www.ethanwiner.com - since 1997

Mixerman Exposed

Mixerman Eric Sarafin

I created this page in response to the relentless attacks against me by Eric "Mixerman" Sarafin, at left. Eric is a professional mix engineer known for his humorous book The Daily Adventures of Mixerman, which recounts a series of problematic recording sessions. For reasons I don't understand, Eric has made a career of defaming and libeling me in audio forums. He shares many of the same beliefs as misguided audiophiles, such as the idea that "science" doesn't know how to measure audio fidelity properly, and he repeats common fallacies including the myth that digital audio software is unable to sum (mix) music tracks without degradation.

When I see people express incorrect beliefs in audio forums I either ignore them, or gently correct them with the facts. But I'm never rude to people unless they're rude to me first. Further, my intent in forums is not to convert "believers" as much as to inform people who genuinely want to know the facts. For example, a common forum question asks if you must spend large amounts of money on preamps and converters to get professional results. When a forum thread turns nasty, it's because someone objects to advice I gave someone else who asked an honest question.

Eric is terribly angered by my writings because they defy his beliefs, but he's unable to refute me with logic and evidence. So instead he and his friends attack me. Eric is not the only person to respond to me this way, but he's definitely the most aggressive. After I created the Audio Myths video based on my 2009 AES Workshop he emailed the AES saying I'm a fraud. When my book The Audio Expert was published in 2012 he wrote the same to Focal Press urging them to discontinue my book. Eric's own audio forum contains half a dozen threads intended solely to defame me personally and professionally. He even edited past posts to include my book publisher's name, hoping to embarrass them too. Mixerman is obsessed with me, and he's written tens of thousands of words about me! He also censors my posts at his own forum, so I can't even defend myself.

By contrast, the Hydrogen Audio forum (HA) is a great place because it's well moderated, and even mild ad hominen attacks are not tolerated. The entire focus of HA is the science of audio, and some of its members are heavy hitters in the field including J.J. Johnson, former chief scientist at DTS, David Robinson, developer of the ReplayGain system, and Arny Krueger, co-developer of ABX listening tests, among other participants.

Mixerman is at his best in his own forum where he can control the conversation by deleting posts he can't refute, and rely on his buddies to shout me down. But when he and his cohorts showed up at the HA forum to attack me there too, they found themselves in for a rude surprise. There's a fair amount to read in the threads linked below, but it's a good way to understand what's behind the "war against Ethan" waged by Mixerman and those who think and behave like him. Posts at HA are kept on-topic without the distraction of bickering and insults, so you can easily see who has the facts and who is full of crap.

In the latest fiasco at Mixie's forum, one of his pals started a thread to criticize my Perception article in Tape Op magazine about hearing perception, expectation bias, and the masking effect. Just the sort of stuff that gets people's panties in a bunch when they don't understand audio science and human hearing. Soon after my article appeared, loudspeaker designer Thomas Barefoot wrote at the Gearslutz forum: "I just got done reading Ethan's article in Tape-Op No.88 titled "Perception - The Final Frontier" (pg 66). He discusses the distinctions between perceived and real differences in the audio signal chain. It's brief, beautifully written and perfectly to the point. Great job Ethan!" Tape Op editor Larry Crane told me he enjoyed my article, and his publisher John Baccigaluppi emailed me enthusiastically, "Nice piece! I like the article you did we're publishing this issue!!!"

Legendary recording engineer Bob Clearmountain also wrote a highly favorable and detailed letter to the editor about my article. A brief portion is repeated below. So it's not like I'm some nut-job with ideas no sane person could agree with, as Eric Sarafin would have people believe:

"Hats off to Ethan Winer! His article 'Perception - the Final Frontier' [Tape Op #88] echoes my sentiments exactly. It's great to see that someone in this business has the balls to apply intelligence and reason to the science of audio ... I once knew a Grammy-award winning mixer who spent about $60,000 on his audiophile monitors, mono-block amps, and garden hose-sized speaker wire but plugged in his rack of outboard gear with whatever cables and adapters that happened to be sitting around the studio ... As you stated, perceptions of what sounds good are fluid and subjective, depending on the tastes and state of mind of the listener. To one producer, a particular snare drum sound might be 'fat' (good) but to another it might be 'tubby' (bad). Gear listening tests usually reveal more about the listeners than they do about the gear being listened to." --Bob Clearmountain <www.mixthis.com>

The links below are entry points into three different threads where Mixerman and his pals dwoz, malice, and John Eppstein got their asses handed to them by real audio scientists. Many additional good points were made by HA members, though the more egregious insults by Mixie and his cohorts were deleted by the forum moderators.

You'll see that among their dozens of posts to these threads, Mixerman and his pals were unable to refute a single thing I've said about the science of audio. Mostly they didn't even try, relying on "You're wrong" as their only argument, or attributing claims to me I never actually made. At one point dwoz did try to disprove my debunking of the Stacking Myth, but several HA members pointed out his incorrect logic. As you'll also see, Mixerman realized early on that he was way out of his league, so he posted only a few straw man arguments. Indeed, half of his posts were deleted by the moderators for containing only insults. But Mixerman is their ringleader, and his "call to arms" is behind many of the public attacks against me. Enjoy:

Ethan explains that Mixerman deleted posts he couldn't refute at his Womb forum:

The above thread was originally started to discuss the beliefs of a particular mastering engineer, so at this point the moderators split it off to an existing thread about Ethan's Audio Myths AES presentation and resulting YouTube video.

Arny asks dwoz to list even one thing incorrect in what Ethan has stated:

Eventually Mixerman's pals realize they aren't getting anywhere, and the thread winds down. Mixerman then starts a new thread asking a silly question that almost gets him booted. As with the previous threads, several insulting posts by Mixie and his pals were deleted, but it's easy enough to follow. Mixerman kicks it off with the logically flawed argument that his beliefs about audio science are valid because he knows how to turn the knobs to make music sound good:

Mixerman Fail

What's so pathetic about the war Mixerman and his pals have waged against me is that they're wrong. They are clueless on the science, as proven conclusively in the threads linked above. Even though their home base is Mixerman's Womb forum, they have followed me all around the 'net just to make trouble. Not only the HA forum, but Tape Op and Gearslutz and other forums too. They show up only to insult me, then leave once the thread is locked or deleted. Some of these guys may be good recording engineers or musicians - who knows, most of them hide behind screen names - but clearly, they don't understand audio and human hearing. And at least some of them are totally incompetent. One of the most insulting loudmouths is a self-proclaimed recording engineer, studio tech, and record producer. When I asked to hear a sample of his work, he sent me one of his tunes in progress and it was horrible! The recording is riddled with hum and buzz from ground loops, and the tone of the instruments is terrible and full of crappy sounding room ambience. It sounds like something a teenager recorded in a bedroom in the 1980s on a Tascam PortaStudio.

Post Script

This is not the first time Mixerman has been proven wrong for his poor understanding of audio science. Back in 2005 he claimed publicly that Pro Tools (professional mixing software) cannot capture the lowest octave of music, calling it a "glaring problem" that even his "maid" could hear. So a number of professional recording engineers got together and conducted a series of listening tests. (Why didn't they just measure the frequency response and compare it to the manufacturer's specifications?) During the initial discussion Mixerman agreed that the test was valid, and he had full confidence in the people running the test. The forum discussions where this played out are long and tedious, so I'll link only to the start of each thread below. Needless to say, Pro Tools works properly, and in the end Eric Sarafin was rightly humiliated when he couldn't tell one file from another. If you bother to read much of what follows, you'll be even more convinced how relevant my Perception article that MM and his pals criticized is in fact the best explanation for Mixie's failure. By the way, you'll see the same personal attacks and straw man arguments from MM's pal malice here too, such as criticizing someone for how many times they posted to a thread.

Someone suggests that Mixerman's claims that Pro Tools is flawed should be tested:

The files are posted (but no longer available):

The file identities are eventually revealed (gets interesting around page 24):

Mixerman doesn't like the test results so he proposes a new test:

Ethan Winer has been an audio professional for most of his adult life. If Mixerman and those who share his beliefs would read Ethan's book The Audio Expert, the number of audio forum arguments would be drastically reduced!

Entire contents of this web site Copyright 1997- by Ethan Winer. All rights reserved.