Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
christopher3393

"Audio Without Numbers" by Herb Reichert

Recommended Posts

Herb gave some great advice in an article he wrote for Sound Practices in the nineties "The Search for Audio Tranquility." It is hard to believe the same man wrote both articles. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Rt66indierock said:

Herb gave some great advice in an article he wrote for Sound Practices in the nineties "The Search for Audio Tranquility." It is hard to believe the same man wrote both articles. 

Yes you are right.  It is like two different guys almost. 

 

Of course people change over time for many different reasons.  I believed more like he does now in the 90's.  But now is 90's articles seem more sensible to me now. 


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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, tmtomh said:

Far be it from me to blame an outside source for this forum's semi-official hobby arguing to extremes... :)

 

... but, in this case I do think that many of us are getting into unnecessarily antagonistic arguments because the discussion here is trying to use Reichert's fundamentally flawed, straw-horse versions of "subjectivist" and "objectivist."

 

What Reichert is unfairly (or overbroadly) calling "objectivism" is really scientism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism. This distinction is crucial IMHO because while scientism of course exists in engineering/tech-centric communities like this one, it tends to be a minority view. The majority of science/measurement-oriented folks here are actually quite rigorous about what can and cannot reasonably be claimed based on the available evidence. True belief in the scientific method is based not on a faith that we know things, but rather on the admission that we don't know things and have to work hard and coherently to try to learn. A corollary of this is that observation (including, for example, listening to music) is part of the scientific method.

 

What Reichert is calling "subjectivism" is a contradictory and somewhat incoherent point of view. This is not surprising: It's often easier to simply (and crudely) define one's perceived enemy than it is to define one's own position free from contradiction and confusion.

 

But as far as I can tell, for Reichert a "subjectivist" is someone who believes only in the observational part of the scientific method; who equates observation with "experience"; who believes the Enlightenment consisted only of its Romantic, Rousseau-ian side; and who believes measurement and repeatability of results are the enemies of "love, poetry, and humanism."

 

As with pretty much any screed written by an intelligent person, there are of course kernels of valid points in Reichert's piece. But they're overwhelmed by the raging Id of the piece's tone and overreaching, deeply flawed claims.

 

As for myself, I prize my personal enjoyment of music above the objective quality or fidelity of my system - but counter to Reichert's implication, I don't find those two things incompatible or in opposition to each other. I don't love my stereo system because it outputs some ecstatic, intangible quality that can't be measured. No, I love it because its quality is good enough that I enjoy it and it makes me happy every time I listen to it. Even within that happiness, I know it could sound better. And I have little doubt that while measurements would not tell the whole story, a system that sounded better to me would indeed measure better in myriad ways, many of which also would help explain to me why it sounded better.

 

Where I do think listening-based experience is super-important, is in guiding our sense of what measurements are important and/or decisive - and perhaps even more importantly, what scale of difference various measurements make (e.g. how about room dimensions, speaker placement, and wall treatments before you start obsessing over USB cables, digital transports, or tonearm wiring?). And on that count, I think both the Old Guard and many of us here don't always pay as much attention as we might.

Well said that man !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have for years been of the view the terms “objectivist” and “subjectivist” have neither  any coherent meaning nor any practical use in identifying fundamental issues in dispute. If anything I regard them as the philosophical analogue of the sort of vague sciencey-sounding verbiage that appears in marketing copy.

I will at most concede that it may be legitimate to look at them as terms in actual use and labels which some people use to self-identify. 

As far as I can see

-there is no coherent epistemological or ontological system represented by the word “subjectivism”;

-the expression “objectivist” is used to apply to a person who considers that audio engineering and hifi listening should be informed by and analyses by conventional scientific thinking. I see little evidence that those who take the opposite view have any particular reason for doing so (as a group).  Some have a sensible desire to keep a senses of proportion and a well- rounded amount of “who gives”. Some are hippies, some are arts graduates with a chip on their shoulder about not understanding maths, some are not very reflective, some use too many long words and some are plain stupid.

 

 It’s not an -ism

 

Elevating all of this into objectivism and subjectivism does nothing but obscure the issues and play into the hands of the intellectually vain. 

 


You are not a sound quality measurement device

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, NOMBEDES said:

I am very confused about existence and consciousness.   Many of the quantum physics "abstracts"  I read claim we don't have any....existence and/or consciousness that is. We exist in a simulation lab? Ok, where does music come from then?

 

Actually no consciousness is nihilism, kind of the extreme opposite of objective existence. Here's koan #29 from Wumen Guan:

 

Quote

The wind was flapping the temple flag and two monks started an argument. One said the flag moved, the other said the wind moved. They argued back and forth but could not reach a conclusion. The Sixth Patriarch said, “It is not the wind that moves, it is not the flag that moves, it is your honorable minds that move.” The monks were awe-struck.

 

Hope that helps :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, NOMBEDES said:

I am very confused about existence and consciousness.  

 

Surely not. Child'splay innit?


You are not a sound quality measurement device

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, adamdea said:

 

-there is no coherent epistemological or ontological system represented by the word “subjectivism”;

 

 

Coherent, no (is Herb's pile not a monument to this?).  Audio subjectivists do tend to share a few beliefs however about the world, their ability to perceive it, about "science" and engineering, and most of all about their own ability to evaluate their own experience.

 

In all that, it is an (granted, incoherent) epistemology...


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, crenca said:

 

Coherent, no (is Herb's pile not a monument to this?).  Audio subjectivists do tend to share a few beliefs however about the world, their ability to perceive it, about "science" and engineering, and most of all about their own ability to evaluate their own experience.

 

In all that, it is an (granted, incoherent) epistemology...

Not really. We are talking about hobbyists who happen to take positions which would , if they were thought- through, consistent and sincerely-held, commit the holder to certain epistemological positions. But they aren't and they aren't. I really genuinely believe that it hasn't occurred to most people who buy dumb mains cables that if they did anything then they would be required on medical scanning machines. I can't personally understand how anyone can see things that way, but there you have it.  I don't really think that most of them have a genuine explicit and strongly held belief that hifi is electrically and perceptually sui generis. 

 

Lots of people who buy into hoodo in one area of their life are reasonably rational in others. Many people who buy homeopathic products turn out not to be fools or have particularly eccentric views on the structure of scientific thinking. By and large these things are not a battle between grand belief systems but between those who want to think hard and those who don't. 

The really important point is that none of this really matters, except to the extent that one personally cares. For my own part I regard the unexamined life a not worth living. But we are not sitting in on a live debate between st Thomas Aquinas and John Wycliffe, nor the Bohr -Einstein controversy. It more reminds me of being kicked under the table by my mother for sniggering when an elderly relative explained to the dinner table that he used a copper bracelet which cured his rheumatism.


You are not a sound quality measurement device

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, crenca said:

 

Coherent, no (is Herb's pile not a monument to this?).  Audio subjectivists do tend to share a few beliefs however about the world, their ability to perceive it, about "science" and engineering, and most of all about their own ability to evaluate their own experience.

 

In all that, it is an (granted, incoherent) epistemology...

ps It's fun pretending I know.


You are not a sound quality measurement device

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, adamdea said:

We are talking about hobbyists who happen to take positions which would ,

 

Thankfully they have not taken up sailing, or skydiving...


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, crenca said:

Audio subjectivists do tend to share a few beliefs

 

As you are making social scientific claims, do you have any data to support the existence of such societal sub-groups and the belief systems you attribute to them, or is this just your subjective opinion?  

 

Perhaps a nice chart?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, adamdea said:

I have for years been of the view the terms “objectivist” and “subjectivist” have neither  any coherent meaning nor any practical use in identifying fundamental issues in dispute. If anything I regard them as the philosophical analogue of the sort of vague sciencey-sounding verbiage that appears in marketing copy.

I will at most concede that it may be legitimate to look at them as terms in actual use and labels which some people use to self-identify. 

As far as I can see

-there is no coherent epistemological or ontological system represented by the word “subjectivism”;

-the expression “objectivist” is used to apply to a person who considers that audio engineering and hifi listening should be informed by and analyses by conventional scientific thinking. I see little evidence that those who take the opposite view have any particular reason for doing so (as a group).  Some have a sensible desire to keep a senses of proportion and a well- rounded amount of “who gives”. Some are hippies, some are arts graduates with a chip on their shoulder about not understanding maths, some are not very reflective, some use too many long words and some are plain stupid.

 

 It’s not an -ism

 

Elevating all of this into objectivism and subjectivism does nothing but obscure the issues and play into the hands of the intellectually vain. 

 

 

Wow. :S

 

Yes, not much on the "isms", although you might be surprised at how they pop up now and again. I've found that by shifting the searchlight just a bit there is all sorts of juicy material. Just explore "objective" and "subjective" or "subjectivity" and "objectivity" and you'll find lots of modern and contemporary discussion. Imo, after Kant, thinkers in various disciplines started using this language in ways that lead to where we are now.

 

It's my impression that people are more likely to have implicit rather than explicit philosophies that can gradually be drawn out and named more explicitly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, adamdea said:

Not really. We are talking about hobbyists who happen to take positions which would , if they were thought- through, consistent and sincerely-held, commit the holder to certain epistemological positions. But they aren't and they aren't. I really genuinely believe that it hasn't occurred to most people who buy dumb mains cables that if they did anything then they would be required on medical scanning machines. I can't personally understand how anyone can see things that way, but there you have it.  I don't really think that most of them have a genuine explicit and strongly held belief that hifi is electrically and perceptually sui generis. 

 

Lots of people who buy into hoodo in one area of their life are reasonably rational in others. Many people who buy homeopathic products turn out not to be fools or have particularly eccentric views on the structure of scientific thinking. By and large these things are not a battle between grand belief systems but between those who want to think hard and those who don't. 

The really important point is that none of this really matters, except to the extent that one personally cares. For my own part I regard the unexamined life a not worth living. But we are not sitting in on a live debate between st Thomas Aquinas and John Wycliffe, nor the Bohr -Einstein controversy. It more reminds me of being kicked under the table by my mother for sniggering when an elderly relative explained to the dinner table that he used a copper bracelet which cured his rheumatism.

 

 

I hope I don't offend you, but could it be that your carrying features of your own philosophy into your evaluation of subjectivism?  What I mean is what you are expecting to see in a subjectivist epistemology (i.e "thought-through, consistent") would only be found in an objectivist person/philosophy?  Could it be that this incoherency, seemingly random application (audio yes, accountancy no, medicine yes, bridges no) and (from an objectivist viewpoint) shallowness IS part of the central character of subjectivism?

 

Another way to put it is that you "think hard" about pattern and consistency in Reality (i.e. the real, the cosmos, etc.) because you presume that Reality has this character.  However, because the subjectivist does not presume that Reality has this character, they only appear not to "think hard".  Indeed, from their philosophy it is the objectivists who have not thought through reality and realized it subtlety and poetic character - this is one of Herb's Reichert's central accusations!  

 

Again, people are not their philosophy, and no one is a "pure objectivist" or "pure subjectivist" - these categories are shorthand that allow us to think about a cluster of tendencies, beliefs (conscious and unconscious), impressions, etc. that would otherwise overwhelm.  In vain do we look for a pure example "in the wild", so to speak

 


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, crenca said:

delete

 


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Norton said:

 

As you are making social scientific claims, do you have any data to support the existence of such societal sub-groups and the belief systems you attribute to them, or is this just your subjective opinion?  

 

Perhaps a nice chart?

 

 

 

Ha!  Perhaps only the straw man objectivist that Herb Reichert talks about could give you a nice chart, but since those folks don't actually exist... O.o

 


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, crenca said:

 

I appreciate this post, I really do.  That said, you are essentially describing a caricature of what we audio "objectivists" are speaking from just as Herb is.  Audio objectivists (as a general rule - might be exceptions) are in no way German Idealists who approach science, measurement, and audio in an "a priori"  metaphysical Kantian way.  If either camp borrows from Kant, it would be the subjectivists and their understanding of the experience and knowledge, though they appear not be rigorous enough for anything like Kant - they are more like free form Cartesians with a large heaping dose of Hippie thrown in :)

 

It's not that radical subjectivists are "lying", they just are missing balance, perspective, and humility in how they evaluate their experiences.  Their explanations of why something is so are often nonsensical, and they seem unwilling to entertain anything but their own perceptions - they lack balance.   Their descriptions of "science" are strange and emphasize the wrong things and frankly, are merely meant to justify their own understanding of the value of their "experience".  

 

In any case, I appreciate your effort to put some meat on the bones of your assertions...

 

 

Hi,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Kant identifies two types of Apriori, - math is one and Metaphysics is the other.

 

Cheers,

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, firedog said:

He quoted a dictionary definition of science and then went on to show he has zero understanding of what science actually is and how it works. His point about “observations” was laughably wrong and showed that he doesn’t know what the word even means in a scientific context and how it is applied. 

Hi,

Thanks for your comments. So you are not taking "observations" in the sense of literal (use of eyesight) observations are you? What is meant is corroborated and repeated experiences of the senses. There are smell tests, hearing tests, etc.

 

" showed that he doesn’t know what the word even means in a scientific context and how it is applied. "

I didn't get that impression at all. I will go back an reread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



×
×
  • Create New...