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Can anyone recommend a more science-friendly headphone forum? - Page 2

post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioops View Post

 

Can anyone recommend an alternative forum, where I might finally start learning what the facts are with regards to the common purchasing decisions we have to make as a part of our expensive hobby?

 

Thanks!

 

Honestly, I've learned pretty much everything I needed and wanted to know here on Head-fi. It's up to you to filter out the b.s.

post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

I don't see how being able to hear a deer is a setup for anything other than an unverified anecdotal subjective impression. "Granted they weren't using the same source or headphones, but..."

 

If the OP wants an answer based on science, don't ask for advice. That's just asking people to decide for you. Do the legwork- look up some specs, figure out what the numbers represent in terms of sound, compare them to the well established thresholds of human hearing, and always be skeptical- there's a whole lot of road apples in the road to audio heaven.

 

^^ THIS

 

Use your own head to make your own decisions. A little learning goes a long way.

post #18 of 39
I'm not picking a fight. I'm pointing out that when someone is asking for a scientific basis for judging sound quality, pointing to your own subjective ability to hear and talking about completely uncontrolled listening comparisons are the exact opposite of what he's asking for.

Science is about established thresholds of human hearing and carefully controlled listening tests.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioopsView Post Having not had a chance to test ANY amps yet, when you say these items sound great, do you mean to say you suspect that any difference in sound quality produced between them and a $5000 amp would be either non-existant or negligible? I ask because, having just decided on my first expensive headphone purchase and needing to make my first headphone amp purchase, I have seen people in threads and in the store where I demoed the headphones telling me I had to spend a significant amount of money to get the most out my future HD 800s.

 

I think I need to back up some and make myself a little clearer.

 

The above post was what I replied to earlier when I posted about amplifiers.   So let me state my opinion more specifically to the language used by audioops.  English is my first language and I feel I have a fairly firm grasp of it.  So unless the above quote is in another language that uses the same words, punctuation and syntax as English, but has different meanings, I would say that there is no request here for any scientific basis for judging sound quality.

 

 

 

Q: "Having not had a chance to test ANY amps yet, when you say these items sound great, do you mean to say you suspect that any difference in sound quality produced between them and a $5000 amp would be either non-existant or negligible?"

 

A:  Put simply, yes. Having heard well designed and built, but inexpensive amps as well as those costing into the thousands, I would say that the differences in quality are negligible at normal listening levels. 

 

 

Now that that has been cleared up I'd like to take a moment to talk about this sentence:

 

 "I ask because, having just decided on my first expensive headphone purchase and needing to make my first headphone amp purchase, I have seen people in threads and in the store where I demoed the headphones telling me I had to spend a significant amount of money to get the most out my future HD 800s."

 

I've already stated that the HD800 is not for me and my reasons for that opinion.  But to reiterate more succinctly: it's great qualities don't justify the cost to me. My dollars are mine and I value them differently that others might.  We all decide what things are worth to ourselves individually.   The bolded section is what I have issue with.  This is something I have seen repeated many times by many people and to me it just seems like one of those things that people say only because they read it somewhere.  It's just like the Sennheiser veil.  It's just a word that one guy used a long time ago and it keeps getting regurgitated over and over again.  There are lots of headphones that have a more subdued treble, relative to other headphones, but only headphones with Sennheiser across the headband have a "veil".   This popular notion that a HD800 really needs an expensive amp to sound it's best is nothing more than classic audio equipment voodoo-magic-beans-unicorn-hair-cable bull-sh*t in my opinion.  

       This kind of brings me to another point.  It seems like almost everyone who is new to headphone audio assumes that they need an amp when they buy a pair of headphones.  That I think, is another myth I wish would go away.  For the casual listener or even the budget minded enthusiast there is probably at least one device in your house that can drive a pair of quality headphones very well. By "drive very well" I mean: play at a reasonable volume with minimal distortion.  My Dennon receiver and my Logitech PC speakers are a perfect example of this.  Both of those are great at driving my 300ohm Sennheisers.   Now in my case, when I got into headphone audio I actually did need an amp, because I wanted a headphone audio listening rig in my bedroom,  and both my receiver and computer desk were outside my bedroom and my source had no headphone jack.

    Now for all I know audioops is in the same situation and needs an amplifier for his listening area due to a lack of something to plug headphones into.    There are other ways a person would need an amp. Stax users, for example require an electrostatic amp or device that converts a speaker amp for use with an electrostat.  But the myth that any quality (expensive) headphone is being wasted if not being driven by an expensive amp has certainly made some companies a lot of money.  The Grado RA-1 is a prime example. A $25 Cmoy in a wooden box now is a $425 amp.

 

Fuggit...I'm outa here. I'm going to throw my morals into the garbage and start selling wooden boxes for $400. Bwahahahaha


Edited by cswann1 - 1/27/14 at 12:36am
post #20 of 39
The most interesting thread that I have read for a while. Thanks.
post #21 of 39
Quote:

EDIT:   On the J. Gordon Holt quote....I wonder what exactly he means when he said "...it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor....".    As a magazine they can do whatever they want with products that they buy.  Other magazines do it all the time.  They send a guy to the store, on a company expense account he buys some competing products and they run them through the ringer to see who's widget is the best.  Performance PC parts are a great example.  With every new generation of processor, memory, hard drive, graphics card or whatever, you can find a dozen different websites reviewing them with industry standard benchmark tests.   Maybe I just don't understand how Stereophile did business back in the day.  Was it a situation where the companies said "if you print any scientifically objective analysis of our products we'll pull our advertising"?  That seems crazy to me.

JGH worked  for some other early HiFi mags.  He came to the conclusion that measurements told you nothing about sound quality.  One amp measures better than another, but in listening it sounded less good.  He in 1962 started Stereophile as a subjective review magazine.  He didn't accept ads for the first 10 years and another 6 years before those ads could be from audio equipment makers. But his premise was you put equipment in a system and listen to it.  Describe how it you heard it vs other equipment.  Decide on that basis rather than measurements which is the better equipment.  He was clearly able to speak his own mind.  He sold the magazine to John Archibald in 1982 but continued for several years as a reviewer.

 

I don't think JGH was anti-science or anti understanding things.  He just felt the conventional tests weren't telling the real story.  I have my own ideas why at various times that would have seemed to be the case.  One is tube amps.  They sometimes sound more pleasing and sound like they sound better in some contexts.  But it is actually an accidentally engaging coloration.  So they measure worse, sound better.   I don't think JGH went in for the more outrageous things that grew out of a movement he helped start.  I think he was unhappy with having started it the way it turned out.  So his statement late in his life during an interview reflected that.

 

At some point beyond simple listening being a touchstone of whether something was good or pleasing it went off the rails.  The industry in time refused to submit to honesty.  There was too much money and too many lucrative flights of fancy.  You couldn't close Pandora's box once it was opened.  High end audio has surely become a large educational sub-culture of what happens when even modern people with technology let themselves ignore the science and pursue human error with enthusiasm.  People don't realize how easily their bias and placebo can lead them far from reality no matter how honest and careful they are in such subjective endeavors. 

post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post

....

 

At some point beyond simple listening being a touchstone of whether something was good or pleasing it went off the rails.  The industry in time refused to submit to honesty.  There was too much money and too many lucrative flights of fancy.  You couldn't close Pandora's box once it was opened.  High end audio has surely become a large educational sub-culture of what happens when even modern people with technology let themselves ignore the science and pursue human error with enthusiasm.  People don't realize how easily their bias and placebo can lead them far from reality no matter how honest and careful they are in such subjective endeavors. 

Very nice post and some very good insights. However there is one thing I would change just a bit:

 

"People don't realize how easily (replace: their bias and placebo with:) money can lead them far from reality no matter how honest and careful they are in such subjective endeavors."

 

Remember always, always follow the MONEY!

post #23 of 39

The thing is, if you don't pair equipment specs with the equivalent thresholds of human perception, they're just abstract numbers on a page. Audio magazines should have as many articles on how we hear as they do ones about the equipment we listen to, but none of them do.

post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
...

  People don't realize how easily their bias and placebo can lead them far from reality no matter how honest and careful they are in such subjective endeavors. 

 

so you're saying humans are completely powerless against bias and placebo? I disagree.

post #25 of 39

Unless one sets up controls to eliminate the effect of bias, yes, one would be powerless to prevent it from influencing the outcome.

post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

 

so you're saying humans are completely powerless against bias and placebo? I disagree.

 

That's not exactly what esldude said (I can't say if that's what he meant), but still, this is a strange way of looking at things to me.

 

 

It is a healthy, interesting, and unavoidable fact of life that mood, engagement, and other factors influence subjective experiences. Otherwise, things would be all the same all the time and boring. Expectation bias alters results by changing some of the "inputs" to the system (you or me) that don't have to do with the sound, which is the thing that we often claim we're testing or listening for. This is a fundamental weakness of listening comparisons done: you can readily say that you preferred one experience over another, but you can't at all rigorously defend a conclusion that it was because of the actual difference in sound unless you actually controlled for the other factors (which nobody does outside of research settings).

 

Expectation bias is some kind of factor in everything we do, even if we're aware of it. That's how it is. That doesn't mean that a careful and well-trained listener can't evaluate things more consistently than someone else, but it doesn't mean you can eliminate it or pretend like it has no appreciable effect. That's why scientific experiments in the fields relating to human perception control for these things. For audio evaluation, here's a quick and easy example:

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/04/dishonesty-of-sighted-audio-product.html

post #27 of 39

unfortunately I really don't have enough time atm to make a couple of points as accurate as I'd like... or for what seem to be shaping into a lengthy discussion. my bad... 

post #28 of 39
 

I wouldn't say we are powerless against placebo and bias.  We can take steps to work around our tendencies.  But no one can completely prevent it from effecting them if they don't use due care. 

 

This is a statement by JJ Johnston which is a well known guy who researches sound and psycho-acoustics.

 

 


"... The plasticity of forming auditory features and auditory objects has some very strong implications. If you listen for different things, you will hear different things. This is not illusion, it is not confusion, it is not deception, it is not hallucination, it is simply how your brain works. This has a particularly important implication for audio enthusiasts, which is expectation will always cause you to hear things differently. The effect of expectation is not always positive, or negative, for example you may not hear what you expect to hear, but expectation can not, not now, not ever, be consciously filtered out of your hearing experience. ...
...

In summary, the processing done in the brain is exceptionally plastic, and can be guided by a variety of things. The result of all that processing is what we actually, consciously hear.

If you listen to something differently (for different features or objects)
You will remember different things
This is not an illusion

If you have reason to assume things may be different
You will most likely listen differently
Therefore, you will remember different things


In short, if you want to be sure of what you heard due to only the auditory stimuli, you need to arrange a blind test of an appropriate nature. Such tests are neither easy nor simple to arrange, but are the best, and perhaps only way to avoid inadvertent self-deception."
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

The thing is, if you don't pair equipment specs with the equivalent thresholds of human perception, they're just abstract numbers on a page. Audio magazines should have as many articles on how we hear as they do ones about the equipment we listen to, but none of them do.


Here, here!  I fully agree.  But that would hurt the ad revenue I do believe.  So as someone said, up thread, always follow the money.

 

It actually was being argumentative with JJ on some old forums that sent me in a better direction.  He kept saying I needed to study some basic psychacoustics or take his word for it.  In time I quit being hard headed and asked for a reference or two.  He gave me a couple.  I am no expert in psycho-acoustics, but those college level texts taught me plenty.  And many things that seem mysterious suddenly aren't anymore.  The bad thing is the constant battle to be rational against an entire industry and its customers who don't want to know the truth. 

 

Yes, if magazines weren't trying to profit, they would serve their customers with regular series on how we hear, what we can hear, and what we can't.  Instead of pseudo-technical rants against amplifier feedback and other ill conceived articles.  I understand it though.  There have been and are a handful of web based review sites that do something like this.  They aren't making as much money or have the readership that sites peddling the irrational dreams have.  A shame.  Market forces for the right things could improve our equipment in ways that really matter if it weren't blunted into fantasy to make people rich.  Even if satisfies those customers all the same.

post #30 of 39

I'd say that I'm powerless against anything that affects my judgement when I don't even know it's affecting me. When that's the case, how can I know anything for sure without exercising the proper controls to isolate what I'm testing for and eliminate bias?

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