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ARSCLIST  October 2013

ARSCLIST October 2013

Subject:

Re: a prime case of why subjective reviews of audio gear are USELESS

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 11 Oct 2013 06:53:03 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (71 lines)

Dave, please fix your reply-to so that it replies to the ARSCList and not to you personally.

About your post ...

I agree that ears need to be the final judge. However, Something that measures far afield of 
accepted "good" is either a "sound crayon," comparable to a guitar effects pedal, or it's a piece of 
junk. Lots of harmonic distortion in a tube mic preamp? Might be a good thing, in fact some mic 
preamps have a "drive" control that ups the level into the tube in order to produce saturation 
harmonics. Some do this with transformers. This is a common sound effect, used in many forms of 
music. Guitar amps are designed to do the same things. Should an allegedly "high-end" preamp do 
this? I would say, no.

My larger point was, subjective "listening test" reviews are not useful to anyone except the 
listener. Indeed, I will now doubt the conclusions of these two subjective reviewers because how can 
I trust the ears of someone who favors such a clearly inaccruate/colored preamplifier? All I can now 
learn is, they favor this kind of coloration so everything stands in context to that, and I may or 
may not favor that kind of coloration but since I don't have access to their listening setups, I can 
never tell one way or the other.

What is useful in a "review" of a piece of equipment -- something that translates well to a printed 
page absent of me having the piece of equipment in front of me to preview with my own ears -- is a 
detailed run-down of features and user-interface experiences, a discussion of the design philosophy 
(and please spare the gushy words about metal-film resistors and elite capacitors made by virgins 
under moonlight, every high-price piece of gear should use good parts since that's what you're 
paying for; words should be used to describe inferior build/parts issues), and objective and 
detailed measurements. One thing John Atkinson has done in recent years, for instance, is look 
closely at jitter pass-through and jitter rejection with USB interfaces on DAWs. This has been 
helpful, because many people can hear a difference with a high-jitter digital source and a 
low-jitter source. Another thing Atkinson does, with amplifiers, is run them in a maximum-stress 
situation to look at current capacity and cross-over distortion. This, too is useful.

What is not useful, at least not to me, is many words from one guy in one room listening to specific 
music with which I may or may not be familiar. The whole genre of this kind of "reviewing" won the 
day against features-and-specs descriptions, and it's too bad.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Cawley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2013 5:15 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] a prime case of why subjective reviews of audio gear are USELESS


> From:  Dave Cawley
> Dartmouth  United Kingdom
>
>
> This thread seems to be about a HiFi amplifier, its subjective performance and its measurements ? 
> I think I have got that right ?
>
> To be honest I believe Stereophile have the right balance, except for one thing, and that is the 
> long term listening experience.  Use it for two weeks and then substitute say a Mcintosh, I think 
> the difference might then be obvious.  That is assuming that listener fatigue had not set in very 
> soon anyway !
>
> My philosophy is :
>
> "if it measures well and sounds good, then it is good"  :  "if it measures badly and sounds bad 
> then it is bad"  :  "if it measures badly and sounds good, then it could be improved"  :  "if it 
> measures well but sounds bad then it is bad"    Dave Cawley
>
> In this case I think the manufacturer would have been wise to specify the amplifier correctly, and 
> maybe put a spin on how the triode drove the MOSFETs ?
>
> Regards
>
> Dave
>
> 

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