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Sounding Off: Is New Gear Better? (Ethan's article on SOS) Condenser Microphones
Old 9th June 2011
  #301
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
Who uses test gear to decide if gear is good or to make decisions about implementation? Most of us just listen and make decisions. It's only in some weird ivory tower of gear-science geekiness that anybody thinks any of this has to be proven in a scientific way,

-R
I guess the manufacturers just supply technical specifications to justify the test gear in their engineering departments, huh?

Do you really think the engineers who design the gear we use don't bother with objective measurement?


I'm all for being artistic and creative when that's the role I'm in. I mean, hell, my early training was as a poet, for gosh sake. heh

But if I'm making technical decisions?

I'm definitely going to take advantage of the technical information available.

And if I have to figure out why something is going wrong -- or is simply not right enough, then, yeah, I'm going to put on my logic hat and think about things scientifically.

If you don't want to, that's fine. I'm not telling anyone what to do in their own studios.

But when they're making public pronouncements, I think careful and considerate people should try to make it clear when they are speaking from personal, subjective opinion and when they actually have an objective, factual basis for what they're saying.
Old 9th June 2011
  #302
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
You're presuming that double blind testing is a useful tool. Perception is way too complicated to be reduced to such a blunt methodology.

The problem with DBT is that even if you set it up so the "hearing" is the same each time, eliminating other factors, you haven't accounted for the fact that the "perception" is different with each listening. Your subjective experience of sound will change according to how you focus your perception, which is constantly changing, so there will always be too much error in a DBT setup to give meaningful results.

-R
Look, I suggest you study up on the science of perceptual testing and see what the scientists think who have been rigorously studying perception for well over a century -- and who early on learned the crucial importance of double blind testing methodologies.

There have been exciting advances in brain scan and other testing methodologies, but double blind testing remains a bedrock of perceptual scientific method.

Don't take it from me -- I'm just a failed poet, after all heh -- but do read up on both the design engineers who have created our gear and the scientists who have made it their professional discipline to study human perception.
Old 9th June 2011
  #303
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I guess the manufacturers just supply technical specifications to justify the test gear in their engineering departments, huh?


If you don't want to, that's fine. I'm not telling anyone what to do in their own studios.

But when they're making public pronouncements, I think careful and considerate people should try to make it clear when they are speaking from personal, subjective opinion and when they actually have an objective, factual basis for what they're saying.
We're not talking about designing equipment, we're talking about evaluating it as listeners, unless I've missed a few pages of this meandering thread. I've never bought a piece of gear based on specs, and I've never had specs change my opinion of what I'm hearing.

Here's the basis for what I'm saying. First of all, things that I can't hear or reliably identify in a double blind test do make a difference in my day to day work. Little things you can't hear by themselves add up to things you can hear.

Secondly, every time you listen to something it sounds different, even if it isn't. How do you eliminate that variable? How do you keep your perception focused exactly the same each time to eliminate that variable?

Since you've real all the scientifiic studies, tell me how the scientists account for this?

-R
Old 9th June 2011
  #304
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
We're not talking about designing equipment, we're talking about evaluating it as listeners, unless I've missed a few pages of this meandering thread. I've never bought a piece of gear based on specs, and I've never had specs change my opinion of what I'm hearing.
Well, I think the original topic certainly involves gear design, as well as manufacturing processes, QC, etc. But, to be sure, the topic has followed a meandering course -- through these how many posts?

Anyhow, the reason I brought up the use of objective measuring by design engineers is as evidence that at least the people who design the gear we use do think that objective measurement is important and does indeed tell us important things about the quality and performance of that gear.


Quote:

Here's the basis for what I'm saying. First of all, things that I can't hear or reliably identify in a double blind test do make a difference in my day to day work. Little things you can't hear by themselves add up to things you can hear.
And that's precisely one of the reasons I think objective measurement can be important. Modern test gear can be used by someone who understands its use to reveal nuances of performance and signal accuracy that the best ear never could.

Quote:
Secondly, every time you listen to something it sounds different, even if it isn't. How do you eliminate that variable? How do you keep your perception focused exactly the same each time to eliminate that variable?

Since you've real all the scientifiic studies, tell me how the scientists account for this?

-R
You ask how perceptual scientists account for these variations in perception in the same subject from instance to instance...

They account for it based on the analysis and understanding of well over a century of perceptual testing. They look at the circumstances and methods of the test (to see if unaccounted variables might have compromised the test). They compare the results of the test to prior tests and results, looking for what differences in methodology and results between prior tests and the current one might suggest or call into question. They analyze the results. And they attempt to replicate those results in further testing, in order to confirm, refute, or extend what can be learned from that testing.

They already know from that body of scientifically arrived at understanding that many factors affect perceptual testing and to the extent they can, they try to remove extraneous variables from the testing, in order to try to make sure they are testing what they set out to test and not unaccounted for variables.

Properly qualified perceptual scientists who work specifically with audio also understand the many vagaries of audio testing, from variables within the body (Eustachian tube, sinus, and other fluid conditions which can flux from minute to minute with a yawn or swallow) to variables like sound refraction from nearby surfaces, angle of audition when dealing with high frequency drivers, and the sometimes surprisingly large variations in actual 'room response' (particularly in less than ideally treated test environments where a few inches change in perception can make very large changes in the actual sound in the listening position -- Ethan Winer [remember him? heh ] has written about informal testing in an untreated room that showed greater than 40 dB differences in sound level at specific frequencies from moving reference mics as little as 4 inches, for instance).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting there's no value in building an 'impression' of a given piece of gear's performance over time in a variety of circumstances and uses. But that impression is, ultimately, a subjective one based on a probable multitude of factors ranging from obvious to subtle to, people being people, imaginary.

Such a subjectively formed opinion may well be enough for an individual. After all, it's his experience, it's his thoughts, his feelings, his sense of it all.

But it might well be completely contrary to someone else's impression, similarly formed from a myriad of idiosyncratic experiences.

And that's one very good reason why objective measure is so important in making sense of all those subjective opinions.
Old 9th June 2011
  #305
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Well, I think the original topic certainly involves gear design, as well as manufacturing processes, QC, etc. But, to be sure, the topic has followed a meandering course -- through these how many posts?

Anyhow, the reason I brought up the use of objective measuring by design engineers is as evidence that at least the people who design the gear we use do think that objective measurement is important and does indeed tell us important things about the quality and performance of that gear.


And that's precisely one of the reasons I think objective measurement can be important. Modern test gear can be used by someone who understands its use to reveal nuances of performance and signal accuracy that the best ear never could.

You ask how perceptual scientists account for these variations in perception in the same subject from instance to instance...

They account for it based on the analysis and understanding of well over a century of perceptual testing. They look at the circumstances and methods of the test (to see if unaccounted variables might have compromised the test). They compare the results of the test to prior tests and results, looking for what differences in methodology and results between prior tests and the current one might suggest or call into question. They analyze the results. And they attempt to replicate those results in further testing, in order to confirm, refute, or extend what can be learned from that testing.

They already know from that body of scientifically arrived at understanding that many factors affect perceptual testing and to the extent they can, they try to remove extraneous variables from the testing, in order to try to make sure they are testing what they set out to test and not unaccounted for variables.

Properly qualified perceptual scientists who work specifically with audio also understand the many vagaries of audio testing, from variables within the body (Eustachian tube, sinus, and other fluid conditions which can flux from minute to minute with a yawn or swallow) to variables like sound refraction from nearby surfaces, angle of audition when dealing with high frequency drivers, and the sometimes surprisingly large variations in actual 'room response' (particularly in less than ideally treated test environments where a few inches change in perception can make very large changes in the actual sound in the listening position -- Ethan Winer [remember him? heh ] has written about informal testing in an untreated room that showed greater than 40 dB differences in sound level at specific frequencies from moving reference mics as little as 4 inches, for instance).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting there's no value in building an 'impression' of a given piece of gear's performance over time in a variety of circumstances and uses. But that impression is, ultimately, a subjective one based on a probable multitude of factors ranging from obvious to subtle to, people being people, imaginary.

Such a subjectively formed opinion may well be enough for an individual. After all, it's his experience, it's his thoughts, his feelings, his sense of it all.

But it might well be completely contrary to someone else's impression, similarly formed from a myriad of idiosyncratic experiences.

And that's one very good reason why objective measure is so important in making sense of all those subjective opinions.
Obviously designers use science in designing equipment. Nobody is suggesting otherwise.

But instead of just going on about how intelligent scientists are and how they certainly must be taking everything into account, why not explain to me exactly how they account for the two factors I mentioned, since you've researched all this. I mean, I know how science works.

There's nothing idiosyncratic about my experiences. They are hard won and support a successful career, so don't be so dismissive.

-R
Old 9th June 2011
  #306
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I always thought that the "tone" or "sound" of music was supposed to come from the musicians....
Maybe in this era of autotune and elastic time people need more "mojo" from the engineer to compensate for the fact that they're not Bonham, or Stevie, or Frank.



Rock on!!!
Old 9th June 2011
  #307
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toneguru's Avatar
I was going to read the whole of Ethan's article but after the first two sentences I had to stop.

His opening reads:

"In my frequent visits to audio forums, I notice much fascination with old audio gear. I don’t know anyone who prefers old cellphones, or old computers, or even old medical cures, for that matter."

Old medical cures? Me, personally, I would much sooner put my health in the hands of a practitioner of anything but modern western medicine. I don't even have a doctor and have not visited one in years. But I can imagine that there would be circumstances where I would prefer modern science to assist my health. Just like in recording gear, it depends on the situation. It would be foolish of me to stubbornly stick to one dogmatic approach to a situation that has many variables and nuances.

Imagine how silly the sentence would be if it read as: I don’t know anyone who prefers old cars, or old guitar amps or even old medical cures, for that matter.

Ethan, I appreciate great technological minds (yours included) and the great gear that they develop but please take the blinders off and consider that the artist might know some things about the instruments that the designers have yet to discover.

PS. I have read posts where people say that older gear is better than newer gear and vice-versa. Both are equally useless statements to a musician or producer with a discerning ear and an open mind.
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