Although I write for several "subjectivist" publications and websites I often come across statements online about how a component sounds or outperforms another component that make my eyebrows go up. Most of the time the issue is that a poster makes a statement without any examples or system context for their findings.
Given that I do believe that components can and do sound different, what's my beef with other audiophiles posting opinions on sound? Simple, I want enough information and background so that I, too, can accept that what a poster has said they've heard is true. Just like any reader, I need to feel that the poster has enough knowledge to make a valid conclusion. I need to enough factual information so that I can trust them.
Now, imagine how it must be for someone who is a firm believer in "objective" hifi. Since most opinions are subjective, it must drive anyone who longs for "measurable" differences absolutely nuts. Without any way to quantify or "prove" opinions, it all becomes an exercise in likability - if YOU like it, it's good...and that's perfectly fine as long as opinions don't somehow morph into "facts."
For me to trust an opinion it needs to include two vital pieces of information. First I need to know what the poster's source components were - I'm far more likely to accept an opinion when I know the quality of the input. Secondly I need to know what music was used when forming opinions. Were the musical tracks used high, low, or medium resolution? Were they chosen from red book CDs, LPs, or MP3s? Often I see opinions on Head-Fi from posters using streamed sources or 128 PBS MP3 files. For me this is an instant fail because the sonic flaws they're hearing may just a likely have been caused by their software, not their hardware.
So, what's the takeaway from this blog? Simple, if you want your sonic opinions to be taken seriously by other audiophiles, always include what you used as a source and what's in your signal chain. I want to believe you, as do other readers, but we all need enough information so that we can make that leap of faith...