Testing audiophile claims and myths
Feb 11, 2024 at 10:31 AM Post #17,221 of 17,336
There’s a whole page of responses I missed, just a few of them:
It starts with an observation of a phenomena and asks an expert outside the field to figure out a measurement method that might indicate what particular equipment might be doing.
Don’t you find that a little odd? Why would you go to an expert in a different field rather than an expert in the field of audio? Surely an expert in a different field is more likely to miss some issue/consideration specific to the field of audio than an actual audio expert?
To say the process of observed phenomena - questioning - experiment design - experiment - results isn’t the scientific method is plainly inaccurate.
No, that is not the scientific method, it’s just an easily digestible abbreviation of the scientific method. Implicit is the validation and verification of each of those steps, otherwise it’s just meaningless nonsense by which you could conclude the Loch Ness Monster, unicorns and pretty much any myth is actually real according to the scientific method.
I came here in the hope of learning something and some have been helpful, but you’re being dismissive, aggressive and dogmatic, while not being willing to open a door to discuss the article at hand.
To be fair, it’s almost impossible to have a serious discussion on the article, the scales on all the results are illegible, the conclusions don’t seem directly drawn from the results and the description of the methodology raises more questions than answers.
And when you make assertions about advertising departments you’re making accusations of fraud. That’s pretty serious.
I wish that were true but in practice it’s not even slightly serious. Technically it’s just somewhat misleading rather than legally fraud and the consequences are pretty much zero, there’s no law against misleading advertising and in my country (UK) the worst consequence in practice would be an instruction from the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) to remove that marketing, no jail time or even any sort of fine!
I didn’t mention anything at all about claiming anyone could hear something that “can’t” be measured. That implies an impossibility that a scientist would never lock themselves into. “That claim can’t be verified by any known measuring methodology” is the scientific response.
No, that’s NOT the scientific response! You seem to be ignoring the fact that we’re dealing with a closed system that was invented by science. Digital audio is itself a measurement (a series of amplitude measurements over time), so if something can’t be measured then it can’t be recorded and therefore we obviously can’t hear it when we reproduce that recording.
Part of science is being able to say, “I don’t know”. It’s essential.
Yes it is, but obviously only when that’s actually true. If we design a closed system that only responds to a specific variable, then we can’t say “I don’t know” when asked about some other potential variable which the system cannot respond to.
It’s clear from the tests that the two power cables, isolation platform and power conditioner have a measurable effect on the output of the CD player. This doesn’t seem under dispute at all. Correct?
No, not at all. It’s entirely possible that some relatively small error in methodology can produce a difference of relatively large magnitude, although all we have is a fairly vague description of the results because the scales are unreadable. It would also have been invaluable to have a spectrogram of the difference file, which begs the question of why one wasn’t presented. On the other hand though, a relatively large magnitude real difference (not due to some error) is also possible under certain conditions. There’s not enough detailed information to determine which is the case.
So these power conditioner things... are these just fancy UPCs? Has anyone done comparative tests on these?
I don’t know about that specific one but “power conditioner” is a bit of a vague term. It could just be something that sits there and does nothing until the power drops below a certain threshold or it could constantly regulate the voltage to a very tight specification, for example exactly 240V rather than 238V or 242V and in addition it could be a UPS. I’ve done comparative tests on having one in the chain vs not having one but not between different power conditioners. The deciding factors of whether it has any effect is the quality of the mains power supply and the tolerance to mains power supply variations of the DAC’s PSU. You would expect any competent DAC designer to allow for typical mains power variations, say at least +- 10% or so, although that might not be enough in some rural locations or countries with particularly poor power supplies.

G
 
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Feb 11, 2024 at 2:36 PM Post #17,222 of 17,336
No amount of people having a belief should turn that belief into an objective fact. You will find groups of people believing in just about anything, including clearly impossible stuff. We need more than a bunch of people and a common belief to establish facts.
About clouds in the sky, You're thinking about it as someone today with some knowledge about what clouds are. There was a time when it was clear to almost everybody that the sun and the moon were moving around us. It's knowledge, not self-evident observation, that later made most people believe the moon is indeed going around us while we are going around the sun and turning on ourselves at the same time(something we don't actually feel, not as a rotation at least, even though it happens).
I think it's hard to have a group of people clean of all knowledge and preconception about a particular subject. And harder still to know, without extra data, when the conclusion of such a group are valid or not.
There is also the issue of group, which has some significant impact on what some people will say or not say. There can be a clear difference between a group seemingly agreeing and how many people in that group actually agree in their head or just go with the flow for various reasons(fear of looking foolish, desire to fit in).

And on top of it all, when it comes to listening tests, we know we can convince people of changes without any existing in the sound. Like by showing visibly different devices, telling people about the price difference, the differences in tech and design, maybe going as far as to prime them on what differences they should look for. Some people are so skilled at this, they should count as mentalists. Then many people will "hear" differences. And among those who don't think they did, you'll still get a few to say they did for reasons previously mentioned.



If you have an idea, and we can set up a test to try and disprove it, then disproving it means the idea was wrong. While failing to disprove it, if the test is solid enough, might strongly suggest that the idea was right(until more evidence comes either way).
On the other hand, if you have an idea and just pick up whatever explanation you think best explains the idea, how do we know it's the one correct explanation? Trying to find what agrees with us is simply not productive when it comes to facts. It's trying to destroy a testable idea and see it stand strong against our efforts that make the idea strong.
Science and experimentation at large work based on that very concept.
Cheers, I get it. Just one thing about the clouds though - it’s subtly different I think, than the way you described it. You went from clouds to thinking the sun rotated around the earth. My cloud analogy isn’t akin to that, it’s akin to noticing the sun is there and wondering what it’s all about. Notice the clouds, wonder what they’re about. Not notice the clouds and make assumptions about them. So with an aural phenomenon I’m only saying it’s been noticed - no assumptions about its nature, origins or reality. I think the language and meaning of what each of us is saying is important if we’re to understand each other.
Thanks for the post, super clear.
 
Feb 11, 2024 at 2:51 PM Post #17,223 of 17,336
Thanks for the responses, I’m learning.

There’s the sense here that an underlying assumption (based in verifiable experiment) is being made, which is, in general, that what is currently generally available and known in this field is enough, or that it’s established and that what can be uncovered by current means, be it ABX, DBT, measurements, etc, is all there is.

Is it the case then that this accepted canon of knowledge is followed until such time as satisfactory proof arrives to move the field forward? Do I understand that correctly? That’s the impression I’m receiving and I do agree with it. Please add or correct anything I’ve missed.

If that’s the case, we end up in a discussion that essentially defends the status quo because none of us is actually in the field doing this particular work. This is also fine.

It’s just my personality I suppose, but I’m often wondering what else is out there. What’s possible? What don’t we know? What are we missing? So when an article comes along like the one I posted that proposed something that is in itself interesting, I’m all for discussing it in a way that gets us considering the what-ifs and keeps us looking for the next step.

“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning ... People search for certainty. But there is no certainty.“ That’s Feynman. That’s the spirit of science that has a space probe out of our solar system. It’s the initial wonderment that triggers the investigation.

Do we have conversations about what might be? Or do we only discuss that which we’re sure is fact?
 
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Feb 11, 2024 at 3:49 PM Post #17,224 of 17,336
It's good to question established science. We'll never progress without that type of attitude. I vaguely remember a story about a professor in the late 19th century advising a student not to concentrate his studies on physics, since all the major discoveries had already happened. Then, of course, Einstein came along a decade later and blew the lid off.

But you should also consider the old axiom, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Scientists are going to great lengths to test Einstein even today, and his theories are holding up, though finding how they mesh with quantum mechanics is still an ongoing issue.

In regard to your article, I don't see them producing extraordinary proof to back up their claims.
 
Feb 11, 2024 at 3:59 PM Post #17,225 of 17,336
It's good to question established science. We'll never progress without that type of attitude. I vaguely remember a story about a professor in the late 19th century advising a student not to concentrate his studies on physics, since all the major discoveries had already happened. Then, of course, Einstein came along a decade later and blew the lid off.

But you should also consider the old axiom, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Scientists are going to great lengths to test Einstein even today, and his theories are holding up, though finding how they mesh with quantum mechanics is still an ongoing issue.

In regard to your article, I don't see them producing extraordinary proof to back up their claims.
Oh, agreed. Completely. I mentioned in an earlier post that I see it as an idea that is interesting enough to warrant further investigation. That’s all I’ve ever said about it. After that it’s been questions. The article acknowledges the same. It’s not claiming to have all the answers and proof. More like floating an idea.
 
Feb 11, 2024 at 4:25 PM Post #17,226 of 17,336
There’s the sense here that an underlying assumption (based in verifiable experiment) is being made, which is, in general, that what is currently generally available and known in this field is enough …

Is it the case then that this accepted canon of knowledge is followed until such time as satisfactory proof arrives to move the field forward? Do I understand that correctly?
Largely that’s correct, but it depends on exactly what “field” you’re talking about. Audio covers various science fields, the physics of electromagnetism and the math of digital data for example. The former was effectively done and dusted in the 1880’s (with Maxwell’s Laws) and the latter effectively in 1948 (with the Nyquist/Shannon Theorem). Technology has obviously developed significantly since those times, the practical application of that science, but there’s never even been a hint that the science itself is somehow incomplete or wrong, with the exception of unsupported “suggestions” by audiophile reviewers and marketers trying to justify their existence! Also, its not just “an underlying assumption based only in verifiable experiment”, which implies a limited number of specialist scientists/researchers investigating a relatively obscure field, but nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, audiophiles tend to view audio only from the perspective of their own tiny, exclusive, niche community but none of the science/technology actually originates from the audiophile community, it originates from the massive world of telecoms. Millions of scientists over the course of more than a century and countless billions spent on R&D, because not only is telecoms a massive industry but it’s also a matter of national security for pretty much every country on the planet. For example, Shannon’s seminal 1948 paper is the proven mathematical theorem of communications, it doesn’t just affect audiophiles or explain how digital audio works, it is the basis of all digital information (and it’s transfer) and if it were wrong there would be no digital age. Any “proof that arrives to move the field forward” can only add to this accepted canon of knowledge, it obviously cannot prove it wrong because obviously there is a digital age. There’s probably nothing in human history so exhaustively researched, proven and demonstrated in practice!

Having said all the above, there is one scientific field within the realm of audio that bucks the above trend, psychoacoustics, the science of how we (humans) hear/perceive sound. While it was effectively founded over 150 years ago and many processes and thresholds are very well established, there is still a considerable amount to discover. Even some seemingly quite simple processes have competing theories rather than absolute proofs, and some of the biggest companies in the world are throwing considerable R&D resources into this field. For example, how to easily implement HRTFs for the masses. What’s essential and what many audiophiles fail to comprehend is when psychoacoustics applies and when it doesn’t. It doesn’t apply to CD players or DACs for example, because they obviously don’t have any human hearing/perception.

G
 
Feb 11, 2024 at 5:30 PM Post #17,227 of 17,336
I suppose the question comes as to at what point the weaving of fancy implementations in the name of marketing in order to induce a reasonably consistent but normally not perceivable in controlled listening subjective effect across a larger population falls under the field of psychoacoustics as opposed to being a largely social phenomenon (for me, the idea of potentially random psychoacoustic phenomena or assumptions/expectations/speculations causing differences to be perceived by individuals early in the audio field and then seeded into the collective perception as physical fact; I have not found literature discussing this take yet). And if the future of audio "technology" lies rather in the advancement of psychoacoustic manipulation, do we really want to be handing our audio money to "mentalists" instead of electronic/acoustic engineers? Perhaps, if it somehow consistently makes sighted listening more pleasant.
 
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Feb 11, 2024 at 5:43 PM Post #17,228 of 17,336
At the same time, music is entirely experiential. The whole person is involved, so if someone has a better personal experience that brings value to them (both are subjective things) then it totality there’s an entirely non-scientific justification. We could say the person is fooling themselves, but it’s still real to them.
I’m not in that camp - I like to question what particular devices in the hifi system do before I try them and certainly before any money changes hands. But I’m also not “sound above all else” either. Things have to look aesthetically pleasing and fit me and my decor. I’d never own anything I didn’t think was beautiful on some level.
Well, thank you all, I walk away having learned a bunch and with a keen desire to investigate some other things.
All the best for 2024!
Mick
 
Feb 11, 2024 at 6:58 PM Post #17,229 of 17,336
Advertising is designed to bypass factual arguments and put the product forward in the best possible light. It also is intended to impart an impression of legitimacy, while appealing to the audience's ignorance and emotions to prod them to make a purchase.

Creating a pseudo-scientific paper that claims to be uncovering heretofore unknown science, while planting worries about whether "my stereo system is good enough" makes those who may not have experience reading graphs and papers assume that the evidence (that they don't exactly understand) must match the conclusions the sales representative who wrote the paper came up with. But without a scale next to those graphs, they are just wiggly lines.

This is classic "smoke and mirrors" and it's rampant in audiophile marketing. Every manufacturer publishes white papers and spec sheets and encourages their customers to look at numbers in the abstract. When was the last time you read someone in the other Head-Fi forums discussing thresholds of perception? Audiophiles are being deliberately kept in the dark about what they can hear and what they can't hear. The specs sheets keep dividing by zero and the customers are led to believe that any improvement in the numbers is an audible improvement. It isn't. Human ears are finite, and if audiophiles spent as much time researching the spec sheet on their ears as they do their electronics, they would understand a lot more about what is important and what is completely unimportant.
 
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Feb 11, 2024 at 7:39 PM Post #17,230 of 17,336
Recently I did a few blind test with 2 friends of mine just for the fun to test if normal people can tell a difference and have a preference. Not a scientific test but on the first test I let the subject select her headphone of choice, volume and tracks she wanted. There after I calibrated all the amps to the same level. It was a 3 way amp test using the same source material done over 6 songs each played about 1 min. Each round the 3 amp are arranged differently. The subject was asked if she wants to relisten any particular amp at the end and also give her thoughts about what she heard.
Her results was one of 4 choice on Amp A, 2 Choice on Amp B and 0 Choice on Amp C

Her key highlight was 1 of the amp sound wasn't very clear and she didn't like it consistently. Did other 2 was more of preference track to track. However since the number of rounds was low and it took a really long time to try out, we ended the test.

There was definitely something about Amp C that she can consistently not choose it, but the the other 2 amps are more of a non-conclusive.

On the second test, in a separate occasion, I didn't let the subject choose her headphones but let her choose her track and volume. In the 5 rounds with each song played on each amp once, she gave a score of 3 for AMP A and 1 for AMP B and 1 I can't tell if there's a difference.

The setup used:
test 1 was M17=> Mass Kobo 475/Ferrum Oor/XI Audio Broadway=> ZMF Verite Closed
test 2 was M17=> Mass Kobo 475/Briese Audio Tsuranagi => T+A Solitaire T

I won't reveal exactly which is Amp is which, but the above test got me thinking to carry out more test to try out. But that said, the test took alot of time (about 50 min the first) so probably the next time I can just tell the subjects to set aside at least an hr for this and treat them a meal haha.
 
Feb 11, 2024 at 8:38 PM Post #17,231 of 17,336
Thanks for the responses, I’m learning.

There’s the sense here that an underlying assumption (based in verifiable experiment) is being made, which is, in general, that what is currently generally available and known in this field is enough, or that it’s established and that what can be uncovered by current means, be it ABX, DBT, measurements, etc, is all there is.

Is it the case then that this accepted canon of knowledge is followed until such time as satisfactory proof arrives to move the field forward? Do I understand that correctly? That’s the impression I’m receiving and I do agree with it. Please add or correct anything I’ve missed.
No, that's a misunderstanding of the epistemological basis of the scientific method. A fundamental premise in modernist philosophy is the distinction between the Actual and the Real. The Actual is what exists independent of any observing consciousness, whereas the Real is the subjective interpretation of the Actual by said observing consciousness, whether that be collective or individual. The goal of the scientific method is to establish the standards of what is accurate and what is not in objectively verifiable terms as opposed to subjective terms (I.E. a claim of truth can be quantified and verified by other people as accurate in reference to their own reality, thus establishing a common understanding of a concept that approximates what is actual).

The human consciousness in indelibly colored in bias and prone to error, so before such a method was in place, progress in the alignment of reality to actuality was by trial and error with a lot of human suffering. The advent of the scientific method, which chiefly built upon the naturalist philosophy of Aristotle, brought about an age that is unprecedented in known history, bringing an exponential rise to our understanding of the maps of causality that govern our realities, thus more closely aligning them to actuality.

Science does not claim to define what is actual, it is a tool to describe theories that help align our reality to what is actual. It is a fundamentally instrumental intellectual construct.
If that’s the case, we end up in a discussion that essentially defends the status quo because none of us is actually in the field doing this particular work. This is also fine.
I wouldn't be sure of that. What was it you said earlier? Don't assume people's backgrounds/qualifications/professions? Goes both ways.
It’s just my personality I suppose, but I’m often wondering what else is out there. What’s possible? What don’t we know? What are we missing? So when an article comes along like the one I posted that proposed something that is in itself interesting, I’m all for discussing it in a way that gets us considering the what-ifs and keeps us looking for the next step.

“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning ... People search for certainty. But there is no certainty.“ That’s Feynman. That’s the spirit of science that has a space probe out of our solar system. It’s the initial wonderment that triggers the investigation.

Do we have conversations about what might be? Or do we only discuss that which we’re sure is fact?
What I'll say is this. The cutting edge of any field is essentially incomprehensible to a layman, so what you did here was a good way to investigate the limits of your reality and expand your understanding through dialogue.

In order to discuss what might be, you need at least a cursory understanding of what is so you can see at least where the horizon might be to start learning.
 
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Feb 12, 2024 at 5:04 AM Post #17,232 of 17,336
I suppose the question comes as to at what point the weaving of fancy implementations in the name of marketing in order to induce a reasonably consistent but normally not perceivable in controlled listening subjective effect across a larger population falls under the field of psychoacoustics as opposed to being a largely social phenomenon …
Interesting that you would suppose the question comes down to the point at which we cross from the field of psychoacoustics to a largely social phenomenon. Psychoacoustics is an interdisciplinary field which includes physics, computer science, physiology/anatomy, biology, electronic engineering, acoustics and psychology. So there is no point at which we cross from psychoacoustics to “a largely social phenomenon” (psychology) because psychoacoustics explicitly includes psychology, the “psycho” part of psychoacoustics. On the other side of the coin, Wikipedia defines psychoacoustics as: “the branch of science studying the psychological responses associated with sound” but marketing isn’t sound. So in the case of no difference in the sound (or no audible difference), just the perceptual error/illusion of a difference caused by marketing, then that’s not psychoacoustics. I would argue that if that marketing is “associated with” and affects our perception of sound then it is psychoacoustics, but that’s just a personal opinion. Personally, the question is either: Is it an actual physical property/attribute of the sound waves (and if so, is it audible) OR is it just an invention of the brain, an illusion, perceptual error or imagination which doesn’t exist in reality?
And if the future of audio "technology" lies rather in the advancement of psychoacoustic manipulation, do we really want to be handing our audio money to "mentalists" instead of electronic/acoustic engineers?
Again, I believe that’s an inappropriate/incorrect delineation. Arguably the most obvious example would be Alan Blumlein, one of the most significant electronics engineers in the first half of the C20th. He was instrumental in developing airborne radar, designed the first “weighting” network for the telecoms industry and invented numerous components when he worked for EMI, including the “long-tailed pair” which is still employed in almost all op-amps today but he’s probably most famous as the inventor of stereophonic sound. Stereophonic sound is arguably the quintessential “psychoacoustic manipulation”, we (erroneously) perceive a sound source where there isn’t one, for example in the centre position (between the two speakers) where there isn’t a speaker. So, if you go and buy a sound system you don’t have much choice, you have to hand your audio money to a “mentalist” (unless you buy a mono sound system). The distinction I personally would make is again between an actual audible sound difference and no sound difference (or no audible difference). There is an actual audible difference with stereophonic sound, although the brain misinterprets that actual difference.
At the same time, music is entirely experiential. The whole person is involved, so if someone has a better personal experience that brings value to them (both are subjective things) then it totality there’s an entirely non-scientific justification. We could say the person is fooling themselves, but it’s still real to them.
No, it’s not. It may feel real to them, they may believe it to be real but an “experience” is not real, it is a creation of their brain that doesn’t actually exist. If someone states they perceive a difference between two components where there is no difference, I don’t assume they are lying, I assume they are telling the truth and are actually experiencing (perceiving) a difference, it might even be potentially possible to measure some actual physical difference in their physiology/brain activity but that doesn’t mean there’s a real/actual difference between the components or sound reproduced. Music is a particularly interesting example because it doesn’t really exist, there’s intrinsically no difference between sound and music, the distinction is arbitrary and not universal but it’s an interesting example because it’s an experience shared by almost all humans and has been extensively studied for many centuries. It’s similar in some respects to the example of stereophonic sound, what we perceive is not real, it’s an experience/illusion but it’s shared by virtually all humans (and incidentally by quite a few other animal species).

G
 
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Feb 12, 2024 at 6:28 AM Post #17,233 of 17,336
Interesting that you would suppose the question comes down to the point at which we cross from the field of psychoacoustics to a largely social phenomenon. Psychoacoustics is an interdisciplinary field which includes physics, computer science, physiology/anatomy, biology, electronic engineering, acoustics and psychology. So there is no point at which we cross from psychoacoustics to “a largely social phenomenon” (psychology) because psychoacoustics explicitly includes psychology, the “psycho” part of psychoacoustics. On the other side of the coin, Wikipedia defines psychoacoustics as: “the branch of science studying the psychological responses associated with sound” but marketing isn’t sound. So in the case of no difference in the sound (or no audible difference), just the perceptual error/illusion of a difference caused by marketing, then that’s not psychoacoustics. I would argue that if that marketing is “associated with” and affects our perception of sound then it is psychoacoustics, but that’s just a personal opinion. Personally, the question is either: Is it an actual physical property/attribute of the sound waves (and if so, is it audible) OR is it just an invention of the brain, an illusion, perceptual error or imagination which doesn’t exist in reality?
I agree with you here, psychoacoustics involves psychology categorically, so effects like the Asch paradigm absolutely count for considering how psychology plays in to the perception of sound despite the lack of a direct connection to the sensory experience of sound. The neural associative connections that make up our cognitive heuristical mode are so deeply intertwined in regular humans that social biases like that can impact your immediate experience of a set of sense data (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00594 is a related study on short term priming).
No, it’s not. It may feel real to them, they may believe it to be real but an “experience” is not real, it is a creation of their brain that doesn’t actually exist. If someone states they perceive a difference between two components where there is no difference, I don’t assume they are lying, I assume they are telling the truth and are actually experiencing (perceiving) a difference, it might even be potentially possible to measure some actual physical difference in their physiology/brain activity but that doesn’t mean there’s a real/actual difference between the components or sound reproduced.
I don't think I agree here. As I outlined in my previous post, reality is a subjective interpretation of actuality, thus a subjective experience is necessarily real as a product of the consciousness generating that reality. There is a phenomenological basis for the claim of an experience existing as well if you are willing to concede that an event like conversion of mass to energy exists just as much as an inert piece of matter that is not undergoing any change does (theoretically of course, hard to conceive of anything in existence that isn't changing on a function of linear space-time).
Music is a particularly interesting example because it doesn’t really exist, there’s intrinsically no difference between sound and music, the distinction is arbitrary and not universal but it’s an interesting example because it’s an experience shared by almost all humans and has been extensively studied for many centuries. It’s similar in some respects to the example of stereophonic sound, what we perceive is not real, it’s an experience/illusion but it’s shared by virtually all humans (and incidentally by quite a few other animal species).

G
This I think gets into the realm of evolutionary psychology as far as the function and utility of music goes. In the phenomenological sense I agree that music is indistinguishable from sound categorically, but the patterns that are embedded in music are a very real artifact of human consciousness in both the individual and collective sense.
 
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Feb 12, 2024 at 6:40 AM Post #17,234 of 17,336
Advertising is designed to bypass factual arguments and put the product forward in the best possible light. It also is intended to impart an impression of legitimacy, while appealing to the audience's ignorance and emotions to prod them to make a purchase.

Creating a pseudo-scientific paper that claims to be uncovering heretofore unknown science, while planting worries about whether "my stereo system is good enough" makes those who may not have experience reading graphs and papers assume that the evidence (that they don't exactly understand) must match the conclusions the sales representative who wrote the paper came up with. But without a scale next to those graphs, they are just wiggly lines.

This is classic "smoke and mirrors" and it's rampant in audiophile marketing. Every manufacturer publishes white papers and spec sheets and encourages their customers to look at numbers in the abstract. When was the last time you read someone in the other Head-Fi forums discussing thresholds of perception? Audiophiles are being deliberately kept in the dark about what they can hear and what they can't hear. The specs sheets keep dividing by zero and the customers are led to believe that any improvement in the numbers is an audible improvement. It isn't. Human ears are finite, and if audiophiles spent as much time researching the spec sheet on their ears as they do their electronics, they would understand a lot more about what is important and what is completely unimportant.
This hit pretty real tonight. I understood in an academic sense, but the level of thought (or lack thereof) that goes into this stuff is quite jarring to witness. It really shouldn't given what kind of crazy stuff I have witnessed in the subject of psychopathology. Some days I feel like I'm in an open air asylum.
 
Feb 12, 2024 at 9:53 AM Post #17,235 of 17,336
Join the club!

The simple truth is that fidelity isn’t particularly subjective. You have a signal, and then you reproduce that signal, and ideally, they are the same. When it comes to the chain of electronics, we’ve pretty much mastered that. Sure, we can mess it up with user error, but if all the ducks are in a row, it should be audibly transparent. The trick comes with physical sound. Speakers and headphones present an approximation of the original signal. There’s wild cards involving the room or shape of one’s particular head. But marketing people want to sell players, DACs and amps too, so they create problems that don’t exist, just so their product can solve them.

If more audiophiles understood how their ears work, and had a concept of the limits of human hearing, they would have a context to parse out the marketing mumbo jumbo and focus on what matters. But the advertisers want you to believe that *everything* may be audible. This leads to consumers playing the game of limbo, chasing specs that are smaller and smaller long past the point where the differences become vanishingly small.

Of course a simple blind listening test would reveal the truth, so the marketers have to poison that well by making customers wary of the one tool that would reveal the truth to them.

This sounds like a grand conspiracy theory, but it’s not. It’s really just business.

Caveat emptor.
 
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