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How aware are audio engineers of Psychoacoustics and other BS beliefs?

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 

I got to thinking; tons of companies from small label brands to big corps like pioneer have devoted large amounts of research to audio.

The average audiophile tends to change his belief (tubes suck in the 70s; best of the bunch in the 90s)...often and where to spend his money.

 

For example, tubes went out in the 60s to SS and now things are turning back to tubes. Analog went straight to digital ASAP but now analog sources are making a small but strong comeback among audiophiles.

 

Do audio engineers at say...Pioneer know this and scoff everything somebody emails them asking for new tube amps or complain that modern recievers suck compared to their vintage, unrestored 60's pioneer amp? Does your average designer at Sony audio realize they're not re-inventing the wheel when designing tower speaker #135 despite the marketing literature saying otherwise?


Edited by ukon16 - 1/21/13 at 10:26pm
post #2 of 64
Psychoacoustics aren't BS. That's what gave us fantastic sounding compression codecs for our ipods.
post #3 of 64
Thread Starter 

Crap...I think I wrote that wrong...must not post late at night...argh...
 

post #4 of 64
A quick look at Steve Hoffman's forum and the Gearslutz forum reveals that even professional recording engineers (even famous ones!) are mostly subjectivists who believe in expensive cables, and reject lossy codecs as well as the ABX methodology.

A glaring example is Masterdisk engineers who try to make their clients believe that AAC at 256 kbps isn't transparent (even sounds horrible!) and that they should pay them a lot of money to remaster their album specifically for iTunes, working around AAC's "flaws" with lots of random EQing and whatnot.

If their clients did some ABXing, they'd save a lot of money!
Edited by skamp - 1/22/13 at 10:33am
post #5 of 64
Some engineers get paid to endorse brands just like baseball players. But not many.
post #6 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

professional recording engineers (even famous ones!) are mostly subjectivists who believe in expensive cables

 

Professional recording engineers write off their equipment spend against tax. They get paid to endorse equipment. You have to think before you believe everything you hear or read...

 

w

post #7 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by ukon16 View Post

I got to thinking; tons of companies from small label brands to big corps like pioneer have devoted large amounts of research to audio.
The average audiophile tends to change his belief (tubes suck in the 70s; best of the bunch in the 90s)...often and where to spend his money.

For example, tubes went out in the 60s to SS and now things are turning back to tubes. Analog went straight to digital ASAP but now analog sources are making a small but strong comeback among audiophiles.
These are polarized opinions, the reality contains far more variables. Not all tube designed sucked in the 70's, the transition to CD took several years, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ukon16 View Post


Do audio engineers at say...Pioneer know this and scoff everything somebody emails them asking for new tube amps or complain that modern recievers suck compared to their vintage, unrestored 60's pioneer amp? Does your average designer at Sony audio realize they're not re-inventing the wheel when designing tower speaker #135 despite the marketing literature saying otherwise?

You are confusion engineering, product development and marketing. Engineers get it, almost always. Marketing finds the opportunities where a new product might sell in enough quantity to support product development and manufacturing in quantity that matches their business model, engineering finds ways to realize the product design goals that are possible to manufacture in a way that allows the appropriate profit margin. If a tube design fit the business model of a Sony or Pioneer, they'd be making it. Boutique companies that do make tube products have entirely different business models that permit and even focus on tube designs.

Recording engineers are a different story. Most are not degreed engineers, and the title is technically misplaced on them. They may or may not understand the tech or science behind what they do, and the fact that they do or don't doesn't necessarily impact their ability to do their job. It will affect their equipment choices, which may be based on science, pseudoscience, or a blend of the two. There are also some highly trained and technically savvy recording engineers out there too, but you can't always tell by their work, which is highly affected by the demands of the artist and producer who pays the bill.
Edited by jaddie - 1/22/13 at 11:00am
post #8 of 64

Wow, great thread.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ukon16 View Post
Do audio engineers at say...Pioneer know this and scoff everything somebody emails them asking for new tube amps or complain that modern recievers suck compared to their vintage, unrestored 60's pioneer amp? Does your average designer at Sony audio realize they're not re-inventing the wheel when designing tower speaker #135 despite the marketing literature saying otherwise?

 

Yes, I think so. But there are two types of audio engineers. Design engineers do (mostly) understand how audio and hearing work, especially at major companies like those you mentioned. You will find belief-based silliness at some of the smaller boutique companies that cater to the high-end audiophile market. Indeed, some of the worst junk is the most expensive! In my experience, the more someone knows about electronics, the less likely they are to believe that expensive wires and various "tweak" products are more effective than a placebo.

 

The other type of "engineers" are those who record and mix music. I don't know if I'd say most are subjectivists who are clueless about the science, but certainly many of them are. I see this as part of the dumbing down of society in general. 40 years ago most recording engineers actually understood how the gear they used works, because they had to know how to fix it when it broke!

 

--Ethan

post #9 of 64

40 years ago the engineers at Abbey Road all wore white coats and knew what they were doing.

post #10 of 64

Design engineers, eh?

 

Like Norman Tracy, "Design Engineer at Control Devices Inc & Audio Crafters Guild"?

 

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/norman-tracy/24/549/665

 

He has this to say:

 

http://www.audiocraftersguild.com/AandE/npt.on.jitter2.htm

 

"10. Then comes a certain group of audiophiles who declare digital audio by its very nature is already perfect. They argue this point using a selected subset of the facts and tenuous analogy to other usually purely digital technologies. Their belief system includes a form of audio egalitarianism which has latched onto digital audio as a means to bring ultimate hi-fidelity down to the lowest common denominator. Anyone questioning this belief system is to be labeled self-delusional or a charlatan and immediately challenged to a duel in the form of an ABX test."

post #11 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonitus mirus View Post

Design engineers, eh?

 

Like Norman Tracy, "Design Engineer at Control Devices Inc & Audio Crafters Guild"?

 

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/norman-tracy/24/549/665

 

He has this to say:

 

http://www.audiocraftersguild.com/AandE/npt.on.jitter2.htm

 

"10. Then comes a certain group of audiophiles who declare digital audio by its very nature is already perfect. They argue this point using a selected subset of the facts and tenuous analogy to other usually purely digital technologies. Their belief system includes a form of audio egalitarianism which has latched onto digital audio as a means to bring ultimate hi-fidelity down to the lowest common denominator. Anyone questioning this belief system is to be labeled self-delusional or a charlatan and immediately challenged to a duel in the form of an ABX test."

 

The Control Device Inc is not related to audio, right?  Boutique audiophile designers tend to have more "belief-based silliness" as a general trend, if that's what you want to call it, as mentioned before.  Maybe the same could be said, to some degree, for hobbyist and DIY designers.  Depends.

 

 

Also, there's nothing wrong with point 10 and some of the others, other than maybe a bit too much faith in controversies among audiophiles actually indicating open problems, maybe implied distrust of blind testing.  10 is referring to some apparent class of people who don't understand how digital audio works (of course any digital audio for playback must involve conversion to analog in order to actually move some transducers down the line, which is obviously lossy and not perfect—though relevancy of small imperfections in real-world systems is a different matter).  Might need to address 8 and 9.  Or just a straw man?  Do these people exist in significant numbers?

 

In terms of jitter audibility in actual listening tests, depends on the type of jitter, type of test, etc.  but generally thresholds are far above what modest equipment is capable of.

post #12 of 64

I think what annoyed me a bit was the reference to a belief system for those wishing to obtain measurable results from an ABX test.   The notion that the modern scientific method can be associated with some faith-based belief system was something I would not expect from most reputable engineers.  

post #13 of 64

Audiocraftersguild?

 

Engineering design is not a craft.

 

A guild is a kind of medieval labour union. Not a society of sorcerers.

 

You can't expect much from anyone who can't make distinctions on this level.

 

Blind testing is the gold standard for scientific evidence. That's how, when you're at your most vulnerable, when the doctor tells you, 'you have cancer', you don't get sold a pig in a poke when it comes to treatment. If you don't subscribe to this view as a doctor, you don't get to practice medicine in a civilized country. Otherwise you're what they used to call a witch doctor, but that's probably not politically correct any more. We got kids dying from measles cause some 4sshole stirred up a load of nonsense about the vaccine causing autism, when the autism rate was unchanged after they introduced the vaccine. Had people treating him like the second coming, but it didn't last. They struck him off (the register of doctors) in the end. Except we're still dealing with the unvaccinated legacy. People still refuse it for their kids.

 

I don't see any difference with audio professionals. There should be a professional body or some other way of maintaining standards. We have an advertising standards agency in the UK, I don't understand how these guys get past the censor, other than that they just swamp the print media. You couldn't keep up with it. One thing for sure, they don't advertise on TV, because I'd be right down their throats if they tried it.

 

5hit, Prince Charles believes in homeopathy.

 

w

post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by ukon16 View Post

I got to thinking; tons of companies from small label brands to big corps like pioneer have devoted large amounts of research to audio.

The average audiophile tends to change his belief (tubes suck in the 70s; best of the bunch in the 90s)...often and where to spend his money.

 

For example, tubes went out in the 60s to SS and now things are turning back to tubes. Analog went straight to digital ASAP but now analog sources are making a small but strong comeback among audiophiles.

 

Do audio engineers at say...Pioneer know this and scoff everything somebody emails them asking for new tube amps or complain that modern recievers suck compared to their vintage, unrestored 60's pioneer amp? Does your average designer at Sony audio realize they're not re-inventing the wheel when designing tower speaker #135 despite the marketing literature saying otherwise?

 

Tubes never went away. You have heard of Marshall, Ampeg, Fender, and many others continued making vacuum tube guitar amplifiers? In audio, companies like Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, McIntosh and others were making tube amps and still are today. These are just US companies. Many companies were making tube audio equipment as well in Europe and Japan. Analog didn't went to digital that quick. In the 80's when CDs came out they were horrendous. Vinyls and tapes were forced out by the record companies eventually. Analog is not making a strong comeback. You need to get more reliable information.

post #15 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie View Post

40 years ago the engineers at Abbey Road all wore white coats and knew what they were doing.


Indeed.

 

Jaddie...we should be pals. beerchug.gif

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