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Ex-subjectivists on ASR

Are you a former subjectivist? What are you now? (See post for explanations)

  • Yes

    Votes: 84 35.4%
  • No

    Votes: 80 33.8%
  • Subjectivist

    Votes: 5 2.1%
  • Soft / moderate objectivist

    Votes: 84 35.4%
  • Objectivist

    Votes: 115 48.5%

  • Total voters
    237

Keith_W

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In another thread, @MattHooper mentioned that many in ASR are former subjectivists. I am one of them.

Unfortunately ASR does not allow posting of multiple polls within the same thread, so I had to merge two questions into one. Here is an explanation of the poll options:

The first two options are:

- Yes. You started off as a subjectivist and you are now an objectivist, or you are still transitioning (see second part)
- No. You started off as an objectivist.

- I am a subjectivist. Measurements have no correlation with audibility. You are still buying audiophile cables, fuses, and tweaks.
- I am a soft / moderate objectivist. You pay attention to measurements, you might even do them, but ultimately all your decisions are made on subjective grounds. You might own high end amps and DAC's that you bought because you think they sound nice.
- I am an objectivist. You believe that anything that can not be measured is not audible, and that claims of audibility are due to placebo. You are a purist who believes that fidelity to the recording is all that matters.

I have been in this hobby for 30 years, and have only started looking at the objective side of things in the past 10. I still have my speaker cables and interconnect to prove it. Transitioning has been both difficult and rewarding. Rewarding, because I get much better sound. Difficult, because of the learning curve. I don't mind learning curves, but what was even more difficult were my friends, who thought that I was crazy for (1) selling my turntable, (2) going all digital, and worse still, (3) manipulating the signal with DSP.

I think that former subjectivists think differently to objectivists. I am still a "listen first" guy. If I think I hear something, I try to correlate it with something measurable. This is a useful exercise for confirming what I heard, and also for suggesting a strategy to improve / remove whatever I think I heard or what I think is missing. I know what kind of sound that I want, and it is not necessarily what many on ASR seem to want, which is to hear the recording as the producers intended it.

So my vote: former subjectivist / currently a soft objectivist.
 

TheBatsEar

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1680059247263699.jpg

Bought pricey cables in the 90ies, was disappointed. So "Yes".
Objectivist since.
 

fpitas

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I've never believed in unmeasurable X-factors, nor bought bizarre cables and power cords. I do listen, quite closely, but always found sensible explanations if I consistently heard something.
 

Sokel

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As an objectivist I have to ask for another "discrimination" too.
Between the hard ones (audible - not audible according to [still waiting for the papers I have asked 48475636 times] the known thresholds) and the ones chasing down the last db of perfomance regardless if it's audible or not.
 

solderdude

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I learned the value of level matched blind testing early on (about 40 years ago)
That quickly killed any 'subjective' thinking and, just like till this day, the hifi magazines and salesmen peddled snake-oil, often not knowingly I reckon.

There always is a learning curve with everything one does and after 40 years or so in the audio hobby I am still learning.

There is no black and white either. Only shades of grey. So most people are basically 'inbetweenivists' often leaning towards one of the 'extremes'.
 
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Talisman

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I've always been rational, I often found certain statements on well-known audiophile sites bizarre if not blatantly ridiculous.
Finding ASR was a breath of fresh air for me, finally a site with something really measured and tangible, which asked myself the same trivial questions (why should electrons flow better in a 1000 euro cable?). I could never hear audible differences between cables, dacs etc... of the amps I only noticed the clipping. Yet it seemed that everyone could feel incredible differences in these things.
The only things that seemed to me to really sound different were the speakers, and with speakers I still can't hear the perfect fit measurements / liking , at least when it comes to major differences in frequency response. I may like some imperfect answers (if perhaps accompanied by a good bass response) So while for the electronics I can choose simply by looking at the measurements, with the speakers not, not always the most recommended and most technically correct ones are the ones I like best . I live with my human nature without making an issue of it (and I love my klipsch rp600m that took a decapitated panther)
 

fpitas

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It's a tough question to answer, but...I wonder how many subjectivists are heavily influenced by the text portion of reviews?
 

fpitas

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OP
Keith_W

Keith_W

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I learned the value of blind testing early on (about 40 years ago)
That quickly killed any 'subjective' thinking and, just like till this day, the hifi magazines and salesmen peddled snake-oil, often not knowingly I reckon.

There always is a learning curve with everything one does and after 40 years or so in the audio hobby I am still learning.

There is no black and white either. Only shades of grey. So most people are basically 'inbetweenivists' often leaning towards one of the 'extremes'.

Yeah I started off by typing 4-5 poll choices and then realized that it was going to be extremely difficult to categorize all the different shades of grey, so I decided to keep it simple and provide 3 options only.
 

RayDunzl

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I figure everyone starts off as a subjectivist. Me, around age 8. I played in the school band starting at thrid grade, and had an acoustic and then electric guitar, and had school trips to the local symphony, so had some "live" music with which to compare home based playback devices.

Nobody I knew had a "high end" system, though Dad's was decent and provided many hours of enjoyable listening.

I'm sure we all heard music reproduced at different times and places, "This system sounds better than that one." Purely subjective opinions.

Only much much later did I develop an understanding of what goes on in the boxes and wires and find ways to measure, and compare in a more "objective" manner.
 

DSJR

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See, this 'thing' has never been just a hobby! It's been my life since I could toddle when in pre-school times, my Mum or Dad would stack up the Collaro Conquest changer deck in the family Auto-Decallian 88 record player and leave me to it for a good while. At age 10, I began collecting (now sadly gone after they suffered in the loft) the objective Hi Fi Sound magazines and mopping up all the info they provided - and this mag was rarely po-faced as some I feel after buying and re-reading a couple of old issues important to me.

My first full time job was at a dealers where measurements were still important but come 1977, I drifted to the increasingly 'dark subjective' side of British audio, at a time when the objectives were decoupling bass drivers (and all but ruining the bass in the process) and the BBC inspired types were showing power handling and construction limitations if pushed on challenging rock music. The alternative that I embraced was in what's been unkindly but almost truthfully called 'domesticated PA systems' with forward LOUD (s)peakers, hard toned amps and a soggy sounding vinyl source to balance it all out a bit (the early 80's was the absolute pits for this). Thankfully, I had friends with lovely sounding Quad systems (I still hold a torch for the terribly compromised but utterly charming '57' speakers which can sound so wonderful in a low volume level intimate setting) and getting my old Spendor BC1 speakers back for a couple of weeks to store and check out again did point the way back for me. I got my first CD player (Meridian MCD-Pro) in 1985 and wrecked the credit card buying discs to feed it, a HUGE epiphany followed in 1998 or so and another in 1992 or so after a system change and meeting highly experienced and qualified electronics and speaker designers set me back to where I am now.

So I voted both as I do both. I couldn't buy a speaker just on Klippel test results as I'd need to listen to how it reacts to and with in a given room first, but I can choose a new dac for example without listening to it now, based on knowing that any distortions it may or may not have are inaudible to me. I enjoy sighted 'listening' to amps and so on, although it's looks, feel and yeah the price, which is the arbiter here really (Accuphase amps do seem to have a delightful grain-free way about their work I have to say but not sure how that translates into measurable artefacts apart from lower or non-existent IMD up top?).
 

notsodeadlizard

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I have never identified myself as either a "subjectivist" or an "objectivist", simply because these terms have no generally accepted interpretations.
I'm just a professional electronics engineer who likes to listen to music in a way that gives me pleasure.
And it is precisely because of the profession (although I am far from designing audio equipment, I specialize in industrial embedded systems), I do not understand the essence of this conditional dichotomy at all.
In my profession there is both objective (up to painful certifications) and subjective, I have long been accustomed to the strange wishes of customers and they do not surprise me at all.
And that's why I don't like this wording, for example:
"- I am a subjectivist. Measurements have no correlation with audibility. You are still buying audiophile cables, fuses, and tweaks"
I know a lot of "I like/dislike the way it sounds" fanatics, none of them enjoyed these funky cables and stuff. But they are people with a very categorical opinion, yes. And since it is their own opinion, they have every right to it.
I admit the possibility that there are people who have achieved such perfection for themselves with their audio systems that they turn to magic.
Such people are not included in my circle of acquaintances and I have never met such people in person.
But.
I may not like the sound of something either (I prefer to check everything by listening to my favorite good quality recordings), why not, and who can deprive me of this right?

But here's what I understand for sure as an experienced designer: if all sorts of ppm or even sub-ppm level distortions replace simple operational and household things, these same 0.0000002% distortions are a pure snake oil.
I'm not buying ultra-low distortion, I'm buying a device that may need service, maintenance, which I have the right to return if I don't like it, which I can sell in a couple of years simply because I'm tired of it and I want something new, which should be conditionally beautiful for me and my family. In all this, I am a severe "subjectivist", because after buying something, this something I bought becomes mine.
 

melvinjames

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Former subjectivist now soft/objectivist. I've learned a lot since joining ASR and see the hobby through a different lens. I'm slowly parting with gear I've purchased over the years but still enjoy some of it regardless. Case in point, my Omega single-driver loudspeakers and matching sub. I acquired the Super 3i's and DeepHemp 8 during my SET/high-efficiency phase to mate with a Decware SE84UFO. I've since parted with the Decware but I just can't let go of the Omega's. What can I say? I like the sound quality, especially with my SMSL gear.
 

FrantzM

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Hi

Not good at searching/recovering threads but I had written posts about my journey through audiophilia.

  • Started early, before my teens.
  • Lived in a music loving, audiophile environment.
  • Subjectivist from the start, thus.
  • EE, MSEE...
  • Remained subjectivist... but
  • Could not reconcile upward spiral of prices with, subjective performance, during the late 90's
  • Remained a subjectivist from there until 2007~2008, when a famous subjectivist was unable to recognize his brutally expensive cables (>$5000.oo) compared to regular cables... under blind conditions.
  • Performed similar experiment, with similar cables and came up with similar results
  • Began doubting the subjectivist side, ditched audiophiles cables... but...
  • Remained a subjectivist, now with a 65% Subj./35% Objectivist spread..
  • Then came ASR. I was invited to ASR by its founder: @amirm ...
  • Tried a cheap (full range) system, inspired by people systems at ASR mainly @RayDunzl 's .. total $2500.oo for the audio part...
  • Became a passionate Objectivist by 2016~2017...
  • I have never enjoyed music so much, since...

Peace
 

symphara

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I've cared more and more about how and why, but this didn't move me from "subjectivist" to "objectivist", rather from "non-particularly-informed-but-without-strong-beliefs" to "somewhat-informed-and-experienced-with-mild-beliefs".

I've always tried DSP, whenever available, while thinking that DSP is no panacea and can have good, bad or indifferent outcomes.

I've started using REW as soon as I could (basically as soon as I got my hands on a calibrated microphone).

I've never believed in fancy cables, crystals, voodoo etc.

I moved to digital as soon as I could barely afford a portable Sony Discman, ditched the cassette player, started my CD collection and never looked back.

I don't like LPs and I've never owned a record player in my life nor do I intend to.

I don't like tubes, I don't find them warm but horrible and strange. This is one of the great audio mysteries to me.

I like the AV gear to work, do so flawlessly, and be completely remotely controllable. DYI stuff, science projects, rPi, ROON, computers in the audio chain etc don't interest me.
 

fpitas

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I don't like tubes, I don't find them warm but horrible and strange. This is one of the great audio mysteries to me.
Lol! Good measuring tube gear sounds good. I don't like the fuzzy crunchy tube sound either. Well OK, for electric guitar ;)
 

Zensō

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I went from “clueless” (meaning not interested or paying much attention to audio reproduction gear) directly to objectivist. The clueless moniker seems to fit many of my musician friends, who are very concerned about their instruments, but are mostly unconcerned about audio playback quality.
 

Plcamp

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I listen therefore I am.
 

Martin

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There needs to be a fourth choice:
- I am a subjectivist. Measurements have no correlation with audibility. You are still buying audiophile cables, fuses, and tweaks.
- I am a soft / moderate objectivist. You pay attention to measurements, you might even do them, but ultimately all your decisions are made on subjective grounds. You might own high end amps and DAC's that you bought because you think they sound nice.
- I am an objectivist. You believe that anything that can not be measured is not audible, and that claims of audibility are due to placebo. You are a purist who believes that fidelity to the recording is all that matters.

- I am an objectivist with subjective tendencies. You believe that anything that cannot be measured is not audible. Knowing this you still choose some components (knowing how they measure) based upon subjective preference.

Martin
 
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