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Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up - Page 53

post #781 of 2700
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

Exactly. Live and let live.

 

As someone said on another forum, "If I get the best sound I ever heard by taping fifty $100 bills to my head, that's my bag. Who are you to be the arbiter of what I hear?"

 

But yeah, we hew closer to the science side. Though that does not mean we always make stuff that objectively measures in the 0.0002% THD range, because we believe that isn't all there is to it. Which drives some people insane. 


I think this was effectively said in an earlier installment, but basically, if all amps that measure "well" and "similarly" sounded the same to me, I'd be 100% objectivist.  Since they don't all sound the same to me, there must be perceivable subjective differences between good designs - hence my inability to rely only on measurements alone.  And yes, for the nerds and geeks out there (guilty), my degree says BS, not BA...

post #782 of 2700
Quote:
Originally Posted by senorx12562 View Post

I actually blame the existence of so many snake-oil salesman in the audio business for the objective/subjective dichotomy one extreme of which is exemplified by the rantings of NwAvGuy. Although I tend to fall closer to his end of the spectrum (I can't even read Stereophile and keep a straight face, let alone The Absolute Sound),in the end it is clear to me that what matters most is the pleasure one derives from listening to music. If someone is blissful over the effect THEY perceive to come from a cable that costs 10grrr, more power to 'em. Most people reach a point of diminishing returns long before that, either because they don't perceive any difference in  sound, or not enough to justify such an expense. I applaud both NwAvGuy and Schitt for designing (both) and building (the latter) reasonably-priced products with sound (as an adjective) science and subjectively good sound. That is the perfect counterbalance to the charlatans that are so in evidence in audio.
Re: objective vs. subjective

I am a firm believer in objective data. Hard data taken from measurements will always trump a subjective analysis.

However...those measurements have to mean something*, and this is where objectivity can break down. Making meaningful measurements of equipment does a lot in terms of getting it "right," but just because something measures as transparent doesn't mean that it will sound right to the listener. A tube amp with poor measurements might just tickle his ear holes more than the most expensive, solid state, "wire with gain" amplifier on the market.

So you can (and should) chase better measurements, but eventually you'll hit a point where the measurements can't tell you any more than they already have, and the best thing you can do is just listen to decide whether or not you like how equipment sounds.

*If you want to see an example of improving measurements, just take a look at PC benchmarking over the last few years. It has progressed from FPS averages to measuring frame draw times, and now there's a tool from Nvidia that actually catches the frames as they are sent to the monitor. It has added a lot of quality to the final results, and it has uncovered issues with certain hardware and configurations that would have hidden for years behind the FPS averages.
post #783 of 2700
Quote:
He also assumed a lot, without confirmation. Like our “expensive” chassis. Yes, they look expensive, but they are not. Like our “design by ear” philosophy. In actuality, it’s more “confirm by ear.” The speculation that we don’t have, or know how to use, test equipment. The reality is that we have better equipment than the vaunted DScope.

 

And the bigger reality is: NwAvGuy, by his own admission, never touched a Schiit product.

On the subject of test equipment, objectivism, and measurements, I have to say, I would be very curious to see a full set of measurements on an Asgard (or Asgard 2). From everything I've heard, I do really like the way you guys operate, and your customer service (namely the way you handled the DC output on shutoff problem) is definitely admirable, but as an engineer, I do fall closer to the objectivist end of the spectrum. As a result, I would have a hard time buying any several-hundred dollar amplifier or similar piece of electronics without a detailed set of measurements (which is a large part of why I currently use an O2/ODAC, and I even went to the extent of verifying some of the specs myself on my LeCroy oscilloscope at work). I won't fault other people for enjoying a poorly-measuring amplifier (such as a tube amp driven into distortion), but since my own goal with my equipment is to have it as transparent and audibly perfect as possible, good measurements are important to me (and unfortunately, they can be hard to find for a lot of higher-end audio gear).

 

That all having been said, thanks for taking the time to write out this whole story about your adventure with Schiit - it's really entertaining, and I look forward to each installment.

post #784 of 2700
Thread Starter 

Actually, let's talk about measurements for a bit. 

 

One of the problems in audio is that most common audio analyzers (Audio Precision, Stanford, DScope) have a number of pre-set measurements that make determining things like THD, IMD, S/N ratio, crosstalk, etc relatively simple. Which means this is what most people focus on. And then we get into a numbers game that ends in PPM distortion numbers, etc, which, in our opinion, do not always correlate to great sound.

 

Now, these types of measurements are important. But you need to take into account two things when making audio measurements, besides the pre-set menus:

 

1. Is the system set up correctly?

 

First, whenever anyone says "making measurements is easy and absolute," they haven't read the 312-page manual that comes with a Stanford SR1. I like to ask, "So, how many thousands of hours do you have using an Audio Precision, Stanford, and DScope?" when people assert that measurements are absolute.

 

For example, something as simple as a bad cable can make your measurements completely meaningless. I've run into this a number of times. Same goes for bad jacks, power cables sitting on top of signal cables going to the analyzer, cellphones sitting next to the analyzer, ground loops, etc. Hell, we even blew up a generator output on one of our Stanfords somehow, and didn’t know it until a bunch of weird measurements led us to do a loopback test.

 

And measurement can look very different depending on how things are set. Is it spectrum-weighted? Are there hardware filters in place? What’s the FIR window? How much averaging? How many points? What’s the noise floor of the analyzer on wide bandwidth and narrow bandwidth? What THD spikes does the analyzer create?

 

The reality is, measurements aren’t 100% repeatable. Which is why we provide measurement summaries that are very conservative, rather than long printouts from the Stanfords.

 

2. Are you measuring the right things?

 

This is the big one. Looking at standard THD at 1K or 20K or CCIF IMD is one thing—and, to be fair, you still have to look at it over a wide bandwidth, not high-res measurements limited to 30 or 40kHz.

 

Looking at a multitone source (which the Stanford allows you to create—up combining several different frequencies at once) is much more revealing and interesting. We don’t publish this data because it doesn’t match any industry standards, and also because we’ve come to our own measurement regime that produces what we consider to be meaningful results. However, we could be fooling ourselves, so best to keep it internal.

 

Also, looking at jitter beyond a Jtest-style signal from the analyzer is more interesting. This is one case where you should not be using an audio analyzer—where it’s better to use an interval counter at the actual clock pins. Measuring things this way quickly makes you question the advantages of today’s buzzword-compliant femto clocks.

 

But these are only a couple of examples. Do we know all the measurements correlate exactly to a DAC or amplifier’s perceived performance? No. Do we have a better idea of how our products perform? Yes.

 

So, we’ll keep measuring…and we’ll keep listening…and we’ll keep driving some people crazy because we do both.

post #785 of 2700

Ha! I remember that post. If it means anything, I read most of it before I purchased any Schiit products (and went on to buy a Valhalla and a Modi for my ThinkPad).

 

Why did you decide to not put a relay on the Valhalla? Every once in a while, I forget to unplug my HD650s from it and I know when that happens because I hear the drivers crackle. It must not be that bad for them because I often forget to unplug them and they still sound great (I do try to unplug them just in case it eventually causes damage).

post #786 of 2700
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFi1972 View Post

 

Why did you decide to not put a relay on the Valhalla? 

 

The slow turn-on and decay characteristics of pure tube amps effectively negates the need for a relay.

post #787 of 2700
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

The slow turn-on and decay characteristics of pure tube amps effectively negates the need for a relay.

Out of curiosity, what are the "ticks" and "ting" we can hear on power on/off cycles through the headphones (and the tubes directly) then?

post #788 of 2700

Overconfidence in measured values is a plague on every form of engineering. As a chemical engineer, people want to analyze everything and just point to a value on a graph and say "SEE, THAT IS WHAT'S HAPPENING!" but that can't be applied to every piece of data. There is always something else going on that we can't measure. Many decisions are made with the best measurements available and a gut engineering feel of what is actually going to work, based on a bunch of calculations that all get multiplied by 1.5 for a safety factor.

Just the fact that safety factors exist for engineering should be plenty enough to show that measurements and calculations will only get you so far. The end product cannot only be based on those.

post #789 of 2700

On measurements, listening, objectivity and subjectivism, I feel I have to say this: this is why I buy Schiit.

 

I'm studying science. I will do my master thesis next spring, and this summer I will program the control and data acquisition for a new test setup. I like measurements. Anyone who knows me at a rudimentary level will think of me as an objective person. I love to be sure. But, I have found that measurements are indeed not something you can be sure of. Are we measuring the right thing, the right way? If what we are trying to measure is simple, we can make this reasonably sure. Note that humans, experiences and perception is a few of the most complex things in existence as far as we know...

 

Did I say I love to be sure?

 

Those who know me well will know recognise that this has made me a hardcore subjectivist in many matters, primarily those concerning anything that involves an experience. Audio is a very good example, or the design of a computer. As a listener, only a listener, the only relevant measurement is the amount of joy I feel when listening to music through the device. Measurements can surely be helpful for those who design the devices, and I would do measurements if I did, probably a lot of them. But I would also listen to them.

And so, with Schiit doing both, they mirror my belief and I have faith that they end up with products that sound good to most people.

 

And I'm thrilled to hear that you have taken your measurements in a direction similar to what the engineer in me has pondered over many times, reading those not-quite-halfway interesting standard measurements!

post #790 of 2700

Jason, thanks again for another entertaining chapter!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

Perhaps a bit over-the-top, but I think it’s important to say that engineers are no less passionate about their products than an artist or performer. Attack the product, attack the person.

 

As an engineer, I run into this a lot when peer-reviewing other people's work. I like to think I'm self-aware enough to try not to over-react to constructive criticism of my own work, but people are human.

 

The timing of your post is impeccable, because an article came out about Pixar today( http://time.com/63556/this-is-the-secret-to-pixars-monster-success/ ) and it contained the following passage:

 
Quote:
The second is that the Braintrust concerns itself with the task, not the person. “The film—not the filmmaker—is under the microscope,” he says. “This principle eludes most people, but it is critical: You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when challenged.
post #791 of 2700

I kinda find there's a tendency to agree that headphones that measure well are technically good, while headphones that measure bad or not as good get more mixed responses. 

 

The hd800 measures really well and is very well engineered. One of the main reasons I am considering it, along with the fact that it seems to be a headphone that can be easily compensated with EQ.

post #792 of 2700
Thanks again Jason.

One thing that I keep coming away with after reading each chapter is the valuable interplay between yourself and Mike. His sage-like, business savvy is invaluable to your partnership. It seems like every time he makes an appearance in a chapter, I can picture him in a cave on top of a mountain ready to provide indespensible nuggets of wisdom.

You two sound like the perfect partners!
post #793 of 2700

He's Jason's Yoda. 

post #794 of 2700
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zabzaf View Post

Thanks again Jason.

One thing that I keep coming away with after reading each chapter is the valuable interplay between yourself and Mike. His sage-like, business savvy is invaluable to your partnership. It seems like every time he makes an appearance in a chapter, I can picture him in a cave on top of a mountain ready to provide indespensible nuggets of wisdom.

You two sound like the perfect partners!

 

Mike is, by far, the more grounded and focused of the two of us. He's also very set on the right and proper way to do things. I experiment more, and will sway with the market a bit more. So yes, we're a good pair. Mike provides the long-term insight and solid base, and I push for change. Neither of us is right all the time.

 

And--both of us experiment a lot. As Mike says, "I live out in the boonies. The only things to do are engineer or drink. And I don't drink anymore."

 

As a "for example," there's a new product we've been developing for a while now, which shall remain nameless. We pretty much decided to kill it, as of today. Why? I started the experiment, I took the initiative and had them built, I played with them for a while--and then I decided that Mike was right, and it's a really dumb category for us to be in. Which he said from the start.

 

On the other hand, there's another new product that I did on a whim, which, after Mike argued that it didn't really fit into the product line, more discussion resulted in a couple of changes, and it will end up serving as the foundation for a new product category for us. 

 

And on the third hand, there's Mike's secret project he's been working on for a while, which you'll also be seeing soon.

 

Sorry to be so cloak and dagger, but we really can't talk about what's coming. 

 

And--I'm laughing my ass off at the Yoda reference. 

 

Continue on, you will! Go forward, you must!

post #795 of 2700
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Mike is, by far, the more grounded and focused of the two of us. He's also very set on the right and proper way to do things. I experiment more, and will sway with the market a bit more. So yes, we're a good pair. Mike provides the long-term insight and solid base, and I push for change. Neither of us is right all the time.

And--both of us experiment a lot. As Mike says, "I live out in the boonies. The only things to do are engineer or drink. And I don't drink anymore."

As a "for example," there's a new product we've been developing for a while now, which shall remain nameless. We pretty much decided to kill it, as of today. Why? I started the experiment, I took the initiative and had them built, I played with them for a while--and then I decided that Mike was right, and it's a really dumb category for us to be in. Which he said from the start.

On the other hand, there's another new product that I did on a whim, which, after Mike argued that it didn't really fit into the product line, more discussion resulted in a couple of changes, and it will end up serving as the foundation for a new product category for us. 

And on the third hand, there's Mike's secret project he's been working on for a while, which you'll also be seeing soon.

Sorry to be so cloak and dagger, but we really can't talk about what's coming. 

And--I'm laughing my ass off at the Yoda reference. 

Continue on, you will! Go forward, you must!

Why do I feel Jason that your mobile phone was involved in this experiment? (just a guess)
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