Originally Posted by mcnarus
TAS and S-pile sell the fantasy to people who want to buy the fantasy. I doubt they convert too many people. They just reinforce prior beliefs and provide plausible pseudoscientific talking points.
I think that's part of it. The other part is that, for business reasons, they question nothing and analyze nothing. I mean, if they asked the obvious questions, the good questions (such as, "What does this $24,000 amplifier do that an $800 amp doesn't do already? ... What does this $1,500 interconnect do that the patch cords inside the box don't do already?"), then how would that serve their own agenda? If they were intellectually honest (and they're far from it, obviously), then they'd only serve to chip away at the myth (one might say the scam) that is "the high end," which butters their bread.
I love when they say something like this: "The Oppo BDP-105 is a fine player for music, almost -- but not quite -- rivaling the [name your boutique disc player] for resolution of the finest detail. But of course we wouldn't expect it to match a dedicated two-channel player priced at $17,000 ." Well, OK ... but any critical thinker might respond like this:
1. Why doesn't the Oppo not match the boutique player? How could a boutique shop with limited resources have a technological advantage over Oppo? And if it's not technology, then what?
2. How and why does the price difference relate to actual performance? What about simple economies of scale? (Of course the boutique player costs a fortune! They can't stay in business any other way.) But why should price effect our "expectations" of performance?
3. Why would a dedicated two-channel player perform any better than a multi-channel player in two-channel mode? That's an easy claim to make, but why would it be true in an empirical way?
4. Finally ... where's your objective data to complement your subjective impressions? Where are your measurements? Where are your blind, level-matched comparisons? If you don't employ those, then why the hell not?
To me, all this stuff (and more) is obvious. It's how critical thinkers approach dubious statements. But if The Absolute Sound actually approached issues this way, they'd alienate their sponsors and threaten their core business model. (Flip through TAS and count the ads for high-end cables; have fun with that.)
The solution, of course, lies with us -- people who sense crap when they see it and challenge the unsubstantiated. We're never gonna shut up, because we hold the highest ground. The ultimate saving grace, on the other hand, is that this hobby is a purely voluntary exercise practiced by adults, and I've never known anyone to deny food and shelter to his family in order to fund a new tube preamp. So if people wanna mindlessly follow the Pied Piper, it's their business. I just see Robert Harley and Harry Pearson for the opportunistic phonies that they are.