Originally Posted by QueueCumber
I don't disagree with his findings. I am curious about the outliers and what is being missed in that small percentile of people, considering people with obvious hearing deficiencies were culled from the herd. Sadly, it doesn't have application for the general public, so it will likely never be researched/funded.
Actually there is quite a lot of data related to listeners with less than normal hearing. See Section 3.2 and other places in my book and the original papers in a refereed journal:
Toole, F. E. (1985). “Subjective measurements of loudspeaker sound quality and listener preferences”, J. Audio Eng. Soc., 33. pp. 2-31.
Toole, F. E. (1986). “Loudspeaker measurements and their relationship to listener preferences”, J. Audio Eng. Soc., 34, pt.1, pp. 227-235, pt. 2, pp. 323-348.
It will be seen that individuals with hearing deficiencies are individualistic in their performances and all of them exhibit the principal trend of greatly increased, and essentially random, variations in their assessments of sound quality in repeated tests. So, their opinions are not just different from the "culled herd" but they vary randomly with time. Why? They are not hearing all of the sound, and their binaural hearing (localization and spatial discrimination) capabilities are also degraded. See Chapter 17 in my book. Abundant evidence of the differences among individuals with hearing loss is to observe experiences with hearing aids (which I have fortunately avoided so far). There are widespread difficulties in getting a satisfactory "fitting" and calibration. I have assisted in this with three people and it is a field greatly in need of improvement. Audiologists know little to nothing about what matters to acousticians or average audiophiles - it is a foreign language to the ones I have encountered. Their focus and that of virtually all of their evaluation methods is narrow band speech intelligibility.
For that reason we "cull" listeners with seriously degraded hearing - their opinions matter only to them, and perhaps only at a time and place. It is reassuring in a global industry to have guidance that has relevance to approximately 75% of the population, according to hearing statistics. However, as my analysis has shown, variations in judgments begin to rise even before 20 dB of threshold elevation is seen - something that audiologists would not even bother to comment on.
I suffer from hearing loss, including tinnitus, so I am not being elitist. I stopped participating in our listening tests around age 60 when it became clear that my judgments were becoming less consistent. I still have opinions, but they are mine and mine alone. I trust spinorama measurements to guide my loudspeaker selections - neutrality being essential - and apply multi-sub Sound Field Management to fix the bass, which I can still hear very well
As for crummy recordings, that is what tone controls are for - or just move on to better material, of which there is quite a lot.
In the meantime, if your hearing is normal, do everything possible to keep it that way. Musicians earplugs have been my companion for over 30 years. They just turn the volume down, leaving spectrum relatively intact - good for flying, rock concerts, mowing the lawn, etc. www.etymotic.com
, the inventors, is a place to start.