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An interesting quotation

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steve_1979

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Jul 14, 2010
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bigblue235 said:
Maybe not in this thread, Steve, but it was a quick general point related to people who claim all Actives share the same traits. See the other thread on the front page. And it was also aimed at people who think all speakers of a certain brand/all speakers with certain drivers or technology, etc. sound the same. Just silly sweeping generalisations. I have heard great passive subwoofers, but some people claim they're all, well, pants.
I agree. :)
 

matt49

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Apr 7, 2013
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DandyCobalt said:
Didn't the great Stephen Hawkings say that scientific truth was just a hypothesis waiting to be proven untrue. I've probably completely misquoted the great man, but the gist is there.
You may well be right. If so Hawkings was paraphrasing the philosopher of science Karl Popper who argued (in a nutshell) that scientific knowledge can only be true if it's potentially disconfirmable, i.e. something can only be a candidate for being true if it can in theory be proved to be untrue.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
steve_1979 said:
*Although there is still no reason to be rude to someone just because they believe something different to yourself.
As a quick glance on almost any thread over at a certain other forum we know merely confirms what you say Steve. I get your point about remaining respectful, but given as you post over there and know the history between the sites, I'll take some of this with a certain pinch of salt! I would take Jonboi's perspective more readily when it comes to respect however and thought he phrased it beautifully the other day as well as at other times on this forum too. :)
 

steve_1979

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Jul 14, 2010
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the record spot said:
As a quick glance on almost any thread over at a certain other forum we know merely confirms what you say Steve. I get your point about remaining respectful, but given as you post over there and know the history between the sites... ...I would take Jonboi's perspective more readily when it comes to respect however and thought he phrased it beautifully the other day as well as at other times on this forum too. :)
I agree with your sentiments and try to follow a similar philosophy to Jonboi myself. :)

the record spot said:
I'll take some of this with a certain pinch of salt!
It was probably just naivety on my behalf. But I think that the quotation in the opening post is an interesting one and thought that it might provoke an interesting discussion. Hopefully we can keep this thread on topic and it may still have potential.
 

matt49

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Apr 7, 2013
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Thanks, Steve_1979, this is a timely and welcome thread, though I suspect that what I’m about to say may make me more unpopular on this forum than I already am.

Ignorance comes in many forms. Anyone who doesn't show respect for scientific knowledge is, in my view, barking mad or just lazy. However, being scientifically literate involves not only understanding the science, but also being able to evaluate its significance and put it in context. Too many people are too quick to trot out gobbets of science that they’ve picked up, without thinking hard and sceptically about what it means.

This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
 

steve_1979

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Jul 14, 2010
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John Duncan said:
Have you taken on the mantle of Ashley James quoter now that JCBrum cannot, Steve? Disappointingly, I lost the sweepstake on how long it would take you.
I'm trying to keep this friendly and constructive JD. Can we please not turn this into a silly 'us and them' thing. :)

Everything that I write on forums is my own opinion. Like the times I wrote on the HDD forum that I like the Naim UnitiQute and that although I generally prefer actives over passives I don't think that there's all that much difference in the sound between them and there are some areas where most passives are better (such as aesthetics and convenience).
 

johngw

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Jun 22, 2013
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matt49 said:
Ignorance comes in many forms. Anyone who doesn't show respect for scientific knowledge is, in my view, barking mad or just lazy.
... or just simply ignorant. To some, science means men in white lab coats, physics experiments, test tubes, and the search for simplistic absolute truths. Completely missing the point of the scientific method and what it represents.

Yet, when push comes to shove...

Would anyone set their foot in an aeroplane that wasn't designed and tested through rigourous engineering principles? Did they really burn-in all those cables - if not, how can the auto-pilot possbly arrive exactly at destination having travelled 10 hours at 600 mph?

And did the hospital really burn-in the cables to that ultra-sound machine properly?

If you suddenly fall criticaly ill, would you prefer medication that has been developed and tested through scientific rigour and scrutiny - or traditional herb medicine?

Science can't explain everything. This is absolutely true. But this is also be the very first thing a scientist will tell you.

Unfortunately "science" and "objective" reasoning also gets muddled up with commercial incentives in some of these forums. I think that's in part what gets the subjectivists' backs up. Understandable, I think.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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We can all come up with interesting quotes to suit our standpoint.

"Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it." André Gide

"Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective Human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for Human judgement. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers are for those who do not." Nelson Pass.

"We've heard that a million monkeys on a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." Robert Wilensky

On that note, I'm out.
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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johngw said:
Would anyone set their foot in an aeroplane that wasn't designed and tested through rigourous engineering principles? Did they really burn-in all those cables - if not, how can the auto-pilot possbly arrive exactly at destination having travelled 10 hours at 600 mph?

And did the hospital really burn-in the cables to that ultra-sound machine properly?
I don't think many people are concerned about the different nuances in the sound of an aeroplane or ultra sound machine though. So I'm guessing they probably don't bother with it.

Not that I'm commenting on whether I believe burning in cables makes a difference to the sound or not, but I think you've not grasped what people are after when they do things like burning in cables.
 

matt49

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professorhat said:
I don't think many people are concerned about the different nuances in the sound of an aeroplane or ultra sound machine though. .
The medical analogy doesn't really work, although last night a DJ saved my life ...
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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professorhat said:
Not that I'm commenting on whether I believe burning in cables makes a difference to the sound or not, but I think you've not grasped what people are after when they do things like burning in cables.
They are after an alteration in the way the equipment behaves from new by use. It is seemingly always for the better, 'burn in' never appears to be to the detriment of the equipment, so to use the analogies of the previous poster why would you risk using any other equipment that had not been properly optimised by 'burn in' of any wiring involved?
 

byakuya83

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There are people who still believe the Earth is flat.

It's likely science benefits these same people on a daily basis.

http://youtu.be/gEDaCIDvj6I

Thanks for the quotes, they are all interesting.
 

MakkaPakka

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May 25, 2013
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matt49 said:
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works.
Part of the problem with hi-fi is that the 'electronics' part is already where it needs to be. Other technology has moved on massively but hi-fi today is the same as it was 20+ years ago.

The lack of any real innovation means companies have to find 'stuff' to sell us and re-badge the same stuff over and over. CD has been around over thirty years, I had a portable player over twenty years ago that played discs just fine yet companies tell me I need a CD player costing thousands, sat on a stand costing hundreds connected by wires costing hundreds, etc. to get the data of a piece of ancient, basic technology . All the while you can fit hundreds of CDs on a chip the size of a baby's fingernail as technology marches on in other fields.

Of couse more annoying that the marketing is the people who lap it up and make all sorts of ridiculous claims. I've seen someone who claimed they could hear a difference between different brands of CD-R, a post on here recently said the sound via a wired ethernet connection was more 'relaxed' than wireless and I'm still waiting for a credible explanation of why I should put a several hundred pound mains lead on the end of the 50p a metre twin and earth that's under my floorboards. There's no burden of proof with hifi. It looks functional/ugly, it uses something fancy sounding inside it and costs a fair chunk therefore it must be good.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
I disagree that HiFi gear looks ugly, in as much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some very iffy looking equipment for sure, but also some very fine gear too.
 

andyjm

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Jul 20, 2012
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matt49 said:
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
Matt,

You raise an interesting point. As a man who has a background in audio electronics, but not the factors that impact the brain's interpretation of sound, I am continually surprised about the identification of 'changes' in the quality of sound when it is clear from an engineering analysis that the sound leaving the speaker is unchanged.

The factors that impact sound perception are clearly complex. If changing a mains cable has made no electrical difference at all, but the purchaser perceives an improvement, arguably the change has made a difference (to the purchaser, at least), and the updgrade has worked.

Tricky, huh?
 

spiny norman

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steve_1979 said:
Quotation from Gordon Holt in 1987
The same J Gordon Holt who more or less invented, and certainly promoted, subjective reviewing? He did after all start his magazine at a time when most other magazines were all about dry measurements and no discussion of how products sounded, saying "if nobody else will report what an audio component sounds like, I'll do it myself!"

Who made the nonsensical, but headline-grabbing, statement about the better the recording, the worse the performance?

Who spent the latter years of his life railing against those who wouldn't adopt double blind testing, even though he'd not been too bothered to do such testing when he was leading the subjectivist movement and running its most prominent mouthpiece?

Who almost single-handedly created the concept of the audio high-end?

And whose more eye-candy quotations pop up about every six months, do the rounds of the forums in order to prove the point of those who don't really know the background to them, getting increasingly misused and twisted to suit whichever agenda is required, then quietly go back to sleep again until they're needed again?

I think that's who you mean.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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andyjm said:
matt49 said:
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
Matt,

You raise an interesting point. As a man who has a background in audio electronics, but not the factors that impact the brain's interpretation of sound, I am continually surprised about the identification of 'changes' in the quality of sound when it is clear from an engineering analysis that the sound leaving the speaker is unchanged.

The factors that impact sound perception are clearly complex. If changing a mains cable has made no electrical difference at all, but the purchaser perceives an improvement, arguably the change has made a difference (to the purchaser, at least), and the updgrade has worked.

Tricky, huh?
but take away the knowledge that the mains cable has been replaced, or remove it without announcing the fact and the difference disappears.

That's expectation bias affecting perception and quite different to the cable making the difference.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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spiny norman said:
Who made the nonsensical, but headline-grabbing, statement about the better the recording, the worse the performance?
Depends on the context, but modern recording and production techniques can hide an awful lot of ills, so perhaps this is the meaning of the statement.

Regardless, it is the quote in the OP that is the subject of discussion and its validity is not diminished by whatever the person making the statement has said or done, before or after.
 

John Duncan

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Jan 8, 2008
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Overdose said:
spiny norman said:
Who made the nonsensical, but headline-grabbing, statement about the better the recording, the worse the performance?
Depends on the context, but modern recording and production techniques can hide an awful lot of ills, so perhaps this is the meaning of the statement.

Regardless, it is the quote in the OP that is the subject of discussion and its validity is not diminished by whatever the person making the statement has said or done, before or after.
So on one hand you explain away a statement with lack of context, and on the other you want to ignore the context of what a person has said before or after?
 

matt49

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Apr 7, 2013
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andyjm said:
Matt,

You raise an interesting point. As a man who has a background in audio electronics, but not the factors that impact the brain's interpretation of sound, I am continually surprised about the identification of 'changes' in the quality of sound when it is clear from an engineering analysis that the sound leaving the speaker is unchanged.

The factors that impact sound perception are clearly complex. If changing a mains cable has made no electrical difference at all, but the purchaser perceives an improvement, arguably the change has made a difference (to the purchaser, at least), and the updgrade has worked.

Tricky, huh?
Jim,

It is tricky, yes, and I think it's wise to be open-minded and non-dogmatic. Having said that, I'd be pretty sceptical about perceived changes in SQ as a result of swapping mains cables. A good rule of thumb is: the smaller the electrical differences between two pieces of kit, the greater the burden of proof on the person who claims to hear a difference between them.

Matt
 

busb

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Jun 14, 2011
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andyjm said:
matt49 said:
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
Matt,

You raise an interesting point. As a man who has a background in audio electronics, but not the factors that impact the brain's interpretation of sound, I am continually surprised about the identification of 'changes' in the quality of sound when it is clear from an engineering analysis that the sound leaving the speaker is unchanged.

The factors that impact sound perception are clearly complex. If changing a mains cable has made no electrical difference at all, but the purchaser perceives an improvement, arguably the change has made a difference (to the purchaser, at least), and the updgrade has worked.

Tricky, huh?
Very. I don't call being fooled - working but I get you point.

I vote to replace all politicians with scientists :rofl:

A tangental & rhetorical question: are all atheists objectivists?

The problem with objectively evaluating SQ is the reliance on memory & short-term memory in particular (echoic memory). I'm yet to see any scientific proof that DB ABX testing is a valid methodology but people on this & other forums bandy the term as if was a proven state of matter - I suspect its closer to being gaseous than solid in form!
 

busb

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Jun 14, 2011
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Overdose said:
andyjm said:
matt49 said:
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
Matt,

You raise an interesting point. As a man who has a background in audio electronics, but not the factors that impact the brain's interpretation of sound, I am continually surprised about the identification of 'changes' in the quality of sound when it is clear from an engineering analysis that the sound leaving the speaker is unchanged.

The factors that impact sound perception are clearly complex. If changing a mains cable has made no electrical difference at all, but the purchaser perceives an improvement, arguably the change has made a difference (to the purchaser, at least), and the updgrade has worked.

Tricky, huh?
but take away the knowledge that the mains cable has been replaced, or remove it without announcing the fact and the difference disappears.

That's expectation bias affecting perception and quite different to the cable making the difference.
Surely it's the opposite: expectation bias can only be a factor when someone is expecting a change rather than not noticing a change although such bias may well have played its part in making the observer feel the cable made a worthwhile difference to start with. A golden rule when messing with stuff is whether or not removing the "improvement" reverses the gain in SQ or not or if its repeatable.

However, if someone messed with the balance control on my system, I acknowledge it may take weeks for me to realise!
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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18,795
matt49 said:
Thanks, Steve_1979, this is a timely and welcome thread, though I suspect that what I’m about to say may make me more unpopular on this forum than I already am.

Ignorance comes in many forms. Anyone who doesn't show respect for scientific knowledge is, in my view, barking mad or just lazy. However, being scientifically literate involves not only understanding the science, but also being able to evaluate its significance and put it in context. Too many people are too quick to trot out gobbets of science that they’ve picked up, without thinking hard and sceptically about what it means.

This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
Exellent post and thank you for your contribution. :)

You make an interesting point about there being several very different areas of science involved with hifi music reproduction. Electronics, acoustics, psycho-acoustics and also (considering that various methods of digital data transfer now used) you could also add aspects of computer science to that list too. Although it's possible for one person to become an expert in several different fields how many people out there are genuine experts in all four of these scientific areas?

However it is probably not quite as relevant as you'd imagine. If you have a team of people who have a good basic understanding of each of these sciences you only really need one true expert in each of these disciplines. Provided they can all work together as a team each of the sciences will get due consideration during the design process.

I also expect that there are a few people who are clever enough and are willing to study enough to become suitably knowledgeable in all four fields by themselves. Although I expect this is probably quite rare.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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18,795
professorhat said:
johngw said:
Would anyone set their foot in an aeroplane that wasn't designed and tested through rigourous engineering principles? Did they really burn-in all those cables - if not, how can the auto-pilot possbly arrive exactly at destination having travelled 10 hours at 600 mph?

And did the hospital really burn-in the cables to that ultra-sound machine properly?
I don't think many people are concerned about the different nuances in the sound of an aeroplane or ultra sound machine though. So I'm guessing they probably don't bother with it...
What I don't understand is that people accept that other things like TV's and planes are designed and built using sound scientific engineering principals. But when it comes to hifi equiptment it must be designed using subjective voodoo for it to be any good. :roll:
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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18,795
spiny norman said:
steve_1979 said:
Quotation from Gordon Holt in 1987
The same J Gordon Holt who more or less invented, and certainly promoted, subjective reviewing? He did after all start his magazine at a time when most other magazines were all about dry measurements and no discussion of how products sounded, saying "if nobody else will report what an audio component sounds like, I'll do it myself!"

Who made the nonsensical, but headline-grabbing, statement about the better the recording, the worse the performance?

Who spent the latter years of his life railing against those who wouldn't adopt double blind testing, even though he'd not been too bothered to do such testing when he was leading the subjectivist movement and running its most prominent mouthpiece?

Who almost single-handedly created the concept of the audio high-end?

And whose more eye-candy quotations pop up about every six months, do the rounds of the forums in order to prove the point of those who don't really know the background to them, getting increasingly misused and twisted to suit whichever agenda is required, then quietly go back to sleep again until they're needed again?

I think that's who you mean.
To be honest I don't know anything about Gordon Holt other than he was the founder of Stereophile magazine (and I didn't even know that until I googled it).

However, I do think that the quotation in the opening post is a very interesting one which raises some interesting and relevant points regarding hifi equipment. Personally I couldn't care less what else Gordon may have done in his life. It was just that one quotation of his which I liked and it got me thinking.
 

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