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Perception of Pace/Rhythm/Timing (PRaT) -- genetic?
hollowman
post Jul 4 2011, 16:24
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A somewhat "controversial" topic in audio gear subjective reviewing is the reproduction of Pace/Rhythm/Timing, sometimes abbreviated PRaT. (Sometimes, PRAT with a cap. 'A' may denote A=acceleration). The topic also includes an interdependent subjective metric, dynamics.

Perhaps the seminal introduction to the phenomenon is the Nov. 1992 article in Stereophile, Pace, Rhythm, & Dynamics by Martin Colloms . I noted that this topic is "controversial" in that it not often reported in gear/equipment reviews -- especially in forum- or message-board-based reviews ... where most folks stick to the common (and, IMO, repetitive) BMTS (bass, mids, treble, soundstage). From there, some may additionally describe, e.g., a headphone's 'dynamic' or 'speed' qualities. But when asked to comment on PRaT, the same reviewer responds with puzzlement, smug ridicule, or ignorance.

Pace/Rhythm/Timing -- or PRaT -- is something I'm particularly sensitive too. It is one of the first attributes that I notice the presence or absence of in audio gear, like headphones, all else held equal. I even notice it in slow music, like adagio or lento movements (the Colloms article above goes into this a bit).

Because of the apparent "underreporting" of the "PRaT" phenomenon as important audiological subjective metrics -- and even some hostility as to its importance or even its existence -- I'm wondering how much its perception is genetic. This may be like genetic sensitivity to perfect pitch:
http://perfectpitch.ucsf.edu/study/
Or, more simply, the PTC genetic bitterness test from high-school biology class?

This post has been edited by hollowman: Jul 4 2011, 16:42
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greynol
post Jul 5 2011, 21:16
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QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 01:11) *
It meant I, FWIW, can sense it in the terms of "hearing it"
This is exactly the meaning of "sensitivity" that I had in mind when responding. At this point I think "imagining" is a much more fitting word than "hearing".

QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 01:11) *
FWIW, IMO and YMMV
Sorry, this does not absolve you from having to present objective evidence that you actually hear these things.

QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 01:37) *
pointing to URL link to, say, peer-reviewed, double-blind-controlled counter-evidence.
The burden falls on you to prove your claims, not us to disprove them. Please google "flying spaghetti monster"!

Are you going to present any objective evidence or should I close the topic?


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Placebophiles: put up or shut up!
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db1989
post Jan 4 2012, 22:39
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Having read a little of the Stereophile article linked, I feel a need to quote these posts:

QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 5 2011, 01:44) *
I truly hope this doesn't end up like it did when Martin Colloms [author of said article—Ed.] came to the forum to puffily interject his two cents on similar matters and then fail to answer any criticism and/or questions posed.
Spoiler: It did.

QUOTE (Soap @ Jul 5 2011, 12:58) *
Mods, can you lock this thread already? OP (hollowman) has thus far refused to directly answer the questions posed of him (despite spending vast amounts of time on the board) and instead continues to use this thread as a dump for a verbose amount of unscientific, unsubstantiated, out of context, and dubious material of questionable merit.

The name of this forum is "Scientific Discussion" and this thread is neither.

QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 5 2011, 20:16) *
Are you going to present any objective evidence or should I close the topic?

Please keep these, and #8 of our Terms of Service, in mind when discussing this supposed phenomenon.

Back to said article, the following excerpt reads like a who’s-who of the things that are to be avoided here (i.e. why TOS #8 exists), in all its wholly unsubstantiated, hopelessly metaphorical, warm-and-fuzzy, utterly nonsensical glory. I’d have thought it was parody had I read it out of context.
QUOTE
For all its quantifiable technical faults, easily identified in the laboratory when compared with the measured near-perfection of CD, the vinyl LP disc possesses a powerful and effortlessly musical content, with an easy, fundamental rhythmic stability and solidity. Interestingly, this innate character seems to be quite robust, more so than digital. [nonsense] Subjectively rewarding results [TOS #8 proscribes subjective methods of evaulation as worthless] may be obtained from analog sources without much trouble. Many well-established but not necessarily high-priced components may be assembled to produce musically satisfying results. With analog, one can listen through the blemishes and be aware of a strong musical message, one in which the music's flow, pace, and tempo are well conveyed, and into which the listener is drawn.

By contrast, digital audio is a fragile medium. Sonic greatness remains elusive, digital replay often seeming to get bogged down at an earlier stage, [what] one in which the listener's lack of involvement leads to a substitute activity. [what] The mind remains busy, but is now cataloguing perceptual features and comparing them with previous experiences. [what] This is an interesting abstraction, comparable in the realm of visual art with the analysis of the brush techniques of old masters. [irrelevant analogy] But, as Robert Harley points out in this month's "As We See It," an obsession with technical minutiae can blind one to an appreciation of the whole. That easy, rhythmic grace inherent in competent analog replay points to one of the greatest paradoxes of digital replay.

Digital's technical advantages at low frequencies include low group delay due to a highly extended bass response, in theory even continuing down to DC. Technical appearances can be misleading, however. From my experience [double-blind tested, I’m sure?] of more than 250 digital products, coherent, expressive, naturally explosive dynamics and the ability to present good musical pace and a confident, upbeat rhythm are areas in which digital is surprisingly weak. If digital bass is agreed to be tighter-sounding, less colored and less "phasey," then how on Earth can analog still be in the running when it comes down to subjectively satisfying bass rhythm? Nevertheless, digital bass generally sounds laid-back and downbeat, even if it is highly neutral when viewed purely in technical terms.
I stopped annotating out of disgust more than anything else, really! What utter nonsense.

This post has been edited by db1989: Jan 4 2012, 22:44
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disfrontman
post Jan 5 2012, 03:29
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QUOTE (db1989 @ Jan 4 2012, 16:39) *
QUOTE
For all its quantifiable technical faults, easily identified in the laboratory when compared with the measured near-perfection of CD, the vinyl LP disc possesses a powerful and effortlessly musical content, with an easy, fundamental rhythmic stability and solidity. Interestingly, this innate character seems to be quite robust, more so than digital. [nonsense] Subjectively rewarding results [TOS #8 proscribes subjective methods of evaulation as worthless] may be obtained from analog sources without much trouble. Many well-established but not necessarily high-priced components may be assembled to produce musically satisfying results. With analog, one can listen through the blemishes and be aware of a strong musical message, one in which the music's flow, pace, and tempo are well conveyed, and into which the listener is drawn.

By contrast, digital audio is a fragile medium. Sonic greatness remains elusive, digital replay often seeming to get bogged down at an earlier stage, [what] one in which the listener's lack of involvement leads to a substitute activity. [what] The mind remains busy, but is now cataloguing perceptual features and comparing them with previous experiences. [what] This is an interesting abstraction, comparable in the realm of visual art with the analysis of the brush techniques of old masters. [irrelevant analogy] But, as Robert Harley points out in this month's "As We See It," an obsession with technical minutiae can blind one to an appreciation of the whole. That easy, rhythmic grace inherent in competent analog replay points to one of the greatest paradoxes of digital replay.

Digital's technical advantages at low frequencies include low group delay due to a highly extended bass response, in theory even continuing down to DC. Technical appearances can be misleading, however. From my experience [double-blind tested, I’m sure?] of more than 250 digital products, coherent, expressive, naturally explosive dynamics and the ability to present good musical pace and a confident, upbeat rhythm are areas in which digital is surprisingly weak. If digital bass is agreed to be tighter-sounding, less colored and less "phasey," then how on Earth can analog still be in the running when it comes down to subjectively satisfying bass rhythm? Nevertheless, digital bass generally sounds laid-back and downbeat, even if it is highly neutral when viewed purely in technical terms.
I stopped annotating out of disgust more than anything else, really! What utter nonsense.


FWIW, when I read something like that, it would seem to me that the writer:

a) has to have some stake in denigrating digital audio
(trying to sell or promote a competing product/system? or hoping for kudos from like-minded naysayers?)

or,

b) has listened to analog sound recording playback systems for so long that he/she has grown accustomed and/or fond of said delivery systems inherent quirks (tape hiss, vinyl pops, limitations regarding dynamic range, etc.) and now reads the absence of such elements as "sterile-sounding".

I joined this forum 2 1/2 years ago. I thought all of these pro-vinyl/anti-digital arguments had already been thoroughly debunked when I got here. IIRC, my baptism at HA involved being slapped down for my initial reflections about sample rates/bit depths beyond 44.1k/16 bit. I was set straight by the evidence, and quickly. Seems to me that the claims of die-hard vinyl advocates would be far more of a stretch and far more easily debunked.

I was a quick convert, and I've sent many forum discussions to this site for real facts regarding such issues. Why wouldn't anyone believe the hard evidence? I suppose the difference between me and a vinyl advocate might lie with the fact that I have not invested $10k in a super turntable/class A tube amp/"oxygen-free" speaker cabling as-thick-as-my-thumb system. Those that have done so might really need to cling to any theory they can find that might justify their investments, and the less scientific the theory, the better. Harder to debunk subjective criteria when such criteria can be rhetorically shoe-horned around any attempts to quantify them and design experiments to verify claims.

If ABX testing conclusively debunks this stuff, why are people still arguing it?

An ironic aside/confession--I recently bought a tape sim for my recording projects, which adds even series harmonic distortion, squashes dynamics a bit, and rolls off high end in the way an analog master tape might--so I guess that I, too, sometimes show an affinity for a more antiquated "analog" sound (albeit one faked via software). If the sonic signature of vintage equipment is what sounds great to a listener, that's fine, so long as one admits that the familiarity of such sounds is why a person is fond of vinyl. No need to invent theories to justify one's preference for that particular sound, is there?

This post has been edited by disfrontman: Jan 5 2012, 03:31
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Posts in this topic
- hollowman   Perception of Pace/Rhythm/Timing (PRaT) -- genetic?   Jul 4 2011, 16:24
- - greynol   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 4 2011, 08:24) I...   Jul 4 2011, 16:43
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 4 2011, 08:43) QUOTE...   Jul 5 2011, 09:11
- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 4 2011, 11:24) A s...   Jul 4 2011, 19:22
- - RobWansbeck   Many years after reading the first, 1978, edition ...   Jul 5 2011, 01:28
- - kraut   I find that the thread opener follows the usual au...   Jul 5 2011, 02:19
- - greynol   I truly hope this doesn't end up like it did w...   Jul 5 2011, 02:44
- - krabapple   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 4 2011, 11:24) I n...   Jul 5 2011, 03:20
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jul 4 2011, 19:20) [.....   Jul 5 2011, 08:48
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 03:48) QUO...   Jul 5 2011, 15:25
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jul 5 2011, 07:25) Wha...   Jul 8 2011, 13:44
|- - db1989   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 8 2011, 13:44) gre...   Jul 8 2011, 13:50
- - AndyH-ha   Perhaps the inclination to believe in such things ...   Jul 5 2011, 07:26
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 5 2011, 02:26)...   Jul 5 2011, 09:20
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 4 2011, 23:26)...   Jul 5 2011, 09:37
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 01:37) (se...   Jul 5 2011, 13:17
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 14:17) Fig...   Jul 5 2011, 16:22
|- - hlloyge   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 14:17) I...   Jul 5 2011, 18:22
- - Woodinville   Pace, rhythm and timing are all sensations that co...   Jul 5 2011, 08:09
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jul 5 2011, 00:09) P...   Jul 5 2011, 08:59
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 00:59) Not...   Jul 5 2011, 11:01
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jul 5 2011, 03:01) Q...   Jul 5 2011, 11:54
|- - Soap   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 06:54) How...   Jul 5 2011, 12:18
|- - hollowman   QUOTE (Soap @ Jul 5 2011, 04:18) QUOTE (h...   Jul 5 2011, 14:05
|- - Soap   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 09:05) QUO...   Jul 5 2011, 14:14
- - DonP   We do get the occasional golden eared prat in here...   Jul 5 2011, 13:17
- - Soap   Mods, can you lock this thread already? OP (hollo...   Jul 5 2011, 13:58
- - kraut   QUOTE Extremely refreshing, Kraut Maybe it is ref...   Jul 5 2011, 15:51
- - drewfx   A simple, non-judgmental question: If a system ca...   Jul 5 2011, 16:42
|- - benski   QUOTE (drewfx @ Jul 5 2011, 11:42) A simp...   Jul 5 2011, 19:21
|- - drewfx   If these effects were audible, would you expect th...   Jul 5 2011, 19:38
||- - benski   QUOTE (drewfx @ Jul 5 2011, 14:38) If the...   Jul 5 2011, 19:51
|- - DonP   QUOTE (benski @ Jul 5 2011, 13:21) [ I...   Jul 5 2011, 21:43
||- - greynol   QUOTE (DonP @ Jul 5 2011, 13:43) fuzzily ...   Jul 5 2011, 22:31
||- - Woodinville   QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 5 2011, 14:31) This ...   Oct 16 2011, 05:02
||- - lbstyling   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Oct 16 2011, 04:02) ...   Jan 4 2012, 22:10
|- - Notat   QUOTE (benski @ Jul 5 2011, 12:21) I...   Jul 6 2011, 16:03
- - Soap   They should show up as measurable distortion, no?   Jul 5 2011, 19:46
|- - benski   QUOTE (Soap @ Jul 5 2011, 14:46) They sho...   Jul 5 2011, 19:53
- - drewfx   So then the devil's advocate argument is: 1. ...   Jul 5 2011, 20:18
- - greynol   QUOTE (hollowman @ Jul 5 2011, 01:11) It ...   Jul 5 2011, 21:16
|- - db1989   Having read a little of the Stereophile article li...   Jan 4 2012, 22:39
|- - disfrontman   QUOTE (db1989 @ Jan 4 2012, 16:39) QUOTE ...   Jan 5 2012, 03:29
- - knutinh   1. Find some discussion-forum with a clear profile...   Jul 6 2011, 07:23
- - Nick.C   Likes ^. (we need a like button for posts...... ...   Jul 6 2011, 08:22
- - WernerO   Perhaps time for a bit of history? The whole PRaT...   Jan 5 2012, 08:56


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