Thanks for another good post, Archimago.
Very happy you found the article with JGH. He was quite the curmudgeon, but I liked him. We have to remember that at the time he began publishing measurements were VERY primitive by today's standards (the HW and SW available to even hobbyists is astounding!). They certainly wouldn't have been conducive to the extensive work to correlate measurements with perception that now seems at least somewhat possible (perhaps by you!). He did his best in this context, and I think did it quite well. I agree with his references to acoustic music performed in a real place. Of course the circle of confusion can be evoked, but he recorded extensively, knew the sound of live music and the character of the mics he used.
I hope you read the link to AD's article as well. It certainly elucidates the other possibilities, potential faults that you alluded to later..... It is certainly possible that we "lost our way." Maybe the pendulum will swing back. AD is interesting, he is a skilled writer. I still read his stuff based on that (and am always on the lookout for music to seek out). Perhaps there is a lot of "synergy" and "euphony" involved, this providing the sound he prefers. I have a lot of thoughts about this in the context of the equipment he likes. And the room he listens in! I am frequently fairly disappointed with the rooms subjectivists reviewers describe....so much that can be done in this regard!
I agree a lot with your response to John's as well, very nice! But also very strongly with "Neuroscience's" that followed. Seems like there has to be a synthesis of Neuroscience (the field, not the man) and the engineering to move forward. I think we also have to remember that the former, while strides are being made, is a bear! So much we don't know yet! So complex!
I was waxing philosophic in my thoughts last night, but my posts are already cumbersome in length so will list bullets of my thinking (my office network is down this morning....I still miss paper charts):
- I am not interested anymore in ridiculously expensive equipment of any sort; if I had unlimited resources I still wouldn't purchase it. It is not a part of my ethos. I grew up poor, lived overseas as a child, and spent 3 years in the "developing world" as a volunteer (not hyping myself in any way, just background). I feel guilty enough sometimes with my current equipment.
- I rarely read entirely subjective reviews. Their value has decreased for me over time. With the amount of information available to us now in so may fields that interest me I feel like I have to be selective.
- I do read subjective reviews that are followed by measurements in my ongoing attempt to correlate them with perception, though frequently go introduction -> conclusions-> measurements.
- Most of my audio interests for a long time don't involve the equipment discussed in depth on this forum. I have a Mac, never learned enough about Windows to be effective (the first time I used a computer at all was age 30!) running Audirvana, to an RME DAC with the USB cable that came with it (and no interest in exploring others). I taught myself vacuum tube design (though have only built for my son a guitar amp), have read "The Master Handbook of Acoustics," Geddes ""Audio Transducers" (mainly the waveguide stuff, the math is more up your alley!), and others. I dream of DIY loudspeaker design, tube amplifier topology, current transmission between components, other stuff. As to the last I built a DAC/headphone amplifier using the "Twisted Pear" Buffalo DAC from diyaudio powered by SLAs and connected the DAC chip outputs to a fancy transformer, to headphones (sort of using the voice coils as the I/V resistor) and used parametric EQ to correct the FR variations calculable from their impedance curve. Good stuff! Some of the best (subjective) sound I have ever experienced.
- I found this recent AES article timely http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=20455, it reflecting my thoughts: It isn't the dynamic range that increased bit-depths allows or the high-frequency extension that higher-sampling rates allows (though I wonder about some of the studies on possible other mechanisms that may provide benefit in "Neuroscience's" realm), but instead to allow different filtering options. I like and buy high-res material (though am too often very disappointed when, from old recordings, they squash the dynamics in the re-mastering).
- I was intrigued by Ayre's "Listen" filter and was excited to learn the settings in iZotope provided by "Audinventory" (?) in the long iZotope thread on this site that would closely replicate it (with measurements). I liked the sound, eventually blind-testing my "golden ear" son who picked them out and described it subjectively in the exact terms I had in mind (that I hadn't biased him with by sharing). I upsample in Audirvana and apply this filter, bypassing the RME's.
"Many of the fights we get into originates from the "all or none", "black or white", "100%" mindset. As mature adults, we know that the only way to handle the complexities of life (of which the squabbles of audiophilia is but a tiny microcosm) is to find the middle ground... The "shade of grey" between the subjective and objective. Some things do need to be "more subjective" just as my preference is to be "more objective" when it comes to audiophile gear."