Confused about all the subjectivity involved in audio
Mar 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 106

VNandor

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I realize this forum is called sound science and not sound philosophy but my limited knowledge prevents me to ask about actual science stuff. Still this could be the best place to ask for a bit of education and raise some questions that bug me.
 
After reading some of the threads here I noticed that nearly all of the discussions are turned into flamewars because someone says product X makes a difference and someone says it doesn't make (a significant) difference.
 
I also read about something called psycho acoutstics.(Still in this forum). I assume the next thing could happen: let's take the overused example of sighted testing cables, a cheap and an expensive one, having expectation bias. I make a sighted test and I claim there's a difference. Now let's assume I'm clever enough to make accurate measurements and draw conclusions from it. After making the measurements I conclude that the signals were identical to the point of inaudibility causing no perceivable changes to the sound.
Therefore I come to a conclusion that the actual sound waves doesn't make as big difference as what I (think to) know about the cables' quality, instead of saying my measurements were flawed or I have a wrong idea about what's being audible. Science actually says I can hear real differences between the sounds despite hearing the exact same thing?!
 
This seems to be pretty unreasonable for first glance to me. Did I misinterpret something when I read about psychoacoustic related posts around here? (Not like I have a better explanation to that theoretical test, given the other alternatives are said to be known and measured easily) I know our minds can be tricked easily but that's still a bit ludicrous in a way.
 
I'm not fighting for (presumably) snake oil products, I personally don't hear any difference between cables, or 320kbit mp3s compared to lossless. I'm just curious what makes some people to think that.
 
Anything that needs to be corrected or no matter how strange it seems to be that's how world works?
 
Also I'm intrested where some of you guys studied about that. I didn't have psychoacoustic lessons in school.
rolleyes.gif
. In fact noone heard about it around here.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 3:41 PM Post #2 of 106
Are you just asking where to find info about pyschoacoustics?
 
I actually after being cued in about it by a few people, mainly JJ Johnston, who is an expert in such matters asked his recommendation on how to learn more.
 
He suggested:
 
Fundamentals of hearing by William Yost
 
and
 
Psychology of hearing by Brian Moore
 
These aren't exactly light reading though not calculus either.  They cover how hearing works, some about how it is tested.  Lots of info on masking and threshold shifts.  These are texts that might be used in I would guess a sophomore level college course.
 
We might be able to find a few web based sources if that is the question you have in mind.
 
Psychoacoustics is a sub-discipline of psychophysics which involve the psychology of our perception of all 5 senses. 
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychophysics
 
Here is a short page to give a taste of methods.
 
http://www.cns.nyu.edu/~david/courses/perception/lecturenotes/psychophysics/psychophysics.html
 
And yes these fields will confirm under the right conditions you can hear very real differences when in fact nothing is different in the stimulus presented whatsoever.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 3:52 PM Post #3 of 106
What I'm assuming as a possibility is that the difference I perceive (what ultimately counts) is real. According to some stuff I read here I can, under certain circumstances, notice a difference despite being affected by the same air movement. I'm wondering if it is fair to say that.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:01 PM Post #5 of 106
  What I'm assuming as a possibility is that the difference I perceive (what ultimately counts) is real. According to some stuff I read here I can, under certain circumstances, notice a difference despite being affected by the same air movement. I'm wondering if it is fair to say that.

 
I always think of this video:

 
Same water, different presentation, all kinds of fancy talk about what people perceive. What would the same people perceive without the waiter and the fancy water names?
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:03 PM Post #6 of 106
  What I'm assuming as a possibility is that the difference I perceive (what ultimately counts) is real. According to some stuff I read here I can, under certain circumstances, notice a difference despite being affected by the same air movement. I'm wondering if it is fair to say that.


Sorry, I wasn't trying to be confusing.  I edited my post in between it and your second post.
 
Yes, with exactly the same precise air movement under many conditions you will perceive a difference.  Nothing physical in the air has changed, but you will hear it differently for psychological reasons.  It is common to all human listeners.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:09 PM Post #7 of 106
I realize this forum is called sound science and not sound philosophy but my limited knowledge prevents me to ask about actual science stuff. Still this could be the best place to ask for a bit of education and raise some qestions that bug me.

After reading some of the threads here I noticed that nearly all of the discussions are turned into flamewars because someone says product X makes a difference and someone says it doesn't make (a significant) difference.

I also read about something called pscho acoutstics.(Still in this forum). I assume the next thing could happen: let's take the overused example of sighted testing cables, a cheap and an expensive one, having expectation bias. I make a sighted test and I claim there's a difference. Now let's assume I'm clever enough to make accurate measurements and draw conclusions from it. After making the measurements I conclude that the signals were identical to the point of inaudibility causing no perceivable changes to the sound.
What you probably don't see stated here too often is that, as of yet, we don't have measurements which fully define what we hear - so your conclusions should be "provisional" at best.
Therefore I come to a conclusion that the actual sound waves doesn't make as big difference as what I (think to) know about the cables' quality, instead of saying my measurements were flawed or I have a wrong idea about what's being audible. Science acutally says I can hear real differences between the sounds despite hearing the exact same thing?!
When dealing with perception, the greater part of it takes place, not in the sense organ (ears, in this case) but rather in the brain's processing of the signals - that's what auditory perception is all about. And I'm not talking about the emotions or thoughts that are evoked by the sound, auditory perception is about the processing that makes sense of the signals that pass up through the brain structures involved.

This seems to be pretty unreasonable for first glance to me. Did I misinterpret something when I read about psychoacoustic related posts around here? (Not like I have a better explanation to that theoretical test, given the other alternatives are said to be known and measured easily) I know our minds can be tricked easily but that's still a bit ludicrous in a way.

I'm not fighting for (presumably) snake oil products, I personally don't hear any difference between cables, or 320kbit mp3s compared to lossless. I'm just curious what makes some people to think that.
What is maintained is that because perception is such a complicated process, involving the brain, that we all can suffer from delusions about what we "actually" hear. These "delusions", called biases are usually brought about due to an expectation of hearing something & therefore we delude ourselves into hearing this.

Anything that needs to be corrected or no matter how strange it seems to be that's how world works?

Also I'm intrested where some of you guys studied about that. I didn't have psychoacoustic lessons in school. :rolleyes: . In fact noone heard about it around here.
The science of psychoacoustics (auditory processing) & research into how we hear is a relatively new area of scientific research. The mechanisms of visual perception have mostly been worked out already but auditory processing mechanisms are a tougher nut to crack.

So what you see on this forum & audio forums, in general, are uninformed people talking about matters as if they knew about these matters. I include myself in this & try to inform myself in these matters as much as possible.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:15 PM Post #8 of 106
What I'm assuming as a possibility is that the difference I perceive (what ultimately counts) is real. According to some stuff I read here I can, under certain circumstances, notice a difference despite being affected by the same air movement. I'm wondering if it is fair to say that.
The problem here is how do you know that two different playbacks have exactly the same air movement? What set of measurements show you this? That's your first question you need to keep open while at the same time accepting that we can suffer from biases too.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:36 PM Post #9 of 106
 The problem here is how do you know that two different playbacks have exactly the same air movement? What set of measurements show you this? That's your first question you need to keep open while at the same time accepting that we can suffer from biases too.

Michrohpones designed for that specific task would come to mind (dummy heads and... I don't know what other things because as I stated before I'm no expert at all). Such microphones exist don't they?
Anyways I would do it like that: let's say we are testing two DACs. Record the music with the microphones. After that record the music with the same DAC for a couple more times to see how accurate the recording is. If there are known significant differences (we still didn't figure out what makes an audible difference?) between the waveform of the recordings, well somehow figure out what causes that and eliminate the problem.
After that we can measure the music played by the other DAC, again making several reocrdings just to be safe and then compare the two DACs' recordings' waveforms if they are different enough to be audible.
By that I'm assuming two things: we have an accurate enough equipment and if we look at two different waveforms we have at least a general idea if we should hear a difference or not. Those assumptions are, or aren't true, I don't know.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:47 PM Post #10 of 106
  Michrohpones designed for that specific task would come to mind (dummy heads and... I don't know what other things because as I stated before I'm no expert at all). Such microphones exist don't they?
Anyways I would do it like that: let's say we are testing two DACs. Record the music with the microphones. After that record the music with the same DAC for a couple more times to see how accurate the recording is. If there are known significant differences (we still didn't figure out what makes an audible difference?) between the waveform of the recordings, well somehow figure out what causes that and eliminate the problem.
After that we can measure the music played by the other DAC, again making several reocrdings just to be safe and then compare the two DACs' recordings' waveforms if they are different enough to be audible.
By that I'm assuming two things: we have an accurate enough equipment and if we look at two different waveforms we have at least a general idea if we should hear a difference or not. Those assumptions are, or aren't true, I don't know.


Largely those assumptions are true about different parts of sound quality. 
I also will put this out, though ordinarily I wouldn't.
 
Don't listen to mmerrill99.  He is simply trying to confuse you and get back to the idea somehow something is being missed so he can be comfortable with the idea sighted long term listening is equally valid to unsighted more carefully controlled listening comparisons.  It is up to you of course, but having read many of his postings this is always what it amounts to in the end with mmerrill99.  So don't let his posts throw you off.  The very rigorously confirmed tendency of humans to hear in error is something he will try and discredit.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 4:58 PM Post #11 of 106
He is simply trying to confuse you and get back to the idea somehow something is being missed so he can be comfortable with the idea sighted long term listening is equally valid to unsighted more carefully controlled listening comparisons.

So far he didn't really said that. To be honest something is definitely seems to be missing, at least for me not everything makes perfect sense. Maybe after I read the links you guys provided I'm going to get a clearer view. At the end if someone is saying we know everything about audibility and it can be perfectly measured and someone claims the opposite I won't be able to tell which holds true unless I start to study and get a degree in sound engineering.
And come on! Don't be so mean.
tongue_smile.gif

 
Mar 5, 2016 at 5:05 PM Post #12 of 106
VNandor, what you have to understand about this section (& similar "science orientated sections) of all audio forums is that they attract a certain type of personality that posts as if they are fully sure about everything they post - that they have science on their side - that everything they don't have measurements for or don't understand the workings of is "snake oil" & just someone trying to fool people - it's their greatest fear - "being wrong". So they cling to the safest, most conservative & limited view of audio but this also limits what can be discovered.

Whenever they are asked about something they have little knowledge of they attack the person asking such questions & try to ensure such embarrassing issues are not raised again as it upsets the very security that they cling to so assiduously.

Hence what you will see in this & other like sections are lots of posts that are soundbites - just repeating what they have picked up from other forums rather than engaging in any real discussion.
 
Mar 5, 2016 at 9:04 PM Post #13 of 106
  So far he didn't really said that. To be honest something is definitely seems to be missing, at least for me not everything makes perfect sense. Maybe after I read the links you guys provided I'm going to get a clearer view. At the end if someone is saying we know everything about audibility and it can be perfectly measured and someone claims the opposite I won't be able to tell which holds true unless I start to study and get a degree in sound engineering.
And come on! Don't be so mean.
tongue_smile.gif


If someone says that everything is known about audibility don't believe them.  It isn't not true.  We do however know quite a few outlines to the envelope of hearing performance.  We are in no dark ages in that regard.  We can't look at measurements and always describe the audibility of the result, but there are significant areas where we can do that.  Or where some possibilities have been usefully eliminated. 
 
It is still a bit unclear to me what you find missing.  If it is that you or other people could hear the same exact waveform in the air and hear it differently, there are some examples that can be given.  But maybe that is not it.
 
Mar 6, 2016 at 3:41 PM Post #14 of 106
 
Largely those assumptions are true about different parts of sound quality. 
I also will put this out, though ordinarily I wouldn't.
 
Don't listen to mmerrill99.  He is simply trying to confuse you and get back to the idea somehow something is being missed so he can be comfortable with the idea sighted long term listening is equally valid to unsighted more carefully controlled listening comparisons.  It is up to you of course, but having read many of his postings this is always what it amounts to in the end with mmerrill99.  So don't let his posts throw you off.  The very rigorously confirmed tendency of humans to hear in error is something he will try and discredit.


Yes sir! Yet another thread crapped on by mmerrill99. I give him major points for tenacity. Way to go!
 
Remember the main audiophile mantra:
 
Everything matters and anything is possible....
 
(except of course that sighted listening tests might, just might, since you know, well anything is possible, be flawed.)
 

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