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Audiophilia: hobby or disease?
Hobby 17%  17%  [ 10 ]
Disease 31%  31%  [ 18 ]
could go either way 39%  39%  [ 23 ]
Your mom goes to college 3%  3%  [ 2 ]
We shewt people who use dem big purty words 'round here 10%  10%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 59
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 8:56 pm 
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The stereophile guy is appealing to emotions. Exactly what leads to products like this junk
Audio Cords
Wooden knobs for improved resolution?
Blocks?
http://www.altmann.haan.de/tubeolator/default.htm

And wrt jitter

OFFTOPIC WARNING ----
BobDog wrote:
My point is that the testing and science of audio is so much in its infancy, it lies closer to PoliSci than, say, physics. As such, expanding our knowledge of audio will be much like that in the other soft sciences: use replicable test data whenever it is available, but do not be afraid to use other data as well and be willing to incorporate the latter into your posterior belief set.
This is where we disagree. Everything except speakers can be tested pretty easily scientifically (thankfully). With speakers I am not sure how you non subjectively test them (i suppose several microphones with some test equipment might work but i dont know). Most things in biology are tested using replicable tests because it is not possible to see every step of a process.

BobDog wrote:
In fact, as I have now said MANY TIMES ON THIS THREAD, I am easing up on the extreme audio experience (at least for a while) and will be unlikely to be spending time and money on such experiments in the foreseeable future. That said, I would think that people like tay would be pleased that I took the time to test shakti stones and fond them wanting--why he'd flame me for testing and honestly reporting the results remains quite confusing to me. That is like saying the idea that I think that HDD suspension is silly so I will NEVER try it (despite many people having said they tried it successfully because I am sure that they are ALL just a bunch of inveterate modders deluding themselves).

Straw man argument alert!!! Suspension can and has been tested on this very site several times thanks to MikeC. He doesnt simply do handwaving, he does a lot of work that has obviously led to the respect a lot of people hold for him and the crew at SPCR. WRT stones, no I dont need you to tell me that theyre garbage, I can tell that theyre garbage. This is because I use logic and my understanding (however limited) of science.

BobDog wrote:
I don't want to hijack this thread again to get into a discussion of Lakatos with tay, whom he clearly does not understand at all (although I think a thread devoted to a meta-theoretical discussion on Lakatos on a silent computer forum would likely be a first :D !). I will, however, try and briefly clear up a few things:
Right I do understand english, although obviously not as well as a political scientist. You dont need to repeat what I pasted. I understood what I read. Thinking someone is an idiot doesnt mean that you dont understand them.
BobDog wrote:
(1) Lakatos is not comparing the theories, he is comparing the investigative form and standards of proof under which these theories operate.
Right because marxism can be tested to the same standards of proof as newtonian mechanics.
(2) - simply words
(3) - simply words
(4) - simply words
(5) - I had to look up rubric, but anyway -- can you explain how Marxism and Freudian mental masturbation can be tested like newtonian mechanics and relativity. I know how to test the latter two, but not the former.
(6) - Marxism began as a research program? No it began as a man expanding (verbosely) on sentiments that a lot of humanity has shared. Its in our genes. It has nothing to do with a scientific research program and never will.
(7) - How about electromagnetic theory as Gorsnak has already pointed out.

Quote:
Still, I think we can hold ourselves to the standards of Lakatosian tests and proofs; I advocate a Bayesian approach to doing so.
OK I am about to lose it. Lakatos is simply stating what scientists do, and then adding a bunch of horses**t to it. By introducing him into the discussion I am arguing you are doing the same. I love science and loathe people like Lakatos. He's adding nothing to the sciences (maybe the pseudo sciences but I dont know much about them). Scientists are well versed in THEIR scientific method. Lakatos can come and write some nicely worded paper on it, but at the end of the day its irrelevant. Maybe he's relevant to people who want to hijack the word science to describe what they do but not to any scientists that I've ever read (other than Gould of course which is dissapointing).

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 9:45 am 
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Why this Thread is Going Nowhere

This is addressed primarily at BobDog, so the rest of you are free to reject this mumbo-jumbo.

I will continue using the term rationalist to describe those on the side of "science". It's not that I think you're irrational BobDog — far from it — but "rationalist" was the term that they used to describe themselves.

As I think you've noticed, this argument basically has two sides: You're on one side, and everyone else seems to be on the other. You seem to be defying basic science, which is why eveyone seems to have had their hackles raised by your posts. However, as I'm sure you're aware, there's more to science than measurement. All of your posts have related to theory of knowledge/philosophy of science, and are based on trying to determine what a particular set of results actually means. Almost without exception, every other post in this thread is about trying to prove the effeciveness (or lack thereof) of audiophile equipment using the principles of science. Your posts (and my post to some extent) have focussed on whether science is up to the task. As far as I can tell, you've won this side of the argument hands down, since nobody else has even touched on the points you've raised.

As I understand it, you're trying to point out that the instruments and techniques that are used to measure electronics and audio are not yet up to the standards of accuracy and precision of the human ear. Everyone else has basically said "of course they are; they're the most accurate techniques of measurement available!". As you're no doubt aware, the "absolute" precision of these instruments is based on the fact that there are simply no finer instruments available. The "rationalist" argument is circular, and you've been typing until your fingers are blue trying to get this point across.

I think you're debating the wrong points. Instead of trying to take it for granted that everyone agrees on the limitations of scientific method, I think you need to make explicit that your criticism of the rationalist approach is based on a refined understanding of what scientific measurements mean rather than simply stating baldly that they're inadequate.

Once everyone is on the same page, this debate can really take off, but until then, it's just going to be you vs. the world, and you're not even going to be talking about the same thing!.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 9:50 am 
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Devonavar wrote:
Why this Thread is Going Nowhere

This is addressed primarily at BobDog, so the rest of you are free to reject this mumbo-jumbo.

I will continue using the term rationalist to describe those on the side of "science". It's not that I think you're irrational BobDog — far from it — but "rationalist" was the term that they used to describe themselves.

As I think you've noticed, this argument basically has two sides: You're on one side, and everyone else seems to be on the other. You seem to be defying basic science, which is why eveyone seems to have had their hackles raised by your posts. However, as I'm sure you're aware, there's more to science than measurement. All of your posts have related to theory of knowledge/philosophy of science, and are based on trying to determine what a particular set of results actually means. Almost without exception, every other post in this thread is about trying to prove the effeciveness (or lack thereof) of audiophile equipment using the principles of science. Your posts (and my post to some extent) have focussed on whether science is up to the task. As far as I can tell, you've won this side of the argument hands down, since nobody else has even touched on the points you've raised.

As I understand it, you're trying to point out that the instruments and techniques that are used to measure electronics and audio are not yet up to the standards of accuracy and precision of the human ear. Everyone else has basically said "of course they are; they're the most accurate techniques of measurement available!". As you're no doubt aware, the "absolute" precision of these instruments is based on the fact that there are simply no finer instruments available. The "rationalist" argument is circular, and you've been typing until your fingers are blue trying to get this point across.

I think you're debating the wrong points. Instead of trying to take it for granted that everyone agrees on the limitations of scientific method, I think you need to make explicit that your criticism of the rationalist approach is based on a refined understanding of what scientific measurements mean rather than simply stating baldly that they're inadequate.

Once everyone is on the same page, this debate can really take off, but until then, it's just going to be you vs. the world, and you're not even going to be talking about the same thing!.


Wait, so what side am I on?

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 10:19 am 
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Devonavar wrote:
[
Once everyone is on the same page, this debate can really take off, but until then, it's just going to be you vs. the world, and you're not even going to be talking about the same thing!.


It's like when I try to talk to my wife :lol: :lol:

I think you have a point, though....it does seem like we're just talking past each other. Perhaps we could split this thread even farther into two separate threads, one debating the science and the other the semantics. That'd probably be kind of silly, though.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 10:26 am 
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Green Shoes wrote:
Devonavar wrote:
That'd probably be kind of silly, though.


Damn!!! I'm missing the point of the thread again!!!


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 10:48 am 
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Gorsnak wrote:
This has nothing to do with acoustics. This is strictly a question of electromagnetics. Acoustics only happens after the speaker driver starts creating compression waves in the air. Everything before that stage is strictly a question of electron flow. Voltage, resistance, inductance, and capacitance. There is nothing else. If a scope can't see the difference between two electrical currents, then neither can your amp. They're both just collections of semi-conductors, after all.

...

But that's not what you seem to be saying. You seem to be saying that unmeasurable differences in electrical signals can nonetheless result in electronic circuits behaving differently. How? I just don't understand what you think is going on with the underlying physics here.


This may not have anything to do with acoustics (i.e. the study of vibrations in a medium), but it has everything to do with sound reproduction (i.e. electronically reproducing a recording).

Disclaimer: I am not a physicist. I don't (offhand) know much about electromagnetic forces beyond a high school level. However, I do know a considerable amount about the scientific method and theories of knowledge. This is an argument about methodology and the meaning of measurement, not about physics.

First off, unmeasurable does not mean no difference, or even no perceivable difference. It means that the difference is smaller than the degree of precision afforded by the tool of measurement, in this case an oscilloscope. You pointed this out in your post, and then promptly ignored it. At the level of quantum physics, every individual wire conducts current slightly differently.

For most practical purposes, the differences that cannot be picked up by an oscilloscope are small enough that there is no difference. This is because few electrical applications are as sensitive to minute fluctuations in current as analogue audio. Digital audio is reliable precisely because it doesn't rely on subtle (and variable) differences in current to transfer information. It's not perfectly reliable — as BobDog pointed out, transferring digital information in real time can lead to variation in timing across a given wire.

However, just because the difference between different cables is below the maximum sensitivity of an oscilloscope (i.e. it is unmeasurable) does not mean that the difference is not there, or that the cables do not affect the signal in subtle and equally unmeasurable ways. And, for the sake of argument, I will grant that these minute differences might be perceivable (not measurable) when they are converted into sound waves. BobDog is right, it's possible that our ears are more sensitive to these differences than an oscilloscope. I have no idea whether they actually are; perhaps a properly done ABX test would help resolve this problem.

Of course ABX testing has its own limitations, including the statistical limitations mentioned by BobDog. Also, unlike an oscilloscope, ABX testing tests an audio system, not one individual component. ABXing the system after ones component is changes (i.e. a cable) will tell you whether that component affects that particular system perceptibly, but the result cannot necessarily be generalized to say that the component has no effect in any system. It adds some evidence to the pile, but it is not conclusive. I can think of no way of doing an ABX test that can easily be generalized across all systems. By the way, I consider an audio system to include all system components, the room in which it is tested, and the position of the listener. A system with the listener 5' from the speakers is different from a system with the listener 10' away. It's not impossible that a cable swap might have no perceptible effect on the 5' system but still affect the 10' system.

As BobDog has mentioned, an ABX test that shows a particular cable has no perceptible effect on a particular system provides reasonably strong evidence that it's not doing anything, but it does not provide conclusive proof that it's not. The best proof we can have is a large body of evidence that is collated from many different tests of many different systems. Statistically, a large body of evidence is reasonably (though not absolutely) trustworthy. As single ABX test, especially one with few samples, is not enough to conclusively evaluate the performance of a component in all possible systems.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 12:04 pm 
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All of this has me quite convinced that i should endeavour NEVER to listen to extremely high-level audio equipment, lest i become perennially unsatisfied to be stuck with anything that I can actually afford.

Just so you know, i run Logitech Z-680's. I've read what's been said about them in other threads here, how they lack mid-range response etc, and i still like them.

I don't think you guys should be so hard on the audiophiles' case.
If they want to spend lots of money in their pursuit of musical bliss, that's fine as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. It's their choice.
I think it's also fine to be satisfied with a cheaper sound system, as long as it sounds good enough for YOU.

The paradigm of perfect sound is almost impossible to consider except on the basis of personal perception, because after all the expensive equipment, and then the sound waves in the air, and the highly-sophisticated human ear, there remains a very variable decoding component: the brain. Hard to believe, but people's brains work differently!

In some ways it's like the quest for silent computing (notice i didn't say exactly like).
Some people will be happy to make a few minor mods, perhaps with components most of you would block your ears at, and then heave a sigh of relief when their computer-room no longer sounds like an airport. I've got a Zalman 7000Cu i'm going to whack in when i finally upgrade systems, but i know alot of you find those fans 'too loud'.
Other, more rabid enthusiasts will not be happy until every last whine, click and ping has been hunted down and eliminated, giving rise to some of the more esoteric and sometimes downright amusing mods which i've seen in my (relatively short) time browsing here.
And then the 'silencing disease' starts and the vicious cycle, etc...
"What's that damn thumping noise?"
"Your heart."
"...Oh."
Actually it probably goes further than that. Do any of you hard-core silencers hear the hairs on your head rustling in the breeze? :lol:

Anyway, it's because your brain has become more sensitive to that aspect of what your ears can hear. Not unlike the lover of high-fidelity music.

So basically I guess what i'm trying to say is:

Live and let live.

(but don't let me keep you from your fruitless argument, oh no! I'm sure one of you is just about to succeed in changing the opponent's mind!) :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 12:07 pm 
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Mockery wrote:
Do any of you hard-core silencers hear the hairs on your head rustling in the breeze? :lol:


What?!? You mean you don't?

:wink:

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 12:15 pm 
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Good point..

I don't care at all what people consciously spend money on. I will never understand why, and might occasionally try to show them some reasons why.. But that is like telling my parents that there is the fair likelyhood of God and the Bible not really being based on reality as well.. No chance! So I know that both camps are here to stay and so are their differences..

My only real concern was stated some pages ago, that any normal, though slightly ignorant guy, could walk into a 'hi end' store and say he has a $2500 system with normal cables only to be told that he really needs $250 worth of cables to make it work. If he had a $25000 sporty car then I can understand the need for $2500 brakes or a suspension kit. The cable argument by the salesguy MIGHT sound just as reasonable to some people as the brakes argument does for me.

The problem being that with the brakes my car stops better, because they're a clever design using heat resistant materials and science. The cables will just come from taiwan from a 1000000meter roll for $1 a meter only to be sold to him for at least a tenfold with some gold plated connectors ($1.5). I'm sure people are getting ripped off applying common sense they learned in other markets (cars or whatever) blindly to audio. Then again, and now THIS is an interesting point.. I'm pretty sure none of the 'non believers' here would be such persons. I doubt 'we' have ever really been influenced by salesguys to blindly buy anything? :D


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 12:15 pm 
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Mockery wrote:
All of this has me quite convinced that i should endeavour NEVER to listen to extremely high-level audio equipment, lest i become perennially unsatisfied to be stuck with anything that I can actually afford. :wink:

You got it... :wink:

And you think this silencing thing is addictive ... with diminishing returns!...


Pete

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 12:33 pm 
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Actually there is beautifull irony in the fact that, one of the best posts in this thread so far, has been made by a poster with the name "Mockery" ...


Pure Genius !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 12:52 pm 
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A few comments :
- If a component introduces a difference not measurable by the oscilloscope, it raises the question of how the component was designed in the first place. If the change isnt measurable by an instrument your design is surely not based on scientific testing. If you're arguing that the human ear is more sensitive than the most sensitive electronic equipment, it is perfectly plausible but meaningless without data.
- I dont think anyone is arguing ABX is perfect. But you must remember the basic null hypothesis in science when doing any sort of tests. Almost nothing in science is based on proof. This is why we have the theory of relativity, gravity, evolotion, one gene/one polypeptide, ad nauseum. If you want proofs, I suggest mathematics.
- Jitter is not a problem with reasonably high end equipment that compensate for it. It doesnt have to be pseudoscience, it is science. Google AES preprint 4826.

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 2:18 pm 
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Devonavar wrote:
First off, unmeasurable does not mean no difference, or even no perceivable difference. It means that the difference is smaller than the degree of precision afforded by the tool of measurement, in this case an oscilloscope. You pointed this out in your post, and then promptly ignored it. At the level of quantum physics, every individual wire conducts current slightly differently.

What you're ignoring here is that the amplifier is no less a "measuring device" than the oscilloscope is. Both the scope and the amp (with the aid of speakers) are converting electric current into sensible (i.e., able to be sensed) phenomena. For this whole "unmeasurable doesn't mean no difference" thing to carry any weight, you've got to establish that the amplifier is more sensitive than the scope is. I'm sure some amps are more sensitive than some scopes. I don't believe that high quality scopes are any less sensitive than high quality amps. Perhaps I'm wrong. If so, evidence would be a good thing.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 4:29 pm 
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I've listened to a lot of systems in my day; my dad owns a marantz cd player, rotel amp and preamp, vandersteen 2Ce speakers, and about $100 in cable--basically what I'd call an entry range "audiophile" system, and it sounds amazingly good. Total, this is about 3K of stereo. The Vandersteens are $1500 and a pretty good deal, IMO--definetely a very capable speaker.

My friend owns rotel amp and preamp, cd player, and some B&W 803S speakers. He also subscribes to the cable voodoo, so he has some ~$150 cables to go with the system. Total, it's probably about 6K or so of stereo. It sounds very good, although it's highly debatable whether or not it sounds as good, better, or worse than my dad's stereo system.

Lastly, the tube amp I just built for a friend gets driven by an IPod. It runs on some Polk speakers, using regular old Rat Shack speaker wire. It sounds very good as well, even playing compressed music and running on speakers that he bought for fifty bucks on ebay. Total cost, including 20 gig IPod: $650

Between these three systems, an honest, unbiased listener would be hard pressed to consistently and objectivly find that one sounded "better" than the other. Were someone to say they sounded "different," I would accept that answer--but "better" in terms of audio is a much more nebulous term. Case in point: a lot of people actually report 192K MP3 as sounding better than raw CD audio because the MP3 process itself inherently removes noise and artifacts that are not part of the music. This has been demonstrated in several blind studies.



I personally find the Vandersteens to be a very exacting speaker--they can be bright and precise to the point of pain. They fatigue me, but they also belt out some pretty serious fireworks when asked. I also think the Vandersteens sound better with a tube amp, because the tubes tend to take a bit of the edge off.

The 803S speakers sound great as well, although sometimes I find them a bit too smooth for my liking. They also seem to lack the omph that the Vandersteens are capable of. They're great for Nora Jones and Coldplay, but the really sort of drag their feet when I try to pop in something beefy.

The polks are, in my opinion, sonically similar to the B&W speakers. This would come as a travesty to people who payed $2950 more than my friend did for the polks, but I have to be honest: I really don't find one all that much "better" over the other. That, and examining the polks, they actually did a pretty good job with the box. It has a decent crossover with quality parts, flared ports to prevent port turbulence, and good dampening in the box. The tweeter is flush mounted, and the box resonates very little (sign of good internal bracing and proper porting).

Lastly, some goodies: :D

http://www.lonesaguaro.com/speakers/Day ... yolite.htm - $225 + wood
http://www.htguide.com/forum/showthread.php4?t=11321 - $500 - $800, depending upon crossover components (?)
http://www.speakerbuilder.net/web_files ... t/eros.htm - (?)
http://users.d-web.com/dbrown/db717tl/db717tl.htm - $340, looks very nice...

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 7:05 pm 
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FOUR PAGES AND STILL GOING STRONG! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT THIS GREAT DEBATE WAS LURKING RIGHT UNDER THE SURFACE IN A SILENT COMPUTING FORUM!
Mockery wrote:
All of this has me quite convinced that i should endeavour NEVER to listen to extremely high-level audio equipment, lest i become perennially unsatisfied to be stuck with anything that I can actually afford.
That is the smartest thing that anyone has said on this post yet!
Devonavar wrote:
I think you're debating the wrong points. Instead of trying to take it for granted that everyone agrees on the limitations of scientific method, I think you need to make explicit that your criticism of the rationalist approach is based on a refined understanding of what scientific measurements mean rather than simply stating baldly that they're inadequate.
Good post, and perhaps you are right... as you should all know by now, I am excellent at leaving l... o... n... g posts, but they may not be as right-to-the-point as Devonavar's. Shall try and fix this, please read on....
tay wrote:
If a component introduces a difference not measurable by the oscilloscope, it raises the question of how the component was designed in the first place. If the change isnt measurable by an instrument your design is surely not based on scientific testing.
Your argument stands reason completely on its head--if the oscilloscope fails to measure something audible, the problem is with the oscilloscope--not the gear it is measuring or, indeed, our ears! You continue to operate under the assumption that oscilloscopes measure all there is to measure, period. I do not think this is the case and thus this is not just a case of better measures needing to me made (or oscilloscopes built), but different measures needing to be invented (as shown by the discovery of the long-unperceived problem of jitter in digital playback I mentioned earlier).
Beyonder wrote:
My friend owns rotel amp and preamp, cd player, and some B&W 803S speakers. He also subscribes to the cable voodoo, so he has some ~$150 cables to go with the system. Total, it's probably about 6K or so of stereo. It sounds very good, although it's highly debatable whether or not it sounds as good, better, or worse than my dad's stereo system.
No one wants to believe me when I say that not even (... most) audiophiles think more expensive = better. This is OFTEN not the case.

Beyonder wrote:
I personally find the Vandersteens to be a very exacting speaker--they can be bright and precise to the point of pain.... The 803S speakers sound great as well, although sometimes I find them a bit too smooth for my liking. They also seem to lack the omph that the Vandersteens are capable of.
Good Lord--could we be hearing the same things!?! I find the Vandis (as a brand) very precise and dynamic--a wonderfully balanced speaker, whereas I find the B&Ws (as a brand) to be dull to the point of boring (and Polks just Gawd-awful)! Clearly, we have different musical preferences (which is F-I-N-E!), but it seems as thought we hear the same strengths and weaknesses in each speaker! When many people come to the same conclusion after hearing speakers or CD players or even... power cables or cable elevators (!) I tend to think there is something going on--you may call my conclusions "scientific" or not as you like, but I am determined to call them "rational." Your point, Beyonder, is however well taken: trying to say one is "better" than another is much more fraught with danger than simply saying they are (audibly) different. (Still, I think some gear, such as the EMM Labs playback deck, is just better than anything else out there... but maybe that's just me being provocative.)


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 7:15 pm 
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I just checked out Beyonder's links. I think that anyone who is up to the task can get great performance for pennies on the dollar if they can do their own work--either building their own or hotrodding inexpensive speakers and/or electronics with a few choice parts upgrades.

On the other hand, (1) I sadly have none of the above mentioned skills :cry: , and (2) I do think there is something to be said for the very big companies with lots of resources and big R&D budgets (like Linn, the Madrigal Group Companies, etc.) being able to come up with things that the hobbyist cannot.

Still if you can build from these kits and have the time, I think you should! (Maybe I'll by something from you on down the road too....)


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 9:01 pm 
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BobDog wrote:
tay wrote:
If a component introduces a difference not measurable by the oscilloscope, it raises the question of how the component was designed in the first place. If the change isnt measurable by an instrument your design is surely not based on scientific testing.
Your argument stands reason completely on its head--if the oscilloscope fails to measure something audible, the problem is with the oscilloscope--not the gear it is measuring or, indeed, our ears! You continue to operate under the assumption that oscilloscopes measure all there is to measure, period. I do not think this is the case and thus this is not just a case of better measures needing to be made (or oscilloscopes built), but different measures needing to be invented (as shown by the discovery of the long-unperceived problem of jitter in digital playback I mentioned earlier).

I'm sorry you didnt understand what I wrote so I'll repeat it in more general terms.....
Since designing a product involves engineering, an engineer must somehow measure what he is doing. If he is doing something that is not measurable, then his design is based on a hunch (what does Lakatos say about this? j/k i dont want to know). I guess the design now depends how good their hunch is. I am willing to be convinced that at least some of the designs based on hunches are good. All I am asking for, is that if they cant be measured, they better be heard using the best testing methods available.
WRT jitter, it IS measurable on a scope, people didnt know what to look for because there was no easy way to compare it to a control and designed flawed digital products. Comparing a digital output from a CD to analog from vinyl probably had far too many differences (i imagine) in the signal to obtain meaningful results. We are not talking about these kinds of changes by introducing cable risers or wood knobs or sonic rocks. And I dont think anyone here is arguing that the CD standard is perfect. It, like everything else has design flaws.

BobDog wrote:
When many people come to the same conclusion after hearing speakers or CD players or even... power cables or cable elevators (!) I tend to think there is something going on
And this mysterious something could be shown in a double blind test then correct? I am sure there are plenty of components that'll pass a test while others that dont. Thats an intersting statement coming from someone who dragged statistics and the scientific method into this.

BobDog wrote:
--you may call my conclusions "scientific" or not as you like, but I am determined to call them "rational."
Rational is just fine. I agree with shortcomings of the scientific methods, problems with ABX tests (the sensitivity differences between individuals is massive and I havent seen that addressed (not that i've looked hard or anything). This is my major concern with these tests). The issue is that, if it cant be _generally_ heard, nor measured by the people who designed it, we should be skeptical of its use. This skepticism arises from all the silly things humans have believed in throughout their history and continue to do this day.

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As fun as this has all been, perhaps this thread is coming to an end... I see little to disagree with in tay's latest missive (and have not heard from yeha in some time).
tay wrote:
Since designing a product involves engineering, an engineer must somehow measure what he is doing. If he is doing something that is not measurable, then his design is based on a hunch .... I guess the design now depends how good their hunch is. I am willing to be convinced that at least some of the designs based on hunches are good.
I know and know of a number of designers/engineers who design by ear only (or hunch, if you will). Many times their designs... suck, for lack of better word, and I suspect that often (but not always) the flaws would show up using conventional measurement techniques. On the other hand, sometimes they hit the nail on the head. Again, sometimes their hunches can be verified by measurements--but sometimes they cannot be. When the latter obtains, I think the reason is because our current tests are inadequate. Nothing tay has said seems at variance with this point and, indeed, I agree with him that tests are often an important measure of a competence with which a component has been designed (common ground :shock: ?) (BTW, I am not say jitter is an example of this per se. I know we can measure jitter, the issue is that it was not measured for so long because people didn't know to look for it... I think these are likely similar cases in analog measurement as well).
tay wrote:
BobDog wrote:

When many people come to the same conclusion after hearing speakers or CD players or even... power cables or cable elevators (!) I tend to think there is something going on

And this mysterious something could be shown in a double blind test then correct? I am sure there are plenty of components that'll pass a test while others that dont. Thats an intersting statement coming from someone who dragged statistics and the scientific method into this.
I suppose I should have said when I and a number of other people had heard x I am likely to think something is going on. I am a Bayesian updater before I am a statistician (... though I am also a Bayesian statistician :twisted:). I put great weight upon what I hear personally and tend to put less weight on what others hear, whether they be a journalist from the audiophile press or a panel form ABX. I would be willing to put greater weight on others' opinions if they were conducted in a statistically robust manner, however. If it is just me, I will be willing to update my posterior beliefs based on an n = 1... though I don't think you need to be any more impressed with my impressions than I with yours. (But if I say something sounds better, why wouldn't you just listen to it and then make up your mind; why reject it out of hand?)
tay wrote:
I agree with shortcomings of the scientific methods, problems with ABX tests (the sensitivity differences between individuals is massive and I havent seen that addressed (not that I’ve looked hard or anything). This is my major concern with these tests). The issue is that, if it cant be _generally_ heard, nor measured by the people who designed it, we should be skeptical of its use.
I could not have said it better myself (another point of agreement :shock: :shock: ?) I am also leery of companies claims for their products--so much of the hi-end is snake-oil! Perhaps I am more "gullible" than others on this forum in that I am willing to go out and buy/listen to anything new that comes out, but that is not the same as saying I believe in it--I just want to listen and see what I can see (or hear).

I also am concerned with ABX testing, though I think that double- (or even single-) blind testing is an important tool. Although I have heard of ABX before, I never really looked into it until being on this post. To be honest, I am increasingly concerned with their methods (statistics aside), I am not sure that digitizing sound is the best way to test gear which relies on the very nuance that digitization (especially poor digitization) may obscure. I also am uncertain about using tones in short bursts as opposed to rather longer cuts of music--the way I chose to test gear in my own sighted and single-blind tests. That said I, along with tay, believe that at least the idea behind ABX is a viable one.


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BobDog wrote:
tay wrote:
Since designing a product involves engineering, an engineer must somehow measure what he is doing. If he is doing something that is not measurable, then his design is based on a hunch .... I guess the design now depends how good their hunch is. I am willing to be convinced that at least some of the designs based on hunches are good.
I know and know of a number of designers/engineers who design by ear only (or hunch, if you will). Many times their designs... suck, for lack of better word, and I suspect that often (but not always) the flaws would show up using conventional measurement techniques. On the other hand, sometimes they hit the nail on the head. Again, sometimes their hunches can be verified by measurements--but sometimes they cannot be. When the latter obtains, I think the reason is because our current tests are inadequate. Nothing tay has said seems at variance with this point and, indeed, I agree with him that tests are often an important measure of a competence with which a component has been designed (common ground :shock: ?) (BTW, I am not say jitter is an example of this per se. I know we can measure jitter, the issue is that it was not measured for so long because people didn't know to look for it... I think these are likely similar cases in analog measurement as well).

I know that you're referring to musical equipment manufacturers here (amps and speakers), but I think it's funny that this is also true in the recording world (where, let's face it, if they didn't to things right there, there'd be no point to hi-fi audio). Engineers never have carte blanche when the producer says "do it this way"; they have to know the scientific method of achieving a certain result consistently, otherwise they don't get paid. The ones that do (as BobDog put it so eloquently) suck. In fact, you could probably extrapolate that to just about every facet of life....this is why it's so humorous to me that we're debating if we can quantify aural differences. Granted, the human ear is immeasurably complex and nothing will be able to measure quite like it does....I suppose it's just one of those little paradoxes of life. :D

As an aside, since this thread is winding down, I'm disappointed that no one voted for the Napoleon Dynamite option (even the hick answer got 4 votes).


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Green Shoes wrote:
BobDog wrote:
tay wrote:
Since designing a product involves engineering, an engineer must somehow measure what he is doing. If he is doing something that is not measurable, then his design is based on a hunch .... I guess the design now depends how good their hunch is. I am willing to be convinced that at least some of the designs based on hunches are good.
I know and know of a number of designers/engineers who design by ear only (or hunch, if you will). Many times their designs... suck, for lack of better word, and I suspect that often (but not always) the flaws would show up using conventional measurement techniques. On the other hand, sometimes they hit the nail on the head. Again, sometimes their hunches can be verified by measurements--but sometimes they cannot be. When the latter obtains, I think the reason is because our current tests are inadequate. Nothing tay has said seems at variance with this point and, indeed, I agree with him that tests are often an important measure of a competence with which a component has been designed (common ground :shock: ?) (BTW, I am not say jitter is an example of this per se. I know we can measure jitter, the issue is that it was not measured for so long because people didn't know to look for it... I think these are likely similar cases in analog measurement as well).

I know that you're referring to musical equipment manufacturers here (amps and speakers), but I think it's funny that this is also true in the recording world (where, let's face it, if they didn't to things right there, there'd be no point to hi-fi audio). Engineers never have carte blanche when the producer says "do it this way"; they have to know the scientific method of achieving a certain result consistently, otherwise they don't get paid. The ones that do (as BobDog put it so eloquently) suck. In fact, you could probably extrapolate that to just about every facet of life....this is why it's so humorous to me that we're debating if we can quantify aural differences. Granted, the human ear is immeasurably complex and nothing will be able to measure quite like it does....I suppose it's just one of those little paradoxes of life. :D

As an aside, since this thread is winding down, I'm disappointed that no one voted for the Napoleon Dynamite option (even the hick answer got 4 votes).


I never saw that movie.

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Edward Ng wrote:
I never saw that movie.
Its a great movie, you should check it out. I didnt catch the napoleon quote and just voted for "could go either way".

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 12:59 pm 
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tay wrote:
Edward Ng wrote:
I never saw that movie.
Its a great movie, you should check it out. I didnt catch the napoleon quote and just voted for "could go either way".


I'm so disappointed in you, tay. :cry:

Really, though, you should check the movie out, it gets funnier every time you see it; just don't expect a plot or anything. It's much more along the lines of Monty Python. The dance scene alone is worth whatever you have to pay to see it; I can say no more than that :) .


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 1:47 pm 
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Audiophilia nervosa is a potentially serious complaint, especially in the wallet department.

I used to suffer from this myself, but like Beyonder ended up with a home built/modified valve (tube) system which has turned out to be remarkably satisfying.
These days I just replace parts when something goes phut, with the added bonus of superb analogue recordings costing 3 for a £.

Over time I've come to realise it sounds very different depending on how I'm feeling, so I tend to work on that first!

I do think one of the attractions of audio is the way art and science come together.
I'm always amazed at how a jumble of wires and boxes has the power to recreate such powerful emotions.
A quality I find generally lacking in computers btw. Perhaps that's why people end up coming here to have a roaring dicussion..

Interestingly, one of the hottest things in audio right now costs $29.

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I find the fact that these people advocate "breaking in" equipment such as speakers, amps, audio and AC cables (!) for 100-800 hours to get better performance completeley laughable.

Its like buying a new computer and the salesman tells you, "yeah its a bit slow at first but after 400 hours of folding@home it really starts to shine"

In pro audio, there are several respected companies building reference quality speakers (dynaudio, genelec) for studio use which are almost flat thruought the range. I wonder why not one of these reviews uses these to compare speakers and establish at least some sort of "baseline"...

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msmrodan wrote:
In pro audio, there are several respected companies building reference quality speakers (dynaudio, genelec) for studio use which are almost flat thruought the range.
Mostly because pro audio gear is terrible--and not just because of the "oh, audiophile stuff just makes music 'pretty' in an inaccurate way argument" (although this is sometimes true), but often because it is just really, unspeakably bad. I do not know why this is the case.

Speaking of Genelec, when I went to their room at the AES convention two years ago (I was meeting up with the people from EMM Labs, which I have been shamelessly promoting here), the sound there was so bad I was literally driven from the room. I know that show conditions are not the best place to hear audio gear, and I have not had the (mis-)fortune to here Genelecs elsewhere, but I have never heard anyting that bad in my life... not my mother's GE mini-system, not my friend's Yorks rack system, nothing, nowhere has ever sounded that bad. I did not ask for measurements, I just left as fast as I could.


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msmrodan wrote:
Its like buying a new computer and the salesman tells you, "yeah its a bit slow at first but after 400 hours of folding@home it really starts to shine"

uhm... it was inside knowhow among overclockers a few years ago that if you pushed a CPU hard (overvolt, overclock to limit) for a while -- weeks, months, who knows? -- its overclockability would improve. And so would its undervoltability. The phenomenon was attributed to a certain degree of electromigration. I have to say it did seem to be true for 3 P3s of various speeds I tried to overclock. They got better after some months. Those same CPUs turned out to be great undervolters later when I abadoned the dark side.

Most speakers do benefit from some break-in. They employ mechanical transducers with suspensions that can become looser, and better "seated". I have heard and measured -- tho I can't remember how the measurement was done -- this effect in bass drivers back in the day when I used to custom design & build speaker systems using a 286 with LEAP, a motley collection of measuring gear, an account with a then-high end spkr parts supplier, a buddy's wood workshop and endless repetitive patience.

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BobDog wrote:
msmrodan wrote:
In pro audio, there are several respected companies building reference quality speakers (dynaudio, genelec) for studio use which are almost flat thruought the range.
Mostly because pro audio gear is terrible--and not just because of the "oh, audiophile stuff just makes music 'pretty' in an inaccurate way argument" (although this is sometimes true), but often because it is just really, unspeakably bad. I do not know why this is the case.

This strikes me as simply being misinformed. With pro audio, one generally gets what one pays for. The design goals, admittedly, are not those of consumer audio, and that's going to result in some pro audio gear sounding bad in your living room, but that's not terribly relevant. Of course a long-throw horn or a line array won't sound good in a small room. You can't use consumer speakers to fill a large auditorium with sound either. Do you actually know anything about pro audio design? About directivity, minimizing phase interference (or when it's inevitable, steering into the aisles), improving intelligibility, balancing the conflicting goals of reinforcing music and speech?

That said, good studio monitors are designed for accuracy, and the best of them deliver exactly that. If you think they sound bad, then what you think sounds good is not, in fact, a high fidelity replication of the audio signal.


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Gorsnak wrote:
BobDog wrote:
msmrodan wrote:
In pro audio, there are several respected companies building reference quality speakers (dynaudio, genelec) for studio use which are almost flat thruought the range.
Mostly because pro audio gear is terrible--and not just because of the "oh, audiophile stuff just makes music 'pretty' in an inaccurate way argument" (although this is sometimes true), but often because it is just really, unspeakably bad. I do not know why this is the case.

This strikes me as simply being misinformed. With pro audio, one generally gets what one pays for. The design goals, admittedly, are not those of consumer audio, and that's going to result in some pro audio gear sounding bad in your living room, but that's not terribly relevant. Of course a long-throw horn or a line array won't sound good in a small room. You can't use consumer speakers to fill a large auditorium with sound either. Do you actually know anything about pro audio design? About directivity, minimizing phase interference (or when it's inevitable, steering into the aisles), improving intelligibility, balancing the conflicting goals of reinforcing music and speech?

That said, good studio monitors are designed for accuracy, and the best of them deliver exactly that. If you think they sound bad, then what you think sounds good is not, in fact, a high fidelity replication of the audio signal.

Perhaps BobDog has just been around too many bad FOH engineers; I know the school I graduated from put out enough of them in four years to pollute the entire earth :( You are right, pro audio equipment is generally transparent; there is just a very right and a very wrong way to use it. I find that I am generally depressed with the way sound is run at anything less than a first-tier concert. I'm still trying to convince some of them that reverb is not God's gift to the incompetent. At any rate, bad mixes can certainly lead one to believe that pro audio equipment doesn't sound good. In reality, though, it just takes more training to not screw up.

That being said, I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many engineers still mix off the Yamaha NS-10s....those (in)famous white cones are the worst sounding speakers I've ever heard. Whatever your ear is used to, I guess.....

....but Genelecs rock :D


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Gorsnak wrote:
That said, good studio monitors are designed for accuracy, and the best of them deliver exactly that. If you think they sound bad, then what you think sounds good is not, in fact, a high fidelity replication of the audio signal.
Lol, and you think that there is sake-oil being sold in the hi-end!

msmrodan wrote:
I find the fact that these people advocate "breaking in" equipment such as speakers, amps, audio and AC cables (!) for 100-800 hours to get better performance completeley laughable.
MikeC wrote:
uhm... it was inside knowhow among overclockers a few years ago that if you pushed a CPU hard (overvolt, overclock to limit) for a while -- weeks, months, who knows? -- its overclockability would improve. And so would its undervoltability. The phenomenon was attributed to a certain degree of electromigration.
I did not originally answer msmrodan's post because I was sure that this would just lead to a new round of flaming. The truth is, I do not know why break in works, though I have heard quite a few guesses and conjectures (the one offered by Mike C is a new one to me…). Bottom line, break-in works (flame-on). I know that some have said that break in is a process in which you simply get used to the flaws in the sound of your gear--and I think that this is at least partly true. I also know that I have had the opportunity to swap out the cables and electronics I have been using for fresh-from-the-box ones and the used ones always sounded better--though the degree changed from quite small to striking, depending on the gear in question. Before you decided to post, msmrodan, I'm sure you took the time to do the same... or are you another one of those my science explains everything, so I don't need to listen to the stereo I'll be listening to people?

Man, if all you guys wanna do is sit back after a long day, is kick off their shoes, put your feet up and... measure your stereo, I'd say they have it made. Call me crazy, I prefer to listen to mine.


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BobDog wrote:
Gorsnak wrote:
That said, good studio monitors are designed for accuracy, and the best of them deliver exactly that. If you think they sound bad, then what you think sounds good is not, in fact, a high fidelity replication of the audio signal.
Lol, and you think that there is snake-oil being sold in the hi-end!

Not much of a rebuttal. Do you think they're just making their frequency response charts up? What's snake-oily about the specs on studio monitors?


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