Beware the audio guru

There are a few contributors to these forums who apparently see themselves as gurus. They speak in absolutes, using words such as "always" and "never." They make pronouncements about products or techniques they’ve never heard or experienced, justifying their conclusions because contrary claims are "impossible" or "snake oil." Those who disagree are accused of being "deluded," or suffering some insurmountable bias, or attempting to further some commercial agenda. On occasion, they have taunted detractors with an appeal that they engage in a wager - one guy wanted $25,000 cash up front and an agreement drafted by lawyers. Another offered 5-to-1 odds.

I am not going to tell you who to believe. But for anyone who might be uncertain about sorting out conflicting claims here, I suggest they consider the behavior of experts in other fields. No good doctor offers a 100 percent guarantee on any treatment or surgical procedure, even if medical science suggests success. No good attorney will tell you that you have a case that positively can’t be lost, even if the law appears to be on your side. No true professional will insult you for the questions you ask, or abandon you if you seek a second opinion.

A doctor conducts his own tests. An engineer makes his own measurements. Neither will insist the burden of documentation falls upon you.

These might be details to consider as you sift through the many conflicting claims made on Audiogon. In short: Decide for yourself. Don’t let other people tell you how to think, or listen.
Ag insider logo xs@2xcleeds
Prof Floyd Toole is an engineers engineer and that is certain.

However a common point made is why do all major speaker companies products which are competently designed, still  sound different?

The answer is simple there is tunning for flat frequency response and then there is the deliberate adding or subtracting of frequncies and designs to tune the product to what the designer or design team is trying to accheive.

A Harbeth sounds different than an ATC, a Vandersteen sounds different then a Magico, which sounds different than a Rockport, or Wilson.

Each design team has a specific criteria to what "sounds good" to that team and those values echo the design materials and technologies that are being pursued by the respective company.

As per liking or not liking a particualar product that will also come down to tunning and matching of gear to augment the products strengths and ameliorate that products difficencies.

A good example of this is with the Elac Adante’s a well designed speaker that can sound good or bad depending on what gear is matched with them.

Our approach is to try different combinations of electronics, sources and cables with a given set of speakers to tailor the sound to what we like.

If you look at pictures of our sound rooms we don’t have a single system setup we have a room full of different dacs, amplifiers, so we can find the combination that works for our clients.

We found the Adantes to have a slightly peaky top end and a slightly hollow midrange, so we match them with a wamer amp which is a little fat in the midrange and with a smooth top end, such as Naim or a tube amp or a hybrid tube/solid state amp.

Too many audiophiles and dealers don’t see the folly of not working this way, and for this reason many stores have bad sounding demos because they were too lazy to experiement trying to work out what is required, and sometimes that means bringing in a new line of electronics or sources or whatever to make that louspeaker line pop.

We had the exact same experience with the Paradigm Personas and the Polymer audio research line, both very detailed, uber high resolution designs, we tried, Chord, Thrax, Electrcompaniet, Devialet, Conrad Johnson, Manley Labs, until we found the T+A electronics which sounded dramatically better on both of those reference class loudspeakers than the other lines did.

Same with the digital we tried Esoteric, EMM Labs, Aqua Hifi, and then Light Harmonic the Davinci beat all the other front ends by a considerable margin, with the Aqua a good second.

Long story short to create magic in a high end system requires the careful matching of all the parts to bring out what you want to create.

So in the case of the Revels two things might be occuring, one you just don’t like the design choices made by the design team, or two, when you heard them, the ancellory equipment was not working in the way you like to tune the speakers to sound the way you would like them to sound.

Just food for audiophile thought.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


I always keep in mind the nature of the speaker set up when I audition speakers - both in terms of the room, speaker position, amps.

I am pretty good at getting he gist of a speaker in a demo.   I generally prefer my CJ premier 12 amps to any solid state amps I’ve heard, I know the qualities they tend to impart to a speaker so I’m pretty good at mapping that on to what I’m hearing even when the demo is using other amps.  Yes you can massage the sound of speakers via dialing in set up/amplification, but generally speaking a speaker’s character or voice carries through it all (at least through competent system set up).

If found if a speaker has an “IT FACTOR” (for me) I’ll notice it in almost any set up, and further refine it at home.  I’m sure I could nudge the Revel sound further to my liking (and they were quite good!) but their voice didn’t have the IT factor that grabbed me in any way, to compel me to further effort.  

I’ve heard a number of the Revel floor standars in different set ups.  They all had that Revel sound - to me, extremely competent but never compelled me to want to spin Tune after tune.   Whereas for instance I’ve heard Quad ESL 57s, or Harbeth speakers (and many others) in tons of different rooms and types of amplification and I’ve never experienced that ho-hum feeling.  They always sound compelling to me.  Same goes for Thiel, MBL, some Audio Physic models, and other brands that, while set up conditions certainly affect their sound - they have a particular presentation that comes through and keeps me wanting to hear more.

What would be really interesting to me would be trying the blind test at Harmon.
Given Tool’s work, statistically I’d be likely to choose the Revels in a blind test (unless those other designs get close enough to the design criteria identified as desirable).
So I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if that happened.   Then I’d have to wonder what to do with those results.  Do I go with what I chose in the blind test?  Or with what I perceive as more compelling in my sighted tests?  It would be fun to find out.
(I’d have no problem sticking with my sighted test preferences for various reasons).
As an audio guru, I'd like to listen to kinds of Audible audiobooks and common music files. The problem is that Audible files can't be played on my mp3 players. Fortunately I got the DRM audible book converter, it helps me great to convert all my Audible files to MP3 files. Now I can enjoy all my Audiobook files quickly without any problems when I am on my commute between home and office. 
An ironic outcome of this thread, it has revealed many of the audio gurus we are to be aware of?!?!

Are they genuine audio gurus, potential audio gurus, wannabe audio gurus or just delusional, arrogant blowhards?