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Post Your Subjective experiences for Data Base

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
There have been many times when I have heard things from the subjectivist side of the fence.

The first was the USB cable we talked about. I was using an old 1.0 with a ferrite because it was handy when I wanted to check out the Stello's USB implementation. When I switched to a new, shorter, shielded 2.0 I fully expected to hear better or at least the same. To my surprise it sounded worse than the old cable.

The second time was when I A-B'd SiBurning's Benchmark against my Stello at the last meet. I had always felt the Stello was a dark DAC and what I really wanted was a brighter DAC like the Benchmark. It was a total surprise to find out that neither SiBurning or I could tell them apart.

The third time was when I was sure I could tell the difference between an 8610 op amp and a 637/627 op amp in my M^3. I was so sure I could tell them apart, I sent WAVs of the differences to amb, who inverted, subtracted and showed me there was in fact, no audible difference between the two.

The forth time was when I auditioned the Neko DAC. I formed an impression of it's sound signature over a two week period, relative to the Stello which I was very familiar with. I even went so far as to classify the Stello's sound signature as having a smile EQ and the Neko's a frown with a pronounced mid. When I volume balanced and compared them head to head, there was no smile and there was no frown... they sounded exactly the same. I posted about that in my "Conundrum" thread.

Now I have a North Star and have been listening to it for a few weeks. I'm getting ready to do a head to head, but I don't know what to expect any more since I can clearly identify its sound signature when I listen to it separately but like with the last head to head, these differences might very well disappear when I A-B them volume balanced. (FWIW, the differences also dissappear if I record a WAV of the "most obvious differences" and compare the WAVs.)

And to compound the situation, when I went back to listening separately, all the above differences I previously had identified returned, even though I knew they weren't there.

What I'm looking for is "reasonable evidence" supporting the subjective view.

Let's document your experiences and see if we can figure out what's going on.

USG
post #2 of 32
USG,

I don't know if this helps. It's a bit of a step back. Regarding "subjectivism", I find it essential to distinguish between two things:
  • Subjective, first-person impressions of a device (sighted or blind).
  • First-person perception or introspection on one's listening process.

I tend to mistrust the first thing. The second thing, however, is worth something. It's useful in finding listening protocols, whether sighted or blind.

One problem in providing evidence for the subjective view is that it actually de-emphasizes the available evidence, and rather emphasizes "we don't know." Objectivists, OTOH, feel more certain that current audio science has a fairly complete understanding of the audio universe---understanding the limits of human hearing, understanding what measurements are necessary to completely characterize a device, etc.

Some subjectivists would say, "Science doesn't know, but I personally know what's going on via sighted listening."

I actually say, "I'm not sure what's going on in sighted OR blind listening."

Note that Zen Buddhists speak of "Don't know mind." Buddhism values the concept of peacefulness in the presence of confusion.

This does not mean I think the whole subject is unknowable. I'm working on finding blind protocols that work consistently with my listening process. I am doing blind tests on cables, and I am prepared to accept a null result.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
USG,

I don't know if this helps. It's a bit of a step back. Regarding "subjectivism", I find it essential to distinguish between two things:
  • Subjective, first-person impressions of a device (sighted or blind).
  • First-person perception or introspection on one's listening process.

I tend to mistrust the first thing. The second thing, however, is worth something. It's useful in finding listening protocols, whether sighted or blind.

One problem in providing evidence for the subjective view is that it actually de-emphasizes the available evidence, and rather emphasizes "we don't know." Objectivists, OTOH, feel more certain that current audio science has a fairly complete understanding of the audio universe---understanding the limits of human hearing, understanding what measurements are necessary to completely characterize a device, etc.

Some subjectivists would say, "Science doesn't know, but I personally know what's going on via sighted listening."

I actually say, "I'm not sure what's going on in sighted OR blind listening."

Note that Zen Buddhists speak of "Don't know mind." Buddhism values the concept of peacefulness in the presence of confusion.

This does not mean I think the whole subject is unknowable. I'm working on finding blind protocols that work consistently with my listening process. I am doing blind tests on cables, and I am prepared to accept a null result.
Could you explain point 2 further? I don't have a clue. <shrug>
post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Could you explain point 2 further? I don't have a clue. <shrug>
Okay, point 2 was First-person perception or introspection on one's listening process.

Musicians spend a lot of time improving their music, so they spend a lot of time introspecting on "how they listen"---that is, what is going on in their heads and bodies while they listen. If you attend a master class, you will hear an accomplished musician coaching a student in front of an audience. The accomplished musician may talk about the emotions, the quality of the lines (smooth or detached), a kind of story that goes with the music, etc.

Mindfulness meditators spend a lot of time introspecting on their feelings and thoughts. They become aware of every little thought, body sensation, emotion, etc. that happens. They become aware of how these influence each other. So they can have a particularly interesting experience while listening to music.

Now, I am talking about this stuff because I am an amateur musician and (rather unskilled) mindfulness meditator. I make no claims of being very good at this stuff. I just think I've learned a few things about it.

So what kinds of things have I observed about my listening process?

One thing I've learned is that when doing comparisons, I need to listen to at least a minute of music to "get a feel" for the "musical details". By "musical details" I mean things like the quality of subtle dance in my body and the quality of emotions that are part of my response to music. I have also learned that I need a few minutes before switching to another source for comparison. If I do a quick-switch, I notice that my "responses" to source A are still going at the moment I switch to source B, so I really can't perceive what's going on. As I said, I need a few mintues to "cleanse the palette", and then when I listen to B, I need a few minutes of listening to get a handle.

Now another problem arises. I have also noticed that I can't control my attention when listening to complex music with many layers. My attention just moves from thing to thing, and I can't have perfect control.

In fact, there is a difference between two things:
  1. Having something come to my attention spontaneously.
  2. Deliberately putting my attention on something.

For example, maybe I'm listening to a recording for the first time, and I spontaneously notice how impressive the bass is.

Then later I put on the recording again, and deliberately turn my attention to the bass.

These represent two different ways of listening. There is no reason I should notice the same things in (1) that I notice in (2).

I can't prove this, but it's something I've noticed through introspection which stands a good chance of approximately describing something that really happens.

This makes comparisons difficult. If I listen to (A), then take a break, then listen to (B), how the heck am I supposed to compare them item-for-item when I can't control where my attention goes, and when expectations change what I perceive?

I am working on trying to devise protocols that get some control over this messy process.


So these are the kinds of things I notice.
post #5 of 32
If you WANT to believe, I think that pretty much decides the war, right there.
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer View Post
If you WANT to believe, I think that pretty much decides the war, right there.
I don't think so. I think that no one is really truly unbiased---no one comes to the table with absolutely no preconception.

You could say "wanting to believe in subjectivism" is a sin.

But I've noticed something about objectivists. A lot of them want to believe that empirical, objective experiments can provide solid, indisputable knowledge. They literally "want to believe" that. Zen Buddhists can provide an explanation. Most people are uncomfortable with "not knowing" to some extent. Some people are even very, very uncomfortable with "not knowing" to the extent that the appearance of knowing settles all questions.

Personally I think that the current state of audio science is that it provides some answers which seem to be consistent with each other, but consistency does not prove a particular paradigm is complete. One thing about audio science is that it more or less ignores first-person observations about one's personal listening process. Brains are treated like black boxes. I think that's a mistake.
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
I think that no one is really truly unbiased---no one comes to the table with absolutely no preconception.
True. Sometimes when people say "I want to believe," what they really mean is that they want you to justify what you believe. But they don't want to come out and challenge you outright, and they think this is a more tactful way of doing it. I'm not saying the OP does or does not fall into this category, but "I want to believe" often means anything but. Sort of like the expression "needless to say." If it's really needless to say, why say it?
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
True. Sometimes when people say "I want to believe," what they really mean is that they want you to justify what you believe. But they don't want to come out and challenge you outright, and they think this is a more tactful way of doing it.
I've never heard the expression "I want to believe" used that way. It seems to me that USG has had certain subjective experiences that seem important to him, but knows sighted listening is fallible, so he wants to find evidence. Right, USG?

If I heard a particular DAC sound really impressive under sighted conditions, and another one sound lame under sighted conditions, I would want to understand better why that happens or how to reproduce these impressions under blind conditions.
-Mike
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
I've never heard the expression "I want to believe" used that way. It seems to me that USG has had certain subjective experiences that seem important to him, but knows sighted listening is fallible, so he wants to find evidence. Right, USG?

If I heard a particular DAC sound really impressive under sighted conditions, and another one sound lame under sighted conditions, I would want to understand better why that happens or how to reproduce these impressions under blind conditions.
-Mike

Yes, I'm investigating the subjective experiences I've had by looking for "reasonable evidence" that supports the subjective view.
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Yes, I'm investigating the subjective experiences I've had by looking for "reasonable evidence" that supports the subjective view.
How do you define "the subjective view"? I think people's idea of that varies quite a lot so it's worth agreeing on a definition.
post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
True. Sometimes when people say "I want to believe," what they really mean is that they want you to justify what you believe. But they don't want to come out and challenge you outright, and they think this is a more tactful way of doing it. I'm not saying the OP does or does not fall into this category, but "I want to believe" often means anything but. Sort of like the expression "needless to say." If it's really needless to say, why say it?
You've said this before Phil, and perhaps, in a way, I am challenging your belief system. (if you choose to take it that way)

As you know, I've had several subjective experiences so I'm fairly confident something is going on.... I just don't know what it is yet....

But I don't believe in magic, I believe in information, so I'm looking for "reasonable evidence" that supports the subjective view.

USG
post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
How do you define "the subjective view"? I think people's idea of that varies quite a lot so it's worth agreeing on a definition.
Rather than get bogged down with definitions, I would say any "reasonable evidence" that supports subjective claims.
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Rather than get bogged down with definitions, I would say any "reasonable evidence" that supports subjective claims.
I would like to understand better what you mean by "reasonable evidence" and "subjective claims." I don't want to get bogged down either, but I need more information.

For example, is "reasonable evidence" objective, DBTs? Or would sighted tests down in careful conditions count?

What is a subjective claim? Do you mean a claim that goes against the objectivist view that all DACs and amps sound the same?

-Mike
post #14 of 32
I've decided that I will at some point get an SPL meter and test some things. I seriously doubt it will change the obvious tonal differences audible between, say, OPAMPs. I might try hooking my amp back into the computer using the pre-amp outputs to see if I can measure some tonal differences though. If only I could justify an oscilloscope.
post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
I would like to understand better what you mean by "reasonable evidence" and "subjective claims." I don't want to get bogged down either, but I need more information.

For example, is "reasonable evidence" objective, DBTs? Or would sighted tests down in careful conditions count?

What is a subjective claim? Do you mean a claim that goes against the objectivist view that all DACs and amps sound the same?

-Mike
Since the subjectivists were here first, so it's really the other way around, but yes, that's what I'm looking for....

I don't seem to have a problem with sighted results, should I?. All of my experiences were sighted except one, where the Benchmark and Stello were compared. We switched cables and inputs so much that I lost track of which DAC was in which input. It didn't matter. Neither of us could tell them apart under meet conditions.

Regarding my sighted experiences, the results were more often than not opposite my expectations, like your Radio Shack cable test.

USG
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