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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. Steve999
    We need another elegant soliloquy by @castleofargh on the mount to clarify all of this! :sleeping: Oh wait . . . :thinking:
  2. bfreedma

    Thus my suggestion to create a separate thread for the other discussion. It still fits under Sound Science, just not in this thread. :bat::pig2::microscope:

    The USB thread was locked - splitting the subtopics seems like a reasonable way to avoid having this thread get to that point.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    bigshot likes this.
  3. Phronesis
    I generally agree. Just about anything is "possible," and even in science it's only worth exploring possibilities which have some support from evidence and/or theoretical arguments. From that standpoint, I would say it's possible that there can ultrasonic effects which register in the brain from music, but in my non-expert opinion those effects are very likely to be of negligible significance. I would also say it's possible that some DACs could sound different to some people under some conditions, but it's very likely that any such differences are subtle - not night and day - with respect to the listener experience. I'm inclined to say that it's not even possible that normal cables sound significantly different, but I'm open to being shown to be wrong. As I said before, I much prefer to think in terms of likelihoods and confidence levels, rather than binary possibility vs impossibility - because it's not generally possible to "prove" that something is impossible, and saying that something is possible gives no indication of its likelihood.

    But there's an interesting philosophical angle here. When we talk about these likelihoods, we're generally resorting to subjective probabilities due to our incomplete or inaccurate knowledge (ignorance) - the problem is epistemic - and it's assumed that, objectively, things are a particular way in reality (e.g., DACs really do sound different to some people because the signal is different, or they don't). So ultimately, we're making judgment calls, and we won't all always agree, regardless of what evidence and arguments are presented - that seems to be an objective reality of Sound Science!

    Regarding this thread topic, I got the impression that this is sort of a default Sound Science discussion thread, even when the discussion isn't focused on testing (though most things can be related to testing)?
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  4. Steve999
    Extremely well done with the emoticon / emoji palette! :art: The Hornet (or perhaps Batman, you never clarified) strikes! :zap:

    As I think about it I am a fan of splitting the subtopics. It helps for depth, focus, and clarity.
  5. Steve999
    I don't believe in one objective underlying reality. Makes things easier for me to take in. :alien: I don't believe there is a beginning or an end in time or space or logic and I don't believe that there is one objective reference point, which we would need to establish one objective reality. I believe it's turtles all the way down.


    However, coming back down (or up) to earth, if this thread is about testing audiophile claims and myths, as titled, and someone is trying to say ultrasonics (a hot marketing topic) are or are not bunk from a practical standpoint of a guy trying to buy audio equipment, I think that's totally fair game and deserves focused consideration without resort to wild speculation.

    That being said, I wish the thread had a less loaded title. I wish it were more like, "Testing Audio Claims," but I lost that battle like two months ago or something.

    Seriously, I suggest we split off the topics and get some depth, focus, and clarity.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  6. bfreedma

    I just want to be clear that I’m not attempting to shut down discussion of possible audible differences in DACS, cables, etc, though I have my doubts they exist without unusual/unique extenuating circumstances. My preference would be to keep this thread focused on those topics and create a separate thread for what’s become unsupported speculation not based on today’s or near term audio reproduction solutions. Without those acknowledged judgement calls, this thread has declined into throwing random “stuff” at a wall without even attempting to present a rational possible real world use case and, IMO, is going nowhere of value.

    If someone has evidence supporting claims made, this seems like the appropriate thread. If, on the other hand, someone is tossing out concepts with no supporting evidence, posting in an alternate thread would help keep this one grounded.
  7. Phronesis
    Seems reasonable to me. With ultrasonics, for example, I do find that there's enough evidence to discuss it here, though I don't find the evidence to be convincing, as far as ultrasonics having significant effects for listeners. If I turn out be wrong about this, I'll be surprised, but not unpleasantly surprised.
  8. Steve999
    I think you were reasonable in thinking this. That's the way the thread reads. It's been ambiguous between the title and the content and the ambiguity has been highly problematic. Perhaps it's time for us to get some mutually agreed-upon clarity as to the bounds of this thread.
  9. Phronesis
    Hmm, sounds sort of postmodern or something to me. I'm basically a metaphysical realist, but Kantian in the sense that I believe we can only make models of reality based on the kind of being we are, and those models will always be incomplete in ways that we can't fathom. An analogy I like to make is that an ant (presumably) doesn't have the capacity to wrap its little brain around a quantum mechanics model of reality, and maybe a being similarly more "advanced" than humans could work with models that we humans can't possibly imagine.

    Some people will roll eyes at the philosophy stuff, but I think the analogy teaches a lesson about having humility when doing science.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  10. Steve999
    That's really interesting and insightful. I guess my reaction is exactly what kind of being would have the ability to work with models that would perfectly explain everything. My sense is that there is no possible being. That's an article of faith on my part, I freely admit. But if there is no possible being that could ascertain an objective reality, is it not fair to question the idea of a metaphysical reality at all?

    As far as testing audio claims, yes, I strongly agree, we do have to acknowledge our limits. We have the innate ability to comprehend just so much, and then it ends. Part of those limitations is not knowing exactly where it ends. These types of ideas should generate humility when we have disagreements.

    Although given our origins we've come incredibly, astonishinlgy far and I think far enough to call the audible or sensory effects of ultrasonics in consumer audio equipment "extraordinarily unlikely." Or in the words of the now-defunct mythbusters, even as a layperson, I think the claim is "BUSTED." Though as you initimated, if I were proven wrong, I would meet it more with delight than disappointment.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  11. bigshot
    There definitely are a lot of audiophile myths. We get many of them trotted out here on a daily basis.
  12. Steve999
    That we do, and we serve a very positive function in questioning them aggressively and pointing out the evidence to the contrary. No argument there.
  13. bigshot
    Feel free to join me over in the corner while these guys hog the dance floor with their improvisations and performances. No one is required to read or reply to nonsense. I give fair warning with shots across the bow. If they keep it up, I'm not going to entertain their shenanigans any more.

    There is absolutely no doubt that getting this thread locked is the ultimate goal here, just as it was the goal of Gruss Gott to get the USB thread locked. I think there are vested interests that don't like certain topics being discussed, so they join the thread and disrupt the discussion until people get frustrated and angry. Then they report the post and the thread gets locked.

    The first post in this thread is the most important post in this entire forum because it shows how to question and test things fairly. Most of the comments in reply to it are examples of how not to do that. If this thread gets locked, at least it's still pinned.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    Kammerat Rebekka and JRG1990 like this.
  14. Phronesis
    I agree, it's kind of amazing how far science and engineering have progressed. And I expect the progress to continue for quite a while in many areas of science.

    For audio, IMO the frontier is mainly in the science of perception (and related testing). I've been doing some reading about psychology of music lately, and I think that much of that stuff can be adapted or applied to audio stuff, but the issue seems to be that it's not really an established and decently funded area of academic research.
  15. Phronesis
    analogsurviver likes this.
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