercising at the gym.

The idea of just sitting and listening to music has become quaint, almost as old-fashioned as staring at the tube radio and listening to "The Shadow". As sitting and listening to music faded away, so did the audiophiles.

I say all this while admitting that our house has three very high-quality audio systems and we "just listen to music" quite often. But then, I've spent my life as a studio musician and producer, so I'm an outlier on that curve. And I'm still an audiophile.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by nisiprius » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:55 pm

Rodc wrote:They all got old and they lost their ability to hear anything over 10KHz so it no longer matters. :P
I think I object. In point of fact I no longer hear anything over about 10KHz, but that doesn't interfere with hearing wow, flutter, rumble, hiss, ticks, pops, scratches, bass, and--above all--distortion. Or appreciating the lack of same. Furthermore, I have a few recordings of violins that I particularly enjoy listening too because they have an especially sweet, "live" sound--and those recording still sound better to me than other recordings. I suspect that a lot of violin recordings have quite a lot of distortion of frequencies well below 10 KHz.

Rather to my disappointment an audiologist's exam does not test anything above 8 KHz.

Those of you who can still hear the 17,734 Hz. horizontal scanning frequency--oh, wait--never mind--let's say, those who can still hear the 15 KHz. note at the end of "A Day in the Life..." have you heard the effect of a sharp cut-off 10 KHz. filter on music? I think you will find that it is surprisingly subtle, and in a list of what matters in sound quality, the ability to reproduce above 10 KHz. should not get a lot of weight.

I agree, though, that hearing loss above 10 KHz it probably does help filter out some of the quantizing noise in digital audio.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by BahamaMan » Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:24 pm

Audiophile still here. Using SET amps and Horn Speakers. Stream Spotify into a high quality DAC with a Squeezebox Touch. 8-)

Listening right now to a pair of 45 SET Monoblocks that I built into a pair of Oris Horns from the Netherlands.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Feb29 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:50 pm

I've been an audiophile for 30+ years. I think scouter gave a really good answer.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Mingus » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:03 pm

nisiprius wrote:
People may not realize it, but, after all, an Apple iPod with the $29.95 earpods that come with it--and similar grades of equipment--are completely free from 60 cycle hum, hiss, ticks, pops, scratches, surface noise, wow, flutter, and rumble. They are extremely low in distortion. And the frequency response ain't half bad. To anyone who really remembers what audiophile sound was like, the absence of that long list of deficiencies is huge, huge, huge.
Ahh, but the true pursuit of a true audiophile is the elimination of the negative traits of vinyl. Then and only then can the pure organic sound of vinyl be experienced. Buying higher end turntables, higher end cartridges, better phono pre-amps, higher quality cables. The next best pre-amp, an even better amplifier. Better speaker wire, better speakers. The list goes on.

The act of listening to music isn't so much the act as in acquiring new equipment to listen to music is the act. Reading about new equipment. Day dreaming about new equipment and how everything will finally be perfect once this last piece of equipment is finally purchased. Then the system will be complete. Then the audiophiles mission will be complete. But it is a false hope. There will always be a deficiency of some sort in the system. And that is where salvation for the audiophile lies, because that deficiency too can be eliminated yet again with a different piece of equipment.

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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by ogd » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:08 pm

Mingus wrote:Ahh, but the true pursuit of a true audiophile is the elimination of the negative traits of vinyl. Then and only then can the pure organic sound of vinyl be experienced. Buying higher end turntables, higher end cartridges, better phono pre-amps, higher quality cables. The next best pre-amp, an even better amplifier. Better speaker wire, better speakers. The list goes on.
Oh brother. And I was naively thinking it was about the music :oops:

The other thing that Spotify & co gives you other than no-hiss digital convenience is: finding your precise music niche. Then changing it every year if you so wish. As opposed to listening to the same old records so you can spot the color of your latest cable.

Seriously, this would-be audiophile with reasonably good ears & budget was completely spooked when looking through the door of that world.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by technovelist » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:10 pm

I captured an old vinyl recording, made in the 1970's and not yet available on CD as of 2010, as an uncompressed WAV file, then spent several hours cleaning up pops and clicks with "Wave Repair".
Finally it came out on CD just a year or two ago. I ripped it to 320K mp3.
I can't tell the difference between the two.
Maybe it's my ears, or maybe it's almost impossible to tell the difference.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by sleepysurf » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:13 pm

For years, rumors abounded that audiophiles and high-end audio were going the way of the dinosaur. Yet, vinyl sales are up ~40% this year, and (lossless, high-res) computer audio is about to take off with the forthcoming release of Pono and Sony's high-resolution players (plus competing products from Light Harmonic, Astell & Kern, and others). As local brick and mortar stereo shops have closed, regional high-end audio shows (RMAF, Axpona, many others) have sprung up, with increasing attendance and new products at all price points.

As for the QUALITY of new music... most POP and ROCK is horribly compressed, so not much difference between MP3 and 24/96 lossless. However, there's a ton of fantastically recorded jazz, classical, acoustic, and world music, including new recordings with boutique labels such as Blue Coast Records, 2L, MA Records, Soundkeeper, AIX, etc. HDTracks, SuperHiRez/Acoustic Sounds (and soon, Pono Music) already offer downloads of lossless CD-quality (and higher res) albums. Competition will make high-res playback more affordable, and many folks think that Apple is waiting in the wings to eventually offer lossless playback as well.

I'm a longtime audiophile (Conrad-Johnson pre and amp, Martin-Logan Summits), and IMHO, the hobby is very much alive and well. We have ~100 members in our local Suncoast Audiophile Society, including a handful of "Millennial's" getting into the hobby. High-end audio certainly has to compete with many more distractions these days, and few Millennial's have the patience to actually sit and LISTEN to music. However, some do, and as their discretionary spending increases, many will move up the audiophile food chain.
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Marquintosh » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:57 pm

scouter wrote: The idea of just sitting and listening to music has become quaint, almost as old-fashioned as staring at the tube radio and listening to "The Shadow". As sitting and listening to music faded away, so did the audiophiles.
Very true, "listening" to music is different than "hearing" music, listening involve your senses, hearing is background sound, listening is the main motivation for audiophiles and hi-fi components are the medium to get there. I only listen to CD's in a stereo setting, thinking in getting into vinyl.

""A good hi-fi component should make me want to listen to more music—drive me out of the office and into a record shop to explore more music. If it doesn't do that, something is very wrong. No matter how much it costs, what it looks like, or how sexy it might look to potential mates, if a component doesn't fuel my search for more new music, it's worthless. " -- Stephen Mejias Stereophile

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