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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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greynol
post Mar 24 2009, 22:23
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QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 24 2009, 13:52) *
Chris used to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535116
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535296

This post has been edited by greynol: Mar 24 2009, 22:24
Reason for edit: Added quote because my post started a new page.


--------------------
I should publish a list of forum idiots.
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Axon
post Mar 24 2009, 23:59
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QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 24 2009, 16:23) *
QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 24 2009, 13:52) *
Chris used to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535116
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535296


Ah, yes, how could I forget.

I'm churning through the CA forums to see what juice I can squeeze. I'm really sorry you guys have to deal with audioengr. He attempted to mix it up with real engineers at PSW once and got his ass smoked over aged woods and handed back to him on a stick. A truly timeless thread.
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Ashley James
post Mar 25 2009, 12:02
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QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 24 2009, 23:59) *
QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 24 2009, 16:23) *
QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 24 2009, 13:52) *
Chris used to post here, interestingly enough. He got yelled at for blatant site advertisement, but he had the damn good sense to leave the subjective stuff out of his posts from what I recall.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535116
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=535296


Ah, yes, how could I forget.

I'm churning through the CA forums to see what juice I can squeeze. I'm really sorry you guys have to deal with audioengr. He attempted to mix it up with real engineers at PSW once and got his ass smoked over aged woods and handed back to him on a stick. A truly timeless thread.


Audioengr in many ways shows the dangers of subjective dominance of discussions in my view. It's a tiny leap from "believing the evidence of ones ears" to justifying ones beliefs with pseudo scientific claptrap, simply because one doesn't have sufficient understanding to recognise it as such.

I reckon the audio industry is way behind the Consumer or Pro electronics industry because much of it has driven off proper engineers and discredited any rational means of assessing products.

I once saw an article about an experiment done by a University to prove the value of intuition. There was none above a random guess and that's not a good way to design a 747 or a piece of electronics IMO. It's all measurable and provable and subjectivists don't like that, they want magic.

Ash

This post has been edited by Ashley James: Mar 25 2009, 13:05
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odigg
post Apr 6 2009, 02:06
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QUOTE (Ashley James @ Mar 25 2009, 07:02) *
I reckon the audio industry is way behind the Consumer or Pro electronics industry because much of it has driven off proper engineers and discredited any rational means of assessing products.

Ash


If only it was so. I know of one rather talented "proper" engineer who works in the industry because he needs a job and has a family to support. He doesn't even care all that much about audio and certainly doesn't make any grand claims about the stuff he designs. He is a really good hardware engineer though.

I think there are some brilliant engineers in the Audio industry. There are also some very experienced and intelligent engineers building all sorts of great DIY stuff, much of which is probably incredibly over engineered for the purposes they are using them for.

In any field that uses scientific methodologies to discover and create knowledge , from theoretical physics to anthropology, there are always a number of assumptions that are seen to be intuitively true, have been passed down through ages, but are actually rubbish. When somebody eventually asks a questions about this assumption the "experts" can either realize there is a flaw in that assumption or they can proceed to build up a universe made up of other assumptions and beliefs and combine this with knowledge (based on evidence and things that have been demonstrated to be true) in the field to support that assumption.

An example is in order. In the audiophile headphone world a dedicated headphone amp is absolutely required. There are a number of sane sounding statements to justify the existence of expensive headphone amps. One is "Without a headphone amp your headphone will sound dull and lifeless." I was very curious about why a headphone sounded dull and lifeless without a dedicated headphone amp, especially because I had tried a number of headphones (ranging from 25 to 300 ohms) plugged into my sound card and only one sounded dull and lifeless.

I went onto at least one audio engineering forum and asked if somebody could tell me why a headphone amp was required. Surely there was a scientific explanation for this. There must be a way to show that if we were to graph the output of my sound card vs a headphone amp there would be a difference. If this difference could be demonstrated, it would be easier to understand what headphone amp would be required for any given headphone. At least some minimal standard could be established.

I did not get anything even approximating a proper answer. Arguably it boiled down to "There is plenty of stuff in audio you can't see on graphs and can't measure." Some rather vague electronics was pulled in to justify the above. With exception of some cases (clipping, coupling capacitor based high pass filter, lack of volume, hiss) I've never found any explanation as to why a dedicated headphone amp is required for any headphone. Simply put, I think the engineers of audiophile headphone amps simply assume an amp is required an continue to build stuff that has enough power to drive speakers.

If you don't do blind testing "proper" engineers can support any of their beliefs as to why a "better" amp, dac, or whatever else, needs to be built.

You might be wondering, what of that headphone I mentioned that sounded dull and lifeless? I heard that headphone powered by a number of amps that are very highly reviewed and respected by audiophiles, connected to a CD player that stereophile goes to bed with. Guess what? The headphone sounded dull and lifeless.

This post has been edited by odigg: Apr 6 2009, 02:11
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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
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- - 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
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|- - 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
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|- - 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
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