Saturday 25 December 2021

Audiophile Psychology: Reconsidering Zelinger's "Hi-Fi Fetishism" (HFN&RR, October 1981), and Lofft's "Sense and Nonsense" (SR, October 1982). On neuroses & fantasies.

Greetings everyone. Grab yourself a nice beverage, settle into a comfy chair, let us delve a bit into audiophile psychology.

I think this is an important topic; one that is implied in many of my posts over the years (in fact, we started 2021 with some related thoughts). Some of these psychological constructs I believe explain to a degree the ceaseless arguments we often see online especially when things go off track and disagreements appear irreconcilable between different "sides", "camps", "tribes"...

I. Hardware Audiophiles and Hi-Fi Fetishism

Let's discuss some ideas by building on writings from the past. To start, here's something interesting by J. Zelinger "Hi-Fi Fetishism: a psychologist's view of the lunatic fringe" from October 1981, published in Hi-Fi News & Record Review (I noticed that the link above can be marginal and might not work, here's a PDF of the text).

First of all, I must send kudos to Mr. Zelinger for a thought-provoking piece from the early '80s. It appears that many in the audiophile hobby diverged off into the direction of pure subjectivity, areas untethered from reality testing during that decade. He touches not just on the importance of psychoacoustics (as playing its role in perceptual adjudication of course), but into the touchy subject of the personalities of certain audiophiles.

Let's dive into this without fear and talk/think about this important topic and how it relates to us as "audiophiles" in the 21st Century.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Upsampling: Native DAC Playback, and SoX PCM/DSD upsampling of 1kHz signal. (And the "Beatles: Get Back" documentary, "As the artist intended"?)

Notice one of the waveforms NOS.

A few weeks ago on this blog in a comment discussion, Bennet / Dtmer Hk talked about showing what it looks like when upsampling a 1kHz 16/44.1 signal in PCM side-by-side with DSD upsampling.

Sure, no problem! We can have a quick peek at the 1kHz sine tone from a couple of DACs for comparisons between direct playback with built-in filtering, upsampled in high quality with PCM SoX, and then using high quality DSD conversion with SoX-DSD.

Plus, let's also have a look at the recent Beatles: Get Back documentary series and some thoughts which I think relate not just to the "music lover" which I hope is in all of us, but also to the "hardware audiophile" side of this hobby.

Saturday 11 December 2021

As We Hear It: Another High Dynamic Range Christmas Playlist (2021 Edition) by Allan Folz

Another High Dynamic Range Christmas Playlist (2021)

[Guest Post by Allan Folz]

Last year I shared with readers some of the Christmas albums that were a large part of our family's holiday tradition. Mostly they were CD's I bought in the mid and late 90's, which we listened to every year from Thanksgiving to Christmas. They were an eclectic mix of standards with the one thing in common that they all sounded great. Years later I learned about the importance of dynamic range and realized there was a objective reason I never tired of listening to these every Christmas, year after year. They sounded great because they had excellent dynamic range.

While those albums will always have a special place in our Christmas tradition, with streaming services now broadly available, over the last few years I have added some new favorites to our listening rotation.

Last year's guest post was so well received I took it as an invitation to write another post sharing some of our newer favorites. (Ed: Absolutely, Allan!) Many of these albums I listen to via streaming service so I don't always have dynamic range measurements from the CD's to compare. Rest assured they all sound great.

Saturday 4 December 2021

RETRO: Technics SL-P110 (1986) & Sony CDP-690 (1990) CD Players. Did early CD players sound bad?

As we enter the last month of 2021, let's go back in time and consider the question: "Did early CD players sound any good?"

Over the years, I have heard this question asked many times. Typically among audiophiles, the answer almost invariably seems to be that early CD players from the 1980's "suck" (or similar negative expression). Generally, these comments appear without further details to explain the sentiment; as usual in audiophilia, we can find many opinions out there, but few bother with facts to build their case. I haven't seen many contemporary articles or writers discuss this question while looking at objective data to examine performance compared with the hi-res DACs we have these days.

The genesis of this article came about while chatting with my friend linnrd a number of months ago about the sound of DACs, modern devices, and what we grew up with back in the day. Lo and behold, he dug out the two machines you see above from his "archive" of older hardware. They appear to be in excellent condition despite being >30 years old!

Let's have a good look at the performance of these machines, and a listen as well, of course. ;-)