On Jan 23, 2008, at 6:28 AM, Jerry Hartke wrote:
> Some writers have technical skills, while others spin out profitable
> for acceptance by gullible editors and readers.
Full disclosure, I have been an a occasional reviewer for both print
and on-line audio journals. It is not a profitable avocation, and I
have never claimed technical expertise beyond that available to any
informed consumer. I don't consider anyone who investigates any issue
gullible per se, which is unfortunately the frequent opinion of many
who claim special knowledge in any field. That seems arrogant to me.
However, having access to CES and other venues, I have not infrequently
heard effects I cannot easily explain. Not all such changes seemed to
be improvements, and some that were hardly seemed worth the cost. But
then I drive a Mazda, not a Porsche for the same reason. I have friends
who disagree and preferred to pay the difference. Are they gullible, or
> De-gaussing (there are no
> ferromagnetic materials in a disc), polishing (introduces millions of
> microscratches that distort the laser beam), and trimming (can worsen
> eccentricity or unbalance), have the potential to degrade, but not
> CD or DVD disc quality.
The underlying assumption here is that a class of objects produced by
multiple agents at the lowest possible cost will have no functional
flaws that can be remediated after market. The only other consumer
category I can think of that makes such claims would be the purveyors
of religious texts - the Bible, the Qur'an, and whatever the
Scientologists keep by bedside and toilet.
> If this remains an issue, Media Sciences would be
> glad to participate in a controlled test on a few discs, both before
> after the "improvements", at no charge and then publish the results
> Please contact me if you wish to participate.
The logical fallacy here is to equate "disc quality" with the
perception of music. I switched from physics to psychology as an
undergrad because the girls in class were prettier. But I quickly
realized that while the physics lab experiments were straightforward,
experimental psych projects in perception had a lot of independent
variables that could not be controlled. I appreciate that in itself can
drive some people crazy.
Again, there is ample documentation that some but not all auditioners
can and will hear a change from a variety of treatments, tweaks, and
widgets. Some perceive the change as a worthwhile improvement, others
don't. That is normal, not something to get huffy about. If you are
curious about such things, please do look into them.
That this topic keeps re-surfacing, I suspect, is the result of a
certain lingering dissatisfaction among listeners familiar with the
sound of acoustic music in real space with the electronic and and
particularly digital reproduction of that music. The response is
essentially a desire to find something - anything - that will ease
that disappointment. Tom Fine started the discussion by blaming the
engineering, not the technology, for the the problem. I take a broader
view, as I believe the limitations of CD reproduction are obvious in
comparison to higher definition digital as well as analog, to say
nothing of the real thing.
Conversely, many folks (like my kids) who grew up listening to
amplified instruments and entirely digital media have different
criteria. They prize the loud, the clean, and the convenient. Here the
iPod trumps even the CD. The logical extension of a "bits iz bits"
definition of perfect sound is to have the marketplace decide how much
more data can be thrown out and still fool a listener into thinking it