Meeting a High Priest of the world of hi-fi BS.

Globalti

Legendary Member
I wanted to hear some electrostatic speakers, having heard some about 45 years ago and always remembered being blown away by the richness and depth of the sound. So I contacted a hi-fi shop. The owner invited us to his house on Saturday morning to hear some speakers. After some satnav problems we found the house, a huge pile on the outskirts of town and rang the doorbell... nobody came. Rang again.... nobody. So I hammered on the massive door and immediately it swung open revealing a man who asked us to remove our shoes and showed us into the lounge. First shock - the room was full of massive ugly wooden objects like giant Russian dolls, which I realised were speakers.

There were two others about 8' tall and looking like the monoliths from 2001 a Space Odyssey, which he told us were by a famous Danish engineer. The room was cramped, cold, damp and messy and one entire wall was taken up with CDs and records. There was a nasty green sofa and lots of unbelievably vulgar stands holding all kinds of amps and other equipment. The man took us up to a bedroom where there were some more conventional looking speakers arranged facing the bed. His dog was whining and sniffing at a door and he told us: "Oh my wife is in the bathroom". The door opened and a woman came out, grabbed the dog and scuttled out. The man put on a CD of a woman singing a jazz song, hopeless for demonstrating the speakers. He berated us with his views on the wi-fi business, saying that magazine journalists all live in million-pound houses thanks to the huge bungs they receive for writing good reviews, the industry is full of charlatans and thieves and there was only one way to buy hi-fi equipment, which is from him because only he knows what's good, etcetera etcetera. There was a record deck, which had an interesting clear perspex turntable and I asked the price: five thousand pounds. I was feeling intensely uncomfortable and could see that Mrs Gti was in a state of shock at the way what should have been a pleasant, relaxing experience was unfolding into something altogether weird and upsetting.

I realised I had made a mistake in approaching this bloke and an exit strategy was needed so I simply said: "Sorry, we're wasting your time, I can see that you are in a different world to the one we inhabit, we'd better leave now." He accepted but continued to berate us with his views on life, how everybody was corrupt, how he wrote the only true reviews for the hi-fi magazines, right up to the moment we got in the car and drove off. We felt we had escaped a bizarre experience and when we Googled those hideous speakers we discovered that they cost £75,000 and weigh 160 kilos each.

I realised then that the world of hi-fi is based on even bigger BS than I thought - when a length of speaker cable can cost £400 but you can buy 10 metres of 1.2mm two-core copper cable for £6 and we had just met one of its self-appointed High Priests. It was a thoroughly upsetting experience, especially the realisation that some gullible people actually fall for this mumbo-jumbo. People like him are the proof that if you price something extravagantly and make it look ostentatious there are enough fools out there for you to get very rich indeed from peddling falsehoods. How much of that applies in the rest of the world of luxury goods? We are still feeling upset by the experience two days later.
 
Last edited:

glasgowcyclist

Charming but somewhat feckless
Location
Scotland
You need to fix your title; it says wi-fi not hi-fi!
(And I can't believe I read all that waiting for the wi-fi relevance to appear :banghead:)
 

swee'pea99

Legendary Member
Fantastic! Sorry you're still feeling a bit discombobulated, but hey - you have a great dinner table story that'll never grow old.

As for the BS - absolutely. It's the same in any geeky field. A bit like the thing they say about academics being people who, as they specialise over the years, gradually know more and more about less and less until they end up knowing absolutely everything about nothing at all.

One thing I have noticed about hifi nuts in particular (and I've noticed because I dabble in the shallower waters myself) is the proportion of zealots who obsess about the numbers but listen, if at all, to Chris de Burgh or Hawkwind - music where the fi-ness actually makes naff all difference. In short, to quote Mr Cohen, they 'don't really care for music, do you?' It's all about the one-upmanship, in what's all too often a rather sad and lonely world, with or without lumpy green sofas.

Oh, and you're right - those speakers are hideous!
 

Beebo

Firm and Fruity
Location
Hexleybeef
People like him are the proof that if you price something extravagantly and make it look weird there are enough fools out there for you to get very rich indeed from peddling lies. How much of that applies in the rest of the world of luxury goods?
Substitute HiFi for watches, cars, golf clubs, bikes, and you will find the top price stuff sells for silly money with very little additional benefit.
We’ve been shopping for bathrooms recently. The prices of some stuff in designer shops is nuts. I’m not sure how you justify spending £50k on a bathroom.
 

swee'pea99

Legendary Member
Substitute HiFi for watches, cars, golf clubs, bikes, and you will find the top price stuff sells for silly money with very little additional benefit.
We’ve been shopping for bathrooms recently. The prices of some stuff in designer shops is nuts. I’m not sure how you justify spending £50k on a bathroom.
As with most 'high-end' stuff - to show your 'friends' you can.
 

Rezillo

TwoSheds
Location
Suffolk
Well, he was right about the reviews.

In the early 80s one leading HiFi magazine switched to blind testing. This led to a situation where solid core mains cable (as plastered into walls) came second in a group test of others costing scores of pounds per metre. A number of cheap amps were also judged to sound better or as good than others costing several times as much. The advertisers threatened to pull their ads and that was the end of blind testing reviews.

Not electrostatic but build your own speakers - get a kit from IPL Acoustics and save a fortune.
 

Bonefish Blues

Banging donk
Location
52 Festive Road
I have been using Zingali speakers, albeit much more modest ones, for the last 20 or so years. They are very different to the norm. They sell to a small number of people because they are very good. They don't advertise, they (Mr Zingali, because he exists!) don't make grandiose claims, they don't try to stuff anything down anyone's throat. No idea who you visited, but it wasn't Jack Lawson who is the UK agent, I sense.
 

Smudge

Über Member
Location
Somerset
I used to have a quite expensive separates system with floorstanding speakers, but i got fed up with how much space it took up and the tangle of spaghetti wiring, so when i moved to a smaller place i sold it.
I now have a Denon DM41 and Wharfedale Diamond 9.0 speakers, the sound is plenty good enough for me and it only cost me around £250 in a sale at Richer Sounds.
 
OP
Globalti

Globalti

Legendary Member
Well yes, for years my setup has been a modest Denon D65 with Mission 760i speakers and I'm quite happy with the sound. I just wanted to hear some electrostatic speakers.
 

dodgy

Guru
Location
Wirral
I love stories about HiFi BS, I don't really have any, but it's always fascinated me. I was into music, which necessitated having something to play it on and flirted with the idea of buying high end equipment years ago. I bought NAD and Thorens gear, sanity prevented me from buying exotic cables and interconnects. Places like Currys etc are still trying to get mugs to buy 'upgraded' hdmi cables because they say they produce a better picture and sound.
 

MontyVeda

a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
Can't remember who it was but someone bought a new BluRay player from curries and was offered one of three HDMI cables to go with it. The £30 cable was claimed to be useless with BluRay, as it will only send the picture quality of a standard DVD. The £50 cable was better, but to really get the best from BluRay, they had to buy a £100 HDMI cable. He left the store laughing at the salesboy who was disgruntled that he'd failed to sell him a cable too. I wonder if they only get commission on the cable upsale?
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
The Oval Office
Christ, HDMI is digital. It either sends sufficient data to be successfully decoded, or it doesn't. Should have locked the fellow up for attempted fraud.
 
Last edited:

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
Well, he was right about the reviews.

In the early 80s one leading HiFi magazine switched to blind testing. This led to a situation where solid core mains cable (as plastered into walls) came second in a group test of others costing scores of pounds per metre. A number of cheap amps were also judged to sound better or as good than others costing several times as much. The advertisers threatened to pull their ads and that was the end of blind testing reviews.

Not electrostatic but build your own speakers - get a kit from IPL Acoustics and save a fortune.
Did you do this, and if so, which kit?
I'm likely to buy this in the very near future: https://iplacoustics.co.uk/M1tl.htm
I visited IPL when they were in their infancy and was mightily impressed at the time. Have always liked the Transmission line sound, but never had the time or the place to own one. I don't now either, but if I don't do it I never will! Hence one of the smaller models which I hope will make suitable rumbles and weighty sound at lowish volumes (appreciate this is also room size dependent.
I've spoken to IPL recently who suggested the Rega Brio amp I've just purchased to replace my dying Audiolab 8000A (which I might yet get refurbed on account of its warmth working well with small speakers). In clarity terms the Rega is a big step up, but at the expense of musicality to my ears!

Anyhow, interested in hearing your views!
 
Top Bottom