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Objective Versus Subjective


Deang
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I find it interesting that some of the most vocal subjectivists have very little understanding of the technical nature to audio. What they don't realize (like the Starbucks example) is that the experience itself is often engineered intentionally. Throw in a little cultural conditioning and some marketing, and you can get a lot of people believing almost anything is high fidelity. I think of things like Bose, Beats audio, etc... And what's interesting is that when we think we're immune to those evil companies, we're doing the exact same thing within the confines of what is acceptable in the audiophile community.

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Did you ever notice getting chills when you hear a crowd scream during a performance? It doesn't matter if you heard or witnessed what they were screaming about, you got chills and started paying attention. This influence had nothing to do with your own subjective opinion. If you are immersed in a crowd who loves Brittany Spears you will be hearing a lot of screaming, and you will have a hard time being critical. Had you been in a tough audience, your experience would have been quite a bit different. No 13 year old little girl scream/roar, just a bunch of people listening and watching with their hands on their laps. It would be a completely different perception of the performance.

I think this crowd mentality does influence us profoundly. If we lived our lives in a isobaric chamber without influence of others we could truly be critical, but several factors would still make our opinion far from objective. Our hearing, our upbringing, our intelligence or lack thereof, how tired we are, how stressed we are, how happy we are, how sad, and on and on....

Edited by mustang guy
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Well with amplifiers/preamplifiers I use both the objective and subjective approach but all the final tuning is totally decided by the subjective. Then the objective approach is used to confirm stabilty and specifications...

In the end I'm with the "DUKE" "If it sounds good it is good" but add in it has to be long term reliable and stable!

The audio hobby is about the user or owner of the gear. There is no absolutes. If the owner/user of the system likes it then that is all that matters.... They are not building a system to please someone else....that would be crazy IMHO....

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Well with amplifiers/preamplifiers I use both the objective and subjective approach but all the final tuning is totally decided by the subjective. Then the objective approach is used to confirm stabilty and specifications...

In the end I'm with the "DUKE" "If it sounds good it is good" but add in it has to be long term reliable and stable!

The audio hobby is about the user or owner of the gear. There is no absolutes. If the owner/user of the system likes it then that is all that matters.... They are not building a system to please someone else....that would be crazy IMHO....

Hey Craig, I actually agree with you this time! Now you can buy a lottery ticket and cut me in if you win!!!

Maynard

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Hey Craig, I actually agree with you this time! Now you can buy a lottery ticket and cut me in if you win!!!

Maynard

Maynard (RCI),

I think if you were not so thin skinned and had a little better reading comprehension skills we would not have the issues we have with each other and would get along splendidly. You took a single comment of mine about sleezy ebay sellers advertising scams "rebuilt by unnamed local technicians" comment out of context and have been nasty to me at every instance you have found a chance since.

I think we could aggree on allot. But first you need to take the chip off your shoulder. An appology might help.

Craig

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I apologize on Maynard's behalf. In fact, I apologize for everyone for everything!

"In pursuit of the subjective interest we rely on objectivity to differentiate and afford some semblance of repeatability? Fair enough."

To a degree I agree. I just can't figure out to what degree.

I thought the following was brilliant, and is in fact what I have been trying to say for years but just couldn't figure out how to say it.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I call these changes through exposure successive thresholds of awareness, and contend that part of this is that human perception is scalable in terms of resolution. With computers and test equipment, there is a fixed level of bandwidth and resolution available.

Not so with people - the longer someone spends being exposed to an experience, the more resolution that person is able to impart to that experience.

Emphasis mine.

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The article lacks a real analysis and wonders off track.

A fair reading is that the author questions ABX comparisons pretty much like many others do. The situation is something like Mr. Golden Ears says that amp A sound better than amp B. But when subjected to an ABX test, he can't identify any differences. So the purported subjective perception of a difference is proved to not be present at all because the two subjective experiences are not different at all, at least in the test.

Note that the flunking of the ABX test is not objective (if that is tests with lab equipment) versus subjective. It is subjective versus subjective.

Not happy with having flunked the ABX test, Mr. Golden Ears says the test is not fair. The argument is that with long term exposure, the nuances of amp A and amp B are apparent.

Okay. That is somewhat plausible. But if it is true, let Mr. Golden Ears listen to both amp A and amp B off and on for months or whatever (was not this what Golden Ears was doing before making the claim?). Then run the ABX test again now that his perceptions have been fine tuned. If he can discern a difference after long term listening, I'd say there is merit to long term exposure theory. But does that happen? I don't see that experiment in the article.

- - - -

There is also the long standing argument that some amp which have measureable distortion or limited bandwidth in objective tests sound better in subjective tests. Presumably this difference is shown in ABX tests. But wait, ABX tests have already been vilified, and now in this circumstances, they are considered valid. So there is a contradiction. But I think they are valid, myself.

A very reasonable conclusion is that people like at least some sorts of distortion or bandwidth limitation. And we need objective measurement to show this subjective effect. So where is the problem? Is there a problem?

- - - -

One reviewer, in history, is roundly criticized for saying that all amp sound the same.

Let me turn around that statement and say, "All accurate amps sound the same." Does not that have to be true? It is fairly easy to test input versus output, objectively. Maybe we and Mr. Golden Ears don't like accurate amps and there are many ways in which pleasing defects can occur, or not. So now we have accurate amps versus pleasing and non-pleasing non-accurate amps. (Lots of negatives there!)

Smile.

WMcD

Edited by William F. Gil McDermott
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I apologize on Maynard's behalf. In fact, I apologize for everyone for everything!"In pursuit of the subjective interest we rely on objectivity to differentiate and afford some semblance of repeatability? Fair enough."To a degree I agree. I just can't figure out to what degree.I thought the following was brilliant, and is in fact what I have been trying to say for years but just couldn't figure out how to say it.________________________________________________________________________________________________________I call these changes through exposure successive thresholds of awareness, and contend that part of this is that human perception is scalable in terms of resolution. With computers and test equipment, there is a fixed level of bandwidth and resolution available.Not so with people - the longer someone spends being exposed to an experience, the more resolution that person is able to impart to that experience.Emphasis mine.

A question I often ask myself at work.....do I not hear a difference because I haven't found the right stimulus to bring the difference to light? For example, usinga flute solo to compare low frequency extension (duh). But often times, when setting up any controlled exciexperiment, chances are we're going operate under best case conditions (like using the entire bit depth of a digital conversion stage). I think when differences are identified over time, it's because we're finding different conditions....And then it takes time to recognize patterns to identify what is happening. I think part of it is I like breaking stuff, but testing things under insane conditions is something I try to spend a lot of time on, and then making it sound good everywhere is the crazy hard part.

This is why I think the subjective observations should be heavily encouraged, but at the same time we gotta be sensitive to psychoacoustics...And the fact that it's easy to chase your tail and get misled by the simplest of variables. Until you know why something behaves the way it does, there really is very little value to subjective statements (cuz there's nothing you can do about it).

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