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Why do we think about science on audio?

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
I am reading all the posts and threads are made on this sub-forum, now the bigger question is, why do we think about science when:

"Reality is merely our perception of the world around us." -synaesthetic

And other comments on some of us suggest that 'experience/perception >>> science.' Like one member on my other thread suggests us to just come to some mini-meets and just listen to change our opinions. There is little space for science on audiophile area. The claim is plain simple: "forget the science and just listen."





But here is one problem for such claim. Without science, the whole audio thing is just impossible to exist.

All the laws of physics, which usually debunk all of unscientific claims, are also ones make ALL of audio equipments possible to exist.

The recording, transducer and amplification -three most biggest concepts in audio, are just pure science.

Vacuum tubes and transistors are coming from science; without the knowledge of thermo physics and electronics, tubes do not exist at the first time. Do we need to remind ourselves that the first patent for a transistor is made by a physicist? As you see, the main core of audio and listening is based on science. Without science, all of our listening experience and pleasure would not exist at all.


Transformers? science. Electronics? science. Waves? science. With the knowledge from science, we understand concepts and build speakers and amplifiers based on science. I think too many people forget this fact.





Now, my question is, how can we possibly ignore science on audio field when the very basic core of audio itself is made of pure science? How can we talk about a thing without mentioning and applying the core of the thing?
post #2 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnmnkh View Post
Now, my question is, how can we possibly ignore science on audio field when the very basic core of audio itself is made of pure science? How can we talk about a thing without mentioning and applying the core of the thing?
I wrote a long answer and just deleted it, because quite frankly I don't want to get flamed. Why do people argue that global warming isn't happening, despite tons of empirical evidence to the contrary? Why do people argue with evolution? Short answer: Because people don't like believing inconvenient truths, or "facts" that run counter to their personal beliefs.

If someone can hear a difference then to their mind it's real and it doesn't matter if everything we know says that they cannot possibly hear a difference- they know they've heard it, and all of physics and science in general be damned. They totally ignore the fact that their experience could be due to the placebo-effect, because it is inconvenient to their reality and their beliefs.

I think that another part of it, is that scientists often change their opinions on what they believe the truth to be (based on new evidence and theory), and the general public perceives this change of opinion as being evidence that science is frequently wrong, and so we should have little faith in it- and that's because the general public perceives little difference between cutting edge science, where new hypotheses are constantly being put out there and then challenged, with well established scientific theory. For example: super-string theory in physics is rapidly changing, and makes new, and weird predictions about the true number of dimensions in the universe: is it 7, or 11, or 17, or some other number - and the presume if we're that unconfident about this one area of science - super-string theory, than maybe we should equally question classical newtonian mechanics.
post #3 of 85
Bringing global warming into this discussion is pointless and probably too political for this forum. There are many reasons why the issue is hotly debated.

Doomsaying is a popular pastime. Throughout history, a thousand thousand Apocalypses have been prophesied, come and gone.

We're still here.
post #4 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clutz View Post
I wrote a long answer and just deleted it, because quite frankly I don't want to get flamed. Why do people argue that global warming isn't happening, despite tons of empirical evidence to the contrary? Why do people argue with evolution? Short answer: Because people don't like believing inconvenient truths, or "facts" that run counter to their personal beliefs.

If someone can hear a difference then to their mind it's real and it doesn't matter if everything we know says that they cannot possibly hear a difference- they know they've heard it, and all of physics and science in general be damned. They totally ignore the fact that their experience could be due to the placebo-effect, because it is inconvenient to their reality and their beliefs.

I think that another part of it, is that scientists often change their opinions on what they believe the truth to be (based on new evidence and theory), and the general public perceives this change of opinion as being evidence that science is frequently wrong, and so we should have little faith in it- and that's because the general public perceives little difference between cutting edge science, where new hypotheses are constantly being put out there and then challenged, with well established scientific theory. For example: super-string theory in physics is rapidly changing, and makes new, and weird predictions about the true number of dimensions in the universe: is it 7, or 11, or 17, or some other number - and the presume if we're that unconfident about this one area of science - super-string theory, than maybe we should equally question classical newtonian mechanics.

Global warming is BS, and still controversial in thte scientic community. I Believe in intelligent design. I don't believe we evolved fro apes. If true, apes would still be evolving into man..

Science has no business with audio. Musical is emotional , something you can't put under a slab to study... Science doesn't understand sounding warm, cold, etc.. they would go by the frequencies and other hard data that would disconnect us from the music..
post #5 of 85
Saying science has no business with audio is, quite frankly, ignorant. It takes science to even create sound reproduction. What do you think all your equipment was born from? Obviously there was and is a connection. The engineers and designers know which "hard data" and components produce certain sounds that can't be measured with our tools (for now...dun dun dunnnn lol).

Just saying, science has a lot to do with audio.
post #6 of 85
The "just listen" camp and the "measure the engineering" camp can find common ground with well-designed listener-blind listening tests.

They do not have to be double blind, and they can be done with headphones (no matter what anyone tells you).

It is not hard to smoke out the placebo effect in these tests, through deliberate "fraud" .. a well-known idea in testing (some of the comparisons are not what the listener has been told they are).

You can also separate the golden ears from the wooden ears.

Rigorous statistical analysis can tell us if an effect is audible, even if we cannot measure it with today's scientific instruments (because it might have something to do with the invoked response in the brain ... with MRIs and Cat Scans maybe we could understand better).

This takes planning and a number of people. The stereo magazines rail against blind testing, citing lots of reasons why it doesn't work. I can counter every argument. Besides, they have a clear conflict of interest here.

The pro audio groups do the blind tests, and report nobody can hear any difference between 16/44.1 and 24/96 (which is obviously incorrect), because they average over all responses and they do not avoid some of the blind testing issues that the magazines complain about.

We could do this at meets and CanJam, but in all honesty no one seems interested particularly.
post #7 of 85
First, before I start responding to individual points: Note that in my original reply, I used global warming and evolution as other examples of why people reject science as a method of explanation to the question of why people reject science when discussing audio. Instead of responding to the main point of the thread started by wnmnkh, both of you have decided to respond to ancillary issues. This is a typical anti-science tactic. And seriously to both of you: Neither of you seem actually interested in the main point of the thread, so why did you bother replying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Bringing global warming into this discussion is pointless and probably too political for this forum. There are many reasons why the issue is hotly debated.

Doomsaying is a popular pastime. Throughout history, a thousand thousand Apocalypses have been prophesied, come and gone.

We're still here.
Who said anything about "doomsaying"? And what makes it political? John McCain versus Obama is political. The people who make it political are the people who don't keep it in the realm of scientific fact and debate the facts on their merit. Instead of responding to the main technical points of an argument, an attempt is made to derail the argument. This is a typical tactic anti-science tactic. Just because something is hotly debated, doesn't mean the core of the theory isn't correct. That's like saying that classical newtonian mechanics is 'hotly debated' because general relativity makes slightly different predictions than it does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
Global warming is BS, and still controversial in thte scientic community. I Believe in intelligent design. I don't believe we evolved fro apes. If true, apes would still be evolving into man..
Global warming is absolutely not controversial in the scientific community. Just because you don't have 100% consensus, doesn't mean you have a controversy. If that's the definition of a controversy, then everything is controversial. It's not even controversial in the scientific community that human activities are leading to global warming - and I didn't even make that claim. The only part of the argument that may even be slightly controversial is to what extent human activities are driving global warming versus natural earth processes.

On the topic of evolution: You're wrong on every level. Your argument that if man evolved from apes (and evolution doesn't actually make this claim - evolutionary biology claims that modern apes and modern man evolved from the same ancestor, and more specifically that humans and bonobo chimpanzee's are each others closest living biological relatives) is wrong, and almost no one with a background in evolutionary biology would make that claim (and I only say almost no one because I don't want to get into the 0.0001% versus 0% debate). The argument that apes would continue evolving into humans makes the implicit assumption that evolution has direction and is proceeding from a 'lower' form of life to a 'higher' form of life, and that's definitely not a part of evolutionary theory. I'm not going to argue with your beliefs about intelligent design, but I am going to argue with your inaccurate depiction of evolutionary biology - because it is factually incorrect.

Quote:
Science has no business with audio. Musical is emotional , something you can't put under a slab to study... Science doesn't understand sounding warm, cold, etc.. they would go by the frequencies and other hard data that would disconnect us from the music..
And that is your opinion, but your opinion is different from fact. Why do you feel that you get to decide that science has no business in audio? Of course science can't 'understand' 'warm' or 'cold', because you put 10 audiophiles in a room, and I defy you to get 9 out of 10 of them write down the same description of what 'warm' and 'cold' means. If we can't even begin to agree on a description, then of course science can't describe it. If we couldn't agree what 'red' meant, we wouldn't be able to describe it scientifically either. Further, just because music is an emotional experience doesn't mean science can't describe components of music outside of the psychological experience of music. That's like arguing science can't describe gravity, because different people experience pain differently when they fall. You're confusing the issue of what can be described and understood by science *and* the human experience of that description.

You can argue with me, but I'm not going to reply here to anything further about evolution or global warming. If you really want to discuss it either of these topics, PM me.
post #8 of 85
It's often helpful to remind ourselves that science is, or at least was fundamentally a modeling tool for prediction and, by extension, design. It shouldn't attempt to explain exactly how everything works, just model it accurately enough that we can predict and possibly exploit the physical phenomena being studied. For example, until very recently, our 'model' of the atom and molecule served its purpose beautifully; quantum effects are negligible for most electrical applications.

If people start believing that science can explain everything in life with perfect accuracy, it's going to become a religion. When it becomes a religion, people will stop questioning everything. And when people stop questioning, it's no longer science at all.

Of course science can be very helpful in audio design and optimization; I sure as heck wouldn't want to buy gear made by a bunch of subjectivists who don't believe in science! That said, I think folks who choose their gear solely on published SNR, THD, IMD and other such specs are missing the whole point of audio.
post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnmnkh View Post
I am reading all the posts and threads are made on this sub-forum, now the bigger question is, why do we think about science when:

"Reality is merely our perception of the world around us." -synaesthetic

And other comments on some of us suggest that 'experience/perception >>> science.' Like one member on my other thread suggests us to just come to some mini-meets and just listen to change our opinions. There is little space for science on audiophile area. The claim is plain simple: "forget the science and just listen."





But here is one problem for such claim. Without science, the whole audio thing is just impossible to exist.

All the laws of physics, which usually debunk all of unscientific claims, are also ones make ALL of audio equipments possible to exist.

The recording, transducer and amplification -three most biggest concepts in audio, are just pure science.

Vacuum tubes and transistors are coming from science; without the knowledge of thermo physics and electronics, tubes do not exist at the first time. Do we need to remind ourselves that the first patent for a transistor is made by a physicist? As you see, the main core of audio and listening is based on science. Without science, all of our listening experience and pleasure would not exist at all.


Transformers? science. Electronics? science. Waves? science. With the knowledge from science, we understand concepts and build speakers and amplifiers based on science. I think too many people forget this fact.





Now, my question is, how can we possibly ignore science on audio field when the very basic core of audio itself is made of pure science? How can we talk about a thing without mentioning and applying the core of the thing?
When you talk about a person, do you talk about his blood and his liver?
post #10 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
(ignoring global warming for religious* reasons) I Believe in intelligent design. I don't believe we evolved fro apes. If true, apes would still be evolving into man..
Yet, that only shows you never bothered to give evolution any chance in your mind, nor even get the point of science (to effectively expand our knowledge of what and how, and beyond that, to use that knowledge), much less evolution. Apes will evolve to fit their environment, unless their environment changes more rapidly than they can change, in which case they go extinct. That's it in a nutshell. We did not evolve from apes, and apes are not on a path to evolve into us, based on our current knowledge.

Quote:
Science has no business with audio. Musical is emotional , something you can't put under a slab to study... Science doesn't understand sounding warm, cold, etc.. they would go by the frequencies and other hard data that would disconnect us from the music..
Science never understands anything. Sentient beings do. Science is an abstract tool, born from philosophy. It can be used as a template to study anything that we can perceive. The quality and usefulness of study varies, of course .

What science can do is be used to end up at results like, "a warm sound more even order harmonic distortion, especially the 2nd, than a neutral or cold sound, and tends to have greater emphasis on the lower mid-range of audio frequencies." Such knowledge can be applied for just about anyone.

* Politicians can change their views, and some can even see other views. The concept of faith fits the lack of good discourse much better.
post #11 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by cerbie View Post
Yet, that only shows you never bothered to give evolution any chance in your mind, nor even get the point of science (to effectively expand our knowledge of what and how, and beyond that, to use that knowledge), much less evolution. Apes will evolve to fit their environment, unless their environment changes more rapidly than they can change, in which case they go extinct. That's it in a nutshell. We did not evolve from apes, and apes are not on a path to evolve into us, based on our current knowledge.

Science never understands anything. Sentient beings do. Science is an abstract tool, born from philosophy. It can be used as a template to study anything that we can perceive. The quality and usefulness of study varies, of course .

What science can do is be used to end up at results like, "a warm sound more even order harmonic distortion, especially the 2nd, than a neutral or cold sound, and tends to have greater emphasis on the lower mid-range of audio frequencies." Such knowledge can be applied for just about anyone.

* Politicians can change their views, and some can even see other views. The concept of faith fits the lack of good discourse much better.
I couldn't have responded better.
.. But I'll try to add something to the discussion after work
post #12 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ub3rMario View Post
Saying science has no business with audio is, quite frankly, ignorant. It takes science to even create sound reproduction. What do you think all your equipment was born from? Obviously there was and is a connection. The engineers and designers know which "hard data" and components produce certain sounds that can't be measured with our tools (for now...dun dun dunnnn lol).

Just saying, science has a lot to do with audio.
Audio as we see it here can be split into two parts. The object (or audio hardware and it's sound reproduction) plus the observer. All the efforts that are put into the hardware is very well known. How we perceive is a different beast. We don't know the full potential of ourselves so, science does not have all the answers.

I also don't subscribe to the notion that "perception is reality". I guess it can be fine if you have respect for "alternate realities" experienced by others but take that to the extreme with narrow minded individuals and we'll have endless debates on what's more real or true. Look at religion today.. Enough said. But please, let's not discuss these points as emotion gets the better of us. Environment or whatever should not be the focus of this thread. If you must, start another specifically for that.
post #13 of 85
We think about science because all the gear we using are made using physical laws. Therefore there's nothing in our gear science can't explain.
post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Bringing global warming into this discussion is pointless and probably too political for this forum. There are many reasons why the issue is hotly debated.

Doomsaying is a popular pastime. Throughout history, a thousand thousand Apocalypses have been prophesied, come and gone.

We're still here.
I say the same thing, as I've lived through the "New Ice Age" and "Acid Rain" fads that were going to kill me. Someone always has to believe the end is near, or there wouldn't be any way for opportunists to make money off of saving them.

Just for the record, I'm a socialist, not a conservative, and I believe science is on the right track 95% of the time. But science mutates fast; what is known as a "fact" today may be laughed at as idiocy twenty years from now.
post #15 of 85
High end audio is the science of determining how to most effectively fool our senses into believing that something is real which is not- to create something that quite certainly is an illusion and not reality- a facsimile this is indistinguishable from the original.

We are using science to create a perception which is accepted as reality. though clearly is not. In this regard- double blind isn't really an issue...because it is all fake.

And I love it.
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