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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a statement from PSAudio's Paul McGowan on his feeling of measurements and listening when choosing components.


"Numbers and Tastes -


I lost 10 pounds! Relevant if you weigh 100 pounds, not so much if you weigh 300.


Numbers employed to help me make a purchasing decision have little meaning; yet they are used over and over again.


I remember the Japanese receiver onslaught in the 19870′s. Great specs, low cost, a lifeboat in a sea of expensive high-end equipment. That was the promise. The product delivered very poor sound quality and would not have represented a bargain even if free. Distortion of 0.001% when typical high-end gear was lucky to hit 0.1%. 100 times better distortion should equate to 100 times better sound but the opposite was true.


What was happening was the result of an incomplete story. Those low levels of distortion were achieved at the expense of increased distortions that weren't being measured such as TIM and SID; little known villains contributing to bad sound.


So we moved away from specs as a guideline for purchase decisions and relied instead on the opinions of others we trusted, found in the newly minted high-end audio publications like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound.


Some specs relating to the system have always been relevant: how many watts is a power amplifier or AC regenerator?


I would advocate caution when using numbers to judge equipment and be wary of anyone proving something to you with them. The fact is, we don't have numbers that can tell us if something's going to sound good in our systems.


We also don't have numbers that will tell us if we're going to like the taste of something better than something else."



I agree with Paul, and find many other High End Designers to take a similar position. Food for thought. Norm
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyree91 /forum/post/20890054


Here is a statement from PSAudio's Paul McGowan on his feeling of measurements and listening when choosing components.


"Numbers and Tastes -


I lost 10 pounds! Relevant if you weigh 100 pounds, not so much if you weigh 300.


Numbers employed to help me make a purchasing decision have little meaning; yet they are used over and over again.


I remember the Japanese receiver onslaught in the 19870′s. Great specs, low cost, a lifeboat in a sea of expensive high-end equipment. That was the promise. The product delivered very poor sound quality and would not have represented a bargain even if free. Distortion of 0.001% when typical high-end gear was lucky to hit 0.1%. 100 times better distortion should equate to 100 times better sound but the opposite was true.


What was happening was the result of an incomplete story. Those low levels of distortion were achieved at the expense of increased distortions that weren’t being measured such as TIM and SID; little known villains contributing to bad sound.


So we moved away from specs as a guideline for purchase decisions and relied instead on the opinions of others we trusted, found in the newly minted high-end audio publications like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound.


Some specs relating to the system have always been relevant: how many watts is a power amplifier or AC regenerator?


I would advocate caution when using numbers to judge equipment and be wary of anyone proving something to you with them. The fact is, we don’t have numbers that can tell us if something’s going to sound good in our systems.


We also don’t have numbers that will tell us if we’re going to like the taste of something better than something else."



I agree with Paul, and find many other High End Designers to take a similar position. Food for thought. Norm

I would like to point out that Paul makes his living selling products that have no measurable improvements in the signal train.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swampfox /forum/post/20890969


I would like to point out that Paul makes his liking selling products that have no measurable improvements in the signal train.

You beat me to it. I was going to say source is not exactly independent in this case.
 

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Yawn. I would say he's being outright dishonest and deceptive, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's just that ignorant.
 

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I'm curious, if he cannot measure the parts that are going to sound good in his system, how can he have any form of QC...that's just for starters. Any individual involved in the design of electronic equipment who dismisses measurements is at the very least suspect, and at worse selling bovine waste.
 

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...Those low levels of distortion were achieved at the expense of increased distortions that weren't being measured such as TIM and SID...


It turned out that both TIM and SID didn't really exist to any significant extent in real world situations. There were a couple of power amplifiers that were perhaps a little borderline, but that was about it. I was working in R&D at a well known audio manufacturer at the time, and we looked extensively into it, and finally dismissed it as just more finatical audiophile theory. That was 30 years ago. Amazingly, it seems that a certain sector of the audiophile community has never caught up!


Raul: you're being too rational!
 

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Measurements mean nothing? Hogwash! Total and complete hogwash.


But as previously posted, a lot of what he sells have no meaningful measurements anyway. (Power re-generators and Dacs excluded)


FWIW, I am a big fan of him and his company. He may be the marketing equal of David Wilson. He is a survivor and in this economy, I applaud that.


Caveat Emptor !!
 

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To be fair to Paul, Norms quote does not quite say "measurement does not matter". what I read into it is "specs don't tell the whole story", so instead of building to spec, build to a user experience. This is not an overly controversial idea I think. Two pieces of equipment can have identical specs, yet sound vastly different. Of course, these differences can be measured in some form, but this may be very complex. Besides, it may be possible to measure differences, but not which piece will sound "best". I'm no expert, but from what I understand tubeamps don't measure too well and are still going pretty strong, which validates the point.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr /forum/post/20897320


To be fair to Paul, Norms quote does not quite say "measurement does not matter". what I read into it is "specs don't tell the whole story", so instead of building to spec, build to a user experience. This is not an overly controversial idea I think. Two pieces of equipment can have identical specs, yet sound vastly different. Of course, these differences can be measured in some form, but this may be very complex. Besides, it may be possible to measure differences, but not which piece will sound "best". I'm no expert, but from what I understand tubeamps don't measure too well and are still going pretty strong, which validates the point.

Perhaps it is because the definition of "best" is highly subjective. Going by your example, tube amps are known to have high distortion, yet to many their distortion sounds "good". Nothing wrong with that. Problem is each person's "good" will differ.


As a result it may be a better idea to baseline our judgement on "accuracy" than to "sounding best"
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr /forum/post/20897320


specs don't tell the whole story


to be fair to paul, norms quote does not quite say "measurement does not matter". What i read into it is "specs don't tell the whole story", so instead of building to spec, build to a user experience. This is not an overly controversial idea i think. Two pieces of equipment can have identical specs, yet sound vastly different. Of course, these differences can be measured in some form, but this may be very complex. Besides, it may be possible to measure differences, but not which piece will sound "best". I'm no expert, but from what i understand tubeamps don't measure too well and are still going pretty strong, which validates the point.

+1
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/20897354


As a result it may be a better idea to baseline our judgement on "accuracy" than to "sounding best"

I just want it to sound great.


Why is that so hard to understand?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/20897354


Perhaps it is because the definition of "best" is highly subjective. Going by your example, tube amps are known to have high distortion, yet to many their distortion sounds "good". Nothing wrong with that. Problem is each person's "good" will differ.


As a result it may be a better idea to baseline our judgement on "accuracy" than to "sounding best"

To me, the closest "measurement" of "best sounding" is the system/component picked by a panel of musicians as the one most accurately reproducing an live musical experience. Objective measurement of anything plays zero role in this.


However, to build this "best sounding" system/component you probably need to do tons of objective measurements of electronics, so you can argue both ways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/20898686


It is not. But what sounds great to you may not sound great to another.

Which is exactly what Paul was saying. Each individual has to listen to the component in question to determine if it is pleasing to him in how it sounds. While Eddor is correct that all Engineers have to measure their creations as well as listen to them, Measurements don't always tell how a component sounds. This is particularly true in the Analogue Domain. I have often said, if we could measure eveything about a component, we could predict how it sounds. Since we still don't know how to measure eveything there are many things happening which we can perceive with our ears, but don't yet know how to measure. I go back to the 1960s in this Sport. I remember when Julian Hersch, Tech Editor for Stereo Review, used to measure power output and THD, and pronounce that all amplifiers with the same Watts/ Channel and equal THD sounded exactly the same. Now I'm sure we all agree that thingking is a joke. We have since learned many other forms of measurement we now have, affects how an amplifier sounds. It is folly to believe we now are so advanced as to think we can measure everything. The code " The more we know, the more we realize we don't know" applies very aptly here. Give it some thought. Norm
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/20899237


I am not sure if this statement is correct though..

Then you must believe Science stops in 2011 with no further advances to be had in the future. Thankfully I don't share that belief. Norm
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyree91 /forum/post/20899243


Then you must believe Science stops in 2011 with no further advances to be had in the future. Thankfully I don't share that belief. Norm

OK Norm.. I can see where this is going.. I will respectfully bow out before I end up getting another infraction
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr /forum/post/20898178


To me, the closest "measurement" of "best sounding" is the system/component picked by a panel of musicians as the one most accurately reproducing an live musical experience.

Actually, musicians without training to listen and evaluate sound systems are notoriously poor at it...not surprising since their focus is on the actual performance as opposed to sound fidelity.


Edit: Perhaps I overstated my point...they are not necessarily poor, but their musical training provided no apparent advantages when compare to the general public. I think you might be able to find some work on the subject in the Harman papers.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyree91 /forum/post/20899243


Then you must believe Science stops in 2011 with no further advances to be had in the future.

You are confusing fairly well established and mature science with science that is still early in its development. Can you think of a single example in analogue "audio" (since you mentioned analogue, but feel free to refer to any type of "audio") where the human ear is more sensitive then measurement tools? You may rely on your hearing to determine what types of reproduction are more appealing to you, but don't confuse that with your ear being more sensitive.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raul GS /forum/post/20899326


Actually, musicians without training to listen and evaluate sound systems are notoriously poor at it...not surprising since their focus is on the actual performance as opposed to sound fidelity.


Edit: Perhaps I overstated my point...they are not necessarily poor, but their musical training provided no apparent advantages when compare to the general public. I think you might be able to find some work on the subject in the Harman papers.

Fair enough. All I want is a panel of trained ears, be they musicians, concertgoers or recording engineers. And the scoring criteria is "what is closest to the original", not "what do you like best".
 
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