Mallard

Speaker sensitivity

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24 minutes ago, MartinC said:

There is a fourth category that I think huge numbers of people would fall into - they don't feel measurements can fully determine what they are going to enjoy most.

I'm a physicist with a PhD in medical/underwater ultrasonics from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research in Southampton. I wasn't directly involved in the audio side there but knew people who were and have been in anechoic chambers etc. I would be perfectly capable of understanding any measurement based approach I chose to but just do not believe that trying to buy components based purely on specifications is the best approach.

I suspect this line of discussion probably isn't helping the OP though...

If by purely you mean solely then I agree.

As for the OP, this footnote is far more useful and on topic than discussion going on about modern art, or a lot of the purely subjective opinions put forward.

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4 hours ago, TheFlash said:

I liked a couple of your earlier posts but this is ridiculous, patronising rubbish. If I "dislike" measurements (I don't) then why on earth would I be outraged if my equipment doesn't stack up measurement-wise? This is logically inconsistent.

I don't understand what all the measurements are actually measuring and how that is supposed to give me any clue as to whether I will like the sound it makes/reproduces; and most of my equipment has been with me for years - I'm a long way from being a serial box-swapper, despite having just added a third complete vintage Pioneer system.

Most of the audiophiles I know don't "dislike" measurements at all, they simply view measurements as  input data not a pivotal factor in system selection - subjective appreciation ultimately matters more. Many, me included, do dislike the primacy given to measurement, to the quantitative over the qualitative, by the scientific rational posse. Of which you are clearly a member. That's fine but don't get all self-righteous about it as it is only a viewpoint not the single absolute truth.

Well argued, but I also see where Tuga is coming from.

Some will think me mad, but I do use the stated specifications of units to shortlist and there are some measurements that, if poor or absent, will see me exclude a unit from consideration. The exact details of my modus operandi in shortlisting equipment by specs would likely conjure the Spanish Inquisition, so best left unsaid. However, you are right that subjective appreciation ultimately matters more in a domestic situation.

In Serge's line of work he needs to create an objective measured reference (discounting personal taste, although Serge has been doing it so long it's probably become his personal taste) and that is wholly required in his line of work, studios and the like. In home systems, things are tailored to the music genres listened to and the arbitrary reference model of what sounds 'right' in each person's head, which give rise to personal taste. I believe that for recording, mixing, broadcasting, streaming etc, the material must be as unadulterated as objectively possible, while domestic systems are more about personal taste and so subjectivity is manifestly a required aspect of home audio. However, if it wasn't for the likes Serge producing empirically clean, neutral references, the production quality we replay at home would be far worse than it already is and result in far more variance away from high fidelity in home systems. The fact a home system has any chance of high fidelity starts with production suitably capturing performances and using transparent equipment.

Tuga's second comment I think meant: there are some audiophiles who do care about measurements and might get upset when they extol  something like unit X sounds better than unit Y,  and Y transpires to actually measures better. I agree with your interpretation for when the audiophiles in question dislike measurements - they won't care what any measurements say anyway. Your second paragraph also raises the question of correlation of measurements to subjective listening experience - something that is still ongoing research. There are more types of measurements which will have an impact on perception than typically a manufacturer would publish, so there's no genuine way to compare all aspects of performance on paper alone, and, there's also no way to determine a well-measuring unit will be to a personal taste. You can say it measures well and will sound good when listening analytically or measuring it, but whether it sounds good viscerally is another bag. Again, this causes us to needfully entertain subjective evaluations of equipment for domestic use.

Just today I read the following (http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/31353/1/Stroe.pdf) which showed that people prefer poorer measuring valves over solid state in some cases and not others. In fact, it came down to the types of instruments being listened to! This at least proves that in some cases, objectively measuring better doesn't equate to perceived as better. There's an attempt to correlate why to the objectively measured performance of SS and valve unit. Just goes to show measurements aren't the be all end all. Lastly, I didn't think Tuga was being self-righteous, just exhibiting a POV. Hopefully what I have written above shows that objectivism and subjectivism are inseparable when it comes to home audio, unless of course you only want it to measure a certain way (ahem, Serge :P ) and will not season to taste, or entertain having a different taste.

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26 minutes ago, Metatron said:

Just today I read the following (http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/31353/1/Stroe.pdf) which showed that people prefer poorer measuring valves over solid state in some cases and not others. In fact, it came down to the types of instruments being listened to! This at least proves that in some cases, objectively measuring better doesn't equate to perceived as better. There's an attempt to correlate why to the objectively measured performance of SS and valve unit. Just goes to show measurements aren't the be all end all.

Having now read that paper it is interesting and seems a pretty fair summary. Better is not always better.

Also, I do agree with Metatron that studio and home environments have completely different needs for audio equipment. Indeed some loudspeaker manufacturers have different models aimed at the different markets.

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10 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

Having now read that paper it is interesting and seems a pretty fair summary. Better is not always better.

Also, I do agree with Metatron that studio and home environments have completely different needs for audio equipment. Indeed some loudspeaker manufacturers have different models aimed at the different markets.

I struggle with that concept. I can understand (but not agree with) someone who says I don't care what my equipment does or how it does it, as long as it sounds good to me.

However, how does that then matter if the chosen equipment is aimed at the home or studio market? I accept that a lot of studio loudspeakers don't have the furniture-quality veneer finish, preferring a more rugged black or plastic covering, but aesthetics apart, what's the difference between studio and home?

My own kit would probably be more thought of as 'studio', but then I actually like the aesthetics, as it's what I've been used to all these years. 

If you mean that Studios have to use accurate equipment whilst at home one can choose what one likes, accuracy be damned,  then I agree. However, I don't see any mutual exclusivity between home and studio, just buy what you like.

S.

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8 hours ago, tuga said:

Sorry if it sounds patronising to you, it wasn't meant to. My comments are based in observation (I've been "doing" audio forums in different languages for a decade).

I agree that I should add to my post that some audiophiles are unable to attain correlation between measurements and thier taste (enjoyment), although it is generally linked to not understanding measurements and in some cases to the lack of a proper assessment methodology.

In my opinion, evaluating performance through listening should go beyond tasting and be performed in an observationist fashion. Unbiased assessment is more effective at determining strengths and shortcomings rather than foot-tapping.

 

Thanks Tuga, appreciate this.

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6 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

I struggle with that concept. I can understand (but not agree with) someone who says I don't care what my equipment does or how it does it, as long as it sounds good to me.

Why? Peoples' view differ, so it's just a matter of acceptance that people hold a different view. Personal taste is different to objective accuracy, so in the home hifi scenario, subjectivity will creep in; especially when some people consider what measures as transparent to sound cold/clinical/bright/raw or whatever adjective they might convey.

6 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

If you mean that Studios have to use accurate equipment whilst at home one can choose what one likes, accuracy be damned,  then I agree. However, I don't see any mutual exclusivity between home and studio, just buy what you like.

I think this is my point. Streaming services, broadcasters, recording studios and similar need objective accuracy and aim for it objectively (in most cases, since some studio engineers do it subjectively still). These organizations need an objective reference. Pro gear is also built with robustness and portability with low MTBF in mind, as well as compatibility with a DAW, channel summing features and so on. Home hifi is a little different... companies can run circuits within an inch of their life so long as they pass the very limited warranty period. They can also tailor the circuit designs to what they have discovered meets a subjective taste for which there is a market. This is a bit like the paper I posted, where there are objective reasons for something like a valve amp sounding subjectively better to most people in some cases, despite measuring worse than a solid state equivalent. People will buy what they like (as you concluded) and if the majority of what they listen to falls in to the areas valves seem to be better in ABX experiments on perceived performance, then they'll buy valves. Use a measurement approach and you'll know the valves are bettered by the SS unit. The key take away is that measurements don't tell you the whole story because the specs which are published are not enough to fully correlate to how you will perceive something, so subjective listening becomes necessary for home hifi. Not everybody is going to learn enough audio science, buy expensive oscilloscopes often costing more than some esoteric hifi components and bench test purchased units.  

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6 hours ago, Metatron said:

Why? Peoples' view differ, so it's just a matter of acceptance that people hold a different view. Personal taste is different to objective accuracy, so in the home hifi scenario, subjectivity will creep in; especially when some people consider what measures as transparent to sound cold/clinical/bright/raw or whatever adjective they might convey.

I think this is my point. Streaming services, broadcasters, recording studios and similar need objective accuracy and aim for it objectively (in most cases, since some studio engineers do it subjectively still). These organizations need an objective reference. Pro gear is also built with robustness and portability with low MTBF in mind, as well as compatibility with a DAW, channel summing features and so on. Home hifi is a little different... companies can run circuits within an inch of their life so long as they pass the very limited warranty period. They can also tailor the circuit designs to what they have discovered meets a subjective taste for which there is a market. This is a bit like the paper I posted, where there are objective reasons for something like a valve amp sounding subjectively better to most people in some cases, despite measuring worse than a solid state equivalent. People will buy what they like (as you concluded) and if the majority of what they listen to falls in to the areas valves seem to be better in ABX experiments on perceived performance, then they'll buy valves. Use a measurement approach and you'll know the valves are bettered by the SS unit. The key take away is that measurements don't tell you the whole story because the specs which are published are not enough to fully correlate to how you will perceive something, so subjective listening becomes necessary for home hifi. Not everybody is going to learn enough audio science, buy expensive oscilloscopes often costing more than some esoteric hifi components and bench test purchased units.  

As many here say, building a home audio system is meant to be fun and often you'll find people telling how they'd "fancy a change". This group is obviously not interested in the utmost accuracy; for them, perceived performance is ruled by taste and, as you've mention, the musical genres they listen to. The downside in my view is that this group (which includes many reviewers) probably represents the majority and ends up influencing the way equipment is voiced (speakers being a case in  point); the industry is catering to the tastes of the market. It also opens up the front door to snake oil sellers...

Topics like this one really highlight the importance of measurements and of technical knowledge in the practice of audiophilia, if people wish to take upgrading seriously and value their money. Understanding things like loudspeaker/room interaction, how amplifiers are affected by speaker load or that a deviation from flat in particular bands of the audible spectrum impacts our perception of the global sound.

Edited by tuga
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14 hours ago, Metatron said:

Some will think me mad, but I do use the stated specifications of units to shortlist and there are some measurements that, if poor or absent, will see me exclude a unit from consideration. The exact details of my modus operandi in shortlisting equipment by specs would likely conjure the Spanish Inquisition, so best left unsaid. However, you are right that subjective appreciation ultimately matters more in a domestic situation.

This is quite similar to my own method of shortlisting although I use measurements but not stated specifications. Reviews, professional or amateur, are completely ignored but I do listen to a knowledgeable friend's opinion.

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On 12/9/2017 at 09:07, SergeAuckland said:

Really? 

The distortion in many guitar amps is  generated in the preamp/control section as well as in the power section so that they distort i.e. create a sound even at low volumes.  It would be pretty poor if the only way to create the crunchy sound a lot of guitarists look for is to run the amp at very high levels.

If you want to understand the workings of an AC30 (it is beyond me) take a look here.  http://www.stevesamps.co.uk/?page_id=287.  My very first stereo was two AC30s and a Garard SP25 with an audtio technica AT summat or other.  That is why I volunteered to store the Band's gear between gigs :) God it sounded magic to my ears .. Oh and it used to go very very loud :) 

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4 hours ago, uzzy said:

If you want to understand the workings of an AC30 (it is beyond me) take a look here.  http://www.stevesamps.co.uk/?page_id=287.  My very first stereo was two AC30s and a Garard SP25 with an audtio technica AT summat or other.  That is why I volunteered to store the Band's gear between gigs :) God it sounded magic to my ears .. Oh and it used to go very very loud :) 

How did you do the RIAA equalisation with that rig? 

S

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4 hours ago, toprepairman said:

Probably with high impedance loading and ceramic cartridge.

Sound quality would have been rather iffy for all sorts of reasons plus the dreadful hum AC30's always generate.

The reason for asking the question, was that he used an AT cartridge, and I wasn't aware that AT ever sold ceramic or crystal cartridges.  

I agree sound quality would have been iffy indeed. My first introduction to Cream was Fresh Cream being played through a Vox amp at a party, but at least from the 'tape' output of a record player (couldn't call it a HiFi). That was loud! 

S.

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