“Rewind The Tape”!

T.H.E. Show Newport kindly sent me the “Meet The Editors” “tape” that was the subject of some contention a few weeks ago.

I invite you to watch the relevant sections of the panel discussion with TAS editor-in-chief, Robert Harley, Positive Feedback’s David Robinson, DigitalAudioReview.net's John Darko and Computer Audiophile founder Chris Connaker.

As you’ll recall I got into a serious “dust-up” with Mr. Connaker who insisted, as you’ll see in the discussion, that I stated on that panel that the vinyl resurgence was “huge”.

When I responded that it was he, not I who used the “H” word, he said smugly (the only emotion he displayed throughout) “rewind the tape”.

He also proclaimed “I go to the LP and think it sounds terrible”. Fine, that’s his opinion. It’s an uninformed one, of course, because good LP playback does not sound “terrible” by any definition of what sounds good, but that’s his opinion.

Less acceptable was where he all but accused me of being a liar. Not pleasant.

After quoting someone at Urban Outfitters who ridiculously claimed the company was the “largest vinyl seller” (Amoeba Records stocks and curates Urban Outfitters’ vinyl sections, which I assume is from where the claim comes, but even then I don’t believe it to be factual), Connaker proclaims that “…vinyl is just a fad.”

He’s entitled to that opinion. Time will tell, but when you watch the video, you will see the camaraderie among the participants, regardless of magazine affiliation or preferred format…except for Mr. Connaker.

After watching the video, I have to say, his behavior and attitude on that panel was far more offensive and innapropriate than I’d thought it was when I walked away at the panel’s conclusion.

What’s more, for a guy who essentially called me a liar, you’ll see that the only "fib-rillator" on that panel was Connaker: I never said “vinyl was huge”. Only he did in claiming that I did!

“Rewind the tape”? My pleasure!

(Note: most of the hour was taken up with things digital so for these purposes I edited them out. What you will see and hear is everything relevant to the vinyl discussion).

I did not edit out anything vinyl-related or engage in any editing hanky-panky. Speaking of what you will hear, the microphones, exacerbated by audio compression, picked up all of the noise emanating from the other side of the false “wall” behind us, which was the rest of the grand ballroom where all of the “marketplace” action was: software sales and vendors of all kinds of audiophile “stuff” you can see here.

The noise made it difficult for the panelists to hear the questions and you’ll have the same problem but it shouldn’t prevent you from “enjoying” the video.

junker's picture

Here are some hard # for your quiver Michael...Give 'em hell!


Full length vinyl LPs continued their resurgence in 2014, growing 49% to $315 million. This marks the first year since 1987 that vinyl LPs were a double- digit percentage of the physical market. Vinyl LPs were 14% of the physical market, and 4.5% of the total market at estimated retail value.

firedog55's picture


Sorry, I don't see that Chris was being "offensive and innapropriate": His "Not HUGE" comment seemed to me to be directed originally in general at the LP phenomenon, and not specifically at you. He did get a little defensive after that, and he was factually incorrect about Taylor Swift. But I think your reaction in print was certainly not proportionate to what was said or how it was said.

Michael Fremer's picture
But the video is there for folks to draw their own conclusion...
hjc001's picture


allhifi's picture

Hi Mr. Fremer: Interesting, but not surprising Chris's character- disposition. (I had him figured out in no time flat)
I invite you to read my comments on the Auralic G2 series Streamer & DAC. (computer audiophile.com)

If your experience was a 'dust-up', this must be considered a full blown tornado -or would that be hurricane ? lol

He did not let me continue further -abruptly "banning" me earlier today from his beloved ego massaging site.

My reply (earlier today) that he did not allow was the following text, quote:

"Are you three "believers" still believers ? " (BANNED, popped up ! -too funny)

I attempted to write him a final message (asking for the reasons) that he blocked, along with my access to his website !

Yes, I have some choice words (all accurate and demonstrable) for the fine (proud) social science undergrad, but I invite you first to read our discussion from the beginning.

Also note, who started the post/thread, as it involves he too -a very suspicious relationship these two appear to enjoy.

peter jasz
user name: allhifi

hjc001's picture

mr. connaker WAS dismissive, smug, though not offensive. not acceptable among "professionals" maybe he had a bad day, exhausted. no biggie, but i hope he personally calls mr fremer and apologizes.

allhifi's picture

Mr. Fremer: I watched the video. What was the actual length of the video ? Why did it stop when it did ?

In any case, I too felt CA's Chris Connaker was not being offensive at all. He was trying to make a point (I think) that it (vinyl/LP's) is a smaller market than digital reply -and he wished to express his thoughts, which the fine moderator (Mr. Harley) perhaps should have realized and given some time to join the discussion and offer some opening thoughts/statements -that he was he was ultimately denied.

Perhaps he had a chance to speak after the final 20:42 of the video ?

In any case, it was a great point to say that high-end audio is not about what the general public is doing, rather what seasoned audiophiles consider superior playback. I believe either have or could enjoy both formats -and likely have both.

I found your comments about the A/D signature fascinating -and very insightful. I was also fascinated with the suggestion (fact?) concerning PCM's phase behavior above 2-and-5-Khz ?

It was a passionate and insightful talk, that I enjoyed. Thank you for that.

I really appreciated the maturity and sensibility both you and Positive Feedback guy (sorry, forgot his name) introduced regarding both personal experience (with vinyl) and that of the younger generation --great stuff !

I completely understood the Beatles CD/LP comparison. Indeed, vinyl manages to convey realism in the most fascinating, palpable manner. That, and its glorious dynamic swing (dare I say 'range') is also startlingly impressive and engaging.

So, the journey continues.

May the feeling (force) be with you !

peter jasz

azmoon's picture

Chris has a not so hidden agenda. He must not make any money from vinyl.

hjc001's picture

it's hard to believe one professional on a panel would laugh at another person on a panel. but it's onthe tape.

isaacrivera's picture

The other commenter who "can't agree", has either not watched the video, or simply has a chip on his shoulder. Although it does seem that Mr. Connaker initially said "huge" as a general reference to the way the vinyl resurgence is being referred to out there, later on he does attribute the comment to Michael and suggests to "rewind the tape" to prove it. His whole tone prior to that was mocking and derisive for a panel that seemed to be pretty cordial otherwise. I am particularly happy to see how, for instance, Mr. Darko and Michael got along in a jovial and professional manner, even though, their fields are quite opposite. Mr. Connaker probably felt uncomfortable with what appeared to be a pretty well-accepted fact across the panel: a good recording on a well-setup, quality analog rig, sounds better. He disliked being the loner so he took jabs at the head analoguist on the panel.

It is sad that such a diverse panel with such distinguished professionals in such a generally good tone and humor had to be pooped on by Mr. Connaker. But even then Michael's response was rational, pointing out that his accusations apply to the industry as a whole which is a niche of a niche. If being "huge" is a prerequisite for quality, then he might as well get an iPhone and his blog is no longer needed.

Thank you Michael for being such a knight of all things analog and for being such a good sport even in the face of unnecessary, mocking attacks.

isaacrivera's picture

The vinyl resurgence IS HUGE! When you look at it's growth rate in the last decade. Is it a huge portion of the music entertainment business? Nope, it's a niche of a niche, but its rate of growth is huge.

junker's picture

It's about 14% of physical sales - about 1 in 7 dollar spent is being spent on vinyl. Physical sales are currently 32% of overall music industry revenues.

Grant M's picture

It's hard to know why Chris Connaker seems to be so dismissive of vinyl, because he never explains it. He says he has no "problem" with vinyl, but disparages it through his comments and his demeanor during the discussion. His comment that "urban outfitters" is the number one vinyl retailer is wrong, but i think he said it to try and make a point that vinyl is fashion for kids who don't know any better, and the 'resurgence' is going to be a short-lived trend as soon as the young buyers move on to something else, and out of their parents basement.

Of course, in the context of the talk, that point is meaningless. I likely agree with Connaker that vinyl sounds bad, probably worse than digital, when played back on a really cheap system. But the thing is, at an audiophile show, the venue for the discussion, what difference does that make? My guess it that all the talk about the vinyl resurgence (just check out all the mainstream stories about vinyl in the news) really bugs a digital audiophile like Connaker.

Ortofan's picture

..only compatible species, while others find their entertainment in a mix that is a bit more aggressive and territorial.

johnhdarko's picture

"I am particularly happy to see how, for instance, Mr. Darko and Michael got along in a jovial and professional manner, even though, their fields are quite opposite."


Mine and Mr Fremer's interests are not as opposite as you might think. I have a fairly healthy record collection and spin just as much vinyl as digital. You'll note from the video that I (kinda) kicked off the discussion with an enquiry of my own re. needledrops and ADCs - something that Mr Fremer and I BOTH share an interest in.

isaacrivera's picture

You and Mr. Fremer have a lot in common. What I meant is that as professional editors, you are focused opposites fields, digital vs. analog, if you could call them "opposite". However real life, is not like that and point well taken. I own a few thousand digital recordings, and when I was choosing a DAC, DAR was a reliable source of advise. Likewise Mr. Fremer owns many digital recordings in vinyl and other formats. You enjoy vinyl as well. We are all after the same things, aren't we. Thank you for keeping it real.

hjc001's picture

mr. darko got me thinking that what is enjoyed is not vynil but the process of transfering musical soundwaves to a portable medium. so, vynil may be replaced, eventually, by a mix of ultra simple circuits that encode in a quasi-analog manner onto a physical media, such as a micro disc made up of carbon nanotubes (don't laugh) which contains terabytes of data. the key is removing all the silicon gates that are part of ADC. same principle as sound-onto-vynil, but with lots less "stuff" getting in the way as it does with ADC/DAC...get it? what's in resurgence isn't vynil, but the analog process.

isaacrivera's picture

I wish what you suggest were true, but the resurgence is in vinyl, not analog. Kids are buying vinyl, which is mostly recorded and mastered in digital. Older folks like myself buy vinyl for analog sound, but I do not think that is the case of most new vinyl collectors. What you say would be an interesting possibility for the future, but at the moment digital rules on the the studio because is is cheaper. It is not reel tapes that are trending is vinyl.

UO's picture

Urban Outfitter is the largest brick and mortar seller of vinyl, while Amazon is the largest seller of vinyl.

"A Billboard analysis shows that Amazon is the largest seller of vinyl in the U.S., with about 12.3% market share, followed by Urban Outfitters with 8.1% market share. Rounding out the top five retail accounts selling vinyl, the next-largest is Hastings Entertainment with 2.8% of the market; Hot Topic with 2.4%; and Trans World Entertainment with 2.2%. Accounts like Audiophile, Acoustic Sounds and Newbury Comics each have market shares between 1.5% and 2%."



Michael Fremer's picture
I wonder if their numbers are an amalgam of U O and Amoeba sales.
OldschoolE's picture

That guy Mr. Connaker may as well have directly said that Mr. Fremer is a liar! In my opinion, he came within a bullet burn of doing just that. In fact, correction....he did call Mr. Fremer a liar! In fact, in doing so he actually insulted the whole board. (I watched the video 3 times to be sure).
No excuse for that, sorry. I've read a ton of Mr. Fremer's writings and such and I find he is a man of integrity and ethics. To witness this Chris guy open his pie hole and do what he did is an insult to everyone who enjoys music in any format. Talk about "let's be factual", where did that guy get that Urban outfitters is the biggest vinyl retailer? It's a clothing store! If they have vinyl (I don't shop there, so I don't know that part), I would hasten to wager that the selection is tiny. OMG, is that what Mr. Connaker is basing his numbers on? Wow!

firedog55's picture

"Urban Outfitter is the largest brick and mortar seller of vinyl, while Amazon is the largest seller of vinyl."

Maybe you should be the one being more careful before you make pronouncements about others.

optoman's picture

Arguments over who said what and why are completely pointless. This web site will be a much better place if it had more record reviews, and information relevant to analog lovers. I did not check but I am sure that there was more about music in the past. Instead we are now getting an increasing stream of arguments with various people such as a record company owner and various journalists who don't get vinyl. Analog lovers are better served with relevant information and a positive vibe.

BillC's picture

For what it's worth, this seems like a waste of space in an otherwise fine website. More than anything, it seems unfortunate that Mr. Fermer finds himself so easily offended by people who are nothing. A lion, as the saying goes, does not waste time on the opinion of sheep.

This is vaguely reminiscent of the grievous wounds Mr. Fermer experienced at the hands of a small record store owner, which were so damaging that he felt compelled to repost his hurt feelings a full year after it happened (http://www.analogplanet.com/content/confession-i-didnt-go-record-store-rsd).

For someone who is a leader in a very competitive field, Mr. Fermer appears to be offended quite easily. This is a disappointing for us who mistakenly assumed that he was a lion...


hjc001's picture

...though mr. f does seem to be offended easily (his arm-waving was very distracting), the "rewind the tape" comment is reminiscent of general dismissive attitudes about OTHER people's right to comment and believe in whatever harmless things they do. so, after viewing the "tape", i, for one will not bother with mr. connker's site. that's the purpose of these sites: democracy in action! my time and my vote is for (somewhat mad) arm waving, yet harmless, believers in the joy of life as experienced through music.

jags79's picture

Chris Connaker: I have been an audiophile for as long as I can remember. In 1982, after talking my second grade teacher Mrs. Van de Weigh into allowing students to bring our favorite music to class, I brought the vinyl version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The low fidelity elementary school turntable didn’t reproduce the album very well but the class enjoyed the rebellious lyrics of Another Brick in the Wall

CC: I look at vinyl playback the same way as traditional audiophiles look at computer-based playback. When I see a state of the art turntable I’m immediately intimidated and think I could never get such a complicated piece of equipment to sound good.

No wonder Cris thinks vinyl sounds terrible, he still plays it on a low fidelity elementary school turntable.

Jon's picture

As it provides an objective record of what happened (and what I suspect happened all along). Mr. Connaker comes across as an uneducated, antagonistic and narcissistic troll. Even if he isn't a vinyl fan, his comment that vinyl LPs sound terrible is as unprofessional and inflammatory as his inability to research and regurgitate facts from fiction. Even though I am an "analogue" person myself and am of the opinion that all digital is inferior since in all my experience it "colours" sound in a more objectionable way than the best analogue does, I'd never say to anyone that digital sounds terrible because at it's best it is darned good. And I spent many hours a month with a digital workstation but I don't go whinging and moaning to people that it doesn't sound as good as even a modest $5K vinyl front end.

Rudy's picture

Connaker's attitude seems very typical of many who have digital "chip" on their shoulders (no pun intended)--the childish ranting, the spewing of self-proclaimed facts without one bit of evidence to back it up. Anything not digital, sucks. Reminds me of a couple of computer types I know who are in their mid 50s, still living in their mothers' basements. SAME attitude! Time to man up, put the pants on and act like an adult, Mr. C.

allhifi's picture

No sure about educated (although he's not entirely smart), but I'll definitely go with narcissistic.

Go to his site fresh with similar ego-massaging pundits and read the dialog we were having; allhifi vs. CA -lol

My question (on the site) was simply to ask why a "new" streamer offered only standard SPDIF connections, while the superior i2S is offered (and reserved) for the company's "matching" (proprietary) DAC, when there are considerable existing DAC's using either the i2S or Wrd. Clk. interfaces.

No answer. Just defending the company that started the thread to begin with!
(CC proudly states he will be receiving the new stuff Streamer & DAC soon after its official release. No doubt he will.)

And guess what, I bet it will become his new reference. No point in diminishing desire for this flawed approach used to enhance sales and profits (by explaining and answering a simple question), but then again, CC has learned a bit of fact and tons of bull-shit sells -and guaranties supplier favor.

Now, if only he could expose himself for what he is.


(If clearly appears CC and company are sharing a bed. )

amandela50's picture

Whether $315 million in LP sales represents a "huge" change over the dark days of digital's ascendance in the 1980s and 1990s misses the point. It is the resurgence of vinyl playback as a genuine cultural phenomenon, along with the "huge" growth in sales of vinyl-related software in our hobby and beyond, that represents the sea change. Never before have so many great vinyl replay products been available to the musically curious, from the absurdly affordable to the totally unobtainable.

Journeyman's picture

...One thing is to smile politely if you disagree, the other is to actually laugh at another fellow panel member, that's pretty awful and I would take it to heart and get offended for sure if someone did this to me. All other panel members look really friendly, kudos for them.

Michael Fremer's picture
He tone was derisive, but worse, his point was pointless. Our whole industry and hobby is a point of light in the darkness of bad sound, low resolution and plastic loudspeakers.
Mark UK's picture

That Connaker banned Robert Harley from his site 'for life' a year or so ago.
Harley, while his posts were often somewhat pedantic, was ALWAYS interesting, and he was never impolite. Maybe he was too 'famous' for the unknown Connaker to take.
And the CA site is known for the 'extreme subjectivist' views of many of its frequent posters. So much so that telling these people how computers actually work, thus rendering some of their views nonsensical, is unwelcome and has often led to a ban, including one or two well known 'audio experts'.

Michael Fremer's picture
That is really ridiculous. I have never and would never ban anyone for life or for a week. Not even you, Mark UK! I appreciate your perspective.
Jon's picture

It's more like a cult than a website now. I've actually never known of any other mature age forum where people embark on all-guns-blazing verbal wars upon each other. It has basically got to a point where it's the bastard love-child of a fully fledged cyber-bully and Hydrogen Audio's long lost trolling cousin. But the thing is that if you look at who posts there in the General forum, for example, the actual number of long term and regular posters is in the main extremely small. It's more like an extended family of school-yard bullies than it is any sort of international democratic forum. And the members there who don't lift the heavy, bullying muscle act as water people (I cannot be sexist here) between rounds. One of the major problems at that website is that there are a handful of regular posters there who despite having little apparent, demonstrated practical and necessary skills in the hobby are nevertheless so incredibly opinionated and narcissistic - and repeatedly so - that it is impossible to contribute there in a reasonable and meaningful way. One of them even lamented that he did not take a golden opportunity to give the legendary Bob Fine some incredibly important advice and tips back in the day!!! That's the sort of twisted mentally that lodges over there on a daily basis. Can I have a few vomit buckets please!?

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about it all is that in my opinion, computer as source audio represents an extremely important part of the audio industry and hobby. This is especially so given that optical media, for example, really does seem to be on the way out for good now given the announcement by Taiyo Yuden that they are ceasing production of all optical media (I can no longer buy the expensive CD-Rs they make specifically for commercial audio mastering let alone the consumer level ones). That being the case I would argue it is just as important to have a great website devoted to analogue as source as it is one devoted to computer as source. But you'd have to sack management and at the very least ban a small handful of regular members for life to have even a hope of resurrecting the website.

But really, you don't even need me to tell you all of that. You got just a taste of it all yourself. How Chris conducted himself there as the trolling, inflammatory know-it-all basking in past, present and future imagined glories is exactly the way his faithful lieutenant cohorts conduct themselves on a day to day basis.

sonnystitt's picture

analog is best for capturing and playing back music (made with traditional instruments) and digital is good at recording and saving that. each has a role to play......now let's do it alot less expensive so everyone who wants to, can enjoy it

Mark UK's picture

Yes. Though it depends on where you are coming from, of course.
I am in th happy position of being able to afford most 5things, but I draw the line with HiFi. For example, speakers. More than any other component, there is, once you exclude the obvious rubbish, NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER between price and sound quality. Try the Tannoy DC8F, they are about $1700 a pair and are as good as ANY Magico or Wilson.

isaacrivera's picture

I am sure they are fine transducers, specially for the price. But they can't possibly sound as good as any higher priced speaker. You may not care about the difference in sound, but there are differences, and they are not small. For instance, the Tannoys roll off bass at 42Hz. My pair of Acoustic Zen Crescendo goes to 20Hz. That is a lot of music you won't hear on the Tannoys. Again, you may not think the differences are worth the difference in price. Others think otherwise. To each their own for as long as they enjoy their music and are happy.

Mark UK's picture

Of course.
Actually I made a mistake, I meant the new XT8F speakers, not that it matters. While I do not dispute your 42Hz figure, it is not a 'lot' of music - the human ear is not very responsive at 20 Hz, nor do many instruments go that low.

However, my point was that there is no connection WHATSOEVER between PRICE and sound quality (or frequency response). Take Tannoy - they have been making speakers for 70 year or so, and have a clue. Whereas Magico (for example) are total newbies. Being new is not inherently bad, but had they started with a pair of $1500 speakers, no one would have noticed them, and their impact would have been zero. So, whsat do they do? Make a big splash with crazy-price speakers so they get noticed. Bear in mind that a large number of HiFi enthusiast buy things BECAUSE they are expensive.

I am somewhat of a car enthusiast. I own an expensive 'low production' car. It is very easy to see where the cost has gone. And the top speed, roadholding, etc. can be measured. A pair of equal-cost speakers are a very simple thing compared and liking their 'performance' is subjective - we all know that a $100,000 pair is BOUND to be 'better' that a $2000 pair, don't we? And THAT is what these con artists rely on.

Don't get me star5ted on cables :)
Psuedo science galore. Worse - 'anti' science in many instances. And a cable is a passive device - it cannot enhance anything, only impair to a greater or lesser degree. THAT's how they can make a difference, which they can. But the very WORST 'piece of wire' will only impair our audio signals by some tiny amount, totally insignificant in degree compared to swapping out a good amplifier or speaker for a better one.

isaacrivera's picture


isaacrivera's picture

However, a healthy human ear hears 20Hz and pipe organs go to 16Hz, which can be felt physically if not heard. I for years had speakers that cut off at 45Hz and I loved, when I switched to towers that went to 30Hz I could hear the difference and now with the Crescendos I can again hear the bass extension... easily. And yes, I do own pipe organ records... several, but the effect it is not limited to this instrument.

You are right, that pricier is not the same as better; However, that is not a reflexive statement. Better is usually pricier.

Cables make a distinct and noticeable difference. Those who deny it fall in one or more of three categories in my opinion.

1) Have no experience.
2) Believe numbers over experience.
3) Have a hearing impairment.

I could tell you where the cost of my Crescendos has gone if you care. And I could easily demonstrate the difference in cables.

There is no substitute for listening and "science" can only measure a very limited set of parameters that only approximate human experience.

Mark UK's picture

And I look on it s a discussion not an argument, and believe you do the same.
I've got some pipe organ stuff too. But it's a very small part of my collection.
And notice I DID say that cables can make a difference.

My 'problem' is that why do so many in this field think that high price and high quality are the same thing?

Let's take speakers. They are relatively simple things (compared to a car) and the basics (a flat frequency response - anything else is a 'distortion') is simple to MEASURE, if not simple to achieve. And most other aspects are related to frequency response - for example, if it hasn't got an extended high end it CAN'T have a good rise time, but if it has, it will. Rise time, or 'impact' is a function of frequency response and NOTHING ELSE, though many don't seem to realise that.
And none of it need be expensive - certainly not 'Italian Sports Car' expensive, but some of the Wilsons, Magicos, etc. are. It is a nonsense.

Cables. You can buy a $13,000 Audioquest USB cable. I doubt the materials/components add up to more than $50. Research? There can't be any, because, as you say, there isn't any 'science' to show them where to start. So it's a rip-off.

isaacrivera's picture

Somehow I keep replying in the wrong spot. See below.

isaacrivera's picture

The physics of sound a speaker is trying to solve are not so simple. The task of reproducing natural sounding music is actually quite complex. Trying to reproduce soundstage and imaging. Having a full-range frequency response and have it as flat as possible. Being both transiently agile and full-bodied at the same time. These are not simple things. The proof is in how many brands and models get it wrong. Yet there are very good performers for every budget, and every incremental step of the ladder does bring more performance at a higher cost. The law of diminishing returns applies here for sure. And yes, to your point, not every expensive component is "better" that a less expensive one, specially if you don't care about or can't hear the improvement. But in general there is a correlation between price and quality. This is why I bring the Acoustic Zen Crescendos as an example, they are superb and over and over again reviewers praise how they achieve so at half to a third of the price of competing brands. Now Acoustic Zen is a small family owned company with little overhead and it can afford to price competitively. If it was to try to scale up operations and have a more aggressive distribution model, it would need bigger profit margins to cover the added expense and it would need to raise prices for the same products, or cut corners and keep prices the same. (The electro-physics of cables are even more arcane and the results are noticeable -- a single thick strand of copper is not the same as several thinner parallel ones. Parallel is not the same as threaded. Raw vs insulated. All affect conductivity and interference and thus sound. More complex = more expensive.)

In this day and age the cost of something is not the same as the addition of the cost of the materials used to produce it. There are many, many other factors involved that are oftentimes more expensive than the materials themselves.

Regardless, you are right in saying that some brands are disproportionally priced. Those brands also offer a lot of prestige and status associated with owning their products and the price of entry into the club is very high. Their products are very good, but do they cost that much? For as long as someone is willing to pay there will be those and I don't think it's fair to say the products are not of quality even if overpriced. Oftentimes those brands offer white glove service that can't be matched by cheaper competitors. They will install the system or do repairs in your home for instance. Guess who is paying for all of that upfront?

Other brands seem to produce competitive products for much less, even if still not exactly pocket change. VPI's Classic Direct is commonly compared to the Continuum Caliburn Cobra. $30K vs $200K. Not cheap, but competing for a 1/6 of the price is aggressive, I think, even if those who have heard both still give the Caliburn the winning edge. I have heard the Classic at VPIs listening room and its is something to remember.

Hifi is about natural sound and cars about transportation. Because convenience and comfort are secondary considerations in both and have nothing to do with sound quality or transportation, pricier hifi usually gets closer to a live performance in quality, but a pricier car does not transverse distance in any better way than a cheap car. In both cases their owners derive please not just form the purpose of the thing, but also from ownership of something they deem unique and beautiful.

I am happy with my Crescendos and you are happy with your Tannoys, I use the NYC subway system and you have a trophy car. It's all good. Nobody is fooled and we both enjoy our sound and transportation.

Mark UK's picture

But when we get to the 'extreme' high end (Wilson, Magico, Caliburn, Constellation, Boulder, etc.) I think the pricing is obscene. Compared to cars, even 'budget' ones, such things ARE simple and material cost is low. And the 'research' is pretty simple too - the basics of speaker design are common knowledge and the 'suck it and see' testing to finalise the design it not complicated either. When it comes to amplifiers it is even simpler and better understood, so much so that if the designer has a clue any testing whatsoever SHOULD be completely unnecessary, though that perhaps is a counsel of perfection.

I'm not going to discuss $10,000 cables :)

Mark UK's picture

I have the greatest respect for VPI. Good, honest products.

vqworks's picture

I'm late to the discussion as usual so I'm practically posting to myself at this point.

But my take on Chris Connaker was this: He was obviously not comfortable with the open acceptance of vinyl to begin with. He found it barely tolerable to hear about the virtues of vinyl and even the discussion that focused on the sonic signature that resulted from the analog-to-digital process. The last straw for him was when you, Michael, mentioned that the youth that listened to vinyl for the first time understood and appreciated the sonic virtues of vinyl.

Chris just doesn't want to accept the fact that some youth are getting into a format that he doesn't like and he certainly doesn't want the audience to accept it. So what does he do? He belittles the vinyl format by referencing Urban Outfitters as "the largest vinyl reseller" (his words, of course). Understandably, Darko shakes his head in disagreement. His words, by the way, are not directly insulting or personal toward you but his demeanor, his questioning of the 6% vinyl sales figure, and the smug laugh at your reply is certainly personal in a round about manner. The Urban Outfitters and Taylor Swift references were too obviously created on the fly (or is is "pulled out of his ass").

Everyone as their own biases, as David Robinson mentioned. But bias needs to be kept in check to keep discussions constructive, especially on a panel. Chris blatantly crosses the line and actually uses his own bias to push an anti-vinyl agenda. He clearly doesn't belong on a panel.

It's okay to disagree but when anyone goes into an attack or disparaging mode they show their ignorance and lose credibility. Years ago, I was showing my Dad a Music Hall turntable that I used to have. My brother-out-law happened to walk into the room as I showed my Dad how I manually shifted pulleys to change the speed and I moved the arm above one of the bands and used the cueing lever to play an LP.

Being an anti-anything-old consumer, my brother-in-law blurts, "It's funny how as time goes by things become more primitive." (add a smurk here).

Counter-productive? Ill-informed? No credibility? Check. Check. Check. Vinyl audiophiles know about the virtues of manual turntables. But anyone who doesn't should do his homework to find out why a manufacturer would go out of its way to make a manual turntable that costs more than a cheap automatic one.

What matters most is that your setup is good. Bad setup and bad system = bad sound, regardless of format.

On another note, there is one thing I disagree with David Robinson about. He stated that with the 44.1 kHz sampling rate, phase drifted above a few kHz. This can only happen if there is a single A-D or D-A converter per channel, which would require the conversion to be multiplexed (or quickly and repeatedly switched between channels). This was the case with early generation CD players that used one D-A converter to convert both channels. Modern converters use dual A-D and D-A converters (one for each channel). This would ensure that the phase is accurate to the 20kHz limit. But I prefer a source that goes well beyond that limit so 44.1kHz is a compromise.

But I digress.

cranie's picture

His strong bias was clearly showing. He's all about digital audiophile so analog is a dirty word to him.