you know it and you have experienced it more than once, the demo blues are the kind of situations that frustrate the most earnest kind of host.

i have had more than my fair share of demo blues over the years and i would say in 7/10 cases either (1) my system didn't sound the way i intended to be, or (2), my visitors' reactions/feedback were not the kind that i wanted them to be.

before a big demo to impress you friends and visitors, you would clean up your listening room, polish your cable connectors, re-check your speaker positioning and for those vinylphiles, you would re-check your VTA, clean and prepare the list of LPs to be demo-ed to your visitors.

the big day came. you get jittery. you are so sure that your system can impress even the most critical of listeners but you are worried that their listening skills are nowhere near your level or their tastes/demands are totally different from yours.

you get the visitors seated comfortably and you get on with your job of playing your fave discs one by one. you observe their facial expressions. all look nonchalant; some even look pensive. you yell to yourself, "damn it, can't you tell how gorgeous carol kidd's tone is thru my system - the midrange is so lucid, can't you tell?". one of them manages to utter some remotely positive remarks about your system, "i quite like the way your system portrays the depth of the cathedral". you are exasperated and yell silently, "this is a studio recording, you fool!". looks like your visitors are totally clueless about your system's strengths.

yet another comments with a tinge of sarcasm, "something about your drum, it doesn't sound like a real drum. it sounds like an oil drum, or something hitting on a tin can." now this really gets you cranky and edgy. you wanted to shove him the exit door but being a gracious host, you swallow your pride quietly. you tell yourself, "this cotton-ear should be barred from now on".

so the listening session is over. none of them seems too impressed but they are all too nice to say anything damaging but the damage is already done. their facial disapproval says it all. your are disheartened and your whole day is spoilt.

on the same night, you switch on the system again. everything seems so perfect, it is almost faultless. carol kidd is alive in your room. what happened this afternoon? why can't this bunch of cotton-ears hear how glorious my system is?

then it suddenly dawns on you that this was the same situation that happened last month, when little johnny brought his entourage of visitors to your house and none of them said anything that could tantamount to a praise or compliment. you wallowed in your misery too and did the same thing at night by switching on your system and found perfection in it.

as the night wears on and you getting a bit pacified by this sudden realization that not all cotton ears can appreciate high-end systems. carol kidd is still sounding naughty on gershwin's "nice work, if you can get it". she is so palpably real in your listening room that you can touch her. your take a slow sip of your red wine which you reserve for late-night listening.

"c'est la vie", you tell yourself. "no more demos to cotton ears."

9 comments:

Ken said...

ML,

Just on the curious side, why do you let visitors hear your system? Is it because you want to praise how wonderful your system is or you want to get some insight on what they think of your system?

Looking at your post, I feel it is the former that you crave.

When I let visitors listen to my system, I never really expect them to praise my setup. The reason is that my stup is to satisfy me, not any of them. But if they like what they hear, great. If they don't, I wouldn't be tearing my hair off or swearing silently at the listener. I have already reach a stage that I would never let myself be involved in the audiophilia politics that would sent any sane man to an hifi asylum.

YMMV

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

ken,

no need to argue with you.

i am just describing the psyche of a normal audiophile host. if you can't get the reality and humour, so be it ;-)

Anonymous said...

...and the psyche of a visiting audiophile is to criticize. That is the nature of local culture like it or not. We do not give compliments often enough and that goes in every aspects of our society.

The mind has been conditioned to think that every system out there is not good enough and mine is better.

Even if the host's system is excellent, then the critique is that the system is too expensive and not value for money. The host is crazy to spend so much money for so little gain. It always come back to one self that his or her system is still the best.

That is why product branding over here is so important. No need to listen, just look at the brand lah. Host with expensive brands will always be safe from unnecessary critique from sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

...and the psyche of a visiting audiophile is to criticize. That is the nature of local culture like it or not. We do not give compliments often enough and that goes in every aspects of our society.

The mind has been conditioned to think that every system out there is not good enough and mine is better.

Even if the host's system is excellent, then the critique is that the system is too expensive and not value for money. The host is crazy to spend so much money for so little gain. It always come back to one self that his or her system is still the best.

That is why product branding over here is so important. No need to listen, just look at the brand lah. Host with expensive brands will always be safe from unnecessary critique from sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

I think in this hobby people is taking it too seriously, it is no longer fun....

I can imagine inviting people to audition is equal with inviting people for a nice meal at home. We prepare the food, setup the right atmostphere and chit chat along the way. It is a nice evening, feel refresh after the event, do we feel bitter when they can cook better? Do we feel bitter when their kicthen is nicer? No... we are friends.

I wonder why we know how to behave when people invite us for a meal but do not know how to behave when our friends invite us for a system audition?!!!

No matter how good or lousy a system sound we should show respect, because we all brought the system with our hard earn cash!!!

I think it hurts when people criticize, because instead of using the resources to bring our loves one for a nice trip or a pleasant surprise gifts we can show our loves one we have spend it in our hobby and our friends said "It is just a piece of junk". We feel like a fool :)

Instead of measuring audiophile by the equipment he holds, we should measure them by the maturity that they have.

Cheers,

Lim

Ken said...

ML,

I don't want to argue but I don't agree with your description on how a normal audiophile host should act. I certainly don't act like what you describe. So am I considered abnormal?

I feel if an audiophile lets another person listen to his system so that they can get praises on how good their system are just crying out for attention.

Just think about it, the audiophile host play the best sounding jazz that the visitor will ever get to hear. But the visitor actually loves rock music and he wants to hear those guitar and drums being whack to kingdom come. After the listening session, does the audiophile host expect the visitor to praise that system?

YMMV

Anonymous said...

ML,

Yes, I would agree that most of us take some pride in preparing the listening enviroment/system for a visit as a gracious host.

However, I always find visitors to be of various kinds as per listed below:
1) The overly/eargerly critical, just to show he knows best.
2) The silent type whom shows no emotions, says nothing, only to talk to the whole world the next day how excrutiating the session was!
3) Newbies, whom doesn't know what they want, can't tell either what a host system can offer.
4) Newbies, eager to learn,very appreciative, can sit thru a teh tarik session the whole night after the listening session just to learn from host.
5) Music lovers, can spend the whole night shfting thru your music collection, playing their favorite/curious tracks! the host system is the music conductor for the night.

From experience, I find the folowing visitors in percentage:
Categories 1)& 2) 70%
Categories 3) 20%
Categories 4)& 5) 10%

Categories 4) & 5) are the rather positive types,yet are far and few in between our hobby.

When I visit a system, I would take the trouble to learn about the host's musical taste, his sound preference and the final result of the system assembled. Then would relate to what I heard to the system's capabilities.

There's always something to learn from every system visit, be it a Mega $$$ system, an average music lover's system, an entry level system, or even a DIY system.

Sometimes just discovering new music, is already a joy, good enough reason to worth a visit.

I guess as visitor, I belong to a cat 4) or 5) depending on how you see it.

km ng said...

Too much pride can close one's ears.

I guess the majority(70%) of your listeners who may not agree with you belong to the Cotton Ears Club!

hifikaki said...

Anonymous of 11.55pm – well said. Your last 4 paragraphs describing your system visit philosophy jive with mine, could not have put it better myself.