Does anyone know where this J. Gordon Holt comes from?

Interviewer: “Do you see any signs of future vitality in high-end audio?”

JGH: “Vitality? Don't make me laugh. Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel. For the record: I never, ever claimed that measurements don't matter. What I said (and very often, at that) was, they don't always tell the whole story. Not quite the same thing.

Remember those loudspeaker shoot-outs we used to have during our annual writer gatherings in Santa Fe? The frequent occasions when various reviewers would repeatedly choose the same loudspeaker as their favorite (or least-favorite) model? That was all the proof needed that [blind] testing does work, aside from the fact that it's (still) the only honest kind. It also suggested that simple ear training, with DBT confirmation, could have built the kind of listening confidence among talented reviewers that might have made a world of difference in the outcome of high-end audio.“


Gordon actually believed audio should attempt to sound like the real thing. And he believed that most audiophiles had forgotten that and were looking for sounding good to them, sort of what too many people call musical. And that was the wrong fork in the road. It frustrated him.

Thanks for posting the link Mike. It's too bad the gentleman has passed away. I like they way he thought.

While seeking to reproduce the sound of real instruments in a real space is an admirable goal, I don't think it's practical for most people.  If you have a large room, it might be possible to achieve with chamber music (string quartets, etc.) but many people listen to jazz and rock music.  Is there anyone who wants to listen to a jazz or rock band performing in their homes?  It would be an experience for sure, but not one you'd want to repeat very often.  If you listen to live rock, most of it I've heard doesn't rate very high on sound quality.  A concert can be enjoyable, but not audiophile quality. 

I'd love to see reviewers be given a blind test from time to time, but it would be impractical for every review to be double blind.  I don't recall J Gordon ever doing or publishing a double blind review when he ran Stereophile either.

But I do believe the attempt to reproduce the sound of real instruments was Gordon's goal whether it was practical or not I think he would still be the goal and the closer one came to the goal the better