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How aware are audio engineers of Psychoacoustics and other BS beliefs? - Page 4

post #46 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I really don't worry much about people with super high end systems. They have money to burn and want to wipe their butts with 14 karat gold leaf. The people I care about are the normal schlubs looking to put together a kick ass sound system. Too often, they get sales pitch aimed at the "more money than sense" crowd and believe it. If someone is really interested in sound, they should be given useful advice, not encouraged to burn through their kid's college funds.

If someone is "really interested" in sound, I say they are generally fairly well researched. Separate "really interested in sound" from "interested in spending money for perceived quality but not caring so much about the results"

I used to sell mountain bikes, which have a good analogy to audio (and a very similar price to performance ratio)

Most people wanted something cheap that works
Some people wanted something mid ranged that works better
A few people wanted the "best"

The best researched customers were ALWAYS shopping in the midrange. The highest end consumers were generally as "ignorant/disinterested" as the entry level guys.
post #47 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKG240mkII View Post

 

I would really like to see those blind-tests proving Chemotherapy cures cancer !

 

 

Only problem is : Autism-rate WASN'T  'unchanged' :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology_of_autism

 

It's probably worth remembering that medicine is also a business !!

 

That's right- Dr. Wakefied, who wrote the fraudulent paper inventing the link between vaccines and autism was on the take from a legal firm trying to sue vaccine companies.  Luckily he was caught because no peer-reviewed study, or survey of studies from public health agencies was able to replicate his results.  1 point for science.

post #48 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by eucariote View Post

 

That's right- Dr. Wakefied, who wrote the fraudulent paper inventing the link between vaccines and autism was on the take from a legal firm trying to sue vaccine companies.  Luckily he was caught because no peer-reviewed study, or survey of studies from public health agencies was able to replicate his results.  1 point for science.

I don't know how widespread this mentality is in the UK but in the USA a few years ago, it took on the form of a movement.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control; governmental body) had to run a counter campaign with PSAs, brochures, billboards telling people that vaccination was not causing autism.  

 

The American media, which is already notorious for bad reporting actually joined in the frenzy by allowing celebrities, specifically a former porn star turned mother-against-vaccination, to spread her non-sense at the national level.  I'm not sure if they have hard evidence, but I was reading some articles last year on how even simple diseases like the Whooping Cough are making a comeback because our current booster shots are not able to fight it effectively and a decrease in vaccinations only exposes the entire population to whatever disease are not dying in their body.  

 

It's a sad state of affairs, but it has taken on somewhat of a cult mentality and vaccination levels have actually decreased in the USA rather than staying the same or increasing.  

post #49 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MegaBass18 View Post

I don't know how widespread this mentality is in the UK but in the USA a few years ago, it took on the form of a movement.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control; governmental body) had to run a counter campaign with PSAs, brochures, billboards telling people that vaccination was not causing autism.  

 

The American media, which is already notorious for bad reporting actually joined in the frenzy by allowing celebrities, specifically a former porn star turned mother-against-vaccination, to spread her non-sense at the national level.  I'm not sure if they have hard evidence, but I was reading some articles last year on how even simple diseases like the Whooping Cough are making a comeback because our current booster shots are not able to fight it effectively and a decrease in vaccinations only exposes the entire population to whatever disease are not dying in their body.  

 

It's a sad state of affairs, but it has taken on somewhat of a cult mentality and vaccination levels have actually decreased in the USA rather than staying the same or increasing.  

 

What's even scarier is that those same pseudo-science companies made enough that they're expanding overseas via marketing. Even MLM companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

 

The locals abroad generally respect western medicine and foreign endorsements over their own local pseudo science crap; so obvious crap can get a free pass.

 

Even the western stuff fringe beliefs get new lives overseas; you wouldn't believe how many people think the Jews run America as a Cabal or how many 1950s diet fads are still mainstream.

 

These fraudsters should be jailed and any lawyer helping them need to be disbarred.


Edited by ukon16 - 1/30/13 at 11:30am
post #50 of 64
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?

 

Engineers realize very early in their career that the product must have something marketable to make a splash. There must be something that distinguishes the product that will induce the company to spend on advertising (versus cancelling the project), and hopefully the constant exposure to the uniqueness will make a consumer decide "that feature makes sense to me, that's the product I want"

 

Part of growing up as an engineer is understanding that the best product doesn't always win. There are a host of other factors that come into play. Price. Availability. Balance. And most important with buyers these days: Does the product increase your stature among your peers? That seemed to start with jeans in the 80's, and is going harder than ever today. Kids cannot articulate why they want Beats or iPod. They just know that if they have something else, their friends will ask "why didn't you get X?" And of course, their friends don't know either. All their friends know is that the NFL team getting off the bus are all wearing Beats, and they are pulling down a few million a year and can afford the best, and ergo, Beats must be the best. Marketing. Marketing. Marketing. 

 

Now, once a decision is made by marketing on where to focus, the engineer's job is to get the features into the product in the most cost-effective and performing way. And there is where an engineer has TONS of leverage. They can decide to spin things internally however they wish. But he must be subtle. He has all the information. He can really drive the decision however he wishes. The marketing guy will never be able to synthesize the information without the help of the engineer. 

 

The fun part of engineering is helping to get the company into a position where you DO have something that is desired by consumers, and then your ASP can increase and then the engineer can spend more money on making the product even more unique and desirable. 

 

Lastly, the engineer needs to work with manufacturing to figure out a way to TEST the unique and differentiating functionality of the product. And this is where snake-oil departs from honest projects. When you manufacture something, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. A part can get left off. The wrong part can get placed. The vendor can send mislabeled parts. Parts can be out of spec. All of these things conspire to make the product not work as designed (and I've seen every one of these routinely. They are not surprising events at all in high volume manufacturing). But a legit product flow can perform tests at the time of manufacturing to guard against these mistakes. Things like optical inspections, performance tests, temp testing of manufacturing samples can all find these problem. 

 

But what if a product is wonderful because of some "unknown" quantity? Most that are dealing in snake oil cannot tell you the spec that has resulted in such amazing sound stage. Or the spec that gives the product so much clarity. Or presence. And if they can't identify the spec that is unique, then how can they verify is was built correctly? And how can they be sure that serial #1 was built the same as serial #1000? They cannot. Is their claim that a person sitting on the line in a noisy factory making $12/hour can hear this? Or do they bring down the big name CEO to listen to every unit to verify it was made correctly?

 

So, the next time you hear of an amazing but subjective attribute that makes a product wonderful, ask yourself "how does the vendor know all of these were built the same?" If there isn't a spec that coincides with the subjective attribute, then you can be pretty sure it's snake oil. Without that spec, the manufacturer has no way to ensure that every product was built the same. 

post #51 of 64

Nicely back on topic Trenn.

 

However, I think your comments apply more to mainstream hi-fi production.

 

I think a typical High End manufacturer will spend a higher proportion of their "design" time in just trying out ideas, on a trial and error basis. And the CEO of such companies would encourage such ideas and more than likely participate in them. As a simple example, what would happen to the SQ if you replace the cost-effective standard capacitors with some expensive oil filled ones? This will probably involve some subjective listening comparisons.

 

Once the "designer" has settled on the right proportion of tweaky changes that give the right sound at their target price point, the manufacturing department still needs to do all the proper measurements to ensure consistency. In this case, there is no measurement of how good the unit sounds, just the measurements to identify if a component is out of spec or has been forgotten altogether. 

 

BTW, I'm not suggesting that High End designers only do tweaky changes. Just that they are more likely to do that in addition to standard engineering process.

post #52 of 64

I would bet that the R&D budget for a typical $150 Sony bluray player far exceeds any high end boutique component. Just because they charge more, it doesn't mean it's better designed.

post #53 of 64

Agreed (surprisingly smile_phones.gif). But the majority of Sony's design budget will be targeted at making their $150 player great value for money. High End designers have different priorities, and because of a relatively limited budget, their success will be highly variable. However great or rubbish the end result will be, it will never score highly on VFM - apart from when that result coincides with the requirements of a high end customer, in which case VFM takes on a different perspective.

post #54 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I would bet that the R&D budget for a typical $150 Sony bluray player far exceeds any high end boutique component. Just because they charge more, it doesn't mean it's better designed.


Agreed,

 

the market value for R&D should exceed the cost of the customer price, in fairness it's a lot of knowledge gained unless the engineer and salespeople are not working together efficiently.

 

I am guessing that is why Sony needs to make sure there are multiple returns for the $150.00... if Sony can make a high end product that is easily translatable into a low end product with tweaks etc then their R&D probably is worth it in the long term.

post #55 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post

Agreed (surprisingly smile_phones.gif). But the majority of Sony's design budget will be targeted at making their $150 player great value for money. High End designers have different priorities, and because of a relatively limited budget, their success will be highly variable. However great or rubbish the end result will be, it will never score highly on VFM - apart from when that result coincides with the requirements of a high end customer, in which case VFM takes on a different perspective.

 

I've never been able to detect any correlation between price and sound quality in electronics.

post #56 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I would bet that the R&D budget for a typical $150 Sony bluray player far exceeds any high end boutique component. Just because they charge more, it doesn't mean it's better designed.


Based on my personal experience, I'd say it doesn't matter how much money a company spends in R&D.

 

Theoretically speaking, yes, higher budget brings more designs and improvements, but its not the case in reality.

 

Its more important to have a vision, understand the current technology, customer needs, and ultimately (most important of all) what you want from a product.

Everyone, right from the top to the engineer making the schematics, needs to share that common goal.

 

Otherwise R&D is a sinkhole that devours budgets. Scope creeps and cost overruns are common in a lot of companies, and with so many people covering their ass, its hard to make changes. 

 

Small companies have that advantage.

post #57 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
In this case, there is no measurement of how good the unit sounds, just the measurements to identify if a component is out of spec or has been forgotten altogether. 

 

your statement doesn't really make sense. In order to know if it was built correctly, you have to compare a measurement to a design target. If you can't identify WHY the unit sounds so good, then how can you measure to know it was built correctly? 

 

Here's a contrived example that confronts us everyday: A high end USB cable that costs $1000 is made from some rare wire that is assumed to have special qualities. But it tests exactly the same as normal wire using conventional equipment. However, some still swear they can hear a benefit from the cable. One day, the premium wire spool used to make the cables got switched with the normal wire on accident, and the premium USB cables in a a particular lot was made with normal wire instead of the good stuff. They test the same. How can you find out which were made incorrectly?

 

Or consider an amp that is judged to sound great. When the designer built it, he used 2.2uF caps from manufacturer XYZ in a certain critical part of the circuit. But one day during manufacturing they ran out of 2.2uF caps from XYZ, and instead substituted identical parts from company ABC. But the parts aren't identical if you test hard enough. In fact, even other lots from maker XYZ aren't identical if you test hard enough. The first batch might have been made in Singapore, the next batch in Malaysia.

 

How do you detect this? 

 

You cannot.There isn't a single test that can catch this. If you rely on lofty, unmeasureable claims about why you product is awesome, then you have NO WAY of knowing it was built correctly short of auditioning every single unit by a person with golden ears. Which is impossible. 

 

Thus, if you buy a piece of equipment that sounds good for some immeasurable reason, you cannot be sure that particular unit has the magic unless the guy that designed it actually listened to it personally to verify the magic quality was there. 


Edited by Trenn - 1/31/13 at 8:06pm
post #58 of 64
Quote:

Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

 Scope creeps and cost overruns are common in a lot of companies, and with so many people covering their ass, its hard to make changes. 

 

Small companies have that advantage.

 

Then why is it that a $150 Sony bluray player sounds just as good as a $2000 boutique player and a $150 Pioneer amp sounds just as good as a monoblock amp that costs as much as a car?

post #59 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

 

Then why is it that a $150 Sony bluray player sounds just as good as a $2000 boutique player and a $150 Pioneer amp sounds just as good as a monoblock amp that costs as much as a car?

 

I'm guessing they both have different goals in mind. A certain level of performance is easy to attain, and beyond that it gets harder.

 

The point I'm trying to make is that R&D works with an objective. Just because a company has more money to spend doesn't mean they'll make better products. They can aim at something lower and easier, and probably cheaper. Usually they work with whatever cheapest can get the work done, with a certain amount of reliability.

 

Sony would charge $2k for their blu-ray player if they could (they already overprice so many of their products), you can have my word on that. They're selling it for $150 because of other factors (competition, market share etc).

 

Also, you already know that the effects of better specs start to diminish beyond a point. With these boutique companies, sometimes its exclusivity (performance and/or looks) that counts as an objective. And once you make something exclusive, prices can be named.

post #60 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I would bet that the R&D budget for a typical $150 Sony bluray player far exceeds any high end boutique component.

 

Just having the injection molds made for all the plastic bits would exceed that. biggrin.gif

 

se

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