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Not Just About Cables: Objectivism vs. Subjectivism in Audio

post #1 of 89
Thread Starter 
Perhaps many of you are familiar with the history of these debates and disputes in Audiophile Land not just about cables. There have been intense ones about whether amplilfiers sound different and about the Tice Clock which went much like the ones here recently about cables and about a Machina Dynamica tweak device.

I find these disturbing as do many of you, especially the ill will and intolerance that emerges and takes over repeatedly. I've been looking around the net some to learn about ABX testing and the history of all this and came across an article that captured a lot of what I have been picking up on. It surely is from one side of the issue but that is not why I offer it. Rather it is the overall theme expressed in the title that seemed so on target about what is so disturbing about it all:

http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/107/
post #2 of 89
a good read. some parts i thought were particulary relevant.

David Clark, the man most closely associated with the idea that all power amplifiers sound the same, described the results of the double-blind loudspeaker cable tests he conducted at the 1988 Los Angeles AES Convention which he feels indicated no audible differences existed between cables. Clark made an interesting admission: ABX tests are "high pressure, like a college exam."

...

Bob Katz, engineer of the Chesky recordings, offered this observation: "It is important to realize that ABX tests and psychoacoustical studies and FFT measurements and subjective listening tests are each one-dimensional attempts to describe or analyze our experience of music listening. But music listening is a holistic, multidimensional experience that includes emotions, reactions, and involvement in the music. As scientists, it is important for us to remain cognizant of the fact that we are always looking through a small window on a very complex experience and to remain forever skeptical of our own conclusions and methods and as well as remain open-minded about the conclusions of others." (enthusiastic applause from a section of the audience)

...

Loudspeaker designer Ken Kantor, of NHT, made a similar statement of reconciliation: "I make a plea for cooperation between people on different sides of this issue. It is very easy for subjectivists to point fingers at scientists and say 'all you want to do is protect your agenda and read meters,' and it's very easy for people in the AES to look at subjectivists and say 'it's all an illusion.' Personally, I happen to feel that cables are not an important part of progress in audio. I also know that tests such as we witnessed here and in many other circumstances will not change anybody's mind. They do not prove anything. They are not well conducted either in terms of environment or equipment."

...

The next speaker was Jeff Corey, a professor of Psychology at Long Island University and "coordinator of investigations" for a group called the "New York Area Skeptics." He attempted to dismiss the tens of thousands of people who hear differences between cables by citing examples of perceptual illusions from the psychological literature. ... Dr. Corey then inadvertently indicted the proponents of double-blind ABX testing by suggesting that "the experimenters tend to get the results they expect to obtain." He also revealed his bias in suggesting that "six guesses out of seven is not significant," an apparent reference to the many skilled listeners who have made six out of seven correct identifications in double-blind tests. Note the use of the word "guesses" rather than "identifications."
post #3 of 89
Advertorial is a terrible thing for consumers. It started in the late 70s and has now pretty much taken over the entire audio press. I find it ironic that the feeble justifications of it that stereo magazines feel obligated to offer up in explanation have been taken up by consumers, who are the ones who are the ones who get no benefit from it.

The fact that Stereophile's advertisers were singled out for criticism in the panel discussion pretty much tells you what a writer for Stereophile is going to think of the proceedings. The outcome would only result in the magazine looking bad and the advertiser taking their business elsewhere. It's natural that they would want to fling mud all over the whole thing hoping something somewhere might stick.

More interesting than this lame article is the discussion of subjectivism vs objectivism. By definition, subjectivism is a "personal observation"... It doesn't necessarily apply to anyone but the individual expressing it. In order for it to have meaning for others, subjective observations have to be verified objectively. It really isn't a difficult concept to wrap your head around.

See ya
Steve
post #4 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
a good read. some parts i thought were particulary relevant.

David Clark, the man most closely associated with the idea that all power amplifiers sound the same, described the results of the double-blind loudspeaker cable tests he conducted at the 1988 Los Angeles AES Convention which he feels indicated no audible differences existed between cables. Clark made an interesting admission: ABX tests are "high pressure, like a college exam."

...

Bob Katz, engineer of the Chesky recordings, offered this observation: "It is important to realize that ABX tests and psychoacoustical studies and FFT measurements and subjective listening tests are each one-dimensional attempts to describe or analyze our experience of music listening. But music listening is a holistic, multidimensional experience that includes emotions, reactions, and involvement in the music. As scientists, it is important for us to remain cognizant of the fact that we are always looking through a small window on a very complex experience and to remain forever skeptical of our own conclusions and methods and as well as remain open-minded about the conclusions of others." (enthusiastic applause from a section of the audience)

...

Loudspeaker designer Ken Kantor, of NHT, made a similar statement of reconciliation: "I make a plea for cooperation between people on different sides of this issue. It is very easy for subjectivists to point fingers at scientists and say 'all you want to do is protect your agenda and read meters,' and it's very easy for people in the AES to look at subjectivists and say 'it's all an illusion.' Personally, I happen to feel that cables are not an important part of progress in audio. I also know that tests such as we witnessed here and in many other circumstances will not change anybody's mind. They do not prove anything. They are not well conducted either in terms of environment or equipment."

...

The next speaker was Jeff Corey, a professor of Psychology at Long Island University and "coordinator of investigations" for a group called the "New York Area Skeptics." He attempted to dismiss the tens of thousands of people who hear differences between cables by citing examples of perceptual illusions from the psychological literature. ... Dr. Corey then inadvertently indicted the proponents of double-blind ABX testing by suggesting that "the experimenters tend to get the results they expect to obtain." He also revealed his bias in suggesting that "six guesses out of seven is not significant," an apparent reference to the many skilled listeners who have made six out of seven correct identifications in double-blind tests. Note the use of the word "guesses" rather than "identifications."
Especially the last part of your post is important; they consistantly identified 6 out of 7. Pure mathemetically this is way above chance. Also, he describes it as a guess, wich is false, and his bias.

This is also important:
"No Stereophile contributor would even consider making any kind of evaluation under the circumstances of the New York test. It is ironic that the most vehement critics of subjectivists' listening methodology are the ones who themselves show such incompetence in devising their own listening tests. Listening conditions, however, are irrelevant if one seeks to demonstrate a position, rather than to acquire new knowledge. Since Dugan knew the outcome in advance—no audible differences—why expend effort on setup?"



I consistantly hear differences between cables and can identiy my own cables in a dbt. That's all i need. My high end cables sound so much better and give me more pleasure in listening to the music. That's all i need.
post #5 of 89
A brave attempt. (Starting this thread I mean).

I find it an interesting, but not very surprising article.
I think the main problem lies not in the subject, but in the attitude of the people involved.
Why do they make a controversy out of an ordinary situation?
Why turn a posibly very interesting discussion into a fight?
Why does there have to be a winner?
Why do controversial or unusual statements and opinions have to be not questioned, but (viciously) attacked?

The situations calls for open-mindedness and cooperation. That way everybody will gain from the experience.
The drive to WIN the discussion causes people to find means to destroy or ridicule the oponent instead of making an effort to clarify and examine everybody's view.

This drive to win and the attitude resulting from that seems to be rooted in the "American way". It has it's merits, but it can be taken too far.
The media are much to blame for that I think. If there is a hot issue they find an advocate for an opposing standpoint and STAGE THE BATTLE for everybody to enjoy.

Show & spectacle are the goal, not the sharing of interesting information and views.
There has to be a winner, but in the end that is why everybody loses.
And the people stay ignorant.

Tolerance, respect and the willingness to listen to each other are not so spectacular, but the results of cooperation are much more profitable in the end.
That way everybody wins.
post #6 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kees View Post
A brave attempt.

I find it an interesting, but not very surprising article.
I think the main problem lies not in the subject, but in the attitude of the people involved.
Why do they make a controversy out of an ordinary situation?
Why turn a posibly very interesting discussion into a fight?
Why does there have to be a winner?
Why do controversial or unusual statements and opinions have to be not questioned, but (viciously) attacked?

The situations calls for open-mindedness and cooperation. That way everybody will gain from the experience.
The drive to WIN the discussion causes people to find means to destroy or ridicule the oponent instead of making an effort to clarify and examine everybody's view.

This drive to win and the attitude resulting from that seems to be rooted in the "American way". It has it's merits, but it can be taken too far.
The media are much to blame for that I think. If there is a hot issue they find an advocate for an opposing standpoint and STAGE THE BATTLE for everybody to enjoy.

Show & spectacle are the goal, not the sharing of interesting information and views.
There has to be a winner, but in the end that is why everybody loses.
And the people stay ignorant.

Tolerance, respect and the willingness to listen to each other are not so spectacular, but the results of cooperation are much more profitable in the end.
That way everybody wins.
The only "winner" is the one that is willing to experiment with cables himself and makes his own decision. Not, as most do, read something on the web and blab like them.

Opions based on others opinions isn't an opinion.

The fact is that the biggest bunch on head-fi never experimented with cables or has any experience with high end cables.
post #7 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
Advertorial is a terrible thing for consumers. It started in the late 70s and has now pretty much taken over the entire audio press. I find it ironic that the feeble justifications of it that stereo magazines feel obligated to offer up in explanation have been taken up by consumers, who are the ones who are the ones who get no benefit from it.

The fact that Stereophile's advertisers were singled out for criticism in the panel discussion pretty much tells you what a writer for Stereophile is going to think of the proceedings. The outcome would only result in the magazine looking bad and the advertiser taking their business elsewhere. It's natural that they would want to fling mud all over the whole thing hoping something somewhere might stick.

More interesting than this lame article is the discussion of subjectivism vs objectivism. By definition, subjectivism is a "personal observation"... It doesn't necessarily apply to anyone but the individual expressing it. In order for it to have meaning for others, subjective observations have to be verified objectively. It really isn't a difficult concept to wrap your head around.

See ya
Steve
Reading your comment is excatly the classical mistake you make...and the one describes above...
post #8 of 89
post #9 of 89
Anyone else find he interesting that he says so much about their testing procedures, and everything the did during the test.

Yet he does not even say he was there.

Where is he getting his information?

Also, the author doesn't quite seem to understand footnotes.
post #10 of 89
Objectivism states: proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or "rational self-interest".

I think this is consistent with the pursuit of this hobby that we are mostly here engaged in.
post #11 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kees View Post
A brave attempt. (Starting this thread I mean).

I find it an interesting, but not very surprising article.
I think the main problem lies not in the subject, but in the attitude of the people involved.
Why do they make a controversy out of an ordinary situation?
Why turn a posibly very interesting discussion into a fight?
Why does there have to be a winner?
Why do controversial or unusual statements and opinions have to be not questioned, but (viciously) attacked?

The situations calls for open-mindedness and cooperation. That way everybody will gain from the experience.
The drive to WIN the discussion causes people to find means to destroy or ridicule the oponent instead of making an effort to clarify and examine everybody's view.

This drive to win and the attitude resulting from that seems to be rooted in the "American way". It has it's merits, but it can be taken too far.
The media are much to blame for that I think. If there is a hot issue they find an advocate for an opposing standpoint and STAGE THE BATTLE for everybody to enjoy.

Show & spectacle are the goal, not the sharing of interesting information and views.
There has to be a winner, but in the end that is why everybody loses.
And the people stay ignorant.

Tolerance, respect and the willingness to listen to each other are not so spectacular, but the results of cooperation are much more profitable in the end.
That way everybody wins.
x2.

http://www.stereophile.com/artdudley...ten/index.html

PACE
post #12 of 89
Quote:
Bob Katz, engineer of the Chesky recordings, offered this observation: "It is important to realize that ABX tests and psychoacoustical studies and FFT measurements and subjective listening tests are each one-dimensional attempts to describe or analyze our experience of music listening. But music listening is a holistic, multidimensional experience that includes emotions, reactions, and involvement in the music. As scientists, it is important for us to remain cognizant of the fact that we are always looking through a small window on a very complex experience and to remain forever skeptical of our own conclusions and methods and as well as remain open-minded about the conclusions of others." (enthusiastic applause from a section of the audience)
Having to deal with lawyers quite a bit, I find this passage incredibly amusing. There is a very real possibility he's not saying what the audience thinks he is if read closely.

That being said, this article gets passed around quite a bit. I find it quite frustrating, because I feel like it pulls the wrong direction. The AES test is dissected and rebuked, so why doesn't Stereophile just do their own, proper test? They keep skimming the line between "DB tests are not properly conducted" and "DB tests are worthless" and really the line is not grey. Which side you end up on speaks volumes about your philosophy when it comes to audio.
post #13 of 89
Riboge,
well done in posting that article and spot on.

Kees, you have identified something that Tourmaline and I have discussed frequently by email. Americans, with exceptions, have been completely brainwashed into only being consumers/buyers. That's understandable as they were the first consumer society. If Americans stopped buying, their economy would collapse overnight. Compare that with Germany even in it's worst years there is always a current account surplus.

How many times have I challenged the science believers, because that is exactly what they are, to tell the rest of us exactly what experiments they have conducted to validate their theories - never on any thread has one of them described a single experiment they have done - why because they hav'nt done anything at all

One idiot described my challenge on the thread recently closed as an outburst, that was the best he could do, rather than have the balls to say his opinions were only based on theory and that he had never done anything himself.

So we can now say categorically that all the science believers never have conducted any experiments and that they can only spout theory. This must be self evident since not one has ever offered up anything practical to support their arguments.

Their obsession (and it is an obsession) with denouncing expensive cables falls flat when I mention that I make cables for pennies that beat even the cheap commercial offerings - why is there always deadly silence, well we know the answer - it's becasue it does'nt suit their argument of course it als makes them look stupid - because no answer is an answer in itself.

It really is time now for those who run Head-fi to now seperate those who hear differences from those who don't. Of course mostly the sc/believers only post to destroy - I for one don't want to converse in any way with them because I find them to be totally negative and in my personal life I don't associate with such types, occasionally one will try to impress itself and it's negative views upon me but it only lasts a matter of moments and normaly leaves them seeking medical help.

If I encounter someone (again in my personal, face to face life) that is not interested in what I have to say, I simply desist from any attempt at further dialogue. This seems to me to be a sensible and rational response on my part to that situation.

If Head-fi do adopt this policy, the outcome is clear - those who experiment and truly want to share their experiences will have threads bubbling with inovation which will undoubtedly come from cross fertilisation of ideas, methods and so on. Whereas the 'negativos' ( I like that expression don't you) threads won't get past a couple of posts, if that.

I really think that the time has come for Head-fi to try this idea, if it does'nt work scrap it but go back to what - the shambles that all cable discussion threads are now.

And to think that only about 18 months ago I agreed with Bigshot - it was the reality of experiments I did first with power cords and then with I/Cs that changed my mind but then I have an open mind, present me with something that looks workable and I'll try it - the sc/bes never do and that really says it all.

C'mon head-fi try the seperation idea - it will be for some and for others.
post #14 of 89
Thread Starter 

Instead of 'placebo' you might consider cascading

On the front page of the Science Times section of the New York Times yesterday is an article about mistaken consensus about dietary fat. In it a concept of cascading of second-hand opinions is discussed about the errors made by govt agencies, scientists, the public, etc, about the ill effects of eating fats. This could apply by analogy to our subject. See what you think.
post #15 of 89
Quote:
Americans, with exceptions, have been completely brainwashed into only being consumers/buyers. That's understandable as they were the first consumer society. If Americans stopped buying, their economy would collapse overnight. Compare that with Germany even in it's worst years there is always a current account surplus.
what does this have to do with the OP? If anything it means as much as Americans like to spend money, they don't like to spend it unless they are getting something for their money. Most feel that their money can be better spent elsewhere than fancy cables. If anyone is being brainwashed, it is the new members who believe 6" of cryo silver wire will magically make all of their songs on their iPods sound better.

Quote:
So we can now say categorically that all the science believers never have conducted any experiments and that they can only spout theory. This must be self evident since not one has ever offered up anything practical to support their arguments.
really, categorically? That is pretty bold and false don't you think?

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=262071

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=252681

Have you ever heard of a web site called Hydrogen Audio, where people have to actually back up their claims, before making statements that "x blows y our of the water"?
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