The ‘golden ears’ problem

Cables - The Missing Link - Desktop Audio Upgrade Part 2
Phil made a good point in a comment at Zak Avery’s blog: it’s fine to admit that some people know more about some things than some other people. When we need to buy new gadgets or computers, we ring Bailey’s brother; when we want help with our German, we ask Boak’s mum; and, bless them, when our friends want advice about beer, they ask us. In those conversations, no-one is ‘lording it’ over anyone else. (We hope.)

Having said that, we’ve been on the receiving end of advice like this more than once: “If you’re not going to buy a system with separate components, you might as well listen to your music on a transistor radio. And you can’t sit your speakers flat on that shelf — you need spikes. It’s going to cost you several thousand pounds, or it’s not worth bothering at all. I can’t bear to listen to music on your current setup, actually — can’t you hear that digital distortion? Can’t you hear it? There! Listen! Argh!” &c..

Our sincere response? “It sounds fine to us.” We end up with a £120 all-in-one stereo from Curry’s and we’re perfectly happy with it.

Maybe some people simply can’t taste the difference between good and bad beer, however often they try? If that’s the case, it doesn’t make them idiots — it makes them lucky.

Our suspicion? We probably could learn to appreciate high-end audio if we really wanted to, but we don’t: it’s an expensive habit…

Picture by Jordanhill School, from Flickr Creative Commons.

 

10 thoughts on “The ‘golden ears’ problem”

  1. As an Audiophille married to a Beer Blogger I have to comment on this!

    Meer for Beer appreciates that my very expensive Hi-Fi sounds better than the micro system she is used to & I appreciate that the expensive imported beers she buys taste nicer than average pint.

    Left to our own devices would she spend £100 plus on a cable? No she wouldn’t, would I spend £40 plus on a bottle of beer? Eh, probably not.

    I get to drink her beer & she gets to listen to my Hi-Fi, it’s a win win situation!

    1. However I believe I’m still banned from touching his DAB radio afterI managed to wipe all the preset radio channels when I switched it off once… And he does flinch when I go near the hifi.

      :)

  2. “We end up with a £120 all-in-one stereo from Curry’s and we’re perfectly happy with it.”

    With an attitude like that you’re probably happy drinking in a Wetherspoon’s! Real beer geeks only drink in a BrewDog Bar!! ;)

  3. you might as well listen to your music on a transistor radio

    That kind of attitude drives me insane – the idea that if you’re not going to go to whatever arbitrary point on the quality scale the other person regards as the bare minimum, then all the other points on the scale make no difference at all. We saw this briefly with the fashion for beers on gravity (which lasted roughly until people remembered they don’t like flat beer), and I think it might be coming round again with the interest in glassware. (Drinking oak-aged Thornbridge Bracia out of a dimple mug? Puh-lease – you might as well stick to Spitfire for all that you’ll get out of it…) It’s presented as helpful advice but it’s pure oneupmanship.

    On the other hand, separates (and reasonably chunky cable with gold connectors) are the way to go. That’s scientific fact.

  4. I thought human hearing started to deteriorate in the early 20’s, starting with loss at higher frequencies. At my age, a transistor radio will do nicely…

  5. Philistines! I bet you listen to N-Dubz on you £120 Curry’s micro system don’t you?

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