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Do Objective Headphone Measurements Correlate to the Audiophile's Subjective Experience?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by purrin, Jun 16, 2012.
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  1. Sonic Defender Contributor
    Great job purrin with the study, it has value and actually your sample size was for the most part suitable. Once you have 30 participants the central limits theorem comes into play and you can assume the population was normally distributed. Just being picky here, but because you had a sample it is actually the standard error of the mean, not the standard deviation which is a population statistic, but I suspect you know that. I really liked that you tried this, and I think designing a more robust study would actually be a great thing. I would love to work on such a study for use as a thesis paper I need to do soon, but it has bearing on my career area so sadly I will have to study something else. Really interesting line of questioning so keep it up if you can.
  2. Mkubota1 Contributor
    I think it's because Purin has put so much effort into these measurements, far beyond that of all except a very few, that people get the impression he is only interested in measurements.  The Corvette is known for its LS3 motor, but that's not to say that the suspension doesn't exist.
  3. shimmer n roar
    to be serious for a moment, i think you've misconstrued my post. i was quoting purrin in a light-hearted way to show that headphones can seemingly defy bad measurements by sounding good to the guy who is actually taking them. the implication being that purrin ultimately relies on his ears rather than his measurements to judge the merits of a headphone. [​IMG]
  4. Asr
    I read through the thread so far and nowhere has it been mentioned how you conducted the study, which I think is relevant info. You said there was a pool of 30 hobbyists and that they're all active Head-Fi members, who rated 7 headphones. IMO this begs the question, how did all 30 members listen to all 7 headphones? Were any headphones shipped around from one Head-Fi member to another, or was there any listening done in a micro-meet setting? Were there any instances of people who rated a headphone but didn't currently have it on hand? Because if there were people who gave ratings without having at least a recent listen to a headphone in their own home, I'd consider their rating completely invalid.
    Logistically speaking I don't see how this study was achieved without extensive time being put into it and how the feedback given from the 30-member pool has any credibility at the same time.
    Also I've seen mentions of "purrin's forum". What forum is this, and can I have a link? Edit: someone sent me a link and I took a quick look at it. No offense but the results from this study now have absolutely 0% credibility to me as I saw how the study was done.
    I'll add that I've personally owned 6 out of the 7 headphones as listed in post #14 (haven't heard the Ultrasone Edition 8) and I wouldn't trust myself to rate most of them, with the exception of the HD800 as I currently own one. If I was asked to rate them, I'd reject rating on the principle that I haven't recently heard some of them, not to mention that I absolutely don't believe in assigning any sort of numerical rankings to headphone equipment.
  5. Focker
    double post
  6. stratocaster
    I think some people misunderstood what this thread was about. Purrin clearly stated in the title that the question to be discussed was  if “objective headphone measurements correlate to the audiophile's subjective experience.” From my understanding he did not intend to carry out a valid scientific study but give people some input as to how measurements could help them judge the performance of different headphones. I am not under the impression that he is trying to convince people that measurements should be considered the Holy Grail of headphone appreciation. As I understand it, those measurements can be considered valuable, albeit not the only and ultimate, information and input. I do not see any elitist or smart-alecky approach.
    I guess, at HF we do indeed see too many posts by people who discuss and judge on headphones and gear in unacceptably subjective ways. Sometimes it gets simply ridiculous when people enthusiastically praise or condemn something without even having listened to the product in question. Too often different people use terminology  in a different way, and it is evident that while talking about the same "thing", they do not share the same  language, terminology, and do not take into account the different connotations that terms like “warm”, “lush”, “neutral”
    ,“natural” etc. entail with the individual reader/listener. So, often people take wrong conclusions based on these misunderstandings and intricacies of language, terminology and connotative diffences.
    Personally,   I have learned to be skeptical or too enthusiastic  “reviews” , and to rely on my own ears and people/reviewers  I have found I can trust. Needless to say that I have paid a lot of money for that learning process.

  7. tinyman392
    I've heard plenty of headphones that have sounded exactly like the graph portrayed. On the other hand, I've also heard so many headphones sound nothing like the graph portrayed.

    I do think that they both are important to have, more of a checks and balances type of deal. If the subjective agrees with the objective, they are most likely both true. If there is a difference, there is something causing an error somewhere. Where? We'll never know. could be anything from tip/pad Selection all the way down to positioning.

    Sent from an iPod touch with TapaTalk... Autocorrect may alter the meaning of this message :p
  8. slwiser Contributor
    Whether objective or subjective Purrin, your website is going to get a lot more traffic now after this firestorm you started.
  9. Anaxilus
    I think it's funny how the usual suspects have taken this 'study' to be something other than what the OP said and intended it to be and applied standards and criteria to it based on comments from other posters who completely missed the point.
  10. Focker
    I think Purrin was pretty clear with regard to what he was attempting to look at with this study...
    "The point of this study is as follows:
    • Is there correlation of certain measurement patterns to headphones which on average are subjectively rated good or bad?
    • If there is, could it be possible that measurements are of use?"
  11. shimmer n roar
    i'm detecting some very defensive and ill tempered reactions in this thread to intelligent, questioning posts (and i don't count mine amongst them [​IMG]). the thread topic and opening post has attracted a level of scrutiny that is entirely appropriate given the subject matter, and i'd be surprised if the op wasn't expecting as much.
  12. olor1n
    It warms the cockles that the HD650 is so well regarded. Where is this Ark of yours purrin? Sounds like an interesting place with sensible people.

  13. purrin
    The intent from the outset was not to have random participants, but to have participants with already developed tastes. It's been my and many other hobbyists' experience that preferences develop and change over time, but that they will eventually settle. (There are exceptions to this of course.) I specifically wanted to poll this group. This is a constraint and limitation of this informal study.
    As I've said, it is what is is, and anyone else is free to conduct their own studies. I can make my measurements available for anyone who wishes them for this purpose.
    Perhaps a more apt title should have been:
    Do Objective Headphone Measurements Correlate to the Subjective Experience of a Targeted Selection of Experienced Head-Fi Members
    @Asr: I don't think it's necessary for most other people who have been around the block to have recently listened to a headphone (and on X or Y gear) to say in general whether they like it or not on 5 point scale. This study was meant to be informal and not get down to precise attributes. The distribution of votes did follow a bell curve in most cases, and in some cases, the distribution was quite wide.
  14. RPGWiZaRD
    Obviously preferences play a big role, the problem is the people not being able to admit they have certain preferences and speak about their preferences as they would be the absolute truth and then may even go rambling about how great these are and ultimately the other person may have a bit different preferred sound signature and gets misslead. I've discovered my preferences by now so I know what kind of sound appeals to me, if they'd let me a draw a frequency response graph of how it should look like I'd be able to do that as well but then there's obviously things like soundstage that can't be measured just like that. For example Sennheiser HD800 is very anti-ideal signature to me, it's technically impressive with the sound but it doesn't give me the optimal engaging listening experience I search, I can probably find bunch of 100~$200 that would satisfy me a lot more even if amping was up-to-par. LCD-2/3 then again would be a lot closer but still not quite ideal either.
  15. k3oxkjo
    I find measurements interesting, but ultimately quite inconclusive. For example, there is no real agreement on how a headphone SHOULD measure in order to mimic the experience of hearing an external soundsource, so what factor should combined with the raw measurements to produce a "perceived flat" experience?
    Also, since the direct acoustic  load on the phone is the ear and every ear is different, the differing load will also change the raw measurements, meaning they are completely relevant only to the dummy ear. In fact , it would be interesting to model various shaped ear/canal structures and measure how the measured response of a variety of phones change with the differing load.
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