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Are you a Subjectivist or an Objectivist?

How would you classify yourself?

  • Ultra Objectivist (ONLY care about measurements and what has been double-blind tested.)

    Votes: 21 5.2%
  • Hard Objectivist (Measurements are almost always the full story. Skeptical of most subjective claim)

    Votes: 113 27.9%
  • Objectivist (Measurements are very important but not everything.)

    Votes: 177 43.7%
  • Neutral/Equal

    Votes: 37 9.1%
  • Unsure

    Votes: 7 1.7%
  • Subjectivist (There's much measurements don't show. My hearing impressions are very important.)

    Votes: 22 5.4%
  • Hard Subjectivist (Might only use measurements on occasion but don't pay attention to them usually.)

    Votes: 5 1.2%
  • Ultra Subjectivist (Measurements are WORTHLESS, what I hear is all that matters.)

    Votes: 3 0.7%
  • Other (Please explain!)

    Votes: 20 4.9%

  • Total voters
    405

BoredErica

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A poll so you can tell us what you think. :) There is a thread dedicated to whether measurements tell us everything here. We probably shouldn't argue at length about subjectivism vs objectivism here and just state our opinions because there's a dedicated thread for debate. Keep in mind the question is only related to audio quality... Not about your thoughts on longevity of products, aesthetics, or even things like 'SINAD tunnel vision'.

---
My personal thoughts:

Personally I am a hard objectivist. Measurements to me tell me almost everything I care to know sonically. I leave some room for doubt depending on what it is we're talking about, but I take every single subjective claim with large chunks of salt, including my own. I met waaaay too many people who are so sure about their own senses crumble to pieces as soon as they are tested in a controlled environment. I'm glad the airplane I ride on was built with objective metrics and scientific thinking, and the medicine I take taken through randomized controlled trials rather than doled out to random people who showed up at the door who want to try the drug and give their impressions. Subjective opinions about how things sound are a dime a dozen and people tell me all kinds of stuff that are impossible.

Subjectivity is fine when it's tested in controlled circumstances. Controlled testing of many people have shown that people have certain preferences when it comes to sound. Those preferences can mostly be explained with measurements. Moreso with dacs/amps, a bit less so with speakers, and a bit less than that for headphones (which themselves can vary due to fit on the head). Even with headphones I value measurements highly. While not literally perfect, that are pretty darn good. I'd much rather navigate a foreign land with a compass and reading the stars in the sky versus stumbling around in the dark with no good info on where to go. I am skeptical of most subjective claims particularly when they contradict the best tools I have.

Again, I don't want people to be afraid of voting and stating their opinions so it'd be nice if we didn't get into hardcore debates in this thread.

Thanks
 
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Sgt. Ear Ache

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I put myself in the HO category with the proviso that we're specifically limiting the discussion to sound quality. There are other things that play into a buying decision beyond just the sound output of an item but when it comes to sound, I get almost all the info I need from the measurements.
 

Katji

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Make it so the votes are ID. Just think, it would be possible, if you wrote a script for it, to export the results and add them to your Ignore list. :)


I'm glad the airplane I ride on was built with objective metrics and scientific thinking,
That applies to how the internet was built too.
 
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BoredErica

BoredErica

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I put myself in the HO category with the proviso that we're specifically limiting the discussion to sound quality. There are other things that play into a buying decision beyond just the sound output of an item but when it comes to sound, I get almost all the info I need from the measurements.
Absolutely! Build quality matters. It's nice to work with things that feel sturdy, even on just a tactile level. Aesthetics matter to me a lot and it has influenced my purchasing decisions. There are many speakers these days that are pretty nice and score quite high on preference score w/ eq + sub. Among those I start to pick based off of my personal needs and what I find pretty. In essence, WAF is still something I deal with, except I am the WAF! :)

I think LS50 Meta looks great and measures well (high spl don't matter to me). R3 is too large on my desk even if they're really pretty too. My enjoyment of a product goes beyond just audio performance. Things that are pretty are nice to look at and I'm happier looking at them rather than some speakers that might perform ever so slightly better but look uninspired.

Of course in my mind I make it clear: I am buying this in part because it looks good.
 

DanielT

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It depends on. In the main installation, well-proven, tested Hifi stuff. There fully objectively. Secondary systems (basement, bedroom) mostly vintage (which is nice) and a bit light DIY, just to have fun with. Of course, good sound, and objectivity is also an aspect there though not as clearly prioritized as in the listening room, the living room.:)

So what I am depends on case by case. There are others who know more clearly what they are, George Thorogood for example. :D
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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It depends on. In the main installation, well-proven, tested Hifi stuff. There fully objectively. Secondary systems (basement, bedroom) mostly vintage (which is nice) and a bit light DIY, just to have fun with. Of course, good sound, and objectivity is also an aspect there though not as clearly prioritized as in the listening room, the living room.:)

So what I am depends on case by case. There are others who know more clearly what they are, George Thorogood for example. :D

Oh for sure. I have a bunch of bluetooth speakers. love the things! They mostly all sound pretty amazing to me just because they are so frikkin small and somehow manage to pump out sound that sounds much bigger then their actual footprint. I can absolutely enjoy listening to them...but I would never bounce onto an audio forum anywhere and start claiming they are accurate or "Hi Fidelity" or anything like that.
 

Gorgonzola

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I put myself down as base-line Objectivist -- which appears to be the plurality at this point. I've know quite a very Hard and even Ultra Subjectivist, though.

Looks to me like folks here at ASR are coming 'round to acknowledging that harmonic distortion profile are quite important in that some people, some of the time can hear differences depending on these profiles. However that's still a tough nut to swallow for some Hard and Ultra Objectivists.

Furthermore my conjecture is that the large majority of audiophiles on this and other audio forums -- whether or not they acknowledge it -- prefer the sound with a dash of 2nd or 3rd order HD.
 
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Digby

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Again, I don't want people to be afraid of voting and stating their opinions so it'd be nice if we didn't get into hardcore debates in this thread.

This is difficult, because people will disagree slightly with the details you've given for each option and probably want to discuss it.

I'm glad the airplane I ride on was built with objective metrics and scientific thinking, and the medicine I take taken through randomized controlled trials rather than doled out to random people who showed up at the door who want to try the drug and give their impressions. Subjective opinions about how things sound are a dime a dozen and people tell me all kinds of stuff that are impossible.
I think the comparison is an apples to oranges one. Belief doesn't keep a plane in the air, but the variables for flight are smaller. Listening to music is coloured by the individuals own ear shape, the kind of sound they prefer, the kind of music they prefer, what distortions are more or less pleasing to the ear and so on. Flight doesn't have to deal with this kind of individual bias/interpretation.

With medicine trials, subjects will relay if they feel sick and it can be observed if they actually vomit. A drug may make one feel nauseous, but not make one vomit. The subjective feelings are taken into account and noted.

Audio measurements themselves require interpretation depending on application, preferences and so on. They are not, to some peoples chagrin, one size fits all.
 

abdo123

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with regards to sound quality exclusively i'm ultra objectivist.

What i find lacking is the research that equates measurements to subjective impressions. i think the research we have on listener preference is mediocre at best. and it is completely lacking in comparison to other industries.

it's going to take a lot of effort to motivate people towards accurate reproduction of audio again as it was before TV became mainstream.

it's difficult to admit that my OLED TV that costs 2000$ MSRP is so uniform in color to the point that its error is so low that it goes unnoticed by the human eye. While in comparison having a loudspeaker with no resonances, that doesn't crackle, buzz or fizzle the moment it's pushed too much is incredibly more expensive and incredibly unobtainable in comparison.
 
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with regards to sound quality exclusively i'm ultra objectivist.

What i find lacking is the research that equates measurements to subjective impressions. i think the research we have on listener preference is mediocre at best. and it is completely lacking in comparison to other industries.

it's going to take a lot of effort to motivate people towards accurate reproduction of audio again as it was before TV became mainstream.

it's difficult to admit that my OLED TV that costs 2000$ MSRP is so uniform in color to the point that its error is so low that it goes unnoticed by the human eye. While in comparison having a loudspeaker with no resonances, that doesn't crackle, buzz or fizzle the moment it's pushed too much is incredibly more expensive and incredibly unobtainable in comparison.
You are right, equipment, speakers and listening rooms are never perfect, so all self-proclaimed ultra objectivists make subjective choices about the importance of different objective characteristics. Or we would all end up with the same audio equipment.

typically subjective is also: budget, looks, wife, size, availability, brand loyalty, etc

objectivity is only a small part of reality, just like in politics and media.
 

Tryphon

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I vote for the moderate objectivist as (for now) the majority of the members.
On the other hand, my setup is organized to be able to perform without fuss comparative listening sessions. I have on hand the test programs, a mutimeter and a sound meter as well as a switch (an ORB MC-SW) permanently hooked up to my system.

For the subjectivist part of me, my favorite audiophile tip to share, even over fancy cables, power conditionner or Shakti Stone (remember that?), is to have my living room cleaned and tidy up. Huge improvement in the listening experience if not in from a pure acoustical point. Never double blind listening it however:).
 

storing

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I'm 'skeptical about everything' - I guess that's sort of 'ultra objectivist' except I'm also skeptical about measurements themselves (mainly the way they're conducted and interpretation thereof). But since I'm also skeptical about my own skepticism towards the matter, yeah, I don't know, is that full circle? Or just what science is all about :)
 

solderdude

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Are you a Subjectivist or an Objectivist?


Rather I see myself as an inbetweenivist, albeit heavily leaning towards objectivist.
I don't people are either 100% subjectivist or 100% objectivist but are something in-between these divisive 'labels'
When I do my 'test' I am an objectivist though. :)
 

Lupin

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I'm heavily on the objectivist side of things.

I do believe that measurements don't tell the whole story though, it tells something about what SQ to expect but not necessarily about the user experience.

Topping A30 Pro that I bought for example.
It scores top notch in the measurements department but (personally) I feel that the actual user experience isn't top notch, it is not bad by any means but I feel it could've been better with some simple adjustments. Take the volume knob, I think it's too thin to easily handle. Volume knob like on the D30 Pro would've been much better. Also the internal PSU has coil whine when warmed up. SE headphone jack is also a bit too close to the volume knob which can interfere with the handeling of the volume knob with the left hand.

All these points above are not the end of the world and I still very much enjoy the A30 Pro. But these points have an influence on the actual user experience that doesn't show in the measurements and can't be measured.
 
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