Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

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ZodiacPhoto
ZodiacPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 2,683
Single group option

tbcass wrote:

Sounds like a good plan.

Sometimes a single, undivided group is used. Random pattern of switching between two units is used, known only to the test organizers. And while there are only two units compared, participants are told that there are 4 or 5 different units, and asked to rate them from best to worst.

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Brev00
Brev00 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,712
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

J A C S wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

Why get involved with a thread in which your point of view is condemned at the start?

Exactly for that reason.

I don't know, I read the myth of Sysyphus when I was young and felt the moral was pretty good. So, my reaction is to point out the bias that motivated the post rather than to fight upstream. I guess if you need to spawn, that would be necessary. To mix metaphors.

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Don_Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,891
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

J A C S wrote:

Don_Campbell wrote:

J A C S wrote:

Don_Campbell wrote:

J A C S wrote:

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

As a scientist, my advice is to be skeptical to everybody who claims that what you hear and feel is pseudo-science and he can explain to you why is that so. As a former audiophile I can tell you that I have heard difference between cables, confirmed by my wife whose sole purpose in life at that time was to make me spend less. There are other claims in that link which contradict my experience.

As a scientist, my laboratory research was deeply dependent my personal construction and daily use of high gain, ultra-low noise analog electronics and D-to-A and A-to-D instrumentation.

My research was to listen to my system.

Sorry, but that's personal perception and not science.

Warm...

That perception is totally useful in the price ranges you compared below and not irrelevant, just not science.

Who said that it had to be science? On the other hand, at least it is not junk science...

I'm sorry if you took my comments to be offensive. You were the one who seemed to invoke science as involved in your decisions. Perception is fine to invoke and I said it was totally useful. What's wrong with saying that?

$30 would buy reasonable quality interconnects for a reasonable run of distance. That's a far piece different from "Hundreds of dollars...." from an "audiophile's" system.

Who said that?

The OP's post pointed out that in the previous thread "some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables." That level of expense is fine with me if it satisfies a perception of theirs but it does not seem to me to be entirely rational. Your added expense of $30 or so seems entirely rational to me if it satisfies your perceptions because the cost was totally reasonable and consistent with the improvements you experienced.

Indeed, in my post before that I said, "If it was only a few dollars difference it might be irrelevant but if were talking big bucks, a bit of understanding of the underlying physics might be financially rewarding." The point gets pretty close to the idea of what expense is worth going to for the result intended. In many worlds you get what you pay for. My feeling is that this is not always the case in the "audiophile's world."

As for "junk science," I'd suggest that there is a lot of that being tossed around in the audiophile world. If the definition of "audiophile" is as Merriam-Webster says, "a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction," I resemble that. The idea that the term dates back to ~1951, means it came at a time of great advances in audio recording and reproduction.

My childhood listening was with 78 rpm records that shattered if you dropped them. The player stylus was a sharp steel needle. I welcomed the advents of FM radio with higher quality sound that replaced AM in my household. I welcomed the advent of 12" hi-fi records, diamond styluses, multiplexed stereo radio, stereo vinyl, and on and on. Improvement after improvement and a hi-fi lovers dream. It was a great time for improvements.

What seems to have changed over that 60+ years' time is that the term "audiophile" has evolved from a person simply enthusiastic about good audio reproduction, to something more and something less.

Brev00
Brev00 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,712
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
  1. tbcass wrote:

J A C S wrote:

tbcass wrote:

J A C S wrote:

tko wrote:

Yes, what one person subjectively sees and hears is pseudo-science. That's a fundamental principle.

What a nonsense. The first thing you learn as a scientist is that the reality beats your theories, does not matter how smart they may sound, every single time.

Now I know you're not a scientist and know little to nothing about science.

You do not even know what you do not know.

Reality is purely objective. A theory has to be tested through rigid, peer reviewed purely objective testing.

You have no clue as the other poster. What I am saying goes over your head. What theory? I am saying that I hear differences. This is not a theory. Whatever, this is too subtle for you.

You mentioned that reality beats theories. There are mountains of studies that back up the power of the placebo effect. Unless you can back up what you are saying with tests that prove your subjective opinion the difference you hear is in no way factual to anybody but you. That my friend is something that goes right over your head.

You are now entering the realm of philosophy an area in which you are not likely prepared to engage. There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music. It appears that you approach perception from a scientific viewpoint. There must be external agreement to verify existence. While a right brained person finds that truth is found in direct experience. Keats said truth is beauty and beauty truth. You say truth is something proved by empirical study. Yet, science does not posit that science finds truth. It may discover laws. So you are arguing about the same thing but speaking entirely different languages.

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Tom

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 4,032
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

J A C S wrote:

...factual to me only.

That sounds surprisingly like your own facts.

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 4,032
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

Oh-oh. Now you've done it. Now we get to hear from the people who are described in that post.

On a related note, I was weighing whether to get a CD player, so I went to a high-fi shop and asked to hear their best (their best everything, including electronics and speakers). The salesman demonstrated for me and proceeded to tell me how wonderful everything was.

Turns out their "best" amplifier was grossly defective, and they had no idea. The sound was grossly distorted, like with my old Dynaco tube amp when one of two output tubes was dead. Fortunately, their cheapo amp sounded fine. So much for golden ears that could hear what no measurement could detect. What's the moral? I don't know. Placebo effect on steroids?

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,479
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

J A C S wrote:

...factual to me only.

That sounds surprisingly like your own facts.

AKA alternative facts.

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Tom

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J A C S
J A C S Forum Pro • Posts: 14,915
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

J A C S wrote:

...factual to me only.

That sounds surprisingly like your own facts.

Not in the context it was used and that was not my choice of words anyway.

tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,479
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

Don_Campbell wrote:

What seems to have changed over that 60+ years' time is that the term "audiophile" has evolved from a person simply enthusiastic about good audio reproduction, to something more and something less.

You're on to something there. Back in my audiophile days in the 60's and 70's it was purely about sound reproduction. Now it seems to have evolved into who has the most esoteric equipment.

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Tom

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,479
Re: Single group option

ZodiacPhoto wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Sounds like a good plan.

Sometimes a single, undivided group is used. Random pattern of switching between two units is used, known only to the test organizers. And while there are only two units compared, participants are told that there are 4 or 5 different units, and asked to rate them from best to worst.

One thing to note is it is best if the people conducting the tests are unaware of that or hidden from view lest they give subtle visual and verbal clues.

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Tom

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MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,187
Brain myths

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,479
Re: Brain myths

MediaArchivist wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

This excerpt summed it up.

"Lateralization of brain connections appears to be a local rather than global property of brain networks, and our data are not consistent with a whole-brain phenotype of greater “left-brained” or greater “right-brained” network strength across individuals. Small increases in lateralization with age were seen, but no differences in gender were observed."

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Tom

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mpix345 Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
3

Lee Jay wrote:

tbcass wrote:

While what you are saying might be true it would be interesting to see if the effect is audible by running double blind tests.

I kind of accidently did that in college. I replaced my 12 gauge monster Cable with the Kimber Kable while my roommate was in class. He had no idea I was even thinking about doing that. He walked in later and within a few seconds of walking in he said, "what did you do to the stereo"?

I'm not defending Monster, as I think they made a fortune hawking low-grade cables to the unsuspecting masses, but I have to think that if your roommate had that reaction after seconds of casual listening it likely means that the Monster cables were not connected properly or they were defective.

I've compared Kimber and other similarly priced cables to more expensive stuff and to cheapest Radio Shack options and honestly couldn't tell the difference.  Blind A/B listening.

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Don_Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,891
Re: Single group option
1

tbcass wrote:

ZodiacPhoto wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Sounds like a good plan.

Sometimes a single, undivided group is used. Random pattern of switching between two units is used, known only to the test organizers. And while there are only two units compared, participants are told that there are 4 or 5 different units, and asked to rate them from best to worst.

One thing to note is it is best if the people conducting the tests are unaware of that or hidden from view lest they give subtle visual and verbal clues.

I'm all for blind and double blind testing of essential things but at some level it seems of less necessity for testing of basic good audio equipment. If you have to go to that trouble to detect a small difference then you might be overworking the purchase.

Across my collection of old, medium old and new CD's the optimal sound can often be tweaked to be more pleasing than the neutral settings of my amplifiers. That is clearly due to recording producer's tastes and talents, the setting (live or studio) of the recordings, the original mastering techniques and on and on. Actual accurate reproduction is great if the original recording precisely suits your tastes. Of course many of the attributes of accurate reproduction are important as a baseline if you are going to tweak the playback with some equalization. Think about recently remastered CDs: many are great improvements over the originals. Someone producing the new  version didn't just accept them as "accurate" in their original form and I don't need to do so with any music I play.

No one is forced to listen to every album from every era of recording and from a variety of studios or live venues as if they represent the one true version of that gig. As soon as you decide that you may be adjusting the sound from various sources to be as pleasing as you want it to be during playback, then slight differences in what you hear in double blind testing become less significant.  When you do that kind of adjusting and impose a bit of our own taste onto the music then the details of some arcane hoohah in one box or another which is claimed to turn music into magic seems a bit overwrought.

An awful lot of modestly priced hardware is available that has the capability to be low noise, low distortion, high output, flat frequency response over the audio range at neutral settings and so on. Sure, if  you want 5.1 surround sound with hugely thumping bass to mimic a thunderstorm, fighter jet or an explosion in watching a movie you might be adding some functionality but that's not exactly what I call "hi-fi," and it still needn't be very expensive. JMO of course.

Brev00
Brev00 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,712
Re: Brain myths
2

MediaArchivist wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

Man, you guys are science obsessed. Hard to deny that some people are more analytically oriented while others are more experiential. You are proof of my hypothesis!  But, keep posting science articles while I quote poets. And I know you can't stop judging people.  Goes right hand in glove.

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,479
Re: Brain myths

Brev00 wrote:

MediaArchivist wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

Man, you guys are science obsessed.

Yes I am and proud of it. Only science can save us from lies and superstition. I've been science obsessed since I was a child.

Hard to deny that some people are more analytically oriented while others are more experiential.

That is the same thing! When you analyze something experimentation is necessary to reveal the facts.

You are proof of my hypothesis! But, keep posting science articles while I quote poets. And I know you can't stop judging people. Goes right hand in glove.

It appears you are judging people based on their love of science.

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Tom

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 24,030
Re: Brain myths
1

Brev00 wrote:

MediaArchivist wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

Man, you guys are science obsessed. Hard to deny that some people are more analytically oriented while others are more experiential. You are proof of my hypothesis! But, keep posting science articles while I quote poets. And I know you can't stop judging people. Goes right hand in glove.

Nobody is denying that some people are more analytical and others more intuitive. What is being denied is the facile myth that this is linked to different behavior of the left and right halves of the brain.

24IS
24IS Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Brain myths

tbcass wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

MediaArchivist wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

Man, you guys are science obsessed.

Yes I am and proud of it. Only science can save us from lies and superstition. I've been science obsessed since I was a child.

Hard to deny that some people are more analytically oriented while others are more experiential.

That is the same thing! When you analyze something experimentation is necessary to reveal the facts.

No, Tom.  Brev00 said experiential.  Learning as a gestalt thing.  Perceiving something, and then forming an opinion about it.  Gaining experience.  It's a different slant on what may very well be the same root (I'm not Noam Chomsky, so how can I be sure?).  Sort of like how cleave can have rather opposite meanings depending on context.

You are proof of my hypothesis! But, keep posting science articles while I quote poets. And I know you can't stop judging people. Goes right hand in glove.

It appears you are judging people based on their love of science.

ZodiacPhoto
ZodiacPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 2,683
Re: Single group option

Don_Campbell wrote:

tbcass wrote:

ZodiacPhoto wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Sounds like a good plan.

Sometimes a single, undivided group is used. Random pattern of switching between two units is used, known only to the test organizers. And while there are only two units compared, participants are told that there are 4 or 5 different units, and asked to rate them from best to worst.

One thing to note is it is best if the people conducting the tests are unaware of that or hidden from view lest they give subtle visual and verbal clues.

I'm all for blind and double blind testing of essential things but at some level it seems of less necessity for testing of basic good audio equipment. If you have to go to that trouble to detect a small difference then you might be overworking the purchase.

If the difference is spending $5,000 vs $30,000 for a piece of high end audio, serious unbiased testing is a must - unless those sums are pocket change for the buyer.

Across my collection of old, medium old and new CD's the optimal sound can often be tweaked to be more pleasing than the neutral settings of my amplifiers.

I never accepted the idea that you should listen to music flat. I prefer elevated frequency response above 12 khz to compensate for reduced sensitivity (I am over 50). I also prefer a combination of fast and tight bass and low frequency extension. Therefore I use a good parametric equalizer in my system. Some would consider that a blasphemy.

An awful lot of modestly priced hardware is available that has the capability to be low noise, low distortion, high output, flat frequency response over the audio range at neutral settings and so on.

Exactly,  there are many "hidden gems " in audio,  capable of delivering high end experience for thousands less. Especially if you like repairing and restoring the older tech.

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Brev00
Brev00 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,712
Re: Brain myths

D Cox wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

MediaArchivist wrote:

Brev00 wrote:

There is also the case of biology as biologists have determined that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left brain involves scientific analysis while the right brain involves appreciation of music.

That is largely a myth, the logic/art "functionality" is not neatly split between left/right.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

Man, you guys are science obsessed. Hard to deny that some people are more analytically oriented while others are more experiential. You are proof of my hypothesis! But, keep posting science articles while I quote poets. And I know you can't stop judging people. Goes right hand in glove.

Nobody is denying that some people are more analytical and others more intuitive. What is being denied is the facile myth that this is linked to different behavior of the left and right halves of the brain.

Actually not. My post was about how the poster was seeing this discussion through the narrow lens of his analytic approach to life. Better, I think, to have a more balanced view, not needing to find scientific articles to support every point of view one has. The issue I have is the intolerance being shown to people who are seeing things differently. Although it is easy and reflexive to say that I am judging people for believing in science and accuse me of being anti-science, simply pointing out bias does not suggest bias.  I am suggesting balance, incorporating subjective experience with objective agreement.

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