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Subjective vs Objective opinions, post your favourite links / experiences
2Bdecided
post Jul 18 2003, 11:13
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We're an objectivist audio community here. We don't necesarily believe that everything can be measured (psychoacoustic codecs prevent that anyway), but we do believe that subective opinions should be backed up by rigorous tests, intended to remove all possible bias from human subjective judgements and opinions.

I think this is a good thing. I read the following from Dibrom in a recently locked thread:

QUOTE
If we simply let people go around making claims without challenging them, we would be no further than the --r3mix days, and likely much worse even given the larger number of people that participate in these forums.

You seem to focus only on the negative aspect here (I think I know why....) and completely disregard the benefit that has been wrought by this attitude. Yes, some people might get scared off in the process, but overall, this attitude is more helpful than harmful -- much more so in fact. There have been numerous cases were real problems have been even more emphasized and brought to bear through the increased scrutiny these types of situations bring about.


I very much agree with this.

Look at the opposite case: look at most Hi-Fi magazines. They advice people on buying $1000s of equipment (not just choosing between free audio codecs!), yet their advice is usually unscientific. The listening is done sighted, and without any control conditions. Objective measurements are presented as being inferior and/or removed from what people actually hear. Manufactuers claims are repeated verbatim. Opinions are stated as fact, and little is ever questioned.

Most significantly, there is no sense in which the influence of the magazine is used to improve the state of the art. They simply comment, often in a virtually meaningless, marketing driven manner, on products which they decide to review. Rather than helping people to buy better Hi-Fi, and leading the manufactuers to build better Hi-Fi, they do the opposite: People are confused as to what really does sound better, and often buy overpriced junk; while manufactuers spend less time (and money) improving the sound of their equipment, and more time following the latest trend or marketing gimmic. The result is that it's all too easy to spend $20,000 on a Hi-Fi which sounds absolutely bloody awful!

The equivalent here would be to spend weeks encoding your CD collection using a command line and/or encoder that was pretty poor compared to the best that's been acheived, and is available for free. But we don't allow that. We don't let people claim that X is better than Y, when it isn't. We don't let people claim that Z has magical properties. We do testing, and we try to move forward. And that is a good thing.

The latest thread with Xerophase was a good thread IMO. Maybe it took two pages to express something that we should have said to him in one posting - but we were interested, he was interested, and we've got a useful result. We've learned something. By following the rulse of the forum. And by being polite and encouraging him to join in with how we do things here.

There's a lot in the "tone" of how you do something. Whether we accept unsubstantiated claims is not up for debate - we do not. But the manner in which you coax these people into doing things the right way is very important.

We've got to allow people who don't know any better (and sometimes even those of us who do!) to make unsubstantiated claims at first, so that other members can point out that they're unsubstantiated, and suggest a fair way of testing them. This doesn't mean we accept unsubstantiated claims as truth, but it does mean that people sometimes need to be allowed to post them as a starting point for discussion and investigation. "I think X" is an unsubstantiated claim, but it's OK if it leads on to "How can I test if it's true?"

We are an objectivist audio community.

If you have any good objectivist/subjectivist links, links showing the importance of evidence, proof, and blind testing against feelings and opinions, or the opposite side of the argument, feel free to post them.

Cheers,
David.

http://sound.westhost.com/cables-p2.htm

http://skepdic.com/blondlot.html

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/
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Dracaena
post Apr 3 2009, 02:32
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I don't see what all the fuss is about. If people want to spend $20,000 on a CD player, then let them. If people are willing to spend $53k on something that tells them the time of day, why not a CD player?
It is disheartening to hear of people who aren't rolling in money getting suckered into wasting money on placebos that could have been better spent on something else, but at this point, thanks to rabid capitalism, the marketing BS machine has pervaded every aspect of society. I see it not as objective vs subjective split specific to audio enthusiasts, but as a more general aspect of society itself - marketing, misinformation and profits vs. education and common sense. It won't go away unless there's a fundamental change in the way our societies operate.

Ok I went off track a bit there. I guess my point was that if someone *thinks* they can hear a difference where there is none, well that's pretty much as good as actually hearing a real difference. If someone enjoys listening to a $20,000 CD player more than a $300 one, then in their subjective reality it DOES sound better, and they're enjoying themselves. Why harrass people who are just trying to enjoy themselves? Let them buy their hideous $53k watch if they want. They're enjoying themselves, the same way a collector enjoys spending big $$$ on a rare sports card, when they could have had a full size poster and complete biography for a fraction of the price.
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Axon
post Apr 3 2009, 03:27
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QUOTE (Dracaena @ Apr 2 2009, 20:32) *
I don't see what all the fuss is about. If people want to spend $20,000 on a CD player, then let them. If people are willing to spend $53k on something that tells them the time of day, why not a CD player?
It is disheartening to hear of people who aren't rolling in money getting suckered into wasting money on placebos that could have been better spent on something else, but at this point, thanks to rabid capitalism, the marketing BS machine has pervaded every aspect of society. I see it not as objective vs subjective split specific to audio enthusiasts, but as a more general aspect of society itself - marketing, misinformation and profits vs. education and common sense. It won't go away unless there's a fundamental change in the way our societies operate.

Ok I went off track a bit there. I guess my point was that if someone *thinks* they can hear a difference where there is none, well that's pretty much as good as actually hearing a real difference. If someone enjoys listening to a $20,000 CD player more than a $300 one, then in their subjective reality it DOES sound better, and they're enjoying themselves. Why harrass people who are just trying to enjoy themselves? Let them buy their hideous $53k watch if they want. They're enjoying themselves, the same way a collector enjoys spending big $ on a rare sports card, when they could have had a full size poster and complete biography for a fraction of the price.

Like pdq said - the problem with the "live and let live" argument is that the people selling the $20,000 CD players have thoroughly draped themselves under the flag of science and rationality rather then simply luxury. Open up a webpage/brochure about virtually every ultra-high-end product and you'll usually find allusions to extremely complicated science involved with the product that is beyond the comprehension of the reader. (Some companies really do break down the measurements well, if you're very lucky.) Look at the defenses of SET amps (really!), or even better, Ultimate Chips (Geoff Kait claims he's designed satellites) and Bybee Quantum Purifiers (Jack Bybee claims he worked on top-secret Nava sub projects).

Quite simply, hifi audio is singularly distinghished from other luxury hobbies - like cars, photography, cooking to a certain extent, golf - in how thoroughly it relies upon the guise of scientific innovation to promote products of, generally, an entirely uninnovative or underperforming character. If you'd prove some kind of scientific attack on performance in those other luxury fields, nobody would give a shit - that's not really what you're looking for when you buy La Creuset or Bugatti. But a similar, successful, attack on the hifi would would be utterly catastrophic, because that's a very big part of why it's justified and sold. After the science, the only thing that's left is sheer craftsmanship and looks, and very few audiophiles care about those alone...

The importance of that, and defending real audio engineering against that, matters only to the degree that it is perceived to be an issue. Certainly many of us are drawn to the fight just because we are pro-science, like people are drawn to pro-evolution camps. But it also makes a big impact on the price and quality of the audio we buy and the music we listen to. Equipment manufacturers desperately want to make their product stand out from the competition (decommoditize), and for many kinds of hardware, it's really hard to find a good value because everything at a given quality range is full of snake oil. You see that a lot in headphone amps, for instance. That has a direct impact on my spending habits and bottom line. Similarly, in the music world, the engineers who obsess over high res and quality differences between different digital mixing consoles are taking time away from issues that actually matter, like dynamic range, noise, distortion, etc. Look at all the hubbub over NIN's The Slip release where the 24-bit FLACs were of the exact same master as the 16-bit ones. Look at all the SACD and DVD-A releases that either made no use of increased dynamic range, or deliberately screwed up the CD layer to make the high res layer sound better.

In those cases like these, the public requests higher quality and is getting pretty much soaked in the process. The acceptance of audiophile snake oil in the public sphere draws money away from real innovation, in all product markets and all price points, and reduces the quality of audio as a whole in the process.

That's why you should complain vigorously about $20,000 CD players.

This post has been edited by Axon: Apr 3 2009, 03:29
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Posts in this topic
- 2Bdecided   Subjective vs Objective opinions   Jul 18 2003, 11:13
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 03:13 AM)We a...   Jul 18 2003, 11:45
- - KikeG   Description and discussion at rec.audio.high-end o...   Jul 18 2003, 11:51
- - KikeG   About the objective vs. subjective issue... ABX te...   Jul 18 2003, 12:00
- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (fewtch @ Jul 18 2003, 10:45 AM)QUOTE (...   Jul 18 2003, 12:05
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 04:05 AM)QUOT...   Jul 18 2003, 12:16
- - 2Bdecided   KikeG beat me to it. Every time I think about th...   Jul 18 2003, 12:23
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 04:23 AM)Kike...   Jul 18 2003, 12:35
- - Gabriel   QUOTE The problem is, I'd be too honest. I...   Jul 18 2003, 13:30
- - 2Bdecided   It's funny - we tell "hi-end" people...   Jul 18 2003, 13:54
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 05:54 AM)It...   Jul 18 2003, 14:02
- - marx   Hi everyone I just joined up and I apologise for t...   Oct 21 2008, 21:34
|- - Soap   Yes, you can rest assured every single thing I rea...   Oct 21 2008, 22:01
|- - Canar   I remember fondly the day I found Hydrogenaudio. S...   Oct 22 2008, 02:10
- - HotshotGG   QUOTE Yes, you can rest assured every single thing...   Oct 22 2008, 00:36
- - Slipstreem   Welcome aboard, marx. I think you've come to t...   Oct 22 2008, 01:48
- - Light-Fire   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 05:13) We...   Oct 22 2008, 02:26
- - Axon   Knowledge of HA has risen considerably in the audi...   Oct 22 2008, 03:17
|- - Soap   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 21 2008, 22:17) In othe...   Oct 22 2008, 04:18
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 21 2008, 22:17) Knowled...   Oct 22 2008, 07:31
- - marx   Thanks Guys it's nice to know that I'm not...   Oct 22 2008, 05:35
- - sld   I joined HA when I was in high school and never re...   Oct 22 2008, 05:42
- - MichaelW   Sorry if this is a bit of a hobby-horse, but a sim...   Oct 22 2008, 07:03
|- - marx   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Oct 22 2008, 19:03) Hi ...   Oct 22 2008, 08:41
- - HotshotGG   QUOTE There's actually a modest, steady level ...   Oct 22 2008, 07:53
|- - pisymbol   QUOTE (HotshotGG @ Oct 22 2008, 02:53) QU...   Mar 22 2009, 20:56
|- - odigg   I migrated here from Head-Fi. Even if you are a a...   Mar 23 2009, 00:21
|- - pisymbol   QUOTE (odigg @ Mar 22 2009, 19:21) I migr...   Mar 23 2009, 02:30
|- - Axon   QUOTE (pisymbol @ Mar 22 2009, 20:30) Wha...   Mar 23 2009, 02:44
- - botface   @MichealW, Thanks for your insight...   Oct 22 2008, 09:19
- - tom_vienna_at   Since we are humans, everything is subjective... w...   Oct 22 2008, 09:56
|- - Soap   QUOTE (tom_vienna_at @ Oct 22 2008, 04:56...   Oct 22 2008, 17:31
- - MichaelW   My understanding is that, in the audio context, ...   Oct 22 2008, 12:06
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Oct 22 2008, 07:06) My ...   Oct 22 2008, 17:09
||- - MichaelW   QUOTE (krabapple @ Oct 23 2008, 05:09) SN...   Oct 22 2008, 22:06
|- - marx   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Oct 23 2008, 00:06) Or ...   Oct 22 2008, 18:54
- - Tahnru   A quick add: Marx has split out a new thread for ...   Oct 22 2008, 19:25
- - MichaelW   And, of course, some people would prefer a torn ca...   Mar 23 2009, 01:27
- - Axon   You know, that's really funny - I actually sta...   Mar 23 2009, 02:29
|- - pisymbol   QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 22 2009, 21:29) All jok...   Mar 23 2009, 02:39
||- - Axon   QUOTE (pisymbol @ Mar 22 2009, 20:39) 2) ...   Mar 23 2009, 03:00
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||- - odigg   QUOTE (pisymbol @ Mar 22 2009, 21:39) 3) ...   Mar 23 2009, 16:04
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 22 2009, 21:29) It mean...   Mar 23 2009, 15:46
|- - odigg   QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 22 2009, 21:29) I kind ...   Mar 26 2009, 14:27
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|- - krabapple   QUOTE (FasterThanEver @ Mar 23 2009, 14:1...   Mar 24 2009, 20:37
|- - shenzi   I've just joined here, in part as a refuge fro...   Mar 24 2009, 20:40
- - pdq   Hello shenzi, and welcome. I'm not sure what ...   Mar 24 2009, 21:30
|- - shenzi   QUOTE (pdq @ Mar 24 2009, 20:30) Hello sh...   Mar 25 2009, 11:45
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|- - Axon   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 24 2009, 16:23) QUOT...   Mar 24 2009, 23:59
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|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (shenzi @ Mar 28 2009, 08:50) I bel...   Mar 29 2009, 11:51
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|- - pdq   QUOTE (krabapple @ Mar 31 2009, 17:00) Th...   Mar 31 2009, 22:16
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|- - krabapple   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 1 2009, 10:28) QUO...   Apr 1 2009, 15:40
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 1 2009, 14:40) QUO...   Apr 1 2009, 16:53
|- - krabapple   The placebo effect seems to be most commonly effe...   Apr 1 2009, 17:06
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|- - odigg   QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 1 2009, 11:46) I believe...   Apr 1 2009, 17:16
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|- - Ashley James   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 1 2009, 18:10) There is...   Apr 2 2009, 11:38
||- - odigg   QUOTE (Ashley James @ Apr 2 2009, 06:38) ...   Apr 2 2009, 15:10
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 1 2009, 13:10) Quite si...   Apr 3 2009, 20:27
|- - Axon   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 3 2009, 14...   Apr 3 2009, 20:40
||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 3 2009, 15:40) QUOTE (A...   Apr 6 2009, 01:26
||- - Axon   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 5 2009, 19...   Apr 6 2009, 03:39
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|- - Axon   QUOTE (Dracaena @ Apr 2 2009, 20:32) I do...   Apr 3 2009, 03:27
||- - FasterThanEver   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 2 2009, 19:27) Look at ...   Apr 3 2009, 07:12
||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 3 2009, 02:27) Quite si...   Apr 3 2009, 10:31
|- - odigg   QUOTE (Dracaena @ Apr 2 2009, 21:32) It i...   Apr 3 2009, 17:57
- - pdq   For the people who spent a fortune and are happy w...   Apr 3 2009, 02:55
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- - krabapple   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 5 2009, 21:55) QUOTE (s...   Apr 6 2009, 04:12
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