Let's hypothesize a bit. Let's say I'm well familiarized with sound of accoustic instruments played in various spaces thanks to attending live acoustical events throughout my life. Now let's say we have a recording of accoustic instruments that was carefully recorded with realism in mind and then only minimally altered in mastering with huge crest factor. Now it would seem logical to me that I want my system reproduce it without any blemish if I want to retain the intended realism, I don't want any imd, thd, emphasis on any frequency etc. Now when all that is achieved and what I hear is consistent with what I'm familiar, then I'd say my system is natural and accurate or at least it can resolve what is natural and accurate.
Agreed. At least in a hypothetical, idea scenario, it should
work like that.
This view of mine also highly challanges many audiophile indulgences:
Vinyl doesn't sound natural or accurate to me, I don't remember my music having cracks, clicks, pops, noise etc,
Tubes with high distortion are the very anathema of realism for me, how can I call a tinted lens as accurately showing real color?
The thing is that, if we are talking about fully
recreating a sense of the real thing, there are so many routes to coloration involved in most recordings, and most playback systems, what comes out the sound system is going to be pretty heavily compromised. It's not really, for the most part, going to recreate the real thing.
So, if one still is using real sound as a reference - not one expected to be fully reached but one that guides to further or farther away from the real thing - then it becomes a question of picking one's set of compromises. So for instance one system may reproduce more "realistic" detail or tonal character, another may reproduce a sense of presence and dynamics more realistically. And audiophile A may focus on the first speaker as being "closer to reality" because those are the things he cares about most, audiophile B may cue in to the dynamics/impact/presence of the other speaker as "sounding more like the real thing."
In the absence of actual blind live vs reproduced tests, we are stuck with these subjective impressions: how a speaker sounds compared to our memory of live music - how it convinces any individual
. This is why I've often said that while I hear things in some vinyl that I find to be more like the real thing (even if distortions), I can also hear in the digital versions qualities that another audiophile will seize on as "sounding more like the real thing."
For me, whether due to the colorations of most recordings, or due to inherent limitations in sound reproduction (including limitations in stereo sound), ALL systems sound "colored" compared to the real thing, even the most "neutral." So if I find certain bits of coloration sound more natural to me, I'm happy to indulge. I can understand why you would feel differently!
It's a nice view but measurements are necessary for honesty control, any subjective experience can be nothing more than fantasy a fabrication of the mind. Should I make a wikipedia page that aliens are real because they visited me on my LSD trip?
I agree that measurements (and listening tests using controls for bias) are necessary for gaining the most reliable information. But as I've so often argued here, I disagree that this entails that in lieu of measurements/controls, our sonic impressions (and ways of expressing them) are rendered worthless. Your reference to aliens and LSD trips don't take in to account all the ways in which sonic impressions can be reliable, and can be communicated about, without appeal to measurements. For instance, I just finished sound editing a scene in which some characters where shrunk down to inches in size, and I needed to make the sound of a "giant onion rolling across the ground toward them." An actual recording of the onion rolling (which I recorded) didn't sound large enough, so I found sounds of boulders etc with much deeper, more impactful bass to add beneath the sound. Now the onions sounded far larger than a normal onion.
Not a single measurement was referenced, just using my ears. Yet I can certainly predict that the sound of the onion will be percieved as exaggerated and larger than that of a real normal sized onion, when we are all in the mixing theater going over the mix.
So, do you think all of these perceptions and decisions based on those perceptions must be placed in the same category, as illusory and unreliable, as "alien visitations" and "LCD" trips? If so, could you suggest how I would do my job other than using my perception? Would it be pragmatic to have to look to measurements and blind-test my every sonic decision all day long? Could you explain, if a lack of measurements leaves our perception so unreliable, how my sonic choices based on my own perception so often translates in to what others will perceive? (My job would be impossible if it weren't the case).
But if you can not provide a reasonable alternative, and accept that work like this can be achieved without measurements/listening controls...where will you draw this seemingly magic line that renders perception of sound becomes utterly unreliable...just in the case of high end audio perception? I can accurately percieve when I've added more bottom end to the onion scene, just by using my ears, but can't accurately percieve if one speaker produces more or lower bass than another? Where do you draw this line?
Reductio ad absurdum is certainly a legitimate form of argument, so long as it doesn't strawman the reasoning involved. The reference to LCD/Aliens does become a strawman in this case, given I would not argue from the stance just any claim or any perception is to be taken as veridical.
Edit. For me listening to subjective only reviewers is like giving a colorblind person my monitor to calibrate rather than using measurements to do it.
I can totally empathize with your not paying attention to subjective sound reports (from reviewers or other audiophiles) and wanting the greater reliability of
objective evidence. It's only if you are seeking to argue they are worthless in general, not just for your own purposes, that I'd disagree. Cheers.
Har...meanwhile I'm arguing on audiogon for the relevance of measurements and blind testing...
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