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Can we hear anything, allowed to hear anything, or are you deaf/stupid?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Cereal Killer, Feb 4, 2020.

  1. Fretbuzz

    Fretbuzz pfm Member

    'When you can't measure what's important, make important what you can measure'

    'What can't be measured can't be improved' ['improved']

    I always keep these in mind when whatever marketing comes up with whatever latest numbers. Not least in hifi when the amps I've liked best probably measure badly and the DACs I've liked best do as little as possible to the signal (NOS).
  2. Thetiminator

    Thetiminator Painfully virile

    Hardly. We can comment on what we see, which is a very narrow view of what we are looking at. Our perception of what we are looking at is only a perception, and bears little resemblance to what our eyes our looking at.
    Cereal Killer likes this.
  3. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    You could say the same of hearing.
  4. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    Which could be translated as the disconnect between what actually happens and what you think happens.

    It could be argued that both are equally valid, but it’s in the marketing and proselytising surrounding the latter scenario where friction starts to occur.
  5. nobeone

    nobeone pfm Member

    I recently posted a subjective review of LP12 mods "Stack Audio SERENE LP12 upgrades, and entirely subjective opinion", because, well, as far as I know nobody measures these things, and since it isn't yet another bloody DAC nobody seems interested in measuring these things either. Also the old school of demo at a retailer works for me when it is not possible to try it in your own system. I am pleased to report zero trolls appeared to tell me I was a fool for using my ears.

    I did hit the obvious snag that, being a simple chap, not prone to exaggeration (though we all trip over our excitment sometimes and post overly positive or negative comments, me too I am sure), that at least one contributor thought the upgrades must be rubbish as I had not use exagerated language to show my complete excitement and pleasure. So here is the rub. Subjective is not only different for each person and their taste, dependant on system interactions, etc., it is also dependant on the wordsmith that is trying to convey their impression of music reproduction. Some of us have shared reference points in hifi and a shared first language so stand a chance of providing a sensible comparison, but actually many of us on here do not have English as a first language, or do but aren't that good at putting in to words what we hear or indeed anything, and do not have shared reference points. Don't get me wrong I like the international nature of music and hifi, this is not a dig at less literate nor overseas contributors one bit. It is not always easy to know what to make of some of the posts on here. One person says "clear night and day difference, huge improvement, massive change, delighted" perhaps for the same thing I express as "a difference I could hear and liked". This, for me, is where subjectivism falls down. Oh and I seem to disagree with almost everybody on here that a Avondale TPR4 is the most wonderful mod evvvveeeeer. Yes I have one, and have compared it in my system to a standard Hicap, and an RSL ZapCap (which is the best to my ears). So now what? All my posts must be wrong?

    While measurements can help spot something that may sound good in one context but poor in another, where something is just not technically correct or perhaps a bit odd so you need to be aware you are taking something a bit different on that may or may not work in your system and may or may not lead you down one route and limit where you can go, they typically can't tell you if you will like something. Measurements can show you, probably, when a piece of kit is just not really up to scratch, but most DACs, for example, measure so well that the differences may be inaudible. ASR and their SINAD listing of DACs is a good example where I feel objectivists trip over themselves too, I mean, so many DACs for a few hundred £ to many thousands all with SINAD so high that it is irrelevant for almost all discussions, so I just buy the cheapest right? Because that is all there is to it? No I don't think so either.

    I suspect there are more folk like me, that look at measurements and listen with their own ears, ideally in their own system, and make their own mind up than there are either pure subjectivists or objectivists on here. I bet even pure objectivists listen before they buy big ;)

    My experience is that generally, and especially in the diy area, we all get along well, there are some extremely helpful contributors, there are a few I can spot (I will name no naims) that will jump on every thread and tell you your speakers are rubbish, your amps suck, your turntable sucks, a better system costs several orders of magnitude less than you spent, you need to spend several orders of magnitude more to get what you want, your DAC is absolutely perfect as they all sound the same, fuses costing thousands massively improve systems costing less, while expensive cables are pivotal to your enjoyment of music, yeah, if you say so.
    naimplayer likes this.
  6. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    Whilst we see the sky as pale blue its actually violet-blue. This is due to the sensitivity of the cones in the retina. Our senses are just that and not scientific measuring instruments and its therefore unlikely that two people will have exactly the same sensitivity/accuracy.

    It therefore seems reasonable to apply this finding to all our senses. Marmite comes to mind some love it others hate it.


    naimplayer and Cereal Killer like this.
  7. h.g.

    h.g. pfm Member

    The facts/truth can only be on at most one side in a focused dispute and so at least one side is going to have to employ "debating tactics" in order to win although often only in the eyes of peers that share their beliefs.

    The home audio business is a luxury goods business which involves products being valued for more than their basic technical function. How this value is added varies depending on the beliefs of the target consumer. Linn and Naim have been excellent examples of products that most customers judged to be good value despite the high price asked for the level of technical performance. How this additional value was created was effective for some people but ineffective for others with technical knowledge being perhaps the most significant distinguishing factor between the two groups. It is not unlike a picture of 3 coloured squares or a pile of bricks being valued at millions by a few but next to nothing by most. The beliefs of the consumer is a major factor in determining value to them for luxury goods and that value is real even if it may change over time due to factors like acquiring technical knowledge, moving on to other hobby interests, changing financial situation,...

    The differences in how home audio products are valued by groups like audiophile subjectivists, audiophile objectivists, engineers/scientists and people with no knowledge or interest in home audio are significantly different, are based on significantly different value systems and are never going to be aligned. So for forums like this that contain more than one group the question becomes less of which way of valuing home audio products is correct and more how to get groups with fundamentally different belief systems to coexist with minimum friction. The answer I suspect lies with respect.

    Respect the difference between fact and opinion. This is difficult for the "subjective audiophile" group and sometimes for the "objective audiophile" group because it often relies on technical knowledge that may be unknown. There is no compromise, agreeing to disagree or the like with facts. There is a correct one and an infinite number or incorrect ones. Problems arise when someone with technical knowledge states a fact and it is not accepted as such by those that lack the technical knowledge to recognise it as such. It is reasonable in a forum like this to repeat the fact with further supporting reasoning. If it is still not accepted what should happen next? I would suggest that respecting someone's wish to remain ignorant and respecting the wish for a polite, good natured forum should lead to discussion ceasing.

    Respect the beliefs and wishes of the OP. If they want to talk about the magical properties of a particular brand of audiophile cable then fair enough. Perhaps a suggestion for a £1 cable rather than a £1000 cable but if the OP isn't interested then posters know this is considered a negative contribution to the thread by the OP. Respect that more than the urge to bash the OP over the head with the truth.
  8. Thetiminator

    Thetiminator Painfully virile

  9. clivem2

    clivem2 pfm Member

    In trying my best to see both sides of the objectivist / subjectivist divide I'll explain two setups I have in my house.

    1) vinyl and files based sources into an AVC pre and either class D power amps or valve PSE driving sensitive open baffles speakers

    2) files based - one box streamer with phono stage, preamp, DAC all included into Hypex class D power amps driving relatively traditional floor standing speakers

    Objectivists will love system 2) as it measures so well (I assume it does...), if they then listen to system 1) they will hear quite a different sound - they will pinpoint the distortions and character and may find the system objectionable because what they hear tells them it's not "high fidelity"...so they just don't like listening to system 2).

    Subjectivists don't hear the differences as distortion though they may think system 1) is too "pure" with conclusions being reached in innocence, nativity but in some ways "unfettered".

    We have one side which is driven by numbers/specs to a certain type of system. Whereas the other side decides on the sound they like by ear but might be open to being misled on occasion.

    Personally I take account of specs in helping me narrow down choices but the specs don't drive me. I expect most people are like this. It's the vociferous ones at the two extremes creating the "noise" whereas most just sit back and watch, or is that listen?
    Gaslight, mega lord and nobeone like this.
  10. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    A truth is only relative to the discussion that formed it. The typical methodology of the objectivists recently on PFM has been to severely discredit members on a personal level, take the piss then 'gang-up' with 'their club' and come back for a pound more flesh in the hope the OP would never post their (obviously unfunded) thoughts on the forum again... this place belongs to one person, who has clearly stated this is a forum for all "discussion's" to take place.

    The recent trends in the audio room have frankly been embarrassing and speaks volumes about the objectivists personal personality and their mob mentalities.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
    Andrew C! and Fourlegs like this.
  11. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    For me it’s much simpler. I don’t like ‘science’ or measurements being used to back a product in the absence of any actual revealed science or measurements. All the rest is fine.
    John Phillips and AndyU like this.
  12. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Well clivem2’s pooch must never see you apparently petting it...
  13. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Hifi is a broad church, people like all sorts of stuff. As people we gravitate, naturally, to those who share our opinions. I always try to steer clear of this, I'm more interested in alternative opinions than those that match my own. I seek out people with knowledge and experience and have little time for poorly informed opinion that just parrots out marketing speak.

    I find way more value in the opinions of creators than consumers. Ultimately I'm after measured hifidelity, mostly because I've found it easier to system match than with more characterful products. I love building stuff, much more for the challenge than the potential for improvement.

    I'm not bothered what people 'like' I'm very interested in the 'why' though.
    mega lord likes this.
  14. darrenyeats

    darrenyeats pfm Member

    The more philosophical types get wound up by the loose use of the word "impossible".

    Actually placing a jaffa cake in a listening room will affect the measurable response, as will wearing corduroys instead of jeans. It's just very very small and very very unlikely to be the cause of differences heard. In summary "impossible" is (dare I say it) technically wrong. Usually what's meant is something about audibility but that isn't always stated.

    People on every side, and in the middle, get a bit loose with words and thoughts sometimes. We're all human.

    I totally agree most people are in the middle zone somewhere.
  15. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr pfm Member

    The ‘why’ people like something is essentially the subjective bit, surely?
  16. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Heres a Lab report of the first edition DNA 2.0. https://www.i-fidelity.net/en/test-...et-dna/labreport-audionet-dna-page-eight.html

    Mines the 3rd gen, and slightly more powerful. Thomas Gessler @audionet told me "the DNA has had a few silent updates" during its 6 year production life which ended in 2017.
    (There are rumours it may even be put back into production in 2020!) http://en.audionet.de/machines/dna/#imageclose-941

    Question: can anyone tell me what its going to sound like from the above link?
  17. Helen Bach

    Helen Bach if it ain't Baroque ...

    "Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right.." (with just a nod to 'Stealers Wheels'). Where does that leave me? I have a Master of Science Degree and been playing musical instruments since I was four. :eek:

    I hear all the crap about 'you can't measure everything you hear'! So what, if you want to believe it. Like clivem2 above, I have two (or more) systems, quite different, and yet the vastly more expensive system doesn't do it for me when critical listening is involved. But the more expensive system will measure far better. Makes little sense, but I really don't care, I'm not trying to sell anything...
    darrenyeats and Sue Pertwee-Tyr like this.
  18. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    Just to clarify, I couldn’t care less about measurements per se. It’s the humbug I don’t want.
    Shadders likes this.
  19. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    Yet they typically don't say "I like 2nd harmonic distortion."

    More often, convoluted explanations about compensation for prior issues in the recording chain are used.
  20. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Yes, but it doesnt include acceptance of unicorns. I like a warm sound I like bass slam, I like the way it highlights the mute used on that trumpet, not I like it because i think a piece of impossible equipment has an impossible effect.
    Arkless Electronics and Shadders like this.

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