“Do they like music? Or are they in love with equipment?”
The excellent BBC Archive account on Twitter has unearthed an audio gem.
A 1959 film called ‘Hi-Fi-Fo-Fum’ purports to reveal the burgeoning audiophile scene, with more than a little tongue-in-cheek humour for good measure.
“There is a man in Wimbledon who will go on adding to his equipment until he can hear the sigh of the conductor as the piccolo misses its entry,” says the introduction. He sounds like our kind of man.
“Is it a religion or a disease? An American psychiatrist calls it ‘audiophilia'”, reveals the voiceover, as men – and it’s largely men – shuffle in and out of hi-fi shops before rushing home for earnest listening sessions. It was ever thus.
“Do they like music? Or are they in love with equipment?”, wonders our narrator, as one excited punter buys a new tweeter for “6 pound 4 pence”.
And while much has changed – you don’t see many shops with individual listening booths nowadays – much has stayed the same. “A dream of perfection… of machines more sensitive than the ears they play to,” reminds us that arguments about audio frequencies that the human ear can’t hear are nothing new.
The video also shows the early music critic. “With a dozen different recordings of every work, how do we find the best?” wonders the voiceover. “Rely on the critic, nothing escapes him,” comes the reply.
His verdict? “Comparisons are odious but inevitable…” Well, quite.
Presenting the poster boy for the Dunning-Kruger effect, a man who fancies himself an audiophile/mastering engineer.
He’s a mastering engineer in the same sense that a person who makes mud pies is a piemaker.
I have not played any of his classical albums. I have in fact only played one title, a jazz record I happen to know well, and his remastered version is no better than the other records that get an F grade for sound and find a home in our Bad Sounding Audiophile Records Section.
An extract from Steven Novella’s explanation of this psychological effect gives some background:
Dunning summarizes the effect as:
“…incompetent people do not recognize—scratch that, cannot recognize—just how incompetent they are,”
He further explains:
“What’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”
A few customers made the case for some of the Hot Stamper pressings they own
and, this time, for the first time in the history of the world wide web, none of them
were mercilessly attacked for their iconoclasm. (more…)
If one of the defining characteristics of a Classic Track is its immediate recognition, then The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” is as classic as it comes. One of its atypical characteristics, the distinctive opening bass notes and subsequent line that continues throughout the track, surely helped the band win the 1964 Hert’s Beat Competition, which earned them a recording contract with Decca Records. On the map and on their way.
The band had gotten together when they were 15-year-old schoolmates in 1961 in their hometown of St. Albans, England. Keyboardist Rod Argent recruited some of the members, as lead vocalist Colin Blunstone remembers, based on the alphabet. “We sat in class in alphabetical order, and I had a guitar,” Blunstone recalls.
Then after they won the competition, according to Blunstone, and just two weeks prior to their big recording session, producer Ken Jones said, “You could always try to write something.”(more…)
If you have time, go to the comments section and read the 300 plus postings of how preposterous the very idea of Hot Stampers is, along with analog vinyl itself and the ridiculously expensive audiophile equipment used to play it, as if you didn’t know already!