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Why are we so confident of long term listening evaluations?


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For the type of observations the article writes about, agencies like the FBI, CIA, etc. spend a lot of money training their personnel to "pay better attention" because training does count and you can get better at both picking up details and recalling those details. That being said, some people are both naturally better at this kind of attention to detail, yet others have better memory for details generally (even if they don't pick them up quickly) and some actually have both.

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No it actually doesn't. Maybe Mayhem has slightly different ideas in mind.

 

I will explain myself a bit more on the TAS idea. It is surprisingly easy to put up a couple of good mics, record some good musicians in space and play that back to get something broadly similar. If you were there it might seem more than broadly similar (but you know where everyone was). Nevertheless true reproduction has some theoretical and practical problems when you only have two channels. If you weren't there, and subjectively listen to a recording broadly similar or so dissimilar as to be unnatural is about all you can say. Even if well acquainted with natural musical instruments played live.

 

Yet I have read discussions of hall portrayal, space, real dynamics, details of forwardness or backwardness. You have no way of knowing which of those is right. Even with the finest experience of live music you can't actually determine that. I can tweek by about a decibel a couple octaves in EQ and push a singer forward or back in what you hear. Neither will be right and you have no way of knowing what the truth was. Your single ended subjective discernment is without anchor. And that is without even getting into the slim chances of getting an unmolested simple recording from commercial sources in the first place. Or how deft some recording professionals are at making a natural sounding effect you don't realize is an effect instead of real.

 

I agree that you can't exactly reproduce how a particular recording of live music sounded, even if you were present. But, the reference is not based on a single performance or recording. Experienced ears can readily tell if an acoustic instrument doesn't sound 'right'. Or, OTOH, if it does. IMO, what you are listening for are identifiable sonic signatures. e.g. a Martin acoustic guitar, a Steinway piano, etc. The 'absolute sound' is a conceptual reference or standard based on a number of experiences listening to live music. IMO, it does have practical, albeit not perfect, application.

 

What do you suggest as a better way to judge the accuracy of an audio system?

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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What do you suggest as a better way to judge the accuracy of an audio system?

 

See that it doesn't corrupt the signal from source to output of the amplifier. Yes this can be done with measurements. Maybe not to the absolute last degree if one quibbles a bit. Well enough to get you very close.

 

Then work on the speaker and room.

 

Yes, we have different preferences, and measurements can't define that very well. If we maintain fidelity for the playback system we can adjust for preference in source material, software and to some extent speakers. My suggestion for someone putting together a system from scratch is start with the speakers (which will mean considering the room as well) then work backwards.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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See that it doesn't corrupt the signal from source to output of the amplifier. Yes this can be done with measurements. Maybe not to the absolute last degree if one quibbles a bit. Well enough to get you very close.

 

Then work on the speaker and room.

 

Yes, we have different preferences, and measurements can't define that very well. If we maintain fidelity for the playback system we can adjust for preference in source material, software and to some extent speakers. My suggestion for someone putting together a system from scratch is start with the speakers (which will mean considering the room as well) then work backwards.

 

Measurements can only do so much when it comes to evaluating how a device will actually sound. As I'm sure you know, amplifier designers use measurements extensively in the development of a product, but the final "voicing" is virtually always done by ear.

 

Last year, I had an interesting exchange of emails with Andreas Koch of Playback Designs, formerly one of the developers of SACD with Sony. Basically, he said that if you want to get 90% of what is the possible, then design for great measurements the way (name omitted for privacy reasons) does. But, if you are interested in approaching 100%, you will go out of the box and design according to pyschoacoustic properties. Interpret what you will from that statement.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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See that it doesn't corrupt the signal from source to output of the amplifier. Yes this can be done with measurements. Maybe not to the absolute last degree if one quibbles a bit. Well enough to get you very close

 

I don't agree. My own Class A amplifier with the front end balancing and fully DC coupled, even the feedback area, sounds very different to most other amplifiers with almost identical measurements ,(far more 3D sounding, and a natural warmth) despite having far better than average specifications . e.g. Distortion <.0005 %. The front end balancing advantage was also confirmed in the DIY Audio Current Mirror thread of Nov.2008. Extensive measurements performed at the time in DIY Audio showed no real measurable differences. Yet once again, it demonstrates that we don't know all the things to measure yet, just as in many areas discussed in C.A.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I think what Bill wishes to express is a stark contradiction that if one disagrees with the premise of Dennis' post becomes sarcastic in nature. Perspective is key here IMO.

 

Would you agree the contradiction of the efficacy of both exists?

 

Would you mind rewording that first sentence for me and maybe expanding a little? Thanks.

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Similar concepts yes. Wasn't pre-empting your coming discussion from that test thread. Happened to read the article and it fit well enough to post about.Happened to read the article and it fit well enough to post about.

 

Please help me with "fit well enough"? Was the article just a jumping off point to the actual discussion you wanted to have? Does such a remote analogy as the one in the article qualify as anything other than a rhetorical lead-in? And was the sentence you lifted from the article for the OP selected strictly for the rhetorical purpose of launching into your own positions? Hard for me to tell.

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Please help me with "fit well enough"? Was the article just a jumping off point to the actual discussion you wanted to have? Does such a remote analogy as the one in the article qualify as anything other than a rhetorical lead-in? And was the sentence you lifted from the article for the OP selected strictly for the rhetorical purpose of launching into your own positions? Hard for me to tell.

 

Well the article did not mention audio. However, memory, aural, visual whatever is processed by the same brain so there is some fit with memory processes in general. Including in audio. It ties in with some things I know, some things I think are right and seemed like a good place to start a discussion yes.

 

The quote from the article does fit with what I have witnessed in regard to long term audio evalution. Vivid, clear, and wrong. Were I writing the sentence for purposes of audio I would have not used wrong. The article's point about confidence in vividness of reconstructed events that didn't quite happen tie into that. Small differences get remembered more vividly than really happened. May even color one's opinion well after the fact and be much too strong for what was heard. I think this a source of genuine teeny, tiny differences being described as "night and day". I do believe they are remembered as night and day, daylight and dark, black and white stark differences. Only often differences were nowhere near that great.

 

I could have used an article from a few weeks back about investigations into eye-witness testimony. This article was a better fit however.

 

So if you are worried I had prior opinions about this the answer is yes. If you are worried I don't want to hear other opinions, then the answer is not no, but sure let's hear them. Otherwise I might have written a blog of my thoughts and left it to that.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I think like most hobbies - cars, wine, dating - it's unavoidably subjective to some extent. Doesn't make purchasing a car because I like the color and the way it handles (without referring to skidpad tests) void.

 

I kinda just muddle through, working with a couple of things:

 

- I think I'm fairly familiar with the sounds of vocals, acoustic guitars, pianos. There are of course lots of varieties of these, and yep, I don't know how they were recorded, but I listen for what sounds natural to me, however unreliable that is.

 

- I see whether I get bored or irritated with the sound of a software player or piece of equipment over a period of time. The less "sound" of its own the player or equipment has - the more varied the sounds of what I'm listening to - the more accurate it is, allowing all the different recordings to sound like themselves. On the other hand, the more the player or equipment makes everything sound the same, the quicker I lose interest or get bothered. So boredom or irritation is a great indicator. (I hope that's reasonably clear; it's not always an easy idea to convey.)

 

Unfortunately, none of your examples relate.....not even the wine. None are reproductions of an experience.

 

The closest you might get would be art appreciation. Admiring a Van Gogh one day and then coming another to view the reproduction unknowingly while the original is on loan or undergoing cleaning. Maybe the gallery changed the display bulbs because the previous ones were fading and producing less than half the lumens and the color shifted to 3500k from 41? Would you know or recognize the reproduction or the change in ambient light?

 

And knowing a vocalist, instrument, etc......that's the easy part. That's all easily discernable by even the lowest grade MP3. I can tell when it's Hendrix or Stevie Ray playing Hendrix. Ella is Ella. It's the ambience of the space that matters and that's what we're after. The inflections and acoustics of the performance and space,.....and unless you were there and the piece was recorded as a live ensemble, there is no reference.....period.

 

And for the great rock and pop music we all love.......forget it. These are studio track productions and most far off from a live session.......and for many of these types of recordings thankfully they are production events. Could you imagine enjoying DSOTM as anything but?

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I agree that you can't exactly reproduce how a particular recording of live music sounded, even if you were present. But, the reference is not based on a single performance or recording. Experienced ears can readily tell if an acoustic instrument doesn't sound 'right'. Or, OTOH, if it does. IMO, what you are listening for are identifiable sonic signatures. e.g. a Martin acoustic guitar, a Steinway piano, etc. The 'absolute sound' is a conceptual reference or standard based on a number of experiences listening to live music. IMO, it does have practical, albeit not perfect, application.

 

What do you suggest as a better way to judge the accuracy of an audio system?

 

So if I told you that I'm an accomplished guitarist and couldn't identify a Martin from Gibson by tone or timbre alone? .....or even by playability? The instruments you mention vary greatly from piece to piece and since it's in your avatar, I think you would concede as much. Even varying degrees of humidity and temperature will effect the timbre of an acoustic stringed instrument. Sorry Allen, I just can't relate to your position here at all.

 

And as for Barry,....well......we who've engineered live performances in large venues with uncontrollable acoustics, performers......or without safety nets....well......lets just say it's a different experience than the comfort of a studio and recording machine. There are no 2nd takes, overdubs, multi tracking, mic repositioning, etc. Does that make me and fellow live engineers less accomplished at what we do?

 

It's your choice to defer to whoever' opinion you like. I'd rather converse with someone who develops and defends their own......no insult intended. A challenge maybe......

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So if I told you that I'm an accomplished guitarist and couldn't identify a Martin from Gibson by tone or timbre alone? .....or even by playability?

 

What if I told you that, while I have played guitar for a long time, I don't consider myself to be an 'accomplished' guitarist? Yet, I can do both those things. IMO, the basic sonic characteristics or 'signature' does not change from piece to piece, or at least not to the extent that it blurs recognition. So, I don't concede as much.

 

We are in fundamental disagreement, as we are on most topics. I don't need a challenge to confirm my beliefs, and I have neither the need nor the desire to prove them to you. No insult intended.

 

BTW, I'm sorry if I have you confused with somebody else, but aren't you the one who can't hear any difference between Redbook and hi res?

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Yes, I am that guy that can't find a appreciable difference between HiRes and Redbook when they're of the same master. I would imagine there's a follow up?

 

So someone places a guitar in your hands, sight unseen and you can..............?

 

Never mind, you've already said more than you probobly should have.

 

Thanks for saving me time of a lengthy reply. Without mutual respect, there's no point in continuing.

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Yes, I am that guy that can't find a appreciable difference between HiRes and Redbook when they're of the same master. I would imagine there's a follow up?

 

 

***I thought it was an unfair advantage to saddle redbook with the same master as hires when doing a comparison?***

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Yes, I am that guy that can't find a appreciable difference between HiRes and Redbook when they're of the same master. I would imagine there's a follow up?

 

So someone places a guitar in your hands, sight unseen and you can..............?

 

Never mind, you've already said more than you probobly should have.

 

Thanks for saving me time of a lengthy reply. Without mutual respect, there's no point in continuing.

 

If I may borrow a Beatles lyric, "This happened once before when I came to your door, no reply!" :)

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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If I may borrow a Beatles lyric, "This happened once before when I came to your door, no reply!" :)

 

Ok......well..........

 

You must possess some extremely rare exceptional ability that surpasses that of Isaac Stern, Charles Beare and Pinchase Zuckerman who in 1975 when participating in a blind study by the BBC were unable to identify four violins from Strad, Guarnieri, Praill, and Vuillaume. Two of the three were also unable to identify their own instrument.

 

I think there's a site where you can lease superhero capes...........just be sure to have them cleaned before being returned.

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Look at it this way - we realize that a 10% increase in sonic resolution and spatial imaging is going to cost 100% more than what we've already invested.

.

 

No I can't.....and neither should anyone who doesn't walk on their knuckles.

 

Com'on now.......is this what you really want to be associated with as a member here?

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Ok......well..........

 

I think there's a site where you can lease superhero capes...........just be sure to have them cleaned before being returned.

 

I have been curious about one thing for some time. Does your rudeness come from the fact that you are a New Yorker, or do you come by it naturally?

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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I have been curious about one thing for some time. Does your rudeness come from the fact that you are a New Yorker, or do you come by it naturally?

 

What can I say Allan.....you bring out the very worst in me.

 

........but I'm willing to set aside my rude responses if you'll stop with the B.S.?

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Sparky,

my experience of New Yorker's, the inner city ones, kind and considerate.

wdw

 

In private, perhaps. In public, with strangers, not even close. It's the only city I know of where you flag down a cab, tell him the address you are going to and he rudely replies, "I'm not going dat way". Or, at Penn Central Station, at the Information kiosk during a long lineup, the employee throws up his hands and says, "Am I de only one who knows what's going on in dis god damn railroad?"

 

Both true stories, BTW. :)

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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In private, perhaps. In public, with strangers, not even close. It's the only city I know of where you flag down a cab, tell him the address you are going to and he rudely replies, "I'm not going dat way". Or, at Penn Central Station, at the Information kiosk during a long lineup, the employee throws up his hands and says, "Am I de only one who knows what's going on in dis god damn railroad?"

 

Both true stories, BTW. :)

 

Really, we are down to regional insults? Okay two true stories.

 

When in college was this kid from NYC. My college was very far from NYC. We tried to be friendly, but he couldn't talk about anything without saying how "yeah, In New York we would do......", and "yeah, you don't see anything like this in New York, things like this wouldn't make it". So on and so forth. Finally someone took to telling him before he could even get started, "hey if stuff is so hot in NYC, take your A$$ back there. Things will be better in NYC and things will be a whole lot better here."

 

Now for the rest of the story. Also, at the same time, new place to eat opens near my dorm. A couple buddies and me go in. Guys running the place are from NYC. Tells us all about it. Tells us how good things have to be to make it NYC. But not the same braggadacio as the kid in college. When we are done with the meal, we find out it is his first day open. He tells us they haven't figured out how to cook at the higher elevation, and things weren't what they could be. He can't charge us for the meal. Hey, we all thought it was a darn good meal. No, no can't charge for this. We go back, he remembers us. We don't eat free, but he always gives us a little something extra. So happy to share the good stuff he learned in the competitve NYC market. Most especially when any of us show up with a girl, he treats us something extra special. Makes sure the girl is impressed. Couldn't ask for a nicer guy. He had insight, knowledge, and an efficient serious way you likely don't get anywhere else. Including remembering some of his first customers that took an interest his first day open for business. Who could complain?

 

Don't paint people with stereotypes. I have done so with the best personal experience and data to back them up. Every time, every single time, it won't be long until I feel sorry as it always blows up in my face. Someone comes along with every reason to fit the stereotype, and doesn't.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Jeez Dennis, are you still at it ! Its not a crime if you can't hear differences ! [big cheesy grin]

 

No it isn't a crime, but maybe convincing people they hear differences that don't exist should be. (More of an aw' shucks kind of a grin.)

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Don't paint people with stereotypes. I have done so with the best personal experience and data to back them up. Every time, every single time, it won't be long until I feel sorry as it always blows up in my face. Someone comes along with every reason to fit the stereotype, and doesn't.

 

Of course, I know that, Dennis. Stereotypes exist because there are often some kernels of truth to them, but no more. To view a particular individual and pre-judge him through that narrow lens is wrong. It becomes insidious when stereotypes form the basis for racial or ethnic profiling. However, it is not unfair to observe that the typical New Yorker, outwardly, tends to come across more forcefully than, say, someone from rural Vermont. But that tells you very little, if anything, about that individual's character. OTOH, that demeanour may result in it taking somewhat longer to get to know that person.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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