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While I obviously cannot portray the objectivist position without more than a hint of conspicuous sarcasm, I think I've more or less hit some of the higher points. My response to this position is, can you demonstrate the relevance of the blind listening test as it applies to the way we experience our hifis in our homes, over time? I can understand that a few dozen people locked in a room listening to the same pieces of music over and over and over while being asked to determine which presentation of unknown and unseen gear they prefer is a scientifically rigorous test whose results can be applied to the whole of humanity. And I can appreciate this in the same way I can appreciate the notion of getting marital advice from virgin men with zero actual experience of living with women. What I fail to understand is how that experience is supposed to inform my experience of putting a record on my turntable, having a seat in my chair, sitting back and listening to one of the thousands of pieces of music I have laying in wait.

"And every time, this thought hit me: It wasn't a record she was handling. It was a fragile soul inside a glass bottle." Haruki Murakami from South of the Border, West of the Sun
When deciding which LP to cue up, my thought process is never influenced by sound. "Hmm, where is that test tone disk?" Rather, it's a process of musical selection. What music do I want to listen to? What am I in the mood for, where do I want to go, what do I want to experience? For those of us who cherish the sensual experience of listening to Music and the connection to the people who made that music and all the magical human stuff that it embodies and conveys, I'd suggest the most effective way of insuring an engaging musical experience over time is to rely on all of our biases all of the time. Since we bring them to the listening experience in our homes, why not allow them to inform our hifi buying too?

Objectivists will warn because we get duped all the time into buying things that don't do what they say they do, spending more money than we have to, and generally living our hifi lives being deceived by others and our own frail and false perceptions. Even if you have owned and enjoyed listening to music on your hifi for a few decades, an objectivist will tell you that you've just been fooling yourself (remarkably in the same manner day after day, year after year). It turns out that objectivists believe to have little magic erasers that can enter your mind and eliminate all those hours of ecstatic musical reverie with one wipe of an invisible hand, rendering you incapable of ever experiencing that same kind of pleasure again. And they seem to get pleasure from this idea.

When is a test not a test?
More than anything, objectivists love to tell you they know something you don't; and they also revel in turning every listening experience into a test. This way they can put on parade and call into action their well-worn and well-loved trope of "that's not a proper test, you moron." I'd say with all candor and confidence that I've never taken a proper hifi test and don't have any intention of ever taking one. They are completely and totally unnecessary. They have no relevance to my listening to music on a hifi enjoyment. As a matter of fact, they are decidedly anti enjoyment.

"Let us teach you how to listen and you'll soon realize how crappy most recordings sound and how poorly designed most hifi equipment is." It's the objectivists' great trumpet of pride. Why in the world would I want to learn to listen like that? The only answer worth citing is so that I can feel reliably, provably and repeatably superior. Did you ever notice that the idea of 'golden ears'
irks objectivists more than almost any other notion? And did you ever notice that at the end of their most passionate arguing sits the fact that these same objectivists believe they listen better than anyone else? Where's that damn smiley-face emoticon when you need one?

Is there an answer to these endless arguments between two sides of a bad penny? The answer is simply that the people engaging in these arguments -- some have been doing it for decades and I am not exaggerating -- do so because they enjoy arguing. They enjoy arguing that they're righter and smarter and that anyone disagreeing with them is wrong and stupid. They'd rather spend their time arguing on hifi forums than doing something else. After all, arguing on hifi forums isn't a job. It's not even a vocation (although being forced to read hifi forums should be added to the articles of the Geneva Convention). Rather, for some arguing on hifi forums is an obsession that feeds what I believe to be some of our basest and most childish instincts. I argue, therefore I am (smarter than you). Nana nana poo poo.

I offer as exhibit A in support of my claim of childishness the ignore option built into some forum software. Some people actually need software to help them ignore something they want to ignore. That's the Internet-age version of sticking a finger in each ear while muttering over and over, "I'm not listening"....

Measure passion
You don't have to be right to enjoy listening to music on a hifi. You also don't have to listen better. And you certainly don't have to prove your enjoyment or take a test. If you want to buy a device that purportedly demagnetizes records and you've tried it and think you can better enjoy listening to your Music because of it, good for you. Anyone who believes that they need to bring science into that equation and to your rescue must re-evaluate their priorities. Any scientist worth their salt steers clear of people who enjoy a harmless hobby.

From now on, when I start to read posts where people argue hifi, I'll remind myself that I could be doing something worthwhile. Like listening to Music. I could be reveling in experiencing my biases in full sway, drinking and delighting in our fragile, shared, deeply personal and powerful humanness that Music embodies and evokes.

The only way to have that experience is to listen with abandon.