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Audiophiles and subjective impressions

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
iRiver AK100: high output impedance sounds like crap!



Hifiman HM-801: high output impedance sounds very musical!



Sansa Clip+: flat FR sounds dull, lifeless!



iBasso DX100: flat FR sounds full, realistic!



Unnamed DAP: bass and treble roll-off sounds very analog, non fatiguing!



Hifiman HM-801 again: sounds awesome no matter what!



That's the problem with audiophiles: there's no reference, no common ground, no consistency. Everyone hears what they want, and every opinion is valid as long as audiophile products are praised and non audiophile products are bashed (the AK100 being a paradox of sorts, further emphasizing the general state of inconsistency - iRiver is probably not "audiophile" enough).
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I was perhaps too presomptuous to assume that everyone would be able to read the graphs.
  • First two graphs: DAPs with high output impedance, loaded with non-flat impedance IEMs, result in emphasized mids and recessed highs.
  • Graphs 3 and 4: DAPs with low output impedance, resulting in a "high fidelity" signal, close to the recording, with no deviation whatsoever.
  • Graph 5: DAP with high output impedance loaded with a particular set of cans, resulting in recessed bass and highs.
  • Graph 6: DAP with high output impedance, loaded with various cans, resulting in widly varying frequency reponses (emphasized mids, and emphasized or recessed highs, depending on the headphones used).

Edited by skamp - 2/15/13 at 8:45am
post #2 of 44

An old but topical chestnut.

 

I'd like to see impressions educated. Don't be content with stating how you feel something sounds - instead, explore what it is in it that causes you to feel so relative to what doesn't.

post #3 of 44

It is simple, basically if it is exotic and expensive then it sounds good, and if it is cheap and/or "mainstream" (like the Apple iPod vs. Hifiman players), then it sounds bad, no matter what. Measurements do not really matter much to the subjective impressions (other than sometimes creating biases themselves), not least because even the "badly" measuring devices are in most cases still decent enough - better than old analog gear like cassette tapes etc. - to sound good to biased ears.

post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 
One ambiguous example is the O2/ODAC, which is sold by audiophile "boutique" vendors, and priced similarly as other "affordable" audiophile pieces of gear ($300), but designed by a die hard objectivist.
post #5 of 44
Thread Starter 
One of my favorites: audible hiss is acceptable and is not an attribute of "sound quality" (or lack thereof). [*]

[*] e.g. the Studio V
post #6 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

One of my favorites: audible hiss is acceptable and is not an attribute of "sound quality" (or lack thereof). [*]

[*] e.g. the Studio V

 

 

Indeed, when stereophile reviews kit it pretty much gives a free pass to turntables and valve amps (they do not even measure TTs at all) , my $90 and $140 DAC/Amps (all 4 of them) are utterly silent into both 32ohm and 250ohm so it cannot be terribly challenging but some $1000+ DACs revered in the dedicated source subforum cannot deliver a noise freee signal, my one "sort of audiophile" product an M^3 amp is disappointingly noisy while my anonymous kit is perfectly silent. Good design and jelly bean (but working to spec) parts often beats poor design/implementation and expensive parts !

 

Some of the reviews of expensive but technically awful kit on stereophile are priceless

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/zanden-5000-mkivsignature-da-converter-2000-premium-cd-transport-measurements

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/harmonic-technology-cyberlight-wave-p2a-interconnects-measurements

post #7 of 44
Quote:

 

Don't forget the $350,000 Wavac monoblocks. A classic.

 

http://www.stereophile.com/tubepoweramps/704wavac/index.html

 

Always loved this comment by John in the measurements section:

 

"I can't explain why Michael found its sound so seductive; all I can do is point to the measurable problems or audible idiosyncrasies that must be listened through to hear what it does right."

 

It's never that the listener likes what they hear BECAUSE of the flaws, but rather, the component is doing some mysterious something else sooooooooo RIGHT that it transcends the flaws.

 

se

post #8 of 44

Well, JA did sort of said at the very end:

 

"All I have to do now is work out how to get this" POS "amplifier back out of my basement and into the SUV so that Mikey can spend another couple of weeks" ...ing to "its sound."


Edited by ultrabike - 2/14/13 at 12:17pm
post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrabike View Post

Well, JA did sort of said at the very end:

 

"All I have to do now is work out how to get this" POS "amplifier back out of my basement and into the SUV so that Mikey can spend another couple of weeks" ...ing to "its sound."

 

biggrin.gif

 

se

post #10 of 44

Priceless indeed...

post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

Sansa Clip+: flat FR sounds dull, lifeless!
iBasso DX100: flat FR sounds full, realistic!
Another point scored for subjectivists, measurements are not everything smily_headphones1.gif

Seriously though, what the hell are these first two plots?
Edited by mich41 - 2/14/13 at 4:04pm
post #12 of 44

What you see there is what the output impedance of these devices do to Triple.Fi 10's as load.

 

For example the output impedance of the AK100 causes over +3 dB at 1 kHz and about -6 dB at 10 kHz.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mich41 View Post
Another point scored for subjectivists, measurements are not everything smily_headphones1.gif

This is a joke of course.


Edited by xnor - 2/14/13 at 4:22pm
post #13 of 44
Ugh, multiple armatures. It's the first time I'm seeing a phone with impedance decreasing in treble range. Must sound funny from these players.
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mich41 View Post
Must sound funny from these players.

Yeah, warm, analog like and musical in case of expensive players; dull, lifeless, like crap in case of cheap players. :-x

post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 
I think there's a point to be made that, even IF there are some audio attributes that don't get measured, surely what DOES get measured should matter. The problem is that those measured properties often don't make a difference in what audiophiles hear (even a 6 dB variation), which, again, makes their impressions inconsistent.
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