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shots fired across the bow! (engineers vs 'the hifi people')

Discussion in 'audio' started by Jonathan, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan pfm Member

    for those interested a youtube flame war breaking out between ethan winer - a steadfast 'engineer type' who sells room treatment panels and steadfastly resists the idea of using adjectives to describe sound when number will (ostensibly) do far better! Arkham will LOVE this no doubt! :)

    At any rate i think the argument itself is a bit trite but it's AMAZING how wound up this person's followers are becoming and how PERSONAL it is! Personally i think that while numbers are a good way of logging electrical information (voltage mostly) - they do very little to describe (communicate) to another person what to expect and I still think adjectives are (still) a pretty good way to communicate behaviours and qualities of things. Despite others taking offence ...

  2. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    Gloves off!!! I doubt the face-off/challenge will take place, but one never knows. It is interesting stuff, well, sort of. Probably for many of us, we all have our own ideas about it all, me, I guess I really haven't cared much about what anyone else thinks does or doesn't make a difference, or even why or why not. I like what I like, and so it goes. I have given up on the technicalities of it all long ago.

    Thanks for sharing this though!
    linnfomaniac83 likes this.
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    A row between two internet salesmen, one who sells books and room treatment, one who sells amplifiers etc. As ever it should only ever be viewed in that light. This whole thing is, as ever, utter BS. The only thing that matters is whether you like the sound of your system in your room. What some self-appointed internet ‘expert’ thinks is of no consequence, especially if their sales agendas are so clear to all.

    PS I’d not trust that “null test” agenda box as far as I could throw it!
  4. Hipper

    Hipper pfm Member

    Maybe, but the debate cuts to the heart of similar 'discussions' in the audio world, namely:

    'Can measurements alone define audio quality?'
    Jonathan likes this.
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Indeed, and almost always you will find a similar commercial agenda behind the most entrenched and cyclic views. The vast majority of us live in the middle ground and both trust our ears and understand the technology. Those firmly entrenched at either extreme can be safely dismissed IME. They are either selling something or haven’t quite understood the question!
    Sibbers, andrewd, herb and 1 other person like this.
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    Independent measurements of kit are useful. If you have a feel for today’s state of the art then you can assess whether the designers have paid attention to good engineering or not. I tend to not audition kit that is not well enough engineered. There’s a lot of choice, after all.

    Some figures are well connected by research to good sound on a listener population basis (e.g. see the work of Floyd and Olive on loudspeakers). But that says nothing about any individual listener’s preference.

    Adjectives might be useful if the meanings are commonly shared to avoid the Humpty Dumpty problem. I see a lot of adjectives in reviews and in forums that simply cannot be interpreted with any certainty. Some attempts have been made to establish common audio review vocabularies. But there are several of them that differ, and if you look at any one the definitions are not always helpful or even internally consistent. And many writers are not likely to be so disciplined anyway.

    And then when people connect their own adjectives with assumptions about engineering, I am always reminded that audio systems can have complex interactions internally and with the listener, and I remember my favourite H.L. Mencken misquote: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
  7. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    It's YouTube entertainment, enjoy!

    Winer is too much of an absolutist, but he's always been good at debunking the lunatic fringe. I used to enjoy Paul McGowan's videos, but his increasingly folksy and patronising efforts have turned me off.
    Jonathan likes this.
  8. bencat

    bencat pfm Member

    At least Ethan gives himself a get out clause by saying it does not allow for personal taste . For me at least while a enjoy the equipment and technical debates (most of which I do not fully understand) this is all just a means to and end creating music I can enjoy in my home or on the move .
    Given that it is often impossible for two people to agree on a single artist and if they make good or bad music (I really do not like Bruce Springsteen my friend thinks he is a genius and has never made a bad track) then there is little wonder that we can not agree on what does and doesnt sound good.
    If you are creating or adding to your own system to play your music in your room with your ears then the opinion or measurments of any of that equipment is irrelevant . If you hear it and it suits you and makes you reach for that next CD then sounds good and just enjoy .
    It is very different if you are helping a friend to get a system togehter or if you are selling systems but you still have to rely on your own hearing (and preferences) if you are going be honest.
    I would asy this it is very possibe that two amplifiers with the same measurments but different layouts could quite easily sound different but I would never be bothered to go to the trouble of checking it out .
    duckworp and Jonathan like this.
  9. h.g.

    h.g. pfm Member

    Ethan Winer is not an engineer whatever his claims. His background education is arts not science. He sells room acoustic treatment but lacks a significant amount of basic knowledge about the maths and physics of sound in rooms a trained engineer would possess as can be seen in his many internet posting and blurb on his site. What he loves to do is bash subjective audiophiles but without a reasonable grounding/understanding/interest in the science his debating is often amusingly ineffective.

    Paul McGowan is an audiophile product salesman. Not sure more needs to be said.

    This reminds me of a similar debates in the past like Krueger vs Atkinson where neither side possesses the technical knowledge to construct effective arguments and relies more on typical forum debating approach. Possibly entertaining in small quantities when in the mood whichever side you are rooting for (or neither for some of us).
    Jonathan, Sunflower Sutra and johncee like this.
  10. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    Woah there! By all means disagree with him, but stick to the facts please.
    booja30 likes this.
  11. h.g.

    h.g. pfm Member

    What facts are missing? Here is a typical and amusing example of his lack of technical knowledge and interest in getting educated about his own subject area of room acoustics. Note several people answered his questions without him even recognising it, one obviously knew him from old and simply took the p*ss from the off whereas I was surprised by his ignorance and disinterest and became more interested in why.
  12. johncee

    johncee pfm Member

    so what are Winer’s engineering qualifications?
  13. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    Paul McGowan is correct in that not everything in audio can be measured. Components, as in resistors, capacitors, transformers etc that are used in the construction of an audio product all have a sonic signature. If these parts are changed or replaced for ones of a different construction or material, there is a very good chance the two will measure the same, but on audition, the two versions will sound different. Maybe in the future, there will be a means to measure these differences but in the meantime, our ears will have to be the judge.
    PsB likes this.
  14. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    Any chance you could provide a TL;DR summary of Ethan's misunderstanding of that topic? As a subwoofer user I'm curious but can't summon the energy to read all 20 pages of that thread plus the various links to research papers that were posted.
    Sunflower Sutra likes this.
  15. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Oh it can, it can all be measured. But we might not know what we are looking at or where to look for what we want to see. I certainly wouldn't take the opinion of a listener over whether one component sounds different from another, not unless he'd identified a difference when blind tested, I'd want numbers to back that up. People are want to hear $hit that just isn't there, all the time.
    AndrewM, Barrymagrec, matt j and 2 others like this.
  16. Alex M

    Alex M pfm Member

    It would seem that he has no rigorous science or engineering training. On his home page he says this:

    I never got a degree or even went to school for electronics, but I worked as a technician with many excellent "real" engineers.

    That doesn't mean he doesn't know what he is talking about, but "on the job" training is definitely not the same as a formal education in electronics or acoustics.

  17. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Ah the bizarre world of audiophilia..... where a certain moronic but vocal contingent believe the people who's opinion you should least trust are the engineers who actually designed the equipment they use!
    Shadders and Jonboi like this.
  18. Alex M

    Alex M pfm Member

    ... and Paul McGowan has no formal engineering background either. In his own words (from an Enjoy the Music interview) :

    I am basically self taught, I do not have an engineering degree, this might sound amazing that I do not have it, but this is how it is.

  19. johncee

    johncee pfm Member

    I had a look at his home page. Seems that his website is sponsored by several essay/report writing services for cheating students. Which makes him a wrong un in my book.
  20. Alex M

    Alex M pfm Member

    ... and I see that he is also supported by one of the scam companies charging to renew an EHIC card (these are free through the NHS), which is just as much a red card for me...


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