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Experience, measurements and corelation

eriksq

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#1
Hi,

I've been reading reviews here on and off and have bought at least one DAC based on recommendations. There's one thing I'd like to suggest be done differently.

One thing that is actually really hard to do is to correlate measurements with human experience. For instance, ASR has reviewed the Codex and the Oppo desktop DAC/headphone amp. The previous one's sound I love, the latter hated. Both measured poorly.

Instead of measuring first, and then listening I'd strongly suggest others listen first, and then measure. Or do both isolated from each other. If you measure, and listen, and then proclaim they listened as they sound, that's just proof of confirmation bias.

I also want to mention that it is quite human to train your senses to your scope. That doesn't mean those who aren't trained have invalid experiences. For instance, I make my own speakers and they measure as neutral, so as a result my hearing has gotten set to this baseline. I can easily hear deviations from this in commercial speakers. If you've ever worked in food service, after a couple of days of weighing meat you get really good at doing it by hand.

It's kind of the same thing. But unlike a sandwich, audio quality/desirability is quite malleable. It's between the ear and the brain.

Measurements are good, and a way to understand behavior, and attention to manufacturing detail and cost, but if that is your holy grail you are doing nothing more than turning yourself into a human scope. Pleasure and exhilaration should be more than that I think.

Best,

E
 

Speedskater

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#2
Measurement is about measuring accuracy and differences.
Real 'subjective' listening tests (ears only) is about determining preferences between items that are known to be different.
Only with a great deal of experience, can a tester predict which item a listener (ears only) will prefer.
 

eriksq

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#3
Real 'subjective' listening tests (ears only) is about determining preferences between items that are known to be different.
So with tests, most of which where set in stone by the 1970s, you determine that is all that can be measured and heard?

That is the opposite of science, but I will leave this forum to that.

Thanks Speedskater, you've been very helpful.
 

Blumlein 88

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#4
@eriksq

Doesn't matter if you listen first or last if you are listening without knowledge of which is which.

If something performs well enough it will sound the same as any other gear performing well enough.

If it sounds different than a transparent bit of gear, it is by definition of lower fidelity. Which doesn't mean you might not have a preference for it. Chasing preferences is like the blind men and the elephant.

The bit about being set in stone in the 1970's doesn't ring all that true. Many measurements from then are as useful now as they were then. Which is as it should be. And there are other measurements. People keep wanting to believe their sighted listening impressions reveal information about electronic devices which they mostly don't.

So yes, believe it or not, appears you don't, we can measure most aspects of signal reproduction at levels well below any human ability to hear a difference. Once that has been determined, what would you expect?

You mentioned two devices which measured poorly and sound different. Why not listen to two devices that measure well? I didn't look up the measures of those two devices just taking your word for it.

Don't get the turning yourself into a human scope either. Actually you seem to be the one intent on that. I'll use actual scopes to find products of high fidelity. Then I can listen, and enjoy with ease. No need to burden myself with sharpening my senses. I'll simply enjoy music with them.
 

bravomail

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#5
I share OP arg. To sum up - not all devices, measured good here, will be sounding good to you. You are free to come up with your own methodologies to find that elusive metric, which determines "good sound". Most ppl here agree that "good sound" is very subjective, so we rely on Amir measurements as objective.
 

amirm

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#6
So with tests, most of which where set in stone by the 1970s, you determine that is all that can be measured and heard?
My measurements include FFTs showing full spectrum of distortion and noise. This is not a 1970s test although some crude version of this existed then. Using FFT, we know everything we need to know to analyze the distortion relative to our hearing thresholds for such.

The bigger issue than this by far is subjective listening with full identify of which is which. And not matching levels. That is guaranteed to produce results that don't correlate with sound waves that come out of the device.
 

amirm

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#7

RayDunzl

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#8
Last edited:
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#9
Not that much older...
Except that Fleming wasn't the first to discover the antibiotic properties of penicillin; it had been used for centuries by Arabic horsemen (possibly even as long ago as ancient Egypt), who noticed that the mould growing on their leather saddles helped to heal infected sores. Fleming wasn't aware of this, of course...

http://www.beautifulmedicine.com/mobile/02.html

As for the OP, prior knowledge of test results before listening can lead to expectation bias, yes. But this forum isn't about subjective preferences, and the reviews are about objective measurement. I don't recall any of the objective reviews making any subjective review of how the device sounds.

If there were a way to define the qualities different people find euphonic, maybe we could find a means to filter products to meet their tastes. And by filter, I mean 'select', but it might also be nice to be able to apply a 'euphonic filter' to a transparent source. Modelling valve amp behaviour would be popular in some quarters...
 
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