Forum

Are you a Subjectiv...
 

Are you a Subjectivist or an Objectivist?  

Page 1 / 2
  RSS

Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
18/06/2019 7:54 am  

Are you a subjective audiophile or an objective audiophile?

As I've said in other messages here, I got started in audio as a hobby in my teens, nearly 50 years ago. The underlying electronics then became my profession for most of my adult life.  But following a house fire in the early 1980s, I was away from the audio scene until about 6 years ago when I began tinkering with a set of computer speakers just to see how much improvement I could make.  Then, eventually came the task of shopping for a new system and about four years ago I started reading and watching online audio reviews...

Now that was an experience! Half hour videos with no mention of power, distortion, frequency response, features, case quality, possible problems... just a bunch of talk about stuff I'd never heard of before.  "Soundstage", "Speed", "Resolving", "Warmth"... So okay I've been away, but WTF is this???

The first thing I discovered as I got into this was a lot --and I do mean a LOT-- of predatory marketing selling stuff that was just laughable. $500 RCA cables, $200 power cords, $800 speaker wires, little wooden disks that go on stands to define a listening area, cable elevators, crystals that absorb bad sound, vibration damping weights... and on and on. 

But then I started looking at the marketing techniques these guys are using. Basically they're making shit up (sorry, there's just no other way to describe it) and convincing their customers that it's all very scientific. Then, much to my surprise, I found a group of audiophiles who not only believe this crap, but actually expound it as gospel to other audiophiles. This, of course, is what I was getting from online reviews. 

On my first go around, Audiophiles were somewhat expert in the technology. They could discuss mid-level concepts such as amplifier classes, output bias, gain, impedance, etc. with reasonable clarity. In fact I was part of some very interesting technical discussions whenever we gathered at the coffee shop across the street from our favourite dealer. I was as much student as I was teacher in those days.

Now on this second visit to the community I'm actually discovering two separate Audiophile communities --Subjectivists and Objectivists-- and they don't seem to get along very well.  Subjectivists rely entirely on their perception, actively eschew specifications and claim that listening is everything. Objectivists rely upon specifications and technical fact and claim that hearing doesn't tell the story.

I think they're both wrong!

As a service technician the first clues I get about a problem in a system usually comes from listening. Then once I'm on the trail of something, out comes the test gear and objective trouble shooting begins. I simply could not do one without the other, I need both my ears and my test gear to do the job.

The same is true when putting together a new system. I use the product specifications, manuals and pamphlets to make my initial choices. From there I used to go to the dealership and listen to the system before buying. The specs help me eliminate mismatches, my ears tell me if the products get along nicely. Once again, I need both the objective and subjective information to make a properly informed decision. 

So this leaves me with a nagging question ... Why are these two groups at odds with each other? 

It seems to me they have much to share and learn from each other and should actually be helping one another...

 


Quote
JonnyAudio
(@jonnyaudio)
Active Member Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 19
18/06/2019 1:48 pm  

The difference between Audiofools & realistic people who understand electronics at component & atomic level is normally to do with how stuck up they are & will be snobby talkers about MDF wood even though MDF is recycled.

I own 2 X Denon Tape Decks DRM800A & the DRM700A & had a special recording made by a "so called" expert in the "tapeheads community using his "so called" expensive recording equipment. After testing with my multimeter (Fulke) I found the tape to have a voltage fluctuation of +_.05v, I created a Minidisk recording from the pc using a sine wave software program at the correct frequency give or take a few hz due to certain frequencys oscillating the voltage, so have to move it up or down a bit in hz,

I then recorded this to my DRM 700A model & measured the voltage fluctuation & found it to be a lot less than +-.05v in fact allowing me to set my tape decks up a lot more precisely.

The point I am making is the tape I purchased was supposed to be recorded on a over priced tape deck like a Nak or Revox & yet the properly priced Denon has produced a more stable test tape & giving the word Audiofools to those expensive bits of equipment.

In 2012 I purchased an Audiolab 8200P Pre-Amp for the new price of £750, I opened it up only to find it was using NE5534 Op-Amp in a £750 case & hardly any different in components used ?

Being down to earth has saved me a lot of money over the years. (apart from the Audiolab purchase)


123Toid liked
ReplyQuote

Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
18/06/2019 2:18 pm  

You would be amazed at some of the rip-offs that are out there.

Nick's homebrew ICE amps actually use the same amplifier modules as the PS Audio Stellar. He built his for under $300 and from PS Audio you need to add a zero. Same with his new test amp which is actually most of a PS Audio Sprout.

It seems the minute something is tagged as "high end" the price just soars.  But if we could get both groups in the community to understand that both ears and specs matter equally it's likely we could put an end to that... and make some new friends in the process.

Here's a snap of my home theatre system...

system

I apologize for the quality... Me and cameras just don't get along well.

That's a stereo setup, fed by a miniature HTPC that I build and sell. The amp on the shelf under the TV is a "Chip Amp" that cost me all of $75.00, the speakers are a pair of Cambridge Audio SX-60s I originally brought in for a friend. When there were problems he ended up with my Elacs and I got stuck with the CAs.  Notice there is no DAC, pre-amp or Streamer ... the HTPC on the bottom shelf takes care of all that.

Of interest is that the audio outs on that computer have better specs than most high end DACs and that little playing card sized amp puts out a genuine 50 watts per channel at less than .1% distortion.

You would be amazed how many times so called Audiophiles have laughed right in my face when I tell them what I'm using... until they hear it.  Then the laughter stops pretty abruptly.

But I can do that because I understand the tech and know how to listen and make changes...  Objectivism  and Subjectivism both used to advantage.


ReplyQuote
123Toid
(@123toid)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 498
18/06/2019 3:01 pm  

I think this is a great discussion.  It actually came up on a group I was part of.  This particular question dealt with DIY speakers only.  But the questions was, how do you tell when your speaker/crossover is complete?  Do you use just test measurements/frequency response/distortion graphs, etc or do you you use or ears or both?  There was a lot of discussion on there, with all kinds of varying opinions, but what I found interesting is most if not all the top designers said the same thing, they use both.  They use their test gear to get it to where "it should" sound good, then they use their ears to fine tune it.  I honestly am not sure why you wouldn't use your ears after you feel you tuned it.  It is after all your ears that will have to listen to it, not your testing microphone.  I personally have found that flat is not always the best.  And with some tweeters I prefer them to be softer in areas where I like other tweeters to be more aggressive.  I haven't quite narrowed down what it is, if it is just the design of the tweeter or the type of down or what, but it really is interesting to see. 

I actually posed a question to a group of guys, since most people look only at frequency response, and asked them if I gave you a graph of speakers that looked identical, would the speakers sound the same.  Once again varying opinions.  It is interesting though, because they probably won't for a variety of reasons, including crossover point, distortion graphs, CSD, and others.  But it seems we can get so caught up on either side, that we forget that it might just be a combination of the two. Well said both of you.


ReplyQuote

JonnyAudio
(@jonnyaudio)
Active Member Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 19
18/06/2019 3:43 pm  

Here in a "print screen" snippet I edited which is a conversation I had with Tim De Paravicini the designer of those EAR Valve Amp things on a forum with less than 200 members not gonna say were though, lol

I was only showing my sub as an example to somebody on there about ports & he just started having a right go so as always I replied without swearing of course 😉

Tim

Tim2

Tim3

Just another example of being talked down to by somebody who uses instruments to measure & uses posh wood to make the same sound for overpriced equipment.

When he responds on that forum to other it is just a negative attitude toward anything he does not approve of, funnily enough a friend of myne is building the China clone version of his RIAA too, so I am learning about Valves at the same time & things I did not know.


ReplyQuote
Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
18/06/2019 4:24 pm  

Nick:

Side note ... With the various tweeters, have you considered including a rheostat to allow the end user to adjust them up and down a few DB?

https://www.parts-express.com/parts-express-speaker-l-pad-attenuator-50w-mono-1-shaft-8-ohm--260-255

Anyway...

Yes it has to be both science and impression.

But I do get quite the laugh at guys telling me they hear differences between amplifiers, CD players and DACs... Those devices are standardized to a level where it's unlikely anyone could tell one from another in a fair test. Most amplifiers these days have a flat frequency response from less than 20hz to well beyond 30khz, with distortion under a tenth of  a percent ... there's no way they're going to sound different enough to tweak anyone's notice.  Digital devices generally conform to standards dictating what digital values give which analog values. It's necessary for ADC applications. So it's really unlikely they will sound all that different.  But there they are telling us one amp is warm and another has a better soundstage. They would know better if only they would learn how to interpret the specs....  Go Figure. 

 


ReplyQuote

Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
18/06/2019 4:30 pm  
Posted by: JonnyAudio

Just another example of being talked down to by somebody who uses instruments to measure & uses posh wood to make the same sound for overpriced equipment.

When he responds on that forum to other it is just a negative attitude toward anything he does not approve of, funnily enough a friend of myne is building the China clone version of his RIAA too, so I am learning about Valves at the same time & things I did not know.

Sadly it looks like neither of you learned anything from that exchange ... what a waste when tempers flair like that.

MDF is preferred because it has almost no acoustic signature.

 


ReplyQuote
JonnyAudio
(@jonnyaudio)
Active Member Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 19
19/06/2019 5:35 am  

This is why Douglas Blake I wish I had kept my electronic project secret from social media as I preferred it when there was no Facebook/Forums, as I learnt most of my theory from books in the library including Thieles Small Parameters (started at 14 at GCSE level & now 47 years old) & these people come along with theory that does not match mine from books - I even checked your circuit for Tone Control in my book (newness Engineers Pocket Book) & it just looks the same to me, I do not think there is an audio circuit that has not been made with electronics we have in todays market yet !!!

This is why I don't talk much about circuits I have been working on for 20 years as you get too many arguments that don't make sense, I won't be making that mistake again !

Also: I have made speakers with Plywood & MDF & always preferred MDF as it easy to cut & heavy as you don't want a box to be lighter than the speakers in my experience.


123Toid liked
ReplyQuote

Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
19/06/2019 6:22 am  
Posted by: JonnyAudio

This is why I don't talk much about circuits I have been working on for 20 years as you get too many arguments that don't make sense, I won't be making that mistake again !

This is one of the problems for sure. People like to have an opinion on everything and, yes, I've heard some pretty bad garble speak in the last while.

That's why I started this thread, to see if we can't set some of the antagonism aside... Maybe the subjectivists learn a little electronics and the objectivists take a lesson in what to listen for.  I do realize the schism isn't absolute but there's enough BS floating around to cause friction... as we've both encountered.

 


ReplyQuote
CAP
 CAP
(@cap)
Eminent Member Registered
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 41
19/06/2019 4:17 pm  

 Why are these two groups at odds with each other? 

One accepts confirmation bias. The other does not. 

My two cents includes that one must not always have to be a subjectivist or objectivist. You can wear both hats at different times and situations. When setting up live sound, I'm not looking for high fidelity. I'm looking more towards something that takes advantage of the Fletcher-Munson curve for a more pleasurable experience. When I listen to music in the car, I know I can't counteract all the issues so I roll with it. In my own home, I go for high fidelity to gain a better appreciation of the texture of the audio.  That comes with test equipment and measurements. I don't hear when it's high fidelity and just know. That's confirmation bias. I let the measurement equipment tell me when fidelity in my listening position has been maximized based on the constraints given. 

The other reason the two don't get along is that subjectivists lean on unfounded principles  and expound on those errors. As someone who enjoys science and education, it's infuriating that one doesn't look into where they might be wrong and correct errors. Typically, the subjectivist response is to dig heels and double down. 

As far as your anecdote of listening to gear issues to get a starting point, that's actually more objective than you think. You're taking known data to formulate a prediction then testing your hypothesis. A more subjectivist analogy would be knowing which cap is blown in an amp just by listening to it. Could you be right? Sure. Is it more precise than opening the amp and testing the components. No. 


123Toid liked
ReplyQuote

Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
20/06/2019 11:25 am  

Hello Cap ... and welcome to ToidCity!  

I agree that a lot of the subjectivist thing is a reliance on unverifiable theory or hypothesis. Generally this originates in a sales pitch where the bulk of the explanation is technically correct, but with one or two bits of crucial information missing.

For example:

A number of cable makers will discuss the capacitance of a cable and how it can attenuate high frequencies.  It's true that can happen... but even common 10 cent a foot microphone cable will get several decades above audio frequencies before that happens. Audiophiles hear "high frequency" and think about 10khz ... but these guys never clarify that they are talking about megacycles, not kilohertz.

(FWIW... most RCA cables, even the $10.00 ones will handle an SD video signal with no problems. Remember S-Video? There was nothing special about the yellow wire.)

These kinds of presentations often implant misinformation in the minds of those who just don't know any better and simply take the sales rep at his or her word.  (Always a mistake, every single time!) Of course it also sells a lot of useless junk, in the process.

But then these guys start talking among themselves spreading fake science even further... and, of late, it's starting to take hold. I've even heard it from some well experienced reviewers.

But pure objectivism isn't a lot better. I can indeed set a room up with a sweep generator and a spectrum analyser and get very good results.  But there are cases where that trips you up, such as the coffee pot that rattles whenever C1 is played. Your test gear won't predict that, but your ears will hear it. So it really isn't a good idea to put in ear plugs while doing your tests.

For example:

I was once called in on a problem in a basement home theatre where there was an always present hum that nobody could explain. Drove me nuts for nearly a year trying off and on to figure it out.  Test equipment could detect it in the room but did nothing to help me find it's source. Then, one day, standing in the hallway I heard a very faint hum, almost inaudible, coming from the room next door... turns out it was the furnace fan.  But, the story doesn't end there... now we need to figure out why that hum was so much louder in the room.  Subjectively it didn't make sense.  Objectively one has to think it was some kind of resonance.  Indeed that home theatre room was 19 feet front to back... almost exactly 1/2 wavelength at the speed of the motor (30 rps).  So how did we fix it... we moved the back wall of the room 1 foot forward to get the room resonance away from frequencies related to the power lines.  No more hum.

It is very unlikely a pure subjectivist could have solved the problem and pure objectivism left us with an explaination but no solutions.

So, yes, there is some foundation in your initial answer to why we find ourselves at odds and, of course, this also drives my thought that we really should be helping each other, not fighting. I really do think both groups have a lot to learn from each other.

 


ReplyQuote
JonnyAudio
(@jonnyaudio)
Active Member Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 19
20/06/2019 11:50 am  

At the beginning of my electronics journey I was told my soldering was bad, but that would be true as I had never soldered before & this was a teacher saying that instead of showing me how to improve my soldering !

After years of looking at "so called" perfect circuits & building my own, taking apart equipment & studying how it works while being an installer of Plasmas & audio Equipment back in the 2000's I came across many a "Posh" HiFi system that is supposed to be a perfectly designed system, I found the systems to be lacking in treble & no real deep bass notes when I used my own CD's as a reference to my own home built systems.

If you look at my power supply circuit on here to gain a Degree in Electronics they show you the resisters added to the circuit to limit the current from the transformer from overloading as somebody gave me all his paperwork from his Electronics Degree & I found nothing in there that I did not know from experience, so I learnt about the resister from experience.

The same type of arguments have happened over AMD vs Intel & the argument is not true there either as that is just about how many cores have been utilized to do the given task war.

So I say over 30 years of audio development matches or can be better than someone with a Degree in Audio &/or Electronics as we have seen all the circuits before with low noise...

The best thing you could do is look at the studio equipment which recorded the CD/Vinyl you listen to then re-create a similar circuit maybe using more expensive components as the industry always cheapskates something even in studio equipment, some people improve the signal to noise ratio on the equipment as part of their Degree etc.


ReplyQuote

Speaker Builder
(@speaker-builder)
Reputable Member Registered
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 251
20/06/2019 12:18 pm  

JohnnyAudio...

It sounds like you've got some good experience in the field but (no offense, please) lack the theoretical background to get beyond a certain point.  I've hit roadblocks in my career too and often I've set up experiments to test my own ideas, only to find out I've been wrong. Of course I was right a few times too... but you can't know that without a double check.

For the resistors in your power supply... That is not the best way to protect a power supply. In fact it can lead to considerable power supply ripple as the load changes (and in audio it is constantly changing).  A far better approach is to determine the load requirements, use transformers and rectifiers that support it with about a 20% overhead in current.  Then protect the entire device with a fuse on the AC side of the transformer.  This both lowers the series resistance of your power supply and limits ripple and hum effects, with no loss of safety.

Take a run over to All About Circuits and grab some more theory. It never hurts to have a good review....

 


ReplyQuote
JonnyAudio
(@jonnyaudio)
Active Member Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 19
20/06/2019 1:32 pm  

What you saying make no difference to the sound or the charging of the circuit, are still believing your "spice" program telling you things that do not exist - next thing you will be telling me is that Zenner diodes produce "shot noise" in a voltage regulator circuit.

Did you know that a regulated power supply using Voltage Regulation only needs half the recommended capacitance & charges the caps up, so you would hardly know since the voltage is not changing there is no current needed in the form of ripple.

I got theory right years ago & sounds like you are the one quoting theory to me.


ReplyQuote

JonnyAudio
(@jonnyaudio)
Active Member Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 19
20/06/2019 1:33 pm  

What you saying make no difference to the sound or the charging of the circuit, are still believing your "spice" program telling you things that do not exist - next thing you will be telling me is that Zenner diodes produce "shot noise" in a voltage regulator circuit.

Did you know that a regulated power supply using Voltage Regulation only needs half the recommended capacitance & charges the caps up, so you would hardly know since the voltage is not changing there is no current needed in the form of ripple.

I got theory right years ago & sounds like you are the one quoting theory to me.


ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2

Share:

%d bloggers like this:

Please Login or Register