Part of knowing our HiFi Family so well is understanding what I like to think of as Audiophile Wisdom, the collective agreement of what we believe. For example, audiophiles pretty much agree that vacuum tubes sound one way, solid-state devices quite another. Or, LP’s and vinyl has its sound and digital something different.
Every interest group on Planet Earth has its share of collective wisdom. That’s certainly nothing new, but when it comes to audio I have yet to find any other passion-driven endeavor to be so rich and vocal when it comes to our beliefs.
Some might refer to the common wisdom as myths while others would consider much to be gospel. Whatever your viewpoint on the audiophile’s wisdom, it’s helpful to recognize some of the more popular tropes. Separating the things we believe from facts can be very helpful when attempting to untangle often complicated subjects.
One of the main goals of the Ask Paul video series is unraveling some of the conventional audiophile wisdom and helping people understand the origins of the stories and beliefs. Often, I have to check myself to make sure what I am saying isn’t simply a regurgitation—hard when you’ve been so immersed in the culture for such a long time.
I think it’s always helpful to share our collective wisdom with others. It’s also important to check your sources. Most audiophile wisdom is based in old history that may or may not be true anymore.
Be careful your accumulated wisdom doesn’t send you down the wrong road.
Do facts matter?
Opinions are easy enough to accept or ignore. After all, they are just opinions. But facts? No, we believe facts are facts and therefore inviolate. Except we tend to wiggle our way out of those as well, choosing which facts suit us and which do not.
Take the atmospheric cancer that is consuming Earth, a subject we should all be concerned with—a subject that transcends stereo equipment. The facts are clear. Already 50% of Earth’s species are gone. More go extinct each day. How long before the chain collapses and we can count ourselves among the departed?
Man made greenhouse gasses play a major role in this debacle. The facts are clear. Yet, somehow this winds up being a political issue instead of a shared problem we wrap our arms around and try and solve.
Choosing which facts to accept and which to reject is nothing new. We’ve been doing it since time immemorial. We passionately argue over which facts to support and which to reject when it comes to music’s reproduction: MDF vs. aluminum enclosures, ribbons vs. planars, vinyl vs. digital, tubes vs. solid state, spikes vs. Sorbothane. The list is endless. Each choice is connected to an entire set of facts that support one view and minimize another.
Perhaps what I love about our community more than anything else is not what divides us but what connects us. We can argue all day about this and that but let some negative force dishonor the music and we band together in its defense.
In our hearts we are connected to the facts that matter most.