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an observation

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
I'm am more "subjectivist" than "objectivist" but allow me to make an observation from a middle perspective.

Each group has an area of knowledge they regard as "more knowable" and one they regard as "less knowable."

The objectivists regard the physical world as knowable and understandable through the methods of science. People are understandable as objects---that is, as black boxes which we put through listening tests.

To avoid getting into the cable controversy, let's refer to a generally controversial device X which many subjectivists believe sounds different than other varieties of X, and objectivists say measures essentially the same in all instances.

The objectivists say "All X's sound the same." The subjectivists would say, "But we've had clear experiences of them sounding different." They say, "Where did these experiences come from?" The objectivists say, "It doesn't matter where you got the notion that device X is 'musical and fast'; it could literally have come from anywhere."

So to objectivists, the world of music as experienced-in-the-first-person is not one that needs to be explained. Anything could happen, anything could be true about it.

The subjectivists, on the other hand, see the subjective world as amenable to systematic exploration and gathering of knowledge. A liftetime of experiences, many of which are surprising and contrary to what the person expected, goes into forming opinions about sound. For them, it's the objective world which carries some mystery. "We know science isn't perfect," they would say. "You have your measurements and models, but they don't tell the whole story." The objectivists might ask, "What, then, is the story? What are we overlooking? Ball's in your court. Give us something specific or you are just hand-waving." The subjectivists, would say, "Literally anything could be true. That's what the unknown means."
post #2 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
The subjectivists, would say, "Literally anything could be true. That's what the unknown means."
Right, but if someone is charging $500 or $1000 for a power cord with the insinuation that it changes the final music, something more than subjective claims about "deeper bass" or "wider soundstage" or any of a hundred other canned phrases should be expected. I have looked now for the last several weeks everywhere I can and not a single published study or test showing any measured change to the final music have I found. I'm not talking "does a change sound like X ?", but rather, "is there any change whatsoever ?". This issue of what does a given alteration in a signal actually equate to sonically is a distraction. That will never be solved and is always open to debate. But the issue of does a change exist at all in the final signal from one configuration to the next IS determinable and that should be the focus. All the power and audio cord people have to do is demonstrate a measurable change in the output going from one cable to the other and half their battle is over. The only thing left would be making the case that the change is audible (as in does it cross the threshold of human hearing), but first thing should be first.
post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speederlander View Post
Right, but if someone is charging $500 or $1000 for a power cord with the insinuation that it changes the final music, something more than subjective claims about "deeper bass" or "wider soundstage" or any of a hundred other canned phrases should be expected.....

All the power and audio cord people have to do is demonstrate a measurable change in the output going from one cable to the other and half their battle is over. The only thing left would be making the case that the change is audible (as in does it cross the threshold of human hearing), but first thing should be first.
You are getting a little off track. But to get closer to the original point, what you are doing is reiterating the objectivist position that the physical world is solidly, reliably knowable. "We should be able to know if there was any change, any change at all," you seem to be saying.

A subjectivist would reply "That's no so easy to do." The reason that's not so easy to do is that we know how audio devices behave through measurements, and any measurement compresses and discards information. So the subjectivist would say you are not measuring the right thing. Any measurements you have done have discarded whatever information we need to see a difference.
post #4 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
You are getting a little off track. But to get closer to the original point, what you are doing is reiterating the objectivist position that the physical world is solidly, reliably knowable. "We should be able to know if there was any change, any change at all," you seem to be saying.

A subjectivist would reply "That's no so easy to do." The reason that's not so easy to do is that we know how audio devices behave through measurements, and any measurement compresses and discards information. So the subjectivist would say you are not measuring the right thing. Any measurements you have done have discarded whatever information we need to see a difference.
There is an audio signal coming out of your amp. That signal can be measured and compared to other signals. Unless you are claiming there is a some unknown force beyond the capability of humans to detect through measurement I'm not sure what you are getting at. I am not saying we can always measure everything and relate that to some subjective experience. I am saying "given signal A and signal B from configuration 1 to configuration 2, did anything at all change?" is an answerable question. If it did, fine, people can claim whatever they want about what they hear and I don't care. But if it didn't, there aren't any valid claims to hearing anything beyond appeals to the spiritual. We can completely compare two signals and state with good reliability if they are different. If they ARE different people can argue about what those differences mean, I (once again) don't care. But the real question is are they different in the first place. I'm not sure why people seem to want to make this more complicated than it is. System A with power cord 1 and system A with power cord B, the output can be compared for equivalence, and yet this most basic thing I can't see having happened anywhere. Does the output signal change? Ignore what those changes may or may not mean until this basic question is answered first. There is no subjective side to this first most basic question.
post #5 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
I'm am more "subjectivist" than "objectivist" but allow me to make an observation from a middle perspective.

Each group has an area of knowledge they regard as "more knowable" and one they regard as "less knowable."

The objectivists regard the physical world as knowable and understandable through the methods of science. People are understandable as objects---that is, as black boxes which we put through listening tests.
Incorrect. See: psychology. When I took intro to psych, on the very first day the professor introduced psychology as the science of the subjective. The question isn't whether or not we know about the inner mind - the question is whether or not we care. In this particular case, of audio, the subjective isn't treated as unknown, it's treated as irrelevant, and that's because it is. The problem is a matter of cause and effect - are the cables, in the outside objective world causing a change in subjective response (whatever response that may be) or is the cause of the change in subjective response internal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
To avoid getting into the cable controversy, let's refer to a generally controversial device X which many subjectivists believe sounds different than other varieties of X, and objectivists say measures essentially the same in all instances.

The objectivists say "All X's sound the same." The subjectivists would say, "But we've had clear experiences of them sounding different." They say, "Where did these experiences come from?" The objectivists say, "It doesn't matter where you got the notion that device X is 'musical and fast'; it could literally have come from anywhere."

So to objectivists, the world of music as experienced-in-the-first-person is not one that needs to be explained. Anything could happen, anything could be true about it.
That's not what the objectivist says. The objectivist (if we're to typecast as such) questions whether or not the experience that you had was caused by the audio component. The person did hear a difference between the two audio components. However, if that difference is caused internally, then it doesn't matter what the outside boxes actually are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
The subjectivists, on the other hand, see the subjective world as amenable to systematic exploration and gathering of knowledge. A liftetime of experiences, many of which are surprising and contrary to what the person expected, goes into forming opinions about sound. For them, it's the objective world which carries some mystery. "We know science isn't perfect," they would say. "You have your measurements and models, but they don't tell the whole story." The objectivists might ask, "What, then, is the story? What are we overlooking? Ball's in your court. Give us something specific or you are just hand-waving." The subjectivists, would say, "Literally anything could be true. That's what the unknown means."
The whole notion of using informal subjective opinion to challenge controlled tests is silly. There is a very clear and very obvious reduction in pain when an inert sugar pill is administrated versus nothing. Are we going to say then, later, that when blind testing eliminates that pain reduction, that blind testing is at fault?

I (not as an objectivist, but as myself) would ask in response to models being incomplete, "we have many psychological theories that can account for this phenomenon. We also have tests that are both replicable and numerous, using different methodologies, with only blinding being the factor. We have several explanations. Why do you insist that the models are incomplete due to some unknown factor when it is accounted for by several explanations?"
post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
Incorrect. See: psychology. When I took intro to psych, on the very first day the professor introduced psychology as the science of the subjective. The question isn't whether or not we know about the inner mind - the question is whether or not we care. In this particular case, of audio, the subjective isn't treated as unknown, it's treated as irrelevant, and that's because it is. The problem is a matter of cause and effect - are the cables, in the outside objective world causing a change in subjective response (whatever response that may be) or is the cause of the change in subjective response internal?



That's not what the objectivist says. The objectivist (if we're to typecast as such) questions whether or not the experience that you had was caused by the audio component. The person did hear a difference between the two audio components. However, if that difference is caused internally, then it doesn't matter what the outside boxes actually are.



The whole notion of using informal subjective opinion to challenge controlled tests is silly. There is a very clear and very obvious reduction in pain when an inert sugar pill is administrated versus nothing. Are we going to say then, later, that when blind testing eliminates that pain reduction, that blind testing is at fault?

I (not as an objectivist, but as myself) would ask in response to models being incomplete, "we have many psychological theories that can account for this phenomenon. We also have tests that are both replicable and numerous, using different methodologies, with only blinding being the factor. We have several explanations. Why do you insist that the models are incomplete due to some unknown factor when it is accounted for by several explanations?"

Well posed response.
post #7 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
We also have tests that are both replicable and numerous, using different methodologies, with only blinding being the factor. We have several explanations. Why do you insist that the models are incomplete due to some unknown factor when it is accounted for by several explanations?"
Where are all these tests?

Everyone quotes the great number of tests, however when asked for links there are very few. Are these numerous tests just a ruse to make ones point?

If we have several tests, how can we equate this to a known?

If the sugar pill placebo was administered to 3 people and 2 got better, would we conclude that all medicines are fake?
post #8 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by 883dave View Post
If the sugar pill placebo was administered to 3 people and 2 got better, would we conclude that all medicines are fake?
No, but because we know it was just a sugar pill, the people who were healed who thought it was due to the pill they took would be wrong. They may have thought that it was a wonder pill and they may have felt all kinds of great things after taking it, but in the end whatever happened had nothing to do with the sugar pill and everything to do with a thousand other variables.
post #9 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post
what you are doing is reiterating the objectivist position that the physical world is solidly, reliably knowable.
Do you have any evidence that doesn't support that notion. Attacking the foundations of the natural sciences (that brought you headphones and amps) to justify a cable purchase isn't really an argument is it?
post #10 of 50
Some people who question a cable purchase, question things beyond their comprehension. Some of these people don't spend time in the local hi-fi shops. Do not associate themselves with others in the audio community. Do not participate in any activities associated with audio, like meets, seminars, discussions. And then get offended when the word troll gets tossed their way like a grenade. If I was to spend 1000 dollars on a cable it is because with the gear I have at that moment it makes the most sense in the sound that I am trying to achieve with all the homework, bugging the local hi-fi shop, talking to all my hi-fi buddies, and maybe lucky enough to audition them on my gear before purchase. I know the retailer will have a generous return policy, so I will never be worried. And to preform a clinical test to make sure if what I hear is not plecebo, to find out if I hear what "everybody" else is crazy. "Everybody" is not purchasing the 1000 dollar cable for my rig. If you can't afford some of these toy's or purchasing gear makes you nervous, this is not the hobby for you. Man, all this talk in make beleive land just is over the top sometimes. Psychological theories thrown around like sugar pills is a little humourous to me.
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG POPPA View Post
Some people who question a cable purchase, question things beyond their comprehension.
What is that even supposed to mean?
What is it exactly that is "beyond our comprehension"? Why would wanting to have solid specs backed up by real tests on a purchase of audio equipment imply that some un-named thing is "beyond our comprehension"?

Quote:
Some of these people don't spend time in the local hi-fi shops. Do not associate themselves with others in the audio community. Do not participate in any activities associated with audio, like meets, seminars, discussions. And then get offended when the word troll gets tossed their way like a grenade.
Again, this is confusing. The only issue here is whether a given audio component does what people claim it does. If there is no measurable change in a signal, then it's not doing anything (assuming the claim was to impact sound). The only reason to "toss troll their way like a grenade" is to shut down the discussion because the mere fact that it is being discussed bothers you. Why would you do that?

Quote:
If I was to spend 1000 dollars on a cable it is because with the gear I have at that moment it makes the most sense in the sound that I am trying to achieve with all the homework, bugging the local hi-fi shop, talking to all my hi-fi buddies, and maybe lucky enough to audition them on my gear before purchase. I know the retailer will have a generous return policy, so I will never be worried. And to preform a clinical test to make sure if what I hear is not plecebo, to find out if I hear what "everybody" else is crazy. "Everybody" is not purchasing the 1000 dollar cable for my rig. If you can't afford some of these toy's or purchasing gear makes you nervous, this is not the hobby for you.
Again, huh? People wanting to see evidence of the promised performance are somehow jealous or something?
post #12 of 50
There's a false assumption in this line of thought. Just because there are factors that may not be measurable does not necessarily mean that there are differences. If you make an assertion that there is a difference, you have to back that assertion with facts. It is a given that not everything is understood, but that's where creativity and ingenuity come in. If you make an extraordinary claim you need extraordinary evidence.

Further, that some things may be unknowable does not mean that current test equipment and protocols are invalid. Measuring devices have been around for decades. If there were serious flaws with them, it is highly likely that those flaws would have been teased out through other applications.

Similarly, if there were huge problems with DBT, placebo or suggestion, then those problems would have shown up in other applications.

If you take the sum of testing - both with test devices and human tests - it points to a very good assumption that there is nondifference between cables. Maybe there is, but that is going to have to be developed and proven by supporters.

If you want to take a sideways approach to the matter, you can do that, too. The amout of manufacturers who view cables as a profit center is significant. Prices are far and above the cost of materials and production. That people make massive profits is not questionable. That people will produce anything that generates massive profits is not disputable. The only assumption you can draw is that a large percentage of manufacturers are only in it for the money. That means that if you want to prove the "difference," that you're going to have to separate the real from the fake. Without a testing protocol, that's impossible. So if someone wants to establish this belief, they're going to have to find a way to distinguish the real from the fake.
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
We also have tests that are both replicable and numerous, using different methodologies, with only blinding being the factor. We have several explanations. Why do you insist that the models are incomplete due to some unknown factor when it is accounted for by several explanations?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
If you take the sum of testing - both with test devices and human tests - it points to a very good assumption that there is nondifference between cables. Maybe there is, but that is going to have to be developed and proven by supporters.
Some of us believe in cables...no we can prove what we hear.

Some of us believe in DBT...so far this community has shown 1 or maybe two documented DBT with a test of 10 or 20 people...what does this prove??? 10 or 20 people could not hear a difference???

There are a lot more audiophiles reporting they hear differences in cables than the 10 or 20 people in DBT that could not.

Are you really basing your "people can't tell the difference" on two Double Blind Tests involving maybe 20 people???

The objectivists always want the subjectivists to show "Proof" they can hear a difference in cables. How about the objectivists show "Proof" there has been more than several DBT on cables!!!!
post #14 of 50
My rant in a nutshell is basically is some people who don't believe don't do the homework and or put the money down to find out if the said 1000 dollar cable works. Some believers will do the necessary homework and money to find out if it works. Some people feel things should be served on a silver platter if it works or doesn't. I wish it was that easy. This is a hobby, nobody said it was an easy hobby.
post #15 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by 883dave View Post
Some of us believe in cables...no we can prove what we hear.

Some of us believe in DBT...so far this community has shown 1 or maybe two documented DBT with a test of 10 or 20 people...what does this prove??? 10 or 20 people could not hear a difference???

There are a lot more audiophiles reporting they hear differences in cables than the 10 or 20 people in DBT that could not.

Are you really basing your "people can't tell the difference" on two Double Blind Tests involving maybe 20 people???

The objectivists always want the subjectivists to show "Proof" they can hear a difference in cables. How about the objectivists show "Proof" there has been more than several DBT on cables!!!!
Just because you didn't do the research doesn't mean the information is not out there, regardless of how many punctuation marks you use. You yourself made a thread asking for links to double blind tests, and you gathered quite a few responses, including one link to a test that had 110 participants. AES has been compiling double blind tests for quite some time, a quick google scholar search will tell you that much. I'm not going to do the research for you (especially because the links have been posted multiple times over several threads).

On top of that, I've yet to see a properly conducted (and I'm not providing an impossible burden here - all that I require is that the subjects not know which component is which) blind test that revealed differences between cables. In fact, I don't even know of an improperly conducted blind test that revealed differences between cables.
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