Originally Posted by nikongod
Perhaps it would be faster to just tell people what headphones to listen to and how than to tell them how they should be enjoying what they are enjoying their own way.
It's not my intention to act as some kind of killjoy here.
Science, electronics and DIY audio are inextricably linked. I couldn't do DIY without understanding electronics, and electronics is based on science.
I like radio too, but radio isn't full of people trying to insist that their subjective impressions must be taken into account. We do the science, we build the radios, they work, or they don't work. The degree to which they work is quantifiable and there's no debate about the results. A guy who can design a radio has had to work too hard for his expertise to compromise it by allowing the edges to be blurred by the incorporation of dubious information.
I like photography, but photography too isn't full of people insisting that their subjective impressions are taken into account, certainly not as far as the technical aspects are concerned, despite that its no less based on science and engineering than audio. Some people like Nikon lenses, some like Leica, but the absolute arbiter of lens quality is the modulation transfer function. Nobody tries to suggest that Leica lenses are superior to Nikon lenses because of qualities visible to the eye but not documented in the modulation transfer function.
When I discuss the engineering of audio, there's no room for debate. There's what's verifiable, and what's not verifiable.
I resist any attempt to turn the subject into morass of grey areas, because it's impossible to do useful work unless you can determine whether improvement has been made. Genuine advances in science are only achieved by those who scrupulously exclude their subjective impressions in favour of instrumented test or human impressions which have been systematically processed to ensure objectivity. Nobody denies that people's hearing is different, but you can't use that fact to justify proceeding on the basis of subjective impressions, because you make no progress.
There is a 3rd. area, a true gray area, which is that which is yet to be verified, but this is for discussion by those who appreciate the state of the art. Before anyone can legitimately enter such a discussion, they have to demonstrate both that they know the state of the art and that they know what constitutes evidence in this context. Contrary to what cfcubed seems to think, scientific exploration does NOT operate on a democratic basis. You don't get to vote on the value of Newton's understanding of gravity. You either use it where it is applicable (in non-Einsteinian scenarios), or you are WRONG. You don't get the right answer when you try to predict the motion of the planets. Many people disliked the ideas of Darwin, but he was right and their opinions were valueless in terms of understanding the natural world.
Much of audio engineering has al;ready reached the point where the human ear is incapable of distinguishing improvement. If this were not the case, then there would be no question of grey areas, improvements would be obvious. It's because, and only because, it's become possible to throw together a few components and produce a device that performs well enough to be indistinguishable from another similar but different device that debate on the subject has opened up, but that debate is no more than the churn of empty opinion generated by ignorance of the nature of evidence and insufficient self-awareness on the part of those who lean on the expertise of others embedded in the devices they use. The conclusion to be drawn is not that some amplifiers sound better than others, but that many sound identical or near identical, and the subjective impressions of differences are evidence of the fallibility of human judgement.
To argue otherwise is to subscribe to the logical fallacy that we call 'putting the cart before the horse'.
Spectacle lenses are finished only to the lowest quality optical standard, because once gross errors are compensated the wonderfully adaptive human eye and brain are capable of 'tuning out' lesser problems. In exactly the same fashion the ear and brain require only moderate fidelity for the enjoyment of music. Do you imagine the buyers of 78 records went around moaning 'oh, I can't listen to these'?
Whatever you do, don't spend a lot of money (more than $150) on any amplifier which doesn't both claim to be of reference standard and back up the claim with measurements done on industrial standard testgear.