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Words that are meaningless in the context of an audio review, A list of words which discredit a review by their inclusion
Nessuno
post May 7 2012, 19:08
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QUOTE (greynol @ May 7 2012, 18:33) *
You didn't say anything about height.

I didn't (actually cancelled the word!) because honestly I've never heard a realistic (as to say, really "solid") reproduction of difference in height placement of sources with usual stereophonic recording. But yes, theorically even height could be represented.
By the way (and I stop here with the OT): perhaps someone might be intersted in this rather qualitative introduction to sterophonic three dimensional reconstruction.

P.S. Roger! wink.gif


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ZAPNSPARK
post May 7 2012, 20:10
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I had posted that list of buzzwords on another forum years ago.
I think the funniest guesses were:
"CD-R blanks" and "ear plugs"

It was in fact, a review of capacitors.
The actual capacitor reviews are here:

http://tinyurl.com/68hnje
http://tinyurl.com/6chuly

Cheers.

ZAPNSPARK
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Nessuno
post May 7 2012, 20:35
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QUOTE (greynol @ May 7 2012, 19:12) *
To add to that, it's also a shame since sometimes two pieces of gear might actually sound different objectively.

In this case an objectivity wised reviewer can just take the right measurements (not a trivial task per se) and elaborate on the differences between them. Any further explanation, which anyway could be just unavoidable if the target audience is not strictly technical, is left to his expressive capabilities and communication skill, and words are just tools.


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2012, 14:06
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QUOTE (ZAPNSPARK @ May 7 2012, 14:03) *
The following words were collected from an actual 2 part review in
an audio webzine. It's not a complete list.
Can anyone guess what was being reviewed?

[unnecessary full quote of list removed]

A little Googling shed the following light.

(1) The above list appeared earlier on the Gearslutz forum and was said to apply to a review of capacitors.

(2) All of the above words appear in a standard reference called "A rhyming words dictionary".

One can only speculate on the genesis of the two-part article referenced in (1).

This post has been edited by db1989: May 8 2012, 19:13
Reason for edit: Users can view the original post if they are interested in the list.
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icstm
post May 8 2012, 15:08
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 7 2012, 19:35) *
QUOTE (greynol @ May 7 2012, 19:12) *
To add to that, it's also a shame since sometimes two pieces of gear might actually sound different objectively.

In this case an objectivity wised reviewer can just take the right measurements (not a trivial task per se) and elaborate on the differences between them. Any further explanation, which anyway could be just unavoidable if the target audience is not strictly technical, is left to his expressive capabilities and communication skill, and words are just tools.


I am a little confused. In greynol's comment it appears that no descriptive word is necessary. However your post Nessuno you point out that some words are required to explain the objective difference. However what type of words should be used?
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Ethan Winer
post May 8 2012, 17:53
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At the What's Best forum the other day, Barry Diament used the word "bleached" to describe, well, actually, I have no idea what he was trying to describe! Something to do with bit depth.

--Ethan


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Nessuno
post May 8 2012, 17:57
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QUOTE (icstm @ May 8 2012, 16:08) *
I am a little confused. In greynol's comment it appears that no descriptive word is necessary. However your post Nessuno you point out that some words are required to explain the objective difference. However what type of words should be used?


It seems to me greynol complained just the opposite, in answering to a Woodinville post that said "all words are meaningless in a review".

I only expressed the opinion that if a reviewer's audience was supposed to be made of engineers only measurements should suffice, otherwise necessitate some "other words", but existing no approved standard on which exact words to use in describing a given hearing phenomenon, the choice is left to writer's skill.

Just to clarify: the starting point is that a real difference do exists and is actually perceivable (ABXable, in HA terms). Audio magazines are full of ex post demonstrations from nice graphs.

This post has been edited by Nessuno: May 8 2012, 18:01


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Carledwards
post May 9 2012, 00:18
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Audio reviews, unless limited to measurements and specs and a comparison thereof, are essentially advertising shills, IMO. Magazines that feature so-called "subjective" reviews do so to attract customers to their advertisers. And those types of reviews are quite meaningless.
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knutinh
post May 9 2012, 13:09
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 7 2012, 10:01) *
QUOTE (knutinh @ May 7 2012, 07:36) *
3-dimensionality

That is the very meaning of the word "stereo"...

I disagree:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereophony
The word stereophonic derives from the Greek "στερεός" (stereos), "firm, solid"[2] + "φωνή" (phōnē), "sound, tone, voice"[3] and it was coined in 1927 by Western Electric

I believe that the practical 2-channel systems and playback geometry usually referred to by the word "stereo" is (at best) capable of the perceptual feat of placement along a 1-dimensional stage between the two loudspeakers.
QUOTE
By the way: boys, I don't see the point in this thread, actually.

Clearly, the point is to show annoyance or frustration of the use of words in reviews that have not been defined anywhere, and that (to us on the outside) seems like meaningless babble that only serve to make the glossy hifi magazines appear more like glossy women magazines about make-up, and less like rationally-based information and buyers advice.

-k

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greynol
post May 9 2012, 16:32
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Fluff words are also used by amatures in web forums. The question could be asked in order to find additional examples of unwelcome language listed in TOS #8. I doubt anyone would ask what the point was in that case.


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krabapple
post May 9 2012, 16:46
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2012, 09:06) *
QUOTE (ZAPNSPARK @ May 7 2012, 14:03) *
The following words were collected from an actual 2 part review in
an audio webzine. It's not a complete list.
Can anyone guess what was being reviewed?

[unnecessary full quote of list removed]

A little Googling shed the following light.

(1) The above list appeared earlier on the Gearslutz forum and was said to apply to a review of capacitors.

(2) All of the above words appear in a standard reference called "A rhyming words dictionary".

One can only speculate on the genesis of the two-part article referenced in (1).



It would be easy enough to take any single issue of The Absolute Sound and develop a similar, though perhaps smaller, list.

The classic of its pretentious type is the acronym PRAT: among golden ears, components are said to differ in their 'Pace, Rhythm, and Timing'. As if amplifiers were musicians. It's Emperor's New Clothes idiocy.

This post has been edited by krabapple: May 9 2012, 16:47
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Nessuno
post May 10 2012, 08:49
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Left alone all the considerations if a common three-axis cartesian system is the one to use or a polar one is more suitable, if it's better to speak in non euclidean terms and not forget about the fourth dimension etc... I think that the word "threedimensionality" has a precise and perfectly understandable sense in audio gear review (at least the one you can search for in a magazine, not in "Transactions of" wink.gif ) and the concept beneath is absolutely clear.

I explain:

I listen mainly to classical, a kind of music that has always been performed on an actual three dimensions space long before audio gears came into use. There are even compositions that make explicit use of space effects (Gabrieli's canzoni a due cori or J. S. Bach's first choir from Mattew's passion are just the firsts that come to my mind) .
I regularly attend to concerts and have thus developed a rather accurate mental three dimensional image of an orchestra, a quartet, an opera singer playing on stage etc...
It happened to me, rarely I admit, to listen to a stereo set able to recreate, even in part, that image. As to say: a soloist very next to me on the foreground but not the size of a mountain, violins right behind, then horns, then triangle in the far background etc...
On the other extreme of sonical experiences, with some system all instruments are simply clustered around the two speakers. No "virtual" space at all.
Never actually tried (never had the chance to) but I think I could ABX two completely different systems, at least the speakers if not the electronics.

Now, from those premises, when a reviewer writes about "threedimensionality" I understand what he, in a simply qualitative and straightforward way, wants to communicate me. Then I can accept that a set of speakers, if properly positioned, can have "threedimensional" capabilities of his own and an amplifier or a converter cannot, but not deny that such a term has a meaning and blame the reviewer if he uses it.

This post has been edited by Nessuno: May 10 2012, 09:07


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honestguv
post May 10 2012, 14:38
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 08:49) *
Now, from those premises, when a reviewer writes about "threedimensionality" I understand what he, in a simply qualitative and straightforward way, wants to communicate me. Then I can accept that a set of speakers, if properly positioned, can have "threedimensional" capabilities of his own and an amplifier or a converter cannot, but not deny that such a term has a meaning and blame the reviewer if he uses it.

Given that a pair of speakers can be used to create the illusion of sound sources in a 3D space to some extent (and they can albeit not as well as headphones) how useful is an emotive qualitative description to a consumer that has not signed up for audiophile beliefs and can see a large number of other emotive qualitative descriptions in the review many of which appear to make no rational sense (e.g. your 3 dimensional applied to cables). If those conducting the review genuinely wished to convey how well a pair of speakers performed at locating sound sources in 3D space don't you think there are some quantitative ways to do it? Ways that would stand scrutiny by others and could be relied upon by consumers? So why don't they do it?
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Nessuno
post May 10 2012, 16:54
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QUOTE (honestguv @ May 10 2012, 15:38) *
If those conducting the review genuinely wished to convey how well a pair of speakers performed at locating sound sources in 3D space don't you think there are some quantitative ways to do it? Ways that would stand scrutiny by others and could be relied upon by consumers? So why don't they do it?

QUOTE
I would suggest a bit of caution about drawing general conclusions from a particular set of measurements without their supporting discussion.

Guess who wrote this very sentence, in another thread! wink.gif
What the word "discussion" means there?

The topic at hand is about reviews, right? A review, I hope you agree, is by definition and to a certain extent a subjective act and the reader, to a certain extent, is supposed to thrust the reviewer, his knowledge of the matter and bona fide. Otherwise all the purpose of the review is flawed from the beginning and there's no reason in keep on, or even start reading it.

Supposed I even start to read a review about cables, hardly possible indeed, if I see remarks about their three dimensonality I simply skip the rest and else from that reviewer, if I find the same remark in a speaker review I keep on reading, that's all.

And even so, of course, reading is not believing...


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honestguv
post May 11 2012, 13:07
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) *
QUOTE (honestguv @ May 10 2012, 15:38) *
If those conducting the review genuinely wished to convey how well a pair of speakers performed at locating sound sources in 3D space don't you think there are some quantitative ways to do it? Ways that would stand scrutiny by others and could be relied upon by consumers? So why don't they do it?

QUOTE
I would suggest a bit of caution about drawing general conclusions from a particular set of measurements without their supporting discussion.

Guess who wrote this very sentence, in another thread! wink.gif
What the word "discussion" means there?

I cannot see the point you are trying to make. The second quote concerns a set of measurements without their supporting discussion which are to some degree in disagreement with other similar measurements. Because the measurements are showing something unexpected the absence of the discussion is more serious than if they agreed with other measurements. The first quote is trying to put the word 3 dimensionality back into the context of a anaudiophile review.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) *
The topic at hand is about reviews, right?

The topic of the thread is the meaning of audiophile words in reviews. You introduced the word 3 dimensionality saying it had a meaning for you. I was trying to extract more information on what/why given the context of the word within an audiophile review.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) *
A review, I hope you agree, is by definition and to a certain extent a subjective act and the reader, to a certain extent, is supposed to thrust the reviewer, his knowledge of the matter and bona fide. Otherwise all the purpose of the review is flawed from the beginning and there's no reason in keep on, or even start reading it.

If a review of the performance of technical equipment is subjective it is a big red flag that something odd is going on. If the reviewer discusses 3 dimensionality in a way that cannot be checked by others it is a big red flag. If the reviewer discusses 3 dimensionality without running simple test signals to quantify how well sources are located it is a big red flag. If the reviewer is not even competent, never mind an expert, when it comes to the technical performance of the device they are reviewing it is an enormous red flag. If...

Audiophile reviews only make sense if you recognise that they are not primarily trying to inform the consumer about the technical performance of the device being reviewed. Within this context the emotive, vague and conflicting meanings associated with many audiophile words is fine.
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Canar
post May 11 2012, 19:21
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QUOTE (Woodinville @ May 7 2012, 10:01) *
With the way that most audio equipment reviews are carried out, I think that the answer for "what words are meaningless" is "all words".
/thread


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Nessuno
post May 11 2012, 21:57
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QUOTE (honestguv @ May 11 2012, 14:07) *
I cannot see the point you are trying to make. The second quote concerns a set of measurements without their supporting discussion which are to some degree in disagreement with other similar measurements. Because the measurements are showing something unexpected the absence of the discussion is more serious than if they agreed with other measurements.

I admit I find difficult to understand the concept of a measure "agreeing" or "disagreeing" with something else. A measure is a fact and it is objective by definition. When you feel it "unexpected" and need to comment it, you are introducing a subjective element.
Not that I see something wrong with this, in principle and in that case, but I'm also sure you know that, for example, reasoning about a measure may also lead to wrong conclusions (TOS #8 forbids graphs as only objective proof not by chance), especially when discussing matters like the three dimensional illusion created by a couple of speakers, where there is no agreement upon a measure or set of measures that objectively and completely characterise it.

All the more, I've never said that a speakers review should not show measurements (and if you browse an audiophile magazine you'll find plenty, even used to justify unrealistic and plainly wrong claims!), but only that using also the word three-dimensonality in this context is understandable and not by itself disqualifying.

And to say it all, it seems to me a form of snobbism to dismiss a review only upon a word that has a precise, although "qualitative", meaning. Of course, if I see a bad response graph at highs, a bad time decay graph, a bad off axis radiation pattern and so on AND whithin the same review I read about good three dimensionality... well... I start to doubt.

QUOTE
You introduced the word 3 dimensionality saying it had a meaning for you. I was trying to extract more information on what/why given the context of the word within an audiophile review.

I've already tried to explain what and why in a previous post.

QUOTE
If the reviewer is not even competent, never mind an expert, when it comes to the technical performance of the device they are reviewing it is an enormous red flag. If...

And you think that speaking about the capability of a set of speakers to reproduce a three dimensional image is enough to judge the reviewer an incompetent?

QUOTE
Audiophile reviews only make sense if you recognise that they are not primarily trying to inform the consumer about the technical performance of the device being reviewed. Within this context the emotive, vague and conflicting meanings associated with many audiophile words is fine.

It depends on what meaning you give to "technical performance" of a device like a speaker. For an electronic device, system theory (and linear system theory most of the times) gives us precise ways to predict how they will behave with inputs within specs and for this reason I even see little point in "reviewing" them. Speakers (more precisely, transducers) are still, AFAIK, not completely described in every aspect of their performances by a set of measurements and for them I consider there is (still?) space for subjective reviews.

By the way, is this site your ideal of reviewer? wink.gif

This post has been edited by Nessuno: May 11 2012, 22:01


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honestguv
post May 14 2012, 14:30
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
I admit I find difficult to understand the concept of a measure "agreeing" or "disagreeing" with something else. A measure is a fact and it is objective by definition. When you feel it "unexpected" and need to comment it, you are introducing a subjective element.

Measurements have errors which is why measurements of nominally the same thing can be different. Getting a handle on the size of possible errors is a requirement to reliably use measurement data. The experimenter's discussion about how the measurements were taken and their views on the size of the errors, usually optimistic and discounting systematic errors (cock-ups), is useful. Experimenters also draw conclusions about their measurements. Mistakes here are less of a problem so long as the data is reliable and the reader has the knowledge and ability to reason independently.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
especially when discussing matters like the three dimensional illusion created by a couple of speakers, where there is no agreement upon a measure or set of measures that objectively and completely characterise it.

There have been a large number of experiments on sound source perception going back to the 30s or so. There are no major problems in getting information from the test subjects about what they are hearing and quantifying it in order to "do science". The notion that you can "completely characterise it" makes little sense given that what is perceived depends on a range of non-aural factors and varies with the health of the subject's ears.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
All the more, I've never said that a speakers review should not show measurements (and if you browse an audiophile magazine you'll find plenty, even used to justify unrealistic and plainly wrong claims!), but only that using also the word three-dimensonality in this context is understandable and not by itself disqualifying.

But it is precisely the context which prevents many people from attaching anything other than the usual audiophile meanings to the word. If the same description was given by a non-audiophile in general discussion it is likely to be more understood because such people tend to assign meanings to word more in line with general usage and lack the motivations of an audiophile reviewer.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
And to say it all, it seems to me a form of snobbism to dismiss a review only upon a word that has a precise, although "qualitative", meaning.

It is not one word that causes many to dismiss audiophile reviews it is all of them as a collective whole. For those used to technical/scientific writing they are very difficult to read because the authors do not seek to communicate using meaningful language but emotive language and with words having vague meanings and often somewhat at odds with their traditional meaning.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
And you think that speaking about the capability of a set of speakers to reproduce a three dimensional image is enough to judge the reviewer an incompetent?

With rare exceptions, audiophile reviewers are technically incompetent. Not only that they seem to revel in their technical ignorance and do not consider it an issue when reviewing the performance of technical equipment. This says nothing about their competence as audiophile reviewers and I suspect most of them are judged highly by their employers and those in the target audience for their reviews.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
It depends on what meaning you give to "technical performance" of a device like a speaker. For an electronic device, system theory (and linear system theory most of the times) gives us precise ways to predict how they will behave with inputs within specs and for this reason I even see little point in "reviewing" them. Speakers (more precisely, transducers) are still, AFAIK, not completely described in every aspect of their performances by a set of measurements and for them I consider there is (still?) space for subjective reviews.

I think you are confusing things a bit. Defining a speakers performance is not particularly difficult (i.e. sufficiently to construct a model to replace it) but it does involve a fair amount of work. Although a speaker does have a correct on axis behaviour defined by the same things as other audio equipment it does not have a correct off axis behaviour. Nonetheless it is not particularly difficult to quantify the chosen off axis behaviour.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) *
By the way, is this site your ideal of reviewer? wink.gif

The reviewer is not an expert which would be one of my first requirements for an ideal review.
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StephenPG
post May 14 2012, 14:50
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An old Simpsons song springs to mind...

sorry...

Bart: We are happy, we are merry.
Army: We are happy, we are merry.
Bart: We got a rhyming dictionary.
Army: We got a rhyming dictionary.
Bart: Sound off.
Army: One! Two!
Bart: One more time!
Army: Three! Four!
Bart: Bring it on home now!
Army: One! Two! Three! Four!
One! Two! ... Three-Four!

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