Can ChatGPT Replace A HiFi Expert?

This week, the internet has been abuzz with ChatGPT - an artificial intelligence chat bot that uses natural language processing (NLP) to generate responses to user input in a way that is intended to simulate human conversation. ChatGPT has been trained on a vast amount of text data, which allows it to generate responses to a wide variety of questions and topics, in a way which is intended to be helpful and accurate to its users.

We decided to see if ChatGPT could replace John Nelson, our general manager, by asking it some of the sorts of questions we are asked by potential customers. After all, we believe there is a reason our email address is humans@expressiveaudio.com, not chatbot@expressiveaudio!

So, let's see how the AI performs, starting with its CD player recommendations.

ChatGPT - What CD player do you recommend?

This wasn’t an auspicious start - ChatGPT doesn’t know about specific products, but its general advice seemed sensible, if somewhat obvious. On this point, we think John might be more useful.

We thought we’d persevere with the CD player question:

 ChatGPT - How much is a good CD player?

Again, it was hard to argue with the answer, and we agree that taking a holistic view, and doing some research made sense. 

We then wondered whether ChatGPT could offer any advice on the difference between CD and Vinyl?

 ChatGPT - Are CDs better than Vinyl?

This was a pretty solid answer, we thought… probably not very far from what John would say… maybe his job isn’t so secure after all!

Next we thought  that perhaps ChatGPT would have something to offer when it came to doing the research it had suggested. We decided to ask it whether Rega turntables are better than Pro-Ject ones:

 ChatGPT - Are Rega turntables better than Project?

A very diplomatic answer from ChatGPT, and we definitely agreed that personal preference, budget, and the wider system context needed to be considered.

Next we thought we’d ask some more general questions of the sort we're sometimes asked:

ChatGPT - Why does my TV Audio sound bad?

This was pretty reasonable advice, although we suspected the user manual would be unlikely to have much to say on the subject, and the manufacturer, if you could even get hold of them, would probably be quite defensive! We would have expected some knowledge about Soundbars, and perhaps some understanding of the design constraints of the modern large, thin TVs, but this wasn’t a bad response. However, John seemed like he was edging ahead again.

We then tried a similar question about phone music:

ChatGPT - How do I improve the sound quality from my phone?

This was quite interesting - I wouldn’t have thought about changing to a different audio player, and I’m not sure that software controls in the app itself would really solve the fundamental problem - phone speakers are tiny, and build to a price, and not in any way designed to sound good. Yes, using headphones could make a big difference, and adding a DAC such as the Mojo 2 would be a great idea. Overall I felt that John would offer better advice here. 

We also wondered what ChatGPT would know about multiroom music:  

ChatGPT - How can I listen to music in all the rooms in my house?

This was a solid response! Note again the general recommendation to consider specific needs and preferences - common sense, but often not easy without perspective, or someone to help guide you through the various options.

Next I wondered if ChatGPT could offer some slightly more technical advice - so I asked it about moving coil and moving magnet cartridges:

 ChatGPT - Which is better, moving magnet or moving coil cartridge ?

This was a really good answer, I thought. I could see John starting to worry!  

I tried a few more questions - did ChatGPT agree that British Hifi was the best in the world? And did it have any thoughts on floor standing and stand mount loudspeakers? 

 ChatGPT - Is British HiFi the best in the world?

ChatGPT - Should I buy floor standing or stand-mount speakers?

Finally, I wondered what ChatGPT thought about valve amplifiers: 

ChatGPT - Are Valve amplifiers good? 

So, overall I thought ChatGPT did pretty well - it gave some sensible, safe responses to some common questions. Ultimately I think John’s job is safe for now, as the answers were a bit thin on detail.

Most of all, however, I agreed with ChatGPT’s final recommendation - in all of these cases there’s no substitute for listening to things in person. In order to make an informed decision you need to have experienced these things yourself. Of course it helps to have someone with deep experience to help you, and for now, I think John is probably a better guide!

If you agree with me, and with ChatGPT, why not make an appointment to come and chat to a real human yourself, and listen to some music, and watch some movies with us.

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