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Testing audiophile claims and myths - Page 98

post #1456 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

Hi westsounds and welcome to the forum.

 

Making people happier with their existing setup, losing the feeling that you need to constantly upgrade to get better sound and concentrating on what is important have become aims of this thread.

 

beerchug.gif

Thanks for the welcome Prog Rock Man. I’ll keep the posts short in future as this is one of the longest most controversial hi-fi threads ive ever seen, its fantastic : )

 

And there’s me in my last post saying I was a ProAc convert :-/ well Ive just tried a another set of speakers a third of the price and guest what ! they actually sound better, more ‘detailed/natural/real’ at least in my current system anyway. They are still from a highly profile speaker maker but it just shows that the components matching along with room acoustic can also have a massive influence on what sounds better (to my ears anyway). That’s the problem here too many variables.

 

Still think ProAc sound and look good though.

post #1457 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

Measurements are a good benchmark, but they obviously can't tell the entire story.


I would disagree. Measurements *CAN* tell the entire story (at least for electronics) - *IF* you take the correct measurements and interpret them correctly. Unfortunately, that last "if" qualification is sometimes difficult to achieve.

 

There is no such thing as magic and, in reality, our ability to measure pretty much any electrical characteristic far exceeds our human senses. We most certainly *CAN* measure the levels and characteristics of any sort of noise or distortion with far more sensitivity and precision that we could possibly hear them. The only problem is that we don't always correctly correlate what we measure with what we hear.

 

Another problem is simply the lack of motivation (and money) to settle certain questions "once and for all".

 

Is there some wondrous difference between SET tube amps and big, clean solid state ones - or do those SET fans really just like the sound of 10% THD (of a particular flavor)? That one would be simple to settle..... Just take a perfectly clean amp and deliberately introduce the distortion from a SET amp to it and see if everyone who likes SET amps agrees that it sounds the same.... or not... (or even better).

 

There are also three final *philosophical* questions to be answered. Let's assume that two interconnects *do* sound different. How do we judge which one is "better". Personally, I would say that the one that is more *accurate* is better - because the definition of high fidelity IS "accurate"....  BUT, what if one is noisier but the other is flatter? Which is the most important characteristic?

 

Now, how about if I have two components, both with flaws, but the flaws tend to cancel each other. As an engineer, I am inclined to say
"I have two flawed pieces of equipment - so we should fix both" but, to an audiophile, especially on a budget, they may find it perfectly reasonable to fix neither.

 

And, my final one, and the one that really annoys me.... I'll call it "blame and credit".

 

Let's just say that I have a specific amplifier... and we find (by a fair test) that it does indeed sound better with a certain specific line cord.

Does this *really* mean that that line cord is "better"?

Well, from a "hardcore engineering" point of view the answer is no.

 

The reason is that the defined purpose of the power supply inside every piece of equipment is to take "regular line voltage" and convert it to whatever that particular piece of equipment requires to work properly. To put it in more common terms, and clarify a few engineering and design assumptions, the JOB of the power supply is to take the power you feed it, through the power cord that came with it (or any other one that meets spec), and make it correct for that particular device. In still other words, if you can hear a difference between those power cords, and one isn't outright defective, then the power supply inside the equipment IS defective.... because, by definition, if the power supply were working correctly, then it should eliminate any possible differences between power cables.

 

So, then, if you can hear the difference between power cable A and power cable B on your $10,000 amplifier, the real question is:
Why couldn't the guys who designed that $10,000 amplifier design a decent power supply?

And the proper "response" is to try and improve the power supply until IT is working correctly

(and we'll be able to tell easily because, when the power supply is working correctly,

we will no longer hear differences when we change power cables).

 

Keith

post #1458 of 3037

Just joined. This is a fascinating thread. I was having a discussion with a member on another forum concerning the audibility or lack thereof of jitter and cables and the conversation eventually devolved into a "scientific method is a fragmented belief system" argument and how debates rage on in the scientific community concerning all manners of topics.

 

This argument was used to bolser the idea that you may believe facts or beliefs without evidence other than your own perception / intuition or even in contradiction with established "fact". I don't agree with this at all.


Edited by Yahzi - 10/11/12 at 2:15am
post #1459 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post

Just joined. This is a fascinating thread. I was having a discussion with a member on another forum concerning the audibility or lack thereof of jitter and cables and the conversation eventually devolved into a "scientific method is a fragmented belief system" argument and how debates rage on in the scientific community concerning all manners of topics.

 

This argument was used to bolser the idea that you may believe facts or beliefs without evidence other than your own perception / intuition or even in contradiction with established "fact". I don't agree with this at all.

 

What you're talking about is what I would call "the theory of subjective reality". Personally, I would at least prefer that my beliefs agree with measurable reality. Some people, however, don't seem to share that preference.... and how can you "argue" with someone who makes a conscious choice to NOT care whether their beliefs agree with actual evidence or not? About the closest you can get is to at least establish some agreement as to what the question is.

 

My personal "goal" in my system is to have as accurate a rendition of the original source material as possible... and I will always, at the very least, defer to evidence when and if it exists. What annoys me is when "the pure relativists" get into the discussion. For example, it is pretty well known that tube power amps make significant distortion. I personally am quite convinced that most tube lovers simply enjoy the distortion produced by tubes (and I have no problem with that), but I DO have a problem when one of them tries to insist that a SET amp with 10% THD is MORE ACCURATE than a good solid state design with 0.01% THD. I find it unlikely that the tube amp is doing some unmeasured mystery thing so much better than the solid state one that that "rightness" actually makes it more accurate. It seems much more likely to me that we are indeed both hearing exactly the same thing, the 10% THD, and the tube lover simply finds it euphonic. I can't argue with someone who claims that, to them, the tube amplifier "sounds better" - because that is their choice. If, however, they want to claim that is is MORE ACCURATE, then that is something with which I take exception. (At least I want them to show me some way in which it is measurably better which at least MIGHT offset the ways in which it is worse.)

 

My opinion is that, if two things sound different, but you can't measure the difference, then you simply aren't measuring the correct thing.... (you certainly haven't proven anything "unmeasurable" is going on).

 

I am also NOT willing to ignore my scientific experience and training (I don't feel there is a CHOICE involved there - any more than I could CHOOSE to stop believing in gravity).

 

I can absolutely say that I have heard differences between DACs of reasonably good quality. And, on a certain DAC, when I added a USB-S/PDIF interface claimed (and shown) to have very low jitter, SOME things sounded quite different.... while the difference was barely perceptible if at all on other content. Since the converter doesn't change the data, but only the clock, I conclude that lowering the jitter probably causes the difference. (I perceive the difference as more "clarity" in things like cymbals, and, to me, they sound more "natural" with lower jitter. To me this at least suggests that it is "an improvement". Incidentally, I don't hear much difference at all with voices.)

 

There is another rather deep philosophical question here..... I prefer that my equipment render the recording 'true to its nature".... but what if some sort of distortion, by being added, could render it closer to "the original" - whatever that is. Maybe that tube amp DOES sound "more like a live concert" because it is adding "back" a reasonable facsimile of something that the microphone originally failed to record? Maybe brass bands DO sound more lifelike over horn speakers - but maybe they make everything played through them sound more like a brass horn. (Of course, you can see the obvious problem there.... At best, we are only guessing that what was added is the same as what was lost. There is some precedent, though, that a reasonable copy sometimes looks better than an outright omission....  Modern TVs literally make up what they guess belongs in frames between the broadcast frames to make motion smoother - and sometimes it does look very good.)

 

As I said, my preference is that my equipment render the recording with as little change as possible.

 

 

Here's a final interesting "thought experiment" on relativism.....

 

Let's assume you liked Rembrandt (I don't) and had just acquired a Rembrandt original - and were deciding how to light it.

 

Would you.....:

 

a) use a perfectly accurate white light to see the colors AS THEY ARE ON THE CANVAS

b) use a light similar to candle light to simulate how Rembrandt would have seen it in his studio when he painted it

c) knowing that Rembrandt had painted it for a particular customer, use light like what he would have expected to find in the customers' house (assuming HE was smart enough to paint it to look good there)

d) leave your lighting alone, assuming you want to see what it looks like to have a Rembrandt hanging in your house

 

Personally, with a scientific background, I would choose a)... but I can see validity to the other choices as well....

 

[However, to finish the previous thought, I would NOT put it behind pink glass "because I like pink".]

post #1460 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post

Just joined. This is a fascinating thread. I was having a discussion with a member on another forum concerning the audibility or lack thereof of jitter and cables and the conversation eventually devolved into a "scientific method is a fragmented belief system" argument and how debates rage on in the scientific community concerning all manners of topics.

 

This argument was used to bolser the idea that you may believe facts or beliefs without evidence other than your own perception / intuition or even in contradiction with established "fact". I don't agree with this at all.


Incidentally, to borrow from some other responses to a similar question....

 

I would say that "scientific method" is really a collection of methodologies which has evolved over time into the most accurate and effective way we have of figuring out what's real and how things work. While it may be flawed, it at least attempts to head towards information that is complete, accurate, and correct.... and, as such, it is the best tool we have for doing so.

post #1461 of 3037

kLevkoff, excellently put! I can't possibly hope to reply to all your points but thank you very much for responding. I agree with most of what you said.

 

Another complaint I'm seeing around these forums is the fact that ABX/DB testing is flawed and the methodology used is questionable. Now I haven't done nearly enough research on this, but despite that, I think that even if there were issues in the testing, the alternative to ABX/DB testing, namely non bias-controlled testing where mood, bias, level differences, acoustic differences, time of day, sighted evaluations which all affect our perception is somehow "better" suited for the task?

 

Really?


Edited by Yahzi - 10/11/12 at 3:54pm
post #1462 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by kLevkoff View Post

Here's a final interesting "thought experiment" on relativism.....

Let's assume you liked Rembrandt (I don't) and had just acquired a Rembrandt original - and were deciding how to light it.

Would you.....:

a) use a perfectly accurate white light to see the colors AS THEY ARE ON THE CANVAS
b) use a light similar to candle light to simulate how Rembrandt would have seen it in his studio when he painted it
c) knowing that Rembrandt had painted it for a particular customer, use light like what he would have expected to find in the customers' house (assuming HE was smart enough to paint it to look good there)
d) leave your lighting alone, assuming you want to see what it looks like to have a Rembrandt hanging in your house

Personally, with a scientific background, I would choose a)... but I can see validity to the other choices as well....

[However, to finish the previous thought, I would NOT put it behind pink glass "because I like pink".]

Very appropriate analogy imo. Great read and I agree on all counts. I couldn't believe the number of tube amps I saw at the last meet I attended. Totally unexpected for me. I have read that it's possible to make a tube amp with distortion as low as solid state amps bit I haven't heard much follow up.
post #1463 of 3037

Actually that's another point. These ABX/DB tests.I haven't done proper research, but I would imagine you have to specify who the subjects are, what skills they have .. ie do we leave out people over and above a certain age group because their hearing is crap, and is there any way of quantifying this information? Do the conclusions drawn from the test apply to everybody, to all systems?

 

Okay, now I'll do some research. smile.gif

post #1464 of 3037

Re: Rembrandt - I'd light it to make it as pleasing as possible to my eyes; it's a painting, not a science project.

post #1465 of 3037
I'd sell it buy a nice print of dogs playing poker.
post #1466 of 3037

A few days ago, a friend of mine lent me 3 Optical cables and 2 RCA cables in which are used for his speaker systems (he couldn't remember how much exactly was each of those he had bought for). 

Anyway 1 of the two RCA is under $30 and the other one is high-end (Japanese). The 3 "high-end" Optical (1 USA / 1 German / 1 Japanese) are around the same price range at $250+.

 

My system:

PC -> Cheap Optical ($40) -> Bifrost -> Chord CobraPlus RCA ($110) -> Asgard (Grainy, blurred, congested soundstage but still good enough -> sounded worst than my RSA Mustang)

 

Testing:

PC -> Cheap Optical ($40) -> Bifrost -> $50 RCA -> Asgard (Sounds thin, flat and very bright even with my HD650 -> Turned the warm-Asgard into a "crappy" Grados...Terrible cable)

 

PC -> Cheap Optical ($40) -> Bifrost -> Japanese (Fujiyama) RCA -> Asgard (Fun, warm but very balance, incredible soundstage, transparent-clear-detail-smooth sounding -> Huge improvement over the Chord CobraPlus cable in which brought out the true characteristic of Asgard)

 

PC -> Japanese (Fujiyama) Optical -> Bifrost -> Japanese (Fujiyama) RCA -> Asgard <This is the best cable combo for my system and I think any system in my experience> (Another big improvement from above* with sweeter vocal sounding, lustful, extremely balance technically)

 

PC -> USA Optical -> Bifrost -> Japanese (Fujiyama) RCA -> Asgard (Pretty much like listening to Audio Technica AD2000 with addictive airy vocal, soundstage is smaller than the Japanese, overall sound is more weighty and focus, doesn't have the transparency and clarity of the Japanese -> Best match for Audio Technica AD2000 owner)

 

PC -> German Optical (most expensive out of the 3) -> Bifrost -> Japanese (Fujiyama) RCA -> Asgard (Fun++ than the Japanese, warmer, fuller and more weighty bass, vocal is a bit more foward, overall sound is also more weighty and focus...smaller soundstage and less transparent-clarity than the Japanese -> HD 650's lovers)

 

...So why I wrote this? Because there are people who would say "Cables are all the same doesn't matter the price"...well this is not true in my case here. But this is not what I am trying to prove, the question real is...

 

1. Why do they sounds different? (those damn Optical cables)

2. It is true that more expensive cables deliver better quality sound?????...unlike "cables are all the same" statement or "no one could tell the difference" statement.

3. At what price-range should one spend to get the best performance/price?

 

I had went through reading products from a lot of well-known brands. I found that most RCA cables that priced $250+ will feature "silver-plated cable and better sealing" and I believe that the 3 RCA

from my friend featured this. I know nothing about Optical cable since USB is replacing it. This discovery got me a headache of how I should deal with this "problem" for my future systems.

 

I ended up buying the 2 Japanese Fujiyama Optical and RCA cables from my friend for $300 of which estimate $450 - $510 brand-new price.


Edited by Meoow - 10/17/12 at 6:26am
post #1467 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meoow View Post

 

 

1. Why do they sounds different? (those damn Optical cables)

2. It is true that more expensive cables deliver better quality sound?????...unlike "cables are all the same" statement or "no one could tell the difference" statement.

3. At what price-range should one spend to get the best performance/price?

 

I had went through reading products from a lot of well-known brands. I found that most RCA cables that priced $250+ will feature "silver-plated cable and better sealing" and I believe that the 3 RCA from my friend featured this. I know nothing about Optical cable since USB is replacing it. This discovery got me a headache of how I should deal with this "problem" for my future systems.

1. Because the mind is a very powerful thing, and short term memory isn't flawless.

2. At a certain point, yes. Cheap ones can cause problems.

3. About $3 for RCA if you get them from the right place. I'm not too familiar with the prices of optical, but seeing as they just transmit data through light I would say the cheapest you can find.

post #1468 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

1. Because the mind is a very powerful thing, and short term memory isn't flawless.

2. At a certain point, yes. Cheap ones can cause problems.

3. About $3 for RCA if you get them from the right place. I'm not too familiar with the prices of optical, but seeing as they just transmit data through light I would say the cheapest you can find.

Even my mum could tell the differences considering she doesn't know which cable is which and most importantly she is not an audio-enthusiast.

post #1469 of 3037

I like comparing cables. And I have definately found that with rca cables you get what you pay for. I found that my MIT interconnects (don't remember the model # off the top of my head) that cost me about $300 bucks far surpassed anything else I have tried in the $100 range. Even in the $200 range. More natural sound. Less synthetic is the best way to describe it.

 

My experience with optical and usb is rather limited though. But with my dac I prefered the usb by far. I tried a few different usb cables and really could not tell a difference in the sound. But I did notice that with cheaper usb cables I had small dropouts in the signal.

post #1470 of 3037
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meoow View Post

Even my mum could tell the differences considering she doesn't know which cable is which and most importantly she is not an audio-enthusiast.


Try this video

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