The Next Track, Episode #73 – Kirk Wants to Buy an Amplifier

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxAndy Doe helps Kirk and Doug understand “make louder boxes.”

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #73 – Kirk Wants to Buy an Amplifier.

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8 thoughts on “The Next Track, Episode #73 – Kirk Wants to Buy an Amplifier

  1. Kirk, I am disappointed by your writing on hi-fi so I don’t plan to listen to this podcast any more. It seems as if you rely on repeating basic axioms over and over again, like:
    – hi-fi magazines write dishonest articles to push advertising revenues
    – all people who spend money on hi-fi are gullible
    – any improvement in sound is due to the ‘placebo effect’ or ‘confirmation bias’
    – if you can’t measure it the difference is not real, you are just imagining it
    – quoting ‘purple prose’ from hi-fi reviews is always good for a few laughs. Etc.
    Yes, there is a lot of snake oil in the industry. We know that; let’s move on. Get out from behind the desk and invest serious time going and listening to high quality sound systems to understand the audible differences the industry is trying to describe in that much-maligned prose. When you started writing about photography you bought cameras and started taking pictures. Why not do the same for audio if you have a serious interest?

    • Hi-fi magazines do write dishonest articles. They don’t criticize their advertisers. This is common in many areas, but with hi-fi it is especially egregious. (I could cite certain classical music magazines who do the same thing, writing good reviews and publishing feature articles to please labels that advertise.)

      Many – not all – people who spend money on hi-fi are gullible. They buy into magical thinking. Hard to disprove this when you see some of the crap that’s sold.

      Not all improvement of sound is due to the placebo effect; if you listened to this episode you would hear what we have to say. But your confirmation bias is telling you not to listen.

      If you can’t measure a difference, then, yes, it’s not real. Sound is physics; the rest is in the mind.

      “Purple prose” is the norm for this industry, much more than any legitimate industry I know.

      As we point out in this episode, you can’t just “go out and listen,” because any time you go to one of the few serious hi-fi stores that remain, you’re in a situation that doesn’t come anywhere close to your own listening environment. And, as I point out in the episode, those hi-fi stores that exist don’t even cater to the lower end consumer, because they want to sell $5000 amplifiers, not $500 amplifiers.

      Also, in the episode, I clearly say that I’m interested in trying to find better sound, and willing to spend the money, but that I’m frustrated by the retail environment that means that I would simply be throwing money away if I get something that doesn’t sound good (or dealing with the annoyance of returns, generally at my expense, if I didn’t like what I bought). I lament the fact that there is no middle-ground solution for people like me who are interested in sound, but not willing to spend the price of a car on my audio system.

      As for cameras, I’ve been taking pictures for a long time, and you don’t need good cameras to take good pictures. That’s actually an interesting analogy; you don’t need good hi-fi equipment to appreciate music. And that’s part of the problem: just as in photography, there are people with gear-acquisition syndrome who think they have to have the latest lens to take better photos – rather than learn about composition, lighting, exposure, etc. – there is a sub-set of music lovers who think that the music will sound better and be more enjoyable by throwing more money at it.

  2. Kirk, I am disappointed by your writing on hi-fi so I don’t plan to listen to this podcast any more. It seems as if you rely on repeating basic axioms over and over again, like:
    – hi-fi magazines write dishonest articles to push advertising revenues
    – all people who spend money on hi-fi are gullible
    – any improvement in sound is due to the ‘placebo effect’ or ‘confirmation bias’
    – if you can’t measure it the difference is not real, you are just imagining it
    – quoting ‘purple prose’ from hi-fi reviews is always good for a few laughs. Etc.
    Yes, there is a lot of snake oil in the industry. We know that; let’s move on. Get out from behind the desk and invest serious time going and listening to high quality sound systems to understand the audible differences the industry is trying to describe in that much-maligned prose. When you started writing about photography you bought cameras and started taking pictures. Why not do the same for audio if you have a serious interest?

    • Hi-fi magazines do write dishonest articles. They don’t criticize their advertisers. This is common in many areas, but with hi-fi it is especially egregious. (I could cite certain classical music magazines who do the same thing, writing good reviews and publishing feature articles to please labels that advertise.)

      Many – not all – people who spend money on hi-fi are gullible. They buy into magical thinking. Hard to disprove this when you see some of the crap that’s sold.

      Not all improvement of sound is due to the placebo effect; if you listened to this episode you would hear what we have to say. But your confirmation bias is telling you not to listen.

      If you can’t measure a difference, then, yes, it’s not real. Sound is physics; the rest is in the mind.

      “Purple prose” is the norm for this industry, much more than any legitimate industry I know.

      As we point out in this episode, you can’t just “go out and listen,” because any time you go to one of the few serious hi-fi stores that remain, you’re in a situation that doesn’t come anywhere close to your own listening environment. And, as I point out in the episode, those hi-fi stores that exist don’t even cater to the lower end consumer, because they want to sell $5000 amplifiers, not $500 amplifiers.

      Also, in the episode, I clearly say that I’m interested in trying to find better sound, and willing to spend the money, but that I’m frustrated by the retail environment that means that I would simply be throwing money away if I get something that doesn’t sound good (or dealing with the annoyance of returns, generally at my expense, if I didn’t like what I bought). I lament the fact that there is no middle-ground solution for people like me who are interested in sound, but not willing to spend the price of a car on my audio system.

      As for cameras, I’ve been taking pictures for a long time, and you don’t need good cameras to take good pictures. That’s actually an interesting analogy; you don’t need good hi-fi equipment to appreciate music. And that’s part of the problem: just as in photography, there are people with gear-acquisition syndrome who think they have to have the latest lens to take better photos – rather than learn about composition, lighting, exposure, etc. – there is a sub-set of music lovers who think that the music will sound better and be more enjoyable by throwing more money at it.

  3. “you don’t need good hi-fi equipment to appreciate music” – that much I certainly agree with. For the rest, we must agree to differ.

    I still think you should go and listen whatever the supposed difficulty. I have done it many times and it is not as hard as you make out.

  4. “you don’t need good hi-fi equipment to appreciate music” – that much I certainly agree with. For the rest, we must agree to differ.

    I still think you should go and listen whatever the supposed difficulty. I have done it many times and it is not as hard as you make out.

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