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Those of you who believe measurements aren't the whole story, do you have a hypothesis why that is?

gn77b

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I was never able to accept that many audiophiles believe there's something just mystical about human hearing that simply can't be captured by science. And frankly I don't really think they believe that. But at the same time I don't think I ever heard or read a hypothesis about it, no matter how far-fetched. OK, maybe there is the "typical measurements rely on steady state signals and average certain kinds of distortions" but that's pretty much dismantled. I really don't believe there's a black and white divide between engineering types and the ones that simply trust their hearing without any interest for scientific explanation, that's just an exaggeration of the Internet era, it does a perfect job of making all shades of gray appear black or white as we all know. I'm really hoping for an interesting discussion.
 

Spkrdctr

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1. I was never able to accept that many audiophiles believe there's something just mystical about human hearing that simply can't be captured by science. And frankly I don't really think they believe that. But at the same time I don't think I ever heard or read a hypothesis about it, no matter how far-fetched. OK, maybe there is the "typical measurements rely on steady state signals and average certain kinds of distortions" but that's pretty much dismantled. 2. I really don't believe there's a black and white divide between engineering types and the ones that simply trust their hearing without any interest for scientific explanation, that's just an exaggeration of the Internet era, it does a perfect job of making all shades of gray appear black or white as we all know. I'm really hoping for an interesting discussion.


You are so innocent and do not realize you just stepped on a landmine. First for #1. Audiophiles absolutely do believe this and will argue their ignorant claims. Commonly called "Doubling down on ignorance". It is actually the standard for audiophile conversations. No amount of science will sway their misinformed opinion.

Now #2. There is a black and white divide between informed and knowledgeable engineers and people who do not believe in scientific measurements. Also, this has been true since before the internet era. Why? Because it is so idiotic. No advancement since the caveman would have been made without some form of testing or scientific (for its time) methodology. To go against all of human history with blatant ignorance is just so foolish I can't ignore the lunacy of it.

I hope I didn't bust you bubble, but after you spend 6 months on this forum you will not believe the complete and total change you will have on your thinking. Good Luck and Welcome aboard!
 

MaxBuck

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I certainly don't believe that measurement of audio reproduction components is a completely solved problem. As Wes suggested, synergistic effects between components and speakers in either a positive or negative manner seems already to be established, and it's impossible to test every possible combination to identify them objectively and precisely. But the measurements are the best we have, especially for components (i.e., everything except transducers). And for transducers you have to begin with measurements IMO before attempting to fine-tune your decisions based on listening. Anyhow, this is my opinion; I'm no doubt wrong in many ways, but I can live with some level of ignorance here.

In my own case finding speakers that measure well was a necessary but not sufficient condition for purchase. Had my wife not loved the sound the KEF R11s put out, we would not currently own them. :) (And of course had I not loved the sound, we also wouldn't own them.)
 

Duke

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Perfect and complete loudspeaker measurements perfectly and completely interpreted should (and imo would) be accurate predictors of loudspeaker preference. Imo we are not there yet.

My understanding is that spin-o-rama analysis is something like 87% accurate in its predictions of loudspeaker preference among those loudspeakers whose measurements were used to derive the predictive algorithms. That's very good but not yet perfect. (What's going on with the other 13%?)

Here are a few areas where loudspeaker measurements are arguably not as predictive as we might hope:

- The floor-bounce dip and subsequent peak usually stick out like sore thumbs in measurements which include them, but are seldom even noticed by the ear.

- A 5-inch woofer and a 15-inch woofer may have identical frequency response curves but will sound very different even at the same SPL. So we cannot equalize a minimonitor to sound like a big JBL.

- Reports of subwoofers subjectively improving the mids and highs (whether or not the mains are high-pass-filtered), and add-on supertweeters subjectively improving the bass, have no correlation with measurements.

- It is not generally apparent from measurements which horns have "horn coloration" and which ones do not.

- If we have two identical sounds, except that one lasts a little bit longer than the other, the longer one will be perceived as being louder, despite the measured SPL being identical.

- Measurements fail to predict imaging, much less spaciousness. Research by Wolfgang Klippel (cited by Floyd Toole) indicates that “the feeling of space” makes a 50% contribution to “naturalness” and a 70%(!) contribution to “pleasantness”. The virtual uselessness of measurements in this area is arguably a significant shortcoming if Klippel's findings are in the ballpark.

- Harman's subjectively-preferred steady-state in-room response curves, whether blind-generated by trained listeners or untrained listeners or both or based on extensive loudspeaker preference data, are all non-flat (and non-constant-slope) and counter-intuitive.

So imo we are not yet at the point where we can eyeball a few curves and make fully informed decisions about loudspeaker preference.
 
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Frgirard

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Where are the science in the measurements? Nowhere.
We use technology given by the science but we don't made science.

The use ad nauseum of the word science.

The audition is a flawed sens. Measurements is the better way to enhanced the listening but It revives the narcissistic wounds of audiophiles fan of voicing
 

solderdude

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I was never able to accept that many audiophiles believe there's something just mystical about human hearing that simply can't be captured by science. And frankly I don't really think they believe that. But at the same time I don't think I ever heard or read a hypothesis about it, no matter how far-fetched. OK, maybe there is the "typical measurements rely on steady state signals and average certain kinds of distortions" but that's pretty much dismantled. I really don't believe there's a black and white divide between engineering types and the ones that simply trust their hearing without any interest for scientific explanation, that's just an exaggeration of the Internet era, it does a perfect job of making all shades of gray appear black or white as we all know. I'm really hoping for an interesting discussion.

You need to differentiate between measurements in the electrical and acoustical/mechanical field.
 

Wes

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My understanding is that spin-o-rama analysis is something like 87% correlated with loudspeaker preference.

That would mean it explains (0.87 * 0.87) of the variance, i.e. 76%.
 

Wes

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There is a LOT about vertebrate hearing that simply has't been captured by science. We understand it better than smell however.
 

dc655321

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Harman's subjectively-preferred steady-state in-room response curves, whether blind-generated by trained listeners or untrained listeners or both or based on extensive loudspeaker preference data, are all non-flat (and

You do understand the significance of anechoically flat measurements, right?
As well as why echoic measurements exhibit sloping response?

You make it sound mysterious when it is not.
Maybe I'm wrong?
 

Inner Space

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You do understand the significance of anechoically flat measurements, right?
As well as why echoic measurements exhibit sloping response?

But have you ever seen an anechoically flat measurement? Or a coherent slope in an echoic measurement? Literally everything I have seen looks somewhere between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Makes me wonder why we fetishize "flatness", when apparently it's not even remotely approachable.
 

Duke

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You do understand the significance of anechoically flat measurements, right?
As well as why echoic measurements exhibit sloping response?

Yes I understand their significance. I've been making quasi-anechoic measurements for many years, during which time I have arrived at a different conclusion from Harman about what the relationship should be between the frequency response of the direct sound and the frequency response of the reflections. As a result I use different radiation patterns than what Harman uses.

Here are the steady-state in-room response curves from Toole's book:

Subjectively-preferred-steady-state-room-curve-targets-in-a-typical-domestic-listening.png



It is not clear to me that ANY of these curves are intuitive.

Love your avatar by the way. Creeps me out every time I see it!
 
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Jimbob54

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You are so innocent and do not realize you just stepped on a landmine. First for #1. Audiophiles absolutely do believe this and will argue their ignorant claims. Commonly called "Doubling down on ignorance". It is actually the standard for audiophile conversations. No amount of science will sway their misinformed opinion.

Now #2. There is a black and white divide between informed and knowledgeable engineers and people who do not believe in scientific measurements. Also, this has been true since before the internet era. Why? Because it is so idiotic. No advancement since the caveman would have been made without some form of testing or scientific (for its time) methodology. To go against all of human history with blatant ignorance is just so foolish I can't ignore the lunacy of it.

I hope I didn't bust you bubble, but after you spend 6 months on this forum you will not believe the complete and total change you will have on your thinking. Good Luck and Welcome aboard!

Im thinking the OP was the landmine and perhaps you were the unlucky grunt. Time will tell.
 

JJB70

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I think it is something of a false dichotomy to separate people into camps on the matter of measurement and talking about belief is a somewhat loaded term.

The issue to me is not whether or not measurement is valuable but how it is used and also recognising what really matters to you.

Measurement can tell you a lot, it does not tell you what your own preference is. A preference is inherently subjective and varies between individuals. If you understand your preferences then you can relate those to measurement and measurements can become very useful in helping you to understand whether an item is likely to appeal to you. With any measurement, to really utilize it you need to understand what is being measured and how. If you like a kooky FR, like bass canons or whatever then you can use measurement to help evaluate gear that matches what you like but if you don't know what you like or cannot yet relate that to measurement then don't assume things like preference curves developed based on analysis of preferences of others will represent your own.

Measurement can become just as subjective as florid prose, for example marginal improvements in a metric like SINAD which are already way past audible thresholds may be interesting but make no difference to audible performance. I can understand why people chase such increments but it is another form of subjective preference.

And be honest what you really want. With headphones you probably want something comfortable. In many cases people probably value industrial design, perceived quality, brand image, feature set, user interface, after sales support, brand reputation for build quality etc as much (or more than) sound quality. With electronic components (but not speakers) audible differences are so minor providing that amplifiers can drive their load then although it's a subjective preference it is a valid choice.

So their is no contradiction between valuing measurement and not seeing measurement as the be all and end all
 

Koloth

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1.) This discourse, as most on the internet, is heavily contaminated by dishonest actors and unworthy opinions: salespeople; reviewers, with financial ties to manufacturers or those, who have made a career of their professed golden ears and are threatened by measurement based approaches for which they lack the skill/education or money; interested people, who spread noise without even having listened to a piece of equipment or without a sufficient and known baseline of comparison; etc.

2.) The entirety of audiophile products is heavily based upon consumerism. Its capitalist production and marketing creating and fueling desires for accumulation of stuff by linking that stuff to 1.) supposedly noble(r) values such as the enjoyment of arts and craftsmanship and 2.) self-expression and individuation through the choice of equipment. There are strong psychological forces at work here, preventing people from taking a sober look at the physical realities. Lots of people will go as far as to name audiophilia a *hobby* of theirs - something that is utterly passive and predicated on the continued accumulation of more stuff.

3.) The loudpeaker-listening position- room interaction is such a dominant factor that similarly measuring equipment will producy very different sound in different settings, thus accounting to a degree for the variability of opinions on given equipment and the downplaying of measurements as a basis for equipment choice.

4.) I suspect that the effects our brain and our conditioning have on the phenomenological/our listening sensations are far greater than assumed. I would not be surprised to find, that our brains correct for room acoustics and thus "assume" a certain sound to be correct, even if measurements disagree. (If, for example, we are accustomed to a heavily dampened room and our brain corrects our audio perception accordingly, hifi playback that has been dsp-corrected to boost high frequencies might cause a kind of sound/room "dissonance" or "over-correction". I think its even worse for dsp-corrected in-ear headphones that "correct" for the individual ear when our brains and expectations of 'normal/proper sound' have developed over a life-time with that individual ear structure.
 

escksu

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Oh this again....

Ok, i shall repeat my same answers.

Measurements means to quantify the results, put on paper some numbers to interpret as good or bad. We currently do not have the means to measure most characteristics of audio.

Simple example. Transparency/imaging/staging. This is extremely obvious. Audio does not seems to come from speakers themselves but elsewhere. You can somehow pinpoint location of the instruments. narrow/wide staging.

So, how do you measure this? Our pair of ears listen to sound from 2 speakers and created this perception. Sound are still from the cones.

This is also why I have been critical of arim's reviews in the past. Measuring frequency response isn't going to tell you about transparency/imaging and other characteristics of the sound.

I believe it is possible to derive these characteristics of sound from the wave form. Unfortunately, it is extremely time consuming and $$$.
 
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NTK

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How does a person know if the speaker the reviewer reviewed "sounds" the same as the one the person is buying? Which means how do the manufacturer tell if the units they are making in the production line are the "same" (to within some tolerances, which are very rarely disclosed)?

I haven't heard any company uses listening as a method for QA/QC. (I am talking about pass/fail based on the judgements by some "qualified" QC person on the "sound quality", not if the unit makes sound.) Aren't all these all done by measurements?

If there are some magical qualities in the product that are not measurable, how does the manufacturer make sure they are in every unit they are selling, in the correct amounts?
 
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