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How did this happen? I think I’ve turned into an audio SNOB!


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Lately, I have found myself returning to the same SACDs, DVDAs and FLAC files with increased frequency. Further, with ~9,000 FLAC albums, I’ll surf to new stuff, and it the sound quality doesn’t impress me within the first couple songs, I’m off to other stuff, unlikely to return to that album.  My tolerance for poor (or even mediocre) sound quality on recordings is almost non-existent at this point.  The peril here, is that some of my favorite music happens to be recorded like shit. For example, when Eddie Van Halen passed a while back, I sat in front of the rig with the intention of a mini Van Halen tribute listening session.  However, I never realized just how poorly their stuff was recorded.  Only Fair Warning was even remotely listenable...😬. On the PLUS side, I’ve opened up to a lot of music that is recorded exceptionally well, that I previously never would have let myself enjoy.

 

Does anyone else relate to this, or am I in fact just a snob?
 

This only applies to listening in front of my 2ch rig, mind you - I’ll listen to much more via earbuds. 

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36 minutes ago, Daddyjt said:

Does anyone else relate to this, or am I in fact just a snob?

 

I asked a question here a couple of years ago or so that is very similar.

 

Has better gear changed your music tastes?

 

For me, it's a resounding yes, but maybe it wouldn't be if the producers and recording engineers had mastered the originals to a higher standard. Maybe there was too much cocaine and whiskey involved, I dunno. (I'll leave it up to y'all to guess whether I mean them or me :D )

 

Fortunately, there are a few well mastered classic rock albums that got the Mobile Fidelity, DCC, Analog Productions, CBS Mastersound, DMP, treatment that I can still enjoy. 

 

I don't know that I would call it snobbish, but some of those old recordings, and some new ones too, just give me ear fatigue after a few minutes.

 

Maybe we should all keep an old pair of cheap speakers that conceal and not reveal. :D 

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34 minutes ago, Daddyjt said:

Lately, I have found myself returning to the same SACDs, DVDAs and FLAC files with increased frequency. Further, with ~9,000 FLAC albums, I’ll surf to new stuff, and it the sound quality doesn’t impress me within the first couple songs, I’m off to other stuff, unlikely to return to that album.  My tolerance for poor (or even mediocre) sound quality on recordings is almost non-existent at this point.  The peril here, is that some of my favorite music happens to be recorded like shit. For example, when Eddie Van Halen passed a while back, I sat in front of the rig with the intention of a mini Van Halen tribute listening session.  However, I never realized just how poorly their stuff was recorded.  Only Fair Warning was even remotely listenable...😬. On the PLUS side, I’ve opened up to a lot of music that is recorded exceptionally well, that I previously never would have let myself enjoy.

 

Does anyone else relate to this, or am I in fact just a snob?
 

This only applies to listening in front of my 2ch rig, mind you - I’ll listen to much more via earbuds. 

Mark,

 

I don't believe you're a snob in the least. I totally relate to you and rather, I think you've discovered the vast differences in the way source material was recorded and have a system now that very clearly delineates those differences.  I, like you, have found my musical tastes have changed quite a lot since I've been enjoying my old restified Carver gear.  I find myself listening to classical far more than anything else lately. 

 

I have also been going to the Abravanel Hall, downtown, to enjoy the Utah Symphony live.  We truly are very fortunate to have the Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir right here in Salt Lake City.  They are simply a spectacular delight to listen to live.  And then I go home and enjoy my system then compare it to what I just heard live.  And it always amazes me just how much clean, clear power Bob's gear really makes.

 

No, you're not a snob at all.  You simply have a very high definition system now that makes the most of the technology utilized in the recording of the source material.  Now its up to you to find the recording technology and the source material that makes the most pleasure for you out of your system.

 

That's reason we're all here and the trip we're all on in our OCCD adventure into musical bliss...

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I have to agree with @Turbo and @Dadvw - in no way does this make you a snob!  Nice try, but no cigar.  :D

 

I have been finding much the same thing.  I'm guided more and more by the quality of the recording, rather than the music, any longer.  I just find poor recordings very very tiring to listen to.

 

The fact that so much of what is produced is driven into distortion, to achieve a greater loudness, in recent years makes many newer recordings virtually unlistenable.  And no, it's not just a new phenomenon.  However, when you hit one that's been done right, it just grabs you - regardless of the music.  There's just a clarity, and openness to the sound that goes way above and beyond what it might otherwise have been.

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I have had all of these thoughts. My music purchases have leaned toward sound quality vs. performance for a long time now. And includes a deliberate research effort to determine beforehand how a recording  is rated prior to purchase. When i listen to a poor quality recording i feel like i am missing out (unless it is just background music which is seldom). I still get such a thrill out of an excellent sounding recording and dont mind researching them and paying for them.  For me it seems more like deep appreciation for good sound vs. snobbery. Lastly, i  get turned onto some really good music from the guys on this site, for which i am very grateful.

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For me, and I may be unique? or maybe not..., 

 

It comes down to the same thinking for everything else.  The "journey"..., vs. some "destination."

 

Choosing what Music to listen to on the player, radio, 2-channel, or whatever..., has to be good.  And, as I get older, it seems it has to be "gooder" (emphatic "more good"), each time.

 

Like wine, food, and other sensory experiences (let your mind wander) I think we search for something more each time/experience. Something to take us to the next "edge" and push the experience envelope to some "next level."   And, each time we do, something that was "good" before, falls off into the "ok" or "not so good" category.

 

For example, there was a time when "Two Buck Chuck" wine was a rage..., I bought a case, poured most of it out..., but it was what it was at the time.  Now, I can't drink any wine that is "table-grade"..., it better be good to more good, or I pass.  Costs more too.  Go out to your favorite restaurant and think about what you order..., a tomahawk rib-eye, from Smith and Wolleski had better take you over the edge, and when you have that, it's hard to go back to Texas Roadhouse for their rib eye.

 

Compound this search for "Better Experience" with getting older, and realizing that time is precious, and you won't live forever to try everything..., and wasting that very same time on a bad/poor experience (food, drink, music, etc.) is time you'll never get back.

 

The real challenge I find is to realize that not everyone is on the same part of the road that this journey is.  Respecting that for some, 180bit MP3 files across earbuds is where they are, and the music/recording (food, wine, etc.) is where they are on the road/path at that time, and also recognizing that you can describe the road..., but you can't share the "exact" experience with others until they get there on that road.  You might motivate them to get there sooner, but recognizing they are happy where they are, and may or may not get enlightened..., and moving on, is just as important.

 

Rambled a little..., but that's kind of how I see it.  Not snobbery, just a combination of seeking experience, better each time, and respecting that others around us are on a different part of the road along the same, or similar, journey - and of course, we have a short/limited time in this meat suit on this planet to experience the journey.  All good.

Edited by AndrewJohn
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15 hours ago, Daddyjt said:

Lately, I have found myself returning to the same SACDs, DVDAs and FLAC files with increased frequency. Further, with ~9,000 FLAC albums, I’ll surf to new stuff, and it the sound quality doesn’t impress me within the first couple songs, I’m off to other stuff, unlikely to return to that album.  My tolerance for poor (or even mediocre) sound quality on recordings is almost non-existent at this point.  The peril here, is that some of my favorite music happens to be recorded like shit. For example, when Eddie Van Halen passed a while back, I sat in front of the rig with the intention of a mini Van Halen tribute listening session.  However, I never realized just how poorly their stuff was recorded.  Only Fair Warning was even remotely listenable...😬. On the PLUS side, I’ve opened up to a lot of music that is recorded exceptionally well, that I previously never would have let myself enjoy.

 

Does anyone else relate to this, or am I in fact just a snob?
 

This only applies to listening in front of my 2ch rig, mind you - I’ll listen to much more via earbuds. 

SNOB:

...a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.
"a musical snob"

 

MISOPHONIA:

...a strong dislike or hatred of specific sounds. Imagine if a sound could make you panic or fly into a rage. 

 

I'm thinking you have a touch of the latter. Maybe we all do?

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3 minutes ago, AndrewJohn said:

For me, and I may be unique? or maybe not..., 

 

It comes down to the same thinking for everything else.  The "journey"..., vs. some "destination."

 

Choosing what Music to listen to on the player, radio, 2-channel, or whatever..., has to be good.  And, as I get older, it seems it has to be "gooder" (emphatic "more good"), each time.

 

Like wine, food, and other sensory experiences (let your mind wander) I think we search for something more each time/experience. Something to take us to the next "edge" and push the experience envelope to some "next level."   And, each time we do, something that was "good" before, falls off into the "ok" or "not so good" category.

 

For example, there was a time when "Two Buck Chuck" wine was a rage..., I bought a case, poured most of it out..., but it was what it was at the time.  Now, I can't drink any wine that is "table-grade"..., it better be good to more good, or I pass.  Costs more too.  Go out to your favorite restaurant and think about what you order..., a tomahawk rib-eye, from Smith and Wolleski had better take you over the edge, and when you have that, it's hard to go back to Texas Roadhouse for their rib eye.

 

Compound this search for "Better Experience" with getting older, and realizing that time is precious, and you won't live forever to try everything..., and wasting that very same time on a bad/poor experience (food, drink, music, etc.) is time you'll never get back.

 

The real challenge I find is to realize that not everyone is on the same part of the road that this journey is.  Respecting that for some, 180bit MP3 files across earbuds is where they are, and the music/recording (food, wine, etc.) is where they are on the road/path at that time, and also recognizing that you can describe the road..., but you can't share the "exact" experience with others until they get there on that road.  You might motivate them to get there sooner, but recognizing they are happy where they are, and may or may not get enlightened..., and moving on, is just as important.

 

Rambled a little..., but that's kind of how I see it.  Not snobbery, just a combination of seeking experience, better each time, and respecting that others around us are on a different part of the road along the same, or similar, journey.  All good.

Sir, YOU have become a Snob. 

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5 hours ago, kve777 said:

SNOB:

...a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.

 

Well that excludes Mark, and most of us, doesn't it?  There's no "belief" here - we KNOW our tastes are superior.  I in doubt, go throw some badly done Hip-hop or K-pop on for a few minutes! :D

Edited by Brian_at_HHH
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Yes.You are an audio Snob!!! |-| But aren't we all at some point in time. 🤷‍♂️ I also put a few Van Halen cd's in the player a couple weeks ago. The first and second album and OU812. I felt the same way. But out of the 3 OU812 was the better sounding cd. 

Maybe if you have more than one system, which a lot of us do, pick a system that the recording sounds best on and maybe it will make it more appealing and you won't feel that way. ~^

Edited by Rob
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22 minutes ago, cuda said:

I don't even turn on my trucks radio anymore because it has no comparison to the 2 channel rig at home.

I’m almost exclusively talk radio or podcasts in the truck. Damn, that means I’m OLD!

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3 hours ago, Rob said:

I have about enough time to listen to one song on the way to work. Sometimes it doesn’t even get turned on. 

 

Take the scenic route. :D

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Ah, a topic with which I am infinitely familiar...

 

Snobbery is one way your new audio approach can be viewed, but unless the "snob" looks down upon everyone who doesn't achieve the same height I'd rather take that word as the response a limited mind has to stimulus that it can't yet grasp. 

 

 

Pardon me, lads, as I embark on one of my usual lengthy tales. 

 

 

Imagine if you will, you're a teenager, its 1978, and your only exposure to audio is the Kenwood receiver that your family has, along with some file cabinet-sized speakers, and some arcane Garrard or BIC record changer with the lengthy chrome skewer that holds half a dozen LPs in a stack waiting to be put into service during a night's listening. Your friends are in awe of this assemblage of gear. Its loud, its clear, and it looks joyful in its display of knobs and switches and flashy brushed metal bits. In short, its the dog's bollocks. 

 

Back in that era stereo stores had interesting names. You might come across Mad Marks or Stereo Stevens, or some other alliterative appellation. Or they had some very ambitious name like UK Power Company or TV & Stereo Towne, or what have you, something that indicated This Place Means Business. Generally, they were all identical with wall-mounted shelves full of the big four- Kenwood, JVC, Pioneer, Sony. You might occasionally wander into what passed for "high end", which meant Marantz or McIntosh. 

 

And then one fateful day you happen to be hopping stereo shops, and you happen upon a proper "hifi" shop. You walk in and see the usual receivers from lesser-known but good brands like Aiwa, Sansui, and Harman Kardon. But then the hand beckons you behind the curtain to the back "sound room" where you find out about these things called "separates", also known as "components".  There also happens to be a wall of speakers from half a dozen brands you've never heard of. 

 

And the cost! A Perreaux amplifier for $1800... a four foot tall pair of JBL speakers for $1500... and the most amazing looking cassette deck ever, from some Japanese manufacturer called "Nakamichi" for the price of... well, that car you drove up to the store in would be a nice start. This "Dragon" appears to be something from the future, and its not easily passed by. There's a record player that looks like it was carved from a solid piece of walnut, with a straight arm on it, when all of the famous brands had these s-curved scimitars assaulting the vinyl, and it has precisely one control - an on/off rocker. For $900 it can only load and play one record at a time and you have to move the tonearm yourself! 

 

Who are all these companies? Polk, NAD, Robertson, Carver, dbx, Proton? If they were any good, where's the ads on the telly? Why are there no print ads proclaiming their greatness in Omni? Ah... KEF - I recognize that logo, those blokes in Tovil, but I thought that was just a simple foundry? They make speakers - I'm sorry, LOUDSPEAKERS - that look like furniture? And those in turn are absolutely embarrassed by the looks of these amazing ones from some company called "Canton"? 

 

I must hear these for myself, for I am amazed and overwhelmed. And a bit combative, as I'm not used to being taken by surprise. Guard up, healthy scepticism in place, on we go. 

 

"Of course you can have a demonstration. Do you have any music with you? Perhaps that cassette we see in your shirt pocket?"

"Yes, certainly. Here you go - its Fastway's debut album," and I proudly hand the case over to the salesman. I look forward to hearing Fast Eddie Clarke galloping out of those allegedly fine speakers. 

He looks askance at it, then me, then proceeds to launch into a healthy diatribe against production cassettes...

"Are you aware that these are mass-produced on machines that copy an entire cassette in a matter of seconds, at very high speed?"

"No. Why is that a problem?"

"Because the tape spends less time under the heads, and you miss a lot of important information. And the tape base is very low quality to begin with. And you see the shell edges? Compare them to this high quality Denon cassette - note the differences in the molding. The Denon cassette is very precise, the factory cassette looks like a prisoner carved it out of a bar of soap. The Denon shell will hold the tape material in a precise relationship to the heads. This thing... this white, plastic... thing... is garbage."

 

Not knowing what to say, I suggest, "Well then what do you have to show me?"

"Sit down there," he says, pointing to a pair of chairs in the center of the room, of which I choose one and place my bottom upon it, the rest of me following suit. He reaches for a favorite: Dark Side of the Moon. This is one of the best-produced albums of its era, or the era in which I sat upon that chair, or this era where we're talking about the quality of a recording. Whether one likes the Floyds or not, that album should be up for a Grammy nomination for engineering, perennially, and it should simply win. Or failing that, name the engineering award after that album and move on, and everyone who receives that award thereafter should be honored to have it and also feel a slight sting knowing that they'll never achieve that height. Whereas the rest of the rock world was trying to outdo the Phil Spector Wall of Sound, these gents from out of nowhere come up with this brilliant, restrained, detailed production. Everything had its place, nothing extraneous. Alan Parsons conquers the world, in one perfect album. 

 

He places that LP - which came in a slightly unusual sleeve which looked like the standard album cover but with a bright gold band across the top of it proclaiming that it was "Half Speed Mastered" or some similarly arcane term - upon said record player (henceforth to be known as a "turntable" lest you appear to be a complete Philistine), which oddly has been on and platter rotating this entire time, despite not having any vinyl upon it. And then, rather than simply placing the needle upon the vinyl and proceeding thusly, the salesman takes out a hand-sized tube covered in what appears to be velvet or microcloth, sprays it with some clear chemical, and then he places it lightly against the record surface, radially, and rotates the tube as the vinyl passes by underneath it. He shows me the surface of the tube, which now has a line of dusty lint upon it. "How often do you clean your LPs when you play them? You're supposed to do it before every listening session."

 

"Um..."

 

Then he grabs something that looks vaguely like a mustache trimmer, points it at the spindle and pushes a button, and then slowly draws his hand to the outside edge of the record. "Nagaoka static killer. It eliminates a lot of the pops you might hear."

 

Then he says, "Choose a pair of speakers," so I point at the largest pair, from the aforementioned Polk. He makes some adjustments to a selector board, and sound begins to come out of the speakers. Its not the usual pops and crackles I was used to hearing from my home system, but rather this very quiet feeling that there was something coming through those speakers. 

 

And then, the first track "Speak to Me" began, leading into "Breathe". 

 

I was astounded. Where before I might have just acknowledged 'Yes, Pink Floyd is playing. Great stuff. Louder please!' now I noticed it wasn't just this monolithic sound. My home receiver could play it loud and it could also play it clear at the same time, but nothing like this. I could distinguish the instruments from each other, and the vocals were bright and lively. It was like leaving a small room for a larger one. 

 

When the album side ended, the salesman played a few other things on a new thing called a compact disc player. He chose a disc titled "Tricycle" from the group "Flim & the BBs".  Not yet in stores, they had gotten it from a new studio - DMP - at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Listening to this album I could hear not just individual instruments, but the actual work each band member was doing: the gliss of a pick hitting a string,  the attack of the sticks upon the skins, the resonance of each drum cavity. Cymbals were so realistic I felt they were in my head. It seemed like I could even hear the room that each song was recorded in. And the whole thing appeared before me, with my eyes closed, in three glorious dimensions. I could point in space at where each instrument was located. I could note how far away from my chair those instruments were.  

Mentally, I had just walked out of the large room and left the house, and I was now experiencing the wild for the first time. My mind expanded further.

 

I opened my eyes and began to focus on the equipment arrayed upon the shelves like jewelry. NAD, Hafler, Denon, Carver. I must have it. 

 

So I began showing up at the audio store every day. I began helping out. Eventually I began representing these products to people who walked in the store. One fine day I brought home a complete stack of Hafler components. A Denon CD player and turntable. A Nakamichi cassette deck. Monster cables. Those bizarre Nagaoka products. I was most likely the only person in their mid-teens who could have contemplated and achieved such a system in that day, in my entire area. 

 

So now that I've authored that little narrative, I come to my point. 

 

After hearing that system, that first day, I'd say I wouldn't want to go back to listening to anything from Kenwood or Sony or Pioneer. Yes they all made excellent equipment for the time, very solidly built. It played loud and clear, and there were no complaints, but once you hear precise detail in three dimensions, at volume levels ranging from quiet to comfortable to garment-rustling, there's no chance of going back to mass market audio. Well, there's a slim chance, perhaps if thats all there was to listen to, but I'd say there was a better chance of a snake making it across a busy highway on a frigid winter's day. And even less chance that I'd have a Sanyo car stereo (there's a story there for another time).

 

One cannot achieve sonic bliss and then go back to dreck. 

 

There was a very talented American science fiction author who used to relate a story of something called "Chandresekhar's Other Limit".  Apparently a scientist who drafted the first specification of the limit of mass on a stable white dwarf star, Chandresekhar also got into a bit of philosophy when he tried to explain how there are barriers one can cross where one finds it impossible to impart understanding to those one leaves behind. In his example, Chanresekhar told of a dragonfly larva, born into a stream or pond or other body of water. The surface of the water was a barrier to them, and the water was their entire existence. They had no idea what was beyond the barrier. As the larvae matured, occasionally one would approach that barrier, pass through, and never be seen again. Did they die?


Well, one of the larvae, a strong bold fellow, announced that he would be the one who would return and let them all know what lay beyond the barrier. As the time passed he felt drawn to it, and one fateful day he pierced that barrier and moved beyond it. His newly-found wings unfurled, he launched into the open air, and he suddenly knew his purpose. He looked down at the water, determined to return and fulfill his promise, yet he couldn't. If he landed in the water he was at risk of death, and if he tried to swim below the surface he would drown. 

 

Forlornly, he took off into the sky, hoping that everyone he left behind would soon be along.

 

And so, after some time listening to high fidelity equipment, with well-recorded source material - something basically unknown in popular music - you find yourself unable to return. Its not snobbery, its just that you've grown, and you simply can't go back. 

 

Did this make sense? I'd like to think so, otherwise I'm just being a pretentious prat. Carry on, lads.  

Edited by Butcher
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On 12/16/2020 at 9:06 AM, Rob said:

I also put a few Van Halen cd's in the player a couple weeks ago. The first and second album and OU812. I felt the same way. But out of the 3 OU812 was the better sounding cd. 

 

If you can find Van Halen II DCC GZS-1129 for a reasonable price, I think you'll find it a much better version. The problem is finding it at a reasonable price. I've seen this sell for $750 sealed on ebay, but it's usually in the $400 ballpark. I don't recall seeing an open copy for sale.

 

Steve Hoffman always does a great job.

 

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/van-halen-dcc-gzs-1129-is-pretty-super.22318/

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@Daddyjt Did you happen to listen to the remastered versions?

 

Also, Eddie hated the studio when they first started. He didn't know how to overdub or track his part without the band playing with him. SO I wonder how much of the band's disinterest in doing things 'right' in the studio muddied the outcome.

 

Wasn't till later that he mastered the art of the studio gig.

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2 hours ago, Nahash5150 said:

At least on Amazon, there are remasters of VH II, WaCF, DD, FW and 1984. Also the Best of Both Worlds has remastered tracks.

 

I still have my LPs. I'd like to hear the difference between an original pressing of Women and Children First and the remastered CD(s). 

 

As an aside, this was my first VH album and also my favorite. Although there was only the one charting song off that LP, I think that overall it represents VH at full flower. Exemplary arrangements, David's voice was flawless and full of character (and before he'd become a caricature of himself), and each instrument came through brilliantly. 

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