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How far have ss amps really come in the last twenty years??

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MattHooper

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Sound = ears.

Period.

Not sure why that's so complicated to understand.
So, you would prefer to simplify to the point of disregarding any science about how perception is influenced? On a science-friendly site like this....why?

Nothing is ever "complicated," if you over-simplify. But I would expect nuance here.
 

SIY

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So, you would prefer to simplify to the point of disregarding any science about how perception is influenced?
For sound evaluation, ears-only. Other factors require different sorts of controls.
 

Frank Dernie

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We all know that number one factor is wife acceptance factor, and I haven't found an objective measure for that yet. But luckily, mine has great ears and sound quality is high on her list :)
My wife is a professional musician and conductor.
She has absolutely zero interest in hifi sound quality.
When she is researching a piece for a new performance she likes to listen to other interpretations. it used to be buying LPs then CDs but now she can search the internet and listen on her laptop speakers. All the rubato, tempo choices and so forth are easily heard on a youtube video via laptop speakers.
Yes instrumental timbre isn't anywhere near, but that is of little interest to her for planning her own work, nor is the narrow frequency bandwidth.
I also can easily hear what she is looking into on her laptop.
For me enjoying a complete work in the music room accurate timbre and a full frequency range make a big difference, for a musician listening to another's performance not so much IME.
I know a lot of musicians through my wife and not one of them has the least interest in hifi.
 

Frank Dernie

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A friend lusted over a highly regarded preamp for years. He said he didn't care if it was any better or not, it was beautiful, the controls were laid out wonderfully, the switches and knobs had a wonderful hefty, but silky feel, he didn't care if it was better or not he just liked seeing it, using it made him feel good everytime he touched it. It actually also was very good performing gear. So an identical sounding preamp without these features would have been nowhere the same satisfaction to him.
I am strongly influenced by the ergonomics and features of my kit too.
I auditioned my current amp at home the only audible improvement over the old one I noticed was less noise, the measured distortion from a review was the best I had ever seen but the other thing that actually made me buy it was the superb remote control with a rotary volume control.
I hate the now ubiquitous up/down volume buttons.
 

sergeauckland

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I am strongly influenced by the ergonomics and features of my kit too.
I auditioned my current amp at home the only audible improvement over the old one I noticed was less noise, the measured distortion from a review was the best I had ever seen but the other thing that actually made me buy it was the superb remote control with a rotary volume control.
I hate the now ubiquitous up/down volume buttons.
Given just how little technical and consequently audible difference there now is between modern electronics, it seems to me that ergonomics and facilities are the only reasons for choosing one piece of equipment over another.

S
 

MattHooper

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The issue with these other contributing factors is that they fade away over time, leaving you with just the sound. Subjectivists audiophiles seem to always be changing gear and tweaking it with this and that. This factor may be behind that. Improper evaluation easily leads one to think many things are effective in improving audio when in reality they do nothing in that regard. Once that faulty evaluation is done, then that effect wears off leading one with nothing.
That strikes me as a reasonable hypothesis. And it would seem to make sense of some of the audiophile merry-go-round for some portion of subjectivitists.

That said, it doesn't account for the many subjectivist audiophiles who hold on to gear for long periods of time. And even many "objectivist" members here no doubt have gone through some different equipment over their many years in audio. You yourself clearly like playing with different gear, to the degree you've created a web site devoted to measuring and listening to all sorts of new and old components. That's an itch even plenty of subjectivist audiophiles aren't scratching to that degree. "Not that there's anything wrong with that." :) (And I'm very appreciative of your work!)

My attachment to my tube amps may or may not be due to extra-audio sources of bias. But I've been very happy with the amps for 20 years with no plans to change them.

I do play with lots of speakers, because speakers sound different, and I enjoy those differences. I can pretty much guarantee you that buying a Revel speaker would not change this: I've auditioned Revel speakers, admired them, but still enjoyed the different presentation of other speakers as well.

And it's an interesting question what actually amounts to a "faulty evaluation" for the consumer. I certainly agree evaluations can be faulty in the inferences drawn by a consumer, of the sort: "I perceived a sonic difference between these DACS, THEREFORE the sound objectively changed between those DACS."

But I think it gets a little stickier in the bigger picture in terms of the mix of bias factors and evaluation, and I keep thinking more of speakers. It's one thing to say "blind testing of speakers have shown the type of sound people will prefer once they don't know which speaker is playing." It's more of a leap from those results to claims about long term satisfaction for a consumer. Does all the blind testing of speakers predict that people won't find long term satisfaction from speakers that don't measure like a Revel? Obviously not, as a great many consumers, audiophiles included, have had long term satisfaction from speaker-designs all over the map. You've got life-long devotees to Quads, Maggies, Horn designs, Omnis, time/phase coherence, narrow dispersion, wide dispersion designs, you name it. So in what sense do we say the sighted auditions that led to people finding a speaker that gave them long term satisfaction was "faulty?" Faulty yes if the aim is strictly the scientific claims about what precisely we can weed out as audible. But faulty in terms of the actual consumer behaviour that led to being very happy with their speakers for years? Not sure how that would work.

I get the sense that some people think I"m going more against the grain here than I actually am. I can't think of an actual objective claim I'd make that would conflict with what anyone else would accept here. I'm just of a philosophical bent and tend to seek conceptual clarity where I can, so I needle concepts and assumptions/statements to tease out the issues. Maybe to an annoying degree sometimes.
 
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MattHooper

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For sound evaluation, ears-only.
Agreed. It helps us determine what is in fact audible, or not. It can also tell us how we perceive actual audible changes as well. Though it tells us how we will perceive those UNDER THE BLIND TEST CONDITIONS. The challenge becomes how that translates to non-blind test conditions.
That's actually a very reasonable question to ask, and the fact it's confounded by so many possible factors doesn't make that question moot or just go away.

Other factors require different sorts of controls.
Because they can change the perception of the sound. Because our subjective experience is affected by more than what is delivered by one of our senses. ;-)

Blind testing can help us discern what role the equipment is having in our perception of the sound, vs what role the rest of our cognition/experience may be having in how it sounds to us.

Anway...all has been said on that.
 
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My previous post about using technically less accurate amps gets me thinking:

These are the types of experiences that keep me with a foot in the "subjectivist" side. NOT in the sense of buying in to all the bad, technically unsound arguments given by subjectivists, including their rejection of science, and dismissal of blind testing - I think my posts show they drive me nuts too. But rather in the sense that for me, when it comes to actual audible differences, I need to have the right subjective experience over whatever technical claims are made for a product. I've enjoyed a number of products that would never have seen the light of day had many in the 'objectivist" community been running the show, as in "no competent designer would EVER have designed that!"

Measurements are clearly incredibly valuable - they give us more knowledge and knowledge is power. But at least for me, my technical knowledge is limited and, honestly, I want to spend more time in other areas than becoming an EE so that I can read and understand every technical spec and it's implications.

At this point I can not predict solely on measurements what speaker I will enjoy upon hearing it. When I look at the measurements of speakers I've really liked, they are all over the map - from really neutral and very much in keeping with what a Floyd Toole would recommend, to those that deviate quite a bit.

Now the immediate response to that could be: Well, that just shows the unreliability of sighted listening! You can't know what you like in sighted listening. But of course I can: I'm the one who can tell you what I like in sighted listening, just as I'm the one who would be telling you what I like in a blind test. It may be the case that the sighted evaluations would not predict what I like in blind testing (e.g. maybe I'd pick a Revel speaker over one that I liked in my own sighted auditions). But that could be flipped around as well: does the blind test predict what I'd like in sighted evaluations? Given sighted evaluations are how I listen to my system, even if bias of some sort plays a role in "how they seem to sound to me" - maybe I should allow that to factor in. In this sense, the knowledge gained in blind testing is valuable for determining if it's just the sound I prefer or not, but it's not necessarily indicative of which speaker I should buy.

Anyway, this is another reason why I still actually value subjective audio writing. If I took only the viewpoints of many obectivists, I would never have considered certain products. But upon reading what seems like a consistent description of a product's sound (e.g. speaker) across various reviewers and owners, I find myself thinking "that's describing the type of qualities I am looking for, that I think I'd like." And indeed some products do sound just like the reviewers described, and I did indeed enjoy the sound very much. Something that I can not yet predict, myself, via measurements.
Don't feel bad. Plenty of folks who have no desire for tube equipment, including I would guess many here, prefer some sort of house curve, and a house curve is a distortion by choice and by definition. Once you stray from recreating the recording as put on disc, you're into the subjective weeds. And even in speakers, there is much more to accuracy than just a flat response at 75dB, so some of those speakers may have had innaccurate FR, but maybe they had realistic dynamics, sense of scale, low distortion, or maybe even low sensitivity (ie low noise at lower volume). And since we listen to everything in room, maybe you are sensitive to LF modes and higher harmonic distortion makes them a little less prominent. Once we get speakers into rooms, innaccurate in a vacuum can become accurate (room and speaker EQ alter the signal from perfect accuracy to achieve real world accuracy).
 

pkane

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Blind testing can help us discern what role the equipment is having in our perception of the sound, vs what role the rest of our cognition/experience may be having in how it sounds to us.
Amir will need a completely different kind of analyzer to test brains and perception.
 

MattHooper

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Don't feel bad. Plenty of folks who have no desire for tube equipment, including I would guess many here, prefer some sort of house curve, and a house curve is a distortion by choice and by definition. Once you stray from recreating the recording as put on disc, you're into the subjective weeds. And even in speakers, there is much more to accuracy than just a flat response at 75dB, so some of those speakers may have had innaccurate FR, but maybe they had realistic dynamics, sense of scale, low distortion, or maybe even low sensitivity (ie low noise at lower volume). And since we listen to everything in room, maybe you are sensitive to LF modes and higher harmonic distortion makes them a little less prominent. Once we get speakers into rooms, innaccurate in a vacuum can become accurate (room and speaker EQ alter the signal from perfect accuracy to achieve real world accuracy).
Yes, exactly, I've gotten in to that discussion here before. That's the slippery slope of the "I prefer/have accuracy, you want coloration." When you prod this further, it's not so cut and dried. Even Floyd Toole has no problem EQing the playback to taste. The rational someone can give for this certainly can make sense "I would prefer my equipment not alter the sound, so that if I choose I can hear what's on the source with accuracy. But when I want, I can tweak it. The control is up to me!" That makes perfect sense to me!

But, once you introduce any alterations, you are in the weeds, especially if you allow yourself to tweak the sound sometimes with EQ. Then you are just a "I like accuracy sometimes in someways, not in all ways all times" camp.

And as you indicate, there's the "accuracy-to-what?" problem that becomes a rabbit hole, and also that one system may do one aspect of sound with greater accuracy while another does another aspect. Compromises are chosen everywhere.
 

SIY

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EQ is adjustable and can be turned off.
 

MattHooper

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Amir will need a completely different kind of analyzer to test brains and perception.
Well, in principle, we are talking about investigating the role of other influences, which is doable; it's done all the time in science. You can introduce a variable like "sticker price" on a bottle of wine and find out what role that plays in influencing the perception of taste or enjoyment.

But of course nothing I've said is meant to enjoin Amir to start testing and detailing extra-audio influences on perception. Of course not.
I'm simply pointing out that, while sticking to correlating measurements to audibility in blind testing is an emminently reasonable and often useful pursuit, it doesn't of itself just make all the other interesting issues go away.
 

Rja4000

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Hi everyone
Just a question here.

Here, we now have some serious measurements.
That allows us to say: "this is seriously broken" or not.

What we now miss here are serious double blind tests, with fully discussed and documented methodology, to corroborate (or not) those measurement-driven conclusions.

This looks to me like the only way to validate (or challenge/improve) the measurements and address the subjectivist's (valid) concerns.
Because, ultimately, we all have a subjectivist (hidden) inside us.
Hopefully, we are humans.

Do you agree?

(Be carefull.
Next question will be "How do we proceed?")
 

MattHooper

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EQ is adjustable and can be turned off.
Yes, as mentioned in my post preceding yours, that's a common reply.

Taking your reply as representative (whether you personally ever use EQ or not...)

If you are listening through a very accurate system, and your aim is accuracy, why would you ever turn on the EQ to alter the signal?

If the music sounds ok reproduced accurately so be it, but if certain recordings (poorly mastered to your ears?) sounds better to you with EQ, then you depart from accuracy.

Doing so would indicate a goal not strictly of accuracy, but in enjoying the music or sound coming through the system.
Which makes sense. At least from a consumer's point of view.
 

SIY

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But if you are listening through a very accurate system, and your aim is accuracy, why would you ever turn on the EQ to alter the signal?
Because recording and mastering engineers don't always share my aim.
 

pkane

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I'm simply pointing out that, while sticking to correlating measurements to audibility in blind testing is an emminently reasonable and often useful pursuit, it doesn't of itself just make all the other interesting issues go away.
There are plenty of issues with human perception. The topic is as complicated as it is varied from individual to individual. Sure, there are some patterns to be discovered, but studying what affects preferences among a large group of people, controlling for all possible variables and deriving a statistically valid result is just a tad beyond the capabilities of most of us here.

What's more, even once such a study is conducted, there's no guarantee that it will come close to predicting my own, personal preferences. Even if it's the choice of a new generation, it doesn't mean that I'll prefer Pepsi :)
 

Zog

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This kind of statement is going to get you into trouble here. Pass an ABX test or go home.
If somebody at a distance is talking in front of you and they move a meter to the left or right then you, or at least most people, can detect that.
 
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Sgt. Ear Ache

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Yes, as mentioned in my post preceding yours, that's a common reply.

Taking your reply as representative (whether you personally ever use EQ or not...)

If you are listening through a very accurate system, and your aim is accuracy, why would you ever turn on the EQ to alter the signal?
.
to adjust for room acoustics?
 

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