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November 2007
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Subs Versus Obs... ABX And Other Ramblings
Article By Steven R. Rochlin
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  While thinking of what topics to cover during this month's editorial a few weeks ago various streams of thought filled my head. Should i cover how other members of the press treated (badly) the new guy at the recent RMAF? Perhaps write about ABX and my personal experiences? How about the poor hapless suckers who buy chips, clocks, and now ringtones in hopes of some mysterious exorcism being bestowed upon their system? Are audiophiles, and to a higher degree certain members of the audiophile editorial press, truly that hopeless a cause? Is it really an all-out war zone out there?

So some guys give this industry a really bad name. This is true with virtually all industries. There are also great guys, many of which i am deeply honored to call friends, that the few bad apples will eventually rot away (and good riddance!). Can understand how fulltime journalists are perhaps so scared for their jobs, as they dare to make this a fulltime gig (which explains a lot about them quite frankly), that anyone new is a total Level Five Threat and should be immediately Terminated (by Arnold Schwarzenegger of course). In life you reap what you sew, call it Karma.

But come on fellow journalists, if someone is a new guy in the industry don't you think just a slight bit of courtesy is in order? If you know nothing about him, why the cold shoulder? Maybe he is one of the good guys, so give him a chance. He will, probably quickly as this is a small industry, be found out of he is less than honorable. After all, we need as many of the good guys to help promote this industry as we can get!

 

ABX / Objectiveness Is A Good Thing
An now on to what really matters is you my loyal readers. Are you so suckered into a good story that you fall like sheep for another ABX debate? Ok, maybe the newbies fall for it as they have no previous experience of being drawn into the usual ABX debates... and the Art Of War. ABX arguments are so, like, 1990. It makes me laugh why a reviewer, any reviewer, would not welcome trying ABX. Did that myself many years ago with none other than E. Brad Meyers at his beautiful home and very impressive listening room. Note that this month's BAS update covers his writings on this topic.

E. Brad, like any good scientist, has an open mind and is willing to be proven wrong. Let us face it, if you are are a died-in-the-wool subjectivist then do you ever find yourself looking at measurements or equipment specifications? If you the an objective type, then why bother reading reviews by those who practice the subjective manner of reviewing? Why does someone have to be labeled one or the other? Can't someone practice freedom of choice and, as such, be somewhere in the middle of the Obs and Subs? Of course there are times when even a subjective-type like me gets their feathers a bit tattered when seeing products that appear to be scams.

At what point does one reach the limits of their personal belief system? In the United States you have people who believe in Pro Life, defined as those who advocate full legal protection of human embryos or fetuses, especially by opposing legalized abortion. On the other side of the coin are Pro Choice activists who favor or supporting the legal right of women to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy to full term. Perhaps this is an extreme analogy, yet if you are pro choice do you go the 'extra' measure and stand in front of clinics with signs and disturbing gruesome photographs or do you practice your belief in relative privacy?

 

Being Subjective Is A Good Thing
As a subjective, do you totally shut out any and all measurements or scientific studies that may help advance the ability for electronics to produce music closer to the live event? This could be via higher bit rates in digital recordings to new amplification techniques that are capable of more precisely doing their task at hand. On the other side of the coin, are you such an objective onlooker than you will completely rule out any finding or discovery brought about through listening that can not be explained via measurements?

Am sure most of you fall somewhere in the middle of the Sub versus Obs, and only you can decide which side you may lean more towards than the other. Being an independent thinker is a good thing, as an open mind is a very valuable asset! While i fully respect the rights of others to be extremists in the Obs versus Subs debate, those who make it a militant religious movement are the ones who scare me. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" -- William Shakespeare.

So yes, if you are a Sub please try some ABX tests as you might be surprised at your findings. If you are an Ob, maybe try listening to a few items that measure virtually identical and take some time to understand if you can subjectively hear a difference. This is not so serious as to be a life or death decision, but one that perhaps can bring about a more open mind through better understanding of the 'other side.' What would really scare me is if the audiophile world became 100% one way or the other, as then we may experience less overall advances in the art and science of music reproduction due to experiences encountered from both sides of the fence.

Of course in the end what really matters is that we all....

Enjoy the Music (Suicidal Tendencies right now.. with apologies for the language used yet musicians do have freedom of expression),

Steven R. Rochlin

 "Oh yea, back again. Hope you've enjoyed our little excursions. Tipping, toeing through the mind of a muthaf--ka that needs a little f---'n stomping on.

Yea, but don't take it wrong. See we ain't trying to tell you how to think. We're just trying to get you to think.

And we ain't trying to control nobody. We want the people (individually speaking) to be in control; to know who they are and what they want to be.

Yea, and question authority, what the f--k. But not for the sake of argument, but because you took the time to analyze it and you found a better f---'n way, not just a f---'n excuse to complain.

And beware of people who try to use you as a statistic to back their claims of power, that use you simply as a vehicle to get themselves where they want to with no reference to your best interest except for their disclaimer that their best interest is your best interest.

And remember... cool is only 3 letters away from fool!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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