On Jan 23, 2008, at 6:09 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Hi Bruce:
>> The logical fallacy here is to equate "disc quality" with the
>> perception of music.
> Ah, yeah, that's the point for those of us who must make a living
> dealing in facts.
Well, I'm retired, but I made my living dealing with ideas, as a
college professor for 30 years. Does tend to force the mind open.
> I think most of us operate under the assumption that the higher the
> disc quality (ie lack of digital errors and mechanical stability), the
> more output = input.
Ah, an assumption is an idea. You have my attention.
> As I've said repeatedly, if the input is of bad sonic quality, digital
> media and digital conversion will certainly preserve and not mask
> those flaws as much as older analog technologies, which add
> distortions (some apparently very euphonic to some people) and mask or
> "soften" some flaws at the input end (again, this is found to be
> euphonic by some people).
Ah, but the same is true of bad input to analog, so no points there.
Please look up euphonic in a dictionary. It is not a swear. True,
distortions can sound good to some people, there's a whole guitar
effects industry to prove it. And as I noted at the last CES, a lot of
digital demos relied on euphonic female vocal recordings that my dad
would have filed under easy listening. I live in a Diana Krall-free
> So I again submit that many of the "digital sucks" crowd are
> igorantly confusing bad human craft and bad human decisions on the
> input end with what they hear on the output end and blaming the
I have never said digital sucks (is sucks a swear?), nor even bought
the tee shirt. Can you refer me to someone in that crowd who has? If
not, please promise to stop using swears to color an argument.
> But, let's see if we can put these different world-views to some
> quantifiable testing.
How does one quantify ideas like world-views? My students couldn't, but
they were just students.
Hitler's idea (or world-view if you please) killed 6 million, Kevorkian
maybe a dozen who asked him to, but kindly. The winner is...?
Does a woman have a right to choose, or is abortion murder? Big Bang or
Genesis? Coke or Pepsi?
Tom, the objective becomes subjective because everyone has
preconceptions and biases. Makes the species argumentative. You too.
> Bruce, I really want you to take Jerry's offer. What's to be afraid of
> -- I think some very interesting things could be learned by everyone
> involved and Jerry has made a very generous offer of his time and
> equipment. I suggest we can use test gears and test ears.
Tom, it might make more sense if you took the test. You are probably
more used to the methodology, and would be more surprised by anything
other than a null result. I might be bored, or confused, but hardly
> You guys buy two copies of a few commercial CD's -- choose a couple
> of titles each, and I think the tests would be best if you chose
> something you're familiar with and consider a decent-sounding
Why? What does decent-sounding mean? Can you quantify that, or are we
back in the realm of perception?
> Keep one copy wrapped up or have it dropped-shipped to Jerry (in
> other words, Jerry should test it right out of the shrink-wrap, so it
> goes into his machines just like it came out of the store). Take the
> other copies and apply these various treatments, keeping careful notes
> as to what treatments were applied. I think you'd want to stick to one
> type of treatment per disc but maybe not? Let Jerry submit both discs
> to his rigorous tests (please research Jerry's lab if you don't
> believe me that his tests are rigorous).
Will Jerry's tests confirm the recordings are decent-sounding? That was
the basis on which you would choose them, so he must be able to
validate something that simple. Does the machine export the results to
Amazon.coms review pages? Man would that be cool!
> Then I would let a third party take possession of the discs (trust and
> verify, ya know) and all of you make your way to the ABX comparison
> setup of your choosing (there was a very good one designed by the
> Boston Acoustic Society described in a recent JAES article).
It's trust but verify, I think.
I am actually a past dues-paying member of the BAS. Not without
preconceptions in my day, at least. Actually, the decline in membership
back then correlated nicely with the ascent of digital recordings.
Never figured that out until now. Numbers don't lie, I guess.
> Listen and find out first of all if there IS an audible difference
> between treated and untreated discs. And if there is, let everyone
> keep careful notes as to what they prefer. Then let's compare the
> results with Jerry's scientific analysis of things like error rates
> and mechanical stability. Perhaps we can learn a few useful facts:
> 1. what variances in laser-disc interactions are effected by
> polishing? Do they create higher or lower error rates? Do they effect
> laser mechanics at all, and if so positively or negatively vis-a-vis
> error rates? Is there an audible difference in ABX testing between
> polished and unpolished discs?
I'm mostly interested in whether something gets more decent-sounding or
not. Wasn't that part of the hypothesis, that the discs were decent
sounding? There should be room for improvement there.
> 2. does shaving the edge of a disc improve stability? Does it effect
> error rates or laser-disc interactions? Is there an audible difference
> in ABX testing?
Who knows, but does it sound better than decent?
> 3. I guess we should ask if degaussing outright ruins a disc --
> Scott's experience seems to indicate yes but I suspect the kind of
> degaussing sold as a "treatment" uses a much less intense magnetic
> field. So, if the disc isn't outright ruined, is the error rate or
> mechanical stability effected? Is there an audible difference in ABX
Scott seems to have one of the Dharma Initiative degaussers that
imploded the hatch on Lost. But he heard a difference, and you'd have
to bounce him off the panel as biased because of it. Me too, I'm
afraid. Oops, I was afraid after all.
My law student daughter says most trials are won/lost at voir dire.
True of ABX trials, too?
> 4. finally, and this would be the most interesting factor to examine
> -- I dare say it fringes on a "perception" study -- was there much
> agreement about any differences in sound? This would be particularly
> interesting and I'll certainly admit surprise if there IS a
> statistically relevant perceived differences in sound but no
> statistically relevant differences from Jerry's tests. I doubt that
> will happen but I'm never saying never.
Wow, Tom, I've gotten you interested in PERCEPTION! You are no longer
speaking in MEANINGLESS ABSOLUTES! Like BARNUMESQUE HOKUM!
> 5. this one is also very interesting, at least to me -- are discs
> found to have higher error rates or less mechanical stability in
> Jerry's tests preferred sonically in the ABX tests? This gets into the
> question, are there euphonic "problems" in digital systems akin to the
> harmonic distortion in tube gear that some find euphonic? Again, I
> doubt this but again I'm never saying never.
I think the word you are looking for we can invent together right here
and now. You have suggested that digital might be "dysphonic", if I
have the Greek right. Sure, probably not, couldn't be, but maybe we can
at least copyright it. I can see the new Sony ad: Perfect sound
forever, and now less Dysphonic (TM) than ever, too! Royalties beyond
> So, what do you say guys? Let's see if we can get the laboratory and
> the listening room to meet in the middle here. I bet if someone
> forwards this thread to the BAS guys who wrote that JAES article
> they'd be game to get a crowd together for ABX testing. The only way
> we'll get answers is to do some testing. Jerry's opened the door,
> Bruce you should walk through it.
Actually, Aldous Huxley opened the Doors of Perception, I think. I just
can't remember if I actually walked through them, must have been back
in the sixties, all a blur now. Worked for Jim Morrison, though.
But obviously, we just want to ask different questions. We are looking
for different answers. That is bias.
> Extra gravey -- this might make a very good ARSC convention
How about From Euphonic Analog to Dysphonic Digital: A new approach to
evaluating musical reproduction. Authors Fine and Kinch demonstrate
their technique of dual-dimensional audio testing. Plotting measured
results on the X axis (Accuracy to Distortion) and subjective musical
pleasurability (Euphonic to Dysphonic) on the Y axis, the researchers
create a scatter plot revealing fundamental differences between
technologies, recordings, and playback equipment. When correlated to
individual biases, greater understanding of both audiophillic and
meter-mania disorders can be derived.