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How about a change of terminology? (semi-serious thread)

Fluffy

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#1
I've come up with a cure for all the audiophile ailments! :p Ok maybe not all of them, but hear me out –

We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all! They produce (or conduct) electrical signals. The only thing in the chain that can possibly sound like anything is the transducer in the speaker that actually (intentionally) produces soundwaves. Everything else could only have a sound if they produce some accidental soundwaves like buzz and hum, that are definitely unwanted.

So instead of asking "does that amplifier sounds good?" we ask "does that amplifier produce a good signal?" By doing that we shift the terminology to one that is more grounded and fitting with reality, and distance it from one that is vague and metaphorical. It’s a cognitive change that through language forces us to separate the resulting sound wave from the electrical waves that influenced its creation.

Language is a powerful tool after all, and maybe through changing the terms people use, we can change how they interpret the practical effects of different gear properties. And by doing that, it's also much easier to accept that the properties of a device are physical, and as such they can be quantified and studied – meaning, they can be measured (oh no he said the naughty word! :eek:). If the amplifier doesn't produce sound but an electrical signal, by studying that signal we can deduce what effect it will have on the transducer powered by it. To objective reviewers this is pretty obvious, but not so much to people who rely on a more subjective interpretation of performance.

And that subjectivism is rooted in and reinforced by wrong terminology. So in order to eradicate that pesky subjectivism, let's all just stop saying that amps and dacs sound like anything at all. Instead, let's talk about how they make, take and sometimes break signals.
 

RayDunzl

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#2
Sounds like a good idea to me.
 

dc655321

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#3
We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all! They produce (or conduct) electrical signals.
I would give you 4 thumbs-up if I could.
I physically wince every time I see the question, "how does it sound?", when discussing electronics.
Takes great willpower not to respond with, "stick in your ear (or other cavity) and find out yourself!".
 

pozz

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#4
I've often had a similar thought but never have been able to put it into words. Nicely done.

Makes sense to characterize all electronics that way, since they aren't transducers.
 
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#6
As if life isn’t already troublesome enough.
We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all!
No they produce no sound waves, but they do produce unwanted audiosignals that are converted to sounds. Harmonics, IM products, jitter, hum, noise, glitches, all sounds that I shouldn’t be hearing.
 

AudioSceptic

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#7
I've come up with a cure for all the audiophile ailments! :p Ok maybe not all of them, but hear me out –

We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all! They produce (or conduct) electrical signals. The only thing in the chain that can possibly sound like anything is the transducer in the speaker that actually (intentionally) produces soundwaves. Everything else could only have a sound if they produce some accidental soundwaves like buzz and hum, that are definitely unwanted.

So instead of asking "does that amplifier sounds good?" we ask "does that amplifier produce a good signal?" By doing that we shift the terminology to one that is more grounded and fitting with reality, and distance it from one that is vague and metaphorical. It’s a cognitive change that through language forces us to separate the resulting sound wave from the electrical waves that influenced its creation.

Language is a powerful tool after all, and maybe through changing the terms people use, we can change how they interpret the practical effects of different gear properties. And by doing that, it's also much easier to accept that the properties of a device are physical, and as such they can be quantified and studied – meaning, they can be measured (oh no he said the naughty word! :eek:). If the amplifier doesn't produce sound but an electrical signal, by studying that signal we can deduce what effect it will have on the transducer powered by it. To objective reviewers this is pretty obvious, but not so much to people who rely on a more subjective interpretation of performance.

And that subjectivism is rooted in and reinforced by wrong terminology. So in order to eradicate that pesky subjectivism, let's all just stop saying that amps and dacs sound like anything at all. Instead, let's talk about how they make, take and sometimes break signals.
Good thinking IMO but I fear it won't catch on. Music produces an emotional response and listeners can't help but associate that experience with the equipment as well as the music itself.
 

watchnerd

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#8
I've come up with a cure for all the audiophile ailments! :p Ok maybe not all of them, but hear me out –

We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all! They produce (or conduct) electrical signals. The only thing in the chain that can possibly sound like anything is the transducer in the speaker that actually (intentionally) produces soundwaves. Everything else could only have a sound if they produce some accidental soundwaves like buzz and hum, that are definitely unwanted.

So instead of asking "does that amplifier sounds good?" we ask "does that amplifier produce a good signal?" By doing that we shift the terminology to one that is more grounded and fitting with reality, and distance it from one that is vague and metaphorical. It’s a cognitive change that through language forces us to separate the resulting sound wave from the electrical waves that influenced its creation.

Language is a powerful tool after all, and maybe through changing the terms people use, we can change how they interpret the practical effects of different gear properties. And by doing that, it's also much easier to accept that the properties of a device are physical, and as such they can be quantified and studied – meaning, they can be measured (oh no he said the naughty word! :eek:). If the amplifier doesn't produce sound but an electrical signal, by studying that signal we can deduce what effect it will have on the transducer powered by it. To objective reviewers this is pretty obvious, but not so much to people who rely on a more subjective interpretation of performance.

And that subjectivism is rooted in and reinforced by wrong terminology. So in order to eradicate that pesky subjectivism, let's all just stop saying that amps and dacs sound like anything at all. Instead, let's talk about how they make, take and sometimes break signals.
Good luck.

Also, as transducers, cartridges and microphones also make sounds.
 
OP
Fluffy

Fluffy

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Thread Starter #10
As if life isn’t already troublesome enough.

No they produce no sound waves, but they do produce unwanted audiosignals that are converted to sounds. Harmonics, IM products, jitter, hum, noise, glitches, all sounds that I shouldn’t be hearing.
That is one of the misnomers I would like to get rid of – audio signal is just a representation of sound, not the sound wave itself. You cannot physically hear the jitter that's in your dac, or the harmonics present in the distorted signal going in to your amp. These are attributes of electrical signals, that in order for you to hear them, need to be converted to sound waves that mimic those attributes.

Maybe we need to go back and define what is sound. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sound as "Mechanical radiant energy that is transmitted by longitudinal pressure waves in a material medium (such as air) and is the objective cause of hearing". So, as long as any single effect is not one that directly makes such pressure waves through the air, it's by definition not sound, and cannot sound like anything.

I know the this is quite a pedantic statement, but it is important in order to understand the idea I'm proposing. If linguistically we stop associating electrical signals with the resulting sound wave down the chain, we can psychologically separate electrical and acoustical properties of equipment.

Good luck.

Also, as transducers, cartridges and microphones also make sounds.
Also wrong. Microphones converts acoustical waves into electrical signals, they don't produce any sound waves (unless you hit someone with the head with one). Cartridges converts physical oscillations caused by the stylus moving with the groove on the record, into electrical signals. By themselves they produce a tiny amount of soundwaves from their physical interaction with the air as they vibrate with the groove, but those are almost not audible from a distance.
 

watchnerd

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#11
Also wrong. Microphones converts acoustical waves into electrical signals, they don't produce any sound waves (unless you hit someone with the head with one). Cartridges converts physical oscillations caused by the stylus moving with the groove on the record, into electrical signals. By themselves they produce a tiny amount of soundwaves from their physical interaction with the air as they vibrate with the groove, but those are almost not audible from a distance.
Microphones and cartridges are transducers.

This is not up for debate.

If, in your original post, you meant to say only "loudspeakers", then you should change your original post because you're not using the term transducers correctly.
 

phoenixdogfan

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#13
All the elaborate and euphuistic languaging which came into vogue in the heyday of Stereophile and TAS is really a way of describing the reviewer's subjective and idiosyncratic impressions of the product. As such, I think those constructs are basically meaningless because anyone else's experience of the product's sound is likely to be different, and, with essentially transparent products with high SINADS such as DACS and transistor based amplifiers basically confabulated. Moreover, even if the subjective experience of two subjective reviewers were completely identical (an ontological impossibility, I'm sure), the languaging one reviewer uses to describe the shared identical experience would be so idiosyncratic to the first reviewer as to be mostly meaningless to the second.
 
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dshreter

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#14
I don’t take issue with using the consequent impact on the sound to describe electronics. That makes sense if the correlation between the signal deviation and the sonic impact are known. I’m so many cases, inaccurate or inappropriate descriptions are used for electronics, which I do take issue with. But if an amplifier literally had boosted treble I see no issue with calling it bright.
 

North_Sky

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#15
Some amps are better built than others, with better engineering and using premium quality parts. They might also last longer (longetivity and durability).
That, might transfers audio signals that are measurably cleaner without necessarily imparting a subjective superiority.

Something like that anyway.
 

Thomas savage

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#16
I've come up with a cure for all the audiophile ailments! :p Ok maybe not all of them, but hear me out –

We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all! They produce (or conduct) electrical signals. The only thing in the chain that can possibly sound like anything is the transducer in the speaker that actually (intentionally) produces soundwaves. Everything else could only have a sound if they produce some accidental soundwaves like buzz and hum, that are definitely unwanted.

So instead of asking "does that amplifier sounds good?" we ask "does that amplifier produce a good signal?" By doing that we shift the terminology to one that is more grounded and fitting with reality, and distance it from one that is vague and metaphorical. It’s a cognitive change that through language forces us to separate the resulting sound wave from the electrical waves that influenced its creation.

Language is a powerful tool after all, and maybe through changing the terms people use, we can change how they interpret the practical effects of different gear properties. And by doing that, it's also much easier to accept that the properties of a device are physical, and as such they can be quantified and studied – meaning, they can be measured (oh no he said the naughty word! :eek:). If the amplifier doesn't produce sound but an electrical signal, by studying that signal we can deduce what effect it will have on the transducer powered by it. To objective reviewers this is pretty obvious, but not so much to people who rely on a more subjective interpretation of performance.

And that subjectivism is rooted in and reinforced by wrong terminology. So in order to eradicate that pesky subjectivism, let's all just stop saying that amps and dacs sound like anything at all. Instead, let's talk about how they make, take and sometimes break signals.
One small step for man , one giant 'silent' leap for mankind..
 

Wes

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#18
Why not just discuss the signifiers of audio semiotic sensibilities?
 

Jimbob54

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#20
I've come up with a cure for all the audiophile ailments! :p Ok maybe not all of them, but hear me out –

We should just stop talking about how electronics sound like. that's because dacs and amplifiers and cables and power supplies – they don't produce any sound waves at all! They produce (or conduct) electrical signals. The only thing in the chain that can possibly sound like anything is the transducer in the speaker that actually (intentionally) produces soundwaves. Everything else could only have a sound if they produce some accidental soundwaves like buzz and hum, that are definitely unwanted.

So instead of asking "does that amplifier sounds good?" we ask "does that amplifier produce a good signal?" By doing that we shift the terminology to one that is more grounded and fitting with reality, and distance it from one that is vague and metaphorical. It’s a cognitive change that through language forces us to separate the resulting sound wave from the electrical waves that influenced its creation.

Language is a powerful tool after all, and maybe through changing the terms people use, we can change how they interpret the practical effects of different gear properties. And by doing that, it's also much easier to accept that the properties of a device are physical, and as such they can be quantified and studied – meaning, they can be measured (oh no he said the naughty word! :eek:). If the amplifier doesn't produce sound but an electrical signal, by studying that signal we can deduce what effect it will have on the transducer powered by it. To objective reviewers this is pretty obvious, but not so much to people who rely on a more subjective interpretation of performance.

And that subjectivism is rooted in and reinforced by wrong terminology. So in order to eradicate that pesky subjectivism, let's all just stop saying that amps and dacs sound like anything at all. Instead, let's talk about how they make, take and sometimes break signals.
Excellent idea-

That will totally and utterly befuddle the next new member that posts :

"Which sounds best, the Topping X or the SMSL Y? I like my DACs to sound neutral and airy with deep bass and sparkling treble with but with warmth and not too digital"

But as an ambition- lets reach for the sky
 
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