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Objectivists vs. Subjectivists - Who's right?

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ahofer

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I guess I lean objectivist, but I’m always surprised that search costs don’t come up in these discussions. The point is to come up with measurements that will produce a satisfying sound because it is difficult/expensive to listen to every combination of everything (Which appears to be the audiophile way - “try it with the cables elevated another inch and the amplifier on rubber pucks”).

The real dividing line is whether one thinks the measurements get you most of the way. I certainly do. Plus I care about fidelity in an absolute sense, of which measurements (of electronics, at least) are quite revealing. There is quite a bit of evidence that measurements reveal all that is necessary up to the transducer, and Olive/Toole et al. have suggested a bundle of measurements that can predict (not infallibly, it seems) what you might like in loudspeakers/headphones as well.

So it does seem to come down to the old saw - some people listen to the music using their equipment, (subjectivist) audiophiles use music to listen to their equipment.
 

Aerith Gainsborough

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To distinguish it between any other DAC. I haven't heard a difference in any of them that I can reliably tell (except one, but I'm to believe it was probably defective).
Well, to be honest: A trained listener like Amir-senpai can hear A LOT more than I could ever dream of.
So w/o measurements all we can state is that they are indistinguishable to our particular ears, which isn't of much help to anyone asking whether there are differences.

If they measure transparent (a.k.a.: well beyond known human limits) we can be certain that they are transparent even to a person like our collective overlord.

The real dividing line is whether one thinks the measurements get you most of the way.
I'd rephrase that: Good measurements get the gear out of the way.
What you are left with is:
- Transducer signature (up to taste, in most respects editable via DSP)
- Influence of the room (can be partially eliminated via treatment & DSP but is ultimately the limiting factor of any audio system)

Forgot the elephant:
- Recording quality (a bit "DUH", I know but in my experience way more often the hard limit in terms of quality as it should be, given our modern technology)
 
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MaxBuck

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The real problem here isn't with subjectivity. It's with subjectivists trying to persuade others on the basis of their unsupported perceptions.

I'm a subjectivist in this way: what's important to me is how good the audio produced by my system sounds to me. That's a purely subjective judgment. But I've arrived at this happy place largely by exploiting the knowledge of objective technicians who've measured the components I've purchased. I'm certainly not trying to persuade anyone else to buy what I've bought only on the basis of my perceptions, though.
 
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audiofilet

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B-I-N-G-O was his name-o. You need a partner in crime that can switch it. And to make sure that's random, she should flip a coin to determine whether it's A or B. Straight preference. on your part. Well really, that's not entirely fair--what if it sounds better on some material and not others? You should unequivocally state which it is. I mean you'll know right?
My girlfriend won't even watch a LOTR movie in one sitting with me, she definitely won't switch tracks for two hours.

The application is good enough, Track A, B & X,Y are automatically randomized, so you when you choose which is which, the same effect is achieved as if a partner had switched them.

Another cool thing is that you can timestamp significant portions of each track that might make it easier to distinguish between them.

abx.png
 

DonH56

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What is a faff?

UK slang for doing things with no plan and no results. USA would say "just screwing around".

Edit: Duh, didn't notice there were three more pages of train wrecks and the question had already been answered. Oh, well...
 

Spkrdctr

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I have done some new testing and you are ALL wrong. Wrong about everything. I bought some new speakers from a guy in the Walmart parking lot (White Van)and they were "Blemish" items of extremely high end speakers. The seller promised me that I was getting a super deal on them. So I took my new Wilson speakers home after paying $100 for the pair and like he said, the only Blemish on them was the name piece that said Wildon instead of Wilson. I plugged them in to my 5 watt tube amp system and OMG, the music! It was amazing. This showed me that there is no reason for any of this silly objectivist testing. My ears told me all I wanted to know. I saved over $30,000 on those speakers. I'm so glad he didn't sell out of them before I got to Walmart. I never thought I would win the parking lot lotto like that. What a lucky day!
 
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audiofilet

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I have done some new testing and you are ALL wrong. Wrong about everything. I bought some new speakers from a guy in the Walmart parking lot (White Van)and they were "Blemish" items of extremely high end speakers. The seller promised me that I was getting a super deal on them. So I took my new Wilson speakers home after paying $100 for the pair and like he said, the only Blemish on them was the name piece that said Wildon instead of Wilson. I plugged them in to my 5 watt tube amp system and OMG, the music! It was amazing. This showed me that there is no reason for any of this silly objectivist testing. My ears told me all I wanted to know. I saved over $30,000 on those speakers. I'm so glad he didn't sell out of them before I got to Walmart. I never thought I would win the parking lot lotto like that. What a lucky day!
Thank you for your contribution.
 

audio2design

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There is a lot of research on expectation bias, and confirmation bias. The best inoculation for bias is knowledge.

Measurements = Knowledge
Anecdotal Reports != Knowledge


Preference is subjective. Measurements allow you to know if your preferences are being influenced by something other than your hearing. Really no more and no less. If you think you hear a difference, but measurements show that the difference is below perceptible limits, then you didn't "hear" a difference, your brain simply "assumed" there was.


The main difference between purely "subjective" audiophiles and everyone else, is that they refuse to accept that yes, there are limits to our hearing, that they are relatively well defined, and that no, there is no magic physics involved in them perceiving a difference, no magic electrical properties only cable vendors with a high school physics background understand, it is purely their brain playing tricks on them. That is typically wrapped up in some psychological condition (in the clinical sense) that prevents them from validating their perceptions with things like blind listening tests, etc. I state the following without sarcasm. These people will often exhibit behaviour indicative or borderline of deeper issues including narcissism, anti-social behaviour and other personality disorders. It is rare that their behaviour is exclusive to audio.
 

mhardy6647

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I don't care how gear measures if it sounds good, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in the scientific study of audio. I didn't know that me enjoying listening to my $5 earbuds out of my Pixel 4 on my commute to the grocery store precludes my participation here. That seems unnecessarily elitist to suggest that I may enjoy listening to audio and also not want to understand more about it?
This is a funny site to spend time on if one is "not interested in the scientific study of audio"... irrespective of how much one's earbuds cost -- or how good, or bad, they might be, objectively or subjectively, quantitatively or qualitatively.

I certainly, personally, have interest in both the left-brain & the right-brain (so to speak) side of this hobby. That said, when it comes to this particular site (which I'll mention is called Audio Science Review... although it's really more akin to "Audio Engineering Review" from my perpsective as a "pro" scientist), I think Bobby Zimmerman's bon mot holds:
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

:)

 

Robin L

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This is a funny site to spend time on if one is "not interested in the scientific study of audio"... irrespective of how much one's earbuds cost -- or how good, or bad, they might be, objectively or subjectively, quantitatively or qualitatively.

I certainly, personally, have interest in both the left-brain & the right-brain (so to speak) side of this hobby. That said, when it comes to this particular site (which I'll mention is called Audio Science Review... although it's really more akin to "Audio Engineering Review" from my perpsective as a "pro" scientist), I think Bobby Zimmerman's bon mot holds:


:)

Another of the Zim's great utterances: "YOU'RE A LIAR!!"

 
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audiofilet

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There is a lot of research on expectation bias, and confirmation bias. The best inoculation for bias is knowledge.

Measurements = Knowledge
Anecdotal Reports != Knowledge
I disagree.

Knowledge = Inference of facts
Measurements = Scientific fact
Anecdotal evidence = Factual claim based on subjective observation

Whether scientific evidence is superior to anecdotal evidence can also depend on the situation and individual question.

For example:

Question: Hifiman Sundara vs. DT 770 250 Ohm?

Answer 1: DT 770's FRC shows frequencies around 6,000Hz being exceedingly protrusive compared to the Harman Target.

Answer 2: The DT 770s have very sharp highs, better get the Sundaras.

Sometimes it's even just comprehensibility that decides.
 

thefsb

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I guess I lean objectivist, but I’m always surprised that search costs don’t come up in these discussions. The point is to come up with measurements that will produce a satisfying sound because it is difficult/expensive to listen to every combination of everything (Which appears to be the audiophile way - “try it with the cables elevated another inch and the amplifier on rubber pucks”).
An important point. To which I'd add that it's just not practical. And it's horrible: the shops that sell high-performance gear cater to audiophile sensibilities and aesthetics, which I find repulsive. My own argument in favor of making best use of measurements is practical.

So it does seem to come down to the old saw - some people listen to the music using their equipment, (subjectivist) audiophiles use music to listen to their equipment.
That's too simple. I count myself as subjectivist and don't see why a music lover would want to be otherwise. I want equipment that lets me pursue my interest, music, with minimum distraction. Listening to the equipment is perverted, although I'm grateful to Amir for doing this distasteful chore for me :)
 

Martin

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I disagree.

Knowledge = Inference of facts
Measurements = Scientific fact
Anecdotal evidence = Factual claim based on subjective observation

Whether scientific evidence is superior to anecdotal evidence can also depend on the situation and individual question.

For example:

Question: Hifiman Sundara vs. DT 770 250 Ohm?

Answer 1: DT 770's FRC shows frequencies around 6,000Hz being exceedingly protrusive compared to the Harman Target.

Answer 2: The DT 770s have very sharp highs, better get the Sundaras.

Sometimes it's even just comprehensibility that decides.

Dictionary
an·ec·do·tal
/ˌanəkˈdōdl/
Learn to pronounce
adjective
adjective: anecdotal

(of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.
"while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact"

I think you meant Fictional.
 
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BDWoody

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Anecdotal evidence = Factual claim

So, if someone wants to make a factual claim based on anecdotal evidence, they will typically get the reaction you have seen here.

Why is it so hard to separate the concept of anecdote from fact? Anecdote can lead to fact finding, but anecdote itself without further effort isn't worth much without actual evidence.

I can get a lot of folks to tell me about how Peter Popoff's magic spring water brought them untold wealth and riches and happiness. Are those factual claims?

download (1).jpg
 

GimeDsp

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I think "trained listener" is half the story. I get paid to be a trained listener for setting up mix rooms.
I have a very detailed score card for audio qualities, tone, spatial, time domain, and I have a list of high quality(and a few low on purpose) tracks I use and know every detail of that I have listened to on reference headphones and use as a standard against the mix-room systems.

Sure, for me things like location and soundstage will end up being better on a playback system then HP but that's a given.
All a trained listener can say without a reference is "sounds good" or "sounds bad", they can never say "sounds right".

So with this is mind, saying somethings is "good" or "bad" just means you feel that way about it. But with a reference even a "subjective" opinion can correlate perfectly with measurements.
 
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