Thanks, Steve_1979, this is a timely and welcome thread, though I suspect that what I’m about to say may make me more unpopular on this forum than I already am.
Ignorance comes in many forms. Anyone who doesn't show respect for scientific knowledge is, in my view, barking mad or just lazy. However, being scientifically literate involves not only understanding the science, but also being able to evaluate its significance and put it in context. Too many people are too quick to trot out gobbets of science that they’ve picked up, without thinking hard and sceptically about what it means.
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works. These three branches of science require quite different types of expertise. Knowing about one of them (e.g. electronics) is valuable and admirable, but it will only ever give you part of the picture. I admire people on this forum who have knowledge of electronic engineering and have learnt a lot from them. But I take everything they say about hi-fi with a large pinch of salt, because it appears to me that their knowledge of electronics far exceeds their understanding of the physiology and psychology of hearing.
What classical music are you listening to?
... or just simply ignorant. To some, science means men in white lab coats, physics experiments, test tubes, and the search for simplistic absolute truths. Completely missing the point of the scientific method and what it represents.
Yet, when push comes to shove...
Would anyone set their foot in an aeroplane that wasn't designed and tested through rigourous engineering principles? Did they really burn-in all those cables - if not, how can the auto-pilot possbly arrive exactly at destination having travelled 10 hours at 600 mph?
And did the hospital really burn-in the cables to that ultra-sound machine properly?
If you suddenly fall criticaly ill, would you prefer medication that has been developed and tested through scientific rigour and scrutiny - or traditional herb medicine?
Science can't explain everything. This is absolutely true. But this is also be the very first thing a scientist will tell you.
Unfortunately "science" and "objective" reasoning also gets muddled up with commercial incentives in some of these forums. I think that's in part what gets the subjectivists' backs up. Understandable, I think.
I don't think many people are concerned about the different nuances in the sound of an aeroplane or ultra sound machine though. So I'm guessing they probably don't bother with it.
Not that I'm commenting on whether I believe burning in cables makes a difference to the sound or not, but I think you've not grasped what people are after when they do things like burning in cables.
I don't think many people are concerned about the different nuances in the sound of an aeroplane or ultra sound machine though. .
The medical analogy doesn't really work, although last night a DJ saved my life ...
They are after an alteration in the way the equipment behaves from new by use. It is seemingly always for the better, 'burn in' never appears to be to the detriment of the equipment, so to use the analogies of the previous poster why would you risk using any other equipment that had not been properly optimised by 'burn in' of any wiring involved?
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There are people who still believe the Earth is flat.
It's likely science benefits these same people on a daily basis.
Thanks for the quotes, they are all interesting.
This is a particular problem in hi-fi, because hi-fi straddles three fields of science: electronics, acoustics, and psycho-acoustics; or to put it another way: how electronic equipment works, how sound combines with space, and how our hearing works.
Part of the problem with hi-fi is that the 'electronics' part is already where it needs to be. Other technology has moved on massively but hi-fi today is the same as it was 20+ years ago.
The lack of any real innovation means companies have to find 'stuff' to sell us and re-badge the same stuff over and over. CD has been around over thirty years, I had a portable player over twenty years ago that played discs just fine yet companies tell me I need a CD player costing thousands, sat on a stand costing hundreds connected by wires costing hundreds, etc. to get the data of a piece of ancient, basic technology . All the while you can fit hundreds of CDs on a chip the size of a baby's fingernail as technology marches on in other fields.
Of couse more annoying that the marketing is the people who lap it up and make all sorts of ridiculous claims. I've seen someone who claimed they could hear a difference between different brands of CD-R, a post on here recently said the sound via a wired ethernet connection was more 'relaxed' than wireless and I'm still waiting for a credible explanation of why I should put a several hundred pound mains lead on the end of the 50p a metre twin and earth that's under my floorboards. There's no burden of proof with hifi. It looks functional/ugly, it uses something fancy sounding inside it and costs a fair chunk therefore it must be good.
I disagree that HiFi gear looks ugly, in as much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some very iffy looking equipment for sure, but also some very fine gear too.
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You raise an interesting point. As a man who has a background in audio electronics, but not the factors that impact the brain's interpretation of sound, I am continually surprised about the identification of 'changes' in the quality of sound when it is clear from an engineering analysis that the sound leaving the speaker is unchanged.
The factors that impact sound perception are clearly complex. If changing a mains cable has made no electrical difference at all, but the purchaser perceives an improvement, arguably the change has made a difference (to the purchaser, at least), and the updgrade has worked.
The same J Gordon Holt who more or less invented, and certainly promoted, subjective reviewing? He did after all start his magazine at a time when most other magazines were all about dry measurements and no discussion of how products sounded, saying "if nobody else will report what an audio component sounds like, I'll do it myself!"
Who made the nonsensical, but headline-grabbing, statement about the better the recording, the worse the performance?
Who spent the latter years of his life railing against those who wouldn't adopt double blind testing, even though he'd not been too bothered to do such testing when he was leading the subjectivist movement and running its most prominent mouthpiece?
Who almost single-handedly created the concept of the audio high-end?
And whose more eye-candy quotations pop up about every six months, do the rounds of the forums in order to prove the point of those who don't really know the background to them, getting increasingly misused and twisted to suit whichever agenda is required, then quietly go back to sleep again until they're needed again?
I think that's who you mean.
'And so on February 22nd 1966, at Luton airport...'
but take away the knowledge that the mains cable has been replaced, or remove it without announcing the fact and the difference disappears.
That's expectation bias affecting perception and quite different to the cable making the difference.
Depends on the context, but modern recording and production techniques can hide an awful lot of ills, so perhaps this is the meaning of the statement.
Regardless, it is the quote in the OP that is the subject of discussion and its validity is not diminished by whatever the person making the statement has said or done, before or after.
So on one hand you explain away a statement with lack of context, and on the other you want to ignore the context of what a person has said before or after?
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It is tricky, yes, and I think it's wise to be open-minded and non-dogmatic. Having said that, I'd be pretty sceptical about perceived changes in SQ as a result of swapping mains cables. A good rule of thumb is: the smaller the electrical differences between two pieces of kit, the greater the burden of proof on the person who claims to hear a difference between them.
Very. I don't call being fooled - working but I get you point.
I vote to replace all politicians with scientists
A tangental & rhetorical question: are all atheists objectivists?
The problem with objectively evaluating SQ is the reliance on memory & short-term memory in particular (echoic memory). I'm yet to see any scientific proof that DB ABX testing is a valid methodology but people on this & other forums bandy the term as if was a proven state of matter - I suspect its closer to being gaseous than solid in form!
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