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Master Thread: Are measurements Everything or Nothing?

AudioSceptic

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You finally figured out at least one part.

It was absolutely not my intention to belittle the author of the test. On the contrary, I can only praise the effort he put into the test, but I only expressed the opinion (or claim that suits you already) that the specification on paper is only one side of the medal and that it is impossible to determine that something is good with just by reading specs.
Did you listen to Emulator II and red what its characteristics are on paper?
This sentence is for smart person enough.
If you can conclude only from specs on the paper that something it sounds great, then you are a genius who can hear how grass grows.
Besides, you are the one who performed with an attacking attitude from the beginning. I see you don’t understand when something is being tried to be explained and I don’t want to argue with you anymore.
This is very simple.

Please give us at least one example of a DAC which measures well but "sounds bad". Failure to do so can only lead us to think you are a troll.
 

mocenigo

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This is very simple.

Please give us at least one example of a DAC which measures well but "sounds bad". Failure to do so can only lead us to think you are a troll.

I would say that any good measuring DAC can be considered “bad sounding”. Remember, “bad sounding” admits a subjective meaning: If your benchmark is a vacuum tube output stage DAC and you like it, then any perfectly measuring DAC sounds bad in comparison.
 

LTig

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I totally agree with this. I am also a supporter of the recording process as you wrote. But even here it is possible, by choosing bad equipment, to make the recording sound bad at the start. It may sound harsh, blurred, etc.
This is certainly true, but ...
So I’m just trying all the time to say that all of this should be choose by listening, not just reading technical data.
... the cure is not to buy equipment with a counteracting sound (you would need a lot of different units for all those differing flaws in existing recordings) but get accurate equipment with easily adjustable tone controls.
 

tvrgeek

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https://josephcrowe.com/blogs/news/distortion-and-sound-quality-what-is-reasonable might be a paper that should change how distortion of speakers is measured?
Some good points on method. A lot of assumptions, though they seem to be based on experience. Some of his comments are wrong. Like distortion from most ribbons. He contradicts himself suggesting 1% is a reasonable target and goes on to say his experience subjectively is much lower. Maybe a place to start a study.

I suspect this method might reveal what I discovered about how amplifier noise floor and tweeter quality relate with the controlling factor being the compensation method, DP or Miller. Cheap speakers, DP. Great speakers, Miller.
 

Blumlein 88

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If all you can do is claim I am wrong, then you are not helping the further of objective testing.
Suppose I let you choose a few tracks that let you hear glare around 3100 hz. I take those run them thru a few different DACs which I record with a good ADC. I'll even record well in excess of the base sample rate.

I send those back to you, and you listen and see if you can identify each DAC by its glare level with any reliability. Would that convince you if you fail to do so that maybe some other influence is involved? If you can pick them out correctly it would convince me you are hearing something.

Or you could save me some trouble and see if you hear 8th generation copies thru a DAC vs the orignal in a couple of such threads I've posted in the past.
 

Sal1950

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Yes, modern measurements tell everything.
 

Plcamp

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I suspect this method might reveal what I discovered about how amplifier noise floor and tweeter quality relate with the controlling factor being the compensation method, DP or Miller. Cheap speakers, DP. Great speakers, Miller.
I think you are saying here is…that in order to maximize the quality from a high end tweeter, you need to increase the speed of the amplifier feedback loop by moving it to higher order to achieve superior control of the tweeter voice coil.

I’ve not seen what you did…am I interpreting correctly?
 

BDWoody

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i also dont get the talking about needing 500 peoples, if 50 audiophiles say they hear a difference and actually can proof with ABX test they can hear a difference, what does it matter if 450 other people dont hear a difference? clearly there is a difference then.

Right.

So where are the 50? Where is the one?
 

Sal1950

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Vintagear73

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This is very simple.

Please give us at least one example of a DAC which measures well but "sounds bad". Failure to do so can only lead us to think you are a troll.
You all hunt for certain words that suit you.
I speak in general all the time (or maybe literary if it suits someone) and not only about DACs.

OK, "sounds bad" may be a rough word. Maybe is better to use terminology sounds good, or less good.

Maybe is not the best example, but in the late 80s I bought a new Sony CD player (sorry but I don't remember the model anymore). Back then it was advertised as 18 bit, etc. Their THD was probably 0.0 and something%, dynamics at least 90db. By comparing with the vinyl were more than phenomenal.

And what about that? Total disappointment. Harsh, one-dimensionality, in short - bad. Worst then 1st or 2nd generation of Marantz/Philips CD players.

I'm sorry, but the specifications on paper are not crucial to me. To theorists for sure, but in practice they can only be a guide that can interest me in this product in the sense that I go to hear it in the best possible conditions.
 

Vintagear73

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I would say that any good measuring DAC can be considered “bad sounding”. Remember, “bad sounding” admits a subjective meaning: If your benchmark is a vacuum tube output stage DAC and you like it, then any perfectly measuring DAC sounds bad in comparison.
Surely.
Each of us has some equipment that he prefers more than another and there is certainly a lot of subjectivity. But I have never heard anyone buy a piece of equipment because it has a THD of 0.00000000000000% instead of 0.0000000000002%, or a 112db dinar instead of 111db.
 

Labjr

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Depends how the specifications are measured. If it measures virtually perfect with Audio Precision, it's gonna output reference quality signal. IMO, it's best to start with a reference quality source that outputs exactly what it's supposed to. I think competent engineering is most important with digital source because bad digital can have all kinds of terrible artifacts. Color the sound to you liking further down the line.
 

tvrgeek

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Yes, modern measurements tell everything.
I suggest they CAN. But what to measure?
I think you are saying here is…that in order to maximize the quality from a high end tweeter, you need to increase the speed of the amplifier feedback loop by moving it to higher order to achieve superior control of the tweeter voice coil.

I’ve not seen what you did…am I interpreting correctly?
Not what I found. It is the spread of the upper harmonics. DP distortion decreases with frequency as it is basically just a LP filter. Miller is more even, so above 20K, it will have more harmonics getting through that can excite the breakup. This causes IM that we hear down in the critical range. This is one of the reasons I advocate the tweeter crossover be a band pass. Roll it off steeper above 17 or 18 so those harmonics never reach it. The advantage of Miller, or two pole, is a lower level all the way through the normal pass band. So if you can avoid the top end problem, you gain across the board.

Appropriate modifications for speed and stability need to be made. Cost me two sets of MOSFETS to get it right. The critical speed here is that they blow up faster than you can spring to the power switch. :)

I did not invent this, I was prodded along the path of confirmation because a preeminent amplifier designer was upset my wife hated his pride and joys preferring Rotel. The question was why? After I understood it, I went on and built better speakers with less sensitivity to the problem and then, the "better" amp was in fact picked by my wife as much better. I still run my modified ( extensive) amp and it is clean enough we can hear the differences in DACs.

My assumption, The designer of the Rotel ( Dave I believe) and the other entry amp ( Erno) expected them to be used on more affordable speakers. So they chose the topology appropriately. John expected his amps to be used on serious upscale speakers, so chose alternatively. Smart folks all around. I just followed along soldering iron in hand to learn what they knew. There is no difference is production cost, so it is an engineering decision, not market pressure. It is possible, and I have modeled it in Spice, that more complex IPS and VAS will have lower inherent distortion than DP compensation on a better amplifier can beat Miller on the simple one. I do not use a Darlington differential VAS. More can me done to my CM and CCS. There seems to be magical sweet spots for the ratio of IPS gain and feedback you can adjust by the LTP degen resistors. Cordell and Self did not discuss this.

A perfect amp with a superior source, or some point where it becomes irreverent, would not have this limitation. I know amps like the Benchmark, PS5 ,and C298 are so clean, the subjectivists have nothing to say, and the objective measures say they are fantastic. They are at probably 100 times less distortion than my amp or the prestige amp I had. Good enough? I wish I had the cash to find out. What I do have is enough to do another speaker build as (some) tweeters have gotten better. Can I build a speaker that is good enough that DACs sound the same? Don't know. But now I have a system with no glaring deficiencies in the electronics, I can concentrate on my speakers. I have hauled them around a couple of times and they hold up pretty well to the 3 to 5K competition. A tiny less detail you think is the lower mids, but I suspect more of a miss in phase across the crossover. Correct at crossover, but divergence is too fast. My guess. I think I can do better.

Distortion is additive. It's not the weakest link, it is the sum total of the chain.
 

DWI

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You mentioned all the answers in the post already, at least in my point view.

It’s basically all about money and bragging rights, but at least on this forum we brag about real feats of engineering instead of bragging about who has the product with the best marketing material.
This pretty much sums up the objectivist critique of the so-called "subjectivists".

Because objectivists either exclude or fail to understand other people's value judgements, they accuse them of being naive, vain, egotistical and materialistic, with a bit of money-envy thrown in.

When I bought a music server/streamer, I did so purely on specifications. It's hidden away, all I care about is what it does. I didn't ask or tell the wife, she doesn't care. She actually uses it, because she uses Roon, without knowing she does.

When we bought speakers, unless she liked the look of them, we weren't going to buy them. That hurdle had to be crossed before sound quality or measurements ever became an issue. It really does not matter if Genelec measure best, they fail what is the most fundamental test for most consumers of consumer audio - they are damned ugly and most people, and certainly their partners, would not have them in the living space of their homes.

When this decision was made it had nothing to do with brands, money or bragging rights. My wife knows nothing about audio brands, has never looked at audio marketing material, and the various products don't have price tags in the audio store. In fact her choice was made before asking the price.

As for bragging, strange as it may seem, we purchase audio to listen to music, not to brag. In any event, I would first need friends who've heard of Wilson Audio, and I don't have any.

It may be that some people buy audio products based on brand name and bragging rights, if they have audiophile friends. If that is how they perceive value from consumer audio and it makes them happy, then I say good luck to them.
 

Geert

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Because objectivists either exclude or fail to understand other people's value judgements, they accuse them of being naive, vain, egotistical and materialistic,
It's you demonstrating serious lack of understanding. Do you really believe the more objective orientated people on this forum spend their money on the best measuring equipment without considering it has the features they need and it fits in their interior?
 

Plcamp

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I suggest they CAN. But what to measure?

Not what I found. It is the spread of the upper harmonics. DP distortion decreases with frequency as it is basically just a LP filter. Miller is more even, so above 20K, it will have more harmonics getting through that can excite the breakup. This causes IM that we hear down in the critical range. This is one of the reasons I advocate the tweeter crossover be a band pass. Roll it off steeper above 17 or 18 so those harmonics never reach it. The advantage of Miller, or two pole, is a lower level all the way through the normal pass band. So if you can avoid the top end problem, you gain across the board.

Appropriate modifications for speed and stability need to be made. Cost me two sets of MOSFETS to get it right. The critical speed here is that they blow up faster than you can spring to the power switch. :)

I did not invent this, I was prodded along the path of confirmation because a preeminent amplifier designer was upset my wife hated his pride and joys preferring Rotel. The question was why? After I understood it, I went on and built better speakers with less sensitivity to the problem and then, the "better" amp was in fact picked by my wife as much better. I still run my modified ( extensive) amp and it is clean enough we can hear the differences in DACs.

My assumption, The designer of the Rotel ( Dave I believe) and the other entry amp ( Erno) expected them to be used on more affordable speakers. So they chose the topology appropriately. John expected his amps to be used on serious upscale speakers, so chose alternatively. Smart folks all around. I just followed along soldering iron in hand to learn what they knew. There is no difference is production cost, so it is an engineering decision, not market pressure. It is possible, and I have modeled it in Spice, that more complex IPS and VAS will have lower inherent distortion than DP compensation on a better amplifier can beat Miller on the simple one. I do not use a Darlington differential VAS. More can me done to my CM and CCS. There seems to be magical sweet spots for the ratio of IPS gain and feedback you can adjust by the LTP degen resistors. Cordell and Self did not discuss this.

A perfect amp with a superior source, or some point where it becomes irreverent, would not have this limitation. I know amps like the Benchmark, PS5 ,and C298 are so clean, the subjectivists have nothing to say, and the objective measures say they are fantastic. They are at probably 100 times less distortion than my amp or the prestige amp I had. Good enough? I wish I had the cash to find out. What I do have is enough to do another speaker build as (some) tweeters have gotten better. Can I build a speaker that is good enough that DACs sound the same? Don't know. But now I have a system with no glaring deficiencies in the electronics, I can concentrate on my speakers. I have hauled them around a couple of times and they hold up pretty well to the 3 to 5K competition. A tiny less detail you think is the lower mids, but I suspect more of a miss in phase across the crossover. Correct at crossover, but divergence is too fast. My guess. I think I can do better.

Distortion is additive. It's not the weakest link, it is the sum total of the chain.
Thanks for this…I appreciate the new (for me) info. I am learning muchly this week!
 

audio2design

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So, this thread has degenerated into the total non-believers of any difference and those who DO wonder what we are not measuring or interpreting because we do hear differences. So much for trying to move forward in measurements. If I can hear a difference, it is measurable. SNAID is a great wheat from chaff first pass as products that measure terrible in that regard usually sound terrible. The question is in the top half. Decent measuring to superb. They don't exactly track.

I would suspect, there is a threshold of parameters we are not testing or interpreting that beyond no one can hear a difference. That would be the holy grail line in the sand. It would also probably put a lot of EGO brands out of business. From a Benchmark up to kazillion-dollar monoblocs sitting on platinum spikes, is there a difference? I am not sure. I can't afford the Benchmark, so I am not there yet.

Maybe because the believers are yet to offer any evidence of a controlled blind test complete with a test description to validate the method and yes it matters.

Trainer listeners who know what artifacts may be there and how to identify them can out listen the most golden eared audiophile in blind tests by the way.

Do you actually even read reviews? They don't look at just SINAD. You are showing your colors. Multitone IMD, linearity, SINAD versus frequency, extended frequency response beyond 20KHz, jitter susceptibility, etc. are all there. Then there are potential system level interface issues if you have ground loops / power noise coupling.
 
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