The time I spend in Head-Fi viewing seems to be focusing more and more on this 'Sound Science' section.
While i understand virtually none of it, at the same time it is fascinating trying to wrap my head around the physics of sound. It gives me a deeper appreciation and respect for the art form and it acts as a sort of lighthouse beam in the thick fog of my ignorance. It has grounding and a noble imperative behind it.
In the past, when I was younger, more foolish and had more disposable income, I never even looked at this part of the site, and instead used to really enjoy reading the equipment forums.
But increasingly, after being burned a number of times and spent a regrettable chunk of my hard-earned money on stuff that wasn't worth it, I have settled on a very cheap pair of earphones and a smartphone for my mobile listening, and a vintage second head pair of speakers and a cheap separates deal for my home. It all sounds really good to my ears and I have no desire to spend more, since funds are finite and I have this business of living life to do.
I have come to the conclusion that these equipment review parts of head-fi - the most popular ones, natch - are actually just an endless stream of confusing personal viewpoints with no real validity beyond an extremely marginal context of subjective experience, surrounded by the bewildering, blinging lights of advertising bait. I mean, for every IEM or headphone that person X proclaims as the new sliced bread, there's someone crying into their wallet about how poor it is. For every post about such and such double flange tip bringing out the highs, or this new DAP having a great UI, there are three others sniggering behind their hands. So it goes.
Essentially, there are so many combinations and so many endless product choices, all aimed at serving infinitely variable and fallible human ears, its impossible to bring any real value to the table. So instead of offering clarity, the forums just come across as a bunch of hobbyists screaming into the void, desparately trying and failing to find a connection with each other. It was easier before the internet. No offence to the blokes who do those threads comparing hundreds of different earphones, but how does that give you any more insight into good sounding gear than anyone else? In fact, doesn't this endless quest for reviewing and commenting on newer and newer things indicate something's gone a bit wrong in your head? That you've lost the woods for the trees? As far as I can tell, you're not being paid for this, so why do it? Why don't you just choose something you are happy with and go off and listen ot shedloads of lovely music through it?
I suppose part of the allure of this Sound Science section for me is a desire to see all this madness shot down in flames. I can't deny there is a certain frisson of pleasure in reading a well written and argued denunciation of the latest rip off snake oil to hit the market. It makes me angry to think how much cash is wasted on these things by people who really should know better. Unfortunately, it is the nature of capitalist free markets that immoral manipulation and dishonesty can take precedence over integrity and truth, Head-fi should be about championing the latter over the former, I feel, so I thank all invoived who keep the sound Science Section going. You're doing the right thing.
What does any of this have to do with subjectivity vs objectivity? Well, I think it boils down to this: science is about standing back from the roar of the ego and establishing as level a platform of understanding as possible, upon which we can all stand and expand our horizons. While nobody disputes that the discovery of an ultimate truth may be impossible, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater and put all our eggs in the "Well, my ears are the only things I trust." basket (hows that for a mixed metaphor). It is better to keep banging at the door than to give up.
I wonder why the division is made here and there's separate section devoted to audio science? By implication, science has no place elsewhere. Pretty damning really, when you stop to think about it.
Edited by Lostinspace - 1/13/14 at 3:46am