Saturday, 23 February 2013

Musings & Gear Measurements Coming...

With the MP3 test complete and results posted, I figure it's time to move on to other matters which I think could be interesting to the audiophile hobbyist.

I'm going to start with a rather simple, personal discussion around this audio hobby today.

As suggested by the blind MP3 test conducted, my personal philosophy towards "audiophilia" is one biased towards objectivism/empiricism. In my world view, even though ultimate joy in music is a subjective experience, the technologies employed to convey this beauty is through engineering and science which has with it clear goals and empirical methodology. I ascribe the beauty of music to the artist, not the engineer or manufacturer, and certainly not the equipment.

Unlike some opinions and editorials I've read in the past, from what I can tell the only real "gold" reference/standard in recorded music is IMO NOT the live event. Rather the first step in transducing sound into the electrical domain (ie. the mics or synthesizers themselves) remains the key. You can only reproduce the audio as good as what was initially fed in, and the standard that I want to hear is that "live" mic feed because an accurate reproduction of that is the best anyone can ask for. In a "direct to disk" recording, the recording chain is straightforward and that mic feed potentially can be heard at home; but in reality, most recorded music has gone through many steps in the studio and as a result, the "gold standard" becomes even more murky; dependent on the artist, mixer, recording engineer, and how they're hearing the final result with the studio gear.

My simple criteria for good gear:

Criterion 1. Are the objective measures good enough based on what we understand about hearing to show that competent engineers and manufacturers have done a good job in designing and producing this piece of equipment? In my way of thinking, accuracy is all that matters. There is no 'good' or 'bad' gear. Although there can be new discoveries in the audio sciences, I suspect there's nothing "earth shattering" left to find after all these years that cannot be adequately measured.

Criterion 2. Subjective listening tests with familiar music in a familiar room to verify that indeed it sounds good with music I enjoy.

The measurements I'll be posting are some attempts at Criterion 1... Many of the measurements first took shape on the Squeezebox Forum here:

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