A Cheap Audio Man Rant

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Dan Steely, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Basically, agreed. I only posed the show scenario because it was the archetype of the "drive-by" as opposed to the more time consuming, and ultimately more informative, effort to listen using a variety of material. I largely avoid audiophile spectaculars-- records I'm familiar with help, but I want to find the seams-- and there will be some-- if you listen on enough material.
    I heard a multi-million dollar system right before the lockdown thing, and one of the records I had managed to avoid for a few years was "Dreaming of Dean"-- not that I have anything against the guy- he was probably fun to party with back in the Rat Pack days- but it was an audiophile trope that I avoided. And guess what the host put on? I started laughing, and then explained that "he got me" by playing that record. An amusing anecdote at best. None of this is new news-- you've probably been to more shows recently than me. (I'm not in the hardware side of the industry, in fact, I'm retired, but I did my share of shows in the day and only raised it to make a point that reinforces what you said)-- you have to listen to a wide range of material to get a real handle on a piece of gear in a controlled environment, with "controlled" variables. That usually means "in my system" though in years past, I was familiar enough with a few other systems that I could trust what I was hearing reflected clearly on the component, record or accessory in issue.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021

    HIRES_FAN Forum Resident

    There are so many talented/entertaining alternatives to Diana Krall (ugh).....Now kids, that is one reason to run way as fast as you can from an "audiophile", a.k.a the minute he pops in that Krall album :D
    Gumboo likes this.
  3. AC1

    AC1 Forum Resident

    Antwerp, Belgium
    Some others that I know of are Patricia Barber, Stacey Kent, Melody Gardot, ... What else is there?
  4. Plinko

    Plinko Forum Resident

    interesting that this image is what he wants to look at every day…so much so that he has it framed and right above his stereo.
  5. fairaintfair

    fairaintfair I Buried Paul

    SF Bay Area
  6. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    A reviewer that says no piece of gear is worth spending over $2000 for is a reviewer who is not worth listening to.

    Even in the headphone world $2000 is where the good stuff is. If a reviewer can't explain how a $2000+ tube amp sounds better than a $500 tube amp, and explain how that level of better can be worth it, then they have no business being a reviewer. Saying that no gear is worth spending $2000 for just demonstrates that the reviewer can't hear and can't explain audio qualities.

    When I started exploring better headphone sound I figured that the HD650 and a couple hundred for a headphone amp would do it. Then I went to a headphone meet where I got to hear some expensive amps and other expensive headphone gear. And that expensive gear was good. Very good. But my brain was still in budget-fi mode. After several years of hearing the good stuff at meets I finally gave in and bought some good stuff for myself so I could have that experience at home. It has been worth it.

    The $2000+ price point is where you can find some very good headphone amps and other gear. A good reviewer is able to explain what is better about the $2000+ gear compared to the $1000 and less gear. I'm not a reviewer and I can tell you.

    I can put together a headphone system with an $800 amp, $800 headphones, $800 DAC that sounds very good (I have that system in my audio rack right now). I can also put together a system with $2000+ amp, $2000+ DAC, and $2000+ headphones and explain why that is better than the lower cost system and how the extra money spent can be worth it (I have the $2k+ amp, I'm shopping for better DAC and better headphones in the $2k+ bracket).

    A reviewer who cannot help me make an informed jump from a $800 per component system to a $2000+ per component system is of no help to me and not worth my time.
    Pkcpga and nosliw like this.
  7. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    For this genre of girls at a piano jazz: Sophie Milman, Chantal Chamberland, Kat Edmonson, Julie London. But then why stick to that genre? I'd probably prefer Beth Hart, Haley Reinhart, Aurora, LP, Marianne Faithful, Sarah McLachlan, Eva Cassidy, Liz Wright. Just something to mix it up.

    It was funny but even here in Hong Kong I went into a shop they were playing something nice and when they saw me sit down he immediately put on a Diana Krall album - I had t chuckle. I don't hate her or anything - I have a couple of her albums and she was born in my home town Nanaimo and I saw her come out of a record store with her dad (Diana buys LPs - good girl) but show some old 65-year-old guys some blond hair and nice legs and they tune in (which probably explains the Fox News Ratings). :shh:

    Chantal Chamberland

    Sophie Milman

    Aurora (My favourite young artist)

    LP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6SprGmHTy4
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
    dcottrell6 likes this.
  8. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    Unless you are actually in the studio during a recording session, what we hear on our systems does not represent what is played in a studio.
  9. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I have a pretty good idea how classical music is supposed to sound like and how it should sound like in a recording. But microphone placement makes a big difference in how a recording of classical music will sound. So even with classical it is difficult to know how a recording should sound like unless you were there and heard the microphone feed and the microphone setup.
    Ilusndweller likes this.
  10. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    A pair of spread omnidirectional mics works well for recording orchestras/classical music. I think that for a given person (since everyone interprets sound differently) listening to a 2 channel microphone recording of classical music (or anything really,j on their system, that there is a very precise location the left mic should be in and a very precise location the right mic should be in.

    So basically every 2 channel microphone recording is a compromise except to a single person listening on a particular setup (and assuming the mic placement was perfect for them and their stereo setup).
  11. C.Ludwig

    C.Ludwig Well-Known Member

    I used to produce radio commercials, those commercials played in my home sounded as they did in the studio. Hearing those commercials in my car they did not sound at all like they did in the studio.

    HIRES_FAN Forum Resident

    Here's the thing...When you go to shows like RMAF, the setups there are playing music that is way too safe for their exhibits. They play a weak li'l pip squeak like Crall and a dinky li'l piano solo that doesn't challenge any setup. I can gaurantee you that if i took my unforgiving playlist to shows like RMAF, i can choke the living daylights out of 80% of the speaker/amp pairings they have on exhibit...aka expose all their weaknesses.
    For instance, i have some meat headed heavy hitting/startling speakers/amps (Schweikerts, TADs, high-end Luxmens, Yammys, etc) at home and i like to challenge them with the kind of music i play. This could be complex orchestral pieces with electronics elements tied to it and i like to hear them thump me with authority in the dynamics department, bass department, the mid-bass department, the whole frequency spectrum and be as resolving as possible. If i need to fall asleep with some unchallenging sht from the likes of Krall or Stacey Kent, i've got a pair of small bookshelves in my bedroom that will put me to sleep after a few drinks paired with that mild pip squeak music.

    If you are spending a 100k in high end gear, why the hell would you continue playing that mild/weak sht that doesn't offer any kind of challenge to your gear man? ...Might as well save some cash with a dinky li'l bookshelf speaker purchase and some crap watt SET amp , whatever...

    In general, the boys tend to make the kinda music that challenge gear more, but, if you insist on listening to the ladies, you've gotta put your generational biases aside and listen to the some of the newer lasses in town...

    Here are a few, for instance...make sure those subwoofers are working good on stuff like this....

    Tove Lo, the Swedish lass with her indie/electro pop records who's way cooler than Abba btw....You can find high res albums of hers that are quite good....


    the likes of Charli XCX, Dua Lipa, et from England....these albums are recorded really well btw..."audiophile approved"





    Here's some funky stuff from the good ol' American lasses....Halsey, Kiiara, etc.....very good recordings btw




    Now, if you wanna sleep in your bedroom with a pair of dinky li'l bookshelves, here's some some milder stuff that's from the older lasses who are still way more talented than Krall.... (Gerrard, Nicks..Sandoval, etc)




    Let's not continue to be the boring old dudes who play lousy music and make the younger generations run away, shall we? We gotta be the cool old dudes in town man...we gotta be the trend setters who hang around with the monstrous gear....that the younger generations wanna try to imitate :D
  13. WildPhydeaux

    WildPhydeaux Picture withheld by The Authorities

    A Parade in Dallas
    Sounds like someone really misses highschool.

  14. fairaintfair

    fairaintfair I Buried Paul

    SF Bay Area
    No sir!

    Respectfully, I hate how that music sounds and it says nothing to me about my life.

    And in the world comparisons it's Pop Tarts to grandmas home made apple pie.

    And I thank God I'm boring.

  15. Randy

    Randy Never Complain About The Air Conditioning On A Jet

    New York City
    If it measures well and sounds like cr*p, then it's useless.
  16. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    Also a reply to @HIRES_FAN

    I think it's unfair to say Krall lacks talent - it's a style of music- the Smokey Jazz lounge singer kind of music and Krall does do this genre well - I find it repetitive and kind of one-note and it's not that she is bad it's just that it is overplayed at audio shows and dealers. I would also agree that is "safe" in that it is not that difficult for most systems to play it without much stress. I like this style of music but it's not something I am going to play much. The advantage of playing it however is that the instruments are REAL and it's not synthesized or autotuned - like pretty much all of the songs by the pop singers who all wind up sounding the same (like they got different pretty women to sing into a machine and the RE pressed (pop singer female) and they spit out that fake female voice.

    Which is a shame because some of them can actually sing. Years ago I liked Ellie Goulding but the industry latched on and autotuned the crap out of her and now she sounds like a spice girl.

    It also doesn't help that the synthesizers wind up sounding the same artist to artist and song to song. I like it too - I get why people would like this more than the standard slow Jazz song that has been sung 60 times before by 60 other artists - after a while hearing the same song a million times becomes boring.

    The solution for me has always been to play my own music but some show rooms are tough. I brought CDs and I recorded songs FLAC onto a USB - many rooms had no CD players which is baffling since a Cambridge Audio Transport in 2019 was $350. Seriously you can't afford a $350 Transport - it is respectable enough to get the job done! USB? Oh no it might cause a virus - okay. So do you have Nightwish? No. Do you have (enter most any of HIRES-Fan's selections)? No. Okay do you have Jackson Browne (been around for like 50 years?) No. What do you have - Diana Krall - groan.
  17. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    The nice thing about demoing headphone gear at meets or shows is that nobody else has to hear what you're listening to. I can try headphone gear with music that would not pass muster at an audiophile show with speakers. But on headphones I can. I can listen to music that stresses the system for handling imaging and soundstage while there is big bass. I can listen to music that is able to demonstrate to me if compressed and modern mastered music is able to have depth even if Diana Krall audiophiles would consider it flat. I've used Mogwai recordings to demonstrate and hear the differences between CD and high-res. I also have audiophile approve recordings I use to demo gear with. I listen to a variety of music styles and recording qualities in daily listening and when demoing gear.
  18. AC1

    AC1 Forum Resident

    Antwerp, Belgium
    Hires_fan, do you also use youtube to listen to this already very processed and compressed music?
  19. AC1

    AC1 Forum Resident

    Antwerp, Belgium
    I thought we were talking more about the recordings themselves than about the music. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Julie London recordings are perhaps not that high tech anymore? Or do people generally still see her albums undefeated in that erea? For the other names mentioned here, I'm unfamiliar with all of them, so I'll know what to do today. :)

    Listened to Patricia Barber latest album yesterday (Tidal Master), and while I'm not a big fan of her voice, the recording is top-notch. Don't think I've heard better. It makes my speakers sound like they cost 5 times more expensive. So while I don't get a kick out her voice, I do like the musicianship and the sound of a really good recording.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021

    HIRES_FAN Forum Resident

    So, you like “REAL” huh? Well, I can play a piano and violin all day long, if that’s all you consider to be “REAL”..If i went electric with my violin one day and did a couple of "gimmicks", i suppose you won't like it right there.

    But, in reality, “REAL” is just primarily what you are conditioned to. For instance, there are so many instruments in the continent of Asia, Africa and elsewhere that the western ear would’ve never heard of, right? An Australian digeridoo, a Chinese Guzheng, an Indian Sarod, an Indian Santoor etc, etc c1ome to mind. For Joe Schmucklefk in Missouri who’s used to the sound of his guitar and a drumkit only, the sound of a Santoor would appear very “UNREAL”, I suppose. Let’s talk about Tuvian throat singing, maybe. It would sound unreal to a dude who’s used to Diana Krall scratching away at his ears.

    Floyd and several prog rock bands were experimenting with synthesized sounds decades ago. But, that is acceptable to an older “audiophile”, isn’t it? But, somehow, if the new kids these days do it with their music, the old geezers seem to get high and mighty (start to condemn it). I would expect a guy who claims to be an “audiophile” to keep his generational, cultural, etc biases aside and keep an open mind w.r.t music....but, whatever..

    Eitherway, for many a reason that I won’t state (I think I have a pretty good idea about the collective herd spirit in this forum), I really don’t like to hang out with the typical “audiophile” of my generation. I very much prefer to hang out with the more open minded musicians and the younger audiophiles.
  21. Pavol Stromcek

    Pavol Stromcek Senior Member

    SF Bay Area
    I'm kinda surprised by all the intense disdain here for Cheap Audio Man, and it's unfortunate that this is the video of his that's getting so much attention, as it's not all that great, nor super representative of what he normally does (though I personally don't find his opinions here particularly objectionable either). His usual MO is to give what are actually pretty descriptive reviews of mostly speakers, but also other audio gear, that's in a price range that most people (i.e., not rich) can afford. I think his original shtick, especially if you watch his earlier videos, was to deliver his content in a way that's a little bit reminiscent of Zach Galifianakis' dry awkwardness in Between Two Ferns, resulting in something that's effectively like Between Two Speakers, combined with a "I'm just a regular schlub" vibe. His goal is to find strengths in affordable audio gear and try to inform people of what's good and what's not, at least according to his opinion. His speakers shootouts, in particular, where he pits four or so speakers in a similar style and price point up against each other, are pretty informative.

    Ultimately I can't say how accurate his gear reviews truly are, as I've only actually heard a total of one speaker out of the many he has reviewed (the Wharfedale Diamond 11.4, which I own), but I would say his review of that speaker was spot on.

    Sure, based on what he says he listens to when testing speakers, he seems to have mostly godawful taste in music, but I do think he has a way of describing things that's more accessible and even engaging than a lot of the other usual suspects who do this on YouTube. So, I personally wouldn't judge his entire oeuvre on this one video that's kind of outside what he normally does.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021
  22. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I think you have misread the meaning. A piano has a sound no matter what country it is in. It has a basis in reality so does a violin or an erhu or a saxophone or drums or didgeridoos. While it is truly an American listening to didgeridoo solo may not be able to distinguish the instrument or know what it is an Australian probably will be.

    The reason acoustic instruments are used for evaluating audio gear is that some stereos are a lot better at recreating the piano or the saxophone or the cello versus lesser systems and because the people auditioning the systems know what a piano should probably sound like they "know it when they hear it."

    At the last California Audio Show, I spoke to a couple in their late 20s who are both concert pianists. I asked them what their three favourite rooms were - at reproducing the piano and they were the exact same three rooms that I had listed top 3.

    Synthesized pop (which I like - I have no problem with young artists have purchased three Halsey LPs, Aurora, Lewis Capaldi, LP, London Grammar, Agnes Obel, Lan Del ray, Banoffee, Haim, LadyGaga's Chromatica, etc. And Pink Floyd, Jean Michael Jarre and Kraftwerk. And I'll throw on Nightwish, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath. I'll also listen to both Sinatras, Harry Belafonte, Shirley Bassey, Ray Charles, and we haven't even gotten into classical or jazz or foreign music - my favourite piece in Hong Kong is Butterfly Lovers (The version conducted by Kek-Tjiang Lim.

    The point was that with pure synth there is no backtrack for the ear to hold onto - there is no standard with which to compare. I still use the music for evaluation but there also needs to be a judgement based on what an actual instrument sounds like because sound effects are no instruments. Autotune in pop music is an artificially created sound - not the person's voice. Artists like T-Pain use autotune dramatically - he can actually sing quite well but you would never know it listening to any of this music.

    Here is Ellie Goulding live acoustic

    Then autotuned to the hilt.

    I am not telling anyone who or what they should like here - the latter video has 131 million hits and the former not even 1 million. But I can't do much of an evaluation of the quality of a stereo with the second song because it's all a big washed-out digitized and processed sound - Her voice somewhat resembles the first video. She's has a unique voice that I can appreciate in the first video - wispy and just hanging on but unique - in the second video she could be any of 2 dozen pop singers and the sound of the song is similar to 40 other songs on the top 40.

    I don't think we're really in disagreement - when I go to audio shows to cover the events I'm the one with a Halsey or Agnes Obel or Aurora etc album. When I played Lewis Capaldi a lot of people wanted to know who it was so there's hope to get the geezers to at least look at younger artists. Not everyone liked it and that's fine but not everything new is crap and it's sad that people are stuck in whatever generation they grew up in. Granted as a teacher in HK I use music to help with listening lessons so I tend to use music the kids are into not old geezer music - so it is the students who exposed me to younger artists.

    Personally, I'd like to hear a room play LP over Diana Krall - some kind of a big belting singer with a building power band backing her up - crank this up at an audio show - I mean I love this woman. But most oldies will absolutely hate it. I've been talking her up for the past 8 years and she FINALLY put out a song that became a massive hit and put her on the map. And fortunately, the industry hasn't gotten into her yet. An no she isn't Bob Dylan.

    Play really loud - it's better when it's really loud.:laugh:
  23. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    Damn but this guy is sure living in some of your heads. Good for him getting all this free publicity!
    Pavol Stromcek likes this.
  24. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    I watched the video this morning, it did not affect me one way or another. I found it more entertaining than informative.........I do think he brings up some points about those that are so insane about what is high end and what is not, as well his experience with the guy who actually called him. How many times have we all suspected that a thread poster is making comments about a pc of gear that we really don't think they have ever heard??
    He sets the tone of the video with the ziplock bag......pretty funny.
    Pavol Stromcek and csgreene like this.
  25. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    Uh, you're kidding, right? This stuff in unimanitave and created in a computer program. As an "old dude", I had the advantage of growing up in the 60s and 70s where people were forced to have talent and use it without the help of computers.
    A Grain of Sand likes this.

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