Saturday, 28 September 2019

MUSINGS: "Democratization", "Doublethink", MQA, and the Audiophile. Becoming "Post Hi-Res Audio". And some issues with vinyl...

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” 
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows." 
“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?” 
"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy."
--- George Orwell, selections from 1984 (1949)
It's sad sometimes reading how some (many?) in the audiophile press present products to consumers. Apparently, they'll stop at nothing to push a product even to the point of destroying their own credibility. It was bad enough a few years ago in 2017 when Robert Harley called for a "revolution" and that MQA represented a "paradigm shift"; making a mockery of the idea of paradigm shifts. And now recently he's "doubling down" to bring disservice to the idea of "democratization", linking it with the likes of MQA, in the article "From The Editor: Hi-Res Democratization" (The Absolute Sound, online September 6, 2019). Specifically, he seems to believe that those who oppose MQA is somehow fighting against the democratization of high-resolution audio for audiophiles! Really?

Let's start with some definitions. "Democratization" refers to the idea of "making something accessible to everyone". Last I checked, the most powerful way that one can make something available for everyone is to make it free. Free, as in $0 is a big one. But also free as in "open", "transparent", minimal, if any, intellectual strings attached to use and even be creative with as one sees fit. As discussed before, MQA is a proprietary system that is neither free from extra cost to the consumer (eg. must buy MQA-capable DAC for "full" decoding/rendering, royalty costs ultimately passed on to consumers), nor intellectually free (no such thing as an open-source MQA decoder/encoder, or a description of the format structure even from its makers). So right there, we can see that the MQA "product" puts up barriers against easy accessibility. As a hi-res file format, compared to the likes of lossless compressed FLAC, APE, WV, or ALAC where anyone can use with broad hardware and software compatibility, MQA is nowhere as accessible for as many people.

It's rather amusing that we're even using the word "democratization" here in reference to this closed "ecosystem"! Remember that if MQA were to be implemented broadly and the usual lossless high resolution PCM files were not released, the main result from this would actually be that MQA becomes a tool to restrict access to high-resolution data based on the euphemistic "authentication" mechanism. To claim that this codec brings forth any kind of freedom/"democratization" to music lovers and/or is for the good of music lovers is actually embedding Orwellian "doublethink" as it's actually cognitively dissonant. 

As you can see, over the years, the audiophile magazines have been unable to mount any credible rebuttal of the facts around what MQA is. Of course they can't. For one, Harley admits in the article that he is a "non-computer-expert who struggled to play hi-res files in the early days" suggesting that perhaps he doesn't have the ability to evaluate the codec. But more importantly, there is no good rebuttal because the truth is that MQA simply is what those of us critical of it have been saying and showing all along; 2+2=4. Objective reality cannot be pushed aside despite what one subjectively opines. Thankfully we are not (yet) living in the propaganda world of 1984, and school children probably know this yet audiophile magazine editors seem to have difficulty grasping such a basic idea.

So, without any objective proof to back him up, nor be able to argue that MQA is somehow "free" and easily accessible... What is the point of Harley's article? Basically to now claim that those who argue against the value of MQA are "bullies" (ie. intimidating, coercive...) and obstructing those who might want to give MQA-encoded music a try?!

He starts the article with an alleged case of a reader who was "intrigued" but "skeptical" because of exposure to a "strong dose of vitriol from naysayers in Internet forums". He then goes into a paragraph consisting of varying levels of misinformation.** And then ends the anecdote with the reader perplexed by why such a "miracle of modern digital-audio technology" (emphasis mine) would be opposed. Is the word "miracle" even appropriate for something like this!? I'm glad the reader thought that playback sounded good after spending something like US$5000 on the Aurender A10 performing MQA decoding. I wonder what system the reader upgraded from! :-)

After this, Harley then goes into wild speculation suggesting that MQA detractors are those who were "early adopters" of hi-res PCM, computer geeks apparently who invested time, money and ego into big files and high bitrate. I wonder where Mr. Harley got this opinion from and what kind of "research" went into such an allegation!? Would he mind sharing an example of one of these "elite" audiophiles?

If he's referring to Internet denizens like me, sure, I like my computers, and from around 2010, I did start collecting some large hi-res files. But remember that there was skepticism since the DVD-A and SACD days (eg. Meyer & Moran paper in 2007). By 2012, Monty Montgomery had written his piece of why 24/192 was silly that was widely read and commented on. By early 2014, I had expressed doubts about high-resolution audio as well based on what I heard and examined. By summer 2014 I had my 24-bit vs. 16-bit Blind Test results showing no significant audible difference based on the audiophile readership here. And in January 2015, I wrote an article questioning the value of high resolution audio including an exploration into some of the literature available.

Since all of these articles predated MQA's broader availability (Tidal started MQA streaming in early 2017, before that we only had the odd 2L demo file), how is it that Harley could assert that early adopters are somehow indignant that high-res being available to everyone (through MQA) threatens their "elite" status!? That's silly. The only people that seemed to think high-res/big files was a big deal by the time MQA was even announced in late 2014 and into early 2015, clutching on to high bitrate files was Neil Young and a few of the audiophile magazine people who thought the PonoPlayer made sense because it could play hi-res. I suspect that thoughtful audiophiles were starting to lose interest in high-res by the time MQA showed up on Tidal, correlating with Pono's final demise in 2017.

So, I ask again, who are these "elite" audiophiles hanging on to their "massive PCM files"? Do these people actually exist or did Mr. Harley just create a straw man that he's attempting to tear down in that article in the service of trying to prop up MQA? (The reader should also ask him/herself why the editor of a magazine would go to such lengths with such a product? For what benefit to him or his magazine beyond simply acting as clickbait? Maybe that's all it is?)

After all this nonsense, Mr. Harley then ends on a soft, gentle, kumbaya moment trying to make himself sound like a reasonable and good guy by the last three paragraphs. He encourages us to be in harmony and just enjoy the music regardless of PCM, DSD, MQA, LP, etc... After presumably agreeing with this reader that MQA is miraculous, he now wants us to remember that format is secondary to the music (but I want to experience the miracle too!!!). That any kind of format that makes music easily accessible ("democratizes" access) is a good thing. Way to go Mr. Harley for basically producing an article that continues to promote dissonant, false claims about MQA from Bob Stuart and company, rehash subjective claims by way of some reader's comments, criticizes mythical "elite" hi-res audiophiles, and basically closes off with "I like easy accessibility". No new facts presented, no depth to the discussion, and as far as I can tell, an audiophile learns nothing from this article (except that we should embrace MQA's brand of doublethink/doublespeak "democratization"). 

If you read the article comments from the readers below, it's clear that the audiophiles understand what MQA is about. In fact, the level of analysis in the comments is much superior to what Harley expressed in the article. Is it any wonder that audiophiles these days might be more and more influenced by "alternative" sources of information like forums than magazines like TAS? At least John Atkinson at Stereophile has enough sense to partially retire and stay away from the MQA nonsense for awhile now despite initial outspoken support. I'm guessing that this is threatening to the magazine writers - the "old guard" as I have seen it described. If democratization in general is a good thing, then clearly more audiophiles should be seeking out the best sources of knowledge they can with the free and open information out there, and at this time in history, maybe the traditional audiophile magazines need to really step back and reconsider their mission. This whole MQA debacle has revealed biases in the audiophile magazines that show how they are aligned with Industry rather than the good of consumers. An article such as this one continues IMO to erode confidence in whatever good will and confidence one may still have in a publication like The Absolute Sound.

In what I can only imagine is a desperate desire to find its niche, Dr. AIX reported that MQA is interested in striking deals with BBC and NHK for broadcasts. Could you imagine NHK Japan broadcasting 8K video of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with MQA to save a mere megabit here and there compared to truly lossless hi-res audio or surround multichannel? Hilarious! The UK is in a bit of a mess currently, but for the BBC to use MQA would be ridiculous. I seriously doubt the public broadcasters are so unwise as to choose a proprietary nonsensical scheme such as this.

Looking at streaming hi-res audio on the other side of the Amazon HD/UHD announcement now with neither Qobuz nor Amazon using MQA, I suspect it will not be long before MQA completes its descent into obscurity as Tidal, being the primary user of the codec, has for years looked unhealthy and is now faced with even stiffer competition. Articles like Harley's continue to remind us of the unreliability of these luminaries / leaders of the audiophile press. Perhaps some day, Harley will look back and recognize the folks online and the "naysayers" were right to have had the courage to speak truth at a time when editors of the mainstream audiophile press lacked both ability and courage.

Thankfully, we're not dealing with the powerful and malevolent INGSOC of 1984, rather, just some weak propaganda being promoted by questionable members of the audiophile press.

** - Remarkable second paragraph ("To recap...") regurgitating nonsense about MQA being "true" (but lossy of course) high resolution. Ongoing claims of "new research" and "cutting-edge" medical imaging and astronomy technology. False claims of "superior sound"; nowhere has this been shown even with formal research lab blind testing. Ridiculous claim about "better-than-CD sound quality" with non-MQA DACs. Harley seems to believe that indeed 2+2=5 (it's a miracle!) because Bob Stuart / MQA told him so.


As I wrote above, it has been many years now since audiophiles were introduced to "hi-res" audio. My suspicion is that by now, many of us, if not the majority are already very much "Post Hi-Res Audio" in our mindset. After all these years, we have realistic opinions formed already about what we might or might not hear and the suggestion that hi-res audio sounding "so much better" no longer rings true in real life. We recognize that the quality of the recording and mastering are much more important once the format the music is encoded in has reached an adequate level of fidelity. Reading Neil Young's recent book To Feel The Music the other day, he still does not seem to express this basic truth although it's good to see that he was able to reject MQA quite early on. For some recordings, perhaps 24-bits and 96kHz, or DSD128, might be good to have given the pristine quality, while most others might as well be dithered down to 16-bits and resampled to 44.1kHz due to lack of actual resolution.

These days I still enjoy collecting a few CDs here and there, especially finding good deals at the local used stores. I cannot remember when I last bothered to be excited about new hi-res digital downloads. I'll probably try out hi-res lossless streaming at some point but until Qobuz and/or Amazon lossless show up here in Canada, I'm content with my music library. At times, I might download 24-bit demos but when I see that the noise floor is high or if the dynamic range is poor, I'll happily dither down to 16-bits, and resample to save space. I suspect that's the direction the "elite" audiophiles are going these days as they've come to see the mountains of standard resolution albums out there dressed up in wasteful 24-bits and 96/192kHz sample rates.

Even at audiophile shows like the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I didn't see anyone extolling the virtues of >16-bits or >44.1kHz sampling rate (company reps may have said something in support here and there at most). The vendors / representatives barely mentioned if the music playing was standard CD or hi-res. I didn't notice audience members demanding to hear any specific formats like hi-res PCM or DSD (a few brought their own LPs).

Neil Young is free to continue his evangelism claiming he "feels" better listening to 24/192 - he's a good example of one who still seems to believe "file size became a proxy for resolution" to quote Harley and holds on to the inaccurate mantra of analogue being always better than digital. Companies like Sony are free to continue to hype up "HRA" if they really think they can make money. Feel free to "democratize" high-resolution audio as a feature that everyone can have access to of course. While I think it's good that Qobuz and Amazon UHD can stream >16/44 lossless digital audio data and one might feel reassured knowing that the "highest resolution" version is being distributed, I think the fact is that audiophiles are not in awe these days. The majority of music lovers simply won't care because there's little audible difference anyway.

All of this is not unexpected even if those who have something to sell cannot bring themselves to admit the truth of how little impact hi-res audio will have. And this outcome is certainly predictable based on what the science tells us about the limitations of hearing and listening.


Check out the ongoing debate around LP cleaning and the recent article from Michael Fremer talking about Kirmuss' cleaning solution and LAST. As primarily a digital audiophile, I really don't care much for expensive LP cleaning solutions (I mentioned Kirmuss on Day 3 of RMAF). What is interesting are the reminders of just how ugly looking the scanning electron microscope images of LP grooves look. Have a peek at the PDF from LAST. Notice the rough grooves with "conchoidal fracture", "melting, gouging", and the irregular "berm" on that piece of plastic we are told was "played 50 times". Even without being played numerous times or using an electron microscope, just have a look at your new LPs and see if there are noticeable visible imperfections affecting the grooves like small scratches, scuffs, and mild warping (should not be difficult). This should not be any surprise given the measured performance of LP vs. digital. It's truly a wonder that in 2019 anyone could still consider LP to be anything described as "high resolution"! Remember, as usual I'm not saying LPs can't sound "good" - they can - but this is not in the more objective sense of how one would define "high fidelity".

(Let's also not forget that we do need to be mindful of the environmental impacts of human activity. As the analogue evangelists like Young and Fremer enjoy their 180gm LPs and thumb through their collection of thousands of vinyl, reveling in the belief that "Vinyl's back!", I hope they take a moment to ponder what happens to these pieces of plastic in the decades ahead when they personally would no longer be able to enjoy the fragile music impressed upon those grooves.)

One last thing... :-) Speaking of an album that does not need 24-bit or high samplerates due to source material, I'm nonetheless looking forward to getting the 50th Anniversary digital Super Deluxe release of Abbey Road soon. I suppose it'll be fun listening to the new stereo remix but much more interested in the mutichannel mix with Dolby Atmos; now that should sound different and it might be a first for Atmos with a major release. I have come across a couple of other Atmos music releases of smaller scales - Booka Shade's Galvany Street for those who like electronic music and Luca Turilli's Rhapsody's Prometheus: The Dolby Atmos Experience if you're into hard rock/metal.

Hope you're all enjoying the music!


  1. Great post as usual, Archimago! I share your attitude towards MQA.

    Speaking of interesting releases, you might also want to check out "binaural" (for headphones) recording of Henry Brant's "Ice Field" symphony rendered using Dolby Atmos. See The recording itself is available on high res download sites.

    1. Excellent suggestion Mikhail, I'll have a peek!

  2. I use Tidal MQA, I like the streaming aspect. But as 5G becomes a thing and digital storage becomes cheaper and cheaper, file size won't be an issue.

    1. Yeah, I think for many with broadband access these days, it's the mobile side where compression still makes sense.

      My cell phone still is limited to 6GB/month data for example and I don't see a need for lossless when commuting on a bus or train; in those cases 320kbps would be just great. Certainly 5G will improve speeds tremendously... I hope the data costs here in Canada will be significantly better as well!

  3. Bravo on this article. You hit all the right notes.

    1. Thanks Blumlein,
      Shocked when I first read that Harley article...

  4. I've followed this Golden Goose myself and can qualify that what differences there are over 320kbs streaming are in the low single digit percentiles IF you have the equipment, set up, initial recording and, importantly, EARS to resolve it, my 52 year old pair can tell the difference between Bluetooth and 320 kb Spotify streaming, they can also tell the difference when I play FLAC files as, with my equipment, a greater smoothness sets in, but it's pretty marginal
    I've taken up the Amazon HD service trial along with Spotify and there is a greater sense of "maturity" to the FLAC sound, but I doubt strongly you'd notice it unless you were putting it through four figure stereo or $500 headphones, as for the Ultra HD, if there is any audible difference, then it's playing very much, a second fiddle to the original recording, and I'm not getting it.

    1. Of course, maybe, if you regularly sit in an anechoic room listening to the minutae of differences betwixt various $10k pieces of hi fi equipment through your practiced and attuned young ears, maybe you CAN discern differences no matter how profound (or not)

    2. LOL Dom on the anechoic room bit.

      Exactly, it's the lossless (16/44) bit that is the most important part. If the streaming services can get to that point and with some albums give us hi-res/"UHD" at a good price point as bonus that doesn't cost much if anything more, we're all set! I think this is the importance of the Amazon HD/UHD announcement... That it could be a catalyst to get Apple Music and Spotify to consider their position on lossless.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Excellent article!

      Though his flock of followers will lose their minds at this suggestion, but I say we need be sure to include Amir at ASR in that group of MQA shilling audiophile press. One just needs to read through his posts in the ASR MQA thread (especially those towards the end) and it should be clear to any sensible, honest person as to what went down. His arguments, defenses and rationalization are/were no different than the rest of the MQA/BS shilling press. Doublethink, groupthink, idolatry and cognitive dissonance are big problems at that site (ASR), as we’ll likely see when they react to this suggestion.

      Recent summary on the issue:

    2. Fascinating etanea,
      I only heard/saw about Amir's position just now on Audiophile Style.

      I agree with your summaries. Very strange position to take given his objective focus and the criticisms he makes about some of the hardware he tests, his apparent agreement that technical details like linear filters in DACs are not a bad thing, and general preference for high resolution devices (eg. the Benchmark and Hypex amps, inexpensive Topping DACs) where one could argue that the performance goes beyond human audibility.

      I don't understand why he would go into stuff like what the "target audience" is or "wants". Didn't MQA make their intention known when they targeted audiophiles right from the start? That they got TAS and Stereophile to write flowery words? That Bob Stuart wrote articles like his Q&A series passed on to the audiophile press? One could say MQA brought this "fight" to the audiophiles, presumably thinking that audiophiles are somehow homogeneous as a group and would be impressed by the "authority" of Stuart, Harley, Atkinson, etc...

      I don't see a need for a double standard where we would measure and criticize the hardware but not speak up about issues on the software / format side which are just as essential (if not more so as this could affect all of us, not just PS Audio DAC consumers! :-).

    3. "Very strange position to take given his (Amir) objective focus and the criticisms he makes about some of the hardware he tests"
      LOL. Amir is a believer masquerading as "objective". He has a long sordid history of outright fabrications about blind testing. I can provide inumerable links. Don't believe for a second that he isn't gaming those Foobar ABX logs he loves to post. He has enough computer savvy and anylysis tech to do so.
      I will guarantee you one thing, if there was ever a public/proctored blind listening test. at say RMAF, which he couldn't game, Amir would NEVER take it and be exposed.
      His heroes are fellow shysters like the MQA peddlers, cloaked in "sciency" sounding guise. The thread linked shows his total lack of logic and fallacious arguments.
      He will go after you because of your honest critique of audio nonsense and the fact that you do real listening tests, unlike his faked logs.
      Thanks for the laugh ;-).

      Soundfield Audio

      p.s. I'm far more immersed in the "High end" than Mr Wannabe, as if that makes a difference. (Roll eyes emoji here)

    4. Thanks for the replies Archi and AJ.

      You guys might want to check out the recent exchange in the above linked ASR MQA thread. Amir’s true character (and that of his followers) is being exposed once again. The guy is as dishonest and disingenuous as they come. His flock of supportive, gullible sheep are really having a tough time right now. The cognitive dissonance must be overwhelming.

      I’m sure the thread will be locked again, soon. Or, Amir will just ban anyone who challenges too hard.

      His “objective” followers often talk about people fooling themselves in audio, but they fail to recognize the irony of allowing themselves to be fooled by one of the most easily recognizable scammers and hypocrites in audio today. Amir is a believer in anything that brings him money and attention.

      Thanks again for work you do in exposing the MQA scam.

    5. Looks like things can get complicated when there's money, and a business involved :-).

      Anyhow... Hope Amir and the folks over on ASR work this out.

    6. AJ,

      The fact that Amir’s followers/supporters fail to recognize or acknowledge his blatantly dishonest and fallacious arguments, tells me they either don’t understand what constitutes a sound logical argument, or they just don’t care that he’s dishonest, which makes them equally so. Their apathy and silence when witnessing such behavior is not what science/objectivity is about.

      Maybe we need to start calling out these fake objectivists forum members, or believers masquerading as objectivists, as so aptly described. They’re not really interested in promoting any objective approach, they only seem to be interested in playing games on forums. Many of the regulars at ASR would be first on the list.

      P.S. Regarding earlier links: I’m not a PSA customer, nor defender of the particular product, it was just the best place to post those specific points at that particular time.

    7. "Looks like things can get complicated when there's money, and a business involved :-)."
      That's true, but not representative of the specific Amir/MQA issue being disscussed here. Audiophile disorders have many subsets, one of which is "digital" disorder and corresponding beliefs by old guys about how they can hear this and that with digital. Ever notice it's never 18-20yr olds with a sliver of a chance at hearing >18k sample rates, but old decrepit males clamoring for "Hi Rez"? That's not a coincidence ;-). Amir has a long history of defending "Hi Rez" and BS is his hero there, especially now with the MQA nonsense.
      His main motivation is belief, he probably made plenty $$ from his MS Bluescreen days ;-). I doubt fancy DACs are anything but a sideshow at Madrona, the main money there is automation, maybe HT etc.
      Speaking of MQA/BS, rememeber Reiss's (of fame, where HiRe$$ makes the money) infamous Meta Analysis?
      Recall that the paper given the highest weighting in the "unbiased" meta analysis, was the BS *follow up* to "Typical filters" paper: "Further investigation of the audibility of typical digital audio filters in a high-fidelity playback system".
      Reiss included it and gave it the highest weighting...yet, it was NEVER PUBLISHED.
      Search AES. It never passed peer review! You'll never see Amir mention that about his hero ;-). No word from Reiss either. The believers who were touting that Reiss study are of course oblivious to facts.

      Oh and if you're ever bored to death and want to waste an hour seeing how far back Amirs "listening test" fabrications go, check this thread. It's a doozy ;-).
      Keep up the good work.


      Soundfield Audio

    8. "The fact that Amir’s followers/supporters fail to recognize or acknowledge his blatantly dishonest and fallacious arguments..."

      What are the dishonest statements? Without going through 49 pages of posts you link to, can you summarize them concisely? Thanks.

    9. mp,

      Nice quote mine. Not surprised it’s coming from an Amir supporter.

      “…but to the quoter's decision to exclude from the excerpt certain nearby phrases or sentences (which become "context" by virtue of the exclusion) that serve to clarify the intentions behind the selected words.”

      “Another way is to make creative use of ellipses”

      “Cut out the part you don't like, add an ellipsis, for the sake of form”

      Full context:

      “The fact that Amir’s followers/supporters fail to recognize or acknowledge his blatantly dishonest and fallacious arguments, tells me they either don’t understand what constitutes a sound logical argument, or they just don’t care that he’s dishonest, which makes them equally so.”

      To start, read his replies in the ASR MQA thread. Beyond that, I can’t help you.

    10. I don't know if the claims being made against Amir here are true or not (lot's of the MQA stuff is either beyond me, or frankly, bores me).

      But I'm finding this is a case where the messengers are working against the message. There is so much vitriol and disparagement that it gets hard to take it seriously. For instance, all these references to Amir's "flock" and ASR members being gullible sheep, fake objectivists etc, seems to breezily employ quite a broad brush. This apparent level of glee in disparaging other people does give me pause right out of the gate that I'm seeing a fair or nuanced reading of the situations. (I joined ASR about a year ago and find it quite a pleasant place to discuss audio without woo-woo, and no I'm not a blind, credulous human sheep).

      As for Amir faking blind test results, that's quite an accusation (not saying it's untrue). Can someone post one of the "inumerable" links demonstrating this? And if you don't mind, not a link to a 40 page thread with "read this!" but it would be helpful to link to the post in question, with an explanation showing how this indicates Amir faked the test results.


      (Though, if Archimago doesn't want those details discussed further here, I understand).

    11. BTW, having taken a look at that long ASR thread on MQA, I sure don't see these purported "sheep" following whatever Amir says. Rather, I see something more like a pile-on from many, including ASR regulars, contesting Amir's view on MQA!

      This is why, as I said, the characterizations I've seen here of ASR members as some bunch of guru-following sheep struck me as fairly suspicious (I see plenty of people giving different viewpoints there).

    12. Vaal,

      Your posts look similar to that of an MQA apologist who’s come to defend MQA/it’s supporters and to divert attention/silence.

      “It bores me”

      If it bores you, then why did you click an MQA article and read through the comments?

      FYI, Amir and the other MQA shills use similar phrases: “Nothing to see here, folks” “Don’t bother investigating MQA, folks” “Nothing to worry about”

      “This apparent level of glee in disparaging other people does give me pause…”

      You don’t have a problem with ASR disparaging people, but you come here with that complaint? That is the primary purpose of ASR members, to disparage. They’re not really interested in audio science, most are only interested in trolling and disparaging. Just look at the PS Audio thread (chosen only because it just happens to be the most recent, active example of many). I’m no fan of PS Audio, nor defending any of their products, but the personal attacks on appearances are childish. Making fun of long beards and body types?! Are they not aware of Amir’s background/beliefs and the significance and importance of beards in his culture/religion? The same goes to the many other “objective” believers at ASR. Their worshipped mythic figures are depicted as long-bearded men. Not to mention, many of the ASR members, including JJ Johnston, are long-bearded, not so well dressed men. This is just more evidence of the irony, hypocrisy, unprofessionalism, disingenuousness and childishness at ASR.

      “I joined ASR about a year ago and find it quite a pleasant place to discuss audio without woo-woo, and no I'm not a blind, credulous human sheep”

      Without the woo-woo! You’re leader (Amir) is promoting and endorsing the biggest snake-oil and potentially detrimental con in the history of audio! And you say you’re not a blind, credulous sheep?

      BTW, Vaal, mp wouldn’t happen to be a puppet account in previous post to me, would it? (See similarities below). Amir? MQA shill?

      “…not a link to a 40 page thread with "read this!" -mp

      “Without going through 49 pages of posts you link to, can you summarize them concisely?” —Vaal

      “BTW, having taken a look at that long ASR thread on MQA, I sure don't see these purported "sheep" following whatever Amir says. Rather, I see something more like a pile-on from many, including ASR regulars, contesting Amir's view on MQA!”

      Referring to it as a “pile-on” exposes your bias.

      There are a few who are finally coming around and realizing the true character of their leader. However, if you want to see the sheep and fake objectivists we’re referring to, look to the ASR PS Audio DS DAC thread and the posts from today (Oct. 2). There will you find them. One of the most important and relevant audio science topics with the greatest potential harm to the consumer is being discussed at ASR, with their leader perpetrating and defending this con, and his most loyal sheepish followers and defenders are off in another thread making pointless, childish personal remarks about old men with beards selling DAC’s to subjectivists. They don’t care about audio science, they’re just there to troll and project their own faults on to others. Many there are believers in impossible magical nonsense, yet they come to ASR to criticize others for believing in audio nonsense.

      “I see plenty of people giving different viewpoints there”

      This is only because they know people are closely watching. As one of the loyal followers remarked, they know that if the thread was to shut down, again, or if critics are banned, it would expose a lot. Also, what you haven’t seen, or have ignored, is the many people who have been banned and who get jumped on by the flock for simply questioning their dear leader.

      The characterizations are accurate. You’re either one of the flock, or ill equipped to recognize or acknowledge the dishonesty and fallacious arguments at ASR.

      Hope this helps.

    13. etanea,

      Well, that was one of the stranger replies I've seen around here. (And more I'm not some other person you imagine I might be).

      You don't seem interested in a civil exchange, leaping to every possible cynical inference even about people you don't know (me).

      --- "You’re either one of the flock, or ill equipped to recognize or acknowledge the dishonesty and fallacious arguments at ASR."

      Gee, thanks for that gracious assessment.

      --- "Hope this helps."

      No, I don't think you do.

    14. Yep, "too bored" to read POSTED 40 page link exposing Amirs fabrications post after post, NOT "too bored" to read yet another Amirs ASR kingdom 50+ page MQA/BS slurp fest.

      Anyway, again, keep up the good work Archimago. When long time shysters like Amir and the fanbois are slinging their Dunning-Kruger "logic" of not being a "high ender" at you, it's a badge of honor.

    15. Interesting discussion boys...

      Fascinating reference to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, AJ. See this if you're curious:

      Humans are complex creatures :-). So much of what we believe probably cannot be justified when we put them under the objective/rational microscope (and I'm not exempt). As such, I think I can quite easily "agree to disagree" with Amir on whether there is any value to MQA at all. As with all consumer products, ultimately the market decides.

      Thanks for the discussion above regarding Reiss (hi-res meta-analysis fame), his connection to LandR, and the use of the BS article in the review. Didn't know of these connections and certainly important to keep in mind.

      I'm not a regular visitor at ASR but like I said above, I can appreciate the testing results and find them useful. Maybe I should be glad that I am not a "high ender" if that is some kind of charge :-).

      Other than the debate between Amir and Arny I linked to above, the other time I remember reading about Amir years ago was back in 2015. This article from Michael Lavorgna on AudioStream linking to Amir's foobar ABX test as "conclusive proof" that hi-res sounded different:

      First of all, I'm a little suspicious when Lavorgna links to something controversial and likes it :-). Have a look at what Amir posted:

      I don't know if he still stands by those test results. I remember being surprised by this "conclusive" proof since I did have a listen to the test files myself. Notice that he used a HP Zbook 14 laptop and Etymotic ER-4 IEMs for testing (I have a set of those Etymotics BTW so I can tell you they're far from the best sounding headphones). Is a laptop's analogue headphone output the kind of gear one could confidently use for hi-res audio blind testing?

      His writing suggests to me that for some reason he wants to impress upon the reader that hi-res audio is a big deal (even for a person with "shot" hearing above 12kHz) and that somehow he, being a "trained listener" had created a "watershed event" by that test. To be honest, this kind of talk really made me more than a little cautious about how he expresses his beliefs.

      Like I said, I can appreciate and respect much of what Amir does at ASR. But clearly there were/are things I'm just not going to subscribe to as I believe he is mistaken whether factually or impressionistically.

    16. It appears you don't care that I have not defended Amir against the claims made here, explicitly saying "I don't know if they are true or not."

      Rather, I noted that these charges came with a particularly high level of snide vitriol that was splashed not only at Amir, but all over members of the ASR forum, casting them as complicit sheep blindly following their "King" Amir.

      I've been on that forum long enough to suspect that use a charitable phrase...not exactly accurate. I've seen plenty of independent thinking and dissent among most of the members there on various topics.

      Not knowing Amir's view on MQA (because, again, not that interested and never checked out that thread), I looked at the first 9 or so pages of that MQA thread. Did I see the members acting like blind sheep following whatever Amir said? No, just the opposite. The majority of posts were critical or skeptical of MQA, challenging Amir's stance throughout, and this included many of the "regulars" challenging Amir. In fact, I found myself inclined towards the skeptics in that thread.

      Was my heart broken, my world upended, in finding disagreement with Amir? Nope. He's not my guru.

      And for daring to point out that the ASR MQA thread didn't seem to support the claim that ASR members followed Amir blindly and uncritically, I was immediately met with suggestions that I was a shill, or sock puppet, "biased," a sheep, or simply too dim.

      I know, I know, in the current climate we are all supposed to act like warring tribes when taking a stance and react to anyone who doesn't immediately agree with us in black and white "your with us or against us" terms, as snidely as possible. I just figured this comment section might be a place where we can dial in some color.

      As delicious as it no doubt must feel to continually lard posts with snipes like "Amir's Kingdom" and "fanbois" and "sheep" etc, dialing back that type of childish rhetoric would help the critiques appear more credible.

      I see you didn't want to point to any *particular post* displaying Amir faking bind tests as I'd asked. Maybe I'll get through those 40 pages at some point. But given some of the inaccurate or rash characterizations I've seen flung around so far, I'll certainly make my own mind up concerning the evidence.

    17. (The reply I just posted was directed to AJ, btw...not to archimago, of course)

    18. "Thanks for the discussion above regarding Reiss (hi-res meta-analysis fame), his connection to LandR, and the use of the BS article in the review. Didn't know of these connections and certainly important to keep in mind."
      Yes, you will never see any mention of the fact that the BS follow up paper central to Reiss's meta, submitted to AES many years ago, was a bust. (I actually posted in the AES Comments section of the Reiss paper, that the central BS paper used was never published - they refused to allow my comment!!). Won't hear it from the HiRez peddling/believer cheerleaders like Amir et al. Both he and Lavorgna were quick to champion the Reiss paper as "proof", with zero critical analysis. Lavorgna of course represents the typical technically illiterate audio "reviewer", hence the Dunning-Kruger reference. He and his ilk (like who triggered your article) lack the cognitive ability to realize they have no clue what they are talking about when delving into OBJECTIVE reasons for liking something. Tis why they slurp the MQA disseminated Koolaid. And Hi Re$...and...etc, etc.
      In fact, I've never seen a single contentious audiophile issue not explained by D-K. There are always these absurd "objective" metrics needed to prop up some "subjective" preference. Anyone capable of understanding the word subjective would find that laughable.
      The reason I linked the long AVS thread was to show how far back Amirs history of outright fabrications of him "blind testing" goes. He got busted bad there. Like I said, I could post a whole bunch more for various forums, including HA (where someone else also showed how to game the Foobar test). But what better than one from Amirs ruled kingdom:
      Notice how he quietly lets that thread fade ;-).
      Btw, the reason why I have an AVA ABX box, i.e. actual hardware, is that it will deny unscrupulous folks like Amir the ability to cheat. As I said, if there was ever a proctored hardware ABX setup like this at say RMAF, Amir et al would run away as fast as possible, rather than be exposed publicly.
      Unlike you, I pay his hardware reviews no mind. The only thing I am interested in, is results from something like an AVA ABX (which Amir could certainly afford!). An actual listening test. The correlation to audibility of many of his test numbers are at best weak, often highly suspect what could be heard with music, especially with speakers/rooms. You know, the typical setup which probably 99% of MQA types are listening.


      Soundfield Audio (i.e not some anonymous "interested" internet undercover poster)


    19. Just can't help the us-vs-them stance, I guess?

      "internet undercover poster?"


      "undercover?" ???

      That the subject of an audio codec - an audio codec!!! - can bring out this level of cynical paranoia is truly baffling to me.

      Anyway, I think Archimego's replies here stand as a good example of a measured, mature, civil take on the subject at hand.

    20. Hey guys...

      Yeah, I think we can stay "measured" in our discussion on these things whether it be MQA or others we meet online. No need rupturing an aneurysm or exacerbating hypertension over the hobby.

      Good to hear Vaal that there are a many questioning his position on Amir's forum... I'd be surprised otherwise!

      Great that you have the AVA ABX box AJ! I agree that ultimately, the test for whether something is significant is through actual controlled, blinded tests like thru the ABX switch. We can all publish objective results and aim for the tiniest of differences, yet in fact the threshold of audibility has already been long surpassed 10's of dBs ago - especially true these days with DACs! This was why over the summer I wrote that article on being "good enough":

      Of course this idea of being beyond "adequate" when it comes to audio fidelity is not a welcomed perspective for companies advertising their "even better sounding" device but which I think all audiophiles need to keep in mind when faced with all kinds of hype.

    21. Vaal,

      You are using every known MQA shill strategy and talking point.

      -Faux neutrality regarding MQA
      -The “nothing to worry about” “all this over an audio codec” “look the other way, folks” propaganda lines
      -Despite claims of neutrality and disinterest, shills continue to engage in MQA threads
      -You ignore new information and/or counter arguments presented and simply repeat your talking points
      -Not acting in good faith/dishonesty
      -Appeals to civility in order to silence critics
      -Multiple puppet accounts

      And it is not paranoia. It is a known fact that MQA employs a team of shills who join forum discussions with the sole purpose of defending, deflecting, distracting and silencing any anti-MQA discussion.

      You’ve also repeated the “vitriol” claim while ignoring what I’ve said in response to your initial reply.

      “You don’t have a problem with ASR disparaging people, but you come here with that complaint?”

      Regarding the Amir sheep, as I’ve explained, the MQA thread is a rare anomaly. You’ve conveniently ignored this point and once again referenced your cherry-picked MQA thread example. Rather dishonest of you.

      That said, even within the cherry-picked example you see even the once questioning sheep beginning to shift and come to defend and make excuses for Amir. They say things like, “I see Amir’s point.” Or, “Amir is just honestly mistaken.” “He just doesn’t understand.” “I don’t understand how our Amir could be for MQA.” “He’ll come around.” “Lock the thread again!” Notice that none of the sheep can bring themselves to reach the most logical conclusion, which is, he’s just an industry insider selling them a lie. Moreover, Amir knows sheep rarely leave the flock, so over time all will be forgiven and forgotten, and things will go back to exactly how they were. History has shown that Shepherds rarely lose their flock entirely (look at the Jimmy Swaggarts of the world).

      As mentioned, most are not really interested in audio science. Look at those with the highest post counts. One of the fake objectivists spends 20hours/day on various forums trolling and doesn’t want to lose ASR for that purpose. Another believes in magical nonsense, and imaginary magical friends with whom he talks to, and rather than acknowledge his fault, he’d rather use ASR to project this fault onto others. Not only a fake objectivist, but a fake believer, in that he spends his life judging others. ASR is a terrible site that gives objectivists and measurement advocates a bad name.

    22. "etanea4 October 2019 at 18:49
      You mean "Peter", as in Veth.
      BTW, you are comitting an Amir like logical fallacy of guilt by association. There are lots of posters on ASR that aren't slurping the Koolaid and have pushed back in the MQA. I can vouch for guys like Blumlein, SIY, etc.
      Unfortunatley, the world of audio forums are all believer ones, so at least Amirs kingdom give those gents a site to post objective data, unlike the typical Dunning-Kruger sites. HA is the only true objective site, but most there are not "High end" 2ch types.

    23. "Archimago 4 October 2019 at 15:17

      Great that you have the AVA ABX box AJ! I agree that ultimately, the test for whether something is significant is through actual controlled, blinded tests like thru the ABX switch."

      It is an indispensible tool for anyone serious about audio. I've fooled myself enough times to know well the fallibility of perceptions ;-). Cognizance of that is a non-audiophile attribute. It also costs a miniscule fraction of an AP.
      Of course, unlike Amirs gamed AP analyzed Foobar logs, the AVA box will reveal the truth about ones *real* hearing capability, not an "online forum log" version. For that reason, don't expect one on ASR any time soon.
      No offense, but I pay near zero attention to DACs, Amps, etc measurements. I consider those long solved engineering issues.
      Transducers/rooms/soundfields/ears OTOH....


      AJ Soundfield Audio

    24. Archimago,

      Thanks for trying to compel some civility here. Unfortunately as you can see, it didn't take.

      etanea simply followed up with the posting equivalent of a hallucination, seeing things in my posts that aren't there, and continuing to charge me with dishonesty, being an MQA "shill" etc, and having "multiple puppet accounts."

      Can he point to one single post of mine anywhere defending MQA, including in this thread? Of course not. If I've ever even mentioned it in a post anywhere, I think this is the only place.

      AJ has apparently just accused me of being someone named "Peter" or "Veth."
      (Otherwise, I'm not sure what his post meant to imply). I am not that person whoever he is.

      Do either of these fine gentlemen bother with the scruples of seeking or providing ANY ACTUAL evidence for their claims? Nope. Wherever they are coming from, apparently leaping to implications of shilling, sockpuppetry and lying without evidence is par for the course. It is impossible to have a normal conversation with people who immediately take the position you are a liar. (Unless, of course, you agree with them wholeheartedly right out of the gate).

      One of the things that attracted me to join the ASR forum was the generally civil, respectful exchanges among people who disagreed. Not always, but far more than most forums I've seen. A fair-minded person reading that would understand it is not an endorsement of everything anyone says on that forum, much less it's founder.

      As for Amir's work there, especially measuring gear, I look at it occasionally (hence my knowledge of his tests is far from comprehensive) but for the most part I have little interest. Why? Because he's usually measuring DACs, and while he is showing some measurable variations, he is usually pointing out "but this is below the threshold we'd expect to be audible."

      Well, yes, it seems it's not that difficult to produce an accurate-enough-DAC, has been the case for many years, and hence most DACs will be indistinguishable in audible performance (except perhaps those that have been F-cked with to sound different somehow). That is at least my takeway, and it's why I have felt no need to change from my original Benchmark DAC all these years. So I just can't maintain much interest in the measurements that almost always come out as "here's another item that sounds the same as the last one."

      But in no way do I move from my own lack of interest to disparaging anyone who IS interested in that minutia and who DOES enjoy a deep understanding of the technology. More power to whoever is in to that, certainly including you Archimago! (I do find that you often focus on measuring things that help provide evidence one way or another on controversial audio subjects, cables etc, which is why I end up reading more of your measurement-oriented posts than Amirs. Though, sorry, while I know you argue against MQA, I have not delved deeply in to your posts on that subject).

    25. Anyway, as to MQA:

      It simply hasn't been a burning issue for me, hence I have not delved deeply in to the controversy. As I mentioned before, I have stuck with an older Benchmark DAC and had been streaming from my apple box which restricted me from streaming hi-res audio. I actually picked up a newer Benchmark DAC 2L, one of the reasons being I thought I might check out hi-res audio. But it turned out I was so satisfied with red-book resolution, and knowing that the differences were likely to be subtle at best with hi-res files, I never quite got off my butt to implement the new DAC. That coincided with my getting back in to vinyl heavily over the last few years, so the majority of my listening is to my records, which again, puts the whole motivation for higher res digital files on the back burner. So the whole MQA thing has just existed as some debate happening mostly elsewhere among people who are really in to digital sources, who really care about geeking out on all that, etc. (Which is not a slight - I just geek out about other things I'm interested in, and I'm glad there ARE people who geek out on proposed codecs and the like). It's just that I prefer not to leap to conclusions on something I know little about, especially in regards to controversies among people with more technical familiarity than I have, before I learn more about the subject. I guess I'm weird that way ;-)

      As I said, I found myself siding with the views of the skeptics against MQA in that ASR thread. IF MQA is a "solution in search of a problem," - if it doesn't bring me any actual advantage, if it's essentially bullshit and is ultimately more of a stealth DRM move, removing even more control from the consumer, then I certainly would not want MQA!


    26. Greetings again gents...

      Interesting to see the different perspectives and certainly on forums and comments it's easy to get heated over what amounts to little in this big ol' messed up world we live in! I bet if all of us were to meet for a meal and drinks, it'd be a nice evening and we'd be sharing about more commonalities than differences.

      etanea: Love the passion man. What can I say, I too would love to see the shilling stop and bizarre MQA-support sock puppet accounts weeded out of the forums. But of course for each of us, what power we have to achieve this is limited. I've noticed that there appears to be a general reduction in the number of these kinds of comments in the last year on places like the Audiophile Style MQA "Vaporware" thread. MQA is just one of many tweako devices and "technologies" being sold to audiophiles so there are many topics where we can remind audiophiles about cognitively dissonant beliefs. I do think a calm approach does more good for the general cause in the public eye even if sadly in the world these days, it appears that drama seems to be winning out...

      AJ: Your position I think is the ultimate in pragmatic objectivism! Indeed, does it really matter whether the noise floor is at -110dB or -140dB (when listening rooms will never allow these kinds of levels)? Does anyone really perceive jitter at 1ns vs. 300ps? Does it matter if a DAC has a SINAD of 110dB or just 95dB? Probably none of that matters. I agree that ultimately, audiophilia as it chases after a subjective "absolute sound" or objective measurements down to the lowest noise and least distortion is nothing but "mental masturbation" for guys (primarily). It's OK right? So long as we're having fun and staying reasonably insightful about this... :-)

      Vaal: I appreciate you staying cool. Yeah, I think I've said this before in another post on MQA over the years - MQA is nothing but a "tempest in a teapot" so long as opposition is there and audiophiles know the truth about it. I certainly do not expect every audiophile to be up in arms over MQA; not needed. I think apathy among the audiophiles is just as good at this stage :-).

      Alas Mr. Veth is/was quite the shill for MQA back in the day. Don't know if he's still active and doesn't really matter. While I did not appreciate his stance back in the day, I'm a forgiving kind of guy and hope he has come around to being more reasonable and rational in his outlook. (Don't know if he still runs that Facebook page for MQA advocates...)

    27. In the "art of war", there is a time to be assertive with our attacks and a time to lay siege and just wait it out. IMO the time for active confrontation has for the most part passed - this was necessary back in the day, armed with objective results and listening tests when Bob Stuart was laying out his Q&A posts and magazines were publishing more. Notice how MQA has retreated from the use of the word "deblurring" which was a big deal a few years ago. There has been no new information or true developments on MQA from BS or Tidal for more than a year. Sure, some hardware companies have incorporated MQA decoding in latest-generation devices, but that's about it. I believe audiophiles far and wide know about the issues with MQA now; it's good to see that every crazy article like this Harley "Democratization" one or misinformed articles by Jason V. Serinus or the various JA's have responses correcting them these days. The reputation of magazines have taken a hit, questioned about their allegiance to audiophiles, and rightly so over this nonsense. Rational audiophiles should keep up the pressure and I'll do my part with an article in response like this.

      It's a siege now. MQA is stuck in their isolated worldview with Tidal as their only fortress. Those opposing MQA are on all sides and I believe many audiophiles are just going about their own business without much need for concern. Potential allies like other streaming services such as Qobuz and Amazon are not interested. Even traditional hi-res digital advocates like Neil Young are not projecting a good image of BS or MQA. Like a city under siege, what resources ($$$$) do MQA and Tidal have to keep this going before they're starved out?

      This is why the supposedly upcoming financial statements by MQA and Tidal could be the most interesting potential developments ahead.

    28. Archimago,

      I appreciate that in the end I and other apathetic-on-MQA audiophiles, may end up benefiting in the end from people like you who hold those claims to the fire (and who therefore may stave off in ill-considered move to that codec).

      BTW, I'm "MattHooper" over on the ASR forum, a fairly new member. My stance here is consistent with what I write there. I certainly did end up butting heads somewhat with one or more of the regulars when I showed up:

      On the subject of DACs I have a question:

      There remains some bit of tension in the stance I stated on DACs sounding the same. That's because I have some blind testing experience, long ago, that suggested audible differences at least between the ones I tried. I had a Meridian CDP, Sony CDP and a Mietner Bidat DAC in the 90's and they seemed to produce subtle *but distinct* sonic differences. Knowing it could be sighted bias, I did a single blind test with the help of a friend which came out positive for identifying between them. I took the results to the "objectivists" on a forum and asked for critique. They told me how I could tighten up the blind test, I took the suggestions (e.g. matching output levels using a voltmeter at the speaker terminals IIRC), repeated the tests.
      The score was almost perfect in distinguishing differences, being able to identify each player via it's sonic signature. Which, suggested to me I was hearing what I thought I was hearing.

      I don't know what it was about the design of those specific DACs/CDPs I owned in the 90's that made them apparently distinguishable, but I have nonetheless inferred from what I've read that, nonetheless, DACs have been pretty much a known quantity for a long time and that it would be unlikely for me to distinguish between competently designed DACs in a blind test.

      Just give me a competently designed DAC and I'll take it from there, adding coloration with other gear (e.g. my tube amps) if I want.

      I *think* that seems to be similar to your view, but I'm not positive. Do you find any sonic differences between DACs, well designed or otherwise?

    29. Hi AJ,

      “BTW, you are comitting an Amir like logical fallacy of guilt by association. There are lots of posters on ASR that aren't slurping the Koolaid and have pushed back in the MQA. I can vouch for guys like Blumlein, SIY, etc.”

      I don’t think so. I am following reason and evidence. The very few challenging Amir in the MQA thread is an anomaly and will be spun as just a simple disagreement of opinion, rather than what it really is; which is, confirmation that their leader is dishonest, biased and selling them a lie. Any push back by the 2-3 regulars in that one thread will be short lived, with apologies and praising soon to follow.

      As you know, Blumlein 88 is also esldude. Your vouching for BL88 is in direct contradiction to your claims of Amir’s history of dishonesty. Here’s how BL responds to claims of Amir’s dishonesty.

      “Your ideas are definitely wrong in regards to me, and how I feel about ASR's honesty.  The reputation is going to be fine too as long as the site is honest…”

      “Now I don't know much of you, but just going by what I see here, I'd trust Amir's results, opinions and conclusions above yours in terms of measuring gear.”

      According to BL88, Amir is trustworthy and honest, which contradicts your conclusion (and mine) of dishonesty.

      Also, notice there are hints of Amir-like dishonest, carefully worded language tricks from BL88 in the above? Hopefully, I don’t need to point them out?

      Don’t let any ‘friends bias’ cloud your judgement, AJ.

      Here are a few more examples of Amir acting dishonestly, that is somehow missed by his defenders (including BL88).

      Rusty Shackelford: “…Trust data. Trust reason. Don’t trust personalities or resumes.”

      Amir’s response: “What data? You presented none….”

      Notice the deceptive inclusion of the word “You”? And pretending that he doesn’t know of the data being referenced (that of Archimago at AS)?

      In the following Amir quote, we see three sentences and three lies. Can you spot the dishonest word games and non-sequiturs? I know BL88 can spot them, because he catches them when audiophiles try to use them. Somehow he misses them every time with Amir. Gotta maintain that “Amir is not dishonest” conclusion so as not to jeopardize one of his 20 hour/7 day hangout spots.

      “MQA had a very negative impression around high-end audiophiles as many didn't like Meridian. But once Tidal released it, people listened and were happy with what they heard (properly or not). That has led to its increased popularity and adoption.” -Amir

      These are just a few examples. This dishonest debate style is an everyday occurrence with Amir and somehow goes unnoticed or is simply tolerated by a few (ie, “the fake objectivists”).

      As I said, BL88 doesn’t want to lose ASR because it serves as a place to fill his empty time. This is his primary concern. Any concern over whether the site upholds to any honest, objective, scientific standard is of no matter. Conclusion: fake objectivist.

      BTW, SIY is not the other ASR fake objectivist I was referring to.

    30. etanea, do you realize some here are also on ASR? Solderdude for example. Myself for example. Others. ASR is's Amir's site, I'm not a fan of Amir himself, I think his advocacy of hi rez is on flimsy grounds, his listening tests questionable, his debating tactics shady, *but* I recognize there's good posters and information on ASR and they certainly don't all just toe Amir's line. (Many of whom, like Amir himself, migrated from What's Best Forum when that site went full anti-objective). Your posts on this thread come off as unhinged, conspiratorial, as if Amir hurt you in some personal place.

    31. Vaal: Regarding the DAC comment. Yeah, my belief is that DACs are known entities these days and the problem is "solved" with relatively inexpensive components already able to provide resolution beyond human perception. I have no problem with anyone adding some coloration like tube pre/amp to taste, or EQ, or DSP, etc...

      The difference to me between DACs using good ESS vs. TI/BB vs. AKM designs subjectively is minimal even if objectively I can measure lower noise floors, different filter effects, or slightly higher THD(+N) in others.

      Great that you did the DAC comparison in the 90's. I see that the Museatex Bidat DAC (Meitner) would be quite noisy compared to today's implementations - here's a post years ago showing an oscilloscope reading compared to a R2R Lavry DA924 back in the day:

      Curious, did you have a preference with the Museatax vs. Sony vs. Meridian in those days?

      Guys, let me put up a post regarding audiophile forums (given the comments about ASR here), maybe next week.

      Perhaps we can have a good discussion about this... There is certainly a psychological and social dynamic around forums and "membership" as in most social groups we might partake in.

    32. Wow, a link to a Romy post! I had quite a on line discussions with Romy over at Audio Asylum back in the day.

      "Curious, did you have a preference with the Museatax vs. Sony vs. Meridian in those days?"

      Yes I did: ultimately I preferred with (I believed) I heard on the Meridian 508.20 CDP.

      These are the characteristics that I perceived between the units, that led to my wanting to double-check with blind testing:

      The Sony CDP, which I had started out with, was basically just my benchmark as I'd lived with it so, before hearing the Meridian I'd just describe it I guess as "neutral." But then...I hadn't compared it to others.

      Being of the audiophile species, I "upgraded" to the Meridian which had lots of good notices those days, especially for sounding "more analog" than the usual CDP. "The vinyl lovers CDP" as it were.

      The Meridian did indeed strike me as sounding different than the Sony it replaced. The main characteristics seemed to be a slight tonal/textural shift which slightly "lightened up" the tone/texture in a way that actually did remind me of the difference between digital (Sony CDP) and "vinyl/analog." The most salient characteristic to me with the Meridian was the perception of sonic density and palpability - the instrumental and vocal images seemed really focused and dense, solid, palpable, where the sonic images on the sony were more of the "see-through" ghostly quality I was used to hearing in playback.

      Once I got the Meitner (some audiphiles I knew raved about it) the characteristic that seemed to leap out at me was a sense the sound had expanded: it was more lush, the whole soundscape actually seemed to expand where the soundstage boundaries seemed to disappear somewhat, making the speakers "disappear" more. So symphonic music had more of a sense of the hall "going on out to the distance." Comparing the Meridian, the sonic images of the orchestral images were both lighter in tonal quality (the Meitner seemed "dark, lacking 'air' in contrast) with a more squeezed smaller presentation, but with that added density and focus to images.
      The sound of the Meridian seemed overall tighter, including bass, sort of like the classically-ascribed differences between solid state precision vs an older tube amp.

      I ultimately found the Meridian's character of dense, focused, solid imaging and it's tonal characteristic addictive and preferred it to the darker/lusher Meitner. My sense was the Meitner was doing something slightly different in the tonal balance range, with some sort of slight "defocusing" of the sound, making the sound seem expanded somewhat.

      The Sony seemed to be in between those two - a bit more focused than the Meitner, though not as palpable as the Meridian, a bit darker than the meridian, not as dark as the Meitner, and overall a bit more "digital" sounding.

      What I was hearing wasn't jiving with the claims I was reading from the hard core objectivists on the newsgroups (I think Arny was there, also Stewart Pinkerton...JJ too? Others as I remember) who said DACs should be sounding the same. That's what led me to blind test to make sure it wasn't just my imagination.

      And when I had a friend switch between them it was precisely the characteristics I describe above which allowed me to easily identify which was playing.

      In fact, I felt that if they sound as different as they *seem* to sound to me (subtly, but distinct tonally), I figured I could identify them from outside the room. So I went outside of the room (it had a large opening to the hallway) and down the hall a bit, simply yelled "switch" to my helper who was in the listening room switching, with no other communication between is (and with outputs matched with voltmeter at speaker terminals) and I identified the different players with the same accuracy as when I was in the room!

    33. finish up:

      This put me in an interesting dilemma. I am a long time "skeptic" with a strong empirical bent, and so my instinct was to go with whatever the skeptical engineer types were telling me. "Should be no sonic differences."

      And yet my personal experience of the blind tests seemed to tell me otherwise. (I also presented the second results to the group, and didn't find any cogent 'picking of holes' in the results). This left the skeptical side still skeptical I think. Completely understandable as they had good reason on technical grounds to be skeptical, I was just some dude they didn't know posting results - they weren't there to detect any problems with the tests etc.

      But from my end, I had the experience, know what we did, considered the possible ways the test could have been faulty, and none really applied. It seemed pretty solid.

      So, I just took my own test results as provisionally informative for my own inquiry.

      (It seems to me this is also, ultimately, what engineers do; especially in areas where there is controversy between experts with the relevant experience and knowledge, each seem to take the path suggested by their personal experience and vetting of the evidence, even as it may diverge from others).

      BTW, I liked the Meridian CDP enough to try 'upgrading' to their 24-bit DAC when it came out. But I didn't like it. The 24 bit DAC seemed to miss the tonal/density quality that seemed particular to the earlier 20 bit CDP so I sold the DAC.

      Since replacing my Meridian years ago with the Benchmark Dac 1, I've given very little thought/effort towards DACs, and still can't muster much enthusiasm for the subject.


    34. I wasn’t going to bother responding to the demonstrably dishonest, logic challenged ASR apologists/sheep (Vaal/MattHopper and Steven), but thought an update as to what’s been said/predicted might be of interest.

      First, a few examples of dealing with dishonest logic-challenged ASR sheep. Basically, it’s a never ending correction of their reading/comprehension problems and explanations of basic logic.

      I described MQA shills as “faux neutrality.”

      “You are using every known MQA shill strategy and talking point.
      -Faux neutrality regarding MQA”. —etanea

      Vaal responds:

      “Can he point to one single post of mine anywhere defending MQA, including in this thread? Of course not.” —Vaal

      Apparently, Vaal doesn’t understand the word “neutrality.” Or, just a typical ASR disingenuous confused reply.

      Also, his favorite reply to any valid criticism of Amir/ASR is, “I don’t see it.” This is after admitting that he’s only been an ASR member for a short time. Well, many of us have been aware of Amir and his character going back years, so save us the lectures on your limited POV. Numerous examples of personal attacks, banning and Amir acting dishonestly and Vaal comes back with “Duh, I don’t see it.”

      Here’s another example for you. Amir caught out and he ignores and bans. Krunock was banned for a week for daring question Amir and now I think he’s been banned permanently. Also, note that Amir ignored the question from restorer john. Of course, the rest of flock just look the other way and ignore this exchange.

      As to Steven in this blog, Steven replied with nonsense; followed by views that support/agree with what I described; then demonstrated similar comprehension problems to that of Vaal; and finished with a red herring. As I stated before, ASR sheep have problems with honesty and logic.

      “etanea, do you realize some here are also on ASR? Solderdude for example. Myself for example.” —Steven

      And your point is, Steven?

      FYI, your Solderdude posted this in the MQA thread:

      “Perhaps keep the thread about MQA and not personal?” (post #877)

      Of course, this friendly reminder is only posted in regards to Amir when it’s clear he’s about to find himself in hot water with his lies. Never will you see Solderdude post such a reminder if such attacks are intended for others outside the flock. He knows he won’t fit in with the group if he was to do that. That should tell you something about your dear Solderdude.

      “…*but* I recognize there's good posters and information on ASR and they certainly don't all just toe Amir's line.

      Dishonesty or reading comprehension problem? Nowhere did I use the word “all.” In fact, I used the word “most” exclusively. There are a few decent one’s there who are interested in the idea of such a site, but they certainly are not going around defending and praising the dishonest actions of it’s leader and followers.

      Also, based on your logic in the above quote, no one can critique anyone for anything because we can find some good. Do I need to post examples of terrible people in history who are now exempt from any criticism due to some of the “good” they might do? More of that ASR logic from you?

      “Your posts on this thread come off as unhinged, conspiratorial, as if Amir hurt you in some personal place.” —Steven

      Do you know what a red herring is? This is a favorite of the logically challenged ASR followers. “Oh, you’re just mad that Amir posted bad measurements of something you own.” That solid ASR logic, again.

      Thanks for proving my points, guys.

    35. As predicted, the flock have forgotten all about Amir’s dishonesty in the MQA thread, Amir has abandoned the thread, and all is back to the way it was. There’s even a new thread where the flock have gathered to praise their leader, as predicted. All the fake objectivists are there.

      Earlier predictions:

      “Moreover, Amir knows sheep rarely leave the flock, so over time all will be forgiven and forgotten, and things will go back to exactly how they were. History has shown that Shepherds rarely lose their flock entirely (look at the Jimmy Swaggarts of the world).

      As mentioned, most are not really interested in audio science. Look at those with the highest post counts.”

      “Any push back by the 2-3 regulars in that one thread will be short lived, with apologies and praising soon to follow.”

      As I said, most are only on ASR to troll, project, act childish and ease their boredom and loneliness. One of the other fake objectivists I was referring to in earlier posts, but did not name, is Sal1950. He’s very anti-MQA, but somehow gives his dear leader a pass. He doesn’t want to compromise his position within the flock. He’s again calling people cowards and wimpy for posting behind keyboards, while, ironically, he’s posting daily insults behind his keyboard (as well as behind his invisible, protector, magical friend). If the guy were as tough as he pretends to be (while behind his keyboard, of course), he’d probably be locked up by now with his talk of punching people in the face, guns, etc. Only the weakest of minds with childish magical indefensible beliefs need rely on violence. Sal the ASR “objectivist” is the epitome of a “believer masquerading as an objectivist.” A believer in impossible, magical, supernatural nonsense, while criticizing audiophiles for belief in audio nonsense. Such honor and character. These fake objectivists need to be called out.

      Oh, more ASR member logic fail. This poor guy (Xulonn/DaveVH) struggles with basic logic.

      “My ID there - DaveVH - is still active, so I posted a reply in the thread attacking ASR in general, and Amir directly - just to see the reaction and if anyone still remembers me. LINK to the post to which I replied.

      As ASR passes 500K on monthly web traffic stats, the 20 year old website is around 200K. It looks like science and truth are winning!”

      “Seeking truth while acknowledging errors when they do occur is perhaps why ASR is more than twice as popular as AudioAsylum in terms of WEB traffic.”

      And perhaps global warming is the reason the number of pirates worldwide is on the decline since the 1800’s?

      Nice logic Xulonn. Embarrassingly sad and all too common logic fails over at ASR, the “science” site. Ridiculously flawed posts like this routinely see numerous "likes" from the usual ASR sheep.

      Oh, I know. Maybe trolls, drama, conflict, fake news, controversy and negativity draws more traffic? Amir knows this, I’m sure, so encourages it. Much more likely, don’t you think, Xulonn?

  6. I haven't even tried hi-res digital in my system yet. I have an old Benchmark DAC 1 and for the longest time streamed from my apple box, which restricted me to redbook quality. Given I have also had a Benchmark DAC 2 usb sitting around for a couple years and haven't even put it in my system, I guess that speaks both to how lazy I am, and my satisfaction with regular ol' redbook digital resolution.

    As for expensive vinyl cleaning solutions: Guilty. I broke down and bought a Degritter Ultra Sonic Record Cleaner a while back. As the bulk of my music listening has turned to my ever growing vinyl collection, I wanted it in the best sonic condition possible. But I really disliked the idea of turning listening to records in to a chore, in terms of manual washing techniques. And the mid-tier vacuum-based record cleaners (Okki Noki, VPI etc) were for me ugly and noisy, and still labor intensive enough to turn me off.

    So in my case getting in on an early-adopter deal on the Degritter cleaner made sense. It's as automatic a system as you can find - drop record in, push button, return to clean, dried record. Plus it actually looks nice, and has user settings for the fan if you want it to dry more quietly. (The sonic effects like any cleaner vary per record, from subtle to the occasional almost miracle. I had a couple LPs that sounded so noisy they were unlistenable, as if they'd been pulled from a dumpster. After a wash almost all that noise was gone and I could have mistaken them for a new record! I'd never thought it possible. But, that type of experience is rare).

    1. Hi Vaal,
      Had a look at the Degritter. Yup, it does look pretty good and glad to hear that you're having good success with it!

      I'm with you in my dislike of the chore of LP washing. I'd rather listen to the music but it's gotta be done nonetheless.

      Good point about the noisiness of those vacuum-based cleaners. Ear plugs needed sometimes - almost like occupational noise exposure when these things are cleaning! Certainly not good for the audiophile to lose hearing :-(.

    2. For those (like YT) who would never spend that kind of money on an accessory, you can get the Spin-Clean manual device for a lot less.
      If you can put up with the no-frills yellow plastic tub, I've found it does a pretty good job on most LPs, but I find that the only remedy for really scratchy LPs is to play them wet. But once you do, it seems that you will have to do that from that point on.
      Always enjoy reading this blog and comments here.

    3. Greeting Phil,
      Yup, I still use my Spin-Clean every once awhile! Works great for me :-).

      I've never tried playing any LP wet though. If it's that bad, I'll just play the digital version. Perhaps digitize the wet playback and keep the scratched LP in storage?

    4. Thanks, Arch,
      I think your suggestion is a very good one, and now that I'm set to retire and winter is on the way, I will probably find the time to do that real-time activity.
      I have a few LPs that have never been released on digital media (or on good digital media, e.g. Warner's Teldec transfers.)
      Has anybody out there used this software (or have others to recommend)?
      Also, maybe I should rent a decent ADC (current choice is onboard soundcard or Scarlett 2i2).
      Another (OT?) challenge: I also have some 7" Dolby B tapes that have never been released in (satisfactory) CD format. Found a freeware Dolby emulator that is a bit intimidating and will require some time and experimentation, and just now this option that looks a little easier to configure:
      (Anybody who wants it should probably grab it before litigation starts.)
      Always lots to do with this hobby...

    5. Sounds like a great project for the winter Phil! Indeed "Always lots to do with this hobby..." is a sign of a good hobby!

      Thanks for the links. I've generally recorded just using Audacity or Audition and then repair with ClickRepair when needed. There was a phase in my audiophile journey where I did more vinyl rips but these days don't do many.

      That Dolby B/C compander looks interesting! Hmmm, maybe time to also drag up some very old tapes :-).

      Definitely a decent ADC important. However, given the limitations of vinyl and tapes, I wouldn't spend too much on this!

    6. For those wanting to try an even more DIY method...

      That guy uses *a lot* of glue. There are similar videos that use less. Anyway, it's an old method -- there was a product back in the late 1970s/early 80s that worked the same (plastic goop you spread on the disc, waited for it to dry, peeled it off). I tried it back then but found it too expensive. But wood glue is cheap!

    7. Oh yeah. The wood glue method. I'm sure the video sold more than a few gallons of Titebond :-).

    8. I'm planning to try it this weekend...for one of my extremely rare 'needle drop' transfers (it's been so long, I had to get my old TT refurbished to even attempt it).

  7. I'm now definitely an "Post Hi-Res Audio" individual. Consequently, I'm enjoying music more than ever and not the ultra high end equipment that's playing it. Thank you for this article!!

    1. Hello Unknown,
      Sounds good. As time goes on, I certainly see less and less folks care about "hi-res" and just moving on to enjoying the music.

      I just see this as the "market" absorbing the technology and recognizing what potential it may / may not have. In the case of hi-res audio, market impact IMO is as it should be, minimal, even though I'm sure this is not what some stakeholders would have liked to see.

    2. If CD's were recorded without crazy compression, bad miking techniques and poor studio monitors for the final mix, we would actually not need hi-res...

    3. Exactly.

      - Modern digital recordings.
      - High quality studio equipment.
      - Mastered for CD maximizing the potential for 16-bits, 44.1kHz with the intent of more "natural" sound rather than loudness.
      - Targeting high-fidelity playback with neutral frequency response - rather than sounding "good" with accentuated bass and trebles for crappy gear like white earbuds and cheap car audio.

      I bet you even Neil Young would not feel the need for hi-res in a blind test with his coveted 24/192 audio using good CD productions :-).

      BTW: from Young's recent book, did you know that when he was showing off the Pono car audio for his musician buddies when he posted videos like this:

      He was just using the 1970's-era Cadillac with stock speakers and "analog" amplifier. So those musicians claiming they just heard the "best digital" ever apparently is suggesting that Cadillac/Ford in their 70's era vehicles must have done some great "high end" work with their car audio!

      Who knows, maybe these old Cadillacs have amazing sound systems and folks in the high end should take a peek if the musicians are to be believed! :-)

  8. Archimago,

    I must be blind, but I can't find the link to the debate between Arny and Amir.

    Could you post it again here?


    1. Oh lord, just look up any Hydrogenaudio post from a few years ago by Arny or Amir. They went at it like cat and dog, constantly.

    2. Not helpful. Arny posted for years, right up until his death, IIRC. Running a search on their names together yielded no obvious match to Archimago's reference.

      And I do have work to do, so I can't spend the day trawling through threads, when a simple link would do it.

    3. Hey boys,
      Here's a synopsis I very much agree with:

      Here's Amir's comment when Arny passed away last year:

      You can read some of the back-and-forth between Arny and Amir here: (Arny jumps in starting page 2)

      Enjoy... Or not, YMMV :-).

    4. jsrtheta , apologies, my 'oh lord' wasn't deriding your question, but the memory of the frequent battles. For example, one of the last before Amir stopped (or was stopped?) posting at HA:

      btw at least two of the posters on that thread...also post here.

    5. Thank you Archimago, thank you Steven. I will check these out. I appreciate your taking the time, really I do.

      I do read Amir's blog, and post there occasionally. FWIW, I don't find most of the people there to be obsequious. Then again, I haven't followed any MQA threads there, because I actually haven't seen many of them in the last year. (Or I may have skipped them. MQA is a purely academic subject for me, as I never intended to buy into it after what I learned here and elsewhere.)

      I learned a lot from Arny over the last 20 years, going back to the days. He and J.J. both, in fact, though I had more contact with Arny.

      Arny is sorely missed around these precincts. He was the real deal.

    6. Steven, I meant to apologize for mistaking your point. I appreciate your help.

      Oh, and I am aware that some ASR posters post here too, though maybe not the ones on the thread - I haven't had a chance to get in those weeds yet. The ones I recognize here are people I enjoy reading and learning from on ASR.