hearingisbelieving

If you cant measure it you cant hear it...

304 posts in this topic

I see this argument/statement used a lot in cable debates however, I dont think this statement has been examined properly - or if it has been I'm unaware.

So, what I want to know is, can everything we hear(imaging, soundstage, timbre, timing etc.) actually be measured?

I say imaging, soundstage etc. because these seem things we readily accept differ between amps, sources and speakers so I am reasonably confident I and everyone else arent imaging it.

Discuss:pop:

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I see this argument/statement used a lot in cable debates however, I dont think this statement has been examined properly - or if it has been I'm unaware.

So, what I want to know is, can everything we hear(imaging, soundstage, timbre, timing etc.) actually be measured?

I say imaging, soundstage etc. because these seem things we readily accept differ between amps, sources and speakers so I am reasonably confident I and everyone else arent imaging it.

Discuss:pop:

I think you would need to define these terms before they can be measured.

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I think you would need to define these terms before they can be measured.

sorry JB thought these were pretty well known terms. In my own words...

Soundstage: The area between and sometimes beyond(width and depth wise) the speakers that the music appears

Imaging: The placement and seperation of instruments/vocals/noises within the soundstage

Timbre: The ability of the kit/system to accurately reproduce the tonality of different instruments

Timing: difficult one to define but if a system doesnt time well then the music wont appear to flow correctly eg. the drums seem faster than the guitars...

btw I do believe there is a list of proper explanations of these terms listed in a HiFi magazine if anyone is interested as my amateur attempts are exactly that.

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Yup is the simple answer, but it won't tell you a thing unless you know how to analyse the results. Even if you could analyse the results, it still won't be able to give you the full picture as it will undoubdtably be full of variables and assumptions. It is why a pure objectivist approach will never work in isolation at a system in room level.

To give you another example; it is entirely possible to design and measure against those design parameter every single componenent within a formula one car, you can even model the car as a system on modelled circuits. If the results were so good, why do teams and drivers still insist on such wasteful and subjectivist activities such as test driving???

I rest my case m'lud and demand my prize.

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Imaging and soundstage are created in the brain, based on "cues" received at the ear (notably relative amplitude and phase between left and right.) We can measure the cues, but predicting what the brain will do with them is a diferent matter!

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I have no view or indeed understanding as what can be measured and what can't. However, I have never once selected a piece of hi-fi equipment based on measurements or such like and somehow seem to be enjoying my music more than ever. Strat

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Apolofgies for the simplistic answer, but even within systems Engineering, validation of the initial requirenent can be a test that does not measure the individual parameter but can instead rely upon success at a system level. for the F1 car, this could just be lap times (or even just braking/accelerating or sector times) . in other words a measuremnt at a higher level within the system, validates the requiremnt that changed the design at a lower level within the sytem. Sometimes there is no measuremnet taken, just feedback from the driver that a change has had a positive impact. That can be sufficient to validate the initial requirement.

The human ear in conjunction with it's signal processor (the ole grey matter) is a powerful and variable tool...susceptable to expectation bias, but also very capable of discerning differences in sound. I for one am not ashamed to use it and feel that it is the final validation of any system in my room. I see so many measurements that bear no resemblance to what i hear that i often wonder if the right thing is being measured and certainly doubt if the correct weighting is given to those measurements at system level.

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I see this argument/statement used a lot in cable debates however, I dont think this statement has been examined properly - or if it has been I'm unaware.

So, what I want to know is, can everything we hear(imaging, soundstage, timbre, timing etc.) actually be measured?

I say imaging, soundstage etc. because these seem things we readily accept differ between amps, sources and speakers so I am reasonably confident I and everyone else arent imaging it.

Discuss:pop:

Imaging and soundstage are created in the brain, based on "cues" received at the ear (notably relative amplitude and phase between left and right.) We can measure the cues, but predicting what the brain will do with them is a diferent matter!

MiB's post is very much in line with my view on the matter. I would also add timbre and timing to the parameters which are created in the brain, although these last are affected by frequency response accuracy and group delay. Nevertheless, in electronics, it would take heroic incompetence to create an amplifier which affected timbre and timing to any extent, although loudspeakers can be sufficiently flawed to affect timbre, and possibly timing, but even here, I have my doubts.

All other parameters are fully measureable, and the effects of different values are well understood. What none of this can account for, however, is personal preference. Many seem to prefer something which would be seen in engineering terms as technically flawed.

S.

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Imaging and soundstage are created in the brain, based on "cues" received at the ear (notably relative amplitude and phase between left and right.) We can measure the cues, but predicting what the brain will do with them is a diferent matter!

Exactly so, and different brains (and differently constructed ears) make different things of the same "cues".

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sorry JB thought these were pretty well known terms. In my own words...

Soundstage: The area between and sometimes beyond(width and depth wise) the speakers that the music appears

Imaging: The placement and seperation of instruments/vocals/noises within the soundstage

Timbre: The ability of the kit/system to accurately reproduce the tonality of different instruments

Timing: difficult one to define but if a system doesnt time well then the music wont appear to flow correctly eg. the drums seem faster than the guitars...

btw I do believe there is a list of proper explanations of these terms listed in a HiFi magazine if anyone is interested as my amateur attempts are exactly that.

Audio terms? That's subjective...

Soundstage: spatial cues (echoes, reverberations, etc.) from the original recording venue

Imaging: illusion of left/right location though balance and front/depth though sound intensity/phase

Timbre: the system's inherent sound, or the way it affects/distorts the recordings, which in turn are but a relatively pale representation of the natural timbre of instruments and voices

Timing: a rather obscure term, usually used in a sentence that contains pace, rythm and Naim

Ric

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Why experiment with and waste money on cables?

If it's fun you want, get one of these instead:

DEQ2496.jpg

R

While I agree with you sentiment please note this is not a cable debate - its about measurements:doh:

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My take on this is if it can be heard then it can be measured as long as you are not talking about subjective things like emotion, power, drama and soundstage.

I have seen several discussions which go along the lines of "computers carry billions of bits that have to arrive and be in the right order for a modern program to work, which shows that even simple CDs can get it right'. To which the subjectivists respond "but we don't know to what level time accuracy of signal is important therfore what you say is meaningless".

Someone several years ago designed a 'subtractive' device that measured the input and output signals and subtracted one from t'other. If the signal is perfectly intact then you should get a straight line on the screen. So in line with the above, even if the subtractive analysis showed the merest blip at 39Khz the subjectivists will always have a get-out 'because we don't really know'.

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Whilst most attributes mentioned can be measured to some extent, measurements IMHO are NOT the be all and end all. Many loudspeaker manufacturers, not to mention end users and R&D funders (like the BBC) would never risk designing loudspeakers (for example) using computer modelling ONLY and go straight into production. That could be be commercially risky. Most design these things according to required outputs (measurements) then spend a significant amount of time and effort tuning them by ear. Sonus Faber, Rogers (in the past), Harbeth..etc etc. I think that this applies mostly to loudspeaker design although amplifiers and other components are also the subject of final tuning by ear with some manufacturers. Cant see it applying to cables as any "tuning" from desired properties might obviously introduce signal distortion.

One example with loudspeakers is that when designing them, some sort of approximation needs to be accounted for the rooms they will eventually be used in, so assumptions must be made about room size and layout as that will affect loading and to some extent frequency response.

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