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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 5.0%
  • Hard Objectivist (Measurements are almost always the full story. Skeptical of most subjective claim)

    Votes: 119 28.5%
  • Objectivist (Measurements are very important but not everything.)

    Votes: 180 43.2%
  • Neutral/Equal

    Votes: 38 9.1%
  • Unsure

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

    Votes: 24 5.8%
  • 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 4.8%

  • Total voters
    417

Snarfie

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After +40 years i did measure my room acoustics for the first time. Conclusion/results was stagering an the bought measuring mic was the best audio investment i did in 43 years. So a HO.
 

thewas

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I am an objectivist but tell music listeners (not producers!) to buy what gives them the most joy, may it be even tube amps, vinyl or loudspeakers with a BBC dip. Measurements can tell everything but our knowledge of mapping them to the individual perception and taste is still not complete.
 

DanielT

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I'm a hard/ultra objectivist when it comes to electronics and a hard/ultra subjectivist when it comes to speakers. ;) I also like vinyl and digital media.

Martin
I agree with you to some extent when it comes to speakers, but I probably still want to know if the distortion is reasonably low and that there are opportunities for EQ. A sensible construction with sensible speaker element/drivers.

I keep it wide. High and low. New and old. Really looking forward to the development of active speakers and even sharper class d amplifiers. At the same time, this summer I wanted to hit myself hard because I missed this one. Waited a bit long before I called the seller and then it was sold. Though, there will be new trains coming.:D

Pioneer TX-9100

But more than any one thing, excellent sensitivity stands together with excellent rejection characteristics. And what this means is the finest performance ever offered by a tuner, under all common, and some uncommon, operating circumstances.


 

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caught gesture

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Objectively, I can become subjective. I’m human after all.
 
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Chr1

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If I go by my reputation on the subjective forums, I'm a raving objectivist (always defending the relevance of science to high end audio, defending blind testing, casting skepticism on purely subjective inferences, on snake oil etc).

If I come here, apparently I'm a snake-in-the-grass subjectivist. :D

I find myself somewhat caught in a no-man's-land in this respect:

1. I am a nut about reason and consistency, with philosophical leanings, a heavy emphasis on empiricism, hence science. In fact I was just on another (small) podcast defending science as our best response to the most basic problems of epistemology. It is absurd to me to try to seal off my pet hobby, high end audio, as if everything we've learned about audio technology, human perception, and the influence of confounding variables somehow magically don't apply to audio. As if you can just pretend your subjective inference is the gold standard for knowing what is true. That to me is just nuts. And I see how it has led to an essentially religious-type dogmatism among the "purely subjective" folks in audio "if I hear it, it's true." It's a closed epistemic door, like faith. By carefully correlating measurements to perception, we can actually settle some questions, rather than be stuck in this subjective mud.

So I run to places like this where audio can be discussed without this purely subjective epistemology, without this constant layer of bullshit. It's like breathing fresh air.

On the other hand:

2. I'm much more comfortable with subjective talk about audio than many here. This is because ultimately everything comes to us via subjective experience so it makes sense to exchange notes on the nature of that subjective experience. Everything that comes through our sound system "sounds LIKE something." A measurement may tell us there is a sharp 4dB peak at 2K but insofar as it is audible it therefore SOUNDS like "something." After all, why would we care...if it didn't change the subjective character of the sound? So a significant peak in the frequency affecting vocal sibilance will "sound like something" different than a flat response, so we can endeavour to describe to one another it's subjective effects, e.g. "sibilance sounds artificially exaggerated, sharp, bright, piercing" or whatever in our grab bag of descriptors we can reach for. When listening to music through a sound system it's a subjective smorgasbord, there is so many different aspects of the sound one could seek to describe. And I love that aspect of subjective experience.

I'm a self admitted "foodie" and love, for instance, those long chef's menu experiences at a restaurant. The people I dine with are way in to it as well and we love to exchange our subjective impressions and descriptions of the food "wow, did you get this effect from that dish?" etc. I have tried dining this way with people who have zero interest in talking about the food, and for me it just sucked. Similarly, I need to be among people who really enjoy exchanging intersubjective notes about "how this SOUNDS."

So my problem is that, on web sites that tend strongly towards the "objective/measurements" side, it's not that people think "the subjective aspect doesn't matter." Clearly we all here think it does; we just note that it is much more reliable when correlated with measurements, along with subjective controls. Nonetheless, there is STILL a sort of allergy to subjective descriptions. It seems a mix among different people. Some just have no use for it "just gimme the measurements." But even those who allow in principle for subjective expression may only want to see it restricted to accompanying measurements, and even then there is a sort of sheepish limiting of subjective description. Nobody wants to feel like they are straying in to what everyone here decries as the subjective review morass.

So...there's just very limited exchange of subjective descriptions in a place like this. It feels a bit sterile to me in that way, given just how much there seems to be happening subjectively when I listen to a sound system. I need more.

If I want to be among those who are in to this, I have to go to the subjective-based forums. But of course, then I also have to wade through all the anti-science, subjectivist woo-woo stuff, and I then come running back here for a cold shower.

And so it goes...at least for me.
Have to say that I agree here. Particularly when it comes to how various components work together. This seems to be largely ignored here. I have come to the conclusion that how components measure is important, how they work together/interact is also very important. Audiophile jargon would be "synergy", or some such. I think this is possibly why folk with horns/compression drivers may prefer a bit of warmth via tubes. Conversely, if you have "mellow" bbc style speakers, then you may prefer more detailed/revealing ancillary components. I doubt that I would want to add warmth to my old Mission 770 mk2s, now on surround back, surround L/R duties as they erred towards that sound already. Measurements are definitely important and filter out the horse doo doo for sure. Still horses for courses due to personal sound preferences tho.
 

Frgirard

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I'm fascinated that anyone would ask that question.

The answer seems obvious. This whole web site is in effect a reaction against the prevalence and influence of purely subjective reviews, and the general trend of high end audio having been taken over by a purely subjective, even anti-scientific approach to the hobby. Amirm was clearly annoyed by the amount of anti scientific gobbleygook out there in audio, and aimed to offer an alternative. He's constantly talking about the difference in his approach and calling out the woo-woo part of high end audio, and rightly so.

That's why there was such a need for it. It's why so many people here are "former pure subjectivists" or those running from the world of purely subjective audio to a place where they can actually see data and discuss audio without woo-woo bullshit.

How in the world could someone expect the difference between this site's approach and much of high end audio to NOT be a common subject here?
Hydrogen audio ?
The audio critic ?
Matrix ?

this forum is purely subjectivist in its vision and by its misuse of the word scientific. Where a service after sale technician does the same thing every day.
 

BinkieHuckerback

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What should an older (fifty something) objectivist with less than perfect hearing vote?
 

Chr1

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Hydrogen audio ?
The audio critic ?
Matrix ?

this forum is purely subjectivist in its vision and by its misuse of the word scientific. Where a service after sale technician does the same thing every day.
Don't think that there was any mention of those sites as here. I will vouch for Hydrogenaudio for sure. This site is science based. It may not be perfect all the time, science seldom is. It is about learning and things being provable. Not sure what you mean re sales technician. No one is selling anything here.
 

radix

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I'm Objectivist, but with a solid place for subjectivism.

First, if one wants to recommend that X is better than Y, that needs to be done in some science-based framework -- either measurements or testing. There needs to be a reason for it, not just "i like x better than y."

For personal consumption, I think subjective measurements are very important. Do you like the look? Do you like the user interface (knobs, apps, meters, etc.)? Is it usable by the whole family (if that's what you want)? Is the cost worth the features?

So I usually use objectivist rankings to pick some top contenders, then use subjective measurements to determine which one I want, if any.

Marc
 

Digby

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Both words, in the way they are frequently misused here and elsewhere, seem to be abject nonsense; rather than referring to something concrete and definable, they are either some kind of badge of honor to denote fellow 'enlightened travellers' or a mark of heresy/witchcraft by which to pour scorn on those you disagree with, all depending on whom you're interacting with.
 

cinemakinoeye

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I liked The Audio Critic. Peter Aczel took no prisoners!
A sane voice in a cacophonous sea of snake oil purveyors, one line that comes to mind:
“The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?” — Peter Aczel, What I have learned after six decades in audio (call it my journalistic legacy)
 

maverickronin

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I'm with @SIY that we should start using these words correctly...
 

Suffolkhifinut

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As a subjectivist measurements are just a snap shot under strictly controlled condition. They can never the place of listening although they are helpful when making a choice. Sort of like looking at cars in brochures, until you get in and drive them you just don’t know which one suits best. There’s a speaker thread at the moment how does a cabinet resonate over the full frequency and power range with different types of music? No test procedures can cover this, the only valid test is what you hear.
 

gnarly

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I hope this doesn't sound flippant, cause it's the truth....

(Oh, and i'm referring to speakers....)

I keep multiple systems running constantly for listening comparisons.
I've saved at least three-thousand transfer functions, impulse responses, mdats, pir's, etc with Smaart, REW, and ARTA, over the last half dozen years....with maybe 10x that unsaved.

So I use hearing comparisons a lot...... and measurements a lot... ...............both ALOT.

I don't trust what i hear until i see the measurements.
I don't trust the measurements until i hear how they sound.

But i do trust time, to keep showing me how to use both together, to keep getting better sound.
 

Jimbob54

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Listening to music (for pleasure) should always be a subjective pursuit. Building a system (from a performance perspective) should always be based on objective principles. To try and build a system based on subjective views of how components "sound" and "synergies" is a shortcut to madness and bankruptcy.

Which is not to say chasing the dragon along the bleeding edge of performance isnt also a shortcut to madness and bankruptcy, but hey, at least you can point to graphs and charts to justify where your money is going.
 

ahofer

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I tend to think "synergies" are mostly an upsell technique. You can certainly offset an FR problem with an opposite FR problem (horns/tubes, etc.), but it always seems to end up being more expensive, and less accurate than getting accurate gear in the first place, or fixing to preference with EQ.

Dealers looove to talk synergies. If you are replacing your speakers, well, you are going to need a new amp and cables to get the right synergy.
 

Jimbob54

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As a subjectivist measurements are just a snap shot under strictly controlled condition. They can never the place of listening although they are helpful when making a choice. Sort of like looking at cars in brochures, until you get in and drive them you just don’t know which one suits best. There’s a speaker thread at the moment how does a cabinet resonate over the full frequency and power range with different types of music? No test procedures can cover this, the only valid test is what you hear.

As a subjectivist measurements are just a snap shot under strictly controlled condition.- I agree, this is pretty good definition of a measurement

Sort of like looking at cars in brochures, until you get in and drive them you just don’t know which one suits best.- No, this is not what a measurement is like if you understand them. Not at all

There’s a speaker thread at the moment how does a cabinet resonate over the full frequency and power range with different types of music? No test procedures can cover this, the only valid test is what you hear. I'm no expert but I am pretty sure someone competent could (and probably has) devise a test that would measure pretty much how a speaker would perform in these circumstances.
 
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