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View Full Version : James Randi vs. Stereophile



Don McRitchie
12-03-2004, 04:33 PM
Scroll down in each of the respective links to find the entries regarding Stereophile.



http://www.randi.org/jr/112604yes.html



http://www.randi.org/jr/120304youve.html

Alex Lancaster
12-03-2004, 05:12 PM
:) Great!, I just hate the audio/stereofiend con artists, if that guy could gain a few pounds, he could make a great replacement for the late, lamented Benny Hill, instead of pushing crap.

Art J.
12-03-2004, 06:29 PM
Things went down hill when "The Man" died.
Much better reading.

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article.asp?section_id=1&article_id=534

Don McRitchie
12-03-2004, 06:40 PM
I don't know about that. I always found Hirsch reviews as frustrating as any Stereophile review, but for completely different reasons. In general, his reviews said nothing. They just recounted the specs, corroberated them with their own tests and finished with a listening session that was always perkily upbeat. Even if it was unadulterated trash, he would make an ambiguous, positive sounding assessment, not unlike "of all of the speakers currently on the market, this is certainly one of them." One had to be a Kremlinologist to mine though the subtle phrasing and infer if there was actually a negative assessment buried somewhere in the text.

Art J.
12-03-2004, 07:08 PM
Yes, I do know what you mean, but when he was around, he helped
keep the Marketers in check unlike today.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Do not put "Speaker Spikes" on an Altec

http://www.galionguy.com/centralhotel/renovat'04/february'04/fenceonA2.jpg

Ian Mackenzie
12-03-2004, 08:01 PM
I have subscribed to Stereophile for the past 12 months, but only to catch a review of a product I am familiar with. l will not be renewing the subscription.

To be brutally honest the traditional HiFi "two channel " industry needs a publication mouth piece to survive. But not for the conartists that appear to have swooped on the soul of the Hi End for the purpose of creating an illusion that just doesn't exist.

Robert and I witnessed this type of selling at the Stereophile show in NY in May and to be frank there were only a few rooms that stood up to what we are used to listening to at home.

Ian

Mr. Widget
12-03-2004, 10:19 PM
I once referred to Stereophile as, "that comic rag about audio" to a friend who was and is a devoted believer in Shatki Stones etc. He didn't seem to get how I found it amusing how Stereophile could say, " ... this $10,000 amplifier is a real bargain..." Yeah right. Hey it may be an amazing piece of design and engineering, but a bargain????

There are so many voodoo audio devices. Look in Mapleshade, Audio Advisor, and the ads in Stereophile etc. They have lotions for your cables, little risers "to keep the cables away from touching the synthetic fibers of your carpets", a wide variety of cables, and one of my favorites, the $600 AC power cords... come on, unless you have rewired your house or are using some AC regeneration, what is the point of a fancy 6' length of power cord plugged into a fancy socket attached to Romex?

Hey it keeps people employed, the reviewers, the salesmen, and the manufacturers and unlike bombs and bullets no one is really getting hurt.

Widget

BTW I won't be canceling my subscription to Stereophile as there is so little that gives me a good laugh these days.

Ian Mackenzie
12-04-2004, 04:44 AM
You have to ask yourself what is advancing you pleasure and understanding of your audio interest the moment?

..........The mythical spin doctor in the magazine who keeps your discretionary income at call or you desire to understand and achieve scientific and empirical advancement based on facts and experience.

Put it this way, I spent 4-8 years in the 90's subscribing to the former pondering choices and differences rather than progression. Out of frustration and lack of contentement I left the magazines and stale folly of the club on a journey that has expanded my understanding 10 fold in half the time and the sheer musical enjoyment that it has has derived of the same ratio.

The formula is simple :

Understanding of science and empirical application = success.

It all comes down to how you go about applying your resources and a few proven facts in the end.:o

The rest is tripe that keeps the masses believing and hoping they will get there one day if they spend enough money.:rolleyes:

scott fitlin
12-04-2004, 08:52 AM
Ah, I used to subscribe to that magazine! Its good pictorial bathroom reading material, but so is Penthouse!

In the early 90,s I used to run around to the " Hi Fi " shops to catch an audition of the latest Stereophile rantings, and most of the time ended up either puzzled, or just plain dissapointed! It was a reveiw of a Krell amp in Stereophile that prompted me to find a store with these amps so I could hear all that I was missing! And I did, I got to listen to the Krell FPB-600 or something like that through magneplanar speakers, and it just sucked! Mids and highs were edgy, and coarse sounding! They had this McIntosh 2300, a used one at that, and the salesman hooked up the maggies to the Mac at my insistence, and the Big Mac blew the Krell away! Much sweeter mids and highs, more open, and just in general, more pleasing to my ears! The salesman proceeds to explain to me that Im hearing distortion and impurities in the Mc,s amplification stages, which is the reason i dont like it as much as the Krell! I just looked at him kind of funny, and he asked me what was wrong? I told him the Mac sounds great on these speakers the Krell sounds like Krap! He then hooked the Krell up to some other speaker, using conventional woofers, and the Krell did make nice, tight bass, but mids and highs were still edgy! For what the Krell costs, I can do tight, fast bass, with Crown, for alot less money! High End has become TOTAL BS!

As I said, Stereophile has nice pictures, of very cosmetically attractive gear, but the fancy looks dont always mean great sound, and its writers belong writing for Archie Comics! Maybe Ritchie Rich, too!

Oh and I love that term " Ruthlessly Revealing ", that usually means bright and fatiguing!

:D

Robh3606
12-04-2004, 11:33 AM
I went to the Stereophille show in 2002 right before Mikes MAF. I had been subscribing for a couple of years and at that time I was just getting back into audio with the Lansing Site and DIY. I figured it would be fun and I could get some idea if I was on the right track with my DIY speakers. Was I in for a shock! Got to see and hear some well reviewed and very expensive systems. I was disappointed by many. I know that the rooms suck but I was expecting a big difference between what I have gotten used to at home and the set-ups at the show. In some cases I felt what I had at home was close or better and that really surprised me. When I went to the MAF I thought that on average the set-ups there sounded better and were more in line what I expected. Ian and I went when he visited and same thing. Heard some very expensive gear and was like "your kidding right"?? It funny when I see these set-ups where the cost of the interconnects, speaker cables and power cords cost more than all the gear I own. As a matter of fact a pair of cables cost more than it did to build a pair of 4344's. You have to wonder what they are thinking. I mean who can afford this stuff???

Rob:)

jims
12-04-2004, 03:37 PM
Just look at all the high dollar stuff people are trying to get rid of on Audiogon. My 250TI's came from a gentleman who was buying a pair of Wilson Watt Puppies, I think. He later wrote me that he regretted selling the 250TI's!!

johnaec
12-04-2004, 04:13 PM
What's sad is when you're with someone listening to their way overpriced little European system and they're exclaiming how astonishing it sounds, and you're just standing there shaking your head - 'kinda' like the "emperor's new clothes"... :rolleyes: They happen to be a good friend, so you don't want to say anything - ya' just haf'ta sit there biting your tounge... :biting: I hate that!

John

whej4312
12-04-2004, 04:25 PM
If everybody has a moment for a good laugh, check this one out if you want to see the real Stereophile Loosers at work.
http://www.high-endaudio.com/RR-FREMER.html

Where's the review of K2 in Stereopile???
Class A Recommended Components By Stereopile..

1; Bose 901 series50 mk10 rev.2
2; Infinity Unobtainium Stratosphere5 with Permaplas Neofilm cones
3; Linn Sondek LP12. (It's always on the list) paid endorsement!!

Where's the Real Stuff!!

John Nebel
12-04-2004, 04:54 PM
Peter Walker interview - not JBL, but he is quite reasonable.

http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Lab/6722/pwint1.txt

whej4312
12-04-2004, 05:06 PM
What a great interview... Too bad ESL's don't do well in our neck of the wood's....:)

Thanks John...

spkrman57
04-03-2005, 06:54 AM
I subscribed to it once, so I could get the test cd and use the magazines for shims under my speakers so they could be tilted back!

Ron

jblnut
04-04-2005, 07:26 AM
When I posted my "Slicing the BS..." thread last week, I included a link in there about a real blind test of AC power cords. What I didn't include was the story about how I found that page. Some Googling actually let me to Randi's page first, where I found the link to the AC test. I wasn't really sure what the general feeling was here about "high end" power cables, interconnects, special rocks and little suspension bridges for your cables :p .



I shouldn't have been so cautious about posting links to Randi's site - I should have known that members here wouldn't be offended at his scientific/skeptical view of such nonsense. The whole "high end" phenomenon that seemed to take root and grow in the 80's is now totally out of control. There's no restraint in the mags that push the :bs:

and the dealers are only too happy to separate the feebleminded from their cash. Even on the low end image means more than sound - how many times have you been over to a friend's house to hear their new B*$e HT system - which for $2k can be absolutely spanked by a modest H/K and Northridge setup from the HarmanAudio Specials section ?



Too bad more people don't know about Randi - he's one of the few voices of sanity in a completely insane world....



jblnut









Scroll down in each of the respective links to find the entries regarding Stereophile.



http://www.randi.org/jr/112604yes.html



http://www.randi.org/jr/120304youve.html

Alex Lancaster
04-04-2005, 07:52 AM
:applaud:

svollmer
04-04-2005, 08:39 AM
I too am skeptical of the many claims out there, but I also wonder about those who don't hear any differences between equipment. For example, if all 100 watt amplifiers with the same specs sound the same, as is claimed by some, why would the market need more than one brand? It seems that if they all sounded the same, we would all choose the lowest cost amp, assuming they all had the same features one wanted (meters, output control, type of binding posts, etc).

Same thing with CD players. If they all sounded the same, why not just choose the cheapest player that has the features you want? I'm just a plumber, and not an economics expert, but these are the things I think of when I hear someone like the late Julian Hirsh saying there's no difference in sound between components. Heck, if there's no difference, then there's no reason for me to subscribe to Stereo Review. I'll just go to my local store and say "give me your cheapest 100 watter."

What I can say is that on my limited budget, I try to purchase quality engineered stuff for my system that might be called "entry high end." I use hospital recepticles (from Home Depot) because they are substantial and heavy-duty, but I don't know if I hear a difference. I use (to me) high quality wire (DH Labs), because it's substantial, engineered good, and is an extremely good value when purchased in bulk compared to more famous cables. I don't care if 16 gauge zip cord sounds the same or not, I refuse to look at that crap in my system.

I say all of this not knowing myself for sure if there are differences with many things, such as cables, recepticles, etc. I can say that I had an experience when I bought a 100 watt Adcom amp used that blew the pants off of my BGW 200 watt amp. It sounded better - I wasn't expecting any difference, but there certainly was one.

Well those are my rambling thoughts. :blah: I think reality is somewhere in the middle of those putting stones or wood blocks on their equipment and those who think everything is the same.

Steve

PS - If I could afford Levinson and Wilson stuff, I'd buy it just because it's cool and built like brick sh*thouses. :)

Mr. Widget
04-04-2005, 02:28 PM
I think I am pretty much on the same page as Steve here. I certainly agree that there is a lot of pure BS in the audiophile press. I also think the Amazing Randi is a bit of a whack case himself. He brings up some good points but unlike the late great Julian Hirsch, he does not approach it with a clear unbiased scientific method.

At CES this year I ran into Michael Fremer in a small hotel room where he was checking out an Italian turntable. I asked him about the Randi incident... he was quite surprised that I or anyone had actually bothered to read his e-mail exchanges with the magician. Michael seemed sincere when he agreed that much of the hype is just hype. His attitude is that we live in a buyer be ware world and if someone is foolish enough to buy $600 AC power cords for their $1200 system it isn't the magazine's fault. If you really read the magazine they typically don't make that type of recommendation. Some of their reviewers do make some silly claims to be sure, and I don't always agree with Mr. Fremer or any of the other writers, but then I didn't always agree with Mr. Hirsch either.

The bottom line is that there is good advice in all of these mags and some not so good advice. I have personally never heard a difference between normal speaker wires that would lead me to believe one is superior. There are some with networks... that is a different case and they may improve some systems and mess others up. There are differences in interconnects, but I really can't say that one was always superior... they are just different. This isn't to say that there may not be real synergys out there, but that is like picking a combination lock... I have better things to do with my time. I agree with Steve that in the case of some of these wires the connectors and insulation or build quality may make them desirable on real physical merits. I do disagree with Mr. Hirsch about amps all sounding the same. My hearing isn't so refined that I can differentiate between dozens but I would suggest that there are several flavors. Many of the less expensive amps sound sharp and forward. Many of the older tube amps are soft and fat sounding (lush midrange). I would never buy an amp without auditioning it with my speakers. In the early 80's I had a TOTL Threshold preamp in a triamped system. A friend brought over an Audible Illusions tube preamp. The noise floor was terrible compared to that Threshold, but the music sounded more three dimensional... there are choices to be made. When possible audition for yourself and make up your own mind.

Widget

Ian Mackenzie
04-04-2005, 03:14 PM
I think the magazines exists at the end of the day due to advertising dollars.

And that in part is for the manufacturers and writers to continue to maintain an (the) illusion with the target market that spending untold amounts of money will buy better sound, even for the most quirky reasons.

Customers become hooked after a time, and the illusionary articles become a fix for those who become obessive about such things.

Ian

johnaec
04-05-2005, 12:28 PM
The eBay description covers it all - :p :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=5764740355&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT

John

jblnut
04-05-2005, 01:14 PM
The questions he received are even funnier than the auction! Let's see if he posts the one I just sent him....

It starts with "Please tell us how anyone who buys "Vintage Stamped Fruit Compote Tea Towels" ....

He's got a strange list of items in his feedback.....

:)

jblnut


The eBay description covers it all - :p :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=5764740355&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT

John

Mr. Widget
04-05-2005, 01:29 PM
The eBay description covers it all - :p :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=5764740355&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT

John

Some people really do have toooo much time on their hands!

Widget

duaneage
04-05-2005, 06:07 PM
Things went down hill when "The Man" died.
Much better reading.

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article.asp?section_id=1&article_id=534
BTW Jullian is holding a classic Yamaha DSP-1 in his lap, I have a DSP-100 and I love it to death.

I read his reviews in Stereo Review years and years ago. I liked his testingmethods, didn't care about the listening review since he probably did not use the equipment with my music, but felt he really tested the equipment well. I always respected his tests.

Mr. Widget
04-05-2005, 06:19 PM
I like many on this forum, I would guess, grew up reading Mr. Hirsch's reviews. I always respected his comments, but felt that you really had to read between the lines to pick out the gems from the rocks. Thanks Art for posting that link. I hadn't noticed that Mr. Hirsch had passed on, as I haven't read Stereo Review in decades or Sound & Vision ever...

I really enjoyed the 1969 review of the Bose 901s. While I am sure almost everyone on this forum would damn them as ill conceived speakers, I do remember hearing them for the first time in 1973 and thinking that they were really something. They were being powered by a McIntosh MC2300 and they shook my world.... today I probably couldn't listen to them but back then....

Widget

Titanium Dome
04-06-2005, 12:09 PM
:) I enjoyed readling Jualian Hirsch and cogitating over the results of the Hirsch-Houck Labs findings during the many years of my subscription. Yes, there was always a bit of skepticism on my part, and I didn't always agree with him, though credential to credential he beat me on every count except for my personal preferences. :D

One of the things I like about all the reviewers and testers is their genuine or fake excitment for the hobby and its many possibilities. Yes, many are charlatans and shills, but many are not. Sometimes it's good fun to laugh at them, and sometimes it's good to read and learn.

When I was 24 with three kids, a wife, and no money, I enjoyed reading that zip cord was just as good as $80/ft. cable. In fact, I needed to hear that. Now that the kids are grown and paying their own way, and the wife is gone, I don't need to hear that anymore. In fact, while I can still grasp the reasons for the statement, I don't need to hear it. In fact, I'd like to believe that I can improve the cables and wires as much as I improved everything else in my system over the past 30 years.

So somewhere between reason and hope I find the realm of MAYBE where some of this stuff might just work. It's not like I'm starving, so why the h@ll not? I'm putting plenty-o-cash into social causes, retirement, charities, the EX, etc., so what's left is mine to fritter away as I will, and anyone who doesn't like it or respect my choices can kiss me in one of my dainty nether regions.

And as someone said, it looks good.

Of course, certain predatory companies like Monster can eat me before I'll buy anything from them. Also, the space alien stuff and a/v voodoo is not likely to get a trial (yet :D ) but high quality, well manufactured, top-notch material is always worth a look IMO. Why be an old fart about it?

I wouldn't put a Rembrandt in a chrome frame, 'though it will work as well as a $50,000 frame. So I won't put freakin' zip cord in my system anymore, cuz it just doesn't look right. :barf:

tomt
04-20-2005, 03:17 PM
strange enuffly jullian said that the L100 was the most accurate
speaker he had ever tested(in 1975)

tomt
04-20-2005, 03:19 PM
above 200 cycles that is or was

briang
04-20-2005, 07:53 PM
The formula is simple :

Understanding of science and empirical application = success.



True, True! :applaud:

Ian Mackenzie
04-21-2005, 01:57 PM
In regards to the reviews I think the other one is

"Listen to it first then look at the measurements and test results.

Your ears are you most valuable measuring tool after all".

For example all to often, particulary with amplifiers we are swayed by measurements and these tend to taint our subjective view.

Ian