How "Tribal" are we?

So after several noted books about human "tribalism" have come out, identifying the tribe(s) you belong to has become all the rage, I thought it might be interesting to discuss how tribal we as self identified audiophiles have become.  Originally aimed at corporate organizations, the concept has branched out to include societal groups that either we identify with or others do it for us.  The political applications are obvious....but it got me thinking about tribalism in the audiophile world.  It wouldn't be a tough intellectual exercise for us to readily recognize the existence of the tribal mentality in our chosen hobby.

Tubes or solid state, bipolar or mosfets, stock or designer fuses, wire (wow think of all the "sub-tribes"), moving coil or moving magnet, electrostatic or moving coil speakers and lest we not mention analog or digital, to condition power or not, etcetera. 

After participating in many threads here, it does seem that many of us if not all, to some extent, identify with members of these and other tribes within audiodom.

Honestly, what made me connect tribalism to audio is the controversy? over Tekton speakers and whether or not those identifying with that tribe are real audiophiles or just pretenders because "speakers that inexpensive can't be up to our audiophile standards" (say that out loud with your best Thurston Howell III accent!)

I've never heard any Tekton model but I'm not going to exclude them from audiophilia out of hand.  I for one, would love to listen through a pair of Double Impacts to see what designer Eric Alexander has been able to bring to market at such a modest price.  If they are as good as many owners have attested to here then, as Joe Walsh would say, "Welcome to the Club"!

Back to the overarching topic:  tribalism.  Picking on myself, I would belong to the moving coil speaker tribe, the modification tribe, and moving coil cartridge tribe as well as the Vandersteen tribe.  I think there is something to be said of this communitarian identity that we humans like to adopt for ourselves and others.

One last thought;  when does a tribe remain a tribe and when does it cross the line to become a gang?

@hifiman5, your question on tribalism, it's roots, applications (attribuitons?) and most obviously, the political angle, haven't escaped my attention all while reading threads, posts, and posters here on Audiogon. 

The similarities to politics is painfully obvious as that is what's captured our nations attention as of late, but I don't want to go there either because, tribalism, and what would ensue. 

So, my tribalism is rather simple. I tend to side with nice people, regardless of what type of amp, speaker, cable or tweek they enjoy. This hobby is so vast and has such overlap that I couldn't begin to narrow it down. I have preferences, but I can't bring myself to go against someone else just because of what and how they listen to music. That would mean I would have to succumb to a lessor version of myself, and that would be when I cross over to gang status.

That's me, in a nutshell, a member of the nice and simple tribe. 😀

All the best,

@nonoise   A great posture to adopt!  I'm sure you've noticed that it is hard at times not to let the defense of one's tribe take us down the road of us against them.  Like you said that can be the dangerous path toward degenerating into a gang.  Perhaps most important is advocating for the positions embraced by your tribe rather than attempting to tear down those who see/hear things differently.
@hifiman5 , That's some rather nice insight. Accentuate the positive and play down the negative. Life is just too short.

All the best,
I belong to the tape tribe, that's for sure. Type of amps, speakers, cartridges etc. is not that important to me - if it sounds good I will hear it, at the highest level my preferences might be depended on the particular kind of music played. 
How can we figure out who is nice and who is not, to put aside certain subjectivity of that for now ?
I would say everyone here is so out of a deep love of music, first and foremost. Everything else is mere details---each of us chooses equipment that provides us deeper immersion into the music, and visa versa. Music lovers are not necessarily (and in many cases are definitely not) audiophiles, but I hope the converse is not also true.
Wow this is very important i will be up for the next month thinking about this important subject. Wow!!
I have never been one to subscribe to a particular group. That includes clubs and organizations. I shun labels and prefer to keep an open mind. I don't have horn speakers but would welcome the opportunity to listen to a good system that uses them. The same with music. I try to be open to other genre's, new artists etc. Regimenting oneself to a particular "camp" or "tribe" seems pointless and too restrictive.
"I shun labels...Regimenting oneself to a particular "camp" or "tribe" seems pointless"  

Labels are for schoolchildren and playgrounds they are silly and actually are a form of prejudice because they define a person based on a silly label instead of who they really are not all people who would be labeled the same are actually the same I would hope the adults here would understand that.
@clearthink I shun labels too. So what?

Most labels that are attached to us as individuals are done by tribal groups who DO adopt a tribal identity and find it important to their agenda to wrap themselves around their label and then label those with a contrary view with some pejorative label. Labels are powerful things. I also find those who have a singular agenda focus, readily use tribal identities to assert a communitarian importance to their group and demonize those who would oppose them. In my original post, I listed labels that might be applied to me, as this "tribal thing" is all the rage.

Interestingly, the "Tribal movement" was originally geared to business and the corporate culture. Look how quickly this has become "the thing" in politics and social movements.

I would like the audiophile community to NOT indulge in this movement, at least in the form of ascribing labels or tribes to those who hold views contrary to your’s. As you assert, most of us are, as individuals, much more than any tribal label can describe.

I would like the audiophile community to NOT indulge in this movement, at least in the form of ascribing labels or tribes to those who hold views contrary to your’s. As you assert, most of us are, as individuals, much more than any tribal label can describe.
Too late. As long as one is granted anonymity through threads like this, the reptile part of their brain will come to the fore, and then, all bets are off. This thread won't last long, despite the best of intentions.

All the best,

I run into this quite often.  Tribalism.

Be it music types (Jazz, Blues, Classical, Rock, R&B), audio equipment type ( solid state, tube, digital, analog), cars and car enthusiast (Fords, Chevy, Mopar, BMW, Mercedes, etc.)

People have their favorites. 

As far as music goes.  I really don't care.  As the saying goes, I like music that sounds good.  I grew up with Classical, R&B and Jazz.  Played violin (first chair), sax, oboe, etc. The house growing up was filled with Jazz and R&B and some Rock. 

To each their own.

Equipment. Tube or solid state?  Don't care.  I'm an Engineer and design/designed equipment.  Solid state sounds just as good as tubed to me.  If it is designed and built well, that's all that matters to me.  I can think of some great solid state equipment that I would love to have.  Same is true for some tube equipment. 

I have listened to some of the best solid state and tubed systems.  All I can say is if they are true to the recordings and the system disappears and all you hear is the music, then I'm there.

I've restored Mopars and own a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda completely restored (five year restoration).  I can say in my own Mopar car club there are those that dislike anything non Mopar.  To me that is ridiculous.  A nice classic car or nicely restored car is a wonderful thing.  I always ask them, so you don't like Chevys huh?  What if someone gave you the keys to a completely restored 1963 Chevy Split Window Corvette. Would you not take it??  To a person, their answer is, they would absolutely take it.  Or a Tucker or a 34 Packard, or a gull wing Mercedes.

Life is too short for tribes.  Enjoy the day, enjoy the ride and enjoy the music. 

@minorl , your mention of a '70 Barracuda brought back some memories. I had a '69 Barracuda S340 that I only kept for a couple of months. Fast forward some 35-40 years and one just like it pulls into a parking space as I'm walking by and it really hurt to see it in almost, show room condition. I should never had sold it. 😫

All the best,

Nonoise;  I get that all the time at car shows.  I also see that here on Audiogon.  How many of us complained about equipment that we absolutely should never have sold or gave away that today we really regret doing so?


I'm not tribal by nature; rather, I'm a closed-minded loner, hah! Though I'll likely high-five anyone I meet who sees things in a similar enough light.

Some of my "teams":
  • Analog over digital
  • Tubes over SS
  • Tannoy speakers
  • Koetsu cartridges
  • Stax headphones
  • American tube amps
  • Solid-core silver cables

mulveling, you are Japanese audiophiles tribe, but you don't seem to know it. Just add reel to reel or Nakamichi deck if you don't have one.
I was reading your text and all the terms that we use in electronic.....I heard this one day : you install behind a curtain two stereo systems.. let say : one at 5 thousands dollar and another one at 20 thousands dollar and you will find someone that prefer the sound of the cheaper one.. just to say that sometimes we imagine that a very expensive sound system has to sound better.. I guess that we go with the idea that it sounds better cause it is more expensive.... maybe what i just wrote down is a bit foolish but you can do the test just for the fun of it.....
There is sometning else we need to take into account: if you go in a music store and it happens that you feel very very good that day.... in other words "you are in a beautiful mood" then, you will have the feeling that every speakers you will listen to sound just perfect as to compare to some days where your mood wouldn't be on the high side.. I know that by experience
Just because I like something doesn't mean someone else does or vice versa or that I am objectively right. I listen to exclusively tubes but I don't think SS is bad or wrong just different. I tend to favor more obscure brands but it doesn't mean big brands can't be good also. I think as a group we worry to much about stuff like tribalism or being right. It's fun to interact with people with different perspectives and viewpoints, it's what makes this site fun, to me at least.
Ironically, I think ’we’ have more in common than the average person who has no deep interest in music or gear. At a certain point, you can keep slicing and dicing the differences- tubes, no only SET, but in the end, it’s still about producing something satisfying. I used to be much more vinyl only, but have gradually accepted digital as a means to access more music. In the long run, what’s the difference between the various sub factions? ("Tribal," to me, connotes ethnographic, geographic and cultural aspects that may not be shared, whereas we choose our positions in things audio and music, though I suppose if you were talking strictly about music, the ethno/geo/cultural aspects would play a role).
History has a way of paving over most of the details and if there is anything else we might also share, it is trying to preserve some of the history- both of the hobby as well as the music. None of this stuff is as enduring as we think it is; stuff is lost, forgotten or just buried under the crush of time.