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Audiophile snobbery...?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Del monaco, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    As you may be aware from a few posts of mine, I am an admirer of the Yamaha sound and looks. Ever since feasting my eyes on the Yamaha CT 7000, I’ve had a fondness for this particular brand. As one contributor recently posted, it is a mass market brand. But does mass market mean reduction in quality or design?
    When I had to sell on my original Naim gear, I had little money to purchase a quality system that would tide me over until better times. I chose a Yamaha AS 501 that also included Dac inputs. I got it o a Black Friday so even better value at under £200. It gave me great sound and service for a couple of years and I really enjoyed it. I suppose I’d describe its presentation as clean and detailed with a touch of warmth so it gave me the detail I like and leavened this with a touch of bloom in a sound that was non-fatiguing and suitable to a range of genres.
    I now own a Yamaha 803D which adds a good deal more and powers my Maggie LRS speakers which produces the best sound I have ever had. The 803 is a remarkably well featured receiver with a great amp section that is great vfm.Still can’t quite believe they can do this for the money!
    My main reason for posting is that I have noticed that there is a reluctance by some reviewers and listeners to recognise the merits of gear like Yamaha due to its mass market identity. It is mass market therefore not serious. I read a Stereophile review of a top end Yamaha amp recently and it felt as though the reviewer was reluctant to sing the praises of the Yamaha in case his colleagues may snigger at his audacity. He sat it in a system where the accompanying gear was way more expensive/high end and it still acquitted itself very well. I wondered how it would do with gear that was more in line with its own value and aspirations. It was clearly impressive but the review was muted. And there was a kind of surprise that this mass market product could do so well? Correct me if I’m wrong but Yamaha has been in the Hi fi game a long time and has produced memorable gear. It’s pedigree exceeds that of many other more local escoteric brands so why would it be treated in this way?
    The point I make refers to many other brands as well, like Marantz, Denon etc. I listened to a Marantz 60O6 UK CD player recently. I thought it was great for the money. It bettered my recent Rega Apollo for detail and soundstage and was definitely giving my Rotel 965BX a run for its money, which surprised and disappointed me.
    I run a Pi as a server/player. I’d be surprised if anything up to £1000 could better the sound.
    Is it just me?Does this audiophile snobbery still exist? I think these products deserve greater respect than they get.
    Rana, DCA, Mike P and 7 others like this.
  2. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Del monaco likes this.
  3. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Very cheeky.
  4. mega lord

    mega lord Centre tapped

    Yes, audio snobbery is alive and well. At times it is hard not to be sucked in and the internet is full of show offs.

    I think sometimes mass manufacturers can give more for your money as they take advantage of economies of scale. Don't worry what others may think. People who don't go on foums don't tend to worry what others think of them or their kit. (IMO of course)
    MikeMA, Tarzan, Adam N and 6 others like this.
  5. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Not really worried as I really love my kit and think I’m so lucky to have found it.I just think it’s interesting that some can’t get beyond a name and make assumptions. Even the positive AS review of my current amp was strangely muted despite the enthusiasm. Other reviews in the less notable press are very handsome and I think nearer to the truth.
    mega lord likes this.
  6. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    As has already been touched upon, the economies of scale allow big manufactures to offer fantastic value for money. I have also been impressed by a friends Marantz 6006 CD player, it’s a great product for the price.

    Another advantage that the big manufactures have, and will usually pass on to their customers, is the trickle down of the work carried out on their statement products. This often finds its way into their cheaper offerings. I had a Yamaha CDS2100 for a while and its build quality and sound were astonishingly good; apparently is was quite a step up from its earlier iteration the CDS2000 but quite a bit less costly than its bigger brother the CDS3000. Like many things in the manufactured world, I expect the real value/quality threshold will be a notch or two below the top tier products. This is where the trickle down from above will give you the greatest bang for your buck.
    nn_in and hifinutt like this.
  7. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr Well, I can dream, can’t I?

    I’ve always tended to view Yamaha as a moderately upmarket brand with a budget offering. They are well respected in musical instrument circles, for example, especially their pianos. Their high end stuff is very respectable. I haven’t seen the piece you refer to, so can’t really comment on it but two possibilities occur to me:

    1) it’s good kit, at its price, but bettered by product closer to the price of the rest of the review system; or
    2) you’re reading too much into it because you already think the brand is under-appreciated.

    I’ve not noticed a reluctance to review budget kit, but different mags cover different markets. Context is relevant.
  8. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr Well, I can dream, can’t I?

    I think one thing that mass market products have to deal with is that they have to appeal to a wide range of tastes. This risks putting them into ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ territory.
  9. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    I agree, but it has always been thus. Marketing and branding are so important to the majority of people. Just look at the automotive world. Skoda make very fine cars (well they are part of the VW group, but you know what I mean) yet the brand is, to many, still tainted by their position from the 70s. I remember being laughed at by a Porsche salesman when I told him that as good as the Boxster S was I preferred the Honda S2000. I owned both and the Honda was the better car, but as it didn't have a Porsche badge everyone thought I was mad to go from the former to the latter. The moral is just to enjoy what you enjoy and don't let anyone else's opinion get to you.
  10. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Do anyone think there marketing department would give two hoots about a thread on a forum.. they are a global giant. The pricing structure they are using is of a small bespoke manufacturer. It frankly takes the piss....
  11. SteveG

    SteveG pfm Member

    I wonder if this is more about a victim mentality as generally when I've seen reviews of Yamaha kit it's done pretty well (and that's also the case for Denon and Marantz).

    For me while the look of the kit isn't the biggest factor it is still a factor, and I find a lot of the Yamaha kit visually unappealing - but then I find plenty of the more niche brands stuff visually unappealing as well (and plenty of it is downright hideous!).
  12. rescuest3ve

    rescuest3ve pfm Member

    I'm generalising here, of course, but I think the problem with Yamaha - as nice as they look and perform - is that they are a well-known brand that manufacturer products across many disciplines, which doesn't sit well with the fanatics who will always get more from their hobby by owning the more esoteric brands. Look at football: 'you aren't a real supporter unless you follow a team in the lower leagues', or closer to home, metal music: 'you aren't a real metal fan unless you only buy records from obscure Norwegian black metal bands'. A fan of food? 'Nandos? Disgusting. You simply MUST try this new organic chicken pop up restaurant in Soho'. The list goes on.

    I'm guilty of it myself: I've always lusted after a Koetsu cartridge, in spite of the fact that a similarly priced Ortofon may well be better in my system. Still want the Koetsu, though.
  13. Jonboi

    Jonboi Because Music Matters

    Back in the mid to late seventies, I owned a Yamaha CA800 amp. It was a beautifully made and finished machine; the switchable Class A, Class AB operation, and the variable loudness contour feature were unique for the day. Styling wise, it was almost the same as the latest models, with the silver finish and the lovely teflon smooth squared switches. Speakers at the time were B&W DM2a's which were a great match with the Yamaha - very natural sound indeed. However, I sold it to 'upgrade' to a Rait amp - which was a locally made copy of a Radford, - as it had the audiophile stamp of approval and sounded a little different - a bit sweeter and warmer in its apparent presentation.

    Decades later it went to the tip having developed overheating issues; the designer having passed away and the company folded - no parts suitable for it were available.

    It in turn was replaced by a Naim 72/Hi-Cap/180/SBL's which lasted 10 + years before an expansion of the system into AV saw the purchase of Sony 9000ES series kit.

    The 9000ES Sony was their top range offering at the time and built with fastidious attention to detail; I realised how much I had missed the Yamaha with its butter smooth controls and astonishing build quality; here at last was its replacement in terms of exquisite build and finish.

    In reasonably short order (12 months) the Sony replaced the Naim kit as the more authentic and better sounding kit overall - a very unexpected surprise.

    And in time, as the Sony amp lacked HDMI and it was time to embrace flat screen TV's, it was replaced by a B&O TV and within 12 months some B&O active speakers.

    At each step, the pleasure and satisfaction of ownership has increased - as has the audio/sonic performance to a very clear and noticeable degree.

    And yet, Audiophiles would and did tell me at the time how inferior the Sony kit would be to the usual touted audiophile brands - despite never having seen or heard it.

    Similarly, as I've discovered, if you own a brand such as B&O, the audiophile world dubs you a fancy Bose owner, and someone with more money than sense who doesn't know anything about audiophile sound 'quality'.

    Interestingly, Stereophile, having actually listened to and measured the current Beolab 90's, now places them alongside a few other select speakers in their top Class A product recommendation, which I note with some irony given the fairly negative audiophile attitude towards B&O in general.

    So I would say, absolutely - audio snobbery is alive and well amongst some audiophile circles without doubt.

    Conversely, the music lover who listens to music on a quality HiFi system, as against the audiophile who listens to the kit as a hobby, is usually relatively immune to these kind of audio snobbery assertions and ideas - as are largely the general public/non audiophile buying group.

    In terms of economies of scale, there's little doubt the major manufacturers can bring some astonishingly good pieces of kit to market and most certainly have the engineering chops to offer audiophile performance at a sensible price.

    I still have my Sony DVP - 9000 ES 2 channel CD/SACD player; with it's fully copper plated chassis, custom built and hermetically sealing drive, separate toroidal transformer power supplies for digital and analogue, - there's literally nothing on the market at sensible money that would logically better it for build, component quality, and sound quality, currently available. But, I hear the audiophiles sigh... It's 'only' a Sony.

    If I were to ever contemplate another passive system (should the big Sony amp driving the SBL's ever die) the Yamaha offerings would be my first port of call.

    I'd say buy with complete confidence from every point of view. I certainly loved mine back in the day, and often wish I'd never parted with it - an amplifier for life.

    PS: Speaking as a classically trained musician, Yamaha know a thing or two about musical instruments and what real acoustic instruments actually sound like in the real world.

    Their piano division for example, is world renowned - right up to top 9 foot concert grands - the CFX - and in addition own Bosendorfer - a revered brand and sound if there ever was.

    When it comes to hybrid digital pianos, and sampling - the Avantgrand range comes to mind - their electronics and sound sampling technologies are absolutely state of the art. They might be a 'mainstream' company in the minds of audiophiles, but I'm quite confident they could teach many an bespoke electronics company more than a thing or two when it comes to HiFi, and AV for that matter.
  14. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr Well, I can dream, can’t I?

    There’s also a phenomenon of audio inverse-snobbery.

    Just saying...;)
    Dozey, Rockmeister, Jlc and 1 other person like this.
  15. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    The Sony ES kit appears to get a lot of love on here. Another example.
    Jonboi likes this.
  16. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    When a new big brand car comes out - say a BMW 3 series, or Audi A4 - you will find loads of reviews from all the mags, periodicals, newspapers and websites.

    A Yamaha amp should be similar - a very well built and designed product. It perhaps should be reviewed by all the mags. It isn't.

    Now is this Yamaha not promoting it for review?, either because they do not need to or they do not use that style of marketing? I do not know, and cannot guess. Smaller makers absolutely have to promote their products through the magazines and review process, otherwise they would sell little. The audio world of little dealers is what we know here in Europe. But there is a big wide world out there that Yam can probably access differently - and end up selling plenty of units to many happy customers.

    Yamaha rather disappeared from hifi for a while - I am very happy to see them back and would happily buy their stuff if I was looking for anything. Yes I do think they are a victim of some audiophile snobbery - I am not sure it bothers them.
    MikeMA and Del monaco like this.
  17. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

  18. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    Perhaps it is their indifference to advertising. Their AV products are equally impressive. If this is the case then their products are likely under appreciated and undervalued. They likely cost less than they should as their technology, build and engineering is the equal of many.
  19. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    It's a complicated situation and a lot going on.

    The UK Hi-Fi press are always going to favor UK manufacturers. That's natural and understandable. Not only do they want to support the UK economy but a lot of these people know each other personally. It's actually a fairly well connected community and you're not going to rubbish products made by people you consider friends.

    And there's advertising. You can't give a product a bad review when the people who made it give you thousands of pounds a year, which is your primary income. That's why Top Gear was good and no one else could match them. Jeremy and crew could say anything they liked as they were on the BBC. No adverts.

    You could go on but to flip to the other side, can far eastern manufacturers build things as well or better than UK manufacturers? Of course they can. In the seventies and eighties we manufactured televisions in the UK but they were less reliable than Japanese ones and the picture wasn't as good so people stopped buying them. The vast majority of the consumer electronics we buy today come from the Far East. What you're effectively doing is singling out a tiny part of that market in which UK manufacturing still has a strong presence and saying 'why don't we buy that stuff from the Far East as well?'.

    Can they build kit in the Far East that sounds as good as UK kit? I don't see why not. Should you buy it? Of course, if you like it and it makes you happy then of course. Anyone who looks down on you for being unpatriotic can be told to piss off while asking them where their mobile phone and computer came from but you can't dismiss their arguments completely.

    No matter what you do, the actual performance of a product is only part of the picture. Every part of my main system was built in the UK, more by accident than design I'll admit, but I enjoy the knowledge that people in this country are feeding their families because people like me buy British. I enjoy the fact that if my kit needs attention I can deal with the people who actually made it. My turntable is down at Rega right now, I spoke to someone there yesterday and the level of care and service they provide is exceptional. Many UK manufacturers are like that. You're not just buying a product, you're buying a relationship, and it's hard to put a price on that.
    hifinutt and Snufkin like this.
  20. SteveG

    SteveG pfm Member

    That does appear to be the point of this thread - especially as the slights mentioned appear to be mainly imaginary!

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