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Article: Why We Need Audiophiles, The subjective perspective
2tec
post Apr 16 2009, 14:55
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I'm interested in what the HA community thinks about this new Gizmodo article, or blog, about Michael Fremer, an audio reviewer from Stereophile, which clearly goes completely against the grain around here. For instance:

"We play my solid 256kbps VBR MP3 of "Heroes" off my iPod; it sounds like shit. Free of pops and crackles, yes, but completely lifeless, flat in every way. This is the detail that matters: Audiophiles are basically synesthesiacs. They "see" music in three-dimensional visual space. You close your eyes in Fremer's chair, and you can perceive a detailed 3D matrix of sound, with each element occupying its own special space in the air. It's crazy and I've never experienced anything like it." ~ Why we need audiophiles


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Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence~Potter Stewart
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Axon
post Apr 18 2009, 04:22
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 17 2009, 10:32) *
IME Fremer clearly belongs to the same school of scientific crticism as Pope Urban VIII (1568 1644): Any finding that disagrees with closely-held tradition and personal anecdote must be false. ;-)
Heh... I don't think that is a good comparison to make.

There was very little scientific evidence that strongly advocated the heliocentric worldview specifically. Geo-heliocentrism was equivalent from a mathematical standpoint and was rather widely used. Without Keplerian orbital mechanics, heliocentrism was arguably no "cleaner" than Ptolmaic astronomy, and certainly no more accurate - but note that Galileo never actually acknowledged Kepler's work.

The churches' opposition to heliocentrism revolved entirely around the notion of centrism. (No pun intended.) The irony of this, of course, is that Galileo and the churches were both wrong, and the universe is certainly not centered around either the sun or the earth in any meaningful sense.

Urban VIII actually encouraged Galileo in heliocentric discussions early on (if only as a hypothesis). That Galileo was persecuted as much as he was, was not entirely because of his beliefs: much of it had to do with the (widely documented) fact that he was something of a dick. Writing a book where the theories of your opponents are represented by the character named "Simplicio" is just begging to get your ass kicked, in both the 17th or the 21st centuries.

Urban's role in all of this is almost entirely political in nature. Theologians had no problem with non-traditional theories as long as they were geocentric. None of Galileo's observations were being challenged.

QUOTE (zipr @ Apr 16 2009, 14:30) *
Has there ever been any studies where vinyl, CD, and file-based formats are tested against an album master? If someone thinks a vinyl album sounds 'better' than a CD, does that mean that it's closer to the source material -- or the creator's intentions?


Stockfisch has released a few direct-to-disc LPs with a parallel SACD recording path, bundling the LP and the SACD in the same (80 EUR!!) bundle. I think this is going to be as close of a valid comparison as you are ever likely to get.

http://www.stockfisch-records.de/stckff/sf...sfaceCP_pu.html

QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 11:02) *
For some reason I thought he was...but looking him up online, I'm not finding any substantiation. I do see he helped with the sound design of "Tron" in the 80s ;>
Heh. Thanks for the clarification, that might have gotten ugly if I actually trotted that out in a debate.

QUOTE
I don't. I see no reason to believe audiophiles are any less suspectible to them , than non-audiophiles.
Me neither - all I'm saying is that the "it's all placebo" argument is extremely easy to dismiss. It can even be dismissed on thoroughly logical and sensible grounds. Therefore, don't argue it in the first place.

QUOTE
Sure we do --are you suggesting there have been no studies of factors influencing customer choice? There are whole INDUSTRIES devoted to that. No, it doesn't mean we have perfect predictors....but science doesn't require that to dub a model 'good'.
Customer choice research has never been studied in the audio field with the intensity that exists in other industries.

Science it does require predictors of some sort. I think "science" is only content with indirectly demonstrated predictors for mostly dead or inscrutable fields where more directly proven, accurate prediction is not useful. That these biases are inferred from human psychology or anecdotally related as a result of blind testing does nto make them "demonstrated" in any statistical sense.

And I really think there is a huge use for more accurate prediction. A better knowledge of the mechanics of sighted listening bias - to the point of statistical meaning - could drastically improve the persuasiveness of the blind testing position. It could inform customers on what to look out for when performing sighted evaluations of speakers, when blind testing is for whatever reason unavailable, so that they can adjust their perceptions accordingly.

QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 15:14) *
That's interesting , I still could not figure what hat you were wearing as some your posts suggested you read some of the studies about analog gear & subscribed to the findings , but then you go & say things like Fuck Fremer.. dbags etc .. Feel free to ignore that tip, but for those that might read it & try to get the effect happenning on their system, I find it quite interesting you experienced something like this in near field listening, as the effect does not materialize without some distance from the speakers to your ears, for bass to flesh out & create a good weighty Center.
Blind testing is all about subjective evaluation. Few of us dispute that such small soundstage differences can and do exist. Krab's problem is that these differences can also be explained by sighted listening biases. Additionally, much of our problem with Fremer is that he simply does not accept negative blind test results as having any valid interpretation, which most of us disagree with. Finally, he's on the whole not as knowledgable as you think about audio engineering, and he does get important facts wrong.

QUOTE
But it was never the real thing , never something you could own, buy, or god forbid , transcode. It has served the Real product. It has served the Real Experience. Some views expressed here (I am disappointed to say), may lead the inexperienced music lover, that it is OK, if that's all he will ever know.

If Kids (or adults too actually .. ) want to claim something is Indistinguishable from the real thing- they must KNOW the real thing. it does NOT mean you can claim so without a long & serious affair with the Real thing.
So, to agree with Ron here, I am of the opinion that the whole notion of "the Real Thing" is a pernicious idea. Of course lossless exists as a reference against lossy - but what exactly makes lossless any more of a "real" "thing" compared to lossy, besides a) distortions which are rarely or never audible in some cases, and b) warm fuzzies? The distortions present in high bitrate MP3 etc are astonishingly minor compared to any number of effects in mastering, recording, etc. To say that a lossy encode is compromising the ability to "know the real thing" is just as false as saying that listening to a transcribed score compromises the ability to "know the real thing" as the original score of a classical work. Justifying a statement like that requires delving down specifically to what is lost in translation, and by that time, you have no need to refer to "The Real Thing" to begin with.

This is not a pro-MP3 argument. I am in total agreement with you about how a listener should purchase their music, especially in regards to iTunes. What I'm saying is, frankly, the crux of the issue is not based on intrinsic qualities of a recording, like its authenticity etc. And it may have very little to do with audio quality, except for corner cases like transcoding, small risks of encoder failures in iTMS-purchased music, etc. Rather, it has to do with a) the specific, testable qualities of the medium, and b) the larger philosophies surrounding music listening, which often have very little to do with audio quality per se. In other words, I don't like FM becuse it is "not the real thing", I don't like it because of massive amounts of its dynamic range compression and amplitude and phase eq - and also because of non-audio things, like the fact that I don't like the inflexibility of broadcast music, etc.

QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 17 2009, 15:40) *
This is very disappointing. Year after year the members of HA study the issue of sound reproduction and how to improve it. They do tests and research the literature in the quest for the truth. Then someone like BORK comes along with lots of wild, unsubstantiated claims that I'm sure he will be quite unwilling to back up. rolleyes.gif
I don't think he's making anything of the sort - I suspect he is trying to articulate an audio philosophy that is more or less the same as ours, combined with a music philosophy that is much different. Both are quite defensible, but I do believe they are using a poor choice of words.
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Ron Jones
post Apr 18 2009, 05:50
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 17 2009, 19:22) *
The distortions present in high bitrate MP3 etc are astonishingly minor compared to any number of effects in mastering, recording, etc.

Yep. Engineers routinely squeeze the fidelity out of everything that gets tracked with obscene amounts of equalization, massive compression, fake reverberation, multiple layers of intentional harmonic distortion (through the use of tube amplifiers and analog tape saturation/saturation emulation) and so on, and so on, and so on. Everything we do after we record something -- everything -- is reducing fidelity by increasing noise and distortion. We can never get any closer to the original instrument's sound, only further away. Each click on a rotary knob is just that much more degradation. Every time a fader's moved from unity, it's pure destruction (at least in the analog world, anyway)

One engineer I studied under told me a pretty hilarious (and revealing) story about how a mixer he had worked with achieved his "signature verb". The process was fairly straightforward: the mixer would have a prestigious L.A. studio set up a speakerphone in one of the live rooms and mic one of the room's corners. The mixer then set up his own speakerphone in his control room in his own studio. He'd call the phone in the live room miles away, blast the track he wanted wet into his phone's receiver with the control room monitors and have the studio at the receiving end record the speakerphone (with the room mic). He'd then go out to the studio, pick up the tape with the phone recording and drop it into his mix. He didn't use an advanced convolution reverb; he didn't mic his own live room; he recorded a God damn speakerphone. That was his signature sound.

These kinds of practices, nonsensical as they seem to the pursuit of achieving "good sound", aren't likely to change. Engineers are going to utilize wild and sometimes unbelievable techniques to get the sound they want, and that routinely includes processes that utterly decimate the fidelity of the original recording. And here's where audiophiles sit, thinking they're listening to recordings intended to mimic reality!? Hardly smile.gif
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Posts in this topic
- 2tec   Article: Why We Need Audiophiles   Apr 16 2009, 14:55
- - lvqcl   QUOTE Audiophiles are basically synesthesiacs. Ne...   Apr 16 2009, 15:29
- - nig nig the conqueror   I just got through reading that and I HAD to come ...   Apr 16 2009, 15:31
- - Fandango   Hey , nig nig! How can you say that! They ...   Apr 16 2009, 15:44
|- - Nick.C   QUOTE (Fandango @ Apr 16 2009, 15:44) The...   Apr 16 2009, 19:46
- - Bodhi   If I had a $350,000 stereo system I wouldn...   Apr 16 2009, 16:03
- - krabapple   Sad to read how many commenters there thought it w...   Apr 16 2009, 16:16
|- - nig nig the conqueror   QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 16 2009, 11:16) Sa...   Apr 16 2009, 16:39
- - Arnold B. Krueger   Unlike most people who post here, I've had the...   Apr 16 2009, 16:32
|- - pdq   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 16 2009, 11...   Apr 16 2009, 16:54
||- - krabapple   IIRC (and I may not) in his 'real life' Fr...   Apr 16 2009, 17:02
|- - cpchan   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 16 2009, 10...   Apr 16 2009, 21:24
|- - shenzi   Elsewhere on the site someone posted a link to an ...   Apr 17 2009, 11:47
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (shenzi @ Apr 17 2009, 06:47) Elsew...   Apr 17 2009, 16:32
- - skelly831   I've been a Gizmodo reader for a while, but al...   Apr 16 2009, 16:41
- - 2Bdecided   I don't think it's that bad. If you want t...   Apr 16 2009, 16:44
|- - nig nig the conqueror   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 16 2009, 11:44) So...   Apr 16 2009, 16:50
- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (Bodhi @ Apr 16 2009, 07:03) If I h...   Apr 16 2009, 17:04
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Ron Jones @ Apr 16 2009, 12:04) I...   Apr 16 2009, 18:03
- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (2tec @ Apr 16 2009, 06:55) They ...   Apr 16 2009, 18:04
|- - rpp3po   In the context of synesthesia the 3D metaphor is r...   Apr 16 2009, 19:06
||- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (rpp3po @ Apr 16 2009, 11:06) But i...   Apr 16 2009, 23:31
||- - benski   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Apr 16 2009, 18:31...   Apr 17 2009, 00:40
||- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (benski @ Apr 16 2009, 16:40) The 4...   Apr 17 2009, 04:13
|- - Linux Zealot Troll   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Apr 16 2009, 18:04...   Apr 18 2009, 22:29
- - caligae   This might finally give some insight to their obje...   Apr 16 2009, 18:35
- - 2Bdecided   But good systems with excellently matched speakers...   Apr 16 2009, 18:41
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 16 2009, 13:41) Bu...   Apr 16 2009, 21:49
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 16 2009, 20...   Apr 17 2009, 13:16
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 17 2009, 08:16) Le...   Apr 17 2009, 17:37
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 17 2009, 08:16) QU...   Apr 17 2009, 20:16
- - zipr   Has there ever been any studies where vinyl, CD, a...   Apr 16 2009, 19:30
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (zipr @ Apr 16 2009, 14:30) Has the...   Apr 17 2009, 16:45
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 16:45) QU...   Apr 17 2009, 17:09
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 17 2009, 11:45) QU...   Apr 17 2009, 23:47
- - timcupery   synesthesia is a real thing, and the comparison ma...   Apr 16 2009, 20:22
- - HotshotGG   QUOTE I'm interested in what the HA community ...   Apr 16 2009, 21:17
- - Axon   I'm not really sure Fremer and Mahoney actuall...   Apr 16 2009, 21:24
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 16 2009, 16:24) QUOTE (...   Apr 17 2009, 17:02
- - Axon   Nope. According to Mejias, Fremer's a Jersey m...   Apr 16 2009, 21:51
- - SnTholiday   Do you think Fremer really gets into the music wit...   Apr 16 2009, 22:05
- - DVDdoug   2tec, Thanks for that post & link. Good stuf...   Apr 16 2009, 23:08
|- - carpman   QUOTE It's like when you go to the symphony, a...   Apr 17 2009, 08:30
- - Axon   I think it's abundantly clear that Fremer is a...   Apr 16 2009, 23:45
|- - /mnt   So if I upgrade my crappy PC speakers and my cheap...   Apr 17 2009, 02:01
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 16 2009, 18:45) I think...   Apr 17 2009, 17:14
|- - hybris   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 16 2009, 23:45) I think...   Apr 19 2009, 10:10
|- - cpchan   QUOTE (hybris @ Apr 19 2009, 04:10) Is th...   Apr 19 2009, 12:01
|- - hybris   QUOTE (cpchan @ Apr 19 2009, 12:01) QUOTE...   Apr 19 2009, 12:43
|- - cpchan   QUOTE (hybris @ Apr 19 2009, 06:43) Eatin...   Apr 19 2009, 13:20
|- - hybris   QUOTE (cpchan @ Apr 19 2009, 13:20) QUOTE...   Apr 19 2009, 18:55
- - B0RK   From what I have read , I have to say I see no pro...   Apr 17 2009, 00:56
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 19:56) From wh...   Apr 17 2009, 17:16
- - Axon   Calm down B0RK. (B0RK B0RK.) None of us are arguin...   Apr 17 2009, 01:11
- - greynol   Like the suggestion that an expensive hi-fi system...   Apr 17 2009, 01:18
- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 15:56) He is a...   Apr 17 2009, 02:38
- - shakey_snake   We need audiophools about as much as we need AIDS....   Apr 17 2009, 05:12
- - B0RK   Well fine thoughts expressed indeed . But I still...   Apr 17 2009, 05:13
|- - cpchan   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 23:13) I Still...   Apr 17 2009, 05:29
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 21:13) So I fe...   Apr 17 2009, 05:32
|- - greynol   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 21:13) Oh ...   Apr 17 2009, 06:35
|- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 20:13) Many of...   Apr 17 2009, 06:40
|- - Axon   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 16 2009, 23:13) I Still...   Apr 17 2009, 07:18
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 00:13) Oh ...   Apr 17 2009, 17:24
- - Dracaena   Hilarious. For $350k you could spend a good f...   Apr 17 2009, 07:36
- - MichaelW   @carpman One day you'll be old, fat, and in th...   Apr 17 2009, 09:11
|- - carpman   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Apr 17 2009, 08:11) One...   Apr 17 2009, 09:57
- - HotshotGG   QUOTE There is a cottage industry in the audiophil...   Apr 17 2009, 13:58
|- - cpchan   QUOTE (HotshotGG @ Apr 17 2009, 07:58) I ...   Apr 17 2009, 14:38
- - B0RK   First, @2Bdecided ,Thanks you for bringing some mu...   Apr 17 2009, 21:14
|- - rpp3po   A post's length often inversely correlates wit...   Apr 17 2009, 21:53
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 13:14) Some vi...   Apr 17 2009, 23:12
|- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 12:14) for all...   Apr 17 2009, 23:23
- - pdq   This is very disappointing. Year after year the me...   Apr 17 2009, 21:40
- - Axon   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 17 2009, 10...   Apr 18 2009, 04:22
|- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 17 2009, 19:22) The dis...   Apr 18 2009, 05:50
- - B0RK   @Ron Jones well ...Now in your post you switched t...   Apr 18 2009, 06:15
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 22:15) So afte...   Apr 18 2009, 17:39
||- - chelgrian   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Apr 18 2009, 16:39...   Apr 18 2009, 17:48
||- - Fandango   QUOTE (chelgrian @ Apr 18 2009, 18:48) So...   Apr 18 2009, 17:50
|- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 17 2009, 21:15) You...   Apr 18 2009, 20:17
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 18 2009, 01:15) This is...   Apr 19 2009, 06:07
- - botface   Just thought I'd throw in a couple of observat...   Apr 18 2009, 12:35
|- - [JAZ]   QUOTE (botface @ Apr 18 2009, 12:35) On t...   Apr 18 2009, 16:14
- - ShowsOn   QUOTE (2tec @ Apr 16 2009, 22:55) I'm...   Apr 18 2009, 13:40
|- - Axon   QUOTE (ShowsOn @ Apr 18 2009, 07:40) QUOT...   Apr 18 2009, 17:13
||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 18 2009, 12:13) QUOTE (...   Apr 18 2009, 23:42
||- - B0RK   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Apr 18 2009, 10:39) B0RK, y...   Apr 19 2009, 01:41
||- - Frumious B   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 18 2009, 20:41) That we...   Apr 19 2009, 04:05
||- - pdq   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 18 2009, 20:41) To trul...   Apr 19 2009, 04:55
|||- - B0RK   QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 18 2009, 21:55) It truly...   Apr 19 2009, 06:22
|||- - krabapple   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 19 2009, 01:22) But We ...   Apr 19 2009, 06:42
|||- - pdq   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 19 2009, 01:22) QUOTE (...   Apr 19 2009, 13:15
||- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 18 2009, 18:41) What...   Apr 19 2009, 06:36
||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (B0RK @ Apr 18 2009, 20:41) To trul...   Apr 19 2009, 12:21
||- - Frumious B   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 19 2009, 07...   Apr 19 2009, 14:10
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (ShowsOn @ Apr 18 2009, 14:40) Frem...   Apr 18 2009, 17:43
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (Fandango @ Apr 18 2009, 09:43) Isn...   Apr 18 2009, 19:07
- - Frumious B   What I find ridiculous about this article is the c...   Apr 18 2009, 17:22
- - ShowsOn   QUOTE (Frumious B @ Apr 19 2009, 01:22) W...   Apr 19 2009, 04:58
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