Originally Posted by rock_bottom
Trying to bring this back to a general discussion of the audio industry, and taking into account what was just discussed about hypothesis vs. that which is strongly supported by evidence, it seems to me that audio has a lot of "gurus". These seem to be mostly of the self-appointed variety. Now, it's one thing to go on and on about what might
happen, and bolster that hypothesis with much impressive theory, but it's much harder to actually sort out what actually does
There's a tendency on the part of these "gurus" and their followers to treat a hypothesis as being true by virtue of being plausible. If you try to pin such people down, to see how or if they have determined whether or not the hypothesis is actually true, much hand-waving inevitably ensues. After all, having to give an answer of "I don't know" doesn't really bolster the "guru" status of such people.
I like this quote from Douglas Self's amplfiier book:
Few fields of technical endeavour are more plagued with errors, mis-
statements and confusion than audio. In the last 20 years, the rise of
controversial and non-rational audio hypotheses, gathered under the title
Subjectivism has deepened these difficulties. It is commonplace for hi-fi
reviewers to claim that they have perceived subtle audio differences which
cannot be related to electrical performance measurements. These claims
include the alleged production of a ‘three-dimensional sound-stage and
protests that the rhythm of the music has been altered’; these statements
are typically produced in isolation, with no attempt made to correlate
them to objective test results. The latter in particular appears to be a quite
This volume does not address the implementation of Subjectivist notions,
but confines itself to the measurable, the rational, and the repeatable.
This is not as restrictive as it may appear; there is nothing to prevent
you using the methodology presented here to design an amplifier that is
technically excellent, and then gilding the lily by using whatever brands
of expensive resistor or capacitor are currently fashionable, and doing the
internal wiring with cable that costs more per metre than the rest of the
unit put together. Such nods to Subjectivist convention are unlikely to
damage the real performance; this is however not the case with some of
the more damaging hypotheses, such as the claim that negative feedback
is inherently harmful. Reduce the feedback factor and you will degrade the
real-life operation of almost any design.
Such problems arise because audio electronics is a more technically com-
plex subject than it at first appears. It is easy to cobble together some
sort of power amplifier that works, and this can give people an altogether
exaggerated view of how deeply they understand what they have created.
In contrast, no-one is likely to take a ‘subjective’ approach to the design
of an aeroplane wing or a rocket engine; the margins for error are rather
smaller, and the consequences of malfunction somewhat more serious.
The Subjectivist position is of no help to anyone hoping to design a good
power amplifier. However, it promises to be with us for some further
time yet, and it is appropriate to review it here and show why it need not
be considered at the design stage. The marketing stage is of course another matter