A thread to discuss things related to what and how we hear. System Building too!

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,464
7
255
Hi

I am in the interesting process of putting together a new speaker-based system. I have come to consider the people at WBF as friends. The best equivalent to me is the sitcom Cheers. Here, is a place where you come , have a good time, discuss be happy , be unhappy , “talk” to your friends, make life-long friends and , yes, at times, meet people who you come to see as at least as adversaries and some who consider you an enemy. There will be “posses”, there will be factions, there will be fights and accolades and strong disagreements but somehow, some way, people come back (some don’t and frankly that is much better, I will npot name them but calling us wonkers won’t be remembered with any fondness) , some are missed (from the top of my head, mep, Andre Marc, RogerD), some die (Muralman and Mr Acoustat to name those 2) and some stop posting for some length of time ( I miss the posts of Phelonious and one who came late to our party Mr Savage …). yet, we remain a community, WBF remains a place where we come and discuss and learn and want to cling to ideas and relax … and get into fights and get into brotherly liking if not Love but at least great friendship. IOW I love the WBF and take this opportunity to thank those who have created it: Steve and Amir. I would like them NOT to forget that whatever their present or future situation they are the parents of a child. They are obligated to raise their child, to take care of and for it for eternity :D. I , speaking for many here thank them again and …. Without much more Here I go.

My journey in audiophilia started much earlier than most… I would think when I was around 7, 8 years old, I was fascinated by things electronics and loved music and was sooo pleased that my father did as much as I do and would invest quite a bit of his hard-earned money in those things that made great sound. And the greatest part was that he involved me in the process!! That was during the 60s… we’re now in 2016 .. a few years later
The purpose of this thread is to engage as many as possible in a discussion about the reliability of our perceptions and as a side benefit for me to gleam ideas about a new speaker-based system. I will in the next installments challenge and expect replies to some perceptions and see where it goes. This thread could die early or be an interesting place for improvements of our audio systems. We may be quite different but I am yet to hear an audiophile taking the Bose Wave Radio as a great sounding device.. There could be at least one member here that may find ways to get great sound from it .. He may well be the only person on the board ..Hi fas 63 !... :D
Thus the present question. How reliable are our perceptions? Do we hear things that are not there sometimes and yet construct them because we want these to exist? An example: Electrical Outlets. It is always a “blacker” background or an expanded soundstage or more fluidity in the delivery, things that IMO we can make up, on the go, since we know we’ve made some changes? Or do they provide substantial, repeatable, remove-the-knowledge-and-everybody-will-hear kind of benefit? There are others, I start here. Feel free to add to the discussion. I will then proceed to (not necessarily in that order ) sources, DAC, preamps , amps, cables, multiple subwoofers, power quality and room acoustics … Hope this goes some ways
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
15,283
4,693
940
London
to get a new speaker based system you need to stop listening to any gear, for 6 months go to live classical concerts, and then start auditioning speakers including those which do not match your current accepted frame of reference. Attack your tastes. All IMO
 

Rodney Gold

Member
Jan 29, 2014
983
2
18
Cape Town South Africa
You build your system on your expectations and compromises you are willing to live with...and how deep your pockets are to indulge yourself in your pet theories re hifi and uberexpensive tweaks... :)
But yes , its a cool community ..made more interesting by our ocdness and diverse points of view..
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
3,973
0
0
NSW Australia
Howdy, Frantz :p ... after going through half a box of tissues from the intro, I can calm down and respond ...

You know where I'm coming from ... virtually every system, when first assembled will have problems, audible problems, and the challenge is sort them out. Changing outlets may or may not help, alter the sound to some degree - but you need to have a clear idea what good sound is like - and, yes, listening to live acoustic instruments is a good way to get the picture. Trying to match the sense of that experience should be the goal - if the playback doesn't convey that at least in some areas then the quality is going in the wrong direction.

Our perceptions are reliable in the sense that they immediately tell us when the sound is fake - huge giveaways that the sound is just an audio rig mean that there is a long way that one can go; one should aim to be fooled, that's the important criterion, IMO.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
9,105
3,109
820
Thus the present question. How reliable are our perceptions? Do we hear things that are not there sometimes and yet construct them because we want these to exist?

we absolutely do hear things we want to hear.....and......we talk ourselves into accepting less than ideal performance. this is part of the process of system building.....and enjoying where we are at. one needs a healthy viewpoint of enjoying and living in the moment. it's not a linear thing. but.......if we desire to go forward toward better and better performance we do keep our minds open to feedback from others and ourselves. we have to be self aware of our own biases and foibles.

for myself looking back at the 12 years now in my room and beliefs and cause-effect viewpoints that looked right at the time, it's embarrassing honestly. i recognize that this was my mechanism to enjoy where i was at. yet i give myself credit for never closing my mind to better. i can identify a few 'ah-ha' moments where the clouds parted and i could see the next step. a few were feedback from friends, the most recent 'ah-ha' moment was a visit to a friend's room 18 months ago in another city who had the same gear as myself. i was able to hear what his room was doing compared to mine with essentially the same gear and get a bead on a clear reference. this has guided the last 12+ months of room tuning. and once i started down that road a whole new area of system improvement opened up to me. which then drove me to actually pull the trigger on other system tuning things. once the music becomes clearly more real you are driven to go further. your mind gets open with confidence that you can tell great from good. i was even able to learn how to adjust my speakers since i had a reference and tools to deal with it.

i have not fundamentally changed gear for 10 years.....I've only upgraded preamp-amp-speakers to better versions of the same products (once for each). so i do feel great that my choices back then have turned out well and have not limited me. and the bones of my room are the same as ever, so I'm lucky on those things. if i was starting over with new speakers and amps (or new room) i can see i would be a bit un-hinged until i got a feel for that. but it would be a fun process too.

so can we trust our perceptions? yes; once we do the work to fine tune our perceptions and have a clear reference we must trust our perceptions to take us where we want to go......but fine tuning and attaining a reference is not a trivial matter. the reference has to be relevant to your situation. our minds have to be able to connect the dots from that reference to our own situation.
 
Last edited:

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,734
721
660
Manila, Philippines
Hi Frantz,

I am of the belief that our perceptions are faulty. They just are. The question, at least for me is, should that be a stumbling block at all? There are many approaches taken in this hobby. In my opinion none of them are wrong, they just differ. If one wants to follow a philosophy of total accuracy, fine. If someone wants to take the route of ultimate self indulgence, that's fine too. It goes without saying that anywhere in between should be fine as well. What remains constant is that in audio capture and its reproduction it is in fact the faultiness in our perceptions that we try to leverage in order to attain the lofty goal of suspension of disbelief. Said in another way, to put us "in the moment" is the exact same thing as fooling ourselves that what is obviously not the real things sounds real enough that we no longer care it isn't. To do that you have to be able to satisfy on both an intellectual AND emotional level.

I'm not a sceptic but I guess you can just say I'm pragmatic. Instead of chasing accuracy on one extreme or just going for what I like on the other extreme, I try to stay grounded by simply treating the exercise of reproducing music and the act of enjoying the results as an experience in and of itself. The measure then becomes the quality of the experience itself. Does it satisfy both the analytical and the instinctual to a sufficient degree that one no longer cares about all that's come before?

I believe that each one of us has to make a specific decision. Are you limiting yourself to being only an audience member or will you allow yourself to actively act on decisions as to how the piece of music is going to be delivered? To me it is the fulcrum, the crossroad so to speak. It has nothing to do with which sonic goal one is after but rather one that makes the individual determine whether or not he injects himself as an active part of the creative musical process or not. That is the decision. If you choose the former then that implies you are allowing yourself some latitude to make decisions that will alter not just the sound but more importantly its presentation.

I have more thoughts on this but I'm sleepy. Night night :)
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
16,986
1,753
720
Portugal
(...) Thus the present question. How reliable are our perceptions? Do we hear things that are not there sometimes and yet construct them because we want these to exist? An example: Electrical Outlets. It is always a “blacker” background or an expanded soundstage or more fluidity in the delivery, things that IMO we can make up, on the go, since we know we’ve made some changes? Or do they provide substantial, repeatable, remove-the-knowledge-and-everybody-will-hear kind of benefit? There are others, I start here. Feel free to add to the discussion. I will then proceed to (not necessarily in that order ) sources, DAC, preamps , amps, cables, multiple subwoofers, power quality and room acoustics … Hope this goes some ways

Frantz,

A quick comment. If you really want a constructive thread do not start with such "obscure" detail as Electrical Outlets. It seems to me you are looking for "substantial, repeatable, remove-the-knowledge-and-everybody-will-hear kind of benefit" and you are just giving an example of something that is very system specific. Some people will say they listen to it effects clearly, some will joke on it, and no one will present any evidence in "remove-the-knowledge" conditions that you accept.

IMHO the high-end is just characterized by the importance of the small differences that are not of the "everybody-will-hear kind of benefit". Its preferred zones of work are mainly the different ways people perceive the small differences, due to their cultural and emotional preferences, even the physical ones, in particular listening conditions. IMHO it is why we can not apply methods such as quick change with repetitive music to look for small differences.

I have no doubts that my mainly tube system sounds significantly better after a few hours of warm-up. The idea comes exclusively from my perceptions and those of a few friends. However, none of my friends or me can express with reliability the effect of varying by 1 db the level of middle frequencies of the Soundlab's, or even just moving a few pictures from the walls, something that produces very measurable effects using REW.

IMHO we can believe in our general perceptions in the long term and in some very specific ones in the short and immediate term. It is why opinions coming form a show visit or people living with a system in a room for long time should be considered differently, although both are interesting and complementary. And sorry, in high end we should not separate the content of the posts from the posters. The full information is needed to decode the message!

Surely people understand why I disagree with the perspective of splitting the equipment in classes and analyzing separately our perceptions of the "universal" properties of each item of this list : " sources, DAC, preamps , amps, cables, multiple subwoofers, power quality and room acoustics" . IMHO such thing does not exist except in the magazine buyers lists. ;)
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,814
9
0
Seattle, WA
Thus the present question. How reliable are our perceptions? Do we hear things that are not there sometimes and yet construct them because we want these to exist?
While this is responsible for some of the faulty observations, just as big of a factor is the elasticity of our perception of audio. When evaluating new additions to our systems, we become far more attentive. We are dying to know if the new addition made a difference. We pay far more attention to what is played and as a result, hear detail, nuances, etc. that we did not when we were just enjoying music. What happens then is what you say: we attach those improvements to the new device and bias makes sure that when we go back to "before" configuration, we don't hear those improvements.

This is a very difficult thought exercise but when faced with this situation, try to see if you can hear the same differences in the old configuration. Having done that, all of those improvements appear in the older configuration too! And by the same token, you can take them out of the new config/tweak.

This is why blind tests work better. There, you apply the analytic technique to both samples, not just one. And without identity, whatever you think is different, cannot be associated with the new config/tweak.

The above explains why our evaluation of audio products can be faulty even when "we didn't expect to hear a difference." Or, "I expected it to sound worse." In both cases, we still listen more attentively and as a result hear more detail whether we expected it or not. This happens to me all the time even though I am hyper aware of listener bias. The above thought exercises and blind testing are the only way I can pull myself out of false conclusions.

I can't tell you how many times I have run a blind test and read more detail, resolution, lower noise floor into one sample, only to have all of those observations be false. And then be able to hear all of that into the other sample and not the first!

Without checks and balances that blind testing provides, i.e. holding the truth card, we can lead ourselves to completely wrong conclusions about the products we are evaluating and our ability to do so. And once lost in the forest, anything goes from there on.

BTW, I hope you don't mind me stealing your post for ASR Forum :). I won't be posting more in this thread but do like to continue the discussion there.
 

Jim Smith

Industry Expert
Dec 14, 2012
137
19
248
Cumming, GA
www.getbettersound.com
so can we trust our perceptions? yes; once we do the work to fine tune our perceptions and have a clear reference we must trust our perceptions to take us where we want to go......but fine tuning and attaining a reference is not a trivial matter. the reference has to be relevant to your situation. our minds have to be able to connect the dots from that reference to our own situation.

Excellent post!
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
3,973
0
0
NSW Australia
I believe that each one of us has to make a specific decision. Are you limiting yourself to being only an audience member or will you allow yourself to actively act on decisions as to how the piece of music is going to be delivered? To me it is the fulcrum, the crossroad so to speak. It has nothing to do with which sonic goal one is after but rather one that makes the individual determine whether or not he injects himself as an active part of the creative musical process or not. That is the decision. If you choose the former then that implies you are allowing yourself some latitude to make decisions that will alter not just the sound but more importantly its presentation.
Jack, as you know I very much take the line that I remain totally passive in this exercise - the recording has to completely speak with its own voice, I wish no part of it to be from me. And the reason I do it this way is because I believe a system can always be refined to the point where the intrinsic, musical message can emerge sufficiently untainted by failings in the recording technology, etc, to be fully satisfying in the listening - stand on its own feet, unassisted.

This is probably going to be the harder road for most people, but it's my choice because I get great satisfaction from the results. There have certainly been times when I felt I couldn't make it happen, I was ready to to admit defeat - but every time new insights and approaches have come along, perhaps quite a bit further down the track ... and that previous hurdle was overcome. So, this is just to say that "accuracy" can always come through, but one may need to be patient, and committed for it to work ...
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
8,225
2,643
730
Beverly Hills, CA
Frantz, Isn't a threshold question to ask and to figure out, at least conceptually, what you are trying to achieve?

I think in terms of the three primary objectives of high-end audio:

1) recreate the sound of an original musical event,

2) reproduce exactly what is on the master tape, and

3) create a sound subjectively pleasing to the audiophile.

Out of these three which do you select as your objective?
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
15,283
4,693
940
London
Frantz, Isn't a threshold question to ask and to figure out, at least conceptually, what you are trying to achieve?

I think in terms of the three primary objectives of high-end audio:

1) recreate the sound of an original musical event,

2) reproduce exactly what is on the master tape, and

3) create a sound subjectively pleasing to the audiophile.

Out of these three which do you select as your objective?

Partly agree. I agree 2 can be an objective. But 3 can depend on 1, i.e. a subjectively pleasing sound to an audiophile could be something closer to his live experiences. Else the assumption is implicit that 3 is anything but 1. Just playing with semantics :)
 
Last edited:

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,464
7
255
Frantz, Isn't a threshold question to ask and to figure out, at least conceptually, what you are trying to achieve?

I think in terms of the three primary objectives of high-end audio:

1) recreate the sound of an original musical event,

2) reproduce exactly what is on the master tape, and

3) create a sound subjectively pleasing to the audiophile.

Out of these three which do you select as your objective?

WIll try a short reply:)

I believe we hear the same . According to our personality perhaps education and some other psycholgical factor we come to prefer some aspects of sound reproduction in favor of others. ANything that deviates too much of our notion of a real sonic event will tend to distract us from accepting the reproduction as "real". IMO, Hi-Fi is about having a given individual believe for a few moments that what she/he hears could be real. A certain level of fidelity over the favored aspects of reproduction is required for that to happen.
\An extreme example. THe lift-off of a rocket would not be deemed believable by any educated person if it is reproduced by a Quad ESL 57 alone...
OTOH using 10 JL Audio Gotham together would not be convincing either, the rumble would be there and in spades but the rest of the spectrum needs to be present in some recognizable form to be deemed realistic.

Humans seems to need a certain level of accurate reproduction in a broad part of the spectrum to deem something as real. While it has become a sport to reject en masse the sytudies of Harman, they are peer- challenged and have pointed at the fact that some universal aspects in what we human prefer and ask of our sound reproducing systems. Some portion of the sound spectrum can be emphasized by the reproducing chain and yet be accepted as "realistic" and here we are in the "pleasing" category but it cannot deviate too much else we will recognize it as wrong. I am sure many can tolerate the Bose Wave Radio for a few mins or even as background music reproducer but few would ever accept it as a faithful reproducer of most music. I also believe that when there is a lack of reference many things will come to be accepted as "real". Examples are those kids with their subwoofer on wheels.. they will have extremely loud level of bass in reference to perhaps the midrange but they need some amount of midrange to make up at least the words. Their reproduction chain favors their kind of music.. Just enough midrange , lot of treble and a lot of bass too... The reference being electronic , they have all the right to favor this type of reproduction. Interestingly enough, some audiophiles push things to this extreme This thing would please enough but not pass the test of believability for most music, especially those with acoustic instruments but this requires the listener to be familiar with the instruments or ensemble in a real setting. I believe that many audiophiles commit a similar sin: They have systems that can only play certain music and at an unrealistically low volume. We humans being so adaptable accept this as real and true. THis becomes their reference, the benchmark by which they judge other components. It is accepted and there is a hard core of audiophiles for which this has come to be The Truth.
My education , culture and leaning had me experience various type of music. From the percussion-oriented to the purely melodic. From Haitian roots music to Western, Eastern Classical Music and even rap and Rock and Roll and New-Age. I favor full range at "realistic" levels for these music. I want thus what is on the Master Tape as unadulterated as possible. This means for me 20 Hz to 20 Khz reproduction with high S/N ratio and SPL peaks of over 100 dB at the listening position and with the least amount of distortion. i want realistic portrayal of the position of the instruments in a real space for all the type of music I like (many) and I like something that does not run me out of the listening space. I have, like all audiophiles, my fixations and my prejudices. I like the audiophiles stuff for sure. I revel in their splendor but I am opening my mind more and more to the fact that this is an affectation, a cloud in my judgement, an impediment to the enjoyment of music. To give you a concrete example. I have great misgivings to even think of the JBL M2 system: the idea of Crown (!!!!!) amplifiers :eek:as my amps (!!!!) doesn't hold much appeal to me. I have never heard the combo BTW but I would prefer a Burmester Electronics- JBL 4367 or JBL K2 combo and that without ever heard a note from the M2 system. Another personal example: I may talk about B&O but may never purchase them as my reference and frankly not on sonic performance ground: I sincerely find the B&O Beolab 5 very good sounding. On that I am no different from many audiophiles on this board. I simply am more candid and forthright.

I am thinking more and more that my system is going to be horn with multi-subs.

I sincerely want more from the board. THis is to me a very important and interesting discussion. And it is not just about my system but rather to understand our hobby more IMO. Keep it coming people!!!
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
5,866
1,301
453
Greater Boston
While this is responsible for some of the faulty observations, just as big of a factor is the elasticity of our perception of audio. When evaluating new additions to our systems, we become far more attentive. We are dying to know if the new addition made a difference. We pay far more attention to what is played and as a result, hear detail, nuances, etc. that we did not when we were just enjoying music. What happens then is what you say: we attach those improvements to the new device and bias makes sure that when we go back to "before" configuration, we don't hear those improvements.

This is a very difficult thought exercise but when faced with this situation, try to see if you can hear the same differences in the old configuration. Having done that, all of those improvements appear in the older configuration too! And by the same token, you can take them out of the new config/tweak.

How true, Amir!

This is why blind tests work better. There, you apply the analytic technique to both samples, not just one. And without identity, whatever you think is different, cannot be associated with the new config/tweak.

Blind tests can introduce their own psychological stresses. The best way to do things in my view is just being honest with yourself and trying to be an objective observer without any stake in the game. I once tried an expensive powerchord on my CD transport and going back and forth multiple times between stock cable and that one I was finally convinced that any changes/improvements that I heard weren't really there. Same when listening for differences between two different digital cables between transport and DAC.
 

jkeny

Industry Expert, Member Sponsor
Feb 10, 2012
3,374
40
418
Ireland
How true, Amir!



Blind tests can introduce their own psychological stresses. The best way to do things in my view is just being honest with yourself and trying to be an objective observer without any stake in the game. I once tried an expensive powerchord on my CD transport and going back and forth multiple times between stock cable and that one I was finally convinced that any changes/improvements that I heard weren't really there. Same when listening for differences between two different digital cables between transport and DAC.

I totally agree - being honest with oneself & listening with care to BOTH old & new configuration is how I approach critical listening. Listening bias is driven by psychological expectation - one doesn't need to have such expectation even if you have just done a tweak & are honestly trying to figure out if the tweak has made a difference.
 

jkeny

Industry Expert, Member Sponsor
Feb 10, 2012
3,374
40
418
Ireland
WIll try a short reply:)

I believe we hear the same . According to our personality perhaps education and some other psycholgical factor we come to prefer some aspects of sound reproduction in favor of others. ANything that deviates too much of our notion of a real sonic event will tend to distract us from accepting the reproduction as "real". IMO, Hi-Fi is about having a given individual believe for a few moments that what she/he hears could be real. A certain level of fidelity over the favored aspects of reproduction is required for that to happen.
\An extreme example. THe lift-off of a rocket would not be deemed believable by any educated person if it is reproduced by a Quad ESL 57 alone...
OTOH using 10 JL Audio Gotham together would not be convincing either, the rumble would be there and in spades but the rest of the spectrum needs to be present in some recognizable form to be deemed realistic.

Humans seems to need a certain level of accurate reproduction in a broad part of the spectrum to deem something as real. While it has become a sport to reject en masse the sytudies of Harman, they are peer- challenged and have pointed at the fact that some universal aspects in what we human prefer and ask of our sound reproducing systems. Some portion of the sound spectrum can be emphasized by the reproducing chain and yet be accepted as "realistic" and here we are in the "pleasing" category but it cannot deviate too much else we will recognize it as wrong. I am sure many can tolerate the Bose Wave Radio for a few mins or even as background music reproducer but few would ever accept it as a faithful reproducer of most music. I also believe that when there is a lack of reference many things will come to be accepted as "real". Examples are those kids with their subwoofer on wheels.. they will have extremely loud level of bass in reference to perhaps the midrange but they need some amount of midrange to make up at least the words. Their reproduction chain favors their kind of music.. Just enough midrange , lot of treble and a lot of bass too... The reference being electronic , they have all the right to favor this type of reproduction. Interestingly enough, some audiophiles push things to this extreme This thing would please enough but not pass the test of believability for most music, especially those with acoustic instruments but this requires the listener to be familiar with the instruments or ensemble in a real setting. I believe that many audiophiles commit a similar sin: They have systems that can only play certain music and at an unrealistically low volume. We humans being so adaptable accept this as real and true. THis becomes their reference, the benchmark by which they judge other components. It is accepted and there is a hard core of audiophiles for which this has come to be The Truth.
My education , culture and leaning had me experience various type of music. From the percussion-oriented to the purely melodic. From Haitian roots music to Western, Eastern Classical Music and even rap and Rock and Roll and New-Age. I favor full range at "realistic" levels for these music. I want thus what is on the Master Tape as unadulterated as possible. This means for me 20 Hz to 20 Khz reproduction with high S/N ratio and SPL peaks of over 100 dB at the listening position and with the least amount of distortion. i want realistic portrayal of the position of the instruments in a real space for all the type of music I like (many) and I like something that does not run me out of the listening space. I have, like all audiophiles, my fixations and my prejudices. I like the audiophiles stuff for sure. I revel in their splendor but I am opening my mind more and more to the fact that this is an affectation, a cloud in my judgement, an impediment to the enjoyment of music. To give you a concrete example. I have great misgivings to even think of the JBL M2 system: the idea of Crown (!!!!!) amplifiers :eek:as my amps (!!!!) doesn't hold much appeal to me. I have never heard the combo BTW but I would prefer a Burmester Electronics- JBL 4367 or JBL K2 combo and that without ever heard a note from the M2 system. Another personal example: I may talk about B&O but may never purchase them as my reference and frankly not on sonic performance ground: I sincerely find the B&O Beolab 5 very good sounding. On that I am no different from many audiophiles on this board. I simply am more candid and forthright.

I am thinking more and more that my system is going to be horn with multi-subs.

I sincerely want more from the board. THis is to me a very important and interesting discussion. And it is not just about my system but rather to understand our hobby more IMO. Keep it coming people!!!

I agree, Frantz - a lot of our judgement about reproduced sound is reliant on what we have been exposed to both in live music & in other reproduction systems. One of the most fundamental things I always try to establish when reading a person's impression of an audio device is what they are comparing it to & how that relates to my experience. This has been stated before from others - you tend to listen to the opinion of others who have similar tastes to your own.

This becomes a very complicated mix when you realise that audio replay is not about creating the original event (if there even was an "event") but about creating a musical soundscape which is both believable (whatever that means) & pleasing sonically. But these goals may not even be the full gamut & quickly become confusing because we find micing techniques which give us a sound we would only hear if we had one ear in the piano's soundboard, one ear beside the drummer's cymbals, one ear next to the singer, one ear further away picking up all instruments & voices, etc.

What further confuses matters is that people can, unsurprisingly, get caught up in a preference for an unnatural version of sound, thinking it is somehow more revealing. I have found this with digital audio where people think the distortions which give exaggerated false detail is actually because digital audio is "more revealing".

I've also experienced myself where I can't hear anything wrong with the sound & think "it can't get any better" only to hear a small change resulting in a fundamentally better, more realistic, more revealing (natural detail) sound.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
16,986
1,753
720
Portugal
(...) Blind tests can introduce their own psychological stresses. The best way to do things in my view is just being honest with yourself and trying to be an objective observer without any stake in the game. I once tried an expensive powerchord on my CD transport and going back and forth multiple times between stock cable and that one I was finally convinced that any changes/improvements that I heard weren't really there. Same when listening for differences between two different digital cables between transport and DAC.

Al. M.

Can I ask you about the exact timing of these going back and forth multiple times? IMHO the typical procedure and timing of such operations will just persuade people that there are no audible differences even if they exist. After some tries, in a short evaluation time with significant pause time your mind you will focus on the similarities, not on the differences.

BTW, the best existing bias is just considering ourselves to be objective observers. :) My only technique for personnel evaluation when considering an acquisition is listening for a few weeks using my personnel references, then removing the equipment and re-listening. I do not know about any fast way to evaluate equipment. And many times, we only see how good some equipment was when we take it out of the system, re-listen to the old one for some time and re-introduce it again.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,768
42
485
Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
Frantz, Isn't a threshold question to ask and to figure out, at least conceptually, what you are trying to achieve?

I think in terms of the three primary objectives of high-end audio:

1) recreate the sound of an original musical event,

2) reproduce exactly what is on the master tape, and

3) create a sound subjectively pleasing to the audiophile.

Out of these three which do you select as your objective?

I think we try 1) but since we can't possibly know what that sounded like, we are actually trying for 2). The three dimensional view of a classical orchestra presented to us on a recording is typically not from the audience perspective but rather from overhead mics.

I think what we end up with wanting (1), by listening to (2) HIGHLY influenced by (3).
 

KostasP.

Well-Known Member
May 7, 2016
67
10
90
Melbourne
A few thoughts from Melbourne.

The variables that intervened in the processes, prior to the music format reaching our listening rooms, are so difficult to quantify and objectively assess that it is really incongruous to contemplate attempting to re-create the original musical event. At best, we can attempt ( often under illusion) to approach but not duplicate the direct, live microphone feed as we, firstly, do not have the same ancillary equipment used in the mike feed. Secondly, no recorded signal - whether analogue or digital - can be an exact facsimile of the original.

However, the direct mike feed remains a desired ideal which can act as an impetus in striving to improve one's system, provided that this is the aim of the audiophile, keeping in mind the reservations expressed above. Re-creating the original live event is incongruous because....a) the live event will most likely sound different, depending where one is seated,...b) the live event is captured by the microphones placed on stage, not in the auditorium where people are seated,....c) the recorded signal is "tailored" by the producers\ technicians and therefore, the natural sound propagation characteristics of the instruments are or can be altered ( dynamic contrasts, transients, tone and overall balance between them ). Basically, we hear what the producer wanted us to hear! So far, we are helpless.

Of course, all the above can be jettisoned altogether and the audiophile can apply subjective criteria to become his own producer in his listening room, claiming ownership of the music and applying any means at his disposal to "tailor" the sound according to his own preferences\priorities. This approach is, by the way, the most quantifiable and least ambiguous because, basically, one is not pursuing to duplicate or approach any pre-conceived, pre-determined paradigm. His personal taste is the paradigm!

The first two approaches\pursuits are riddled and infested with unknowns and conjecture that - unless you yourself did the recording - there are no definitive, precise parameters\references to reconstruct. With these considerations\limitations in mind, we are FREE to set our own standards\ goals and pursue their achievement as we see fit.

MY personal approach\philosophy culminates from being a player, recordist and avid audiophile for years. It helps to have knowledge of how instruments propagate their sound and how that sound is transferred onto the various formats and the degradation that occurs in every stage of transfer. It helps to view our audio equipment as PRODUCERS, NOT REPRODUCERS since we do NOT know what we are specifically and unambiguously reproducing. On the contrary, based on our differential knowledge, preferences and limitations ( equipment \ room ), we can strive to produce a sound that, in essence, reflects our own personalities and characters. This is a more tangible and attainable goal.

My sound is a reflection of myself....neither perfectly imperfect nor....imperfectly perfect! I have 24 roses in my front garden. I pick them NOT for their thorns BUT for their fragrance and overall personality and beauty. There are many "roses" in the audio garden, each with their respective "thorns" and we all have our favourites. For me, despite its benign "thorns", for example, the ML CLXs are analogous to Mr Lincoln, my favourite rose!

Finally, be circumspect; choose well, achieve synergy, accept the inevitable "thorns", starting from the recordings, and enjoy the "fragrance", for it is as transient as our systems and ourselves.

Kostas Papazoglou.
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing