"Not everything that counts can counted and not everything that can be counted counts." (commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, but probably coined by William Bruce Cameron).
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Good analogy whoopycat. We should continue to investigate the nature of audio reproduction, perception, and appreciation. Certainly, at this point in time all of the meaningful measures have yet to be defined and curiosity about what is missing is a primary driver for scientific investigation. The bottom line, to me at least, is that we can draw some conclusions from the measurements we can make, but we certainly can't completely describe the behavior of any piece of gear nor how we will perceive it. At this point, the quote below certainly obtains.
cd, I didn't say anybody should study basketball stats, but I tell you what, let's trade. You send me the precise electrical measurements for midrange transparency, and I'll send you the NBA players who were the best this year at defending the pick & roll.
Oh heck, I know you're not interested, but here they are anyway:
The point of my analogy is if you were to ask for those stats 20 years ago you would've just gotten laughed at. Now they are at anyone's fingertips. Meanwhile in home audio, we're still looking at the same old measurements of frequency response and distortion and saying this is what something sounds like. As Erik said, that's not science. Precise or otherwise, that's the equivalent of heading to a sports analytics conference with a pack of baseball cards.
I understand the emergence of sporting stats. Modern day football (soccer) is now riddled with terms like assists, blocks, tackles etc which were not deemed necessary some 20/30 years ago.
I still believe there’s only a dubious relationship between sporting stats and sporting success, (as it is with any other form of social science). One that you can only attempt to establish if you highlight the ones which add credence to your argument whilst ignoring the ones that don’t. Sport is a one off event with many, many variables. You’d need a computer like the one Douglas Adams wrote about in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
["You know nothing of future time," pronounced Deep Thought, "and yet in my teeming circuitry I can navigate the
infinite delta streams of future probability and see that there must one day come a computer whose merest
operational parameters I am not worthy to calculate, but which it will be my fate eventually to design."]
However, loudspeaker testing and analysis has come a very long way with the advent of computer software and can be deemed a true science. Nowadays everyone uses this software and testing is as rigourous as its ever been. They know what to look for: eg
• On-axis frequency response
• Impulse response
• Cumulative spectral decay
• Polar response
• Step response
Heck, there’s even at least one website devoted to this kind of thing.
The true test is whether the loudspeakers are actually getting better. By and large, I’d say they were. But I acknowledge there will always remain a subjective element.
Some will always prefer cassette tape to CD, a 1960 Ferrari to one from 2020, a Technics turntable from 1970 to one from now etc. That’s human nature.
Fair enough, but let’s not kid ourselves about which ones measure better.
However, loudspeaker testing and analysis has come a very long way with the advent of computer software and can be deemed a true science.
My point was never that science does not occur. My point was that judging products by an oscilloscope alone, when you have not done the work of measuring user preference, or listening for yourself, is _not_ science. It’s a mechanical process of measurement, or quality assurance at best.
When you are designing a piece of equipment to go in a car, air conditioner or computer, yes, that's all you need. Set the parameters, set your tolerances, and attempt to achieve those values for the least amount of money.
Judging a product for human consumption on that basis alone is where the term science is misapplied, unless you have previously worked to establish those were desirable.
- 90 posts total