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Hydrogenaudio Forum => General Audio => Topic started by: 2Bdecided on 2003-07-18 11:13:29

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2003-07-18 11:13:29
We're an objectivist audio community here. We don't necesarily believe that everything can be measured (psychoacoustic codecs prevent that anyway), but we do believe that subective opinions should be backed up by rigorous tests, intended to remove all possible bias from human subjective judgements and opinions.

I think this is a good thing. I read the following from Dibrom in a recently locked thread:

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If we simply let people go around making claims without challenging them, we would be no further than the --r3mix days, and likely much worse even given the larger number of people that participate in these forums.

You seem to focus only on the negative aspect here (I think I know why....) and completely disregard the benefit that has been wrought by this attitude. Yes, some people might get scared off in the process, but overall, this attitude is more helpful than harmful -- much more so in fact. There have been numerous cases were real problems have been even more emphasized and brought to bear through the increased scrutiny these types of situations bring about.


I very much agree with this.

Look at the opposite case: look at most Hi-Fi magazines. They advice people on buying $1000s of equipment (not just choosing between free audio codecs!), yet their advice is usually unscientific. The listening is done sighted, and without any control conditions. Objective measurements are presented as being inferior and/or removed from what people actually hear. Manufactuers claims are repeated verbatim. Opinions are stated as fact, and little is ever questioned.

Most significantly, there is no sense in which the influence of the magazine is used to improve the state of the art. They simply comment, often in a virtually meaningless, marketing driven manner, on products which they decide to review. Rather than helping people to buy better Hi-Fi, and leading the manufactuers to build better Hi-Fi, they do the opposite: People are confused as to what really does sound better, and often buy overpriced junk; while manufactuers spend less time (and money) improving the sound of their equipment, and more time following the latest trend or marketing gimmic. The result is that it's all too easy to spend $20,000 on a Hi-Fi which sounds absolutely bloody awful!

The equivalent here would be to spend weeks encoding your CD collection using a command line and/or encoder that was pretty poor compared to the best that's been acheived, and is available for free. But we don't allow that. We don't let people claim that X is better than Y, when it isn't. We don't let people claim that Z has magical properties. We do testing, and we try to move forward. And that is a good thing.

The latest thread with Xerophase was a good thread IMO. Maybe it took two pages to express something that we should have said to him in one posting - but we were interested, he was interested, and we've got a useful result. We've learned something. By following the rulse of the forum. And by being polite and encouraging him to join in with how we do things here.

There's a lot in the "tone" of how you do something. Whether we accept unsubstantiated claims is not up for debate - we do not. But the manner in which you coax these people into doing things the right way is very important.

We've got to allow people who don't know any better (and sometimes even those of us who do!) to make unsubstantiated claims at first, so that other members can point out that they're unsubstantiated, and suggest a fair way of testing them. This doesn't mean we accept unsubstantiated claims as truth, but it does mean that people sometimes need to be allowed to post them as a starting point for discussion and investigation. "I think X" is an unsubstantiated claim, but it's OK if it leads on to "How can I test if it's true?"

We are an objectivist audio community.

If you have any good objectivist/subjectivist links, links showing the importance of evidence, proof, and blind testing against feelings and opinions, or the opposite side of the argument, feel free to post them.

Cheers,
David.

http://sound.westhost.com/cables-p2.htm (http://sound.westhost.com/cables-p2.htm)

http://skepdic.com/blondlot.html (http://skepdic.com/blondlot.html)

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/ (http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: fewtch on 2003-07-18 11:45:20
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We are an objectivist audio community.

If you have any good objectivist/subjectivist links, links showing the importance of evidence, proof, and blind testing against feelings and opinions, or the opposite side of the argument, feel free to post them.

You posted "we are an objectivist audio community" at least twice, maybe three times, as if to confirm it in your own mind.

You noted that the subjectivist approach can be very problematic.  Yet, we've seen that a "pure" objectivist approach can also be problematic -- especially when that involves choosing charts and graphs over ears.  Double-blind testing is important, of course -- but it doesn't mean that we can't entertain claims if they sound valid to us (of course, we want some common basis for agreement, and so far nothing has beat double-blind testing for this).

I have only one suggestion -- that we be an open minded, but non-gullible audio community, and not label ourselves strictly in some way or feel we have to adhere to some black-and-white objectivist standard because we fear subjectivism.  Any such approach, made out of fear of the opposite approach, will destroy us as surely as any rigid, closed minded approach will -- because ultimately, ridigity is unscientific and closed off from the real world -- which consists of real people listening to music for purposes of pleasure and enjoyment, and not computers analyzing music in order to produce graphs.  We need to avoid both superstition and scientism (http://www.meta-library.net/gengloss/sciism-body.html) by carefully following the narrow path between the two.  To do anything less is to follow the same path of laziness that the hi-fi magazine reviewers do.  The middle way may be the most difficult and challenging, but it is the only way.

That's it... my 2 cents.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: KikeG on 2003-07-18 11:51:21
Description and discussion at rec.audio.high-end over a funny and enlightling tap water sighted tasting "experiment":

http://groups.google.com/groups?dq=&hl=es&...ws1.newsguy.com (http://groups.google.com/groups?dq=&hl=es&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&threadm=bdagb702pq%40enews1.newsguy.com&rnum=1&prev=/groups%3Fq%3Dg:thl1874406706d%26dq%3D%26hl%3Des%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26selm%3Dbdagb702pq%2540enews1.newsguy.com)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: KikeG on 2003-07-18 12:00:15
About the objective vs. subjective issue... ABX tests are subjective tests, so I think the objective vs. subjective discussion is not like black vs. white.

I think that whe goal is to use as rigorous as possible methods, but without being mind-closed. I think that ABX or at least some kind of controlled DBT tests are an essential part of that rigorous approach, and that is not being mind-closed.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2003-07-18 12:05:42
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Quote
We are an objectivist audio community.

If you have any good objectivist/subjectivist links, links showing the importance of evidence, proof, and blind testing against feelings and opinions, or the opposite side of the argument, feel free to post them.

You posted "we are an objectivist audio community" at least twice, maybe three times, as if to confirm it in your own mind.

I wasn't confirming it in my mind.

I was stating it for the benefit of others, because some recent posts seem to suggest that people have missed this point.

If you want to tell everyone how something sounds, but have no interest in even checking to see if the effect is real or imagined, then you're in the wrong forum!
Post to rec.audio.opinion or Audio Asylum (http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/general/bbs.html).


And fewtch, we've both been here long enough to know that the HA approach to psychoacoustic codec assessment falls into neither traditional objectivist or subjectivist thinking. We're subjective from the point of view of using our ears for quality assessment (with audio codecs, you have to, and with other things it's not a bad idea, though measurements are also useful there), but we're objective from the point of view of requiring the listening to be carried out with some controls to remove bias. We're also objective (I think) by believing that all the audible phenomena that we're discussing are real and explainable. There's no magic or effects "beyond science" at work.


Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: fewtch on 2003-07-18 12:16:19
Quote
Quote
Quote
We are an objectivist audio community.

If you have any good objectivist/subjectivist links, links showing the importance of evidence, proof, and blind testing against feelings and opinions, or the opposite side of the argument, feel free to post them.

You posted "we are an objectivist audio community" at least twice, maybe three times, as if to confirm it in your own mind.

I wasn't confirming it in my mind.

I was stating it for the benefit of others, because some recent posts seem to suggest that people have missed this point.

If you want to tell everyone how something sounds, but have no interest in even checking to see if the effect is real or imagined, then you're in the wrong forum!
Post to rec.audio.opinion or Audio Asylum (http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/general/bbs.html).


And fewtch, we've both been here long enough to know that the HA approach to psychoacoustic codec assessment falls into neither traditional objectivist or subjectivist thinking. We're subjective from the point of view of using our ears for quality assessment (with audio codecs, you have to, and with other things it's not a bad idea, though measurements are also useful there), but we're objective from the point of view of requiring the listening to be carried out with some controls to remove bias. We're also objective (I think) by believing that all the audible phenomena that we're discussing are real and explainable. There's no magic or effects "beyond science" at work.


Cheers,
David.

I'd like to respond to this line by line, but it's too much of a pain to fix up the quotes.

I agree with what you say, and was just making a similar statement/comment of my own (from my point of view) rather than disagreeing with yours -- and I wasn't intending to nit-pick on any particular points you made.  I never stated there was any magic "beyond science" at work -- perhaps you derived that from what I said, but I didn't mean to suggest it.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2003-07-18 12:23:29
KikeG beat me to it.


Every time I think about this discussion, I have a terrible idea: "instead of thinking of all these people who rely on subjective evidence and placeabo and expectation as poor deluded souls who need educating, why don't I just make some audio equipment myself and make some money out of them?" ;-)

The problem is, I'd be too honest. I'd make it as good as possible, ignore all the fashionable ideas which I knew were nonesense, and sell it at a fair price. This would make all the Hi-end fans think it was poor sounding cheap junk and I'd sell nothing! Whereas, if I put in lots of trendy design ideas which I knew would make it sound worse or simply sound identical but cost more, and charged, oh, 20x what it cost to design and manufacture, then I could, well, I could be a part of the audiophile industry ;-)

Cheers,
David
P.S. Not all expensive Hi-Fi is bad - some is wonderful. But finding out which - there's a challenge!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: fewtch on 2003-07-18 12:35:01
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KikeG beat me to it.


Every time I think about this discussion, I have a terrible idea: "instead of thinking of all these people who rely on subjective evidence and placeabo and expectation as poor deluded souls who need educating, why don't I just make some audio equipment myself and make some money out of them?" ;-)

Yep, I've thought of that myself.  It would be fairly easy (just get in 'good graces' with some high-end audio dealer, or learn the terminology well enough to sound like a Stereophile editor, and learn what sells -- maybe start an Ebay business selling "CD juice" or something).

Yep, I'm too honest too -- I'd rather educate those people (gently, not with a hammer over the head) than encourage even more of the same.

I've mingled with a lot of these people (Audio Asylum) -- I've been surprised that there are some things to "learn" from them too.  The brain has two sides, intuitive/emotional (right brain) and logical/rational (left brain) and I found that I was paying far too much emphasis to the "left brain" tendency.  I also found that balancing things out a little didn't cause an instant, irrevocable descent into superstition, either. 

For example (just one among many) -- I got interested in vinyl (mostly for the out of print back catalogs of music), and found that the same basic audio wisdom is applicable as far as minimizing distortion and maximizing SQ -- and that there are some superstitions regarding vinyl among the "digital-only" crowd as well.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Gabriel on 2003-07-18 13:30:08
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The problem is, I'd be too honest. I'd make it as good as possible, ignore all the fashionable ideas which I knew were nonesense, and sell it at a fair price

Using EAC as a CD transport? Quite inexpensive, isn't it?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2003-07-18 13:54:32
It's funny - we tell "hi-end" people that you can get perfect results ripping with a PC - much better than any stand-alone player in the digital domain. They laugh.

Bob Stuart of Meridian uses the same logic and uses PC CD drives in some of his expensive transports, and when he exlains this, no one contradicts.

It's not what you know, it's...
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: fewtch on 2003-07-18 14:02:38
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It's funny - we tell "hi-end" people that you can get perfect results ripping with a PC - much better than any stand-alone player in the digital domain. They laugh.

Bob Stuart of Meridian uses the same logic and uses PC CD drives in some of his expensive transports, and when he exlains this, no one contradicts.

It's not what you know, it's...

Belief is powerful stuff, to be sure.  Lately things seem to be getting a little better in the "audiophile" world (just my subjective impression) -- having run into more people lately on certain forums, particularly "new entrants" who aren't duped as easily by the hype.  More vinyl adherents are recording to CD-R (with the drop in standalone recorder costs) and finding little or no SQ difference between the original vinyl and the digital recording.

Maybe just part of the generally increasing skepticism everywhere (or the worse global economy... who knows).  It's funny, but I find the vinyl people considerably less deluded about expensive "tweaks" than hi-end CD/"Hi-res" types (some of those are serious nut cases...  ).
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: marx on 2008-10-21 21:34:58
Hi everyone I just joined up and I apologise for the slightly negative tone of this post but I am extremely relieved to have found this site or specifically this thread (I assume this thread sets the general theme for this forum) because in doing that I found some like minded individuals.

I have only been into Hi-fi for just over a year and I have been participating in a forum in New Zealand which I believe is highly geared to toward absolute subjective reviewing. I absolutely believe that there is a place for subjective reviewing after all nobody can tell you what you like. However in the forum I have been participating in to try and give a slightly objective view to what appears to some of the claims made gets you absolutely worked over, and the debating style of some of these subjective purist is based purely on character assassination rather than discussing the topic at hand. There is an unsaid word that unless you have something constructive to say then don't bother saying. Unfortunately this only seems to apply to the subjective thread, in the objective threads anything is fair game.

I like balance, I consider myself to be a very open-minded individual and as such I am open to both sides of the Subjective - Objective debate. In this respect the forum that I am partaking in the debate, on the subjective side against objectivity, the verbal input doesn't cover much else other than childish irrational attempts at shooting the objective messenger.

Until I found this site I found myself heading for Hi-fi despair, I was loosing faith in a hobby that I love thank you for restoring this faith and I am looking forward to contributing positively in this forum in the near future. I fully intend on contributing in the other forum still as there are some great people there it will just be nice to chat with some people that don't mind looking at audio with a different view.

This is the thread (http://audioenz.co.nz/forums/showthread.php?t=6906) that almost put me over the edge. I would be interested on your thoughts and don't go easy on me, if I was missing the point feel free to tell me so.

Kind Regards

Marx
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Soap on 2008-10-21 22:01:51
Yes, you can rest assured every single thing I read by AudioEnz in that thread is utter rubbish.
I'm not even going to bother quoting him - people should read the entire thing - not a solid point anywhere.
There is no point wasting your time arguing with someone who not only appears highly resistant to change, but also has a financial interest in not changing his tune.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: HotshotGG on 2008-10-22 00:36:19
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Yes, you can rest assured every single thing I read by AudioEnz in that thread is utter rubbish.
I'm not even going to bother quoting him - people should read the entire thing - not a solid point anywhere.
There is no point wasting your time arguing with someone who not only appears highly resistant to change, but also has a financial interest in not changing his tune.


I really think that when it comes down to the subjective vs objective argument is is my belief that "less educated" are unwilling to perform simple DBT/ABX tests simply, because they do not how to or cannot interpret the results. I get into arguments all of the time with people about this who aren't as concerned about "quality".  It annoy's me very much as I know there is discernable difference there.

Quote
This is the thread that almost put me over the edge. I would be interested on your thoughts and don't go easy on me, if I was missing the point feel free to tell me so.


He seems to blindly shoot down your arguments. I don't think we have any right to say that equipement on X is better then Y unless we have actually tested. We can't make statements like they do in Bose Commercials that the sound is "big" and "bold". That just doesn't work.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Slipstreem on 2008-10-22 01:48:47
Welcome aboard, marx. I think you've come to the right place.

Cheers, Slipstreem. 
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: ExUser on 2008-10-22 02:10:01
I remember fondly the day I found Hydrogenaudio. Since then this place has been a home to me like no other on the Internet. Welcome!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Light-Fire on 2008-10-22 02:26:18
We're an objectivist audio community here...


Subjective audio communities are not audio communities. They make no sense.

One should be as objective as possible when choosing audio hardware and software. And then, after decisions are made, just enjoy the music.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2008-10-22 03:17:53
Knowledge of HA has risen considerably in (http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=prophead&n=45382)the audiophile world in the last year. Most of it is generally (http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/messages/38508.html)of a condescending fashion, although we're a credited resource for lossy encoding. And I told JA a while ago, straight up, that HA is a better resource for audio than Stereophile.

marx's comments cut deeper than many people here realize. How many people in the "real" world have had an interest in good sound but smelled the poopy finery coming out of the hi-fi world and turned their noses away? How many of them would have invested more heavily when given a more rational outlook on audio? In other words, could the audiophile world be ultimately hurting the cause for high-end audio?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Soap on 2008-10-22 04:18:40
In other words, could the audiophile world be ultimately hurting the cause for high-end audio?

I'm sure a solid argument could be made that they are.
But there are many who financially gain from subjectivist quackery and FUD.  Obviously enough to, if not keep the train rolling on their own, at least keep the wheels greased.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: marx on 2008-10-22 05:35:17
Thanks Guys it's nice to know that I'm not alone. I'm sure I'll remember my day of audio salvation fondly too 
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: sld on 2008-10-22 05:42:27
I joined HA when I was in high school and never regretted it.

Because music is inherently something that is pleasurable and emotional, when we want to analyse audio we have to intentionally take steps to eliminate bias and placebo as much as possible.

It is that intentionality that makes HA objectivist. In a world that is inclined towards irrational beliefs based on self-satisfaction and egos, HA is a haven of audio science for the layman.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: MichaelW on 2008-10-22 07:03:44
Sorry if this is a bit of a hobby-horse, but a simple distinction between subjective and objective doesn't quite get it.

John Searle (an American philosopher of forthright tendencies) distinguishes between the epistemologically subjective and the ontologically subjective; that is, between knowing objective things subjectively, and things that are irreducibly a subjective experience. Take two pieces of paper: is one brighter than the other? You can either judge it subjectively, or measure it. One is blue: that is an inherently subjective experience.

Of course, ontologically subjective things may well have correlations with the objective. For humans, blue corresponds to light of a certain wavelength. For us, UV levels are pretty much irrelevant, but for a bee they seem to be critical. There's no way of knowing what objective measures correlate with the ontologically subjective experience without actually using subjective experience as a test.

I take it that what HA stands for, above everything, is the disciplined and, if you will, objective discussion of ontologically subjective experiences. For instance, one way of trying to assess the performance of a lossy codec is to look at an audio spectrum. A standard HA meme is, when people make wrong use of audio spectra, to say "You don't listen with your eyes." This, I take it, is honouring the fact that the hearing of music is an essentially, ontologically, subjective experience. But ABX and similar blinded methods enable us to deal with this subjectivity in a disciplined and sharable way.

This is not only good because clear thought is good; it can be important for developers. Often it's easier to use objective measurements than to stage ABX tests: oscilloscopes are less complicated than human beings. But you've got to know what measurements will actually correlate to differences in the ontologically subjective experience of human listeners to music, and that can only be done using real humans with their subjective experiences. That's the way you know that there is little point in worrying about frequencies above 20KHz, or THD below about 0.1%. But you also need to know that although even-order harmonics are, objectively, a distortion of the signal, a non-linearity, quite a lot of people like a little dash with their music. It's beside the point to go all tech and say they shouldn't; they do, and because hearing music is essentially subjective, that's all you can say, and maybe give them a chance to have it. But you can say they're wrong if they confuse a little bit of spice with their signal with more *accurate* reproduction.

Hi marx, I'm in NZ too. I don't actually know anything about sound reproduction, but over the years I've thought a lot about the relationship between the inherently subjective, and publicly usable and defensible judgements, and I think the general points read across.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2008-10-22 07:31:16
Knowledge of HA has risen considerably in (http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=prophead&n=45382)the audiophile world in the last year. Most of it is generally (http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/messages/38508.html)of a condescending fashion, although we're a credited resource for lossy encoding. And I told JA a while ago, straight up, that HA is a better resource for audio than Stereophile.

marx's comments cut deeper than many people here realize. How many people in the "real" world have had an interest in good sound but smelled the poopy finery coming out of the hi-fi world and turned their noses away? How many of them would have invested more heavily when given a more rational outlook on audio? In other words, could the audiophile world be ultimately hurting the cause for high-end audio?



I make a point of mentioning, and linking to, HA articles in any other audio forum I visit.  I've had people thank me for finally showing them a place where audio talk isn't inimical to science...or common sense.

There's actually a modest, steady  level of audio 'objectivism' online these days, between this place, audioholics , AVSforum  (the latter two are wobblier but that's because they don't mandate 'proof of claim'), a couple of skeptic forums (e.g., SKEPTIC magazine and JREF) that occasionally touch on audio, and even good old rec.audio.high-end is still going on Usenet.  Then too, the 'high end' world sometimes makes our case for us online -- the 'machina dynamica' website is point-and-laugh gold. (Maybe the joke's on me; I'm still half-wondering if someone will come forward and admit that's some sort of conceptual art project).

(Sadly, objectivist audio views seem to be losing what little hold they ever had in the *print* media representing the audio hobby.  Hence my recent thread about the decline of Sound & Vision).
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: HotshotGG on 2008-10-22 07:53:32
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There's actually a modest, steady level of audio 'objectivism' online these days, between this place, audioholics , AVSforum (the latter two are wobblier but that's because they don't mandate 'proof of claim'),


Don't forget about Head-Fi! Even though it's a great forum with some users reincarnated from this website and looking at things from a purely scientific point of a view I have seen some quackery topics on there. Some which make me cringe. Anyway I thought I would chime in seeing that you were mentioning other audio forums on the net. 
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: marx on 2008-10-22 08:41:26
Hi marx, I'm in NZ too. I don't actually know anything about sound reproduction, but over the years I've thought a lot about the relationship between the inherently subjective, and publicly usable and defensible judgements, and I think the general points read across.


Nice to see another kiwi here. I am already revelling in the masses of intelligent rational conversation covered in this forum, something that has been sadly lacking in a lot of my experiences with audio forums. Nice work guys!!!!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: botface on 2008-10-22 09:19:10
@MichealW,
                Thanks for your insight. I think it's very important. I know almost nothing of philosophy but I've often felt that people believe they are being objective when what they're actually doing is simply repeating things that they believe to be true and accept as facts, which is one of the traits they object to in subjecivists
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tom_vienna_at on 2008-10-22 09:56:49
Since we are humans, everything is subjective... we just pretend that things are "objective". Just compare what was considered an "objective" view on certain things 10 years ago and what is "objective" today.

And when it comes to audio... please! When human ears are involved, everything said *must* be subjective. Not to talk about individual settings.

And what we should have learned by now: Just because a certain amount of individuals claims the very same thing, it says nothing about the truth or objectivness of the claim. What we know today is just a tiny, tiny part of what we didn't know yesterday. We can't be so self-obsessed to claim that we know an objective truth... we're just working in a certain direction - as a common effort that might be obsolete tomorrow.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: MichaelW on 2008-10-22 12:06:33
My understanding is that, in the audio context, "objective" tends to be used with reference to measurements made by instruments. For sure these are useful, but you need to make sure *which* measurements, within *what* ranges, actually make a difference to sound. One trick of the fraudiophile end of things is to produce cables which have objectively measurable superior performance, but only at frequencies that are totally irrelevant to audio (is "skin effect" the right term?). Or to advertise amps that are flat up to 50KHz; great for talking to bats, but quite irrelevant for music.

Another common use of "objective" is to mean something like "soundly based" or "not full of BS." My chief point is that you can, with some difficulty, talk about subjective responses in a way that is disciplined and relatively BS-free. "Subjective" doesn't have to mean that everyone's opinion is as good as anyone else's, or anything like that.

Getting a grip on subjective response, in a way that is useful to engineers, even, is one of the great successes of the second half of the 20th century; it happened in imaging, I guess it's at the heart of ergonomics, and it seems to be what has driven the improvement of lossy codecs.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2008-10-22 17:09:08
My understanding is that, in the audio context, "objective" tends to be used with reference to measurements made by instruments. For sure these are useful, but you need to make sure *which* measurements, within *what* ranges, actually make a difference to sound. One trick of the fraudiophile end of things is to produce cables which have objectively measurable superior performance, but only at frequencies that are totally irrelevant to audio (is "skin effect" the right term?). Or to advertise amps that are flat up to 50KHz; great for talking to bats, but quite irrelevant for music.


'Objective' can also apply to subjective data.  ABX tests, for example, involve subjective self-report, but the reports are checked against objective fact (the true identity of X) and mathematical probability.

I like 'fraudiophile' btw. 
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Soap on 2008-10-22 17:31:42
Since we are humans, everything is subjective... we just pretend that things are "objective". Just compare what was considered an "objective" view on certain things 10 years ago and what is "objective" today.

There is a difference between evidence and conclusion.
You are talking about "views" which I take to mean "conclusions".  Clearly different conclusions can be reached over the course of time as more evidence is gathered - but it would be a misstatement to claim that evidence gathered at one point in time will be later found to be false.

And when it comes to audio... please! When human ears are involved, everything said *must* be subjective.

This is mostly true - but see krabapple's excellent point above mine for why this is largely irrelevant in terms of our discussion of objectivist vs subjectivist audiophiles.

And what we should have learned by now: Just because a certain amount of individuals claims the very same thing, it says nothing about the truth or objectivness of the claim. What we know today is just a tiny, tiny part of what we didn't know yesterday. We can't be so self-obsessed to claim that we know an objective truth... we're just working in a certain direction - as a common effort that might be obsolete tomorrow.

You appear to be implying conclusions which just are not aired by the vast majority of people on HA.  HA discussions rarely revolve around "claims" - they revolve around tests and (as objectively as possible) gathered evidence.  Saying "99% of people tested were unable to statistically prove they could perceive a difference between encoding A and encoding B" is as close to an objective truth as is possible.  This is also a claim which will stand the test of time, your arguments not withstanding. unless you are claiming a future test might show that “hey, I actually DID hear temporal smearing back in 1999!”

I do not see the broad generalizations you appear to be claiming people make here regarding "truth".
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: marx on 2008-10-22 18:54:05
Or to advertise amps that are flat up to 50KHz; great for talking to bats, but quite irrelevant for music.


In the design of amplifiers there is more to consider than just attending to the frequencies perceivable by humans.

If frequencies that are beyond that of the human hearing are taken out there is now a void in the frequency range that needs to be filled. If I remember correctly this phenomenon is called slew-induced distortion. Happy to be corrected.

Apologies for veering off topic I just thought that might be off interest.

Quote
I know almost nothing of philosophy but I've often felt that people believe they are being objective when what they're actually doing is simply repeating things that they believe to be true and accept as facts, which is one of the traits they object to in subjecivists


I have similar thoughts to this and it is why I currently refuse to get off the fence when it comes to the subjective-objective debate. As you would have seen in the thread I previously shared with you I get frustrated when people can't even consider the other side of the debate.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Tahnru on 2008-10-22 19:25:23
A quick add:  Marx has split out a new thread for discussion of slew-induced distortion, found here: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=66695 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=66695)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: MichaelW on 2008-10-22 22:06:21
SNIP
'Objective' can also apply to subjective data.  ABX tests, for example, involve subjective self-report, but the reports are checked against objective fact (the true identity of X) and mathematical probability.
SNIP


Yeah, I can see that, but I'm suggesting that, as "objectivist" tends to mean "relying on measurements," it might be good to clarify the meaning of "objective." Rather often, "objective truth" means "truth that I recognise." In the field I used to work in,  there's a sometimes useful phrase: "intersubjectively verifiable." But that is different, I think, from the methodology you describe, which depends on verifying subjective judgement against objective criteria. That's fundamental; I'm just nattering over whether calling it "objective" is sufficiently nuanced, indicating the extent to which ABX, for instance, accommodates phenomena that we don't know how to measure yet. ABX tests are a way of determining whether there are, in fact, factors other than frequency response, distortion and signal to noise ratio that matter to music listeners (that is, that matter subjectively).

Perhaps I've wittered on too much about the meanings of words; but it's kind of nice to know just where disagreements lie.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pisymbol on 2009-03-22 19:56:15
Quote
There's actually a modest, steady level of audio 'objectivism' online these days, between this place, audioholics , AVSforum (the latter two are wobblier but that's because they don't mandate 'proof of claim'),


Don't forget about Head-Fi! Even though it's a great forum with some users reincarnated from this website and looking at things from a purely scientific point of a view I have seen some quackery topics on there. Some which make me cringe. Anyway I thought I would chime in seeing that you were mentioning other audio forums on the net. 


I am a HeadFi reject or shall I say I have gotten out of the hobby and that community after a long and expensive journey.  I've read Hydrogen on and off with some skepticism.  But after many humbling experiences, I tend to believe this community is way more sane than Headfi (e.g. spending hundreds, thousands of dollars in recabling headphones that are about a foot long, etc.).

Folks spending 10's of thousands of dollars to eek out as much "signal purity" (whatever that means to whoever is spending the money) is utter nonsense and wasteful.  After owning many hi-end audio equipment, I have found that the law of diminishing returns hits hard and fast right about a couple hundred bucks.

I love Head-Fi, I think some of the folks who post there are some of the nicest people you will meet.  But just like many many audiophiles (a term I don't really want to be attached to anymore), they are being lied and fooled - plain and simple.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-03-22 23:21:41
I migrated here from Head-Fi.  Even if you are a audio "objectivist" hanging out at Head-Fi can make you start to question if the neurons in your brain are functioning properly.  I won't go into my ideas of the psychology behind it, but what I think is best summed up by the people who say that audiophilia is a religion.  I'm glad a forum like this exists.  It reminds me that audio can be a fun and inexpensive hobby, not a mass of subjective insanity.

I think as audio has become cheaper and more accessible to people with limited financial resources these people have had to be more rigorous when thinking about how to spend their money.  When your wallet is small it's easier to question conventional audiophile wisdom and look for people (like the people here) who are willing to say their IPOD sounds just as good as a $10K CD player. 

Arguably, Hydrogenaudio also helps us to realize that perfection is measure in our minds.  If all amps sound the same in a blind test, you can stop fooling with amps and start to shift your internal perspective to accept the amp you have is actually good.  You can also put your focus somewhere else, like actually enjoying your music instead of constantly fiddling with your equipment.  It seems like many people are chasing a perfection that has very little to with the audio reproduction of their music.

As far as the objective vs subjective argument, I think it's important to remember that things other than the sound can determine how we perceive that sound, and these things are actually important and not just points for ridicule.  We are not Vulcans from Star Trek.  Audio is a holistic experience.  Music sounds better in a comfy chair.  I like my headphones because they have wood cups, even though listening tests indicate the wood cups probably make no audible difference.

Now, I've obviously walked into la-la land.  But Apple figured out (and companies like Dell are finally catching up) that people like things better if they look better.  Let's not discount the important of industrial design and beauty.  If you fall too far into the objective category you end up arguing that there is no practical difference between an amp in a nice metal case and a cardboard box.  But there is a practical difference.  People have to look at that case every day and I'd rather have a well crafted case than a torn cardboard box with wires hanging out of it.  There may not be an audible difference, but that doesn't mean the amps are interchangeable for day to day life.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: MichaelW on 2009-03-23 00:27:36
And, of course, some people would prefer a torn cardboard box. They might say they refused to pay $500 for a logo, but I know, because I can feel the attraction myself, that it would be great to have wonderful sound coming out of what looks like junk. Which is about where WAF becomes a relevant factor in choosing the gear you put in a shared room.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-03-23 01:29:18
You know, that's really funny - I actually started off lurking in the DIY corner of HeadCase, and then too migrated to Head-Fi before taking permanent residence here. I bought in to the whole subjective headphone amp thing, kit and kaboodle, before selling out piecemeal. (.. although not without realizing that I really should replace my $300 headphone amp with another DIY jobbie one of these days, because of some audible issues!)

I kind of wonder if this is some kind of trend, with Head-Fi basically feeding HydrogenAudio - kind of like how Ayn Rand books tend to feed libertarianism (though the two things are very substantially different). The headphone amp market in particular is.... very curious. It's the cheapest way for the average joe to buy in to "the good life" of high fidelity - and so it's also the cheapest way for said joe to dismiss it as mostly claptrap. All jokes about Patrick82 besides, you see far, far more pro-DBT statements on Head-Fi that on virtually all other audio forums save here.

I hypothesize (and I'm not sure I can back this up) that the relative inexpense of the headphone field allows headphone people to be generally more open to DBT techniques, insofar as they have less emotional investment in their monetary investments in audio. If true, this could have all sorts of deep implications. For one, it is in our best interests to ensure that low end gear is as high a quality as possible - and it is in the high-end world's best interest to denigrate it and ensure it is as poor as possible. (Read what you will into the relative lack of interest spent on low end gear in many mags, the pathetic quality of low-end turntables sold by high-end manufacturers, etc.) It means that, insofar as the audio world has shifted over to be more headphone-centric, pro-DBT sentiment increases - but if the market swings to the other direction, towards speakers, it may decrease.

---

Anyways, to actually respond to the OP, I sincerely believe most of the good arguments for blind testing of audio are exclusively found somewhere on the archives of this site.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pisymbol on 2009-03-23 01:30:27
I migrated here from Head-Fi.  Even if you are a audio "objectivist" hanging out at Head-Fi can make you start to question if the neurons in your brain are functioning properly.  I won't go into my ideas of the psychology behind it, but what I think is best summed up by the people who say that audiophilia is a religion.  I'm glad a forum like this exists.  It reminds me that audio can be a fun and inexpensive hobby, not a mass of subjective insanity.


Wow, can we start a support group.  They have a saying when you join HeadFi, "Welcome to HeadFi, sorry about your wallet."  And I used to think it was funny and partly true.  Now, I think its hogwash.  I think the majority of folks (not just HeadFi either) are more into justifying what they bought than anything else and that saying just supports this ideology.

What funny is I used to go to meets a lot and listen to a lot of equipment (I've pretty much heard everything including hours spent on the Mighty Orpheus setup worth over 20k).  After a while I started to question the setup I had and if it was really worth it (could I really tell the difference between my 3k amp and my little small integrated amp/dac combo).  I came to the conclusion the answer is no.  Then I asked why?  Then I started to read a lot of threads in this forum.  I still have questions but I am a firm believer and will repeat that the law of diminishing returns HITS HARD with audio.

Quote
As far as the objective vs subjective argument, I think it's important to remember that things other than the sound can determine how we perceive that sound, and these things are actually important and not just points for ridicule.  We are not Vulcans from Star Trek.  Audio is a holistic experience.  Music sounds better in a comfy chair.  I like my headphones because they have wood cups, even though listening tests indicate the wood cups probably make no audible difference.


Riedel made a multi-million dollar business convincing folks wine tastes better in the appropriate glass.  It worked.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pisymbol on 2009-03-23 01:39:18
All jokes about Patrick82 besides, you see far, far more pro-DBT statements on Head-Fi that on virtually all other audio forums save here.


Three comments:

1)  Patrick82 - lol, lol, lol, OMG, lol....

2)  I had another handle on Headfi and I was very pro-DBT with a lot of things.  I even gotten into some *shouting* matches over cables at a meet.  Yeesh (basically I wanted to use my cables which were Monster cheapos and the guy refused claiming I would "ruin" his setup).  However, I would say the majority of senior guys are not pro-DBT and will go to great lengths to tell you that their 5-10k tube amplifier makes their <insert vocalist> come alive and that no digital reproduction can come close.

3)  I with you except I don't have the time or believe the barrier to entry is too large.  I think you can make a do-it yourself amplifier that is probably 90% of what you can buy for a fraction of the price.  I once had a very candid discussion with a builder at a meet of one of the more popular vendors on HeadFi (I will not say who) but the fact is their 400-500 product is worth about $20-30 dollars in parts!

I actually right now am starting all over.  I want a hi-fi notebook setup but this time I want something reasonable and I want to maximize my dollars.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-03-23 01:44:21
What funny is I used to go to meets a lot and listen to a lot of equipment (I've pretty much heard everything including hours spent on the Mighty Orpheus setup worth over 20k).  After a while I started to question the setup I had and if it was really worth it (could I really tell the difference between my 3k amp and my little small integrated amp/dac combo).  I came to the conclusion the answer is no.  Then I asked why?  Then I started to read a lot of threads in this forum.  I still have questions but I am a firm believer and will repeat that the law of diminishing returns HITS HARD with audio.


Yup. Same here. I've only been to one or two meets, but nothing crushed my subjective sensibilities harder than listening to a complete high-end stack from an extremely well-regarded high end headphone amp manufacturer. They're a great bunch of guys, but... there was a lot of proof in that particular pudding. (I was too gracious to actually speak my mind.)

That said, of course none of us really have good DBT environments at those meets, it's all sighted. I could go both ways with that, and say that either the lack of forced critical listening desensitized me, or that I was just more levelheaded than everybody else in the room, or that I was really just prejudiced against it in the first place. But if one is asking those questions in the first place with a five-figure headphone system, something's wrong.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-03-23 02:00:23
2)  I had another handle on Headfi and I was very pro-DBT with a lot of things.  I even gotten into some *shouting* matches over cables at a meet.  Yeesh (basically I wanted to use my cables which were Monster cheapos and the guy refused claiming I would "ruin" his setup).  However, I would say the majority of senior guys are not pro-DBT and will go to great lengths to tell you that their 5-10k tube amplifier makes their <insert vocalist> come alive and that no digital reproduction can come close.
It depends a lot on the subforum and a lot on how you phrase things. The usual way it works at Head-Fi is that two people will get into some ridiculously loud shouting match, one is obviously right, the other is obviously wrong. Neither side is actually convinced, but the lurkers are very deeply influenced by that kind of stuff one way or another.

That said, I only get close to a couple forums nowadays (Dedicated Source and Sound Science) - so I might be getting a skewed impression of the breakdowns here..

Quote
3)  I with you except I don't have the time or believe the barrier to entry is too large.  I think you can make a do-it yourself amplifier that is probably 90% of what you can buy for a fraction of the price.  I once had a very candid discussion with a builder at a meet of one of the more popular vendors on HeadFi (I will not say who) but the fact is their 400-500 product is worth about $20-30 dollars in parts!
That's how it works in most industries, actually. I'm not sure you can criticize the headphone amp market on margins alone. The margins on high quality electronics (even outside the audio field) are surprisingly high. That an amp manufacturer has a ~93% markup is pretty normal in the grand scheme of things. Also keep in mind, especially with discrete designs, that the core transistors can be surprisingly cheap, but getting them matched and laid out correctly on a PCB does require some skill. And the volume on high end devices is so low that manufacturers often have to raise prices just to break even. I remember a quote to the effect of "there are just as many people buying $1,000 speakers as there are buying $10,000 speakers". It's a weird market.

What is exceptional is that said builders often are doing very little that anybody with a few months of electronics experience can do on their own. Building headphone amps (especially op amp based ones) is not rocket science, whereas most of the other fields that justify 93% markups really are doing rocket sciency types of things with a lot of proprietary knowledge. I don't mean to disparage the true geniuses of the trade, who build truly innovative designs (regardless of their actual audible improvement) - the high end DAC+amp market like with the DAC1 really is dominated by smart guys who really do know more than most people. But very many of the builder types as exist on Head-Fi mostly add value by adding tweako bits to the product like silver wire, and that's walking on some pretty thin ice...
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-03-23 14:46:04
It means that, insofar as the audio world has shifted over to be more headphone-centric, pro-DBT sentiment increases - but if the market swings to the other direction, towards speakers, it may decrease.


By rights it should not, since the usual psychological confounders act during formation of loudspeaker preference too, as Sean Olive showed in his JAES papers. 

However, if DBT for most audio gear is hard for the consumer to set up, DBT for loudspeakers is almost impossible, which makes arguing for them seem even more quixotic, to some.  (I say 'almost' because I know of one person who actually claims to do DBTs of loudspeakers...he also builds his own loudspeakers, relying heavily on Toole/Olive-type published work -- look up user 'WmAx' here and on audioholics)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-03-23 14:57:45
I've gone to a Headphone meet.  What is great about a headphone meet is that you have no emotional or financial investment other than the time it took you to get to the meet and maybe the cost of a hotel room.  I was able to try just about everything, including some of the most sought after gear on Head-Fi.  Let's just say I came realize just how well my modest (Computer->Cmoy (sometimes) -> Headphones) setup competes with the big boys.  I also realized that the point of diminishing returns for headphones (just the headphones, not the other stuff) is very low, well under the $1K people claim you need to spend to get a "audiophile grade" headphone.

And let's face it.  It was just plain fun to talk to all those people and listen to all that stuff, even if I didn't agree with most of what was said.  Of course, I didn't argue with anything.  Sometimes a smile, an open ear, and a closed mouth makes for a more fun when people are saying something you don't agree with.

The OP wanted an example of a subjectivist argument.  I don't have a link, but I'll repeat an example of what finally pushed me away from Head-Fi.  There is a particular member on Head-Fi that bugs me.  If you don't agree with him he insults your hearing ability and experience.  He is also an EE so he can justify most of his claims using some technological mumbo-jumbo, even when he's misrepresenting that mumbo-jumbo to suit his argument.  As most of the people on Head-Fi aren't EEs they have no way to argue with him.

This person created a thread to claim a software update to some device created a significant audible improvement.  There was some discussion on it, then somebody looked at the changelog for the software update and pointed out there was nothing changed that would result in an audible difference.  The OP persisted with his opinion that the update caused an audible change.  People backed off as obviously his hearing (and high post count) meant more than that what the developers of the hardware/software had said.

That particular thread was among the final few that led me to delete Head-Fi from my bookmarks toolbar.  I do kind of miss the easy banter that comes from approaching things in a purely subjective manner, but I think my mental state is better now that I'm here.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-03-23 15:04:17
3)  I with you except I don't have the time or believe the barrier to entry is too large.  I think you can make a do-it yourself amplifier that is probably 90% of what you can buy for a fraction of the price.  I once had a very candid discussion with a builder at a meet of one of the more popular vendors on HeadFi (I will not say who) but the fact is their 400-500 product is worth about $20-30 dollars in parts!


I think you can build a DIY amp (such as one from www.amb.org) that is 100% of any other product for a fraction of the cost.  But commercial amp makers like Headroom have to factor in warranties, paychecks, sales staff, websites, etc.  When you DIY you avoid all that.

Of course, if you are using a computer as a source, I'd argue any amp beyond the one built into your computer is not always necessary.  But that's an argument for a different thread.


Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: FasterThanEver on 2009-03-23 18:13:44
head-fi has been mentioned as a place where subjectivists are in the majority.  I find that forum to be more fact-based than the audioasylum.com PC Audio forum.  AA seems to be to be the most hostile to objectivists of the forums I visit with any regularity.  two or three years ago, it used to be a reasonable place to get info on sound cards, player s/w and the like.  However, it is now swamped with tweakers who have moved over from forums where they talked about cables and power cords. 

I'm comfortable with a reasonable amount of subjectivist threads reporting on differences they heard.  I really dislike the threads where people make up completely bogus theories about how computer audio works.

Computeraudiophile.com has a thread about the banning of a frequent poster (and manufacturer) who was quite emphatic about dismissing subjectivist's concerns.  He was rather agressive but so are some rather extreme subjectivists who are manufacturers.  They push their own porducts more often but weren't banned there.

Bill


Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-03-24 19:37:11
head-fi has been mentioned as a place where subjectivists are in the majority.  I find that forum to be more fact-based than the audioasylum.com PC Audio forum.


Well, that's what I call setting the bar low.   
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: shenzi on 2009-03-24 19:40:24
I've just joined here, in part as a refuge from computeraudiophile. Having long ago given up on magazines and some of the other forums because of the faint humming noise they cause in my head, I look forward to breathing the fresh air around here.

Regarding the subjective vs objective debate. In place of objective, how about rationalist? It implies an enquiring mind but not one happy to deceive itself.

Oh and ... hello!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-03-24 20:30:15
Hello shenzi, and welcome.

I'm not sure what you mean by "rationalist", but to me objective means based only on what can be proven by unbiased testing, which to me is the heart and soul of HA.

Rational to me implies what the mind is willing to accept, not necessarily what the evidence shows, because what is shown by the evidence may sometimes seem irrational.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Ashley James on 2009-03-24 20:34:19
Bill said:
"Computeraudiophile.com has a thread about the banning of a frequent poster (and manufacturer) who was quite emphatic about dismissing subjectivist's concerns. He was rather agressive but so are some rather extreme subjectivists who are manufacturers. They push their own porducts more often but weren't banned there"

Me I'm afraid! It all started reasonably but CA shifted from an Oasis of reason to one where snake oil was taking over. I never learn to shut up and slink off and I had been encouraged privately to say what I like, I'd guess to get it rolling.

Still I hate the subjectivity, I know my ears can't be trusted, so I look for proof for everything, both from measurement and from others who I've learned to respect for their ability to hear that much more than most of us.

I've also discovered that it is impossible for a manufacturer to just chat amongst enthusiasts, some will accept you and that you're likely to be biased, but others always look for an agenda especially subjectivists. They will use any method fair or foul to censor anyone with could be a valid challenge. The UK forums can be a war zone!

This is my first post so hello to all.

Ashley
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-03-24 20:52:56
Welcome all.

We discussed (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=35558&st=0)the name thing with HA a few years ago. I don't think we ever came to a conclusion.

Chris used (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showuser=49481)to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: greynol on 2009-03-24 21:23:36
Chris used (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showuser=49481)to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535116 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=59645&view=findpost&p=535116)
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535296 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=59657&view=findpost&p=535296)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: FasterThanEver on 2009-03-24 22:42:00
This is my first post so hello to all.

Ashley


I enjoyed your posts at the CA forum.  I'm glad you'll be posting on another forum I follow.

I read the CA forum from the beginning but I never signed up or posted because I didn't feel I fit in that crowd.

Bill
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-03-24 22:59:46
Chris used (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showuser=49481)to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535116 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=59645&view=findpost&p=535116)
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535296 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=59657&view=findpost&p=535296)


Ah, yes, how could I forget.

I'm churning through the CA forums to see what juice I can squeeze. I'm really sorry you guys have to deal with audioengr. He attempted to mix it up with real engineers at PSW once (http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/11678/0/16/16937/) and got his ass smoked over aged woods and handed back to him on a stick. A truly timeless thread.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: shenzi on 2009-03-25 10:45:37
Hello shenzi, and welcome.

I'm not sure what you mean by "rationalist", but to me objective means based only on what can be proven by unbiased testing, which to me is the heart and soul of HA.

Rational to me implies what the mind is willing to accept, not necessarily what the evidence shows, because what is shown by the evidence may sometimes seem irrational.



Hi - By rational I mean from logical argument based on objective evidence. That includes accepting conclusions which seem unintuitive (a lot of scientific theories fall into that category).
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Ashley James on 2009-03-25 11:02:32
Chris used (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showuser=49481)to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535116 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=59645&view=findpost&p=535116)
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535296 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=59657&view=findpost&p=535296)


Ah, yes, how could I forget.

I'm churning through the CA forums to see what juice I can squeeze. I'm really sorry you guys have to deal with audioengr. He attempted to mix it up with real engineers at PSW once (http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/11678/0/16/16937/) and got his ass smoked over aged woods and handed back to him on a stick. A truly timeless thread.


Audioengr in many ways shows the dangers of subjective dominance of discussions in my view. It's a tiny leap from "believing the evidence of ones ears" to justifying ones beliefs with pseudo scientific claptrap, simply because one doesn't have sufficient understanding to recognise it as such.

I reckon the audio industry is way behind the Consumer or Pro electronics industry because much of it has driven off proper engineers and discredited any rational means of assessing products.

I once saw an article about an experiment done by a University to prove the value of intuition. There was none above a random guess and that's not a good way to design a 747 or a piece of electronics IMO. It's all measurable and provable and subjectivists don't like that, they want magic.

Ash
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-03-25 12:40:14
I'm churning through the CA forums to see what juice I can squeeze. I'm really sorry you guys have to deal with audioengr. He attempted to mix it up with real engineers at PSW once (http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/11678/0/16/16937/) and got his ass smoked over aged woods and handed back to him on a stick. A truly timeless thread.

Personally I find it amusing when a forum labels its members as "Gold" or "Platinum".
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: WUXGA on 2009-03-25 15:14:33
I found that hilarious as well.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tfarney on 2009-03-26 09:48:46
Hi folks. Another refugee from Computer Audiophile (and Head Fi) here. So Chris was blatantly self-promoting here? Who needs Shakespear for irony, huh? Think I'll go read some threads...

Tim
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-03-26 13:27:52
I kind of wonder if this is some kind of trend, with Head-Fi basically feeding HydrogenAudio - kind of like how Ayn Rand books tend to feed libertarianism (though the two things are very substantially different). The headphone amp market in particular is.... very curious. It's the cheapest way for the average joe to buy in to "the good life" of high fidelity - and so it's also the cheapest way for said joe to dismiss it as mostly claptrap. All jokes about Patrick82 besides, you see far, far more pro-DBT statements on Head-Fi that on virtually all other audio forums save here.


I do agree with you that the sheer extremity of claims on many audiophile sites can drive people away.  When I first got into audio, I did believe that amps could provide audibly different sound signatures. In particular, I believed NAD amps were warm.  However, when I started to read about "night and day" differences between power cables, my BS detector flared up. I got even more confused when I tried some "dedicated headphone amp required" high impedance headphones and heard no difference whatsoever with the headphones plugged straight into my sound card or through a DAC+headphone amp combo.  When I combined all this with the amount of money that would go through my hands if I believed the claims of audiophilia, I started looking for more information.  Then I learned about DBT in audio.  And well, now I'm here.

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tfarney on 2009-03-26 15:40:59
Quote
Audioengr in many ways shows the dangers of subjective dominance of discussions in my view. It's a tiny leap from "believing the evidence of ones ears" to justifying ones beliefs with pseudo scientific claptrap, simply because one doesn't have sufficient understanding to recognise it as such.


Ash, my friend, if you're saying audioengr believes the evidence of his own ears, I think you're being too kind. Audiengr sells 3 foot mains cables for $1200. It's more likely he believes in the gullibility of his customer base.


Tim
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Ashley James on 2009-03-26 18:36:22
He certainly believes in himself and I think it is obvious that he's talking rubbish but people on CA were convinced and it was those who I was referring to as believing the "evidence of their ears".

In view of his track record elsewhere I'm surprised that he wasn't censored. I was for daring to suggest that in a proper comparison, it was virtually impossible to hear any differences between the top manufacturers evaluation boards and that these were designed to show DACs at their best. I don't accept that big differences occur between commercial DACs unless their manufacturers have screwed up, which is less common than it used to be.

We pay less than £2.00 for mains leads and give them away with our products. If anyone suggests an ABX test is necessary to prove they are as good as Nugent's I shall stick my head in the lavatory and keep flushing till I drown!

Ash
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: hybris on 2009-03-27 09:42:02
Ah, yes, how could I forget.

I'm churning through the CA forums to see what juice I can squeeze. I'm really sorry you guys have to deal with audioengr. He attempted to mix it up with real engineers at PSW once (http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/mv/msg/11678/0/16/16937/) and got his ass smoked over aged woods and handed back to him on a stick. A truly timeless thread.


Fantastic thread - thanks
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tfarney on 2009-03-27 12:29:57
If anyone suggests an ABX test is necessary to prove they are as good as Nugent's I shall stick my head in the lavatory and keep flushing till I drown!

Ash


No, but someone might suggest an ABX test to prove that $1200 mains cables are fraud.

Tim
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-03-27 14:17:33
I believe someone already posted here the results of such a test that they made, but I don't have the link.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Kees de Visser on 2009-03-27 14:21:30
If anyone suggests an ABX test is necessary to prove they are as good as Nugent's I shall stick my head in the lavatory and keep flushing till I drown!
It's always a good idea to clean your ears before doing a listening test
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: shakey_snake on 2009-03-27 16:21:32
I've been drug into a fun argument about this very subject here (http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=741616&st=0).
Lot of lulz inside.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-03-27 17:16:12
So how did Joel become a Supervisor at neowin.net (other than an obscene number of posts)?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: shakey_snake on 2009-03-28 03:58:08
Not for his audio skills, obviously.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: shenzi on 2009-03-28 12:50:45
I believe James Randi has got involved in a cable listening test but I don't think the challenge has happened yet.

http://www.randi.org (http://www.randi.org)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-03-29 11:51:16
I believe James Randi has got involved in a cable listening test but I don't think the challenge has happened yet.

http://www.randi.org (http://www.randi.org)



All of the cable reviewers and manufacturers ran the other way.

No fools, they. ;-)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-03-31 22:00:59
This (http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?p=4276652#post4276652) CD player thread appears to be a classic recent example of disproportionate subjectivist outrage at the mere idea that maybe you can't always trust your ears .  (Props to stereocentral (http://stereocentral.tv/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2010))
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-03-31 22:16:35
This (http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?p=4276652#post4276652) CD player thread appears to be a classic recent example of disproportionate subjectivist outrage at the mere idea that maybe you can't always trust your ears .  (Props to stereocentral (http://stereocentral.tv/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2010))


"There are still a great number of people who do believe that all CD players do sound virtually the same. Many of these people also believe in the old DBT. No point arguing with them.
"

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-01 15:28:31
Quote
Differences HEARD that are huge cannot possibly be imaginary and to think that is possible only displays a complete lack of understanding
The placebo effect can genuinely, provably (measurably!) cure people of real illnesses.

How can people be so silly as to dismiss it in their listening?


Brave SiriusB - why waste your time?


As I usually say at this point, the really sad thing is how great sound reproduction would be by now if everyone embraced double-blind testing. Use your ears - just don't let them be fooled.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-04-01 15:40:07
Quote
Differences HEARD that are huge cannot possibly be imaginary and to think that is possible only displays a complete lack of understanding
The placebo effect can genuinely, provably (measurably!) cure people of real illnesses.



usually only temporarily, if it was a 'real' illness (not psychosomatic)


Quote
How can people be so silly as to dismiss it in their listening?



Never understimate the power of denial.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-04-01 16:46:28
I believe it has been shown, however, that people heal more quickly from a real illness if they are in the right frame of mind.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-01 16:53:26
Quote
Differences HEARD that are huge cannot possibly be imaginary and to think that is possible only displays a complete lack of understanding
The placebo effect can genuinely, provably (measurably!) cure people of real illnesses.
usually only temporarily, if it was a 'real' illness (not psychosomatic)
While I'm not one to point to wikipedia for accuracy, it's article on placebo cites real effects in real illnesses. I haven't followed any of the links - medicine really isn't my field!

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-04-01 17:06:00
The placebo effect  seems to be most commonly effective for pain relief -- which makes sense if it involves release of opioids. 

There's a good article on it at Skeptic's Dictionary

http://skepdic.com/placebo.html (http://skepdic.com/placebo.html)

I didn't know that it actually 'cured' warts!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-04-01 17:16:52
I believe it has been shown, however, that people heal more quickly from a real illness if they are in the right frame of mind.


Laughter is the best medicine!

Think about somebody learning to walk again.  Arguably, the person who tries the hardest will recover faster than somebody who has basically given up on ever walking again and is just being forced through physiotherapy.

But that brings in another point.  We tend to have subjectively better experiences with products we like.  I've got two  headphones on my desk.  I think they have almost identical sound signatures.  Yet the more expensive one seems to sound better...

Let's not mix up actual differences with perceived differences.  Two amps might sound the same in a blind test, but that doesn't mean I won't have a subjectively better experience with an amp that I find is more attractive.  The point being, I should be able to accept I like an amp better because it looks better (and perhaps cost more) but that the feeling of it being better has nothing to do with sound.

Unfortunately that's where human psychology come in.  Even when you know the magician's secrets you still can't help enjoying the magic show.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-04-01 18:10:36
There isn't anything wrong with subjective experiences, emotions etc when valuing audio equipment - the problem is that, well, they're subjective. They only have meaning to other people as they perceive your emotions as important and meaningful to them. And there are a huge number of reasons why I shouldn't care about anybody's emotional experience with their audio - placebo only being the best of them. Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Ashley James on 2009-04-02 11:38:47
There isn't anything wrong with subjective experiences, emotions etc when valuing audio equipment - the problem is that, well, they're subjective. They only have meaning to other people as they perceive your emotions as important and meaningful to them. And there are a huge number of reasons why I shouldn't care about anybody's emotional experience with their audio - placebo only being the best of them. Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...


For me the problem with the whole subjectivism thing is that it leaves us with no proper reference points and renders us prey to charlatans selling expensive USB and mains cables etc. As you say, perception might be good, but I don't think so. Or to objective friend being banned from a totally subjective forum for suggesting that anyone describing sonic differences between ALAC and AIFF might be talking boloney.


Wine price test shows marketing at work in brain

 
Researchers in California have shown that you can increase a person's enjoyment of wine by just sticking a higher price on it.

In a demonstration of the power of marketing, researchers in California showed you can increase a person's enjoyment of wine by just sticking a higher price on it, according to a study released Monday.

Antonio Rangel, associate professor of economics at the California Institute of Technology, led a team to test how marketing shapes consumers' perceptions and whether it also enhances their enjoyment of a product. 

They asked 21 volunteers to sample five different bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and rate their taste preferences. The taste test was run 15 times, with the wines presented in random order. 

The taste test was blind except for information on the price of the wine. Without telling the volunteers, the researchers presented two of the wines twice, once with the true price tag, and again with a fake one. 

They also passed off a 90 dollar bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon as a 10 dollar bottle, and presented a five dollar bottle as one worth 45 dollars. 

Aside from collecting the test subjects' impressions of the wines, the researchers scanned their brains to monitor the neural activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex -- an area of the brain believed to encode pleasure related to taste, odors and music. 

The study found that inflating the price of a bottle of wine enhanced a person's experience of drinking it, as shown by the neural activity. 

The volunteers consistently gave higher ratings to the more "expensive" wines. 

Brain scans also showed greater neural activity in the pleasure center when they were sampling those "pricey" wines, indicating that the increased pleasure they reported was a real effect in the brain. 

"It's a common belief among scientists and economists that the quality of the experience depends on the properties of the product and the state of the consumer; for example, if a consumer is thirsty or not," said Rangel. 

"But what this study shows is that the brain's rewards center takes into account subjective beliefs about the quality of the experience. 

"If you believe that the experience is better, even though it's the same wine, the rewards center of the brain encodes it as feeling better." 

In other words, "people's beliefs about the quality of a wine affect how well it tastes for the brain," he concluded. 

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

© 2008
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-04-02 15:10:08
For me the problem with the whole subjectivism thing is that it leaves us with no proper reference points and renders us prey to charlatans selling expensive USB and mains cables etc. As you say, perception might be good, but I don't think so. Or to objective friend being banned from a totally subjective forum for suggesting that anyone describing sonic differences between ALAC and AIFF might be talking boloney.


I think that's the general point made in this tread.  Subjectivity is a great way to talk about the color of an amp, the casing, the spousal approval factor, etc.  But it's a terrible way to evaluate the sonic properties of audio equipment.  Using DBT as a "base" for our evaluations allows people to have one reference point when they are evaluating equipment.  It's much easier to have a grounded conversation when you use DBT as a reference point, even if the conversation is a lot more technical and dry than the fun stuff you see on audiophile forums.

This argument reminds me of the battle between the between the physical sciences and research we see in anthropology, educational research, and the other social scienes.  It's impossible to do DBT in those fields so some people simply assume everything outside of the physical sciences is pure subjective rubbish.  But even the social sciences have established methodologies and philosophical grounding to the work they do.  This allows different people to evaluate qualitative (or even quantitative) research using a reference point, assuming they understand that reference point.

As you said, the problem with audiophile forums is that the ground itself is a relative statement.  "Everybody hears differently" is just about as solid a reference point as you're going to get.  That and "If it's more expensive it must be better."
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Dracaena on 2009-04-03 02:32:11
I don't see what all the fuss is about. If people want to spend $20,000 on a CD player, then let them. If people are willing to spend $53k on something that tells them the time of day (http://www.amazon.com/Rolex-Special-Perpetual-Cosmograph-116598-SE/dp/B001GUHSXU/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=watches&qid=1238719040&sr=8-1), why not a CD player?
It is disheartening to hear of people who aren't rolling in money getting suckered into wasting money on placebos that could have been better spent on something else, but at this point, thanks to rabid capitalism, the marketing BS machine has pervaded every aspect of society. I see it not as objective vs subjective split specific to audio enthusiasts, but as a more general aspect of society itself - marketing, misinformation and profits vs. education and common sense. It won't go away unless there's a fundamental change in the way our societies operate.

Ok I went off track a bit there. I guess my point was that if someone *thinks* they can hear a difference where there is none, well that's pretty much as good as actually hearing a real difference. If someone enjoys listening to a $20,000 CD player more than a $300 one, then in their subjective reality it DOES sound better, and they're enjoying themselves. Why harrass people who are just trying to enjoy themselves? Let them buy their hideous $53k watch if they want. They're enjoying themselves, the same way a collector enjoys spending big $$$ on a rare sports card, when they could have had a full size poster and complete biography for a fraction of the price.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-04-03 02:55:55
For the people who spent a fortune and are happy with their purchase I have no problem. But when someone comes here and asks "Do I really have to spend that much to get the best sound reproduction" I think it is important to tell it like it is.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Dracaena on 2009-04-03 03:18:10
Sure, I agree with that 100% pdq
I just don't see the point of going into into "high end" forums and giving them a hard time about it, or mocking them here for that matter.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-04-03 03:27:53
I don't see what all the fuss is about. If people want to spend $20,000 on a CD player, then let them. If people are willing to spend $53k on something that tells them the time of day (http://www.amazon.com/Rolex-Special-Perpetual-Cosmograph-116598-SE/dp/B001GUHSXU/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=watches&qid=1238719040&sr=8-1), why not a CD player?
It is disheartening to hear of people who aren't rolling in money getting suckered into wasting money on placebos that could have been better spent on something else, but at this point, thanks to rabid capitalism, the marketing BS machine has pervaded every aspect of society. I see it not as objective vs subjective split specific to audio enthusiasts, but as a more general aspect of society itself - marketing, misinformation and profits vs. education and common sense. It won't go away unless there's a fundamental change in the way our societies operate.

Ok I went off track a bit there. I guess my point was that if someone *thinks* they can hear a difference where there is none, well that's pretty much as good as actually hearing a real difference. If someone enjoys listening to a $20,000 CD player more than a $300 one, then in their subjective reality it DOES sound better, and they're enjoying themselves. Why harrass people who are just trying to enjoy themselves? Let them buy their hideous $53k watch if they want. They're enjoying themselves, the same way a collector enjoys spending big $ on a rare sports card, when they could have had a full size poster and complete biography for a fraction of the price.

Like pdq said - the problem with the "live and let live" argument is that the people selling the $20,000 CD players have thoroughly draped themselves under the flag of science and rationality rather then simply luxury. Open up a webpage/brochure about virtually every ultra-high-end product and you'll usually find allusions to extremely complicated science involved with the product that is beyond the comprehension of the reader. (Some companies really do break down the measurements well, if you're very lucky.) Look at the defenses of SET amps (really (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=34984&st=0&p=307919&#entry307919)!), or even better, Ultimate Chips (Geoff Kait claims he's designed satellites) and Bybee Quantum Purifiers (Jack Bybee claims he worked on top-secret Nava sub projects).

Quite simply, hifi audio is singularly distinghished from other luxury hobbies - like cars, photography, cooking to a certain extent, golf - in how thoroughly it relies upon the guise of scientific innovation to promote products of, generally, an entirely uninnovative or underperforming character. If you'd prove some kind of scientific attack on performance in those other luxury fields, nobody would give a shit - that's not really what you're looking for when you buy La Creuset or Bugatti. But a similar, successful, attack on the hifi would would be utterly catastrophic, because that's a very big part of why it's justified and sold. After the science, the only thing that's left is sheer craftsmanship and looks, and very few audiophiles care about those alone...

The importance of that, and defending real audio engineering against that, matters only to the degree that it is perceived to be an issue. Certainly many of us are drawn to the fight just because we are pro-science, like people are drawn to pro-evolution camps. But it also makes a big impact on the price and quality of the audio we buy and the music we listen to. Equipment manufacturers desperately want to make their product stand out from the competition (decommoditize), and for many kinds of hardware, it's really hard to find a good value because everything at a given quality range is full of snake oil. You see that a lot in headphone amps, for instance. That has a direct impact on my spending habits and bottom line. Similarly, in the music world, the engineers who obsess over high res and quality differences between different digital mixing consoles are taking time away from issues that actually matter, like dynamic range, noise, distortion, etc. Look at all the hubbub over NIN's The Slip release where the 24-bit FLACs were of the exact same master as the 16-bit ones. Look at all the SACD and DVD-A releases that either made no use of increased dynamic range, or deliberately screwed up the CD layer to make the high res layer sound better.

In those cases like these, the public requests higher quality and is getting pretty much soaked in the process. The acceptance of audiophile snake oil in the public sphere draws money away from real innovation, in all product markets and all price points, and reduces the quality of audio as a whole in the process.

That's why you should complain vigorously about $20,000 CD players.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: FasterThanEver on 2009-04-03 07:12:26
Look at the defenses of SET amps (really (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=34984&st=0&p=307919&#entry307919)!), or even better, Ultimate Chips (Geoff Kait claims he's designed satellites) and Bybee Quantum Purifiers (Jack Bybee claims he worked on top-secret Nava sub projects).


Quantum mechanics is the last refuge of high-end audio scoundrels.


That's why you should complain vigorously about $20,000 CD players.


I use the J. River Media Center 12 player because it provides the features I need for classical music.  There are few alternatives for me and none as well adapted to my needs.  Every few months, a few tweakers types pops up on the J. River forums telling the J. River staff that they have to implement some feature that fits the current tweaker fashion.  Recent examples:

- playback from memory since that sounds so much better than reading the music files from a hard drive.

- a Linux version of the J. River player since audio playback sounds so much from Linux better than audio playback from Windows.

- a stripped down version of the J. River player since minimal players produce so much better sound.  Even reducing the amount of disk space require to store the program itself is said to improve audio output.  (And make it free of course.)

There is an absolutist zealotry in the language of the requests and an urgency about the requests.  In most cases, the requestor doesn't have an commitment to the J. River player; he just wants to spread the gospel.  He'll be off sampling a dozen other players in a few days.

I try to be one of sane voices urging the J. River staff to exercise caution because I don't want a product I depend on hijacked by the tweaker fringe.

Bill
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-03 10:31:21
Quite simply, hifi audio is singularly distinghished from other luxury hobbies - like cars, photography, cooking to a certain extent, golf - in how thoroughly it relies upon the guise of scientific innovation to promote products of, generally, an entirely uninnovative or underperforming character.
That's true - that's why I can buy a Digital SLR camera or an HD camcorder for a few hundreds pounds, and it's genuinely light-years ahead of what was available a decade ago in terms of performance and features. People test the things objectively and scientifically, and you can read sensible reviews based in reality.

Whereas, even as a well informed individual working in this field, I'd struggle to spend a few hundred pounds on an audio system and get any performance advance over what was available several decades ago. I know we've had LP>CD>mp3, with the well known (argued!) implications on quality and convenience - but we've had almost nothing that makes the sound genuinely better in my living room at a given price point.

I know of several technologies that could have been mass produced and mass marketed which would have transformed the sound at home - there must be many more that I haven't heard of because I've not worked in audio for almost a decade! Speaker design techniques combined with DSP that give surprisingly good sound from cheap small speakers - maybe without wires. Surround sound techniques that actually work for music.

Yet the "hi-end" (by which I mean anything above an iPod) is driven by people who want to listen to stereo recordings from the 1960s replayed from vinyl through valve (tube) amplifiers. Is it any wonder normal people aren't interested?

That's why digital cameras, objectively reviewed, improve year-on-year - while hi-end audio, where most reviews are fiction, is stuck in the past.

That Dracaena is why some of us think it's worth aguing against the BS.

FWIW I have no problem with making audio equipment better and better, even if the improvements are inaudible. That's fine. As long as we're honest, that's great. It's making it worse, or holding it back, and still charging for it and reviewing it as if it's wonderful, that's a crime IMO.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-04-03 17:57:02
It is disheartening to hear of people who aren't rolling in money getting suckered into wasting money on placebos that could have been better spent on something else, but at this point, thanks to rabid capitalism, the marketing BS machine has pervaded every aspect of society. I see it not as objective vs subjective split specific to audio enthusiasts, but as a more general aspect of society itself - marketing, misinformation and profits vs. education and common sense. It won't go away unless there's a fundamental change in the way our societies operate.


Everybody is a sucker.  Nobody needs a 48 inch TV and many people don't even need a TV.  Most of the stuff in people's households in any "Developed" country is probably just unnecessary luxuries.  One could argue that people's obsession with listening to music is also far beyond how much we really need music in our lives.  But let's not go down that philosophical argument.

Personally, I want dissenting opinions on audiophile claims so I can be more educated about my purchases.  Let's say I buy a pair of headphones and I don't like the way they sound.  I go onto a forum and say this.  If the headphone is loved on that forum it's very likely I'll get the following answers.

1. They require burn in.
2. I need a DAC
3. I need a cable
4. I need an amp.

If I get all these things and still don't like the headphones I'll get these answers.

1. Burn them in more.
2. Get a different DAC
3. Get a different cable.
4. Get a different amp.

Different usually means more expensive.

Of course, the sane answer is that I need a different headphone.  But if I got onto a public forum and an army of people tell me the headphone is not the problem, I'm likely to doubt my own hearing and judgment.  When people, like the people on this forum, say that maybe I need to change my headphone, at least I can find a few other people who are not saying my hearing is rotten.

People can spend however much they want on a audio equipment.  Audio is a hobby and all hobbies are insane from a certain perspective.  But it would be nice if people who are not all that interested in audio as a hobby, people who just want a nice system to listen to music, could get advice that doesn't ask them to destroy their wallets for dubious gains.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-04-03 19:05:51
There are some good scenes involving Hi-Fi sales in the movie Ruthless People. Well worth watching for other reasons as well.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-03 20:27:17
Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...


The history of audio component ABX tests is that they originated in a regional hi fi club. They were devised to avoid exactly the kinds of blow-ups you describe. They achived that outcome, almost to perfection. The other thing they did is pretty much convert all of our amplifier builders into speaker builders. ;-)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-04-03 20:40:06
Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...


The history of audio component ABX tests is that they originated in a regional hi fi club. They were devised to avoid exactly the kinds of blow-ups you describe. They achived that outcome, almost to perfection. The other thing they did is pretty much convert all of our amplifier builders into speaker builders. ;-)


Really?

That's one of the best examples I've ever heard of for blind testing improving audio fidelity (and its converse, subjectivism holding audio back).
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-04-03 20:40:48
The other thing they did is pretty much convert all of our amplifier builders into speaker builders. ;-)

Now that's what I call a positive outcome! Put the effort into the area where there is still considerable room for improvement.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: shenzi on 2009-04-05 15:35:21
The digital camera comparison is highly valid. Audio systems have got better but the improvements have been in the mid and low end (I'm talking principally about electronics). A micro-system from the 80s will pale against some of the small, all-in-one boxes around today (NAD, Teac, Denon). That's a hugely positive result. A friend of mine bought one and kept saying, "I don't suppose you'll think it's any good as you're into hi-fi". She stopped when I bought one too and put the hi fi in the loft.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-06 01:26:55
Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...


The history of audio component ABX tests is that they originated in a regional hi fi club. They were devised to avoid exactly the kinds of blow-ups you describe. They achived that outcome, almost to perfection. The other thing they did is pretty much convert all of our amplifier builders into speaker builders. ;-)


Really?


Absolutely.

Quote
That's one of the best examples I've ever heard of for blind testing improving audio fidelity (and its converse, subjectivism holding audio back).


Then we tried to spread ABX to a somewhat larger hi fi club - the AES! ;-)

ABX  didn't take hold quite as well in the AES. There are still quite a few crazies in the AES.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-04-06 02:06:47
I reckon the audio industry is way behind the Consumer or Pro electronics industry because much of it has driven off proper engineers and discredited any rational means of assessing products.

Ash


If only it was so.  I know of one rather talented "proper" engineer who works in the industry because he needs a job and has a family to support.  He doesn't even care all that much about audio and certainly doesn't make any grand claims about the stuff he designs.  He is a really good hardware engineer though.

I think there are some brilliant engineers in the Audio industry.  There are also some very experienced and intelligent engineers building all sorts of great DIY stuff, much of which is probably incredibly over engineered for the purposes they are using them for.

In any field that uses scientific methodologies to discover and create knowledge , from theoretical physics to anthropology, there are always a number of assumptions that are seen to be intuitively true, have been passed down through ages, but are actually rubbish.  When somebody eventually asks a questions about this assumption the "experts" can either realize there is a flaw in that assumption or they can proceed to build up a universe made up of other assumptions and beliefs and combine this with knowledge (based on evidence and things that have been demonstrated to be true) in the field to support that assumption.

An example is in order.  In the audiophile headphone world a dedicated headphone amp is absolutely required.  There are a number of sane sounding statements to justify the existence of expensive headphone amps.  One is "Without a headphone amp your headphone will sound dull and lifeless."  I was very curious about why a headphone sounded dull and lifeless without a dedicated headphone amp, especially because I had tried a number of headphones (ranging from 25 to 300 ohms) plugged into my sound card  and only one sounded dull and lifeless. 

I went onto at least one audio engineering forum and asked if somebody could tell me why a headphone amp was required.  Surely there was a scientific explanation for this.  There must be a way to show that if we were to graph the output of my sound card vs a headphone amp there would be a difference. If this difference could be demonstrated, it would be easier to understand what headphone amp would be required for any given headphone.  At least some minimal standard could be established.

I did not get anything even approximating a proper answer.  Arguably it boiled down to "There is plenty of stuff in audio you can't see on graphs and can't measure."  Some rather vague electronics was pulled in to justify the above.  With exception of some cases (clipping, coupling capacitor based high pass filter, lack of volume, hiss) I've never found any explanation as to why a dedicated headphone amp is required for any headphone.  Simply put, I think the engineers of audiophile headphone amps simply assume an amp is required an continue to build stuff that has enough power to drive speakers.

If you don't do blind testing "proper" engineers can support any of their beliefs as to why a "better" amp, dac, or whatever else, needs to be built.

You might be wondering, what of that headphone I mentioned that sounded dull and lifeless?  I heard that headphone powered by a number of amps that are very highly reviewed and respected by audiophiles, connected to a CD player that stereophile goes to bed with.  Guess what?  The headphone sounded dull and lifeless.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-04-06 02:55:33
The digital camera comparison is highly valid. Audio systems have got better but the improvements have been in the mid and low end (I'm talking principally about electronics). A micro-system from the 80s will pale against some of the small, all-in-one boxes around today (NAD, Teac, Denon). That's a hugely positive result. A friend of mine bought one and kept saying, "I don't suppose you'll think it's any good as you're into hi-fi". She stopped when I bought one too and put the hi fi in the loft.


I wouldn't take that analogy too far; it's an apples to oranges comparison to a certain degree. Digital cameras are tied very closely in technology to fabrication technology, and thus Moore's Law. DSP electronic has of course improved by the same leaps and bounds, but fewer analog audio chips can take advantage of Moore's Law. There are other limiting factors to the designs.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-04-06 03:39:36
Then we tried to spread ABX to a somewhat larger hi fi club - the AES! ;-)

ABX  didn't take hold quite as well in the AES. There are still quite a few crazies in the AES.
Really? I thought the crazies were thrown out in the with the early 90s cable debate, Meyer/Moran, The Great Debate papers, etc. In fact, a lot of audiophiles seem to have a lot of animosity for the AES. Are the two cozier than I thought?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-04-06 04:12:06
The digital camera comparison is highly valid. Audio systems have got better but the improvements have been in the mid and low end (I'm talking principally about electronics). A micro-system from the 80s will pale against some of the small, all-in-one boxes around today (NAD, Teac, Denon). That's a hugely positive result. A friend of mine bought one and kept saying, "I don't suppose you'll think it's any good as you're into hi-fi". She stopped when I bought one too and put the hi fi in the loft.


I wouldn't take that analogy too far; it's an apples to oranges comparison to a certain degree. Digital cameras are tied very closely in technology to fabrication technology, and thus Moore's Law. DSP electronic has of course improved by the same leaps and bounds, but fewer analog audio chips can take advantage of Moore's Law. There are other limiting factors to the designs.



THe 'room for improvement' in optical media and technologies was so much great than for digital audio since 1984 or so, that comparisons betwene them should be made carefully if at all. 

CD audio placed us near if not *at* the limit of established audibility thresholds in the early 80's.  Digital video/photo had a lot of catching up to do...and still does.. to get to the equivalent visible limits. (e.g., film is still objectively superior to digital video; analog tape isn't objectively superior than Redbook digital)




Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-07 01:58:47
Then we tried to spread ABX to a somewhat larger hi fi club - the AES! ;-)

ABX  didn't take hold quite as well in the AES. There are still quite a few crazies in the AES.
Really? I thought the crazies were thrown out in the with the early 90s cable debate, Meyer/Moran, The Great Debate papers, etc. In fact, a lot of audiophiles seem to have a lot of animosity for the AES. Are the two cozier than I thought?


It isn't that I think that there are a lot of crazies in the AES, it is just that the absence of crazies in the local club has been nearly total for about 20 years. 

OTOH, in the AES there is always this:

http://www.aes.org/sections/uk/meetings/a0812.html (http://www.aes.org/sections/uk/meetings/a0812.html)

;-)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-04-07 03:09:14
Hey, that's with the inventor of MLP - the only lossless codec that sounds better than FLAC.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Axon on 2009-04-07 04:15:03
Hey, that's with the inventor of MLP - the only lossless codec that sounds better than FLAC.


Technically, he's the inventor of the only codec that has ever been mistaken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD-Audio#Copy_protection) for lossless.

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-04-07 17:45:47
Then we tried to spread ABX to a somewhat larger hi fi club - the AES! ;-)

ABX  didn't take hold quite as well in the AES. There are still quite a few crazies in the AES.
Really? I thought the crazies were thrown out in the with the early 90s cable debate, Meyer/Moran, The Great Debate papers, etc. In fact, a lot of audiophiles seem to have a lot of animosity for the AES. Are the two cozier than I thought?


It isn't that I think that there are a lot of crazies in the AES, it is just that the absence of crazies in the local club has been nearly total for about 20 years. 

OTOH, in the AES there is always this:

http://www.aes.org/sections/uk/meetings/a0812.html (http://www.aes.org/sections/uk/meetings/a0812.html)

;-)



My problem with Mr. Stuart is that he's heavily and sincerely invested in these 'hi rez' formats (first DVD-A, now BluRay audio formats) but never seem to publish the listening test data showing they're audibly superior to plain old Redbook.  I don't think he's *crazy*,  just maddeningly unforthcoming on certain key data.

If he *has* published such -- or even referenced them -- I'd love to see it.  Ditto the work reported in that link --  "the effects of digital anti-aliasing and reconstruction filters".
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-04-07 17:48:13
Hey, that's with the inventor of MLP - the only lossless codec that sounds better than FLAC.


Technically, he's the inventor of the only codec that has ever been mistaken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD-Audio#Copy_protection) for lossless.





Heh.  I'm pretty sure *someone* must have studied audibility of watermarking....has it ever been published?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-04-07 21:49:44
The digital camera comparison is highly valid. Audio systems have got better but the improvements have been in the mid and low end (I'm talking principally about electronics). A micro-system from the 80s will pale against some of the small, all-in-one boxes around today (NAD, Teac, Denon). That's a hugely positive result. A friend of mine bought one and kept saying, "I don't suppose you'll think it's any good as you're into hi-fi". She stopped when I bought one too and put the hi fi in the loft.


I wouldn't take that analogy too far; it's an apples to oranges comparison to a certain degree. Digital cameras are tied very closely in technology to fabrication technology, and thus Moore's Law. DSP electronic has of course improved by the same leaps and bounds, but fewer analog audio chips can take advantage of Moore's Law. There are other limiting factors to the designs.


There is one trend in audio though that is the opposite to a lot of what is seen with other technology.  With cameras, cars, phones, computers, video, and whatever else, the newest and greatest features are generally in the most expensive products.  It's the elites that get the latest and greatest stuff.  The rest of us commoners have to wait.

Stuff looks to be in the opposite direction in audio electronics.  With the occasional exception of things like SACD, the latest and greatest stuff is not in the audiophile world.  It's in the majority consumer market.  Class D amps are the future and even Panasonic had a nice (but ugly) amp for around $250.  The high end market seems to have snubbed their noses at Class D amps although some companies seem to be warming up to it.  Of course, they have to say that the Class D stuff made for us regular people is problematic and their expensive audiophile versions are much better.  My guess is that many audiophiles would not buy Class D stuff unless an engineer assured them it was specially engineered to deal with the "inherent problems" of Class D amps.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-08 15:15:55
My problem with Mr. Stuart is that he's heavily and sincerely invested in these 'hi rez' formats (first DVD-A, now BluRay audio formats) but never seem to publish the listening test data showing they're audibly superior to plain old Redbook.  I don't think he's *crazy*,  just maddeningly unforthcoming on certain key data.


Re: Sturart's invention of MLP - that is just a solution for a problem that Stuart himself created by unecessarily driving bit rates up to the point where DVD technology couldn't handle it.

In NASCAR a driver can't benefit from a Yellow Flag situation that he created - shouldn't that sort of thinking also apply to technology? ;-)

Quote
If he *has* published such -- or even referenced them -- I'd love to see it.  Ditto the work reported in that link --  "the effects of digital anti-aliasing and reconstruction filters".


I think Stuart has published references to the questionable JAES articles  that wer published to promote HDCD, you know the Fielder paper(s). 

I tried to get Stuart to part with some stuff he cited about the audibility of nonlinear distortion and didn't get a word, not even a polite "go away".

People who miss opportunities to make theseselves look good like this probably don't have anything to actually play with - just warm air proceeding out of the backs of their necks.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-08 15:35:14
My problem with Mr. Stuart is that he's heavily and sincerely invested in these 'hi rez' formats (first DVD-A, now BluRay audio formats) but never seem to publish the listening test data showing they're audibly superior to plain old Redbook.
If you were to talk to him, you'd find that he quietly holds the rather un-audiophile view that well produced and reproduced Redbook audio can be so close to 2 channel hi-res that... he'll never finish that sentence.

Having great respect for Gerzon and Craven, I think he knows full well that 2 channels aren't enough.

His scientific discussions and papers discussing bitdepth are nothing that any HA regular could disagree with. There is a corner case for no-compromise no-DRC reproduction of wide dynamic range music in a quiet room that 16-bits barely manages, and any arithmetic fault anywhere will break it. That's his argument. No more, no less. It's factually correct, though a genuinely rare occurrence in even the best recordings.

I'm not yet convinced by the arguments for high sample rates or specific ultrasonic filters, but I'm no longer in a position to test this stuff properly.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-08 20:33:22
His scientific discussions and papers discussing bitdepth are nothing that any HA regular could disagree with.


The talk by him that I cited above is not like that.

Quote
There is a corner case for no-compromise no-DRC reproduction of wide dynamic range music in a quiet room that 16-bits barely manages, and any arithmetic fault anywhere will break it.


The commercial recording that supports that claim has never existed. The widest dynamic range 16 bit recordings that exist still have at least 10 dB headroom.

The idea of an artihmetic fault anyhwere in a modern digital record/playback chain is a myth.


Quote
That's his argument. No more, no less.


It's false.

Quote
It's factually correct, though a genuinely rare occurrence in even the best recordings.


Not rare, but rather  something that has simply never happened.

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-04-09 05:54:08
My problem with Mr. Stuart is that he's heavily and sincerely invested in these 'hi rez' formats (first DVD-A, now BluRay audio formats) but never seem to publish the listening test data showing they're audibly superior to plain old Redbook.
If you were to talk to him, you'd find that he quietly holds the rather un-audiophile view that well produced and reproduced Redbook audio can be so close to 2 channel hi-res that... he'll never finish that sentence.


hmmm..faaascinating.


Quote
Having great respect for Gerzon and Craven, I think he knows full well that 2 channels aren't enough.



Me too.  My objections to 'high res"  justifications have nothing to do with multichannel -- I'm all for that.  (But I also happen to think DTS and Dolby are fine -- multichannel needn't be 'high res' SR/wordlength in consumer delivery formats)

Quote
His scientific discussions and papers discussing bitdepth are nothing that any HA regular could disagree with. There is a corner case for no-compromise no-DRC reproduction of wide dynamic range music in a quiet room that 16-bits barely manages, and any arithmetic fault anywhere will break it. That's his argument. No more, no less. It's factually correct, though a genuinely rare occurrence in even the best recordings.


'Break it' *audibly* at the consumer end?  Then the question returns to: how often is this happening, and who has published the listening test data?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-04-09 12:35:24
The talk by him that I cited above is not like that.


I don't think Stuart doesn't know. His company is supplying technically very advanced* products to really very well paying customers. It would not be very rational to agree publicly, that those customers very probably won't be able to hear a difference against, for example, a well done $30 (part costs) CD player. He won't bite off the hands that feed him.

It's not comparable to buying a Porsche within a nation wide 60 mph speed limit. 0-60 in 3 seconds with perfect traction is still fun. Even inside the bounds of 60 mph a Porsche is still ABXable against a Geo blindfolded on the passenger seat. Meridian's products are not and it's very reasonable to recite technical advantages over and over again.

* In theory his AES talk, for example, about active speaker design is correct. You have many more possibilities of optimization. What he's not saying: it's not black magic anymore to build a perfect amp (well beyond the bounds of human perception), which will easily drive a well build passive speaker, for a fraction of the costs of Meridian's lineup. Same with HD audio. SNR and FR is much better, so he sells it. Who cares if anybody needs it or could ABX it.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-09 15:23:16
But speaker equalisation (with or without active crossovers) really works: measurably, and audibly = ABX-ably! With better speakers, the effect is smaller, but it's still there. It's always measurable - though I have used speakers that were so good to start with that I couldn't ABX the effect of digital speaker correction. Phase (in addition to amplitude) correction is potentially interesting too - I've ABXed that, but only with synthetic signals - and even then, it wasn't obvious that the correct phase was "better", merely different. One of my colleagues could ABX it with real music.


FWIW, I think you've hit the nail on the head rpp3po - except my best judgement is that Bob genuinely believes he hears a difference with higher sample rates / different ultrasonic filters. My best judgement is also that, contrary to many in that field, he hears basically no problem with good 16-bit audio sources.

However, when you look at the full Meridian ideal experience, with (frankly) lots of DSP at all stages, it would be genuinely audibly damaging to do all that DSP at 16-bits (or even to dither back down to 16-bits at the end of each stage), so they use more. Given that, it's not a great leap to remove the one 16-bit bottleneck left in the system (the audio carrier itself), even if the audible change by using more bits here is rare / negligible.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-09 15:31:05
The commercial recording that supports that claim has never existed. The widest dynamic range 16 bit recordings that exist still have at least 10 dB headroom.
That would imply that 15-bits (if not 14-bits) was always sufficient. Yet there have been successful ABX tests of 15-bit audio (sadly the link is now broken, but it was in the FAQ here).

Quote
The idea of an artihmetic fault anyhwere in a modern digital record/playback chain is a myth.
I'm sure all those Chinese engineers get everything completely right first time. There are no bugs in any modern hardware. Also, everyone is getting bit perfect replay from their PCs. (do I really need to put a smiley here?)

Quote
Not rare, but rather  something that has simply never happened.
That may be true. Even more likely is the fact that if it did happen, it probably wouldn't matter - certainly not in the way that proponents claim that 16 vs 24-bits "matters".

Bob Stuart is interesting - he's one of the few people who argue for more than 16-bits using arguments that make sense from the theory (despite hinging on a rare case). Everyone else in that camp claims 16-bits sound bad even when you're 40dB above the 16-bit noise floor, which is a completely different argument.

Cheers,
David.

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-04-09 16:09:41
However, when you look at the full Meridian ideal experience, with (frankly) lots of DSP at all stages, it would be genuinely audibly damaging to do all that DSP at 16-bits (or even to dither back down to 16-bits at the end of each stage), so they use more.


That's a very interesting point. I'm lacking the mathematical background, but I think digital filtering artifacts (either ringing or time smearing) correlate, besides other parameters, to quantization resolution. So any manufacturer employing extreme filtering could have high interest in HD audio to keep any artifacts outside the audible range, even when there is only one filtering stage for each driver's equalization. On the other hand, a speaker with non linear frequency response is a filter itself. Applying an inverse correction filter could reduce artifacts instead of adding them even for high Q values and 16-bit material. Maybe some of HA's filtering professionals are reading this and share some insight?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-09 17:00:46
It doesn't really matter if the source is 16-bits or 24-bits if the filtering is carried out at 24-bits (or higher). The filter doesn't care.

(In theory. In practice having 8 trailing zeros could have an effect on some non-ideal systems and processes, but this isn't a reason to make CDs 24-bits - just a reason to avoid such non-ideal systems / processes!).

The other obvious argument is that if you're designing a new audio format based on DVD technology (= huge capacity), why on earth would you stick to the parameters that are just sufficient? Over-engineering it costs virtually nothing, and still leaves room for multiple "albums" per disc. Even if the only audible difference ever is due to inferior equipment, it's still cheaper to fill the disc (you can't press "half a disc"!) than the make the equipment better.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-09 19:19:50
The commercial recording that supports that claim has never existed. The widest dynamic range 16 bit recordings that exist still have at least 10 dB headroom.
That would imply that 15-bits (if not 14-bits) was always sufficient. Yet there have been successful ABX tests of 15-bit audio (sadly the link is now broken, but it was in the FAQ here).



I can't comment on a test that I have not seen any documentation for.  Anybody who wants to can claim they "broke 16 bits" by throwing away however many bits and breaking that is obvioiusly deceiving themselves.

Quote
Quote
The idea of an artihmetic fault anyhwere in a modern digital record/playback chain is a myth.
I'm sure all those Chinese engineers get everything completely right first time. There are no bugs in any modern hardware. Also, everyone is getting bit perfect replay from their PCs. (do I really need to put a smiley here?)


Its the same idea - if someone makes a mistake and uses that to argue that mistakes are widespread is again deceiving themselves.  Of course mistakes are made, but they in fact quite rare in general, and rarer still if we consider just dedicated hardware.


Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-04-09 19:55:14
Its the same idea - if someone makes a mistake and uses that to argue that mistakes are widespread is again deceiving themselves.  Of course mistakes are made, but they in fact quite rare in general, and rarer still if we consider just dedicated hardware.


The kind of hypothesized defect, that is usually anticipated by the audiophool community, is even rarer. Bad circuit design or defects in analog systems can indeed lead to very sneaky artifacts like an almost inaudible hiss or distortion.

But this experience is then falsely transformed to the discrete domain and its eery algorithmic implementations, that these people are uncomfortable about (see "lossless == redbook ?" debate). A wrongly implemented flac decoder won't just sound slightly 'thinner'. It's much more likely to output total garbage and eventually crash, if some offset is off by just one byte. Capital failure under a certain, limited set of conditions is a much more likely defect of a digital system than slight degradation. That's more likely to happen in the analog domain.

The bit perfect output hysteria is a different topic. Here a general purpose consumer system (XP, consumer sound card) applies a default 3db attenuation to the system mixer. It's a very simple form of clipping prevention that most people won't notice for everyday tasks. They would notice, though, if a concurrent system sound would make their Winamp music clip.

The whole issue can easily be avoided with professional sound cards, that bypass the system mixer or either Asio, Kernel Streaming, or Exclusive Mode (Vista) plugins for popular playback apps.* No vodoo required.


* Macs have bit perfect playback out of the box.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-04-09 23:35:19
The commercial recording that supports that claim has never existed. The widest dynamic range 16 bit recordings that exist still have at least 10 dB headroom.
That would imply that 15-bits (if not 14-bits) was always sufficient. Yet there have been successful ABX tests of 15-bit audio (sadly the link is now broken, but it was in the FAQ here).

I can't comment on a test that I have not seen any documentation for.  Anybody who wants to can claim they "broke 16 bits" by throwing away however many bits and breaking that is obvioiusly deceiving themselves.

Nobody claimed that at all. You claimed 16-bits had at least 10dB of headroom. I said 15-bits (with only 6dB less headroom than 16-bits) had been ABXed.

I can't be held responsible for link rot, but maybe archive.org has it... nope, it was a dynamic (forum) page.

Quote
Its the same idea - if someone makes a mistake and uses that to argue that mistakes are widespread is again deceiving themselves.  Of course mistakes are made, but they in fact quite rare in general, and rarer still if we consider just dedicated hardware.
What is your profession? I won't tell you what mine is, but I've had the fun of working with engineers on a daily basis, and enforcing compliance regimes - with the best will in the world, mistakes are exceedingly common, and quite a few slip out into the marketplace.

I suppose your PC never crashes either?

Cheers,
David.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Tahnru on 2009-04-24 22:40:52
Quote
Nobody claimed that at all. You claimed 16-bits had at least 10dB of headroom. I said 15-bits (with only 6dB less headroom than 16-bits) had been ABXed.

I can't be held responsible for link rot, but maybe archive.org has it... nope, it was a dynamic (forum) page.


I'd be willing to participate in a re-trial.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-04-26 01:51:02
Quote
Nobody claimed that at all. You claimed 16-bits had at least 10dB of headroom. I said 15-bits (with only 6dB less headroom than 16-bits) had been ABXed.

I can't be held responsible for link rot, but maybe archive.org has it... nope, it was a dynamic (forum) page.


I'd be willing to participate in a re-trial.


Like I said, I can't comment on something that I know nothing about.

It seems like a re-trial should be pretty easy to do.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: ShowsOn on 2009-05-22 13:04:18
Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...


The history of audio component ABX tests is that they originated in a regional hi fi club. They were devised to avoid exactly the kinds of blow-ups you describe. They achived that outcome, almost to perfection. The other thing they did is pretty much convert all of our amplifier builders into speaker builders. ;-)

Does this mean that even today when one buys a hifi system they should spend a greater proportion of money on speakers, because the development of speakers historically has been neglected? i.e. a lot of time and engineering effort was wasted 'improving' amplifiers, when the greater problems were in speaker design that went undetected due to the lack of objective testing?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: pdq on 2009-05-22 15:37:40
Many years ago hifi systems were at the mercy of the weakest links, tape, vinyl, tube amplifiers, etc. In those days extra money spent on those components made an audible difference. Even then I would have recommended spending more on speakers than everything else combined because that is where extra dollars spent had the biggest payback in improved sound.

Today we no longer have the limitations of tape and vinyl, and even very modest CD players and amplifiers have performance that is virtually indistinguishable with much more expensive components. The recommendation to spend as much as possible on speakers is more true now than ever.

I don't see this as lack of effort in developing speakers. It's just that speakers are a much more difficult technology and progress has been slow.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: ShowsOn on 2009-05-22 16:16:21
I don't see this as lack of effort in developing speakers. It's just that speakers are a much more difficult technology and progress has been slow.

Is it fair to apportion some blame for this on audiophiles who wasted so much energy criticising, for example, CD players and speaker cables, instead of objectively testing speakers? Or is it just the nature of speakers as complicated devices that has caused progress to be slow, especially at reasonable prices (say between $300 to $600)?

Let's say someone was putting together a hifi system featuring a CD player, amplifier, speakers. cables. What proportion should be spent on the speakers? 50%?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-05-22 16:27:04
I don't see this as lack of effort in developing speakers. It's just that speakers are a much more difficult technology and progress has been slow.

Is it fair to apportion some blame for this on audiophiles who wasted so much energy criticising, for example, CD players and speaker cables, instead of objectively testing speakers? Or is it just the nature of speakers as complicated devices that has caused progress to be slow, especially at reasonable prices (say between $300 to $600)?

Let's say someone was putting together a hifi system featuring a CD player, amplifier, speakers. cables. What proportion should be spent on the speakers? 50%?


I think the answer to your question depends a lot on your budget.  As people have stated here, if your budget is small, buy the best pair of speakers you can buy (used or new) then buy used electronics.  I think 80%-90% is a goal to reach in such a scenario.

There are a number of very talented engineers who have spent all their time messing with amps, dacs, and all sorts of stuff.  There are also a ton of people who have discovered that you can make a great deal of money from audiophiles by selling them cables, machined stands, magnets, and heaven knows what else.  Arguably, if all the time and money that is spent on this stuff was spent on engineering speakers there would be far more  development in speakers.  Also, if audiophiles were more rigorous in their evaluation of eqiupment, speaker makers would have to try harder.  Why try new ideas with speakers when you can tweak and existing idea and charge massive premiums for it.

Also, you don't have to spend huge amounts of money to get decent speakers.  But audiophiles have glossed over a lot of reasonably priced brands (e.g. Paradigm) just because they aren't full of audiophile hyperbole at a audiophile price.

There are people who are doing interesting things with speakers.  Linkwitz Lab has speakers they call the Orion (http://www.linkwitzlab.com/orion_challenge.htm).  The design is very different from typical speakers.  They are expensive, but far cheaper than many other expensive speakers that are little more than the same stuff you see in much cheaper speakers (drivers in a rectangular box).
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: ShowsOn on 2009-05-22 16:52:03
There are also a ton of people who have discovered that you can make a great deal of money from audiophiles by selling them cables, machined stands, magnets, and heaven knows what else.

Don't forget the audiophile clock (http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina41.htm)!
Also, you don't have to spend huge amounts of money to get decent speakers.  But audiophiles have glossed over a lot of reasonably priced brands (e.g. Paradigm) just because they aren't full of audiophile hyperbole at a audiophile price.

I've been using the same speakers for nearly 13 years. Whenever I say I'm going to replace them, I instead end up buying CDs instead! I buy on average one new CD a week. I just prefer listening to new music instead of having really, really good hardware to play it on. I owned a stereo amplifier for 12 years until it completely died (it wouldn't turn on) before I replaced it with a $500 AV receiver (I also watch a lot of DVDs, so I wanted something that could do both things well).

The saddest thing is the audiophile industry has completely muddied the waters about what is worth what.  I know that if I need a new DVD player, I'll get a Pioneer, because I already have two (in different rooms) that play all sorts of discs, and are excellent value for money given the features.

But for speakers, which as others have explained are such an important component, I'd wouldn't know the first place to start! I wouldn't even know what features to look for, to know I am getting something worth the money! The industry it seems has completely succeeded in making it as hard as possible to determine what is worth what, and what your money actually buys. I would even like to base my purchase on doing proper double blind tests using CDs I am familiar with, but I doubt many retailers would even provide that service, because the industry looks down on such testing!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-05-22 18:35:10
But for speakers, which as others have explained are such an important component, I'd wouldn't know the first place to start! I wouldn't even know what features to look for, to know I am getting something worth the money! The industry it seems has completely succeeded in making it as hard as possible to determine what is worth what, and what your money actually buys. I would even like to base my purchase on doing proper double blind tests using CDs I am familiar with, but I doubt many retailers would even provide that service, because the industry looks down on such testing!


Yes.  You've summed up the problem very well.  But there are some beacons of light in people who are performing blind tests on speakers and trying to come up with metrics the average consumer can use. 

Blind tests on speakers (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=69350)
Sean Olive's Blog (http://seanolive.blogspot.com/)
Objectively Speaking, what is the best speakers (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=70702&hl=)

As far as buying speakers, I have somewhat of a split opinion on it.  One part of me says to spend all much money as possible on the best speakers to get the most authentic (whatever that means) sound.  Then I look at my spouse.  She can easily tell the difference between our $50 portable deck and an audio rig costing much more than that.  But she she doesn't really care.  Her goal is to enjoy music and she can do that just as easily on a $50 deck as she can on an expensive rig.

So who is the bigger fool?  Her or me? 

I think most decent speakers sound 90% the same anyway.  A little bass extra bass one one, a slightly humped up midrange on another, some bumped on trebles on a third, etc.  So what?  All of them are taking an input (music) and putting it out, albeit a little differently.  I've rarely heard a speaker that takes in an input and puts out something that doesn't sound like the original at all.  If you really want to rigorously approach speaker selection you have to take into account room acoustics, damping, hardware placements, etc.  All of which, arguably, isn't automatically going to give me any more enjoyment when I listen to music.

As far as buying speakers, I'm in the same boat as you.  Years ago I purchased a pair of good headphones and got rid of my speaker rig because of life circumstances.  I've found headphone listening to be very enjoyable and got a 2.1 computer speaker setup for those days I want my head to be free.  From time to time I think about putting some money down on a nice speaker rig, but I have little incentive since I already have something I find quite satisfactory.

Maybe in a couple of years

Another factor I missed out in my last post is the WAF (wife approval factor).  Speakers take up room.  A lot of people (men and women) dislike the space required to use full sized speakers in a 5.1, 2.1, or 2 setup.  I have a strong bias against Bose, but their tiny speakers are quite appealing to people who don't have a dedicated media room.  I think a lot of development in speaker design has going into these smaller systems, IPOD docks, car audio, etc.

If you enjoy your current speakers than go ahead and enjoy them.  Spend the money on CDs.  I'm confident there is a far greater difference two singers/groups than between any two decently made speakers.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Kitsuned on 2009-05-24 17:06:30
Quote
I think most decent speakers sound 90% the same anyway. A little bass extra bass one one, a slightly humped up midrange on another, some bumped on trebles on a third, etc. So what? All of them are taking an input (music) and putting it out, albeit a little differently. I've rarely heard a speaker that takes in an input and puts out something that doesn't sound like the original at all. If you really want to rigorously approach speaker selection you have to take into account room acoustics, damping, hardware placements, etc. All of which, arguably, isn't automatically going to give me any more enjoyment when I listen to music.

As far as buying speakers, I'm in the same boat as you. Years ago I purchased a pair of good headphones and got rid of my speaker rig because of life circumstances. I've found headphone listening to be very enjoyable and got a 2.1 computer speaker setup for those days I want my head to be free. From time to time I think about putting some money down on a nice speaker rig, but I have little incentive since I already have something I find quite satisfactory.


This is exactly how I feel about things.  Generally speaking, size will matter with the sound a speaker outputs, but systems of similar size and structure basically do sound the same, given the same environment and music.  I had to go the headphone route when I was in college dorms and later when I moved into my own apartment just because I didn't want to have the world to have to tolerate my musical choices.  I eventually did buy a small 2.1 system from Altec Lansing because I didn't want to always wear headphones yet not blow the house down.  It does its job with some equalizer tweaking to minimize bass boominess.  Do I enjoy music any less?  Nope.  There are many more serious things to worry about than to know that my speakers reproduced a cymbal crash perfectly.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tiptoe on 2009-05-26 21:25:55
enough to sound like a Stereophile editor, and learn what sells -- maybe start an Ebay business selling "CD juice" or something).


CDViagra!

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tiptoe on 2009-05-26 21:43:30
Audioengr in many ways shows the dangers of subjective dominance of discussions in my view. It's a tiny leap from "believing the evidence of ones ears" to justifying ones beliefs with pseudo scientific claptrap, simply because one doesn't have sufficient understanding to recognise it as such.


Ah yes, Mr. Jitter. I got in a discussion with him a long time ago about the audibility of jitter, and he refused to supply any proof. It was all "I have X number of customers that can hear it and think my products are just swell, so you're wrong."


Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: greynol on 2009-05-26 21:47:41
...and he still continues to haunt HA:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=72158 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=72158)
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tiptoe on 2009-05-26 21:48:45
I believe James Randi has got involved in a cable listening test but I don't think the challenge has happened yet.

http://www.randi.org (http://www.randi.org)



All of the cable reviewers and manufacturers ran the other way.

No fools, they. ;-)


If I remember, Fremer ran right towards it, hit a brick wall, and staggered away dazed and confused. Then he tried a bunch of handwaving to make it appear like he won.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: greynol on 2009-05-26 21:56:04
Yes, and it's been resurrected in this thread (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=71245). 

Let's not have the same debate here too, m'kay?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-05-27 04:20:09
This is exactly how I feel about things.  Generally speaking, size will matter with the sound a speaker outputs, but systems of similar size and structure basically do sound the same, given the same environment and music.


And it's these things that make speaker blind testing so interesting to me.  As human beings we seem to support certain philosophies only so far as they fit the way we like to the world to work.  I see this in DBT supporters when people on certain forums say most decent engineered equipment sound the same but they seem to greatly exaggerate certain speaker characteristics (e.g. soundstage) based on expectations, price, size, design, etc.  Can I take such reviews seriously when I personally think some reviews of consumer audio world huff and puff too much over small differences because reviewers have become experts of minutia and have fallen for the same placebo because they can now accept placebo with impunity (all speakers measure differently after all).

You even have kooks like me who say all decently engineered speakers (and as Kitsuned clarified, with the same size, design, etc) sound 90% the same.  There's a good chance some bias is at work there!

At least as a consumer, there are a number of questions I have.  Do people have a more "enjoyable" experience with an inexpensive speakers versus something much more expensive if both speakers were designed to be flat?  Do what degree do listeners hear a difference in soundstage between speakers?  Can speaker with a highly regarded soundstage compete with a multi-channel speaker setup?

And so on and so on.  Answering these questions without blind testing speakers is all too easy to get wrong.  DBT of speakers seems to be the thing to answer these questions.  Could we figure out the point at which people feel the improvements are minor and mostly different rather than improvements?  Yes, obviously the answer will be different with different people.  At least the results might offer some sane guidelines for consumer purchasing decisions.

DBT of speakers is hard to do but I think the results of such experiments would be very interesting.  The results of the work Sean Olive did at Harmon International is just the start.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: atdamico on 2009-05-27 18:24:08
Why do objective and subjective points of view have to be looked on as adversarial?  (Objective vs. subjective)  I love science.  I love the scientific method.  I see both as the best and only real way to search for truth.  I believe that an objective analysis of data is the path to understanding.  I search for proof before jumping on bandwagons.  But I do so without completing denying that subjectivity is crucial to living day to day.  Every time I drive a car I have to make subjective opinions on how fast other cars are going, how my car is going to behave in wet conditions and snowy conditions are they going to come into my lane, etc.  Without subjectively analyzing quite a bit of data in seconds, I wouldn’t live long behind the wheel.  I make subjective decisions about what I eat.  What I drink.  What I find attractive and un-attractive in partners.  How the wind will affect the handling of my boat.  And thousands of other day to day things as well.  But nobody challenges me constantly to objectively PROVE that these subjective opinions are valid.  It seems that only in audio is the bar set so high as to, often, turn otherwise objective minded people away.  Sound quality differences in DAC’s, amps, receivers, transports, cables, and other electronic equipment is challenged, and rightfully so, by anybody who believes as I do.  But it might be advantageous to realize that when we go overboard, while we might not be wrong, we appear to be so close minded as to turn a whole lot of people away.  Example:  I have owned quite a bit of gear, as many here have.  Receivers and amps including, but not limited to, Denon, B&K, Anthem, NAD, and Yamaha.  While not a scientist or engineer, I have attempted to level match and do some blind testing on many of them.  I wouldn’t post my personal findings as fact, but in my neophyte way, have attempted to explore and learn myself.  My conclusions were/are that there is no audible difference between any of these different brands or models.  If I posted that, I feel that not a single objective person would challenge me.  It supports their position.  But if I, for a real example, put a particular receiver into my room and it was obviously, and palpably, different once calibrated exactly like all the others.  Was it inaccurate to state that it sounded different?  Do we have to prove everything?  I wasn’t arguing, because of this one experience, that therefore all receivers sounded different, warm, bright, etc.  Simply that in this one case, there was a large difference between it and all others that were in that room.  But yet when I simply said in a post at another site that this happened to me.  I was attacked, ridiculed, and insulted, for my idiotic subjective opinion.  And by one particular member of this site.  This seems to me to be as close minded as those that argue that they can hear the sonic differences between pieces of wire.  Extremism doesn’t do either side any good.   

It’s not always an us or them argument.  Sometimes there are practical exceptions.  Sometimes not everything has to have proof.  If somebody is making outrageous claims that may hurt others, OK.  I’ll buy into it.  If somebody is making broad generalizations without any basis in fact.  OK.  I’ll buy into it. But if somebody simply makes a single observation and doesn’t attempt to apply it across the entire spectrum, why is the rancor so real?    Why does it have to be objective vs. subjective?  This implies that one is right and one is wrong.  The fact is we need both for our actual survival.  I would argue that those that take the extremist point of view that everything must have proof else it is subjective BS, would never leave their house with a coat on.  Heaven forbid we open the door, experience that it’s cold out and grab a jacket. 


Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: greynol on 2009-05-27 18:42:19
nobody challenges me constantly to objectively PROVE that these subjective opinions are valid.
Of course not since you openly admit that they are subjective opinions.  If you were to tell us that they were undeniable facts instead then there would be an issue.  I think your characterization of the topic at hand is flawed.

My conclusions were/are that there is no audible difference between any of these different brands or models.  If I posted that, I feel that not a single objective person would challenge me.
I would challenge you.  Your inability to distinguish a difference does not deny the ability of others to distinguish a difference.

But if I, for a real example, put a particular receiver into my room and it was obviously, and palpably, different once calibrated exactly like all the others.  Was it inaccurate to state that it sounded different?
So long as you can demonstrate that this conclusion was derived without any prior knowledge of which was which and it was a statistically valid, the statement would be acceptable.

Do we have to prove everything?
In this forum, if it applies to TOS #8 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=3974#entry149481), then yes; without exception.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Nick.C on 2009-05-27 19:42:04
As a learned man said to me recently (I don't know whom he was quoting): "Absence of proof is not proof of absence".

In this context, just because an individual cannot determine a difference between two test subjects it does not mean that no-one can determine a difference between the same two test subjects.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: odigg on 2009-05-28 03:44:38
My conclusions were/are that there is no audible difference between any of these different brands or models.  If I posted that, I feel that not a single objective person would challenge me.  It supports their position.


Why would people challenge you?  It seems that whenever I read about controlled audio tests the people participating in those tests always end up with the same results.  So if you said the same thing why would I want to challenge you? If you said "I can't hear a difference so everybody cannot hear a difference" then there is something to argue about.  If you can't hear a difference you can't hear a difference. 

However, if you were making this claim about two things that are known (say by different EQ settings) to be different, people would probably call you out on it.

DBT supporters may also be biased to not hear a difference or some might support DBT just because it helps justify a person's poor hearing ability.

Quote
But if I, for a real example, put a particular receiver into my room and it was obviously, and palpably, different once calibrated exactly like all the others.  Was it inaccurate to state that it sounded different?  Do we have to prove everything?


I'm with you on this one.  I support DBT, science, and all that.  But I'm aware that people have to work, cook, clean, eat, sleep, and a billion other things that are far more important and required for living than a rigorous and time intensive blind test between audio equipment.  If a person tries to add some controls (e.g. volume matching) to their audio tests and finds one piece of equipment stands out, I think it's worth taking that opinion seriously.  Obviously the person is committed to objectivity in testing so they're not approaching things with a blatant rejection of test controls.

I've found equipment that sounds different form the rest.  But I've always been able to use measurements (I.E. RMAA tests) to verify what I'm hearing.

HA can seem a little extremist in this sense.  I imagine there are people, like me, who refrain from asking certain questions and proposing certain answers because the response will be "anti-science" or responses of that nature.  Some people who adhere rigidly to what can be discovered by observation/measurement seem to have already decided what the right questions and answers are.  Other questions and comments, which may be important to DBT supporters, are stupid and pointless in this view.

And I don't think science can provide truth in a total sense.  But for audio, yes, use science!
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-05-28 04:28:57
As a learned man said to me recently (I don't know whom he was quoting): "Absence of proof is not proof of absence".



if the search for proof has gone on fruitlessly for decades, or the weight of data is against it, it actually kinda *is*.  Just because absolute negative proof is impossible, does not mean that all things are equally likely.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-05-28 13:22:41
Why do objective and subjective points of view have to be looked on as adversarial?  (Objective vs. subjective)


They don't. As I said in my introduction at the HE2005 debate with John Atkinson, some (such as he) audio's high end have misappropiated the words, come up with their own definitions for them, and then created a conflict where none need exist.

Quote
But it might be advantageous to realize that when we go overboard, while we might not be wrong, we appear to be so close minded as to turn a whole lot of people away.


Let's not forget that the "Everything Sounds Different" crowd is very closed minded and has turned a whole lot of people away.

Quote
Do we have to prove everything?


Not everything. Just the things where the reliable observations have gone a certain way for a very long time.

For example, I do live sound and recording. I'm constantly selecting and adjusting mics, speakers, mixing consoles and speaker management systems. I would be spinning my wheels if any of those adjustments didn't make audible differences. Nobody has ever asked me to prove that the adjustments I make have an audible impact.

Quote
I wasn’t arguing, because of this one experience, that therefore all receivers sounded different, warm, bright, etc.  Simply that in this one case, there was a large difference between it and all others that were in that room.


It is possible that the receiver has a non-obvious tone control or something like it.  It takes some careful frequency response measurements to uncover things like that. Odds are, you aren't prepared to produce the corresponding tech report.

Quote
But yet when I simply said in a post at another site that this happened to me.  I was attacked, ridiculed, and insulted, for my idiotic subjective opinion.  And by one particular member of this site.  This seems to me to be as close minded as those that argue that they can hear the sonic differences between pieces of wire.


People get over-torqued. It has definately happened to me.

Quote
Extremism doesn’t do either side any good.


Agreed.
 
Quote
It’s not always an us or them argument.


And, its not always us who are casting the first stones, the most stones, or the last stone.

Quote
If somebody is making outrageous claims that may hurt others, OK.  I’ll buy into it.  If somebody is making broad generalizations without any basis in fact.  OK.  I’ll buy into it. But if somebody simply makes a single observation and doesn’t attempt to apply it across the entire spectrum, why is the rancor so real?


Excessive dogmaticism and rancor over unimportant things is rife in online contexts. Hence the fact that unmoderated forums like most of  Usenet is dying, while moderated forums like AVS are picking up or at least holding their own.

Quote
Why does it have to be objective vs. subjective?


Initially, that discussion was raised (probably in the 1950s)  because of a lack of agreement about the results of subjective evaluations and test bench measurements. When that discussion first evolved our knowlege of a huge number of relevant facts was very small and fragementary, compared to what it  is today.  To understand "ear versus gear" requires a lot of knowlege that was not generally available until the early 1990s.  So there was 40 years of wandering in the wilderness with a lot of minds being set in cement due to polarization over things that are now known, but that weren't known then.

Quote
This implies that one is right and one is wrong.  The fact is we need both for our actual survival.  I would argue that those that take the extremist point of view that everything must have proof else it is subjective BS, would never leave their house with a coat on.  Heaven forbid we open the door, experience that it’s cold out and grab a jacket. 


I deny the idea that just because it is subjective, it is necessarily unreliable or imaginary.

<This post has signficant content removed to get under the HS quote blocks limitation>
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Nick.C on 2009-05-28 14:02:14
if the search for proof has gone on fruitlessly for decades, or the weight of data is against it, it actually kinda *is*.  Just because absolute negative proof is impossible, does not mean that all things are equally likely.
I would agree - something along the lines of: As the length of time with absence of proof increases so the probability of absence increases.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: tiptoe on 2009-05-28 14:39:53
The acceptance of audiophile snake oil in the public sphere draws money away from real innovation, in all product markets and all price points, and reduces the quality of audio as a whole in the process.

That's why you should complain vigorously about $20,000 CD players.


Thank you.

I have said much the same thing to many people in the past, but your way of saying it is more concise and succinct.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: krabapple on 2009-05-28 17:20:12
The acceptance of audiophile snake oil in the public sphere draws money away from real innovation, in all product markets and all price points, and reduces the quality of audio as a whole in the process.

That's why you should complain vigorously about $20,000 CD players.


Thank you.

I have said much the same thing to many people in the past, but your way of saying it is more concise and succinct.


I like to refer to it as a signal-to-noise problem.

Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Ultra57 on 2009-06-10 07:49:36
Objective vs. Subjective.

I doubt I will cover all the problems associated with an ABX testing standard, but because it is obvious that you are serious about obtaining a valid statistical result to make an objective statement about a subjective subject, I have put in my two cents.  Hope it helps.  I taught both statistics and teaching at the university level in the states.  A true or valid statistic must come with a criteria based on sound scientific statistical principals.  In an attempt to draw objective conclusions about a subjective subject, many overlook the basics of any statistical process, you must have randomness, and you must ensure that participants are not cheating or lying. 

RANDOMNESS - All statistical tables are based on the premise that the test was done under random conditions (something very hard to obtain within the subjective arena).  In your ABX testing procedure outline, I am not sure how you are guaranteeing randomness of the test subjects in order to ensure the resulting statistics are not flawed from incorrect experimental design issues.  You need randomness in your test subjects and test materials.  Now you can randomly choose among those claiming to have a good or critical ear for music to cure one of the issues.  Key point is that randomness must be maintained in both the testers and the testing material.  Radonmess of testing matter should be another consideration.

NO CHEATING OR LYING - Contrary to popular belief, double blind testing alone does not guarantee randomness.  Here are some considerations you might keep in mind for redesign of the testing criteria. 

BACK TO TOPIC - It is hard to be totally objective about a subjective subject.  We are human, opinionated and flawed.  I guess the best we can do is tread lightly, and gently pat the insecure ones on the head that insist they are absolutely right on a subject that has very few absolutes.  The only way I can relate is that it is like reading a statistical analysis in that it is irritating to read some idiot that has ruined his study because I have trained my brain in statistics and know they are full of bandini.  It detracts from everything they have to say.  Research papers are very tough for me to read because of this statistical "critical eye."  I can not make it through a news cast without screaming IDIOT at least once over bad statistics.  Problem is, they may have valid points that my mind closes out with this automatic proofing that I have trained my brain to do with anything I read or hear.  Many of you have trained your ear to hear the flaws.  Instead of just listening and enjoying, you get annoyed at recording flaws that interrupt your listening pleasure.  Every hiss, pop or lack of high/low sends your ear through the roof.  You can never go back to a time when you just sat and enjoyed the experience of a song.  Or, just letting the music take you back to a better time or place without it being a "perfect" copy.  My friends, you have lost something special by training your ear to hear the flaws.  BUT, I sure am glad you are the experts so I can read your conclusions and analysis to help better the results for my project.  The WIKI is a work of art and the FAQs are wonderful.  Thank you to all that have contributed at such a high price.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: MichaelW on 2009-06-10 10:00:40
Hi, Ultra57.  I'm no statistician, but I think there are two remarks to be made.

1. Randomness of subjects. If the objective of DBT here were to be to make remarks about the population at large, obviously that would be necessary; but in fact mostly people are doing and reporting tests of their own files, with their own hearing, for their own use. The forum reads these, and in time enough anecdotes begin to look like fuzzy data, and people make somewhat generalised remarks, but it is totally different in objective from, say, a trial of a new drug. Mostly, it's about what quality level people should adopt for their own lossy coding.

2. Cheating. Well, the forum mostly consumes the results in the form of posts here; the easiest way to cheat would just be to fake a log; and remember, on the internet no one knows you're a dog, an especially relevant fact in this context. So cheating of very unsubtle kinds can happen, but the possibility of subtle self-deluding cheating is often picked up on.

My hearing is too old and crusty to make it worthwhile my doing tests, but my understanding of the ABX programs commonly used is that they do randomize the order in which samples appear.

Could I ask a question? My impression is that some people treat "statistical significance" as an absolute threshold, so that a result that has a more than one in twenty possibility of being chance is taken to be of zero value. Common sense says that if there's a one in ten possibility of a result being chance, this gives you some real information, though you'd be better off doing a retest. So says common sense, but I know that in many areas common sense is plain wrong. Is there any kind of threshold or kink in the curve that means that 20 to 1 has some special aptness as a measure of significance?
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-06-10 11:28:43
Objective vs. Subjective.


You are not writing about "Objective vs. Subjective", you are trying to poke holes in a document about how certain listening tests should be done.

Quote
RANDOMNESS - All statistical tables are based on the premise that the test was done under random conditions (something very hard to obtain within the subjective arena).  In your ABX testing procedure outline, I am not sure how you are guaranteeing
randomness of the test subjects in order to ensure the resulting statistics are not flawed from incorrect experimental design issues.


There is no requirement that the test subjects be chosen randomly or be random. There is only a requirement that test subjects being tested at any one time be presented in the test randomly. In ABX tests the randomly-chosen alternative is represented by X which is compared to known alternatives A and B. X is randomly chosen and is either A or B but which is it is not known until the test is over.

IOW,  if the test subjects are people, I can choose them from the general population by any reasonable means. If the test subjects are MP3 encoders, I can again choose them from available MP3 coders by any means that I think are relevant.

In ABX testing, the items being compared are presented in random order by various means.

If the ABX test is done manually, then the items being compared are randomized manually, such as having a hidden technican flip a coin, and present them to the listeners in the order indicated by the coin flips. 

If the test is done by automated means which is the usual case around here, then the automated test system handles the problem of randomization internally. The usual means is for the automated test system take a random seed such as the least significant digits of the current system time, and plug that into a pseudorandom sequence generator to create a list of random numbers.  The random numbers are then mathematically analyzed in such a way that there is a balance between the number of times that each item being compared is presented.
Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-06-10 11:43:03
BACK TO TOPIC - It is hard to be totally objective about a subjective subject.


There is no need to beat ourselves about the head and shoulders about this fact. All we can do is try to do the best that we can.

Around here the basics of how things are to be tested is somewhat defined. However the definitions are not perfect. For example, one might argue that I have an opinon about a topic, so any test I contrive to do that relates to that topic will be slightly biased by my opinon. OK, that is fine and good. There should be someone else that has the opposing opinon on the same topic, who will also do a test which may be slightly biased by his opinons. The beauty is in the comparson of how we did our tests and what the results were. Things get even more interesting when we attempt to redo each others work.

If you want to see a more formal and lofty definition of how listening tests of audio products are supposed to be conducted, please see ITU BS 1116.

At HA we have advocates of many different audio products. All are free to test their favorite products or competitive products and present their results, as long as the tests meet some fairly basic requirments for reasonableness. The test procedures have been around for about 30 years and examined by a vast number of experts in statistics, experimental design, you name it. It is not going to be easy to poke holes in them. Most people who take shots at them only expose their lack of understanding.

Quote
We are human, opinionated and flawed.  I guess the best we can do is tread lightly, and gently pat the insecure ones on the head that insist they are absolutely right on a subject that has very few absolutes.


Thats a beautiful thought, but it seems to be very naive. We often deal with people who are not only opinionated and flawed but also devious and forceful. In some cases millions of dollars are at stake.


Title: Subjective vs Objective opinions
Post by: Ultra57 on 2009-06-11 03:40:31
At the time of posting, I did not fully understand the purpose of the suggested ABX test (a self testing mechanism that has possibilities for the honest listener to scientifically test their own files for effectiveness of a procedure or tweak), nor did I understand the suggested reporting of results and conclusions.  Upon further reading of the forum, I realized the error of the post but had no way to edit it (too much time had elapsed). Since users were kind enough to help me out in my search for knowledge by creating such a great WIKI and FAQs page, I was attempting to give back with my knowledge. 

The issue of randomness is handled by the testing procedure as outlined by Arnold B. Krueger and summarized by Michael W.  In other words the stats you are representing are within sound statistical guidelines for randomness for two reasons.  The randomness of the test itself and under the qualifying statement "I found" ... to be true.  The "I found" statement eliminates any issues regarding randomness of the human population sampling.  You may also correctly state that others have corroborated these findings with their own ABX testing of the procedure/tweak.

The purpose of my post was not to poke holes in the procedure, but was to ensure that the test was statistically sound in its design.  It is intuitively obvious from the posts that I have read throughout the forum that you are a group of seriously minded audio enthusiasts that are attempting to obtain a high standard in the disbursement of information (evidence is found not only throughout the forum, but also in the WIKI and FAQs).  Within this thread on Objective vs. Subjective, you appear to rely heavily on the ABX test to corroborate your subjective statements.  I felt the comment was "on topic" since the test was mentioned often as the primary tool used to back up statements of suggested good practices.  Making that statement stand stronger by ensuring it was statistically sound was my only purpose in commenting. 

Of course, the "self-deluding cheating" (I love this phrase MichaelW) is unavoidable in any statistical testing and a concern for all people attempting to evaluate raw data for statistical purposes.  I can also appreciate the fourm solution which is another clear indication of the quality control you have created to ensure that you are presenting facts and not myths.  Very impressive.
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