Widgets Magazine

Codifying Codpiece

Andrew Robinson of  formally editor at Home Theater Review continues to make waves among the Ivory Tower holders of Audiophila  and I like it.

I like it allot.
Andrew is a breath of fresh air, actually like a straight line wind of fresh air, inside the hobby world of home theater.  One of the first Salvos I heard was in the form of his report/ review of the Rocky Mountain …  show where he barely contained a direct, and well deserved, dressing down of the exhibitors.   His premise?  That the high fidelity, high resolution proponents and manufacturers have effectively priced themselves out of any community growth.
In effect the audiophile holy rollers codifying of the culture has resulted in them shooting  themselves in the foot, repeatedly.
Perhaps this is a push back from the consumer and “PROsumer” products which have had a seminal rise with viable budget conscious buyers options.  There is something to be said for the defending of quality and excellence but when it comes as the result of circling the wagons it also creates a wall.  Every manufacturer is looking to draw folks in with their array of ‘oh, Wow’ products which are posted as glossy equipment pornification in magazines and blogs.  What happens for the rest of us once we get past these obvious select client only devices?
When I started out as young man attempting to cobble together better system many of my best tutors owned remarkable systems but took the time to show me why they decided on the gear they had but, more importantly, showed me how to choose quality at my budget.  There was an entry level ability, one with room to grow.
Codification when it comes to standards or procedures – that is the process to insure the best work is accomplished – is valid and I know that is is what many in the hobby are in their heart of hearts are trying to do.  Sadly what a mid level enthusiast like myself endures feels like the strutting of Codpieces, no longer concerned with the qualities it has morphed into bejeweled and  feathered presentation of superiority.
A funny thing happens when you start to codify a culture, rather than strengthen it begins to deteriorate.
In the early 1980’s I was deeply involved in the nascent alternative and punk culture.  When you think of a punk it often involves the image of a metal studded leather jacket and buzz cut or Mohawk topped youth.  But this was not the case at the start. If you had attended an early punk or American hardcore show the folks in the audience and on stage ran the gamut of looks.  From plaid shirts and sports jackets to surfer types with long hair and the buzz cuts wearing loafers and Dr. Martens boots. Just look at Iggy and the Stooges- not your  a-typical punkers with the bowl cuts and rocker hair.
Those early days were amazing times of breaking the bonds of the corporate music monopoly and spurring  on a revolution in DIY ethos from The Cleaners From Venus/Martin Newell cassettes to the Detroit sound.   Rock music was stripped of its over embellished predecessors indulgences back to the blues roots made to snarl with Les Pauls electrified steel stringed guitar.  As the genre gained traction and its ranks started to swell a change came on. Slowly but surely the scene began to stratify into semi distinct sub groups – perhaps because of outside scorn or a desire to be unique the fans of these new genres began codify what look was acceptable. Where once it was okay to attend a Dead Kennedys show with long hair soon became a daredevils proposition. This much to the lament of the scenes provocateurs and stars.   Like the  WWI trains, before the biases could be healed, travel was already in motion and the lines of battle drawn. To be sure there was always the talented (The Clash, Elvis Costello, Fugazi, The Ramones ) and those less so but with the stratification and codification came a loss of power and message.  And snobbish aspersions were cast upon anyone not in the clique.
The hobby has been turning into an elitist club not because it is necessary to do so but because those promoting it as such find a pleasure in dismissing others.
Am I wrong?  Prove it – Andrew is the only one, so far, in the hobby media to welcome those of us who are just starting out or have defined budgets. If not for him I would be sticking to my high res digital music and a pair of headphones.
In the end –  This is bad for the hobby, bad for the business of AV integration.  If I am reluctant because of the closed shop mentality of the hobby , why would I pursue the next step?

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