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The problem with subjective impressions

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1 hour ago, Kimo said:

Subjective impressions may be problematic in that they generally will reflect the listener's subjective impression of what a good system should sound like,  which may not align with your own. 

 

For example, I have a strong dislike for almost all metal dome tweeters to the point that I find most systems difficult to listen to when I first sit down with them.  They typically sound harsh and flat to me.  I am aware that the Raal ribbons I prefer probably don't measure as well as some dome tweeters, but they also don't annoy me.  For those who don't share my affliction, the metal dome may be the superior choice, and my subjective view isn't worth squat to them.

 

If you do happen to find someone who shares your impressions in general, I believe that their subjective impressions can be quite valuable.  

 

Yes it’s true that subjective impressions generally will reflect the listener's subjective impression and preference, it is why they are subjective. I am not talking about preference per se, but that most reviews and impressions are written the same and with the same words. I mean you can almost take any review and how the gear they liked the most is described and just change the name of the gear for another gear and voila. The problem as I see it is this type of review will not reflect the SQ of the gear in the grand scheme of things.

 

Even if a good USB cable for example is important for obtaining really good SQ I would not say that the difference from one good USB cable to better USB cable to be as big as the difference between a good amp and a better amp. I think that it would be great if we would get some sort of classifying of how big the difference is in relative terms (1-10), so that our subjective listening impressions would be more objective. Not objective as in measurement or DBT, but more like how big was the overall SQ effect by changing gear A to gear B in their reference audio system. Most impressions focus too much on the reviewed gear IMO and in the effort to describe the gear in depth we may not know how big the upgrade/change really is as part of a system and together with the other equipment in the audio chain. Some does, but most not.

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1 minute ago, Summit said:

 

Yes it’s true that subjective impressions generally will reflect the listener's subjective impression and preference, it is why they are subjective. I am not talking about preference per se, but that most reviews and impressions are written the same and with the same words. I mean you can almost take any review and how the gear they liked the most is described and just change the name of the gear for another gear and voila. The problem as I see it is this type of review will not reflect the SQ of the gear in the grand scheme of things.

 

Even if a good USB cable for example is important for obtaining really good SQ I would not say that difference from one good USB cable to better USB cable to be as big as the difference between a good amp and a better amp. I think that it would be great if we would get some sort of classifying of how big the difference is in relative terms (1-10), so that our subjective listening impressions would be more objective. Not objective as in measurement or DBT, but more like how big was the overall SQ effect by changing gear A to gear B in their reference audio system. Most impressions focus too much on the reviewed gear IMO and in the effort to describe the gear in depth we may not know how big the upgrade/change really is as part of a system and together with the other equipment in the audio chain.  

 

I don't think that we are going to be able to set an objective scale for subjective impressions for much of anything in life.  How much hotter is vintage Jennifer Garner than vintage Pam Anderson?  We are still stuck with subjectively even when talking about different kind of 10s.   

 

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4 minutes ago, Archimago said:

 

Curious Kimo, have you ever tried blind-testing a dome tweeter speaker with similar type of speaker (be it 2-way monitor or maybe floor stander) using ribbons at the same volume level to confirm that impression?

 

 

Nope.  I got tired of trying to "fix" the treble on my former Vandersteen, Dynaudio, Triangle, etc. housemates and banished them.  I am okay with most Tannoys though, for whatever reason.  I used single drivers for many years, my dislike of most tweeters being so strong.

 

I now use objective response.  My narrowing eyes.  The sneer of disapproval of my wife provides my confirmation bias.  

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8 minutes ago, Kimo said:

 

I don't think that we are going to be able to set an objective scale for subjective impressions for much of anything in life.  How much hotter is vintage Jennifer Garner than vintage Pam Anderson?  We are still stuck with subjectively even when talking about different kind of 10s.   

 

 

No the scale is subjective, but reflects the importance of the audio gear in the audio chain and not only as one individual equipment.  

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4 hours ago, STC said:

But we have audiophiles still believe a 60s amplifiers or speakers supposedly to be the holy grail of the ultimate SQ. 

 

We also have respected and successful tube amp manufacturers that would say the same thing, though not about Scott and Fisher.

 

I also know of speaker manufacturers that will tell you the greatest sounding driver ever built was the RCA.

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1 minute ago, Summit said:

 

No the scale is subjective, but reflects the importance of the audio gear in the audio chain and not only as one individual equipment.  

 

I would agree with you on the importance of amps and speakers, but others would not.  I know people that will tell you that a good preamp is the foundation of great sound in any system, and others that would say no preamp is the best preamp.

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14 minutes ago, Kimo said:

 

I would agree with you on the importance of amps and speakers, but others would not.  I know people that will tell you that a good preamp is the foundation of great sound in any system, and others that would say no preamp is the best preamp.

 

I am all for people having different thought and subjective preference. To make ones preference known is the best way to share one’s subjective impressions. To be objective is to reduce subjective factors to a minimum, but we can never eliminate them, and most people will tell it like they hear it. Preamp or not. 

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2 minutes ago, Summit said:

 

To be objective is to reduce subjective factors to a minimum, but we can never eliminate them, and most people will tell it like they hear it. Preamp or not. 

 

You would think so, but that is not what I have experienced.  One time about dozen audiophiles all older than myself were mulling around in a shop and the owner, who was messing around with some test equipment asked us to raise our hands as he played test tones rising in response with each subsequent play.  As he ran through ascending tones, one fellow who admitted his hearing was damaged dropped out rather quickly.  I was next at 16k.  

 

The rest of the golden ears kept popping up their hands as he advanced well in the mid 20K region.  After the test I told him that I was surprised that my hearing dropped off so quickly compared with the group.  He told me that the last tone he actually played was the 16k tone, and that he was just saying he played the higher tones for a laugh.

 

I guess that story doesn't do much for the subjective cause.

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21 minutes ago, Kimo said:

 

You would think so, but that is not what I have experienced.  One time about dozen audiophiles all older than myself were mulling around in a shop and the owner, who was messing around with some test equipment asked us to raise our hands as he played test tones rising in response with each subsequent play.  As he ran through ascending tones, one fellow who admitted his hearing was damaged dropped out rather quickly.  I was next at 16k.  

 

The rest of the golden ears kept popping up their hands as he advanced well in the mid 20K region.  After the test I told him that I was surprised that my hearing dropped off so quickly compared with the group.  He told me that the last tone he actually played was the 16k tone, and that he was just saying he played the higher tones for a laugh.

 

I guess that story doesn't do much for the subjective cause.

 

We all know subjective impressions has its disadvantage. I started this thread to discuss how subjective impressions (although that) can be made better and more objective in the sense that the reviewed gear somehow can be categorized in how big the SQ difference is in relative terms and in the grand scheme of things.

 

Yes I believe most audiophiles and music lovers will tell it like they hear it.

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11 minutes ago, crenca said:

That said, it would be nice if more folks would go this far with the controversial and nonsensical stuff such as voodoo encodings and digital cables...

 

Many members do not agree with you in this area, and furthermore you are highly unlikely to be ever able to disprove what they report hearing using current measurement techniques.


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 26-12-2019

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The 'problem' of audio is in fact extremely simple, if you use a certain perspective on it. What one should be after, IMO, is what's on the recording - the equipment, irrespective of how expensive or blingy it is, is always merely a means to an end. Of course, many people don't see it that way - the method of procuring what one is theoretically after is dominated by a deep fascination with the equipment used, and largely subsumes the nominal goal ... the photography person who is obsessed with lenses and camera bodies, the fisherman who agonises on precisely the perfect tackle to use - the fish caught is largely irrelevant.

 

If one can dump a fetish about "the means to the end" then all one has to worry about is whether one is getting closer to the sound event captured on the recording - worrying about differences is like obsessing about which is the 'right' shape of a camera body, to get a better grip of the thing ... I just want to know whether the apparatus falls into place, everywhere, in doing the job of allowing me to take great pictures, 🙂..

 


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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Just now, sandyk said:

 

Many members do not agree with you in this area, and furthermore you are highly unlikely to be ever able to disprove what they report hearing using current measurement techniques.

 

Many many qualified members do not agree with you in this area

 

It is easy to disprove impressionistic "reports"


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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