Objectivity vs Subjectivity

Passive_audio_enthusiast

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Due to audioscsiencereview’s bad reviews on Hegel, naim, regas and so on the resale value on these stuff has taken a huge hit. And day by day more and more people are switching camps/getting educated about what to look for in audio. So, consider getting something which is decent in measurements and sounds good to your ears at the same time to avoid disappointment in few years. Colored sound would give an immediate satisfaction but once you start noticing that amps filter in everything you hear you would want something different. A transparent amp on the other hand would be boring at first, but once you start noticing the differences in different recording styles of different artists without filtering by the amp, you would be forgetting more About the gear. Over the years, I have used lot of hifi targeted amps like atoll, gold note, holfi, creek and several niche brands. Every time when you hear it for the first weeks you will be flattered, then the excitement dies as that particular coloring is intrusive to the music all the time. It used to be easy to flip them when you don’t like it but now if you put any of them on sale,anyone who looks for a used amp who knows how to “google search” would land in the audiosciencereview’s page would be reluctant to buy them regardless of their positive reviews. Nobody wants a product which is bashed by 100s of random guys on internet.

They say end of the day, trust your ears but I would say, trust your ears only after you do your homework. Otherwise the moment you discover some of the flaws, then there is no way back.
 

insane79

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Due to audioscsiencereview’s bad reviews on Hegel, naim, regas and so on the resale value on these stuff has taken a huge hit. And day by day more and more people are switching camps/getting educated about what to look for in audio. So, consider getting something which is decent in measurements and sounds good to your ears at the same time to avoid disappointment in few years. Colored sound would give an immediate satisfaction but once you start noticing that amps filter in everything you hear you would want something different. A transparent amp on the other hand would be boring at first, but once you start noticing the differences in different recording styles of different artists without filtering by the amp, you would be forgetting more About the gear. Over the years, I have used lot of hifi targeted amps like atoll, gold note, holfi, creek and several niche brands. Every time when you hear it for the first weeks you will be flattered, then the excitement dies as that particular coloring is intrusive to the music all the time. It used to be easy to flip them when you don’t like it but now if you put any of them on sale,anyone who looks for a used amp who knows how to “google search” would land in the audiosciencereview’s page would be reluctant to buy them regardless of their positive reviews. Nobody wants a product which is bashed by 100s of random guys on internet.

They say end of the day, trust your ears but I would say, trust your ears only after you do your homework. Otherwise the moment you discover some of the flaws, then there is no way back.
I don't agree with ASR, having an amp that measures well according to them, would lead me to having some Denon avr (always measures best on their site) I had 2 Denon avrs in the past but my previous avr was a Nad & current one is an Arcam. According to my Ear Measurements lol, the Denon doesn't stand a chance with either. This is my perspective after actually using the products for what they are meant for & not measuring them with machines.

Cheers.
 
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Decadent_Spectre

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I don't agree with ASR, having an amp that measures well according to them, would lead me to having some Denon avr (always measures best on their site) I had 2 Denon avrs in the past but my previous avr was a Nad & current one is an Arcam. According to my Ear Measurements lol, the Denon doesn't stand a chance with either. This is my perspective after actually using the products for what they are meant for & not measuring them with machines.

Cheers.

An astute observation kind sir!
 
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amrutmhatre90

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I don't agree with ASR, having an amp that measures well according to them, would lead me to having some Denon avr (always measures best on their site) I had 2 Denon avrs in the past but my previous avr was a Nad & current one is an Arcam. According to my Ear Measurements lol, the Denon doesn't stand a chance with either. This is my perspective after actually using the products for what they are meant for & not measuring them with machines.

Cheers.
+1

Measurements don't mean it sounds good.
 
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Passive_audio_enthusiast

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I don't agree with ASR, having an amp that measures well according to them, would lead me to having some Denon avr (always measures best on their site) I had 2 Denon avrs in the past but my previous avr was a Nad & current one is an Arcam. According to my Ear Measurements lol, the Denon doesn't stand a chance with either. This is my perspective after actually using the products for what they are meant for & not measuring them with machines.

Cheers.
They never said every denon is better. Only x3600 and x3700. Hope you didnt had one of these. Older higher end models from denons measure worse. Even the 4700 is slightly worse than 3700 in SNR but in a audible way. Honestly I was never convinced about the measurements earlier but as I went deeper, it gave me lot of convincing answers. But the key is they focus on accurate sound reproduction. So to them, everything that messes with accuracy is bad. Subjectively it would be nice, like some people like wearing sunglasses to see the world through a filter. But even if we don’t need accuracy if we know what is the pattern of what to look for for our coloration, we don’t need to listen to that before getting it home.

Again the problem with measuring with ears has lot of things under play. M not saying that what you are hearing is wrong. But the variables are your hearing ability, ability to focus when we do a critical listening, your specific rooms acoustics, your speakers connected to them, your sound preference all play a role in the better sound to you.
 
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Analogous

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The objective vs subjective approaches pushes us to polarised positions. Unnecessarily, in my opinion.

Archimago, in one of his musings (blogs) expresses this elegantly:

“….Audiophilia is not a religion. Audiophiles need not be "audiophools". There are no "high priests" in this endeavor with a special, close relationship with ultimate audiophile Truth.

There are no esoteric gnostic rituals needed to enjoy and experience hi-fi sound. As in other areas of life, faith is not bestowed because somebody said so, but in general, earned, whether we're talking about an Industry, the Press, or as individuals.

Modern audio devices are electromechanical products engineered by humans and developed out of scientific principles, not the result of a metaphysical Creator nor complex evolutionary processes, and should not be evaluated any differently.

Some devices sound bad, some great, but none are divine. Beyond objective results, we can still respect a person's subjective preferences, but those are on the level of opinions of which we can all form for ourselves and hopefully, insightfully, civilly express.

Opinions are not necessarily facts. And measurements should also be replicated for confirmation when possible.”
 
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firearm12

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Any equipment you choose will need to sound good in your system (which works as one unit). So in order to sound good it would need to work together with other equipment you have and create a balanced natural sound. One thing people forget is that a system works as a whole and need components that compliment each other sonically and work synergestically in order to produce good sound. Measurements don't tell that story, only listening can tell that.
 
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arj

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Opinions are not necessarily facts. And measurements should also be replicated for confirmation when possible.”
the problem is not if the component is flawed or better..it is the human ears and perception of signals which are since 3 people in the same room listening to the same music and system from the same place will still each hear it differently since our ears all have different conversion of music to signals and hence different levels of enjoyment

But at the same time all 3 will be able to say if something is not sounding good. Hence measurements do have some say but again how it will work with the rest of a system and in a room will need the final measurements in a room.

Listening to it might be easier..but for those who are confident to use listening as a means of measurement.
 
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Passive_audio_enthusiast

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Any equipment you choose will need to sound good in your system (which works as one unit). So in order to sound good it would need to work together with other equipment you have and create a balanced natural sound. One thing people forget is that a system works as a whole and need components that compliment each other sonically and work synergestically in order to produce good sound. Measurements don't tell that story, only listening can tell that.
I think measurments tell the story about the synergy of equipments, if we look close enough. But not about how it sounds in a particular room. But subjective reviews don’t tell that last part either
the problem is not if the component is flawed or better..it is the human ears and perception of signals which are since 3 people in the same room listening to the same music and system from the same place will still each hear it differently since our ears all have different conversion of music to signals and hence different levels of enjoyment

But at the same time all 3 will be able to say if something is not sounding good. Hence measurements do have some say but again how it will work with the rest of a system and in a room will need the final measurements in a room.

Listening to it might be easier..but for those who are confident to use listening as a means of measurement.
The biggest flaw in listening and choosing imo is the room. When we listen in a store, that ambience is completely different from out listening room. When a speaker with poor dircetivity is tested there, and if it appeals to us, there is no guarantee that it will sound the same in our rooms. In this case roomcorrection is necessary. When that comes into play the speaker needs to be capable to handle the “corrections” without adding its own distortions.

Or we can go the traditional route of adding too many sponges on the walls which slowly transforms a living room into an anechoic chamber.

Unless the hearing is flawed, due to some ear related problem, they hear almost the same thing, but whether they like what they hear is quite a big variable. It totally depends on what they like, but then, taking an opinion from a person who doesn’t have our same mindset will not guarantee the same experience for us. To me measurments tell the story, if we have a preference, and if we know how to interpret the measurments, we may see the pattern of things we like. It makes the next purchase decision easier.
 
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arj

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Unless the hearing is flawed, due to some ear related problem, they hear almost the same thing, but whether they like what they hear is quite a big variable. It totally depends on what they like, but then, taking an opinion from a person who doesn’t have our same mindset will not guarantee the same experience for us. To me measurments tell the story, if we have a preference, and if we know how to interpret the measurments, we may see the pattern of things we like. It makes the next purchase decision easier.
I remember reading about a study based in the fletcher munson curves ie while one persons own sensitivity varies by frequency is we are more sensitive to 1-5khz than others (hence we hear that louder than others), apparently this curve also varies by person as well.

Not sure how much it varies but it does bring the probability that 2 people might hear differently as well. ie you and I might be hearing the same sound differently. I would suspect this changes by culture as well and hence perhaps the difference between american/japanese/british preferences.

But again measurements obviously are important. how much is the existential question :cool:
 
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Analogous

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Listening to it might be easier..but for those who are confident to use listening as a means of measurement.
I think this is an important insight. It does take time to recognise good sound when we hear it.

As with any skill, this requires time and opportunities to hear good quality sound and learn to appreciate the nuances and other details.

On the other hand badly implemented sound is easier to recognise (painful?)

It took me a long time to even start understanding the kind of sound quality I liked and which I did not.
There are so many variables (hearing ability, room, electronics, speaker design …etc) that I struggle to attribute any character to a single aspect. But Speakers and electronics matching is a hit or miss game. Past experiences of FM in matching these is a reliable indicator I find.

I spent too long buying and trying well reviewed electronics and speakers only to come to the conclusion that I did not feel the emotional connect with the presentation. If there is a shortcut to this learning process I am eager to learn!
 
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Enkay78

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For me it's measurements only.

Measurements are what has enabled the evolution of audio technology. And measurements will be what will the basis of future audio innovations.

The recent trend towards metamaterials in speaker cabinet designs would not have been possible on subjective assessments.

The research on psychoacoustics and audio/music as general is science even though the subject can be arts.

Good measurements, low noise, harmonic distortions etc are fundamentals of sound reproduction. Standards are there because of the fundamental scientific and technological purpose. But yes there is always room for improvement of these standards, as it is want with any science. (Sound, acoustics etc are waves which are studied under physics.....whereas music and arts are studied under neuroscience/psychology/psychiatry......can also be studied as culture under anthropology)

Science (measurements and EQ) can very well make us enjoy the music as it was intended by the artist.....as they have also used the same science (mic/digital format/analog format/mixes) to record it for our leisure and pleasure.
 
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arj

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I think this is an important insight. It does take time to recognise good sound when we hear it.

As with any skill, this requires time and opportunities to hear good quality sound and learn to appreciate the nuances and other details.

On the other hand badly implemented sound is easier to recognise (painful?)

It took me a long time to even start understanding the kind of sound quality I liked and which I did not.
There are so many variables (hearing ability, room, electronics, speaker design …etc) that I struggle to attribute any character to a single aspect. But Speakers and electronics matching is a hit or miss game. Past experiences of FM in matching these is a reliable indicator I find.

I spent too long buying and trying well reviewed electronics and speakers only to come to the conclusion that I did not feel the emotional connect with the presentation. If there is a shortcut to this learning process I am eager to learn!

its like learning to enjoy a good bread/butter chicken/Wine ie subjective and experiential !! the more you listen, the more your brain learns and sometimes unlearns. I am still on the path and keep learning. but these days far more confident on what I hear than I was say 10 years back.
 
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Passive_audio_enthusiast

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I remember reading about a study based in the fletcher munson curves ie while one persons own sensitivity varies by frequency is we are more sensitive to 1-5khz than others (hence we hear that louder than others), apparently this curve also varies by person as well.

Not sure how much it varies but it does bring the probability that 2 people might hear differently as well. ie you and I might be hearing the same sound differently. I would suspect this changes by culture as well and hence perhaps the difference between american/japanese/british preferences.

But again measurements obviously are important. how much is the existential question :cool:
Age related hearing problems is inevitable. I am 35 and I cannot hear anything above 14khz unless they are extremely loud. Otherwise, humans hear the same way more or less. Otherwise it would be very difficult to have a standard on anything.

If human hearing is vastly variable from person to person, then that means subjective reviews are even less trustworthy as we don’t know if the reviewer has a good hearing, or he still has the same good hearing when he started reviewing.

I assume older reviewers(don’t want to name anyone here) and designers would be more pushed to push the highs up if they use their ear for tuning or reviewing.

Imo, measurments are a good standard to know the sound, if we know how to interpret them.

To me a ideal system is something which doesn’t alter much with rooms and has super low distortion that it can be eqed to compensate the room or peoples hearing or peoples preferences without adding more distortions in doing it.
 
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firearm12

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True or false?
DACs are one of those products where "personal preference" quite often overshadows "technical performance"

Why dacs only. I am never able to make out why objectivity is given so much importance. If one is an audio component designer ofcourse he has to use science to produce good hardware. But as an end user why would I bother to value some graphs generated by some test tones. I would rather trust my ears more. They can tell much better if I can emotionally connect to music.


I would cite an example. I bought the much applauded chord qutest dac as an upgrade to an audiogd dac that I was using. Chord was 1.8 times more expensive than audiogd. FYI chord qutest is one of high rated dacs on asr and audiogd is bashed all over. But I could not live with its presentation for more than few weeks. It may be technically and scientifically better than audiogd. Audiogd maybe a trash as per science measurements. But I am happy with my trash. My trash produces guitar and piano tones better than chord could produce. My trash produces more emotional vocals than what chord can produce. Thats what matters, not better graphs.
 
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Decadent_Spectre

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Here is a little opinion/view.

Let us address science. Do manufacturers use science to make equipment? Of course! But they also use subjectivity, particularly voicing. Can you measure sound to some degree? Of course! Frequency response,phase response,THD,IMD,directivity are some common things to measure. Will these tell you how the speaker "sounds" to a given individual ? No! What they will tell is exactly what is being measured, this is more an academic exercise than anything else and a way to push specifications for marketing purposes. It is obviously not possible for a company to fine tune each and every piece of equipment for every customers preferences, hence they must use broad strokes and push their products any way they can, so in essence it is really all about money because honestly, does anyone think the companies making these speakers actually care about the customers satisfaction? They only care about profits, so that the customers buy and does not return the product and preferably no support/warranty is needed.

Now how does a company sell to their customers when most people will be unable to listen to their products, especially their entire line. They need some way to make the customer believe that their products are superior and worthy of the customers business. They do this in 2 ways (and a 3rd indirect way), the first is reviews (mostly paid) which take the subjective route (mostly), the second is objectivity where they define what data/parameters sound good as per their "research" (marketing) and make products based on such criteria. Harman is the most obvious example of this marketing strategy which "manufactures" false research in order to sell equipment. Now the 3rd indirect approach which manufacturers don't have control over are online websites/forums like this where user "word of mouth" has a lot of value, mostly to the subjectively inclined.

With no offense to anyone, the subjectively inclined look for praise and descriptions of the sound, those who have been in the line long enough understand to read between the lines of reviewers, perhaps even to the point they can assess each reviewer differently because of their experience with the products as they relate to their preferences and the reviewers posting style. They do this because they are more concerned with music in general and connecting to it with emotion, the reviewers emotional words resonate with their own emotions and they are able to understand what to expect, the subjective are in general more confident of what they want/like and with better abilities to assess the sound for their preferences, they also tend to be less budget conscious and more inclined to a demo before purchasing.. The objective on the other hand look primarily for data. They do this because they do not believe expensive equipment is justified in price as they tend to be more HT oriented in general and more budget conscious. They also wish to get the most "value for money" products but do not trust their own hearing to decide for themselves what is superior. This value driven focus coupled with less emphasis on personal confidence of the assessment of the "quality" of the product leads them to objectivity, where measurements verify the "quality" as per objectivists to their full satisfaction, these products often are low cost as well being targeted to this demographic. Hence the VFM product with verified measurements appeals to the objectivist and they are more inclined to purchase "blind" online while the more subjectively reviewed products preferably backed up with demos or online interactions with owners of said products if a demo is not possible is the subjectivists route, they generally prefer buying after demo (if possible) offline. To note here is that subjectivists often visit the homes of various people they meet online to demo their systems to hear for themselves what the system sounds like while the objectivists are content to read about the data from the comfort of his/her internet enabled device.

Now as far as I have read people don't hear the same, just like people don't taste the same or see the same. But the more important component here is that while there may be variances (of unknown degrees) between the senses of people, what is truly important ( and the "clincher") is that preferences vary greatly. If we were all mics/machines there may have been one universal piece of equipment in each category that was optimized for us but we are not. So what are we?

We are human, not machine.
 
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