A Parallel High End Adventure and its relationship to High End Audio

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
I am interested in sharing an upcoming experience and relating that process to what I feel is missing in the audio Industry and particularly missing in the High End Audio Industry. This has bothered me for many years and to be honest I was not sure that the public and the industry wanted to hear my thoughts.
I have done a lot of research over the last few months on a process that is another interest of mine. I am a golfer and I love it. I started watching videos on YouTube over the Pandemic and I realized that the "fitting" I have done before in my golf life were total BS. The type of fitting one gets in a big box golf retailer are only the tip of the iceberg and since they are also in business to sell clubs one wonders are they selling you what's best for you or what's best for them!
I did some research to find qualified fitters who are brand agnostic. This means they fit you and provide you information to get clubs built to you personal specifications. Its like going to an eye doctor. They give you the script and you go and buy the glasses wherever you want. This is an analogy of course but it is very close.
I am going to do the process this weekend and very much look forward to the result.
You may ask what's my point in regards to High End audio?
My point is this are you going to the right place to get your gear? Are they truly experts and are they truly looking after you and your needs? Are they qualified to know the differences and are they able to set up your gear to get the performance you paid for?
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,543
2,787
710
North Shore of Boston
Elliot, that’s an interesting idea. How would it work in the real world? Are you advocating a personal audio consultant? How does one become exposed to all the various options?
 

stehno

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2014
934
108
255
Salem, OR
I am interested in sharing an upcoming experience and relating that process to what I feel is missing in the audio Industry and particularly missing in the High End Audio Industry. This has bothered me for many years and to be honest I was not sure that the public and the industry wanted to hear my thoughts.
I have done a lot of research over the last few months on a process that is another interest of mine. I am a golfer and I love it. I started watching videos on YouTube over the Pandemic and I realized that the "fitting" I have done before in my golf life were total BS. The type of fitting one gets in a big box golf retailer are only the tip of the iceberg and since they are also in business to sell clubs one wonders are they selling you what's best for you or what's best for them!
I did some research to find qualified fitters who are brand agnostic. This means they fit you and provide you information to get clubs built to you personal specifications. Its like going to an eye doctor. They give you the script and you go and buy the glasses wherever you want. This is an analogy of course but it is very close.
I am going to do the process this weekend and very much look forward to the result.
You may ask what's my point in regards to High End audio?
My point is this are you going to the right place to get your gear? Are they truly experts and are they truly looking after you and your needs? Are they qualified to know the differences and are they able to set up your gear to get the performance you paid for?


Have you considered the possibility that if I truly knew the answers to your questions then perhaps I've already done my homework? If so, why would I need to go to any outside source "to get the performance I pay for"?
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
I don't know you nor do I have any idea of your system or your level of competency. I can speak as to my personal experience of almost 50 years. All I can tell you is that ALMOST never and by that I mean on one hand have I ever seen that occur.
The attitude of most in audio is they have nothing to learn and that they themselves are always correct. I respectively say BULL SHIT
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
Elliot, that’s an interesting idea. How would it work in the real world? Are you advocating a personal audio consultant? How does one become exposed to all the various options?
There are such things , not sure how good they are but I do believe that there are competent experts and almost everyone can learn form their expertise. This is true in almost everything. IMHO if you go into a place and do not hear great sound why would you buy from that place?
I can highly recommend a couple of incredible set up people that will take your system as far as it is possible in your own space. At that point at least you got what you paid for. After spending 10's of thousands of dollars why not pay to have it made to work and sound at its best. Everyone in audio seems to believe they are the experts and they alone know what is the best. I can tell you after 50 years that just ain't the truth.
In my business I do one thing period. That is what I believe in and if you come and listen to it and don't like it then go on your way however I know what I have and how it works and sounds. I give that service and expertise to my clients I want them to get out of it at least as much as they put into it.
My golf analogy may not be perfect but it makes a lot of sense to me that I find someone that can take me to the right spot without me having to do it by trial and error and perhaps never getting there. We all know guys who grind gear, one item after another and each one is more amazing the previous but yet they are never satisfied....
I believe that there are many searching for mysteries without any clues. Call me what you will but I personally don't think that is the way. Just because you can buy the groceries doesn't mean you are a world class chef. Audio seems to ne the only place where expertise is almost totally dismissed.
Stay well
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
Have you considered the possibility that if I truly knew the answers to your questions then perhaps I've already done my homework? If so, why would I need to go to any outside source "to get the performance I pay for"?
one question Sir
Do you believe that no person could come into you room and make any improvement in your system without changing any gear?
If so then peace brother enjoy!
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,543
2,787
710
North Shore of Boston
There are such things , not sure how good they are but I do believe that there are competent experts and almost everyone can learn form their expertise. This is true in almost everything. IMHO if you go into a place and do not hear great sound why would you buy from that place?
I can highly recommend a couple of incredible set up people that will take your system as far as it is possible in your own space. At that point at least you got what you paid for. After spending 10's of thousands of dollars why not pay to have it made to work and sound at its best. Everyone in audio seems to believe they are the experts and they alone know what is the best. I can tell you after 50 years that just ain't the truth.
In my business I do one thing period. That is what I believe in and if you come and listen to it and don't like it then go on your way however I know what I have and how it works and sounds. I give that service and expertise to my clients I want them to get out of it at least as much as they put into it.
My golf analogy may not be perfect but it makes a lot of sense to me that I find someone that can take me to the right spot without me having to do it by trial and error and perhaps never getting there. We all know guys who grind gear, one item after another and each one is more amazing the previous but yet they are never satisfied....
I believe that there are many searching for mysteries without any clues. Call me what you will but I personally don't think that is the way. Just because you can buy the groceries doesn't mean you are a world class chef. Audio seems to ne the only place where expertise is almost totally dismissed.
Stay well

I am the first to admit that I have much to learn and I’m certainly no expert and don’t know it all. I hired Jim Smith to voice my system about seven years ago. The results were excellent. He did tell me that the system was very close and that I had done very well on my own. He does not try to sell you anything and works with exactly what you have in the room so we did not experiment with things like removing acoustic treatment or changing power cords. He just improves the sound of what you have already bought by improving listening seat and speaker location.

I now have new speakers and am consulting with David Karmeli. He has taught me a lot and the sound continues to improve. He makes suggestions and I do all the experimenting. This message is working well for me. Most importantly I’m enjoying my record collection more and more.

i’m a strong believer in audio consultants especially if local dealers do not offer the services. Setting up the room and the speakers and cartridges requires a lot of experience and knowledge.

Some hobbyist I think actually enjoy the process of experimenting and learning on their own. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
 
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stehno

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2014
934
108
255
Salem, OR
one question Sir
Do you believe that no person could come into you room and make any improvement in your system without changing any gear?
If so then peace brother enjoy!

Interesting responses so I'll reply to the more civil one. I suppose there may be a few who could suggest a minor improvement here or there but I've not a clue who they might be. Do you? :)

Regardles, you missed the point of my response. The point being that the research required to Truly know if others are experts and if they Truly know what they are doing could be a rather daunting endeavor in and of itself, would you not agree? After all, you did say truly know. And to drill down to such an extent usually implies asking invasive questions that the supposed experts just might get upset or offended at the inquiries. Perhaps not too unlike yourself right now.

For me (or you) to Truly know another's level of expertise requires significant and intelligent research and a certain level of expertise itself to make such a True distinction. Perhaps you're implying that your playback system's performance is best left to others you think are experts rather than trusting your own expertise - a certain expertise which you must possess to Truly know the level of another's expertise.

Perhaps it would lessen the confusion if you were to define what you meant by "truly know"?
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
I am the first to admit that I have much to learn and I’m certainly no expert and don’t know it all. I hired Jim Smith to voice my system about seven years ago. The results were excellent. He did tell me that the system was very close and that I had done very well on my own. He does not try to sell you anything and works with exactly what you have in the room so we did not experiment with things like removing acoustic treatment or changing power cords. He just improves the sound of what you have already bought by improving listening seat and speaker location.

I now have new speakers and am consulting with David Karmeli. He has taught me a lot and the sound continues to improve. He makes suggestions and I do all the experimenting. This message is working well for me. Most importantly I’m enjoying my record collection more and more.

i’m a strong believer in audio consultants especially if local dealers do not offer the services. Setting up the room and the speakers and cartridges requires a lot of experience and knowledge.

Some hobbyist I think actually enjoy the process of experimenting and learning on their own. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Exactly! You have done yourself a great service and I am sure the system works well because of it. I don't know David but I have much respect for Jim Smith. My point and not trying to cause a argument is in Audio expertise seems to be ignored or hard to find and to me seems greatly underappreciated.
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
Interesting responses so I'll reply to the more civil one. I suppose there may be a few who could suggest a minor improvement here or there but I've not a clue who they might be. Do you? :)

Regardles, you missed the point of my response. The point being that the research required to Truly know if others are experts and if they Truly know what they are doing could be a rather daunting endeavor in and of itself, would you not agree? After all, you did say truly know. And to drill down to such an extent usually implies asking invasive questions that the supposed experts just might get upset or offended at the inquiries. Perhaps not too unlike yourself right now.

For me (or you) to Truly know another's level of expertise requires significant and intelligent research and a certain level of expertise itself to make such a True distinction. Perhaps you're implying that your playback system's performance is best left to others you think are experts rather than trusting your own expertise - a certain expertise which you must possess to Truly know the level of another's expertise.

Perhaps it would lessen the confusion if you were to define what you meant by "truly know"?
I am not trying to be rude or start any argument. Maybe you do know and have expertise, I don't know. I don't know you or your level of expertise.
I do know who and can gladly suggest them to you if you want to drop me a private message. I would enjoy knowing about your system and your room. So that we are not speaking in a void. I don't think there is any confusion about my statement. Audio expertise is like expertise in other industry it is acquired through knowledge and experience. Its no different than being a great Chef, Surgeon, Musician etc. I have earned mine over almost 50 years. I was taught and mentored by some of Audio's great men. You are certainly welcome to do your research.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,543
2,787
710
North Shore of Boston
Exactly! You have done yourself a great service and I am sure the system works well because of it. I don't know David but I have much respect for Jim Smith. My point and not trying to cause a argument is in Audio expertise seems to be ignored or hard to find and to me seems greatly underappreciated.

I agree Elliot. But again I ask how would this work in the real world? How does one select gear? Not everyone has the interest or time to fly around the world like Bonzo does to truly understand what he wants. How does he find the expert to set it up for him?

I understand there was a time when they were good dealers all over the place and they provided the service and people were satisfied. I also understand there was a time when the average audio file do much more about how to assemble and set up a system.

How do you go from your golf analogy and idea to implementing it in the real world? I think one can go to an expert like DDK and actually do what you were describing but that does not seem practical on a larger scale. Perhaps only a few people actually go to a golf consultant like you are describing.

I think Stehno has a point here. I always tell people who are thinking of buying a sailboat that the first question they must ask them selves is how they are going to use it. That is often a difficult question and if it can’t be answered properly and conclusively, there’s no way to get to the next step without a lot of frustration.

just look at Ron Resnick‘s audiophile goals. It helps to know what your goal is before you start, but it’s hard to know that unless you’ve already started and have some experience.
 
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Elliot G.

Industry Expert
I agree Elliot. But again I ask how would this work in the real world? How does one select gear? Not everyone has the interest or time to fly around the world like Bonzo does to truly understand what he wants. How does he find the expert to set it up for him?

I understand there was a time when they were good dealers all over the place and they provided the service and people were satisfied. I also understand there was a time when the average audio file do much more about how to assemble and set up a system.

How do you go from your golf analogy and idea to implementing it in the real world? I think one can go to an expert like DDK and actually do what you were describing but that does not seem practical on a larger scale. Perhaps only a few people actually go to a golf consultant like you are describing.

I think Stehno has a point here. I always tell people who are thinking of buying a sailboat that the first question they must ask them selves is how they are going to use it. That is often a difficult question and if it can’t be answered properly and conclusively, there’s no way to get to the next step without a lot of frustration.

just look at Ron Resnick‘s audiophile goals. It helps to know what your goal is before you start, but it’s hard to know that unless you’ve already started I have some experience.
I think finding an expert or a place with expertise is a good place to start. If one is to o invest a significant amount of money I would invest some serious time to find someone that has the ability to produce exceptional sound. If you can't hear great sound then why buy anything from them. One can get some insight from others in places like WBF. If there was no Covid I wanted to fly to Toronto to get fitted there by someone who I think may be the best in N.A. but for now its not possible, so I asked for recommendations and found a place down here. Peter if I am going to invest 50k and up on anything I want to finds out where before I find out what. This is a luxury service and of course it is not for everyone. I have stated many times a system is everything involved, the gear, the room, the electricity, the seat etc. My best clients and I have discussed all of these issues when we plan a new system and even when we change gear. Me personally I work in a narrow window. I only want to work with what I know inside and out and what I know WILL produce the desired result. Mixing and matching is not for me , equipment grinding is not for me these are very expensive and time consuming with generally poor outcomes. I think thinking Holistically is the way to satisfaction. At this time in my life I am extremely focused on the providing a exceptional result.....period
Come to Florida I will show you :)
 
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Brahmsian

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Aug 2, 2020
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I am interested in sharing an upcoming experience and relating that process to what I feel is missing in the audio Industry and particularly missing in the High End Audio Industry. This has bothered me for many years and to be honest I was not sure that the public and the industry wanted to hear my thoughts.
I have done a lot of research over the last few months on a process that is another interest of mine. I am a golfer and I love it. I started watching videos on YouTube over the Pandemic and I realized that the "fitting" I have done before in my golf life were total BS. The type of fitting one gets in a big box golf retailer are only the tip of the iceberg and since they are also in business to sell clubs one wonders are they selling you what's best for you or what's best for them!
I did some research to find qualified fitters who are brand agnostic. This means they fit you and provide you information to get clubs built to you personal specifications. Its like going to an eye doctor. They give you the script and you go and buy the glasses wherever you want. This is an analogy of course but it is very close.
I am going to do the process this weekend and very much look forward to the result.
You may ask what's my point in regards to High End audio?
My point is this are you going to the right place to get your gear? Are they truly experts and are they truly looking after you and your needs? Are they qualified to know the differences and are they able to set up your gear to get the performance you paid for?
It is an interesting and a good idea but commercialisation is going to be difficult. Most passionate audiophiles would consider themselves to qualified audio “experts” in some shape or form and would struggle mentally to pay for the professional advice. For example, would you see audiophiles happily paying 10% of their total spend purely on expert advice? I would struggle to see that. They would pay for the gear and get advice as part of the process rather getting the advice first.

Where this may work is when it comes to high net worth individuals. The have the cash and would want to spend the money the get the sound (and more importantly the look) to the way they want. To be honest, I think the majority HNW individuals care more about looks than sound in general. So there is a business model here but it is a niche market. But I know of a few people in Australia making a decent $$$ out of doing this. They also sell the usual hi-fi gear to keep cashflow going, funnily enough though, they sell commodity products to keep the turnover going.

It is all going to come down to - know your customer, your demographic and build a set of services around it. Good luck with working through your thinking.
 

Mikem53

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Oct 1, 2020
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So do you trust a car salesman to tell you what’s best to drive ? I get much satisfaction from researching, trying, buying and selling and formulating my own solutions.. and when I get to where I want to be, That’s makes it even more enjoyable knowing I learned and earned for myself.. Audio is a hobby of mine and I enjoy the chase as much as the end goal.. I enjoy meeting with others and learning from their experiences as it adds to mine and I meet some interesting people and lifestyles... It’s all enjoyable for me..
I pay others to do the things that I don’t enjoy or who are experts in areas I don’t tread.. I look forward to hearing how you do with this..
 

Atmasphere

[Industry Expert]
May 4, 2010
1,040
247
485
St. Paul, MN
www.atma-sphere.com
I think there is a parallel in the bicycling world.

I decided I wanted to ride the Divide after seeing a movie of the same name. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/14028

Not being a complete idiot (I thought) I paid a local shop for a fitting on my mountain bike. I thought it went fairly well but I had problems with numb toes, tingling hands, neck pain (Shermer's neck) and after a while my rear was sore too. OK- it didn't go that well. That was 2016. The next year I tried to get a fitting again, only this time I found that no-one in town really knew what they were talking about when it came to fitting a mountain bike for a serious ride of hundreds or thousands of miles. I really suffered that year- bought a new bike thinking it would be lighter and faster (Salsa Cutthroat- designed for the Divide route) and it was horrible; IME the 11-speed system wasn't ready for prime time, the brakes were a joke and the thing was a torture rack. So the next year I embarked on seriously educating myself on how bike fit really worked. I won't go into the details but just as a hint- if you don't get the pedals right you won't get the seat or handlebars right either (I watched a jillion YT videos about saddle comfort, bike fit and most of them were terrible and not helpful, but some were excellent). I also did research and put together a serious bike with an eye towards comfort (Jones Plus if anyone is keeping track). That made a huge difference too. I had minor problems in 2018 associated with the fact that I had yet to learn that clipless pedals are bad for you. In 2019 I went the longest distance (in the time alloted; 2 weeks, 1600 miles) and didn't have any repetative injuries (numb toe, tingling finger, that sort of thing) at all. Apparently I figured it out.

Some of the stuff I mentioned in the above paragraph will be argued by some people in the bicycling community as they are controversial. But that is how it is in the world of high end whether its audio, bikes or golf. Part of this is 'what works for you', part of this is Dunning-Kruger syndrome and part of it is actually really digging in and sorting out the various nuance so you really get concrete results which is very different from Dunning-Kruger. The problem is Dunning-Kruger can affect anyone at any time; it can affect you or the person you're paying. I wish there were a better answer but as long as people that really in fact for real don't know what they are talking about have the same platform as people that do, we're going to see this sort of thing go on.

All I can suggest is really try hard to get educated on how stuff works and keep an open mind.
 

x1992

Well-Known Member
Jul 9, 2016
14
2
85
Dallas
I work in surgical consultation. Of course we have licenses and certificates to protect the public, but it is still reputation driven. There are a lot of one-stop shops in audio including setup and acoustics. There is Jim Smith. Over the years I have witnessed a number of forum participants that have tried to monetize their expertise with mixed and often cringe worthy results. At least in audio everything is reversible.
 

stehno

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2014
934
108
255
Salem, OR

The fitting pioneer in every way.
Thanks as that's an excellent illustration. Surely an educational video for a former golfing amateur like myself. BTW, my former neighbor in Long Beach, CA held the record for hole-in-ones for pro and am with officially 89 (2 or more witnesses) and many more unofficially as I recall and may still. But of course there always exists the potential that some even more serious pro-types might consider the contents of this video as a bit amatuerish.

I think it important to note that the quantity of experience often times has little meaning when compared to the quality of experience. I can't help but smile when somebody claims to have worked in an industry for 3 or 4 decades as if that alone qualifies them as expert. Every industry is overloaded with hacks, bush-leaguers, and also-rans who often times put in at least as much time as the experts. High-end audio is by no means an exception to this.

I think the bottom line is, there's nothing wrong with putting our hope, faith, and trust in others for our benefits but for the serious performance-minded types there is no substitution for our own deep dive to derive at our own solutions - even if this solution is deemed a failure this time. One of the biggest lessons I've learned came from my own high-end audio endeavors and that lesson is,

Extreme results can only occur from extreme efforts - never from token or half-assed efforts.
 
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Ultrafast69

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Aug 28, 2018
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People selling audio or service all have their own approach and interest to support the enthusiast, while passion can be strong on both sides, it is still a transaction process, how it is defined, and the results thereof depend on a well received message and approach.
 

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