Have you read the piece by Fred Kaplan at Slate.com defending audiophiles? Thanks to Norman Chesky for passing along a link to a very thoughtful and compelling article about our mutual passion. It’s called “I, Audiophile” and you can read it by clicking here.
Fred is an audiophile. The piece is largely written as a defense of audiophilia against the largely negative articles that have appeared in numerous publications and even as videos on YouTube. He specifically mentions David Pogue’s bad review at Yahoo Tech of Neil Young’s player and a recent rant by Seth Stevenson, which is also at Slate.com (http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/02/ponoplayer_review_neil_young_s_new_streaming_device_sounds_no_better_than.html). His piece is titled, “Out of the Blue and Into the Wack – Neil Young’s PonoPlayer sounds no better than an iPhone—no matter what the audiophiles say.”
Both of these articles have generated lots of comments. Apparently, both sides in the debate love to state and re-state positions that do nothing but continue the great divide between those who believe they hear a difference and those that don’t. I read through some of them and even started to write one of my own…but I gave up and realized that there is nothing I can add that would change anyone’s mind. The two sides are dug in…seriously dug in.
I was amused to see the continued mention of, “the legendary 2007 study published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society“. The implication in Seth’s article is that this “legendary” study established once and for all that high-resolution recordings don’t sound any better or any different than standard CDs. After all, it was published in the AES Journal. The Meyer and Moran “study” isn’t worth the paper it was written on for the same reason that Seth and David Pogue failed to achieve positive results with their mini studies. None of them played recordings that were actually high-resolution!
Fred gets it right in his thoughtful counter to Seth’s condemnation of Pono and by extension the entire audiophile world. He provided a great definition of Audiophilia that I would like to share:
“Audiophilia might be defined as the love of listening to good music that sounds good.”
We audiophiles love to listen to wonderful, well-performed musical compositions and/or songs using the very best method of reproduction possible. I’m all in. This has been central to my life’s path since I was a very young child. Music is an absolutely amazing art form that can easily bring forth joy and excitement as well as tears and sorrow. And those of us that dedicate ourselves in the pursuit of better and better sound do so because we simply want the best. What’s wrong with that?
Being an audiophile doesn’t mean that everyone subscribes to the same idea of The Absolute Sound, however. As we all know, there is great passion with regards to formats, recordings, hardware, and methods. In the final analysis, if it works for you, then keep doing it. So let’s keep washing our vinyl LPs, tweaking our setups, and seeking that one accessory that is going to blow our minds. It’s all good.
If Seth Stevenson had listened to real HD-Audio recording when he opened his new Pono player rather than an old standard resolution Neil Young track, things might…just might…have been different.