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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 5.1%
  • Hard Objectivist (Measurements are almost always the full story. Skeptical of most subjective claim)

    Votes: 117 28.2%
  • Objectivist (Measurements are very important but not everything.)

    Votes: 180 43.4%
  • Neutral/Equal

    Votes: 38 9.2%
  • 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
    415

Robin L

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For you, perhaps. Death Metal and Black Metal sounds terrible on tube amps.

I actually like to listen to the distortion intended by the artist.
Isn't "Death Metal" and Black Metal" supposed to sound "terrible" anyway?

I mean, isn't that the point?
 

Waxx

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Measurements tell me everything the device does, but don't tell me what i like which is subjective and not always the technical perfection. So i choose option 3...
 

Newman

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Measurements tell me everything the device does, but don't tell me what i like which is subjective and not always the technical perfection.
"What you like" comes from sighted listening, which is dominated by imaginary components of perception, so Mensa membership is not needed to see that measurements won't show what isn't real. :eek:o_O:rolleyes:
 

Waxx

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"What you like" comes from sighted listening, which is dominated by imaginary components of perception, so Mensa membership is not needed to see that measurements won't show what isn't real. :eek:o_O:rolleyes:
The thing is, i know what i need to see on measurements to make me like it. It's not some magic shit, and i don't care how it's done and like it cheap. But i need low order harmonic distortion in the sound, and for speakers phase cohesion is way more important that a perfect flat response (i actually like rolled of highs and raised bass). My system is not expensive, it's consist of a tube amp i bought very cheap in a sale, a pair of diy class A amps, a class A preamp i bought for cheap because it was broken (but i fixed it for cheap) and diy speakers. Where i want precision, i do look only at measurements (like with dac's and phono stages) and bought the best measuring ones i could afford and when they break i'll do the same (i'm not so much infected by updatitis like some here).

And i know objective almost perfect systems, i regulary work in radio studio's and less regular in recording studio's where Genelec and Kii Audio monitors are used in professional treated rooms. And they are perfect for the job there, but don't bring me the joy that my much cheaper and less accurate system at home brings me. They are better in perfect representation of the recordings, but they don't engage me as much as my speakers do at home.

And at the end, I don't care so much what you think about it, i'm not an ego tripper on that. I bought/build the system to enjoy myself in the first place, not to brag about it... And i don't claim my system is the ultimate in hi fidelity. It's the ultimate in giving me enjoyment in listening to my favorite music and that is what matters there.
 

Newman

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You are certainly entitled to your mid-fidelity approach. I’m just saying it’s not because the measurements didn’t tell you something about the sound waves reaching your ears. It’s because your sighted listening is switching on your non-sonic contextual biases that make you happier.
 
Last edited:

fredz

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I'm HS and proud of it. Do I have to use new pronouns?
This thread indicates some of the reasons why so much bad sounding stuff continues to sell.
 

Vacceo

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I'm HS and proud of it. Do I have to use new pronouns?
This thread indicates some of the reasons why so much bad sounding stuff continues to sell.
Define bad. My definition is anything pop or Diana Krall.
 

ahofer

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Define bad. My definition is anything pop or Diana Krall.
Nearly any recording famous with audiophiles. For instance, the legendary Casino Royale recording.
 

Robin L

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Nearly any recording famous with audiophiles. For instance, the legendary Casino Royale recording.
"The Look of Love", that "audiophile" song assembled from takes of very short phrases from Dusty Springfield. One of those things that defined The Absolute Sound", I suppose.
 

ahofer

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Robin L

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formula 977

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The thing is, i know what i need to see on measurements to make me like it. It's not some magic shit, and i don't care how it's done and like it cheap. But i need low order harmonic distortion in the sound, and for speakers phase cohesion is way more important that a perfect flat response (i actually like rolled of highs and raised bass). My system is not expensive, it's consist of a tube amp i bought very cheap in a sale, a pair of diy class A amps, a class A preamp i bought for cheap because it was broken (but i fixed it for cheap) and diy speakers. Where i want precision, i do look only at measurements (like with dac's and phono stages) and bought the best measuring ones i could afford and when they break i'll do the same (i'm not so much infected by updatitis like some here).

And i know objective almost perfect systems, i regulary work in radio studio's and less regular in recording studio's where Genelec and Kii Audio monitors are used in professional treated rooms. And they are perfect for the job there, but don't bring me the joy that my much cheaper and less accurate system at home brings me. They are better in perfect representation of the recordings, but they don't engage me as much as my speakers do at home.

And at the end, I don't care so much what you think about it, i'm not an ego tripper on that. I bought/build the system to enjoy myself in the first place, not to brag about it... And i don't claim my system is the ultimate in hi fidelity. It's the ultimate in giving me enjoyment in listening to my favorite music and that is what matters there.
It is difficult to classify this system as midfi since the combination of poor performance in one average component could counteract the poor performance in another and result in a flat FR (phase response, channel matching, etc.) coincidentally by the sum of the problems. In a word, symmetry. Something that won't exist in Sota component choices.
A boosted bass and attenuated treble isn't something only favored by you, Toole's work on this proves most of us get the subjective impression of that FR profile as being preferred, and maybe the one with the least coloration?
If your intention is to have the ultimate in sound reproduction based on measurements you can do that.
If your intention is to have the ultimate in sound reproduction based on your opinion you can do that.
How any relationship between the two camps was imagined in any realm other than the non-scientific psychosocialogical one is beyond me.
Sex sells. Great measurements sell, too.

The neverending story. hohum
 

pablolie

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I condition myself to initially refuse to hear differences, knowing the gear measured competently. I think it a good way to approach a listening session, reminding yourself there's a ton of very competent gear out there these days, and that we love to overestimate our real hearing ability as a rule. We all know we live in the era of miniscule improvements. I regularly remind myself of that by rotating in 25 year old speakers (which admittedly weren't cheap). But these days, unless it impedes my enjoyment in appreciating music, I have learned to not overly obsess.

Measurements are a great way to assess if something was designed competently with solid engineering principles, or if it was designed with esoteric goals in mind, fairy dust and all. That said, flawed gear can sound awesome with certain types of music, and more power to those who make sense and actually succeed when making such decisions. I have a friend like that. All he listens to is Chopin and such, and I have to admit it sounds beautiful because it is colored. Play something edgier on his system and you'll cringe, and he fully admits it.

That said, I have sometimes played tricks on people. They come to my place and say stuff sounds amazing, check out the gear that is in obvious display and go "Oh sweet, a Benchamark DAC2HGC and a NAD M22!" and I say "Look further right" and there is a humble used NAD D7050 that is really playing the music. :)
 

nonnyno

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The reality in my view is that it is highly likely that no one is a hard objectivist and makes their decisions solely on measurements.

  • Firstly many decisions require speculation as the measurements aren't available.
  • When it comes to sound quality you can't really even be truly objectivist about that unless you're an ideological fanatic. Your ear drums may not perform as the theoretical norm. You may never actually place the headphones on your head in the way the test dictated. Your head and ear canals may not be shaped in the standard way. Are you really going to stick with a headphone you don't like the sound of and can't actually eq to the sound you like because the measurements say it has the least deviation from the target curve? if you do then all kudos to you for being that disciplined. For me this is a hobby and I need to enjoy the music.
  • Are you really going to stick with a headphone you loathe the look and feel of and find too heavy, plasticky, too hot, plain uncomfortable with or without glasses because the measurements have the least deviation from the target curve?
  • Are you really going to buy a headphone amp, which apparently sits at the top of the SINAD curve and which has lowest measured distortion, but has a record for lousy reliability and trashing headphones and speakers?
I base my shortlisting of products on a range of criteria
  • The measurements come first and foremost. I agree with the basic philosophy that the principle use case of an item should command the focus of engineering excellence. Now I'm beginning to get what good sound engineering for music production is supposed to be I am not going to buy a tube amp (though they do look very very lovely) or a badly engineered DAC.
  • I narrow down the list on budget
  • I do a lot of research (where possible) on things such as reliability and I read a lot of objectivist and subjectivist reviews. Subjectivist reviews may be gammon but where enough people are praising a product, there may (there may not) be something in it. Often I find that the subjectivist reviews do tend t coincide with the objectivist ones in terms of products picked (though apparently not with Focal which surprises me. I heard the Elegia in richer sounds and was quite impressed - it was £499. I also heard the Sundaras at the same time and was just as impressed - it wasn't a proper audition just a five minute listen in a noisy shop). The sound signature out of the box uneq'd was very different and the Elegias had more life to them to me)
  • I try to audition the items wherever possible
  • Where I have easy access to returns (not always easy even with over ear headphones here in the UK) in try them out.
  • If I don't like the user experience I return them.

I bought an SMSL M500 Mk1 DAC 2 years ago nearly sight unseen and it has been fantastic based on Amirs measurements.
I am using (don't laugh) a set of Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 32 ohm headphones which I had bought long before finding Audio science review) eq'd to the Harman curve which sound very nice. I'd very much like to improve on them if possible.

I have a set of Sennheiser HD800 headphone (which I've hardly used) some years ago. Shortly after they were purchased I got a terrible ear infection in both ears (it took nearly 6 months to put it right and to this day my ears aren't what they were, though online frequency tests say I can still hear up to 16700hz (I'm 54 so I was quite surprised). I think it changed my hearing. I loved the HD800's when I first got them. I recently got them out of storage and plugged them in to the SMSL DAC, I have tried them with both eq and no eq and they just seem flat and lifeless to me (I'm gutted - they were expensive and I was expecting to enjoy them as I did before). I can hear more detail in the music and the soundstage is much bigger when compared with the Bayers but there's nothing there that gets my feet tapping. I did give them about 15 hours of listening just to make sure I hadn't just gotten so used to the Beyers than anything else would sound less than good. Also given the audition of the Elegias and the Sundaras in Richer sounds, both of which I enjoyed more than the HD800's it suggests that the HD00 may not be for me anymore.

Finally can I ask (this is a serious question and not a criticism. I really want to know). If all these measurements are truly objective, why does Oratory list the Sundaras near the top of the pack in following the Harman curve (smaller deviation from Harman whilst the Dan Clarks including the Stealth fall much lower down the list)? I realise you might get small positional differences in measurements due to differences in experimental design, but seriously I'd expect a no.1 measuring headphone like the DC Stealth to maintain a top 10 position. Why the slide so far down the list? Oratory calculates standard deviations to give an objectivist ranking. Amir gives an opinion based on sight. Does this mean that oratory is more objectivist?

This last comment is not a dig at Amir. For every 5 mins I spend gazing at Oratory's site I spend hours on ASR. I love Amirs reviews. I love the information he provides and I seriously appreciate the effort he goes to to bring measurements and understanding thereof to his audience.
 

nonnyno

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The reality in my view is that it is highly likely that no one is a hard objectivist and makes their decisions solely on measurements.

  • Firstly many decisions require speculation as the measurements aren't available.
  • When it comes to sound quality you can't really even be truly objectivist about that unless you're an ideological fanatic. Your ear drums may not perform as the theoretical norm. You may never actually place the headphones on your head in the way the test dictated. Your head and ear canals may not be shaped in the standard way. Are you really going to stick with a headphone you don't like the sound of and can't actually eq to the sound you like because the measurements say it has the least deviation from the target curve? if you do then all kudos to you for being that disciplined. For me this is a hobby and I need to enjoy the music.
  • Are you really going to stick with a headphone you loathe the look and feel of and find too heavy, plasticky, too hot, plain uncomfortable with or without glasses because the measurements have the least deviation from the target curve?
  • Are you really going to buy a headphone amp, which apparently sits at the top of the SINAD curve and which has lowest measured distortion, but has a record for lousy reliability and trashing headphones and speakers?
I base my shortlisting of products on a range of criteria
  • The measurements come first and foremost. I agree with the basic philosophy that the principle use case of an item should command the focus of engineering excellence. Now I'm beginning to get what good sound engineering for music production is supposed to be I am not going to buy a tube amp (though they do look very very lovely) or a badly engineered DAC.
  • I narrow down the list on budget
  • I do a lot of research (where possible) on things such as reliability and I read a lot of objectivist and subjectivist reviews. Subjectivist reviews may be gammon but where enough people are praising a product, there may (there may not) be something in it. Often I find that the subjectivist reviews do tend t coincide with the objectivist ones in terms of products picked (though apparently not with Focal which surprises me. I heard the Elegia in richer sounds and was quite impressed - it was £499. I also heard the Sundaras at the same time and was just as impressed - it wasn't a proper audition just a five minute listen in a noisy shop). The sound signature out of the box uneq'd was very different and the Elegias had more life to them to me)
  • I try to audition the items wherever possible
  • Where I have easy access to returns (not always easy even with over ear headphones here in the UK) in try them out.
  • If I don't like the user experience I return them.

I bought an SMSL M500 Mk1 DAC 2 years ago nearly sight unseen and it has been fantastic based on Amirs measurements.
I am using (don't laugh) a set of Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 32 ohm headphones which I had bought long before finding Audio science review) eq'd to the Harman curve which sound very nice. I'd very much like to improve on them if possible.

I have a set of Sennheiser HD800 headphone (which I've hardly used) some years ago. Shortly after they were purchased I got a terrible ear infection in both ears (it took nearly 6 months to put it right and to this day my ears aren't what they were, though online frequency tests say I can still hear up to 16700hz (I'm 54 so I was quite surprised). I think it changed my hearing. I loved the HD800's when I first got them. I recently got them out of storage and plugged them in to the SMSL DAC, I have tried them with both eq and no eq and they just seem flat and lifeless to me (I'm gutted - they were expensive and I was expecting to enjoy them as I did before). I can hear more detail in the music and the soundstage is much bigger when compared with the Bayers but there's nothing there that gets my feet tapping. I did give them about 15 hours of listening just to make sure I hadn't just gotten so used to the Beyers than anything else would sound less than good. Also given the audition of the Elegias and the Sundaras in Richer sounds, both of which I enjoyed more than the HD800's it suggests that the HD00 may not be for me anymore.

Finally can I ask (this is a serious question and not a criticism. I really want to know). If all these measurements are truly objective, why does Oratory list the Sundaras near the top of the pack in following the Harman curve (smaller deviation from Harman whilst the Dan Clarks including the Stealth fall much lower down the list)? I realise you might get small positional differences in measurements due to differences in experimental design, but seriously I'd expect a no.1 measuring headphone like the DC Stealth to maintain a top 10 position. Why the slide so far down the list? Oratory calculates standard deviations to give an objectivist ranking. Amir gives an opinion based on sight. Does this mean that oratory is more objectivist?

This last comment is not a dig at Amir. For every 5 mins I spend gazing at Oratory's site I spend hours on ASR. I love Amirs reviews. I love the information he provides and I seriously appreciate the effort he goes to to bring measurements and understanding thereof to his audience.
Actually I forgot to say that one of the takeaways I got from looking at both Amirs and Oratorys verdicts was that the Sundaras are really very very good headphones indeed. Oratorys measurement. I also need to correct and say it wasn't Oratory but this list https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/blob/master/results/RANKING.md I was referring too. My sincerest apologies.
 
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