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Was this aimed at ASR?

amirm

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Amir, how can you impact someone's else audio business when you're into audio science? To the contrary, you're helping everyone's else audio business.
Well, they make money selling reviews. I don't sell reviews and review ton more gear than they do. So in theory, if my work is the same as theirs, then long term they are going to have less business opportunity.

But you are right, my motivation is not at all to impact their business. I am a service to the community and anything else that happens is an unintentional byproduct.
 

Thomas savage

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Sorry to be pedantic but can we just make one important distinction here.

The subjective reviews you publish are not the "truth", they are the reviewers opinion.

There are many reasons why one may, and almost certainly will, diverge from the other.
Come on Alan, it's their ' personal truth ' and that's all that matters ;)
 

North_Sky

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Well, they make money selling reviews. I don't sell reviews and review ton more gear than they do. So in theory, if my work is the same as theirs, then long term they are going to have less business opportunity.

But you are right, my motivation is not at all to impact their business. I am a service to the community and anything else that happens is an unintentional byproduct.
Stereophile you know a fair bunch of their audio reviewers/editors/calibrators.
You have the same audio gurus as the majority of theirs.
The only impact that Stereophile or ASR can have to another is a beneficial contribution, regardless of the number of sales.

Science is a business ... the business of data exploration and its impact on future knowledge and questioning and perfecting and the art of music enjoyment.
Anything else is cheap whiskey. Stereophile's clientele and waiters and owners they drink cognac, ASR customers they drink beer and water from the mountains.

We're all using the tools of the trade with the people we're dealing with...to their satisfaction @ their level. When the music we like spins and sounds pleasurable to our inner chords, who cares who's set of ears it is.
 

mt196

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Surely, you jest?

Although, I admit I do fancy a Marilyn Monroe shaped speaker singing "happy birthday" to me.
?

Do you think only flat frequency response speakers sound good? I don't. I believe that if I want a flat response speaker I will buy one, but maybe I like something different. That is what I am pointing out.

While for a DAC and an Amp I agree that they should be transparent, a speaker or a headphone can and cannot be transparent, and I cannot understand why a lot of reviews get lower ratings just because a speaker is not flat. What is important is distortion, resonances, directivity, leave to the end user the choice for the frequency response they like. That is what I am asking amir
 

March Audio

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?

Do you think only flat frequency response speakers sound good? I don't. I believe that if I want a flat response speaker I will buy one, but maybe I like something different. That is what I am pointing out.

While for a DAC and an Amp I agree that they should be transparent, a speaker or a headphone can and cannot be transparent, and I cannot understand why a lot of reviews get lower ratings just because a speaker is not flat. What is important is distortion, resonances, directivity, leave to the end user the choice for the frequency response they like. That is what I am asking amir
I think a speaker that has a flat anechoic response (which inherently leads to an in room measured slope falling in the region of 6 to 10 dB from 20Hz to 20kHz) does indeed sound good. Only? I certainly think if you deviate too far from that then you are heading for trouble.

Why cant a speaker be transparent?

If you do leave the end user to choose the frequency response they like, importantly when they dont know what speaker is playing, they very consistently choose one that has a flat anchoic response with an even off axis response. You might think its otherwise, but the research and data shows its not.

One important thing to remember is that personal choice is all well and good, but its no basis to judge the performance of a speaker or any other component. Some people like watching their TV with the colour well over saturated. Does that make the TV good if its inherently set that way? No, absolutely not.

Again we are back to the false argument that anything goes, anything is good just because someone somewhere likes it that way. Thats patent nonsense.
 
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amirm

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Do you think only flat frequency response speakers sound good? I don't.
I don't know about "only" or you specifically. I do know that a speaker that fits the criteria I use, has high chance of being preferred by majority of people. Doing it your way would mean turning one's back to decades of research into this very topic.
 
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?

Do you think only flat frequency response speakers sound good? I don't. I believe that if I want a flat response speaker I will buy one, but maybe I like something different. That is what I am pointing out.

While for a DAC and an Amp I agree that they should be transparent, a speaker or a headphone can and cannot be transparent, and I cannot understand why a lot of reviews get lower ratings just because a speaker is not flat. What is important is distortion, resonances, directivity, leave to the end user the choice for the frequency response they like. That is what I am asking amir
When I asked whether you were kidding, I was referring primarily to your saying "... the fact that judging a speaker not good just because it is not balanced is stupid and I cannot understand why a lot of times amir does it ..." and also "... Maybe there are people that do not want a flat speaker? Never thought of it? ...". Surely you were not implying that Amir is lacking in understanding or so naive that he has never considered that some people (a minority in Toole's listening tests, which Amir both underwent and frequently cites the conclusions of) may prefer the sound of non-flat speakers. Not only is Amir very intelligent and knowledgeable by any standards about audio science among other things, he is basing his judgement on audio science.

Other than that, I do not see your problem: do what you are doing now, i.e., read the graphs for objective measurements of the speakers, ignore the ratings and conclusions, since the latter pick out a smaller subset of speakers than you might, to label as good or desirable.

Amir's judgements in his reviews are science-based, using both Toole's objective study of people's subjective preferences, as well as basic audio science, to pick out as being good those speakers that are closer to transparency, which includes a flat frequency response. I believe that most people in the "audio objectivist" camp have no issue with anyone liking the sound of some speakers that are far from transparent, though a lot of us would prefer that non-flat anechoic frequency response of one's liking be achieved by electronic equalization of the music (much more flexibility) rather than being built inalterably into the speaker. Well, while I was typing this response, March Audio and Amir responded to you very eloquently on the topic of the science of FR preference.

As to the basic science of the transparency, consider the following. You stated "... While I 100% agree with not suggesting stuff that has distortion and resonances ...". Music is almost never a single tone. Consider the sound of a musical instrument that let us say for simplicity's sake produces a sound consisting of a tone and an overtone at twice the frequency. If a flat-response speaker, at roughly the same distance as the musical instrument, is used to reproduce the a good recording of the instrument's sound, then there is a good chance that what I hear may sound like the instrument. If on the other hand a speaker whose non-flat anechoic frequency response attenuates the overtone's amplitude (in dB) by 10% relative to the fundamental tone is used for playing back the recording, I would hear something that sounds different than the instrument. Is that not (one form of) distortion of the music, which you said you agreed is undesirable? It may be pleasurable and some listeners may prefer it to the original sound of the instrument, but it is not transparent to the source. The net sound that travels through the air is the sum of the tones (Fourier components) of which it consists, yes? I think most objectivists feel transparency to the source recording is an essential part of listening to what the music creators intended to communicate to their audience.
 
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mt196

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I don't know about "only" or you specifically. I do know that a speaker that fits the criteria I use, has high chance of being preferred by majority of people. Doing it your way would mean turning one's back to decades of research into this very topic.
I understand your point and I am not saying it is wrong, on the contrary. I am just saying that it is misleading to have a "bad" panther or a "not recommended" at the end for speakers that have very good measures overall but a not flat frequency response, since the newbie reader could understand that the speaker is not good while in fact, it is just not balanced, but being not balanced is not something wrong, it is just something different, that some of us may be liking.

As I said above, I understand the science behind it, and I am a strong supporter of the scientific method also in the audio field, I just think that it applies better to electronics, or at least it does not apply so well when talking about frequency response. I certainly don't want a speaker that has distortion, or bad directivity, or resonances, and so on, but maybe I do prefer a speaker with elevated bass frequencies, or maybe higher highs. That is the same reasoning I apply on headphones, some of us may prefer V-shaped, others U, others Y, and others flat, it also depends on the musical genres that you like the most. So, in my opinion, reviews should be ended with the preference score and so on as it is done, but also with a judgment that does not include frequency response, leaving that decision to the customer.
 
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March Audio

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I understand your point and I am not saying it is wrong, on the contrary. I am just saying that it is misleading to have a "bad" panther or a "not recommended" at the end for speakers that have very good measures overall but a not flat frequency response, since the newbie reader could understand that the speaker is not good while in fact, it is just not balanced, but being not balanced is not something wrong, it is just something different, that some of us may be liking.


As I said above, I understand the science behind it, and I am a strong supporter of the scientific method also in the audio field, I just think that it applies better to electronics, or at least it does not apply so well when talking about frequency response. I certainly don't want a speaker that has distortion, or bad directivity, or resonances, and so on, but maybe I do prefer a speaker with elevated bass frequencies, or maybe higher highs. That is the same reasoning I apply on headphones, some of us may prefer V-shaped, others U, others Y, and others flat, it also depends on the musical genres that you like the most. So, in my opinion, reviews should be ended with the preference score and so on as it is done, but also with a judgment that does not include frequency response, leaving that decision to the customer.
The Toole research indicates that frequency response is the most important factor, so why would it be inappropriate or misleading to make a judgement about a speaker on that basis?

You say you understand and support the science behind this and then promptly say its wrong.

OK, so if we can't judge a speaker based on this basis, what criteria should we judge it on? Your personal preference, mine, Amirs.........?

Can you explain why you think electronics should have a flat response but a speaker should have a response tuned to your taste?
 
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mt196

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Can you explain why you think electronics should have a flat response but a speaker should have a response tuned to your taste?
Because I like electronics that do not color my sound in order to leave that job to my speakers or headphones based on my tastes. If everything in the audio chain adds some coloration than it is an uncontrollable mess, but instead I can easily try different speakers and find the one I like the most.

By the way, I said that it is possible to judge a speaker by tons of other measurements other than frequency response, and in fact, it is done in the reviews here, I am just contrary to not recommending or lowering the judgment of speakers that measure well in all the other measurements apart from freq.resp in which they may have some coloration. As I said before, why a speaker that has more than neutral bass should have a lower rating than a neutral one? It is a matter of preference, Toole shows us that the majority of people prefer neutrality, but it is not the entire population, so my view is that the choice of neutrality should be left to users (while everyone with a good ear would like a transducer that does not have distortion for example, that is objective).

I am pointing out that the average user comes to the forum and see some speakers not recommended just because they are not so neutral, and they could buy another speaker just for that "panther" or conclusions, a lot of people do not go further than that in reading reviews...
 

March Audio

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Because I like electronics that do not color my sound in order to leave that job to my speakers or headphones based on my tastes. If everything in the audio chain adds some coloration than it is an uncontrollable mess, but instead I can easily try different speakers and find the one I like the most.

By the way, I said that it is possible to judge a speaker by tons of other measurements other than frequency response, and in fact, it is done in the reviews here, I am just contrary to not recommending or lowering the judgment of speakers that measure well in all the other measurements apart from freq.resp in which they may have some coloration. As I said before, why a speaker that has more than neutral bass should have a lower rating than a neutral one? It is a matter of preference, Toole shows us that the majority of people prefer neutrality, but it is not the entire population, so my view is that the choice of neutrality should be left to users (while everyone with a good ear would like a transducer that does not have distortion for example, that is objective).

I am pointing out that the average user comes to the forum and see some speakers not recommended just because they are not so neutral, and they could buy another speaker just for that "panther" or conclusions, a lot of people do not go further than that in reading reviews...
So you don't want electronics to colour the sound but you do want the speakers to colour the sound. You would have far more control over your preferred colouration if you made the adjustments on the electronics side.

Problem is that every recording sounds different. By choosing a fixed colouration by virtue of choosing a specific speaker you colour everything in the same way when the varied sound of different recordings may not warrant it. In simplistic terms what if you choose a very bassy speaker and then play a very bassy track? You are much better off with tone controls.

Again the research shows that frequency response is the most important consideration. Your position flies in the face of this and would leave us with no basis to judge speakers other than what a random individual may personally like. That's utterly useless to readers who may be looking for recommendations. Amirs recommendations on the other hand have a solid basis in subjective science.

FwIw my experience is that the more neutral my speakers have sounded the better all recordings sound. The less I notice any "sound" of the recordings, the less I notice the hifi.
 
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SimpleTheater

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Someone, in this thread I think, already asked about the potential impact of manufacturers refusing to submit new products if/after a bad review as you did. My reply to the question was the same indicating that there is a sufficient number of other manufacturers that makes this not a problem.
I think one of the problems with Stereophile is they don't understand their readership very well, from a marketing/ad perspective. One of the few magazines I still subscribe to is Garden & Gun. Almost ZERO gun ads. ZERO garden tool ads. They have great music reviews as well.

What I mean by Stereophile doesn't understand their readership is the magazine is so subjective it should be about a lot less than reviewing products and get far deeper into the culture of music and equipment. I know Stereophile has columns like "Music in the Round" (actually they don't, that column ended last October) and Revinylization, but they're just columns hidden inside, not the focus. There's so little about music, yet that's the very purpose of the equipment.

I couldn't resist, here's what I would love to see as the cover of Stereophile last month, compared to what it actually was.
stereophile.jpg
 

Kal Rubinson

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The issue I‘m talking about isn’t manufacturers being willing to submit new product for review: my guess is that there will never be a shortage of such manufacturer. It’s the purchasing of ads that is the biasing factor. My contention is that many of the products advertised and reviewed in Stereophile are wastes of money at best and pure snake oil at worst. Actively demonstrating this in the way ASR is doing would damage the business model which is based on symbiotic alignment of interests, not rigorous and honest appraisal.
I do not have the any relevant data in hand and, in great part, that is because I have never paid much attention to the ads in Stereophile. They are the concern of the publisher, the advertisers and the readers. What I have see from discussions and news, however, is that advertisers are buying the attention of the readers and, as long as that base is substantial and relevant, advertisers will want their attention. As a result, advertisers have, over the years, ranted and threatened and, even, temporarily withdrawn their purchases but they generally return. That said, none of that is of concern to me.
 

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If there is no pressure from advertisers why then is every ‘subjective‘ side to a Stereophile review so effusive in its praise for the item under review even when its measurements are appalling?
Keith
 

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If there is no pressure from advertisers why then is every ‘subjective‘ side to a Stereophile review so effusive in its praise for the item under review even when its measurements are appalling?
Keith
Part of the explanation that seems likely: For the same reasons you find raves from owners of speakers that measure appallingly.
"Poor" measurements seem to predict subjective impressions very well in blind conditions; less so in sighted conditions.
Most gear is measured in the magazine, anyone reading the review can read the measurements section, and JA seems to be a pretty straight shooter when describing the measurements.
 

DonH56

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If there is no pressure from advertisers why then is every ‘subjective‘ side to a Stereophile review so effusive in its praise for the item under review even when its measurements are appalling?
Keith
My guesses:
  • Reviewers generally choose what they want to review, and are pre-disposed to like their choices.
  • JA's measurements and reviewer opinions are conducted separately, with JA typically going last. The reviewer does not know up-front, and often clearly does not care at any time, what the measurements say.
  • For components, and speakers in particular, a reviewer (or any listener) will praise what he (or she) likes as guided by his own preference. Some may like brighter treble or more bass, some may like an upper-midrange reduction that sounds "smoother", etc. And older reviewers may not hear a 10+ kHz peak that a younger listener finds very objectionable. Etc. etc. etc.
  • Related to the above, the room and other system components may influence the listening experience, leading to complementary combinations that help hide flaws. A "live" room may benefit from a speaker with a suppressed upper midrange and/or treble; a very "dead" room may emphasize the bass, etc. A SS amp may cure boomy bass caused by interaction with a tube amp, and tube amp may roll off objectionable peaks and so forth.
One point often made is that reviewers rarely review "bad" stuff. I've never had a particular problem with this because, well, why would I want to waste my time reviewing something I felt was bad?

FWIWFM - Don
 

Purité Audio

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I suspect there is a reviewer hierarchy a greasy pole that reviewers manfully climb, imagine you were to write even a lukewarm review, that manufacturer might then insist that you never write another review for one of their products.
Keith
 

pozz

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Are you sure about the model number? I can't find them on their site.

Not sure if you're using a console and mounting the Genelecs on top as most do, but console bounce terribly affects the midrange.
 

DonH56

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I suspect there is a reviewer hierarchy a greasy pole that reviewers manfully climb, imagine you were to write even a lukewarm review, that manufacturer might then insist that you never write another review for one of their products.
Keith
Maybe, but there have been cases where the manufacturer responded in such a fashion and simply did not offer any more components for review, or the magazine did not ask, etc. And I seem to recall cases where after a poor review the manufacturer discovered a flaw, either endemic or a one-time failure, and was able to fix it and get a follow-up review. It does not always have to be antagonistic.

I have no experience with Stereophile (a little with Audio, years ago) but do not see Stereophile bowing to such pressure. Individual reviewers may ask for or decline certain products, presumably, but I think a lot of the subjective writing is just exuberance at a new toy and the reviewers sincerely believe what they hear. It is up to us as consumers to listen and see if we hear the same thing, and in the case of many on ASR, can measure and explain it. Again, good or bad. I remember my early days and how easy it was/is to hear "everything". Sometimes I was fooling myself, sometimes not. And, though perhaps less so in audio marketing, that still happens to me now.

I suspect there are pure charlatans in the industry selling what they know to be hogwash, but suspect the vast majority of reviewers and consumers are sincere in their beliefs.

Anyway, I'm a simple country boy hairy-knuckled engineer; philosophy and human nature are beyond my ken. - Don
 

pozz

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My guesses:
  • Reviewers generally choose what they want to review, and are pre-disposed to like their choices.
  • JA's measurements and reviewer opinions are conducted separately, with JA typically going last. The reviewer does not know up-front, and often clearly does not care at any time, what the measurements say.
  • For components, and speakers in particular, a reviewer (or any listener) will praise what he (or she) likes as guided by his own preference. Some may like brighter treble or more bass, some may like an upper-midrange reduction that sounds "smoother", etc. And older reviewers may not hear a 10+ kHz peak that a younger listener finds very objectionable. Etc. etc. etc.
  • Related to the above, the room and other system components may influence the listening experience, leading to complementary combinations that help hide flaws. A "live" room may benefit from a speaker with a suppressed upper midrange and/or treble; a very "dead" room may emphasize the bass, etc. A SS amp may cure boomy bass caused by interaction with a tube amp, and tube amp may roll off objectionable peaks and so forth.
One point often made is that reviewers rarely review "bad" stuff. I've never had a particular problem with this because, well, why would I want to waste my time reviewing something I felt was bad?

FWIWFM - Don
Thing is, that makes reviews about as useful as the typical forum post. The difference being the formal setting in the magazine, and the hours of work that go into writing, proofreading, revision, typesetting, visual design and so forth. (The "usefulness" being guidance about to buy and why.)

I get the sense that many subscribe to magazines just to hear people talk about the hobby and how happy they are in listening to their music. That might have even been what prompted Jim Austin to write the piece that started this thread—the sense that all of this analytical work was taking the joy away because implied that you must hold certain preferences about certain gear. Which would be a mischaracterization of the science.

I don't think there has been a strong push (by ASR for example) to force preference in a certain direction. If anything, the subjective push has been sort of philosophical: examine preference for what it is, to get listeners to report not just what they like/dislike but to speak intelligently and comprehensively about their listening environments, gear and its configuration. Shift language from the declarative to the expository. That sort of thing.
 

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