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Amplifiers and the End of Science


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It wasn't two tests, it was two sets of tests. In the second set the first round was conducted by a panel of seven people listening for a whole day, divided into mutliple repeats of three sets of 20-m

I had an amplifier with perfect measurements, 17 x 12 x 6 as per handbook but its sound was awful.  

I find it quite remarkable that many people have such little faith in science creating something as simple as a hifi amplifier. Yet they never question the functioning of the computer they are ty

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57 minutes ago, awkwardbydesign said:

Conveniently forgetting that since we learnt to talk, anecdotes are the way knowledge has been transmitted  down the ages..  The new religion of Science (like most religions) seeks to denigrate any other way, in order to promote its hegemony over our minds. 

Science is hardly new for hells  sake. Nor is it a religion you div.

Otherwise, carry on with your dogmatic entrenched trolling of Serge at every opportunity. 

Edited by vacdac
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Trust your ears . These are what you hear with . If an amp measures well but i don't like the sound what am i supposed to do . Carry on because it measures well . Err no i'll pass on that . Measurements are good in one aspect so you know something has been designed and is fit for purpose but that is not the final arbiter of will I like it . All hifi kit in your system may be totally fit for purpose but the variable in this is your ears . All our hearing is not the same and changes as we grow older . Some speakers may seem strident or harsh to people in their 20's or 30's but as we get older higher frequency hearing suffers and we may no longer notice this . So in essence we are evaluating kit with some thing that as we get older changes its measurements and ability . Your ears . No amount of knowing something measures well will compensate me if i dont like the sound . 

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Subjectivist: "I think my new Arglebargle X1000 sounds way better than the Craphound PST-1."
Objectivist: "No, if they both measure 20-20K flat, have THD below 0.1%, and have a low output impedance, they have to sound the same."
Subjectivist: "I think my experience trumps your measurements."
Objectivist: "No, humans can’t perceive anything beyond that, see (insert links to tests here.)"
Subjectivist: "Well, I hear a difference and so does (insert anecdotes about friends, spouses, dogs, fish, etc)."
Objectivist: "Anecdotes aren’t data! You’re fooling yourself. (Insert words about scientific method and significant results here.)"
Subjectivist: (Sigh.) "Just leave me alone to enjoy my Arglebargle with the other folks I’m talking to here."
Objectivist: "No! Don’t you see you’re being taken advantage of by people selling overpriced gear?"
Subjectivist: "Ad hominem!"
Objectivist: "Ad hominem!"
Me: "Ever wonder why most hifi forums are in decline?"
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2 minutes ago, Duvet said:

Trust your ears . These are what you hear with . If an amp measures well but i don't like the sound what am i supposed to do . Carry on because it measures well . Err no i'll pass on that . Measurements are good in one aspect so you know something has been designed and is fit for purpose but that is not the final arbiter of will I like it . All hifi kit in your system may be totally fit for purpose but the variable in this is your ears . All our hearing is not the same and changes as we grow older . Some speakers may seem strident or harsh to people in their 20's or 30's but as we get older higher frequency hearing suffers and we may no longer notice this . So in essence we are evaluating kit with some thing that as we get older changes its measurements and ability . Your ears . No amount of knowing something measures well will compensate me if i dont like the sound . 

I agree with the statement emboldened, but I think that applies to the total system, including loudspeakers and room, and those are variable that are NOT transparent, and consequently ARE subject to personal preferences. This discussion was about amplifiers, and with the exception of most valve amplifiers and a very few quirky SS amps, all other modern SS amplifiers ARE transparent, (no-one has ever proved otherwise in properly conducted blind tests, as far as I'm aware) so 'preference' has to do with other, non-sonic, characteristics like looks and ergonomics, build quality, price as well as brand preferences.  

S.

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13 minutes ago, SergeAuckland said:

I agree with the statement emboldened, but I think that applies to the total system, including loudspeakers and room, and those are variable that are NOT transparent, and consequently ARE subject to personal preferences. This discussion was about amplifiers, and with the exception of most valve amplifiers and a very few quirky SS amps, all other modern SS amplifiers ARE transparent, (no-one has ever proved otherwise in properly conducted blind tests, as far as I'm aware) so 'preference' has to do with other, non-sonic, characteristics like looks and ergonomics, build quality, price as well as brand preferences.  

S.

Yes Serge i agree a system is the sum of its parts and some are variable . The biggest variable being your hearing so i will stand by general statement no matter how well anything measures if my ears don't like it i won't buy it. 

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3 minutes ago, Duvet said:

Yes Serge i agree a system is the sum of its parts and some are variable . The biggest variable being your hearing so i will stand by general statement no matter how well anything measures if my ears don't like it i won't buy it. 

And as it's your money, of course you're entitled to buy in whatever way suits you. Loudspeakers I would ideally listen to in my room before buying, although I often haven't done, but amplifiers I buy entirely on the specs. 

S

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I find it quite remarkable that many people have such little faith in science creating something as simple as a hifi amplifier.

Yet they never question the functioning of the computer they are typing on. The incredible ability to accurately transfer data across the world.
The incredible technology rammed into a mobile phone.
The daily miracle of aviation with thousands of aircraft safely taking off, navigating accurately across the world, landing safely even in very low visiblity.
All this technology created by science and engineering, and never questioned.
Yet for some reason a hifi amplifier is magic.

Surely if you have no faith in science and engineering you cannot get onto an aeroplane because it might not do what it is supposed to do, there must be some trickery involved.

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2 hours ago, henchard said:
Subjectivist: "I think my new Arglebargle X1000 sounds way better than the Craphound PST-1."
Objectivist: "No, if they both measure 20-20K flat, have THD below 0.1%, and have a low output impedance, they have to sound the same."
Subjectivist: "I think my experience trumps your measurements."
Objectivist: "No, humans can’t perceive anything beyond that, see (insert links to tests here.)"
Subjectivist: "Well, I hear a difference and so does (insert anecdotes about friends, spouses, dogs, fish, etc)."
Objectivist: "Anecdotes aren’t data! You’re fooling yourself. (Insert words about scientific method and significant results here.)"
Subjectivist: (Sigh.) "Just leave me alone to enjoy my Arglebargle with the other folks I’m talking to here."
Objectivist: "No! Don’t you see you’re being taken advantage of by people selling overpriced gear?"
Subjectivist: "Ad hominem!"
Objectivist: "Ad hominem!"
Me: "Ever wonder why most hifi forums are in decline?"

The rest of that article is very interesting and germane to the thread. I linked it in another thread, but it's worth linking again here.

https://www.audiostream.com/content/subjectivistobjectivist-synthesis-jason-stoddard

here is another quote:

Every engineer I personally know who is working in audio is a subjectivist—they think that stuff that measures good sounds different, without exception. Just protecting their jobs? Perhaps. But many of these same engineers started like me, as an objectivist…until they had a subjectivist experience or two that changed their minds. And yes, I know, I don’t know every engineer on the planet.
 

I think it's a fairly balance article, although if you live by any sort of dogma, then you probably won't agree.

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3 hours ago, awkwardbydesign said:

Conveniently forgetting that since we learnt to talk, anecdotes are the way knowledge has been transmitted  down the ages..  The new religion of Science (like most religions) seeks to denigrate any other way, in order to promote its hegemony over our minds. 

The Enlightenment seems to have passed you by.

Science is not a religion. The latter is based on faith on dogma. Science will change when presented with evidence that contradicts exiting theories. If we listened to anecdotes we'd still be burning old women as witches. Science is no more than the accumulation of knowledge which is tested against reality. 

Non technical people often feel disempowered by science and no doubt unscrupulous types exploit the ignorance to market snake oil such as homeopathy and crystals. Recent research shows that cancer patients who have conventional therapy live more than twice as long after diagnosis than those who adopt alternative medicines. 

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49 minutes ago, Leif said:

The Enlightenment seems to have passed you by.

Science is not a religion. The latter is based on faith on dogma. Science will change when presented with evidence that contradicts exiting theories. If we listened to anecdotes we'd still be burning old women as witches. Science is no more than the accumulation of knowledge which is tested against reality. 

Non technical people often feel disempowered by science and no doubt unscrupulous types exploit the ignorance to market snake oil such as homeopathy and crystals. Recent research shows that cancer patients who have conventional therapy live more than twice as long after diagnosis than those who adopt alternative medicines. 

Spot on! I will happily change my stance if I'm presented with evidence that stands up to review and corroboration. So far, and I've been around audio for some 50 years, there has never been any evidence that suggests that properly specified and used amplifiers sound different. Plenty of anecdote, plenty of 'trust your ears', but no evidence.

In particular, I was especially impressed with the tests carried out by James Moir & Associates which showed that the Quad II, Quad 303 and Quad 405 were all indistinguishable. Peter Walker had always claimed that his amps were all the same, except for power output (unlike most manufacturers that claim their new  amps sound 'better' than their older amps.

These tests were followed by some done by Martin Colloms, who had some reservations about the Moir tests, and so set up his own. He compared a Naim, a Quad and a TVA valve amp with the same null result. Statistically, the listening panel, who were all experienced listeners, scored no better than guessing.

Of course everyone knows that Naim sounds completely different to Quad, don't they?

My own listening tests done when I had the shop, and so had access to many amplifiers, also had the same null result. We could all hear differences sighted, nobody could blind and level matched.  

S.

1 hour ago, Birdbrain said:

I find it quite remarkable that many people have such little faith in science creating something as simple as a hifi amplifier.

Yet they never question the functioning of the computer they are typing on. The incredible ability to accurately transfer data across the world.
The incredible technology rammed into a mobile phone.
The daily miracle of aviation with thousands of aircraft safely taking off, navigating accurately across the world, landing safely even in very low visiblity.
All this technology created by science and engineering, and never questioned.
Yet for some reason a hifi amplifier is magic.

Surely if you have no faith in science and engineering you cannot get onto an aeroplane because it might not do what it is supposed to do, there must be some trickery involved.

Then there are those who claim that the USB cable they use to their DAC affects the sound! :doh:

Trust your ears! :D

S.

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1 hour ago, Leif said:

The Enlightenment seems to have passed you by.

Science is not a religion. The latter is based on faith on dogma. Science will change when presented with evidence that contradicts exiting theories. If we listened to anecdotes we'd still be burning old women as witches. Science is no more than the accumulation of knowledge which is tested against reality. 

Non technical people often feel disempowered by science and no doubt unscrupulous types exploit the ignorance to market snake oil such as homeopathy and crystals. Recent research shows that cancer patients who have conventional therapy live more than twice as long after diagnosis than those who adopt alternative medicines. 

I am not quite old enough to remember The Enlightenment.  Clever branding, BTW; immediately dismisses everything before as darkness!

Science shouldn't be a religion,  I quite agree, but when such as Serge get hold of its coat tails, sadly it becomes so.  Choosing to believe numbers (chosen by humans of course) instead of experience is very comforting for some.  It removes the need to think for oneself and question everything.  After all, if the numbers say it is so, why look further? How is that different from faith based religions?  And using the tests devised by science to test science (and only those) is eerily familiar.  To understand faith you just need faith, no outside tests required.

Statistics is not science, just a small part of the methodology, but when someone will only believe when many others have validated their belief, it becomes just like a religion.

I am quite happy to take science as a useful tool, but not as the guiding principle in everything everywhere.  It is not competent.

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2 hours ago, Birdbrain said:

I find it quite remarkable that many people have such little faith in science creating something as simple as a hifi amplifier.

Science has never created anything, as far as I know.  People have, using science.  And deduction. And experience. And guesswork. And so on. :P

BTW, I like your use of the words " faith in science".

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27 minutes ago, awkwardbydesign said:

I am not quite old enough to remember The Enlightenment.  Clever branding, BTW; immediately dismisses everything before as darkness!

Science shouldn't be a religion,  I quite agree, but when such as Serge get hold of its coat tails, sadly it becomes so.  Choosing to believe numbers (chosen by humans of course) instead of experience is very comforting for some.  It removes the need to think for oneself and question everything.  After all, if the numbers say it is so, why look further? How is that different from faith based religions?  And using the tests devised by science to test science (and only those) is eerily familiar.  To understand faith you just need faith, no outside tests required.

Statistics is not science, just a small part of the methodology, but when someone will only believe when many others have validated their belief, it becomes just like a religion.

I am quite happy to take science as a useful tool, but not as the guiding principle in everything everywhere.  It is not competent.

I believe nothing. Not my senses, which are easily fooled, nor numbers nor anything. What I do is to accept certain things either as a working hypothesis, changeable in the event of evidence, or on the balance of probability. For example, it is perfectly possible that all the air molecules in my room gather in the top left-hand corner of the ceiling, and I suffocate. Possible, but extremely unlikely, so I accept the air on the balance of probability. 

Similarly with amplifiers. Until I am presented with some evidence, rather than anecdote, I am willing to accept that properly performing amplifiers, used within their design capabilities don't sound any different. My own experience shows that, the reports of tests I've seen carried out seemingly correctly show that. Nothing, EVER, has shown otherwise, other than personal anecdote. 

Anyone sensible I would have expected, would accept that their senses are fallible, and come to the same conclusion.  When one's senses differ from properly presented evidence, on the balance of probability I would say it's the senses that are wrong.

S.

Edited by SergeAuckland
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