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"Audiophile" listening event @ Definitive Audio in Seattle, Atkinson to demonstrate "evils of MP3"
DonP
post Feb 13 2011, 16:36
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QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 13 2011, 10:16) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:08) *
QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 15:11) *
, any answer to your question would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation.


By simple inference from this sentence: John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects.

Not exactly, that only means he can't ABX the differences.


No. It means he can't find anyone who can perceive the difference in a valid* double blind test (abx or not), or find other solid evidence of perceivable difference.

*"valid" implying things like enough trials to eliminate chance wins, randomized order, etc.



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Stereoeditor
post Feb 13 2011, 16:57
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QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 13 2011, 10:16) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:08) *
QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 15:11) *
With respect, Mr. Krueger, any answer to your question would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation.


By simple inference from this sentence: John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects.

Not exactly, that only means he can't ABX the differences.


Tos#8 is very clear on the answer Mr. Krueger requested: "8. All members that put forth a statement concerning subjective sound quality, must -- to the best of their ability -- provide objective support for their claims. Acceptable means of support are double blind listening tests (ABX or ABC/HR) demonstrating that the member can discern a difference perceptually, together with a test sample to allow others to reproduce their findings."

As my opinions and findings are based on sighted experience and single-blind tests, not ABX or ABX-HR, for me to offer any such opinion would inherently violate ToS#8. People should not draw any more from my answer than that. and please note that such statements as "John Atkinson admits..." are unsupported and subjective conjecture on the part of the person making that statement.

John Atkinson
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Josh358
post Feb 13 2011, 17:21
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QUOTE (DonP @ Feb 13 2011, 10:36) *
No. It means he can't find anyone who can perceive the difference in a valid* double blind test (abx or not), or find other solid evidence of perceivable difference.

*"valid" implying things like enough trials to eliminate chance wins, randomized order, etc.


I doubt very much that that is true.

Downconversions to 44.1 kHz have been demonstrated to be audible in some cases, both in an article published in JAES and in an ABX test that was reported by someone here. That doesn't mean that all such downconversions will be audible, it's possible that results depend on the anti-aliasing and reconstruction filters and other aspects of the implementation, but it does mean that it's possible to set up an ABX tests which demonstrate the audibility of 44.1 kHz with some algorithms and some material.

16 bits is known, on the basis of theory, measurement, and existing psychometric data, to be inadequate to transparently reproduce the full dynamic range of acoustical audio unless noise shaping is used. See Fielder, "Dynamic-Range Issues in the Modern Digital Audio Environment," http://www.zainea.com/Dynamic%20range.htm. So again, it's possible to demonstrate the difference in a carefully-conducted ABX test.

There is indeed controversy here, but as in the case of 320 kbit/sec MP-3, there doesn't seem to be much doubt that one can ABX differences under certain circumstances. To me, a more interesting question would be whether the demonstrated audibility of a 44.1 kHz sampling rate is a consequence of a limit imposed by the characteristics of practical FIR filters, or whether its merely a consequence of the specific filters used in the experiments, or experimental error (rounding error, etc.).
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DonP
post Feb 13 2011, 17:41
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QUOTE (Josh358 @ Feb 13 2011, 11:21) *
QUOTE (DonP @ Feb 13 2011, 10:36) *
No. It means he can't find anyone who can perceive the difference in a valid* double blind test (abx or not), or find other solid evidence of perceivable difference.

*"valid" implying things like enough trials to eliminate chance wins, randomized order, etc.


I doubt very much that that is true.

Downconversions to 44.1 kHz have been demonstrated ......


Remember that these are all in the context of Arnie's question and the response that "any answer would would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation." and what that implies.


QUOTE
to be audible in some cases, both in an article published in JAES and in an ABX test that was reported by someone here. That doesn't mean that all such downconversions will be audible, it's possible that results depend on the anti-aliasing and reconstruction filters and other aspects of the implementation, but it does mean that it's possible to set up an ABX tests which demonstrate the audibility of 44.1 kHz with some algorithms and some material.


I would imagine if John was trying to show the inherently better sound of hi res recording that he wouldn't say the 16/44 sounds worse due to a bad conversion.

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googlebot
post Feb 13 2011, 17:51
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QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 16:57) *
Tos#8 is very clear on the answer Mr. Krueger requested: "8. All members that put forth a statement concerning subjective sound quality, must -- to the best of their ability -- provide objective support for their claims. Acceptable means of support are double blind listening tests (ABX or ABC/HR) demonstrating that the member can discern a difference perceptually, together with a test sample to allow others to reproduce their findings."

As my opinions and findings are based on sighted experience and single-blind tests, not ABX or ABX-HR, for me to offer any such opinion would inherently violate ToS#8. People should not draw any more from my answer than that. and please note that such statements as "John Atkinson admits..." are unsupported and subjective conjecture on the part of the person making that statement.


What's to the best of a Stereophile editor's ability? You certainly do not lack the resources in your position. A simple double blind test should be far below the limits of your ability or resources at disposal. As such, one can only conclude that the stated inability to present objective data is self-chosen.

Now, why would an intelligent individual, both in quest of the best possible sound and a customer base in desperate need of owning superiority-representing items, intentionally avoid placebo-eliminating protocol? Is this even worth debating about?

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botface
post Feb 13 2011, 18:40
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QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:51) *
Is this even worth debating about?

I'd say "no". Why do we care what John Atkinson can or can't hear?
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Josh358
post Feb 13 2011, 18:51
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QUOTE (DonP @ Feb 13 2011, 11:41) *
Remember that these are all in the context of Arnie's question and the response that "any answer would would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation." and what that implies.


It may seem a quibble, but from my perspective the difference is between "can't find anyone who can perceive the difference in a valid double blind test" and "hasn't personally conducted a double blind test." And I think that's not insignificant, because in the first interpretation, we have someone who's been caught with his pants down, whereas in the second we merely have someone who can't comment on his personal experience owing to the TOS but isn't trying to hide anything because there's nothing to hide.

QUOTE
I would imagine if John was trying to show the inherently better sound of hi res recording that he wouldn't say the 16/44 sounds worse due to a bad conversion.


Or perhaps he'd just say what he believes? If he does have a specific belief: AFAIK, nobody really does know for sure at this point, because the objective data isn't good enough. Just subjective impressions, some blind but not double blind comparisons, and a few ABX tests/journal articles with apparently contradictory results.

I think in some regards the question is becoming moot. To use a cliche, bits are cheap, and I think audio is moving in the direction of high res downloads. Still, I'd love to see more experimentation along these lines. After all, there's a lot of legacy 44.1 kHz material out there, and it would be interesting to know if some converters can reproduce it without adding audible artifacts, or even, as some vendors claim, reduce artifacts that were introduced when the recording was made (ringing and pre-ringing, group delay, ripple, etc.). (It may even be possible to reduce aliasing; communications theory should make that impossible for a random input, but music isn't random.)
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carpman
post Feb 13 2011, 19:06
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QUOTE (botface @ Feb 13 2011, 17:40) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:51) *
Is this even worth debating about?

I'd say "no". Why do we care what John Atkinson can or can't hear?

And why care about people who care what John Atkinson thinks he hears, either. Aren't these listening events just high-end audio gang-bangs for high-end audio swingers who enjoy a little cross-dressing (in pseudo-objective clothing). I say leave people to their fetishism*.

C.

* Take your pick.


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Josh358
post Feb 13 2011, 19:25
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QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 11:51) *
Now, why would an intelligent individual, both in quest of the best possible sound and a customer base in desperate need of owning superiority-representing items, intentionally avoid placebo-eliminating protocol? Is this even worth debating about?


Honestly, I can think of lots of possible reasons, ranging from the ones you mentioned to the difficulty of arranging blind tests to the belief that they aren't valid or necessary. But I can't demonstrate the validity of any of them.

Surely, a forum that is devoted to rigorous and objective measurement of sonic attributes can avoid making unverified assertions about an individual's motivations and beliefs, or his actions at an event that nobody on the forum attended?

It's possible to disagree with Stereophile's methodology and results without making unfounded assumptions about the motivations of its editor or its readers, at least one of whom (me) has no "desperate need of owing superiority-representing items."

Maybe it's just the geek in me, but I'm more interested in seeing objective answers to questions like whether 44.1 kHz audio can be transparent, whether converters differ sonically, and whether contemporary 192 kHz/24 bit recordings (or perhaps even 44.1 kHz ones) are actually indistinguishable from the live mic feed, as some recording engineers now claim.
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greynol
post Feb 13 2011, 19:56
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QUOTE (Josh358 @ Feb 13 2011, 10:25) *
Maybe it's just the geek in me, but I'm more interested in seeing objective answers to questions like whether 44.1 kHz audio can be transparent, whether converters differ sonically, and whether contemporary 192 kHz/24 bit recordings (or perhaps even 44.1 kHz ones) are actually indistinguishable from the live mic feed, as some recording engineers now claim.

I have my doubts that John Atkinson is doing much (if anything) to help find them.


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db1989
post Feb 13 2011, 20:23
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I must agree with googlebot's latest post. Even if JA isn't enamoured by the concept or procedure of double-blind testing, it's hardly so difficult that he couldn't, by now, have done a few quick tests to support his assertions and get them pesky crusadin' objectivists off his back. Excuse the cynic in me for wondering if perhaps he has a vested interest in ignorance (read: comforting subjectivism).
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greynol
post Feb 13 2011, 20:48
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QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 13 2011, 07:16) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:08) *
QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 15:11) *
With respect, Mr. Krueger, any answer to your question would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation.


By simple inference from this sentence: John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects.

Not exactly, that only means he can't ABX the differences.

No PaJaRo, googlebot is absolutely correct; read TOS #8. If John Atkinson wishes to change the logical conclusion to his statement, he will need to amend his statement.


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Josh358
post Feb 13 2011, 21:33
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 13 2011, 13:56) *
QUOTE (Josh358 @ Feb 13 2011, 10:25) *
Maybe it's just the geek in me, but I'm more interested in seeing objective answers to questions like whether 44.1 kHz audio can be transparent, whether converters differ sonically, and whether contemporary 192 kHz/24 bit recordings (or perhaps even 44.1 kHz ones) are actually indistinguishable from the live mic feed, as some recording engineers now claim.

I have my doubts that John Atkinson is doing much (if anything) to help find them.


Maybe, but by the same token, his measurements are a treasure trove of objective engineering data. I don't know how often I've found myself referring to them, most recently today when I was trying to help someone figure out why he was unsatisfied with the way his loudspeakers imaged in his listening room.

So while I do wish personally that Stereophile as an institution made more of an effort to address some of these questions. I don't think I can criticize JA for not pulling his weight. And we have to remember that Stereophile is itself a magazine that, whatever the breadth of its coverage, has as its focus practical criticism for the benefit of audiophiles. There are other venues, such as JAES and for that matter this one, that are more closely focused on research of this kind.
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Josh358
post Feb 13 2011, 21:42
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QUOTE (dv1989 @ Feb 13 2011, 14:23) *
I must agree with googlebot's latest post. Even if JA isn't enamoured by the concept or procedure of double-blind testing, it's hardly so difficult that he couldn't, by now, have done a few quick tests to support his assertions and get them pesky crusadin' objectivists off his back. Excuse the cynic in me for wondering if perhaps he has a vested interest in ignorance (read: comforting subjectivism).


But where are the assertions that have to be proved? As far as I can tell, every assertion he's made in this matter is backed by ABX tests that have already been discussed on this forum. This is what has me puzzled, and, judging by a post he made on a different forum, has John puzzled as well: the audibility of these phenomena has already been objectively established. He isn't alleging anything controversial.
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PaJaRo
post Feb 14 2011, 10:10
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 13 2011, 20:48) *
QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 13 2011, 07:16) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:08) *
QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 15:11) *
With respect, Mr. Krueger, any answer to your question would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation.


By simple inference from this sentence: John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects.

Not exactly, that only means he can't ABX the differences.

No PaJaRo, googlebot is absolutely correct; read TOS #8. If John Atkinson wishes to change the logical conclusion to his statement, he will need to amend his statement.

I am really sorry If what I said was misunderstood. I just wanted to show that googlebot's sentence was not completely true. "John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects."
So, not anything he claims is impossible to demonstrate, only those particular examples. He could claim, hi-res audio has higher resolution than low-res audio, thus making googlebot assumption wrong.

PS: I also don't see the point why JA is not conducting/posting some ABX results to show the differences, but I also think he was overattacked on this thread

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googlebot
post Feb 14 2011, 11:45
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QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 14 2011, 10:10) *
I am really sorry If what I said was misunderstood. I just wanted to show that googlebot's sentence was not completely true. "John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects."
So, not anything he claims is impossible to demonstrate, only those particular examples. He could claim, hi-res audio has higher resolution than low-res audio, thus making googlebot assumption wrong.


If having higher resolution was by itself already "in favor" of high-rez audio, which is not the case. Higher resolution for a delivery format is a waste of space if no audible benefit can be shown.

QUOTE (Josh358 @ Feb 13 2011, 19:25) *
Honestly, I can think of lots of possible reasons, ranging from the ones you mentioned to the difficulty of arranging blind tests to the belief that they aren't valid or necessary. But I can't demonstrate the validity of any of them.
...
Maybe it's just the geek in me, but I'm more interested in seeing objective answers to questions like whether 44.1 kHz audio can be transparent, whether converters differ sonically, and whether contemporary 192 kHz/24 bit recordings (or perhaps even 44.1 kHz ones) are actually indistinguishable from the live mic feed, as some recording engineers now claim.


So proper, placebo eliminating test procedures should also be in your best interest! Then if a magazine, that you pay and with considerable advertising cash-flow, continually rejects placebo eliminating procedure (it is really not that hard if there was a will), you should ask critically instead of becoming its apologist. Treating the matter as if it was all just opinion vs. opinion, has a taste of Fox News literacy. Why would a placebo elimination protocol, as ABX, make a test invalid vs. the same test without that protocol properly implemented?* That you even parrot these "opinions" is telling.

* Please safe my time and do not answer this by whatever you regard as "authority" but with good old arguments.

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Stereoeditor
post Feb 14 2011, 13:52
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QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 14 2011, 04:10) *
QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 13 2011, 20:48) *
QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 13 2011, 07:16) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:08) *
QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 15:11) *
With respect, Mr. Krueger, any answer to your question would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation.


By simple inference from this sentence: John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects.

Not exactly, that only means he can't ABX the differences.

No PaJaRo, googlebot is absolutely correct; read TOS #8. If John Atkinson wishes to change the logical conclusion to his statement, he will need to amend his statement.

I am really sorry If what I said was misunderstood. I just wanted to show that googlebot's sentence was not completely true. "John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects."
So, not anything he claims is impossible to demonstrate, only those particular examples.


Please, as in earlier postings in this this thread, go by the literal meanings of what I write, not what someone else has conjectured that I "claim" or "admit."

I have not admitted that anything is "impossible," only that I have not personally performed ABX tests on the putative differences introduced by lossy codecs, etc. As has been pointed out, there have been ABX tests performed by others that demonstrate audibility, but I interpreted ToS8 as meaning that _I_ had to have performed such tests before offering my opinions.

QUOTE
I also don't see the point why JA is not conducting/posting some ABX results to show the differences. . .


That discussion goes well beyond the purview of this thread, I believe.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile
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2Bdecided
post Feb 14 2011, 15:15
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QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 9 2011, 20:17) *
who could object to an event that promotes the idea of listening to recordings with as high a quality as possible?
It seems to me that quality is a multi-dimensional thing. The number of samples per second and the accuracy of each sample represent two variables that impact "quality", but I think most people would object to an event that promotes the idea of 10GHz sampling for audio. This increase in "quality" is irrelevant to human listeners, while many other neglected factors may be of great importance.

The objection here is even simpler: your sighted presentation of a sliding scale from 24/88.1 to 128kbps mp3 clearly does present something where the quality reduces (I'm sure we can find an mp3 encoder which produces an easily ABXed version at 128kbps CBR), but it implies (and pre-disposes listeners to believe - and with placebo, hear) that the quality reduces in a detectable way at each stage. This is a trick. Nothing more. Whether the quality does or does not detectably reduce at each stage is impossible to determine correctly under such circumstances. This is basic psychology.

Cheers,
David.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 14 2011, 15:26
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QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Feb 12 2011, 20:48) *
Downloaded and standing by...

Edit: OK, I guess our Saturday morning coffee is kicking in smile.gif - hot topic, indeed!

Here is the link to a 24 second section from 1:21-1:45 (the most I could fit into 8 MB, the upload limit), which encompasses both one of the sections John used in his presentation at Definitive, as well as one of the sections he feels is most revealing:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=86738

Thank you. A lovely recording.

As usual, if it lacks anything, then IMO what it lacks are a few more channels of information to begin to recreate the sound space of the performance.

For stereo, it has good breadth and even depth (it would be interesting to know how Linn mic'd it - Linn has been doing these things well for a long time now!), but I've heard other great stereo recordings augmented with more channels, and it's a drop dead gorgeous experience - a night-and-day difference. Not the smoke+mirrors / placebo / might just be there at the limits of perception stuff we're talking about here.

I'm sad that we're still pissing around with making stereo better, or moaning about the "evils" of near-as-damn-it transparent lossy encoding. It's no wonder normal, intelligent, and even quality-conscious people don't give a damn about "high end" audio any more.

Cheers,
David.
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Notat
post Feb 14 2011, 16:55
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 14 2011, 07:15) *
The objection here is even simpler: your sighted presentation of a sliding scale from 24/88.1 to 128kbps mp3 clearly does present something where the quality reduces (I'm sure we can find an mp3 encoder which produces an easily ABXed version at 128kbps CBR), but it implies (and pre-disposes listeners to believe - and with placebo, hear) that the quality reduces in a detectable way at each stage. This is a trick. Nothing more. Whether the quality does or does not detectably reduce at each stage is impossible to determine correctly under such circumstances. This is basic psychology.

The test material and the way that the test is conducted both contribute to the effectiveness of this. Audiences at a magic show know that what they're seeing is an illusion. As far as I know, there is no such understanding with your demonstration.
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googlebot
post Feb 14 2011, 16:58
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 14 2011, 15:26) *
I'm sad that we're still pissing around with making stereo better, or moaning about the "evils" of near-as-damn-it transparent lossy encoding. It's no wonder normal, intelligent, and even quality-conscious people don't give a damn about "high end" audio any more.


Word!

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Stereoeditor
post Feb 14 2011, 17:18
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 14 2011, 09:15) *
The objection here is even simpler: your sighted presentation of a sliding scale from 24/88.1 to 128kbps mp3 clearly does present something where the quality reduces (I'm sure we can find an mp3 encoder which produces an easily ABXed version at 128kbps CBR), but it implies (and pre-disposes listeners to believe - and with placebo, hear) that the quality reduces in a detectable way at each stage. This is a trick. . .


With respect, did you not read what I have written in prior postings? The audience were _not_ told ahead of the time that the quality of the recording would change during playback. All I told them was that I was going to play them a 24-bit/88.2kHz recording by Linn's Philip Hobbs, so there was no placebo effect and if there was any expectation bias, it would work against what I wanted to demonstrate. It was only _after_ the playback that I asked them what they had noticed.

See my write-up on Philip Hobbs' identical presentation at a 2007 AES Conference: http://www.stereophile.com/content/watching-detectives .

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 14 2011, 18:58
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QUOTE (PaJaRo @ Feb 13 2011, 10:16) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:08) *
QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 13 2011, 15:11) *
With respect, Mr. Krueger, any answer to your question would necessarily involve a ToS#8 violation.


By simple inference from this sentence: John Atkinson admits that anything he can claim in favor of hi-rez audio is necessarily impossible to backup by objective evidence or scientifically established practice to exclude placebo side-effects.

Not exactly, that only means he can't ABX the differences.


If you read \TOS 8, you'll see that JA's problem is a lot broader then just ABX:

"8. All members that put forth a statement concerning subjective sound quality, must -- to the best of their ability -- provide objective support for their claims. Acceptable means of support are double blind listening tests (ABX or ABC/HR) demonstrating that the member can discern a difference perceptually, together with a test sample to allow others to reproduce their findings. Graphs, non-blind listening tests, waveform difference comparisons, and so on, are not acceptable means of providing support."

I suspect that the moderators might even accept evidence that was gathered by other means provideing that those means were at least as free from bias as the specific listening test methods that were listed. Certainly the AES has set the precident for doing this when the JAES review board approved publishing the results of the Benjamin and Gannon Jitter tests back in 1998.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 14 2011, 19:06
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Apologies - I thought I had read it all (even that previous 31 page thread), but apparently read over this.

QUOTE (Stereoeditor @ Feb 14 2011, 16:18) *
See my write-up on Philip Hobbs' identical presentation at a 2007 AES Conference: http://www.stereophile.com/content/watching-detectives
A nice write up. Which makes it even more bizarre that almost no one successfully ABXes this stuff.

I do like the sound (no pun intended) of an unfiltered 78rpm shellac disc as a test signal. A continuous stream of wide bandwidth impulses superimposed over audibly band limited musical content, with the former generally sitting in the middle of the "stereo" sound stage, and the latter (if tracked with a stereo cartridge) flung to all extremes of the sound stage. It kills much lossy coding. It visibly makes anti-alias filters ring like mad. But I can't hear any problems with the latter.

Cheers,
David.

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 14 2011, 19:24
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QUOTE (botface @ Feb 13 2011, 12:40) *
QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 13 2011, 16:51) *
Is this even worth debating about?

I'd say "no". Why do we care what John Atkinson can or can't hear?


I don't care what John can't hear, but I do care about what he *can* hear perchance that advances our understanding of the capabilities of the human ear.

IMO John throws a gigantic monkey wrench into our presumably shared search for true audio excellence by relying on only the most flawed and superficial kinds of listening tests that are known to us.
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