Audio reviewers or pundints and shills?

Ok, once again a recent article is published in a major audio magazine that gets it wrong again. Part of what makes my blood boil is that I can name two and only two audio writers who know what they are doing, are honest in their work and are of service in their jobs. As for the rest, it is no different from TV news and government propaganda, take your pick.

The article I speak of talks about how “inadequate” the term “hobby” is as applies to the audiophile community. There is nothing wrong with having that opinion as it is and just writing about it in that context for it is neither wrong nor correct. It’s just opinion or interpretation. The problem comes in when it is made into some kind of agenda tool or propaganda machine as was done with the article in question. I will not link to the article here for two main reasons. 1) I do not have permission and 2) It’s About The Music does not support or promote such reckless drivel! I am also not naming the magazine because as editor in chief of this blog, it is not my job to start wars. I also give credit to my readers that they are savvy enough to figure it out themselves by using Google or what have you. All I want to do is point out bull shit when I see it so that you, the reader are not led astray from reality.

I do know the author of the article in question and can tell you that this kind of thing is his modus operandi. He will say something logical or reasonable and then twist it around to meet his agenda. What that agenda is isn’t clear, but it doesn’t need to be. Like many other audio reviewers, he is a shill for certain companies (or whoever does him favors or what-not).

The article I speak of talks about the label of “hobby” being inadequate to describe the audiophile goal of better sound reproduction. He explains correctly that the term “hobby” falls woefully short for ” the earbud listeners, folks with whole-house systems and those who’d rather push a button on a remote and sit back or dance rather than roll tubes or tinker”. Did you catch the back-hand slap in that? The author is known for having a tolerance problem with folks of different walks in gear or music choices and likes to stir up drama, so it is a good bet that the comment was said somewhat with nose in air, if you know what I mean. To back up his belief he sources conversations he had with some expensive gear manufactures and dealers and the like, whom do not have diverse offerings. (DEG, Stream the Studio, Nordost cables and Lavish Hi-Fi. He states that they agree with him that “if the industry continues to cling to the “hobby paradigm” it will hang the noose around its own neck”. He correctly points out that there are increasing numbers of women pursuing quality audio reproduction and that retailers and manufactures who fail to adapt their sales approaches to the tens of millions of people who’ve made new ways of listening to music central to their lives are doomed to failure. He is right as far as he goes in that statement, but several inconsistencies and disconnects raise their heads. First of all those sources he mentions do not make or offer such selections and yet he uses them as examples of who gets it right. Then we have the making the point of more and more women are seeking better audio quality as if it is some phenomena and out of nature for women. This is ridiculous just on the surface. Gender has nothing to do with the desire for better sound quality. All people and walks appreciate music in their own way. It also goes against the very nature of music.

In his second paragraph he goes on to state “that he cringes at the taints of market manipulation and branding the word “lifestyle” is saddled with that music has become an essential part of the modern lifestyle for entire generations worldwide”. First of all, I will point out that he is one of many proponents of market manipulation himself, so there is a contradiction right there. Music being part of modern life is not a new phenomena. Music has been an essential part of people’s lives since the dawn of humanity as he does correctly point to, but then states that the initial roots and intentions of music has shifted, “the 21st-century phenomena of music-pumped raves and yoga/cardio workouts, file sharing, families cooking and eating to music and home-theater systems suggest that music retains its central role in our individual and communal lives”. He says that as if it is problematic. It is clear to me that he does not understand that music is energy even though he alludes to that fact. No mater what music is still energy and changes ones mood, thought, demeanor, emotions, etc. To this day music is still used for healing as I have pointed out in detail in some articles I have written here. The way he makes the above statement it is hard to tell if he thinks music should play an essential role in our lives or not. He mentions music once used in tribal rituals, well, he has it wrong. It is still used in such rituals around the world and how are raves and other such parties any different from tribal rituals from early times or anywhere in the world? Answer: there is no difference. They still use music in churches too, don’t they? Also, traditional yoga has always incorporated music because it is almost a foregone conclusion that music was used to help reach a certain state of being and the same holds true today. You know what? Some of the best meals I have ever made were done while playing music. Some of my best eating experiences were with music playing (just try not enjoying a Moroccan meal with appropriate music and atmosphere).

The author of the article in question also cites Sonos and Apple in part with help of a neuroscientist named Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The  science of a Human Obsession. (I have not read that book yet, but plan to). The claimed study done by Sonos and Apple involved an online and global survey of 30,000 smartphone users, aged 18-79, all whom lived with at least one other person and explored how listening to music together affects their lives. The first problem is the fact that Sonos and Apple don’t care one iota about people listening to music or not, nor about music itself. Further, they also don’t care a lot about audio reproduction either. Music is just another way to revenue for them. The only thing they care about is selling more units and increasing profits by using cheap or slave labor. Then there is the microscopic sampling in the supposed survey they did. A mere 30k people out millions is not enough for a reading of any type. 30k people do not speak for the majority just one doesn’t speak for all. I seriously doubt they really did a study because it goes on to state that 59% of the people reported finding others more attractive if they liked the same music. (No shit Captain obvious).

The one statement the author of the article made  that really irked me was: “it can be easily argued that better-quality sound contributes to positive feelings about one’s life and desire to improve it even further, anyone in the industry who pooh-pooh these findings is missing the point.” That statement alone is a steaming pile of bull-shit! This statement is just another round-about way of shilling for high-end audio gear brands to try to sell more super expensive gear to folks at potential peril. The statement alone not only contradicts what the author said earlier, but shove music completely out-of-the-way. Expensive gear, cheap gear and even sound quality itself does not contribute to positive feelings about life or lead to a desire to improve one’s life even more unless your whole goal and purpose for being is to gather piles of gear loaded with diminishing returns without clear purpose and constantly chase ghosts. If that is what makes you happy, by all means go for it, but then I have to ask why are you bothering with reading my blog?
Clearly, it is the music that can contribute to one’s feelings and even instill the desire to improve any areas in need or break new ground or what have you aside from any sudden immediate needs to do so for health, etc. Audio gear can’t do any of that.
In fact, I have hardly ever met a happy audiophile. They are usually the ones who are complaining the loudest all the time because they can’t get what they want and are frustrated. They are also the ones in the most debt and make the most mistakes because they do not do homework. Therefore, they are some of the most unhappy people and will try to drag you down with them.
The author even makes another similar statement later: “Music is an intricate part of the good life, like good water and food. Raise your music intake quality up to the level of the rest of your lifestyle and your whole life gets upgraded.” So now the music everyone listens to is not good enough? Now the water you drink is bad as is the food you eat? First of all, how does he know how you lead your life? The assumptions he makes in this are huge. He goes on to say that “listening to music in high-quality sound is not an ancillary aspect of our lives. Rather, it’s an essential component of better-quality living and sense of self.”
Nobody would argue that listen to music in the best quality sound you can get in your means is simply fabulous and more enjoyable, but he makes it sound like if you have not spent xxx amount of money on your sound system then you do not deserve to be happy or have a good life! It is this kind of thing so many reviewers like him say that really makes me very angry. It is an insult not only to most folks, but also the readers. It takes away any credit from them in the ability to decide for themselves what they can afford and what sounds good to them and what makes them happy.

The author does finally state that an embrace of affordable playback devices that fill entire rooms with music in high-quality sound not only is practical, but inviting. My question to this is “why could he have not written the article either to reflect that or made the point directly? Why all the idiotic statements to get here?

The article the author wrote only really plays into the whole (and real motive) of the manufactures and dealers of priming the well for customers and searching for fresh ways to gain the general public’s attention. He enjoyed quoting one study after another to support his premise, although none made much sense in terms of how to generate future new gear sales anyway. By the way, the author of said article also claims a profession as a professional whistler, which I was not even aware such a thing existed.

So I can put my rebuttal in a short statement. In fact. the name of this blog itself sums it up fine: It’s About The Music. That is not to be taken as a self-serving plug, but it really is the music that matters. It doesn’t take a lifetime of debt or six figures to obtain extremely good sound quality. What really matters is how the music affects you. If listening to different music affects your emotions, outlook on your life, helps you in some way, etc. then you know already. If you want to try to improve the sound quality of the music you listen to, then start with what you have, do your homework and spend within your means. Do all that if you need to and not because of what articles like the one I discussed here tell you to.

Here’s my counter article to that other one:
“Now go listen to some music and enjoy it”. That’s it.



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