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"Measurement data are one thing, and audio quality is another. "


Senior Member
Jul 9, 2019
As long as the parameters of measurement end up reflecting every day use, rather than outright abusive testing which serves no purpose. Some nice examples would be a set piece of music say Vangelis 1492 track 12, rather than alien waveforms we are likely never to hear.

Well, no. The alien wave forms are designed to bring flaws to light that relate to the science of signal processing (not music) and are "simple" on purpose - don't forget that your daily use may be vastly different from mine.
Combining non-orthogonal test vectors is useful for broad sweep bench-marking, finding the real limitations of any system under test usually requires more precise prodding.


Active Member
Oct 7, 2019
“The ear is not a microphone, the brain is not a tape recorder, and measurements are limited in describing subjective quality. I like to have low distortion and so on, but these things take a back seat to what I experience when I listen.” - Nelson Pass


Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Oct 25, 2019
You have just described what guitar amps are for.;)
Yup, but I'm not a player sadly so have to listen to others work the magic in that regard.


Active Member
Forum Donor
Dec 15, 2018
The real reason the cultural phenomenon of objectivists vs subjectivists got rolling isn’t really because using objective measurements is a “better way“ to determine ”audio quality” (or vice versa).

The thing that, IMO, put the objectivists on top was the inability for anyone to distinguish between pieces of audio gear that reach a certain baseline of performance in truly blinded testing. This basically showed that people who relied on subjective opinions to declare gear A as “sounding better” than gear B were ”fooling themselves.” The argument about whether subjective preferences were a valid criteria for judging the audio performance of equipment was mooted, because in most cases no subjective preference is present.

Because speakers are much more readily distinguishable based on sound alone, the research by Toole, Harman et al, did try to establish a concept of objectively “better sound.” They did a very interesting thing. They combined the results of listening preference testing and correlated them with objective measurement. They found a strong, stable relationship between the speakers preferred the most on average and standardized measurement.

This allowed them, to some degree, to design speakers based on these objective, measurable standards and have confidence that, in general, people would like sound.

They made an “epistemological leap” by connecting the idea of “good sound” to user listening preferences. One of the many surprising results of their was the strong correspondence between preferences between both skilled and unskilled listeners, and across musical genres. At least for a speaker manufacturer you can see how these would be useful criteria.

One of my personal conundrums is my perception (un-blinded, highly biased, limited test set, uncontrolled listening criteria) that my ”preferences“ in speaker models not correspond well with the criteria Harman established for speaker performance.

The entrance to this vast rabbit hole I entered about three years ago was the purchase of some Neumann KH120 A studio monitors. This speaker has been nearly universally acclaimed in the pro audio world, and “measures well”. I thought they were a sure bet.

I hated the sound of those speakers, I literally couldn’t bear to listen to them long enough to get work done. My preference for recreational listening leans towards vintage designs to the extent I can generalize.

I do hear that many modern speakers have good frequency response, in the sense that I don’t feel inclined EQ to improve the sound. Whereas some vintage speakers have some obvious resonances but a basically good sound. So EQ can help these.

My favorite brand is ADS, which is a company that attempted to use scientific principles to design so it’s not like they were simply cooked up ”by ear.”

I do have some tentative notions about what might be behind my preferences. And as other have pointed out, many aspects beyond audio/electrical performance are involved in judging whether gear is desirable to a person. In speakers especially, I like them to look a certain way, which has resonances going all the way back to childhood, and the experiences of growing up listening to music.
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