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Card carrying objectivists

Ken Newton

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I'd like to quote Toole..."Traditionally, loudspeakers have been chosen "by ear" - subjectively. Underlying this is the widespread assumption that "we all hear differently" so it has to be a personal decision. It is definitely true that we are individualistic in our preferences of "wine, persons and song", but sound quality turns out to be different.
Toole's conclusion here doesn't necessarily follow. A possible different conclusion is that available loudspeaker performance metrics at the time didn't adequately inform listeners of what they would actually perceive, and that prospective purchasers only found out through listening experience that the product specifications were an insufficient proxy for the actual perceived result. Loudspeakers present, of course, a complex mix of performance parameters (polar response, etc.) that are not all easily captured, nor effectivly communicated by a set of product specs.

I may not know all the details that Toole refers to, but his initial, revealing finding is one of my heuristics. So I am inclined to believe that all people - subjectivists, objectivists, younger, older, experienced, novices, masters, dumb-asses etc. etc. - will on average (median) gravitate towards what was predicted by science, i.e. a pretty neutral sound, when listening blind.

ADDENDUM: To add to the insight that people will gravitate towards the truth - i.e. the neutral reproduction of reality - is this story on the wisdom of ordinary people:

...To me, this is an indication that if there is something true - like the weight of an ox - you shouldn't underestimate the wisdom of people. So if there is something true in audio - my hypothesis is that neutrality is a pragmatic representation of "truth" - we should expect a large number of people's preferences to gravitate towards the more neutral audio systems.
To argue that people subjectively accurately gravitate to an truth, with no objective foreknowledge, seems more like an argument for the validity of subjective judgement, rather than a denial of it. I've always believed that the disconnect between the subjective and objective worlds has most to do with the inadequacy of the objective to effectively communicate the subjective experience. By implication, that objective measurements could serve as an accurate proxy for what we perceive once they are fully effective in capturing and also communicating all of the relevant parameters, as well as the dynamic impact of those parameters on each other. Information which, I feel, is lacking.
 
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svart-hvitt

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Toole's conclusion here doesn't necessarily follow. A possible different conclusion is that available loudspeaker performance metrics at the time didn't adequately inform listeners of what they would actually perceive, and that prospective purchasers only found out through listening experience that the product specifications were an insufficient proxy for the actual perceived result. Loudspeakers present, of course, a complex mix of performance parameters (polar response, etc.) that are not all easily captured, nor effectivly communicated by a set of product specs.



To argue that people subjectively accurately gravitate to an truth, with no objective foreknowledge, seems more like an argument for the validity of subjective judgement, rather than a denial of it. I've always believed that the disconnect between the subjective and objective worlds has most to do with the inadequacy of the objective to effectively communicate the subjective experience. By implication, that objective measurements could serve as an accurate proxy for what we perceive once they are fully effective in capturing and also communicating all of the relevant parameters, as well as the dynamic impact of those parameters on each other. Information which, I feel, is lacking.
I am not quite sure I follow you, see your reasoning. What Toole found, was that a smoother, flatter frequency response is preferred by listeners; and what he found «at the time» has only been supported in later decades.

I find great comfort in this finding. It resembles what the primarily subjectivist Stereophile has found as well; higher rated speakers in Stereophile measure flatter and smoother as well.

I think we should have as much faith in science - even in audio - that the aim of audio science is to find truth which is often defined as neutral. Empirical data suggest people prefer neutral to biased. And by «wisdom of crowds» we should then expect any group average to gravitate towards truth, neutral, natural. I find nothing shocking or unexpected in this way of reasoning. All of my professional experience supports what I just wrote.

However, feel free to point out - explicitly and to the point - what you think is flawed in my thinking.
 

Wombat

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Gravitating toward the truth, as they see it. So this is neutral? Wisdom of the Crowd?

A universal truth?

 

Ken Newton

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I am not quite sure I follow you, see your reasoning. What Toole found, was that a smoother, flatter frequency response is preferred by listeners; and what he found «at the time» has only been supported in later decades.
Upon re-reading his statement, I think that I at first read Toole as suggesting something he wasn't. That said, I know plenty of average people who prefer the sound of a system featuring a plumped up bass response, or unnaturally bright highs, over a flatter system.


I think we should have as much faith in science - even in audio - that the aim of audio science is to find truth which is often defined as neutral. Empirical data suggest people prefer neutral to biased. And by «wisdom of crowds» we should then expect any group average to gravitate towards truth, neutral, natural. I find nothing shocking or unexpected in this way of reasoning. All of my professional experience supports what I just wrote.

However, feel free to point out - explicitly and to the point - what you think is flawed in my thinking.
That's not what I was addressing. I was addressing the point that if listeners naturally gravitate toward the audio truth, as it were, then the roll of audio engineering is to translate the reproduction into a coherent set of technical parameters and metics which deliver that truth. Such that the set of objective metrics alone serves as a reliable predictor of the subjective perception, which the listener can reliably depend on entirely from the objective metics.

However, empirically, there frequently seems a disconnect between the ability of present objective metrics to serve as an reliable predictor/proxy of the subjectively experienced performance. I do believe that the two will eventually be made to fully reconcile, but as of now, the objective metrics are lacking in some manner, and so, do not yet serve as a reliable predictor of the listeners subjective experience. Therefore, there's still an important role in the component evaluation process for simply listenening.
 
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Wayne

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Gravitating toward the truth, as they see it. So this is neutral? Wisdom of the Crowd?

A universal truth?

Not exactly.... There are some conditions. Probably doesn't apply to politics and emotional responses. See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

Four elements required to form a wise crowd[edit]
Not all crowds (groups) are wise. Consider, for example, mobs or crazed investors in a stock market bubble. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

Criteria Description
1, Diversity of opinion Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
2. Independence People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.
3. Decentralization People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
4. Aggregation Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.


Few "rules" are absolute - exceptions abound, but they can steer us in the right direction most of the time.

I think @savart-hvitt was referring to the above.
 

Wombat

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https://www.technologyreview.com/s/...iologists-reveal-the-wisdom-of-the-confident/
Not exactly.... There are some conditions. Probably doesn't apply to politics and emotional responses. See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

Four elements required to form a wise crowd[edit]
Not all crowds (groups) are wise. Consider, for example, mobs or crazed investors in a stock market bubble. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

Criteria Description
1, Diversity of opinion Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
2. Independence People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.
3. Decentralization People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
4. Aggregation Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.


Few "rules" are absolute - exceptions abound, but they can steer us in the right direction most of the time.

I think @savart-hvitt was referring to the above.

Thank you for a sensible reply.


The content of the populist book, The Wisdom Of Crowds(2004)-author, James Surowiecki, seems very much along the lines of what svart-hvitt was putting in his posts. Because svart-hivitt said that his post was using his(my italics) philosophy in a practical way I expected better, simple, answers. I get the impression that he has taken on board information he has read on the wisdom of crowds but cannot explain it well, in particular, wrt why he reached his conclusions regarding applying it to audio listeners.

The subject of crowd wisdom is said to have arisen from a book on the madness of crowds published by Charles Mackay in 1841. Interest in the topic picked up in the 1920s after students in a social psychology class were engaged a in a WoC experiment to individually estimate room temperature, gave result that favoured the group over individual performance. Sample of one, there.

Outcomes in this field of subjective thinking and experiments are in the form of statistics. With so many conditions and variables the validity of the results can be dubious re the aim/s of the tests.

The interest in the topic has waxed and waned over the years. Surowieki's take on the subject like most populist books did not set the world on fire re interest but gave material to those without critical skills to scrutinise it and/or put it into wider contex. The subject is not dead and some studies have been fruitlessly conducted on social media networks. Maybe Cambridge Analytica could do better?

Summary of the book and its postulations: http://www.summary.com/book-summaries/_/The-Wisdom-of-Crowds/

Alternative view - The Wisdom Of The Confident:

Make sure the parameters and conditions relating to the crowd and the tests method exactingly checked: http://journal.sjdm.org/12/12924a/jdm12924a.html

A peer-reviewed paper on the content of the book would be useful.
 
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svart-hvitt

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Upon re-reading his statement, I think that I at first read Toole as suggesting something he wasn't. That said, I know plenty of average people who prefer the sound of a system featuring a plumped up bass response, or unnaturally bright highs, over a flatter system.




That's not what I was addressing. I was addressing the point that if listeners naturally gravitate toward the audio truth, as it were, then the roll of audio engineering is to translate the reproduction into a coherent set of technical parameters and metics which deliver that truth. Such that the set of objective metrics alone serves as a reliable predictor of the subjective perception, which the listener can reliably depend on entirely from the objective metics.

However, empirically, there frequently seems a disconnect between the ability of present objective metrics to serve as an reliable predictor/proxy of the subjectively experienced performance. I do believe that the two will eventually be made to fully reconcile, but as of now, the objective metrics are lacking in some manner, and so, do not yet serve as a reliable predictor of the listeners subjective experience. Therefore, there's still an important role in the component evaluation process for simply listenening.
We do have a pretty good set of objective criteria on which to base decisions in audio before using ear, haven’t we? There are even standards for room and speaker placement. The criteria set is not perfect, however, and I wish there were more and/or even better standards. It seems like speaker standards are the biggest gap compared to what we wish, right?

One characteristic of an audiophile subjectivist is his (always men!) changing of gear. I take that as evidence that a subjectivist is still in a gravitation process - during which he naturally grows tired of his biased gear - before he many years and thousands of dollars later settles on relatively neutral stuff.

I think many ASR members have gone through this route?
 

svart-hvitt

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Not exactly.... There are some conditions. Probably doesn't apply to politics and emotional responses. See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

Four elements required to form a wise crowd[edit]
Not all crowds (groups) are wise. Consider, for example, mobs or crazed investors in a stock market bubble. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

Criteria Description
1, Diversity of opinion Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
2. Independence People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.
3. Decentralization People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
4. Aggregation Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.


Few "rules" are absolute - exceptions abound, but they can steer us in the right direction most of the time.

I think @savart-hvitt was referring to the above.
Arrangers of blind tests are pretty rigid in their test criteria. Those criteria would, naturally, reflect some or all of the criteria for «wisdom of crowds».

Most blind tests are garbage because they were carried out by incompetents.
 

Wombat

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Arrangers of blind tests are pretty rigid in their test criteria. Those criteria would, naturally, reflect some or all of the criteria for «wisdom of crowds».

Most blind tests are garbage because they were carried out by incompetents.
Really?

Cancel your accountability escape chute(ignore button) and address my responses.


ATTENTION MODERATORS: The 'Ignore' function is intended to obviate pests/trolling, not reasonable but uncomfortable(for the poster) replies. It amounts to censorship by the insecure. Do something. This guy is playing the system to avoid supporting his opinions/claims/views. Not good enough, here.

He can choose to support his postings or go to where that is not required. He doesn't seem to accept the ASR model. He has to put up, shut up, or explain the obscurities.

:mad::mad::mad:

Report raised.
 
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Thomas savage

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Ok..., ( I’m not deleting anything here )

@svart-hvitt i know your engaged in more of a philosophical ‘ thinking’ discussion here and don’t really want to be substantiating every thought but you do need to put some effort in if your going to make sweeping statements implying things are givens .., ok.

@Wombat I appreciate you wanting to keep the integrity of argument at the highest standard but this issue should not of gone beyond the both of you putting each other on ignore. Maybe you should reflect on your irritation, carrying on a argument with a person while knowing they won’t see the posts is likely a result of frustration on your part. Clearly you are caught in a battle that really you would of been wise to drop but could not do so.

This has carried on with you getting more and more irritated because svart -hvitt can’t see your posts as you have agreed to put each other on ignore.

The thread has descended into a debate of ideas , I don’t mind that and the members here in this instance seem not to mind either.

@svart-hvitt More meat on the bone in terms of supporting evidence is necessary if you want to argue the toss, please keep that in mind before making further sweeping statements.

Any further grievances should be directed to me through the conversation system, this represents the end of the matter as far as this thread is concerned.

Thank you
 

RayDunzl

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Gravitating toward the truth, as they see it. So this is neutral? Wisdom of the Crowd?
That was only half a crowd.

The other half showed up later.
 

Thomas savage

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Thread reply ban issued to member @Wombat , I asked you to take further grievances up though the conversation system , you ignored this multiple times, I started a conversation with you but still you ignore that in favour of posting said grievances here , not only that but creating a new thread for your grievance too boot.
 

svart-hvitt

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Thomas savage

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Ken Newton

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We do have a pretty good set of objective criteria on which to base decisions in audio before using ear, haven’t we? There are even standards for room and speaker placement. The criteria set is not perfect, however, and I wish there were more and/or even better standards. It seems like speaker standards are the biggest gap compared to what we wish, right?

One characteristic of an audiophile subjectivist is his (always men!) changing of gear. I take that as evidence that a subjectivist is still in a gravitation process - during which he naturally grows tired of his biased gear - before he many years and thousands of dollars later settles on relatively neutral stuff.

I think many ASR members have gone through this route?
Isn't one of the logical conclusions of your argument that, all of our audio systems should be centered around nothing more capable than a mass market (read as: inexpensive) A/V reciever, or an integrated amplifier? Aren't the published technical specs. of such gear uniformly unimpeachable, or at the least, certainly well beyond the limits of human hearing acuity? Further, that CD has, indeed, been perfect sound forever, because it's published specs. are also beyond the limits of human hearing acuity. Or, rather, do our ears inform tell us that the essentially perfect specs. of modern gear and formats are not yet serving as an reliable enough predictor of the subjective performance?

I find that card-carrying objectivists typically assume that a set of good objective specs. dictates a good subjective sound, while subjectivists typically feel that is inverted logic. Some subjectivists believe, all that matters is the experienced sound, and the specs. may only be incidental to achieving that. I believe something between those two positions. I believe that when the subjective perfomance runs counter to the objctive specs., it indicates that the objective specs. are insufficient in some manner. The objective specs. SHOULD, and, I believe, eventually WILL reliably predict the subjective performance (after all, we're talking about physical systems which must obey physical laws), but aren't yet sufficiently reliable predictors. I suspect that much of what is lacking has to do with the context and the presentation of the specs., not with their accuracy or resolution. THD specification is a familiar example of that.

Specifications can present an especially troublesome issue for consumers, as they desire published specs. for a given product which reliably predict the subjective performance they will then obtain, as later judged by their own ears. In fact, most of the non-audiophile audio system consumers I personally know don't want to have to trust their ears, they want to simply see an easy to understand set of specs. and confidently make a purchase based primarily on that, after price of course.
 
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svart-hvitt

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Isn't one of the logical conclusions of your argument that, all of our audio systems should be centered around nothing more capable than a mass market (read as: inexpensive) A/V reciever, or an integrated amplifier? Aren't the published technical specs. of such gear uniformly unimpeachable, or at the least, certainly well beyond the limits of human hearing acuity? Further, that CD has, indeed, been perfect sound forever, because it's published specs. are also beyond the limits of human hearing acuity. Or, rather, do our ears inform tell us that the essentially perfect specs. of modern gear and formats are not yet serving as an reliable enough predictor of the subjective performance?

I find that card-carrying objectivists typically assume that a set of good objective specs. dictates a good subjective sound, while subjectivists typically feel that is inverted logic. Some subjectivists believe, all that matters is the experienced sound, and the specs. may only be incidental to achieving that. I believe something between those two positions. I believe that objective specs. SHOULD, and eventually, WILL reliably predict the subjective performance (after all, we're talking about physical systems which must obey physical laws), but don't yet relaible predictors because published specs. are yet lacking in some substantive way. I suspect that much of what is lacking has to do with the context, as well as the presentation of the specs. This is an especially troublesome problem for consumers, as they desire intelligible published specs. for a given product which reliably predict the subjective performance they will then obtain, in the judgement of their own ears.
Interesting thoughts! I need to come back to you when time permits.
 
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