- Dec 18, 2019
take your word for it
OTOH, if it's true you support what we jokingly call pink prose, I can't subscribe to that. I think it is a con, it's cheating and fooling people and it's not what I approve of.
Reviews are just entertainment, nothing more or less. On the odd case where one has built up years of reading reviews by a journalist and you have some shared experience of the devices they review its possible to build up an understanding of how they use language, and thusly their meaning and intent. All based on them not being a schill for hire or a rabid fantasist of course.
Mostly it's just flowery writing meant to stimulate your 'want' glands.
Before assuming any contradiction here, you might want to consider the capabilities of tbe Devore and LS3/5a speakers. That part of the subjective review at least is bang in line with what would be predicted from measurements of each speaker.The biggest shortcoming of subjective review is how adjectives describing tonal quality lacks any usable "degree". Let's take food reviews as an example because these are always purely subjective without measurements. When I say a food is "spicy, sweet, salty or too hot", the reader has zero context. What if I love spicy food and when something is "too spicy" for me that may also mean that if I think it's "just right" it could be too spicy for you. Alternatively, I cannot stand eating food that is a touch too sweet so when I complain that a drink is "too sweet", I know for certain my daughter would respond "no, it's perfect!" and so forth. Now on to sound - my wife and son cannot stand the sound of metal knives and forks scratching the surface of a ceramic dish as it literally sends shivers up their spines whereas I can hear it but am not bothered by it at all. So you see where I'm going here - the problem of subjective reviews is twofold:
(1) A "review" by its nature suggests that their subjective impressions are somehow universally applicable when in fact it's merely stating the reviewer's personal eccentricities, tastes preferences or biases, and even if the subjective impressions are a useful guide, the very words used to describe the subjectivity lacks any standard of measure; when a reviewer says there's an annoying bit of sibilance, we have no context of whether he's hyper sensitive to sibilance or not, and maybe 20 years ago he was hypersensitive but today he can no longer notice it unless it's punched up by 6dB! Many reviewers have been in this game for 20 years - have their hearing changed at all over the years? Absolutely - age, experience, injury - life happens.
(2) What if the reviewer chooses the wrong music and does not catch issues in the speaker simply because his musical selection does not bring out those flaws? We have Stereophile reviews where subjective speaker reviews are followed by JA's measurements and the two are not consistent - in this most recent Stereophile review of the Alumine Three, Herb Reichert's glowing love for this speaker is at odds with John Atkinson's measurements (audible resonance near 1kHz):
HR: "the almost fullrange Alumine Threes made this type of music play bigger, more distinctly, more open, easier to follow, and more interesting than it did with my Falcons or DeVores…delivered a bigger "sound" fueled by more undistorted volume, more unrestrained dynamics, more absolute clarity, and of course, more and deeper and less distorted bass...I never imagined how much previously undelivered recorded information the Stenheim Alumine Threes would bring into my room. Or how powerful and compelling this newly discovered information would be."
JA: I was puzzled by the resonant peak in the port's output and by the small peak/dip just above 1kHz, but to be fair, any audible consequences of these resonances will depend on the music being played. [emphasis added]
And so ultimately, subjective reviews are limited to the reviewer not knowing what music to play in order to bring out the best or worst in a speaker and if you the prospective consumer happen to play the wrong music, well, , don't blame the reviewer because he didn't catch it with his selection of esoteric audiophile review music.
You are correct, not exactly a "contradiction", but my original point was that the subjective review lacked any shortcomings at all, completely glossing over measured resonances that are arguably audible with the right music selection - this was simply my point: a subjective review can never hope to uncover flaws when the reviewer does not know where to look.Before assuming any contradiction here, you might want to consider the capabilities of tbe Devore and LS3/5a speakers. That part of the subjective review at least is bang in line with what would be predicted from measurements of each speaker.
Why do you have so many speakers?"Con" is going too far imo, at least for a lot of them. "Con" to me implies knowledge of one's deceit. It requires intentional dishonesty. While some of them may be cons, I think a lot of them genuinely believe that "pink prose" they write. Many times, I think it's an honest attempt to describe what they "hear". The problem is, and what they don't understand, is that we hear with our brains, and not our ears. They wrongly attribute differences in what they hear to differences in sound waves entering their ear, when no such differences exist.
Don't get me wrong, they are duping people, and that's unfortunate. Based on the review, people go out and (for example) buy an expensive tube amp expecting to hear a night and day difference above their solid state amp, but the truth is that the difference is smaller than the difference between their left and right speaker. But, and it's an important "but", I think (most) of these reviewers are being honest. They themselves are being duped, so I can't fault them too much. Besides, most of the people buying said tubes very likely will hear "night and day" differences, as their brains are subject to the same biases as the reviewers. So, are they really being duped?
I'd love to see more research about what % of what we hear is due to psychology. The input to the ears is a small part of the overall picture, concentration, what one is thinking at the time, biases(cost, brand, etc.) all play a part. Even with something like comparing two good speakers, I wouldn't be surprised if the psychological component makes up more than 50% of what the brain "hears". For electronic comparisons, it's almost certainly close to 100%. Even tube vs SS comparisons are probably 90-95+% mental. Some of the studies cited in Toole's book speak to this, but I'd love to see if fleshed out more.
Why do you have so many speakers?
I enjoy collecting and comparing many different speakers.
Any one from motor racing knows that the last five percent of added horsepower cost 50 to 100 times more than the first additional five percent.
Happily, I do not think that ratio of goodness (flat response, no distortion, great ability to play softly or loud etc.) in speakers is that costly.
So it was initially a big improvement then the same but a little better for a measurable difference you didn’t measure and don’t expand on but was likely a good ear day. Well I’m glad you cleared that up.I changed one old (but good?) power amp for another similar the other day and the 'difference on the day' was huge - all my lost 'sibilance and presence' came back and I was thrilled but totally stumped as to how two basically good amps of similar power levels could be that different! A few days later, I ran this system again and it sounded just like it did with the previous power amp (well, maybe very slightly livelier and I believe for measurable reasons). Knowing how my ears are these days (acute Rhinitis and ear infections in my pre-Diabetic days have taken their toll nd they vary hugely), I suspect it was on a good-ear day I changed the amps over (my next speakers will have to be slightly assertive in the lower kHz region and with smooth dispersion too at these frequencies rather than recessed I feel, as my current boxes are).
I visited my dealer friend to help with some turntable work a couple of weeks back and once again had the pleasure of being in the company of some current Luxman amps. Even the cheap one (a mere £3800 or so) has a fit, class and 'feel' that is so luxurious it gladdens this enthusiast heart that's still there inside somewhere. He has an ancient Accuphase 202 integrated nearby and that feels like a tractor in comparison (switches engage with a precise clickety clack). The experience reminded me of the Yamaha 400/600/800/1000 amps we sold in the mid 70's (I owned a CA1000Mk2 for a while) where the tab switches had a glorious silky delicate feel lost in the replacement 410, 610 and so on models with less elegant and chunkier looking switchgear. I kind of went the opposite after owning a perfectly reasonable if very expensive ARC preamp (one of the FET ones) and going to something half the price and just as good (in my system then). Looking back three decades on, I do miss the 'luxury look and feel' of high end gear, but as I'll never be in a position to own such stuff now unless it's old, maybe outclassed and potentially unreliable (old stuff still costs as much to service as new versions), it's a moot point.
I think today that the gear-loving part of this industry and hobby deals with ALL our senses working together. It's just that subjectivists may not realise this perhaps and put it all down to their hearing acuity alone and that I think is where the issues may lie.
As an audio engineer I love hearing our mixes on different systems. Just amazing how different they can sound. I recall having a mix I was testing at the local Best Buy. I had some friends that worked there and on weekday afternoons I could stop by and have a go at different systems. I recall one day back when they still sold CD's I was playing an artist's rough mix and was approached by a couple that asked. "Who is that?"Same here. I quite enjoy what different speakers bring to the table. I could have the most colored, or most neutral speaker in the world, but I'd still get the itch to hear something different...because different is out there, and there will be some aspects I might like more in one speaker vs another.
If we color sound to fit someone else’s set of auditory nerves, it will sound wrong to me (maybe) because I’m used to hearing music (including live music) with the ears I have, however unique they are. Standardize it and let me adjust from that. Separate capture, correction, and targeting.
Sure, sure, anyone can say that. I can say that.But unless I'm part of the tested cohort - and I don't have my own speaker double blind testing facilities - I can never really know for sure what I personally would prefer in the blind testing.
And when even the optical system is so easily fooled....So yea as the OP's original post mentions, the ear is not the most reliable thing. As a professor at MIT mentions in his lectures, humans are a visual species (even tho we have a fairly low Flicker Fusion Threshold). We have 30,000 auditory nerve fibers as compared to over a million optic nerve fibers. About 3,500 inner hair cells and 12,000 outer hair cells per cochlea. And in every human they are wired and are physically slightly different.
So how can one human even begin to think that what he may think he hears is the "correct" interpretation of anything?
Sure, sure, anyone can say that. I can say that.
You are completely overlooking the biggest point from the scientific testing of preferences, which is that the effectively-universal-among-those-with-not-seriously-damaged-hearing preferred sound is the one that measures most accurately in terms of FR and hence tonality. So it is the one that most effectively preserves the tonality of live instruments and voices.
To say "hey, I'm the exception man (and oh my doesn't everyone secretly think that they are The Special One?)" is filled with the unfortunate corollary that it implies that you don't actually like the original sound of music and voice in the air. That you wish the person talking to you, the busker in the mall, all didn't sound like they do and you wish they sounded more like Speaker X.
And that is why the odds that the science doesn't apply to you are so small that you shouldn't base your position on it. Unless your job or bad luck has quite severely damaged your hearing.