I think it's reasonable to expect WHF to identify products that actually influence SQ, rather than identify products that that look like they affect SQ. Am I alone or unusual in wanting this?
I supposed it is all about reporting on (reviewing) the subjective issue of SQ and not how that SQ is achieved. In any case, even I have listened to enough hifi to know irrespective of how it is made, some stuff is just not good enough and some stuff is superb.
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Covenanter, you seem to arguing that there is no place for the review industry as a whole. But by doing that you risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.
No I'm not arguing for that at all. There are clear areas in HiFi where judgements can't be wholly objective, speakers are the obvious example, and I'm perfectly willing to listen to opinions in those areas. However there are other areas where objective reviews could be undertaken. Blind testing of cables, mains conditioners, etc could be undertaken very easily and those would be objective. I find it deeply disturbing (and deeply suspicious) that people in the industry aren't willing to undertake such objective tests.
Another hobby of mine is photography (I'm seriously untalented as a photographer!) and that is another area where a natural phenomenum (light as opposed to sound) is transferred through a piece of electronics back into the natural phenomenum again. There is also quite a large element of subjectivity in photography. However the reviews in the photography magazines are much more objective. Here is a link to a review of a lens (one I happen to own) on ephotozine which is perhaps the leading UK website:
The difference between this thorough review and the type of thing you get in a lot of the hifi industry as quite telling in my opinion.
Chris, I don't get this "There are clear areas in HiFi where judgements can't be wholly objective, speakers are the obvious example, and I'm perfectly willing to listen to opinions in those areas". Ultimately all SQ judgements are subjective, but within certain bounds which are not objective , but people would agree upon. For example the earlier photos of a good looking lady and a not so good looking one. Good looking is subjective, but some are more good looking than others. That is how I see subjective SQ hifi reviews.
The camera lens review is similar to the kind of reviews Hifi Choice do, where they publish measurements as well as opinion. I have had a look at trying to do study to see if there is any sort of link between how a hifi measures and reports of SQ. But so far it has proved to be hard with the information I can get hold of easily and frankly for free. (I am not going to susbscribe to Hifi Choice to sit for hours working out hundreds of measurements and how they compare to reports of SQ). What I can say is from the limited work I did do with review magazines was there is no apprent link. What I can say with a proper study of cable maker claims of measurements and SQ, is there is no link, except where there is attenuation affecting volume.
I do not know enough about cameras, so do measurements of lenses causally correlate to subjective reports of picture quality?
Personally, I buy magazines to be primarily amused, something to read in between doing important real life stuff, or on the bog. I like the idea that someone else has heard / driven / played the things I'm interested in, and like IDC recognise journalists who think the way I do, and therefore have more relevence to me personally than others. To expect any magazine, in fact any consumer advice organisation (and I include the often misguidedly lame efforts by Which magazine) to be able to tell you what you should and should not get is naive perhaps? The only message worth listening to in WHF is go listen to stuff, and here's a great big list you might want to start with. They have the advantage of being able to listen to a lot more kit than the rest of us, but ultimately the magazine advice is no more or less relevant than these forum pages.
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I've seen and heard all this before.
The bulging eyed crazies and the hi-fi 'flat earthers' from the 1980s are back. Just the message has changed.
The dogmatists, the drama queens and the hem kissing acolytes of self-elected manufacturer/gurus are back.
The hard-core attitudes of the... "If you can't hear the difference, it's not worth talking to you" variety are back. Except for one small difference. They've dropped the 't' from 'can't'.
I would go further and suggest that it's all cant ...
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Yes and no. If you are a pixel peeping landscape photographer, yes they do. If you are in to portrait, sport, or pretty much any other field then no.
A classic example: The Canon 35mm f1.4L, reviews poorly. soft in the corners, vignets strongly (2.4 stops wide open, eek!), arguably best wedding lens on the market (for Canon shooters). Stunning images.
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Thanks Paul, so just like hifi, there are some products just not up to the job, a few that are superb, the rest come in the middle and just as subjectively some people are better looking than others and some are right munters, some will still prefer the results of a rubbish lens. Is that about right?
doing important real life stuff, or on the bog.
Surely there is no more important real life stuff than that?
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I'd see that as just a yes. The resulting difference might not be relevant, or noticeable, to an individual in any way, but there is an actual difference. As opposed to one that requires your brain to play tricks on you.
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There are very few bad cameras on the market at the mo (if you ignore the compact market), so the bar for average is set very high. But with photography, certain measures don't necessarily mean a bad photo. Poor chromatic aberration control will undoubtedly mean a poor shot, but poor edge detail or vigneting doesn't necessarily mean a poor photo.
With photography however, we have print size to make our errors stand out like a sore thumb. I have a print above my mantle that is over a meter wide, so if there were errors, they would be obvious. A lay person will struggle to hear a non linear response curve, but it is easy to spot purple fringing caused by CA.
I think in Photography there is a lot more balancing of compromise than in Hifi, because the measures are much more tangible. You know that with your 50mm 1.4, if you shoot wide open its going to be a bit soft and dark in the corners, but that is ok as the super soft DoF pays off the compromise. If you want to shoot 10fps then you are going to give up focus accuracy (or a couple of thousand pounds).
Ate you sure it's not the 'a'?
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I guess it depends how you interpret the question. You are right that A poor measurement can mean a noticeable artefact, but a poor measurement does not equal a poor photo (which isn't usually the case in Hifi?)
There seems to be some who think there is a black and white argument here i.e. if you don't think WHF should subject themselves (and certain readers) to rigourous scientific audio trials and then publish graphs to demonstrate how a CD player "sounds", then you also believe that putting blue dots on your wall will vastly improve the sonic performance of your hifi. There's quite a lot of room in between these two ideas.
I have no idea if there's any scientific basis for a device's ability to modify "the interaction of my gear's circuitry with the ambient electromagnetic field" - automatically it sounds like b*****s, so I'd assume it was, but then I've read stranger things in New Scientist which have turned out to be scientifically viable so what do I know?
I simply think that, in real everyday life, I listen and watch with my eyes and ears open, so I don't see why auditioning should be any different. I buy and read a magazine which supports this belief. If you believe otherwise, rather than try and convert an existing successful magazine to your own viewpoint, why doesn't someone set up a hifi magazine which does perform all these scientific tests, publish it and prove how popular this type of reviewing is?
I simply think that, in real everyday life, I listen and watch with my eyes and ears open, so I don't see why auditioning should be any different. I buy and read a magazine which supports this belief.
Perhaps the magazine you refer to should add something like this to each review: "Note, although we've written this CD player presents voices brilliantly, revealing every subtlety and small inflection. Bass is taut and powerful, while drums hit with precision and punch. However, because we like to look at the kit we review, we haven't really got a clue if we could identify it from a £20 supermarket DVD player or not. Don't complain to us if you can't tell the difference either, because you should have listened and made your own mind up."
Yes, I think that would help.
I also think the 5 star rating system should be ditched, in favour of pictures that the reviewer has done of how the item made them feel, and a second opinion rating from an alternate reviewer, using a fruit-based metaphor score.
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