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Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

What part of "I have nothing else to say" are you finding incomprehensible?

CECE
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ... *DELET

Post deleted by Stephen Mejias

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Elk, I did send you a message, check your PM's.

michiganjfrog
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Ethan Winer wrote:

No kidding, apparently I have lost the debate because a couple of forum posters say I lost.

Well that and the fact that it seems people have noticed you've long since stopped bothering to actually refute all the counter-arguments against your weak, embattled position; carefully sidestepping anything that looks to be a land mine that might harm it any further. This seems to be yet another case of "Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lyin' eyes?!"

Now hold on there pal. Where'd you ever get the idea that I don't listen?

I can't speak for him, but I got it from the quaint idea that you believe all (functional) speaker (and IC?) wires produce the same sound. That would actually go far to explaining to me why you so firmly believe that only room acoustic treatments larger than a daybed are going to have any effect, other than placebo. I thought that wire/cable position went out in the 70's, along with bell bottoms and Funkadelic records. But (sigh), I continually learn otherwise, on such occasions.

I do this for a living fer crying out loud. Of course I listen! I listen to music critically every single day. And that is why I know all these BS tweaks are BS. If I suggested to my partner that we experiment with 1/2 inch diameter thin plastic dots on our panels he'd have me committed.

So if I've read right, your subjective perceptions of reproduced music are what tells you that a tweak is BS or not BS? Interesting, because I do a lot of critical listening myself. That's what tells me, despite all your supposed critical listening, you have no idea what can change the sound (in the larger picture). The Harmonix dots that you decry are to me, your "speakers and room acoustic panels". To my knowledge, there are far far weirder things going on in audio, that are far more difficult to explain and understand, than the little acoustic dots that people have been debating here. But of course, all too easy for the "professional audio skeptic" to understand. Everything he hasn't been able to personally witness with his own "critical listening ears", or find measurements or a long-established explanation for, is of course a "placebo".

"A straw man is an argument made by mischaracterizing an opponent's viewpoint in a particularly weak fashion, and then attacking the weaker version of your opponent's arguments, rather than their real arguments."

You mean like this?:

Ethan wrote:

Just because we don't know everything doesn't mean we know nothing!

BTW, this is a great article about logical fallacies, and how to argue factually when others deny the facts:

You're right, people could benefit from reading the points made. So could you, because here a few that could apply to you:

Non-Sequitur
In Latin this term translates to

Buddha
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
Today's "Harmonix Dots" and "Acoustic Resonators" are yesterday's speaker wire and spikes.

Einstein failed math, but was proven later to be a genius. I failed math, therefore I am like Einstein.

Today's Harmonix Discs may also be proven to be tomorrow's phrenology or theory that Down's Syndrome is indicative of "Mongoloid heritage."

If one infallible audiophile can hear a harmonic dot, but another cannot...can either one be wrong?

Both have anectdotal evidence.

Do both sides rely on appeals to authority?

Examples of previous concepts being proven?

Can one side that is able to recognize fallacious reasoning by the other side be able to see the fallacious reasoning of its own side?

The fallacy of attribution that since a given prior concept has been proven, therefore, an unrelated concept will be proven in the same way is just as weak an argument as Ethan saying that same concept can never be proven.

As for me, I hope that some day, some way, we will be able to discuss why some audiophiles can only hear what they hear when their eyes are open.

smejias
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

In my opinion, Elk explained things very well when he said:


Quote:

Quote:
Is it so very difficult to decide whether you trust your own senses and perceptions? Very few of you have answered what I consider to be a very simple question.


Probably because everyone finds it to be an unanswerable hypothetical, with unimaginable complexity, defying even the possibility of a meaningful response

Additionally, the mirror question, Do you trust your own rational analysis and knowledge?, is at least as significant.

I am willing to posit that most here would answer "yes" to both.

However it appears that there are a few that must honestly answer "no" to one of these, while recognizing that they also simultaneously exhibit unquestioning loyalty to the other - thereby losing their balance.

That says everything. The trouble with this thread, in my opinion, is that its major participants -- Jan and Ethan -- see it as some sort of sporting event, or "debate," which requires a winner and a loser. As long as we continue to view it in this light, the thread will never end. Which is fine with me. But, in my opinion, both parties lose, perhaps not even realizing their loss. And they lose because they remain separate from one another, achieving no greater understanding or appreciation of differences, consequently pushing others away, alienating themselves from the world.

There is room in this great big world for both points of view -- with limitations, perhaps. My answers would be:

Yes, I trust my own senses and perceptions. That is, as long as I am at least somewhat familiar with the associated equipment, room, or source material.

And yes, I trust my own rational analysis and knowledge. I'm open to all sorts of ideas and suggestions, but there are some things I won't spend time or money on.

The three pieces of thread falls into another category: I wouldn't expect them to influence the sound of my system, but I'd be willing to try it, hoping, of course, that my expectations would not undermine my ability to perceive.

Balance. I think balance is so very necessary.

michiganjfrog
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Einstein failed math, but was proven later to be a genius. I failed math, therefore I am like Einstein.

I agree. You are like Einstein. In that you failed math. The comparison ends there.

Today's Harmonix Discs may also be proven to be tomorrow's phrenology or theory that Down's Syndrome is indicative of "Mongoloid heritage."

You think? How so?

If one infallible audiophile can hear a harmonic dot, but another cannot...can either one be wrong?

Yes. You can be certain that one of them is wrong.

Can one side that is able to recognize fallacious reasoning by the other side be able to see the fallacious reasoning of its own side? The fallacy of attribution that since a given prior concept has been proven, therefore, an unrelated concept will be proven in the same way is just as weak an argument as Ethan saying that same concept can never be proven.

No less the fallacy of contextualism. According to what people like Ethan say and think, "cables/wires haven't ever been proven to have a significant audible influence on the sound, and that according to what science knows about it, never will". Some are still saying that about spikes, I'm sure. This is the only comparison I was making, not that the Harmonix or Acoustic Resonator tweaks will one day become scientifically established beyond criticism, and that every audiophile home will have some in their room. Therefore, if you wish to frame every counterpoint in terms of logical fallacies, you are engaging in what is know as the "strawman" argument. "Proven" doesn't mean much in the context of high fidelity audio. It's only relative to your personal beliefs re: evidence, and the only thing that's been "proven" in the history of audio, is that it hardly matters.

I can't know if those tweaks will become better or fully understood by today's narrow-minded skeptics. If I could, I wouldn't be here talking to you, I'd be in Las Vegas. I only know they won't be if the attitude is to dismiss them and all "anecdotal" evidence for them, before their working mechanism is fully understood by the majority (assuming they are not, and assuming they do work). It's a fact that new audio technologies often meet resistance by the status quo. It would be foolish to dismiss them simply because they're not as well established as older technologies might be. Note that the Ethan Winer we've been talking about, who claims to be an "expert in acoustic treatments" in every post he writes, said that he would not even consider trying the Harmonix acoustic treatment dots, on the basis that because of their size, they could not possibly have a significant effect, and he fears of looking ridiculous. Well that attitude/fear is sadly, typical of the thinking of many others in this industry who claim to be such experts, that they know whether a new technology is valid and worth exploring, just from hearing about it and judging whether it makes "sense" to them, or whether there is a previously established basis for them. Again, not the way of progress.

As for me, I hope that some day, some way, we will be able to discuss why some audiophiles can only hear what they hear when their eyes are open.

Uh, we've already done that decades ago. It was concluded that we don't listen in the same way "blind" as we do "sighted", when undertaking "audio exams". The rest just dismissed the evidence, of course. Proponents of audio DBTs always seem to want to exclude the fact that the brain has any involvement with the ears during a listening test. Don't ignore the fact that everyone is at different levels in their ability to listen critically, either, and that different listening experiences by the same listener, can yield different results. That usually explains why some hear relatively subtle (but significant) differences, and others not, under natural conditions. The truth doesn't just lie in the middle as you choose to believe. It is everywhere.

Elk
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
I agree. You are like Einstein. In that you failed math. The comparison ends there.


Actually you are both wrong, Einstein never failed math. Yet while I am certain this is meaningful, I cannot fathom how.


Quote:
It was concluded that we don't listen in the same way "blind" as we do "sighted", when undertaking "audio exams". The rest just dismissed the evidence, of course. Proponents of audio DBTs always seem to want to exclude the fact that the brain has any involvement with the ears during a listening test.

In my experience it appears to me that I can hear more clearly when I can see the musicians who are performing. For example, I find it quite easy to pick out the flute or oboe in a symphony orchestra when I look at the player and focus on the sound. I find it much harder to pick out an individual woodwind line with my eyes closed.

Perhaps similarly, I can hear the flute easily if I have the score in front of me. I am suspicious however that my training is kicking in and I am combining what I hear with what I know the the notes on the page represent.

Is it your belief that something similar happens when ABX'ing tweaks such as dots and spikes? If this is the case can you elucidate with an example?

I do not mean for this to appear facetious, but I am having trouble understanding how being able to see a tweak helps one hear the difference. In my example I know the sound of a flute and looking at the player helps direct my mind. That is, I accept that there is a correlation between seeing and hearing. However, I don't know the sound of a brass cone - how would seeing it help me discern the difference it makes?

As a separate issue, I think we in fact do hear differently when being tested under DBT conditions. Do you have a cite to the source for your statement: ("It was concluded that we don't listen in the same way...")

michiganjfrog
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Actually you are both wrong, Einstein never failed math. Yet while I am certain this is meaningful, I cannot fathom how.

Actually, only Buddha is wrong. I was not agreeing that Einstein failed math (nor disagreeing). I was agreeing that it would be true to say that if Buddha and Einstein failed math, then Buddha would be like Einstein. In that regard.

In my experience it appears to me that I can hear more clearly when I can see the musicians who are performing. For example, I find it quite easy to pick out the flute or oboe in a symphony orchestra when I look at the player and focus on the sound. I find it much harder to pick out an individual woodwind line with my eyes closed. Perhaps similarly, I can hear the flute easily if I have the score in front of me. I am suspicious however that my training is kicking in and I am combining what I hear with what I know the the notes on the page represent.

Is it your belief that something similar happens when ABX'ing tweaks such as dots and spikes? If this is the case can you elucidate with an example? I do not mean for this to appear facetious, but I am having trouble understanding how being able to see a tweak helps one hear the difference.

This is what ABX (and other DBT) proponents always get wrong, in their misguided criticisms. It's not about being able to "see" the tweak. It's about the opposite: being "blinded". There's a distinction. I believe you're able to tune in to details in the music during a live event because of the specific way you are focusing during your listening session. In the same sense, you focus differently during a so-called "blind" test, as you do during a casual sighted test. In my experiences with blind and sighted tests, I've concluded that each requires a different set of skills for discernment. That meaning those with good listening skills sighted may not have equally good skills under "blind" conditions, and vice versa. And you usually have to have good training to repeatedly pass a critical listening test, where the differences are not night & day. Else you'll just conclude you can't "hear" the differences, even if you are hearing them. The blind method type tests can be passed, and I've done so (on tweak products that were much more controversial and little understood than Harmonix dots mind you...), but they are much harder to pass. If they're useful, I'd say they're mainly useful on gross differences, such as speakers. But then I've heard it argued you don't need blind tests for speakers, so.... that should tell you how useful I think blind tests are.

In my example I know the sound of a flute and looking at the player helps direct my mind. That is, I accept that there is a correlation between seeing and hearing. However, I don't know the sound of a brass cone - how would seeing it help me discern the difference it makes?

I don't know that it would. You may not hear a difference with it in place, or you may, and it may or may not depend on the test being sighted, it may depend on your experience, depend on the general influence it has on your system, depend on how its installed, among other factors. Now I could tell you what influence I believe the brass cone would have on your sound, and that could help you focus in on just what is or isn't changing (what should change). But I generally don't do that to people I test (nor do I say what I think I heard until the test is over), because then I would be accused of creating an invalid result by suggesting what the listener should hear, thus inducing bias. I would guess that the cones would have enough of an influence on the sound that even under the added stress of blinded conditions, you'd hear their addition. But then, I'm speaking as someone who is already familiar with the sonic influence that cones of all kinds of materials, and similar isolation devices. I also believe people can and do miss these changes during tests when they simply don't know what to look for, and the change isn't that obvious.

As a separate issue, I think we in fact do hear differently when being tested under DBT conditions. Do you have a cite to the source for your statement: ("It was concluded that we don't listen in the same way...")

I did, but that was like 10 years ago, when I used to debate this issue, and long before I stopped caring about it. If I had to piece back what I recall, I would say that particular reference I was remembering was written about in the 70's, it talked about the different hemispheres in the brain (in relation to what could be going on during these tests), and for some reason the name Jon Risch pops up, but I don't know if he wrote the article or book that talked about that. If not him, someone else well known that worked in audio.

Elk
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
Actually you are both wrong, Einstein never failed math. Yet while I am certain this is meaningful, I cannot fathom how.

Actually, only Buddha is wrong. I was not agreeing that Einstein failed math (nor disagreeing). I was agreeing that it would be true to say that if Buddha and Einstein failed math, then Buddha would be like Einstein. In that regard.


Sorry. I should have put a giant winky after my comment.


Quote:
I believe you're able to tune in to details in the music during a live event because of the specific way you are focusing during your listening session.


Absolutely. There is no question I hear differently under these circumstances; I can now discern a part in a piece of music that I am hearing for the first time that I would not otherwise be able to pick out of the orchestra. Neat stuff.


Quote:
In my experiences with blind and sighted tests, I've concluded that each requires a different set of skills for discernment. That meaning those with good listening skills sighted may not have equally good skills under "blind" conditions, and vice versa.


Can you describe these differences or otherwise qualify them? Or is it simply that some are good at sighted and others are good at blind?

My experience has been different. I find that I listen differently and with more perception when it isn't a "test". Whether it is stress, whether it is straining to hear distinctions, whatever - I simply hear better when I am not concentrating on "hearing".

Moreover, one's auditory system gets tired. I have created way too many mixes that sounded great at 1:00 a.m. which were clearly crap at 9:00 the next morning after a bit of sleep. Then again, perhaps it is the fact that audio systems sound better at night.


Quote:
Now I could tell you what influence I believe the brass cone would have on your sound, and that could help you focus in on just what is or isn't changing (what should change). But I generally don't do that to people I test (nor do I say what I think I heard until the test is over), because then I would be accused of creating an invalid result by suggesting what the listener should hear, thus inducing bias.


However this is typically how psychoacoustic tests are conducted and one of the reasons that I think that DBT in audio are tough to construct. When performing auditory testing the difference in the sounds under consideration are exquisitely well known. The only unknown is the degree to which the differences are perceptible to humans as a group. The study is designed to determine the limits of that perception.

In audio tests we are often trying to determine whether a change or tweak is better. Whether there is a change, whether it is better, whether a particular listener can perceive it or not, etc. are all unknowns. I was unaware that some are better at sighted, some better at blind as you describe above - so now we have another unknown. So what are we testing? There must be a way to test audio tweaks in a rigorous fashion but I don't know how.


Quote:
I also believe people can and do miss these changes during tests [isolation devices] when they simply don't know what to look for, and the change isn't that obvious.


Absolutely. The experience and knowledge of the listener can have a huge impact.

Fascinatingly, once one is told what to listen for and how - it can often be quite easy to hear things that you were unaware of previously. Listening critically is a learned skill - although some have better ears than others.

Thanks for the thoughtful and non-defensive answers.

ethanwiner
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


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The trouble with this thread, in my opinion, is that its major participants -- Jan and Ethan -- see it as some sort of sporting event, or "debate," which requires a winner and a loser.


IMO, the trouble with this thread is much more fundamental than that. It all boils down to one very simple issue. One camp believes that everything audible can be measured, and the other claims there's some "magical" (my words) as yet-unknown facet of audio that can be heard but not measured given the current knowledge of audio. This is the entire debate! Well, that, and whether human ears are a reliable and repeatable test instrument. BTW, this is the very same debate as whether two competent wires can sound different, and also the same debate as whether magic pillows under a competently built CD player can change the sound.

Jan's continuing to equate room treatment - which is highly audible and highly measurable - with tweaks that can never be measured (or heard blind for that matter), proves to my satisfaction that he is incapable of holding a technical and intellectually honest discussion.


Quote:
There is room in this great big world for both points of view -- with limitations, perhaps.


Yeah, a lot of limitations.

Seriously, one side is right and the other is wrong. Those are the only two choices. Either the sound really changed with the application of a given tweak or it didn't change. This is black and white, not gray. I don't mean to be hard-nosed about this, but I see no valid compromise position.


Quote:
The three pieces of thread falls into another category: I wouldn't expect them to influence the sound of my system, but I'd be willing to try it, hoping, of course, that my expectations would not undermine my ability to perceive.


Stephen, do you really think it's possible for three half-inch threads taped to the outside of a glass window to influence the sound inside the room? You mean you'd be willing to give it a try and see what happens? Really?

Anyway, unless I see something really stoopid or really intelligent to comment on, I'm out - this has gone well beyond non-productive. I also object to deleting DUP's post even though I have no idea what he said. I imagine it was cogent and relevant, even if possibly rude. Yes, I know DUP is banned from this section, but that's unfair IMO. Teh man has more common sense and more useful info to share than a lot of posters here who are not banned.

--Ethan

rvance
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
Yes, I know DUP is banned from this section, but that's unfair IMO. Teh man has more common sense and more useful info to share than a lot of posters here who are not banned.

--Ethan

"Ethan's conversion from Imperial Wizard of Reductive Science to Comedy Schleppmeister was shocking and swift."

-Audio Times

michiganjfrog
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Can you describe these differences or otherwise qualify them? Or is it simply that some are good at sighted and others are good at blind?

Hmmm.... if I had to describe the differences between the "sighted", casual type of test and the more stringent "blind" type, I'd say that it's a lot like the physical differences between being sighted and being blind. Imagine walking throughout your house as you normally do. You can do so efficiently, you know where everything is, almost instinctively, you don't bump into things. Do the same thing with a blindfold, and while everything is still where it was, its harder to find your bearings, and more disorienting in general. It seems to suggest that perhaps its more than our senses that is being messed with under blind conditions, or at least more than the sense of visual perception. I believe that if you have a lot of experience listening under blind conditions, you're likely to have more positive ID's than someone who has little or no experience with these kind of tests. Unfortunately, from what I've come across, even the staunchest advocates of DBTs have actually (relatively) little experience doing them, and even less doing proper DBTs. But they don't tell you that when they say "DBTs have shown little differences between blah blah blah....".

Can you fool yourself with the common sighted listening test? I'm not saying that's not possible, but the flipside to that, which is nevertheless not recognized by BT advocates, is that you can also fool yourself under blind conditions; in perhaps different ways. This is why many audiophiles will, say, ask to take a pair of high end ICs or speaker wire for a home trial from their dealer, for a few weeks time. For some, important differences had by audio accessories may only start to reveal themselves weeks after they become familiar with them, listening "as God intended". So if you're going to fool yourself either way, better to fool yourself under sighted conditions. Reason being, that will stay with you, since the rest of the time, you'll continue to be listening to those devices under the same conditions! And if the differences stay with you, it was never a placebo to begin with. In any case, the worse thing you could do is rely on blind tests that _others_ have taken, to decide for yourself whether something is valid or not. There is nothing more meaningless in audio than that.

I was unaware that some are better at sighted, some better at blind as you describe above

The two are different types of tests, different experiences with different protocols, in which you may be activating different senses and parts of the brain. Critical listening gets better with experience, it can be considered a skill. The more training you have by the greater the number of tests, the better you are at focusing on and picking out differences. If the two are different experiences to the listener, it stands to reason they will produce somewhat different types of training in the listener over time, different skills. Even though I was already very good at sighted critical listening, I found I sucked at blind listening when I started on that. But I also found I got better at it the more I did those type of tests.

The key to passing any listening test, is knowing what information to focus on, what to discard or ignore. Sometimes the differences are too subtle or confusing to identify in terms of audiophile values, like timbre, tautness, detail, soundstage, imaging etc., but I may be able to identify differences in the way each presentation makes me _feel_; by measuring my reaction to the music. So I go with that, and voila, I'm able to identify exactly which of the devices I am listening to (under those blind conditions). In casual blind tests I've conducted with those who have little or no experience with such tests, I have helped them change the results of their testing. (Just because I knew it could be done, and wanted to prove it to myself).

For example, I'm blind testing you on brass cones, and we find that you can't get any better numbers than chance in your results. This is the first time you've heard brass cones, in a critical setting. Then I tell you that brass cones are a hard material, and like all hard materials (glass, ceramic, steel...), will impart a kind of hardness to the music. Anything struck will have more punch, sounds will be sharper, timbre will shift toward upper registers, bass will get tighter, triangles will have more sparkle, etc. Then we do another test, and you find that you can now identify this effect, and as a result, your scores improve dramatically, and you pass the test. Which means you were able to blindly identify the presence of the cones to a certainty beyond chance. So before, we could have concluded that "even a blind test shows that brass cones are a load of bollocks!". But the next test has us concluding that "blind tests prove that brass cones are discernible!". I think the only thing you could conclude here is; don't put all your faith in blind tests....

So what are we testing? There must be a way to test audio tweaks in a rigorous fashion but I don't know how.

Neither does anyone else, but that doesn't seem to stop them from claiming they can, and that even if billions of people have findings to the contrary, why they're wrong. What you are ultimately testing in any audio test, blind or sighted, is the listener. So the outcome of blind tests will be entirely dependent on the abilities of the listener. And while groups are tested to somehow eliminate this variable, even group DBTs have sometimes shown to be no more reliable than an individual.

Then again, perhaps it is the fact that audio systems sound better at night.

Yes, I observe this fact all the time on all my systems. I always attributed this to usage of the electrical grid, but that doesn't even make sense, because your neighbours are more likely to be home at night than in the day. Anyone's guess is as good as mine, there.

KBK
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

The physiological aspects of hearing are different in the 'near sleep' state vs daytime. Visual cuing shuts off and more horsepower is dedicated to keeping the 'monkey sleeping in the tree at night' alive..as a built in alarm system.

That's part of why listening is best at 3:15 in the morning, when you're half asleep.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

OK, this is going forward. Mind if I rejoin the conversation rather than begining a new thread on perception?


Quote:
And from my experience, getting emotionally moved my music is'nt related in any way to the sound of a system.

This is May's point. All the sound that can be perceived is already in the room. Under one set of circumstances, you are unaware of various portions of this information and aware of others. When those perceptual conditions change what you perceive can change - and most likely will. No placebo required. Most audiophiles claim heightened perception when they close their eyes or darken the room. Nothing physical has changed in terms of any measurements we could take regarding the sound pressure, reflections, frequency response, etc. within the room. However, our perception has changed in some way. If this is a usual habit of ours, we have trained ourself to become more open to what is already in the room. Whether the results are obtained sighted or blind, "we" are the only thing that has changed. What has changed about us? Our perception of events present in the room.

A quiet room. No distractions. The clock ticks. Your heart beats.

Consider a subject who has witnessed a robbery. If this were a casual happenstance and the observer was called upon to be an eye witness, evidence would in all likelyhood be sketchy, many times incorrect and often based upon preconceptions the subject would bring to the situation.

If this were a staged ocurrence and the witness had been told to simply pay attention to certain facts, those would be the most cogent details in the subject's memory. If the subject were told to pay attention to the color of the clothes worn by the participants, they would probably get the color of the clothing correct to a large degree. They still might not notice the make, model or color of the car involved.

If the subject were told to pay attention to as many details of the incident as possible, the number of correct observations would change, possibly better in some instances that appeal to the subject and possibly worse in other areas that do not interest the subject.

But in each instance the actual events have not changed. The number of items to which the subject could pay attention has not changed. Everything that could be obseved was already in place waiting to be observed. Nothing measurable by subjective analysis has changed. The only change has been in the subject's perception.

Perception is everything.


Quote:
My experience has been different. I find that I listen differently and with more perception when it isn't a "test". Whether it is stress, whether it is straining to hear distinctions, whatever - I simply hear better when I am not concentrating on "hearing".

But all the information is still available to you, right? You simply have trouble engaging with certain aspects of what is present. What does that say about your perceptive skills? If I pick up something that exists within the room while you do not, who is wrong?


Quote:
In audio tests we are often trying to determine whether a change or tweak is better. Whether there is a change, whether it is better, whether a particular listener can perceive it or not, etc. are all unknowns.

I think you are wrong. As May puts it what can be perceived is not in question. The potential for observation has not changed. There is no change in what is present. "It" is ever present and waiting to be found. Asking whether a "tweak" is better or not is placing the cart before the horse. You must first learn how to perceive what is present at all times - that which you have until now dismissed - before you can make a subjective judgement about its value.

What is of value to me might not be of value to you. I may have already dismissed the information as inconsequential to me and no longer wish to perceive it. That doesn't remove it from the room or diminish its value to you, it simply diminishes its value to me.


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Absolutely. The experience and knowledge of the listener can have a huge impact.

Voila!


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Fascinatingly, once one is told what to listen for and how - it can often be quite easy to hear things that you were unaware of previously. Listening critically is a learned skill - although some have better ears than others.

I have to disagree again. It is not whether you are told to listen to something. That opens to the door to impressionability and placebo. Notice most all of Peter Belt's tweaks do not list any effects. He only provides the mechanism and you supply the perception. Will the perception of the effect of any one tweak vary from listener to listener? Certainly because you do not listen in the same fashion as I do. You are attuned to other things in the room. You will hear what you want to hear and I will hear what I have always heard.

It is not how good your ears are, it is how well tuned your perceptive skills are. One listener might have hearing that rolls off at 12kHz and another at 20kHz. If the former listener is attuned to perceiving "timbre" and the latter is not, who do you suppose will get the timbre of the instruments correct? If the former is attuned to the "ambience of the environment" and the other is not, though the clues are very subtle, who do you suppose will perceive the room sounds with greater skill?

Jan Vigne
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Jan's continuing to equate room treatment - which is highly audible and highly measurable - with tweaks that can never be measured (or heard blind for that matter), proves to my satisfaction that he is incapable of holding a technical and intellectually honest discussion.

PHHHHHHHHHHHHT!!!!!!

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"Ethan's conversion from Imperial Wizard of Reductive Science to Comedy Schleppmeister was shocking and swift."

Ooooh, that's gooood!

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I'd say that it's a lot like the physical differences between being sighted and being blind. Imagine walking throughout your house as you normally do. You can do so efficiently, you know where everything is, almost instinctively, you don't bump into things. Do the same thing with a blindfold, and while everything is still where it was, its harder to find your bearings, and more disorienting in general. It seems to suggest that perhaps its more than our senses that is being messed with under blind conditions, or at least more than the sense of visual perception. I believe that if you have a lot of experience listening under blind conditions, you're likely to have more positive ID's than someone who has little or no experience with these kind of tests.

I hate to beat the same horse, but it's a good horse. Everything you need to make your way around the room is already in place and merely waiting for you to raise your perception of it to a level that warrants realization.

A quiet room. The clock ticks.


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For some, important differences had by audio accessories may only start to reveal themselves weeks after they become familiar with them, listening "as God intended".

Are you not training yourself to perceive what is already present? Whether the "tweak" acts as talisman, offers a new insight or actually makes a change in measurable ways - such as Ethan's panels - is somewhat unimportant. What matters is you are raising your preceptive skills in some way over time. That is why I said the advertisement for Real Traps is suggesting the same perceptive process as the Shakti device. Nowhere does the reduction of standing waves translate into increased clarity other than through our perceptive skills. Ethan confuses measurable changes with what is happening to the listener. Once again as May states, the changes which Ethan finds important have no need for a human. It is only when the listener "listens" that the change can take place. Equally true, I think, is when the listener is not attuned to the new information made available and is therefore rendered incapable of perceiving even the grossly obvious effects of a tweak such traps. I would think everyone who has helped a friend with their system has had the experience of making a change which reveals a wealth of information, better timing and more true to life tone to you only to find your friend doesn't hear any of what has become obvious to you. The information is in the room, is it not? Who then is wrong?

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The physiological aspects of hearing are different in the 'near sleep' state vs daytime. Visual cuing shuts off and more horsepower is dedicated to keeping the 'monkey sleeping in the tree at night' alive..as a built in alarm system.

That's part of why listening is best at 3:15 in the morning, when you're half asleep.

Hmm... when I agreed with Elk that sound quality is better at night, I meant evening, as in 6-12p, not 3:15am. I can't say out of personal experience what it's usually like at 3:15a, as I don't usually do critical listening tests at these hours. But I would hazard to guess that when you're half asleep, you're not going to be any good at critical listening. So it depends on what you mean by "listening is best".

I did experiment with generating a Schumann resonance (in the middle of the daytime), whilst listening to audio on the same system. The Schumann resonance puts you in a 'near sleep' state (theta brainwaves). And in this relaxed, drowsy kind of state, I would turn the frequency off and on, and observe the effect. I would say that listening is better with it, better in the sense that you're more connected with the sound. But not leagues better, in my case.

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I get up at the crack of noon, whether I need to or not.

And to add, IMHO, when you're half asleep, that's when your listening faculties are about as good as their ever going to get.

Which is why I'm not really interested in critical listening at an audio shop, when it comes to absolutes; or that that reviewers tend to take equipment home for months.

Besides, I generally only need a few seconds. I listen purely for enjoyment 99% of the time. Down to the point that to understand how a two-way speaker does bass-midbass and midrange, all I need to do is walk up to the speaker, and while unpowered and unplugged..I 'tap' the woofer a few times. I'm done! I know all I need to know by then.

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What part of "I have nothing else to say" are you finding incomprehensible?

HeHeHe!

RG

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Are you not training yourself to perceive what is already present?

Yes, you could say that. The example I gave was about becoming (slowly) conscious of the sound the two cables make, over weeks of time. This is something I've trained myself to do in seconds, but however long it takes, you will simply be perceiving something you already heard. As I often tell people who can't hear something that nevertheless is present in the sound, they are already hearing it. Identifying it is another matter.

Whether the "tweak" acts as talisman, offers a new insight or actually makes a change in measurable ways - such as Ethan's panels - is somewhat unimportant. What matters is you are raising your preceptive skills in some way over time.

Well that's the hope, anyway! The more critical listening you do, the better you get at perceiving what others may not. That begs the question of why Ethan claims to be an expert at critical listening, but can't even discern something as basic as the differences to be had by quality speaker or IC cables. If I were producing products that cater to audiophiles, I certainly wouldn't be advertising the fact that I can't tell $5,000 speaker wire from zip wire, because this is a test a 3 yr old monkey should be able to pass. I'm basing that on experience too, as I've tested cables on complete non-audiophiles, who've never heard quality cables, and without telling them which they were hearing, most often they can easily tell the differences each cable imparts on the sound. They often learn right then and there something new about audio; that cables matter.

But you shouldn't be too hard on poor Ethan. Ethan is what he is, and that's what he will always be. Same for that "DUP" feller people keep talking about here. I know, I've met an awful lot of Ethans & DUPs in my travels, who are often working in some related fashion with pro audio, or they're pro wannabes, or just DBT doctrinaires. And if I didn't know better, I would swear they all share the same brain. You try to "debate" or have a discussion with one of them, it's like you've debated them all. I don't know where one begins and another ends. They don't just have the same beliefs, they all give absolutely the very same actions and reactions to _everything_. I can't tell you how many of these "objectivist" drones I've seen that have employed the exact same intellectually dishonest debating trade tactic that EW employed with you in this thread. They try to maintain their position at all cost (up to and including their credibility), if not actually defend it, by any face-saving means necessary. So even though they have no intention of contributing anything meaningful in the thread to advance the discussion, they'll continue to respond in such a way as to avoid a meaningful response. Such as by ignoring any argument their opponent makes that might further weaken their firmly-held position if they chose to respond to it.

The more honest a debater you are (and the less you know about these debating tactics), the more frustrating that's gonna be. Another example is when Ethan refused to debate me on the grounds that he didn't believe my posting name was real, and demanded that I provide proof that it is before he will grace me with the privilege of his response (as he did you, I suppose), and "respect me" as he said. Of course, he didn't explain why he nevertheless has debated with and shown all this "respect" for DUP, Buddha, ff123, etc. etc., and never once called them "trolls". Well, I must have gone through that exact same scenario a half dozen times with other opponents, where they said my name was fake, then they called me a "troll" (whatever that means), then demanded I provide proof of ID before they'll take me seriously. Thing is, they were all Ethans too. Dyed-in-the-grain "objectivists", they called themselves. Oh I've had plenty of subjectivist-minded opponents too over the years, but you know, I've never had one try to card me. Or get all neurotic about my name. Oddly enough.

But I digress... The reason why I say you shouldn't be too hard on poor Ethan, is because you are at least at a more advanced understanding of audio than he is (though he might be able to argue a greater technical understanding of RealTraps(tm), not realizing that technical understanding is only a part of it, which is why he's that far behind in audio to begin with). Plus, you don't play debating games, because that's not what audio is about for you. Not only do we all have different levels of listening skill, that will in the end determine what we can or can't (consciously) perceive at any given time, but largely as a result of that, we are at different levels of understanding about audio. When I talk about the kind of tweaks I get involved in, I get a lot of the usual ridicule and mockery, disbelief, that sort of thing. Much of it from the Ethans (but I'm so far out there, it comes from both sides). And I've learned to accept that fact; that you can't push people to grow any faster than the pace they are willing to grow at. Those who aren't at your level of understanding of this hobby are bound to react that way. Those who first need approval from their peers to tell them whether its okay to believe in this or that audio tweak, are going to take a lot longer to catch up. Sadly, they often never do. Perhaps then, perception is not everything. You have to have a willingness to perceive, and the wherewithal to know when you are doing so.

Nowhere does the reduction of standing waves translate into increased clarity other than through our perceptive skills. Ethan confuses measurable changes with what is happening to the listener. Once again as May states, the changes which Ethan finds important have no need for a human. It is only when the listener "listens" that the change can take place.

I agree. Despite the posturing and the waterfall graphs, nowhere that I've seen has Ethan proven that the measured differences are significant to human listeners, and directly correlate with the audible claims for the products.

Equally true, I think, is when the listener is not attuned to the new information made available and is therefore rendered incapable of perceiving even the grossly obvious effects of a tweak such traps.

Certainly, that can happen. Never mind bass traps, I've changed speakers without people noticing the difference in sound until I had to point out the change. If someone is not focusing on the changes, they may not notice the differences, even though they are there.

I would think everyone who has helped a friend with their system has had the experience of making a change which reveals a wealth of information, better timing and more true to life tone to you only to find your friend doesn't hear any of what has become obvious to you. The information is in the room, is it not? Who then is wrong?

More than that, I've undergone successful blind tests (ie. 13/15 trials) at the same time as a friend, who failed the same blind test.

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Well that's the hope, anyway! The more critical listening you do, the better you get at perceiving what others may not. That begs the question of why Ethan claims to be an expert at critical listening, but can't even discern something as basic as the differences to be had by quality speaker or IC cables. If I were producing products that cater to audiophiles, I certainly wouldn't be advertising the fact that I can't tell $5,000 speaker wire from zip wire, because this is a test a 3 yr old monkey should be able to pass. I'm basing that on experience too, as I've tested cables on complete non-audiophiles, who've never heard quality cables, and without telling them which they were hearing, most often they can easily tell the differences each cable imparts on the sound. They often learn right then and there something new about audio; that cables matter.

Thank you.

May Belt
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

If, as you were requesting Jan, this particular thread is to be closed, could I suggest that you read Parts One and Two of my articles "An Alternative Look at Sound and the Perception of Sound" already published in Positive Feedback Online - Issue 36 (March/April 2008) and also any continuing articles. I think you will find them interesting and thought provoking - which you so obviously appreciate !!

Surely it is obvious to any sensible person that no audio journalist would be prepared to place themselves in the firing line, would place themselves in the position of being 'laughed at', 'jeered at', 'ridiculed' by their peer group if they did not firmly believe that what they had been 'hearing' from the devices under discussion was 'what they had actually heard' and not just 'imagined' !!!! So, if they HAVE taken the trouble to write about their experiences then, in their opinion, it must have been relevant enough to audio, relevant enough to tell people !!

Ethan says "If I suggested to my partner that we experiment with 1/2 inch diameter thin plastic dots on our panels he'd have me committed." So, Ethan would not try that experiment for fear of being ridiculed. But many reviewers have, over the years, HAD the courage not only to try such devices but have actually gone on to WRITE about them !! All power to their elbow !!

As Ely has just stated :-
>>> "OBSERVATION.. drives science.
Exactly.
Observe!
Become curious.
Investigate.
Try to quantify.
Additionally, we are still doing it and still learning! We do not know everything. We are not done in any field. " <<<

Regards,
May Belt.

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


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If, as you were requesting Jan, this particular thread is to be closed

At this point I feel this thread can continue or I can begin a new thread which deals with perception. Since this one is in place - though disguised from many who would only see it's original title - I would just as soon continue on along here. I would still enjoy John's further comments though.

Elk asked me to state my position in fifty words or less. If I have to have a "position", it would be somewhere along the lines of, "Back off!" What got me into this thread was Ethan's dogmatic answer to the original question.


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I know acoustic treatment is very valuable - but why would any reasonable person, with even a tiny bit of acoustics awareness, entertain the idea that itty bitty things inside a room would help? Or, IF there is something to it, can you explain?

You are absolutely correct Bill. With acoustics and treatment, size is paramount. The small things you mentioned work entirely on placebo effect and the power of suggestion. The fork thing-a-ma-bob might have a real effect if you stick it between the loudspeaker and your ears, but in that case the effect will be negative.

These Harmonix are small. To suggest they do nothing (and that its all in ones head) just can't be right.

But it is right. The only way those can possibly work is by placebo effect.

I was struck by the finality of Ethan's approach. And dismayed at the obvious dismissal of everything and everyone who did not agree with Ethan. And, as Frog has pointed out, "Ethan" is just another name for the same attitude displayed innumerable times on this forum and others.

My objection to this "Ethanistic" approach is its terminal nature. I see no reason for its "my way or the highway" decisiveness which serves only to dimiss and halt any further discussion by labelling it irrelevant. I see all of this as stifling imagination and curiousity rather than fanning the flames of a (possibly) young, promising inquisitive nature.

If "Back off" is too short and the rest is too long, then settle for not telling me what to think and what not to think. Show me how to reason for myself. Encourage me to find my own way and point me toward the tools which allow me to do so. I'll pick my own tools - right or wrong. Let me make mistakes without criticism. Place a marker where I stand today so I can either return here or acknowledge the location where I began my journey. I want to do this because life is a journey of discovery and killing my desire to discover is the same as killing me.

100 words or less.


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The more critical listening you do, the better you get at perceiving what others may not. That begs the question of why Ethan claims to be an expert at critical listening, but can't even discern something as basic as the differences to be had by quality speaker or IC cables ... as I've tested cables on complete non-audiophiles, who've never heard quality cables, and without telling them which they were hearing, most often they can easily tell the differences each cable imparts on the sound. They often learn right then and there something new about audio; that cables matter.

At the moment I don't really care whether cables matter. I'm not concerned with any device or the explanation for how it does or does not operate or measure. Ethan's panels are as unimportant to me as any other device. To me, and for the purposes of this thread, those are all AL GORE!!!'s They are distractions meant to close down discussion of any questions I may have. They are all, depending upon your side in the argument, a tool to be used to batter the other fellow about the head until they submit or, if they are "Ethanistic" enough to do so, just continue to ignore the bruises and the blood inflicted upon them.

What I am mainly interested in is allowing something to be perceived rather than disallowing anyone to perceive something I cannot. I read most of your columns, May, several times in fact. They are in my "files" along with others who want me to not believe anything you say.

I find the idea of "critical" listening to be absurd. "Carping, fault finding, hypercritical, finicky, fussy, demeaning and belittling" are what I find when I look for synonyms of "critical". Why would I want to listen just to find fault? Or to demean? There are already enough people in this world ready to do just that. If I listen critically in order to find fault, it seems I can easily find some faults I can then demean and belittle. I might even go out to find other faults other listeners have found which I can drag over to my side of the fence and bury along with my already dead beliefs. In the end I have a lump of dirt covering my critical beliefs which are no longer of value to me.

One thing JA expressed within this thread was his desire to live in a world where he can still be surprised. That's what I expect from the music I listen to, I expect to be surprised each and every time I sit down to listen. And I find that allowing myself to be surprised allows me to hear with new ears each time. I could never hear the surprises, twists, turns and new bits of information within the music if I tried to listen with "critical" ears. I don't know if that qualifies as lowering my standards or lowering my defenses. I suppose that depends on which side of the fence you are on. I'd rather not straddle the fence so much as tear it down.


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The reason why I say you shouldn't be too hard on poor Ethan, is because you are at least at a more advanced understanding of audio than he is

I don't really think that's true - at least not in this case. I find the difference between us more to be I find out how much I still must learn with every bit of information I take in. The more I know, the more I know I still have to learn. I won't take a swipe at what I believe the "Ethans" of the world contend or how far along they are in their pursuit of knowledge. Unless Ethan himself returns, it's not fair to dispute anything he "might" say or think. What has has said stands for itself. Anyway, listening to music should not be a function of "knowledge". If I need to know a certain amount before I can listen effectively, then I have shut out those who do not reach my level of knowledge. Isn't that why most Americans don't listen to classical music? Or go to the theatre? Or visit art museums? Insisting on a certain level of knowledge to participate would appear to make most people simply drop out instead of putting themself out enough to learn.


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If someone is not focusing on the changes, they may not notice the differences, even though they are there.

What changes? The "changes" that are already in place? I can't remember much about being a Scout when I was young. I remember they made me wear a uniform so I looked as much like the others as possible and that the places they took me were awfully cold at night when all they provided was a tent. Otherwise I have forgotten most of that experience.

What I can recall however is one individual who was attuned to the camp where he spent most of his years. On a hike he would point out such and such a tree that was ready to bear this particular fruit you could eat and another that you couldn't. He noticed leaves on the ground that indicated an animal - he usually knew which type of animal - had stopped to eat there and therefore he knew he would find that nut or berry in the vicinity. He attracted our attention to a gathering of footprints and they told him - or so he said - there was water in "that" direction. None of this made any sense to us as we followed him around the camp. All we saw and heard were birds and trees. He could identify those birds and trees by their songs or the fragrance of their flowers. Nothing changed within the distance between his ears and mine. I couldn't smell or hear what he perceived but that did not make me dismiss him as a lunatic. Maybe that's the difference between the "Ethans' of the world and the "Jans" of the world. The "Ethans" can't perceive what is already in front of them and so they decide it's easier to dismiss it and those who claim they can detect something.


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Ethan says "If I suggested to my partner that we experiment with 1/2 inch diameter thin plastic dots on our panels he'd have me committed." So, Ethan would not try that experiment for fear of being ridiculed. But many reviewers have, over the years, HAD the courage not only to try such devices but have actually gone on to WRITE about them !! All power to their elbow !!

"Power" is what it is all about. The power to keep preception alive and not to rip it out, kill it and stomp that sucker flat! Realizing the circle of knowledge starts and ends with our own self. I tend not to think each generation passes on information to the next, only that they pass on the desire and the skills to acquire more knowledge. "Everything you learned you learned from someone else." True, but you had to want to learn it.

So I guess these are my next questions.

Is perception everything? Or is knowledge everything and through knowledge we learn how to perceive what is present?

How do you learn to perceive what is already present?

What do you say to someone who asks, " ... why would any reasonable person, with even a tiny bit of acoustics awareness, entertain the idea that itty bitty things inside a room would help? Or, IF there is something to it, can you explain?"

And how do you deal with those who would prefer to stop the whole process? Particularly those who should be providing the tools for learning. As I said to Ethan, if you deprive them of their curiousity, they cannot learn any more than you already know.

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


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"I find the idea of "critical" listening to be absurd. "Carping, fault finding, hypercritical, finicky, fussy, demeaning and belittling" are what I find when I look for synonyms of "critical". Why would I want to listen just to find fault? Or to demean? There are already enough people in this world ready to do just that. If I listen critically in order to find fault, it seems I can easily find some faults I can then demean and belittle. I might even go out to find other faults other listeners have found which I can drag over to my side of the fence and bury along with my already dead beliefs. In the end I have a lump of dirt covering my critical beliefs which are no longer of value to me."

Jan, As the Rennaisance Man you are, I find it impossible you would be so obtuse as to interpret the word "critical" so narrowly. Obviously, the meaning was "discerning", just as it is meant in the context of "critical thinking." Which has nothing to do with the pejorative of criticism.

Your willingness to be offended even by parties and concepts sympathetic to your cause makes you sound angry and needlessly combative. Weirdly so.

I respect your knowledge and passion and am not telling you how to conduct yourself, just giving you a perspective from one who agrees with a lot of your thinking, not that you care in the least, but that's okay.

Elk's suggestion for brevity is a wise one. When you or anyone pontificates at great length, you lose more ground than you cover. And some of us stop reading.

Thank you for all the great arguments and posts, BTW.

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


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Jan, As the Rennaisance Man you are, I find it impossible you would be so obtuse as to interpret the word "critical" so narrowly. Obviously, the meaning was "discerning", just as it is meant in the context of "critical thinking." Which has nothing to do with the pejorative of criticism.

I think that is how most listeners approach "critical" listening. They are shutting down the parts of their brain which allow them to be affected by the music and only allowing those "critical" faculties to run rampant. It's not an easy skill to listen or think "critically". It is one I feel the Stereophile writers do well. Some more so than others but their focus remains mostly on the music and not the component under review. I have a friend who is working on his system and he calls me whenever he has experienced a break through. He tells me about details of this disc or that, the sound of a drum or a cymbal. Unless I ask during these calls he never tells me about how the music sounds or how it has affected him. "Did you enjoy it? Did it pull you in? Which set up made your foot tap? Make you want to dance?" After a week or so, this friend calls me to tell me how much he is enjoying his music now that he is not listening critically. When I was selling I would demo some music and then ask the client what they had heard in that selection. The largest per centage of the answers were of the negative variety. "This speaker didn't have the soundstage of the other one ... " Seldom did I get an answer that indicated they had listened to the music, just the gear.

It's a bit like that camp guide. He didn't set out to "hike critically". He went for a hike to enjoy what was present. If he discovered some rabbit poop along the way, he noticed it was there but that wasn't what he focused on during his hike. He was looking for the positive side of his perception and simply allowed all that was pertinent to come into his overview of "perception".

Maybe it's just the people I have dealt with but I do think more people than not listen to be critical when they listen critically.

rvance
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


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Jan, As the Rennaisance Man you are, I find it impossible you would be so obtuse as to interpret the word "critical" so narrowly. Obviously, the meaning was "discerning", just as it is meant in the context of "critical thinking." Which has nothing to do with the pejorative of criticism.

I think that is how most listeners approach "critical" listening. They are shutting down the parts of their brain which allow them to be affected by the music and only allowing those "critical" faculties to run rampant. It's not an easy skill to listen or think "critically". It is one I feel the Stereophile writers do well. Some more so than others but their focus remains mostly on the music and not the component under review. I have a friend who is working on his system and he calls me whenever he has experienced a break through. He tells me about details of this disc or that, the sound of a drum or a cymbal. Unless I ask during these calls he never tells me about how the music sounds or how it has affected him. "Did you enjoy it? Did it pull you in? Which set up made your foot tap? Make you want to dance?" After a week or so, this friend calls me to tell me how much he is enjoying his music now that he is not listening critically. When I was selling I would demo some music and then ask the client what they had heard in that selection. The largest per centage of the answers were of the negative variety. "This speaker didn't have the soundstage of the other one ... " Seldom did I get an answer that indicated they had listened to the music, just the gear.

It's a bit like that camp guide. He didn't set out to "hike critically". He went for a hike to enjoy what was present. If he discovered some rabbit poop along the way, he noticed it was there but that wasn't what he focused on during his hike. He was looking for the positive side of his perception and simply allowed all that was pertinent to come into his overview of "perception".

Maybe it's just the people I have dealt with but I do think more people than not listen to be critical when they listen critically.

Jan, Thanks for taking the time to clarify. I see where I'm guilty of blurring the critical lines myself as you've explained the point so well. rv

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

At the moment I don't really care whether cables matter. I'm not concerned with any device or the explanation for how it does or does not operate or measure.

Neither do I care about debating whether cables matter. I think it's silly to be wasting energy even talking about whether cables matter, as though this wasn't already discovered over 30 years ago. If we continue to debate with dinosaurs, who wish to have debates today over everything that was discovered 30 years ago, we won't be debating today's discoveries for tomorrow. At least the Harmonix dots and Acoustic Resonators are worthy of debate, because they haven't been fought over for 30 years now. If someone thinks that there's no way there could be differences between vastly different grades of audio cable/wire, I say "fine", I have no problem with that. So long as they agree to take their medication in the correct dosage, and promise not to harm themselves...

BTW, I brought up Ethan's comments about cables to make a point about the importance of critical listening skills, not about the importance of wiring your system with good cables. (I assumed that's already a known fact by any audio hobbyist with any grain of sense). A point to make is that if you haven't yet acquired the basic skills to tell a standard cable apart from a quality cable, it's safe to say that the sound quality of your system is going to be that much limited; limited to the suckiest sounding cables you can find.

I find the idea of "critical" listening to be absurd. "Carping, fault finding, hypercritical, finicky, fussy, demeaning and belittling" are what I find when I look for synonyms of "critical". Why would I want to listen just to find fault? Or to demean? There are already enough people in this world ready to do just that.

Interesting interpretation, but I don't think that is what is generally meant by the audio term "critical listening". It derives from the term "critical thinking", which is not the same as "criticizing", or "finding fault". In audio, the difference between casual listening and critical listening, is that critical listening will invariably involve some form of analysis of what you are listening. Hence the reason it is used to judge differences during tests. Casual listening is simply listening unattentively for the enjoyment of the music. This is great when you're sitting down to listen to the new Bruce Springsteen CD, but won't work for judging differences. Perhaps you might have less issues with the term "attentive listening", but note it's not quite the same thing. Here's a bit more info for you:

http://www.chass.ncsu.edu/ccstm/scmh/morelisten.html

I could never hear the surprises, twists, turns and new bits of information within the music if I tried to listen with "critical" ears.

I think most audiophiles, including me, find the opposite; that listening critically helps you find the "surprises, twists, turns and new bits of information within the music", because you are putting more attention on listening to the music, than under casual listening conditions.

MJF wrote:

Quote:

The reason why I say you shouldn't be too hard on poor Ethan, is because you are at least at a more advanced understanding of audio than he is

I don't really think that's true - at least not in this case. I find the difference between us more to be I find out how much I still must learn with every bit of information I take in.

No, you are. Really! Think of how you advance. Can't advance when there are roadblocks and you won't go past them. Can't advance when you put the roadblocks there yourself. Can't advance when a door presents itself, but you won't open it (because you think you know what's on the other side, such that you refuse to see anything there). Those who think this is as good as it gets, are not the ones who are going to be advancing our state of the art. So if you're not closing doors right and left, because you think you're clever enough to know already what's on the other side, you're further along the bunny trail than those who do.

Unless Ethan himself returns, it's not fair to dispute anything he "might" say or think. What has has said stands for itself.

Exactly! I'm not disputing anything he "might" say or think. I was commenting on what he has actually said and thought.

Anyway, listening to music should not be a function of "knowledge". If I need to know a certain amount before I can listen effectively, then I have shut out those who do not reach my level of knowledge.

But we weren't discussing listening to music, we were talking about understanding the reproduction of said music. It's a given that anyone (who isn't deaf) can listen to music, that requires no skill or knowledge. So I'm not sure where you're going with this. If you studied calculus in school, does that mean you're better than someone who didn't and need to shut them out, or does that just mean we don't all have equal levels of knowledge (or skill)?

Isn't that why most Americans don't listen to classical music? Or go to the theatre? Or visit art museums? Insisting on a certain level of knowledge to participate would appear to make most people simply drop out instead of putting themself out enough to learn.

Well I haven't taken a survey, so I won't say why or indeed whether most Americans listen to classical, visit art museums or go to the theatre. But I will say there could be and I think are, a number of factors involved here. Cost, exposure, education, interest, etc. etc. I'm not sure insisting on prior knowledge is one of them, because I don't know why someone would be forced out of such activities because they didn't have prior knowledge. (I'm going to a museum tomorrow to look at European Art. I haven't prior knowledge of it. Shudder!). Another argument might be; "why should most Americans listen to classical music, go to the theatre or visit art museums?" If not everybody likes those activities, why should they have to like it?

What changes? The "changes" that are already in place?

The changes brought about by the device you've introduced into the room. I believe we were talking about tests at this point.

What I can recall however is one individual who was attuned to the camp where he spent most of his years. On a hike he would point out such and such a tree that was ready to bear this particular fruit you could eat and another that you couldn't. He noticed leaves on the ground that indicated an animal - he usually knew which type of animal - had stopped to eat there and therefore he knew he would find that nut or berry in the vicinity. He attracted our attention to a gathering of footprints and they told him - or so he said - there was water in "that" direction. None of this made any sense to us as we followed him around the camp. All we saw and heard were birds and trees. He could identify those birds and trees by their songs or the fragrance of their flowers. Nothing changed within the distance between his ears and mine. I couldn't smell or hear what he perceived but that did not make me dismiss him as a lunatic.

Fair enough, but maybe he was a lunatic? Maybe he had no idea in heaven and earth, whether a particular fruit tree bore ripe or poisonous fruit, and he was just bluffing? Maybe he had no idea whether an animal had trampled on the leaves or not, and what type of animal it was. But then neither did his fellow mates, so they didn't dare contradict him. Maybe he could not read anything from footprints, other than whether the footprint maker was wearing mountain boots or beach sandals. Maybe the identifications he gave for the birds and trees were not the latin identification for those birds and trees, but some latin-sounding jabberwocky language he made up while talking to his imaginary friends in his cave. Maybe he wasn't even part of the Scout team, but an escaped inmate of the local asylum, who hacked a Scout member in his sleep and stole his uniform? Do we really know? I mean it was so long ago...

Is perception everything? Or is knowledge everything and through knowledge we learn how to perceive what is present?

No, you can perceive things that you have no knowledge of beforehand. Knowledge is generally acquired through perception.

How do you learn to perceive what is already present?

I'm something of an expert at that, if I may say so myself. You start out with an open mind. The more open and willing mind will have the most to learn, the less will have less. Then you follow the right path.

What do you say to someone who asks, " ... why would any reasonable person, with even a tiny bit of acoustics awareness, entertain the idea that itty bitty things inside a room would help? Or, IF there is something to it, can you explain?"

Me, I would say to them "You're not ready to hear the explanation". I'd be wasting my breath trying to explain it to them, because I already know by the way they framed the question, that they would have to make a radical change to their mindset and perhaps gain some understanding of the process before they could begin to understand why my explanation might be valid. Otherwise, long before they get to my explanation, they'd be hitting the brick wall in front of them, they made of their preconceived ideologies. And won't know how to get around it.

And how do you deal with those who would prefer to stop the whole process?

In this business, there are basically 3 types of audiophiles: forward-thinking individuals, lateral thinking individuals, and backward-thinking individuals. I prefer to go forward and I don't worry about the others behind me. Let them believe that it doesn't get any better than obsessing about your speakers or hanging monoliths on the walls of your listening room. Bottom line is, I'll always have a better sounding system, dollar for dollar.

Particularly those who should be providing the tools for learning. As I said to Ethan, if you deprive them of their curiousity, they cannot learn any more than you already know.

Well, when you think you know it all, I guess there's no more to know. So that answers that question!

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
Despite the posturing and the waterfall graphs, nowhere that I've seen has Ethan proven that the measured differences are significant to human listeners, and directly correlate with the audible claims for the products.


I cannot comment on whether any particular graph or measurment "proves" that good quality room treatments make a tremendous positive improvement.

However, I hope no one here actually claims that well designed sound treatment appropriately applied does not work, or that it does not tremendously improve the sound.

A good sounding room is at least as important as the equipment placed in it. This is true if you are recording or playing back.

It also makes speaker placement much easier and much less critical.

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Fraud or incompetence, either way the consumer loses


Quote:
I brought up Ethan's comments about cables to make a point about the importance of critical listening skills


I counted 28 references to me since my last post - not counting quotes - and saw not one word about the actual issue at hand which is "acoustic treatment tweaks out there that include SMALL LITTLE things" as stated in the very first post of this thread. Since this thread has degraded into ad hominem personal attacks with no technical substance, I'd like to get things back on track by discussing specific products that might be considered too small to be effective. We'll start with the Cathedral Panels I mentioned earlier. I imagine this is a product our esteemed Mr. Frogge can relate to. Perhaps we'll continue on to some other small products later.

I'll preface what follows by reminding everyone that I am in the business of selling acoustic treatment. I believe my statements below stand on their own merit, but unlike others in this biz I will not hide my association with the business of acoustics. I disable my sig in threads like this only to make it clear I am posting as Ethan Winer, not as the owner of RealTraps. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way let's get down to business.

We'll start by examining the claims made by the maker of these panels, and see if we can prove or disprove them. In their original web pages we saw this Before / After graph showing how the Cathedral Panels changed the response in the room:

The very use of waterfall graphs shows that the vendor believes the "improvement" from his products can be measured and displayed scientifically. So right off the bat that negates complaints I anticipate that these panels do not work via the usual acoustic principles. Further, the accompanying text claims the problems solved are "undesirable reverberation" and claims the panels "significantly dampen out [sic] and reduce the unwanted reverberations." As I have pointed out elsewhere, all these test results prove is the vendor's incompetence because nothing changed from Before to After except the overall volume level. So the data presented is either intentionally misleading, or incompetently presented - take your pick.

When "dampening" is added to a room, the peak shapes change in three ways. 1) The peak bandwidths are made wider (lower Q), 2) the decay times are reduced (steeper slopes), and 3) the center frequencies are shifted down slightly. But you see none of those in the graph above, only a lower volume level. Even poor bass traps such as typical corner foam will show at least some affect at 200 Hz, the upper limit tested. To the uninitiated it appears that the decay times were reduced in the After graph, but that's only because the decay trails were pushed past the bottom as the volume was reduced. So the only reasonable interpretation of these graphs is that there was no change.

As mentioned, I tested the Cathedral Panels last year using the same ETF software the Cathedral Panels maker used, and here are the Before and After results of my tests:

As you can see there is no meaningful change. At the same time I tested the Cathedral Panels I also tested three half-filled garbage cans we had laying around our factory. Results here:

Ah, now we can see at least a small improvement in reducing the "undesirable reverberation" at bass frequencies. The peak just above the 92 Hz marker decays more quickly and has a lower Q (wider), and the next higher peak below the 128 Hz mark is improved even more. The remaining four peaks at higher bass frequencies are also improved slightly and show reduced "reverberation" time. Here are some photos of the garbage cans as tested:

I'll also mention that the reason I was asked to test these panels is because the company principles do not understand acoustics enough to test the panels themselves. Think about that! Quoting from an earlier correspondence with one of the company's owners:


Quote:
They are designed to absorb energy from standing waves which build up in the corners of a room ... We do not have the equipment or facilities to do the ETF testing in-house.

Not only does the vendor make claims that can in fact be verified using standard acoustic practices as shown here, apparently they can't muster $150 to buy the ETF software. Or maybe they have ETF but couldn't figure out how to use it?

I'll also mention that the Cathedral Panels site no longer shows any data at all. So this means either they now understand that the product is no more than a placebo, or they do still believe it works but don't understand acoustics enough to explain what it does, or how it works, or why Ethan's tests disprove all of their claims.

So folks, let's now have a discussion of the facts. If anyone here believes I've missed something important in my assessment of this product, let's hear it. And please folks, stick to the facts at hand, keep it civil, and avoid insults. I haven't insulted any of you (too much ) so I'd appreciate you not insulting me.

One last point. The frog wrote:


Quote:
Me, I would say to them "You're not ready to hear the explanation". I'd be wasting my breath trying to explain it to them, because I already know by the way they framed the question, that they would have to make a radical change to their mindset and perhaps gain some understanding of the process before they could begin to understand why my explanation might be valid.


So you're saying you do in fact have an explanation for how these small devices might work. Rather than pre-judge the ability of anyone to understand your explanation, just tell us the explanation. And please be as detailed as possible.

--Ethan

May Belt
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

>>> "However, I hope no one here actually claims that well designed sound treatment appropriately applied does not work, or that it does not tremendously improve the sound.

A good sounding room is at least as important as the equipment placed in it. This is true if you are recording or playing back." <<<

That is the problem. When anyone challenges if a measurement or a graph diagram directly relates to what a person is ACTUALLY hearing, then people begin to ask "Are you actually saying that well designed acoustic treatment does not work or does not improve the sound?"

It should already be 'presumed'- in discussions between intelligent people - that no one is suggesting such a thing !!! What people are suggesting, again presumably from their own personal experience, is that there could well be other factors at work ALSO. Leaving a question mark as to WHAT exactly is it that is altering WHAT part of the WHAT we are hearing. And it really is as much 'in the air' as that !!!

Regards,
May Belt.

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Looking at perception.

Let me take it out of audio for a moment and tell a hypothetical story as an illustration of the concept I am trying to get over. I make no apologies for using the technique of a story, the great Richard Feynman would tell a story at the drop of a hat to try to get a concept over. In saying that, I am not trying to align myself with Richard Feynman's intellect but I am aligning myself with Feynman's courage in being prepared to tell an outrageous story to try to get a concept over.

Here goes. The setting is a place called Storyland - a combination of a hypothetical story and reality.

Your body (everyone's body) is programmed, by evolution, to read/sense it's surrounding environmental temperature every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day of it's life. It does this so that it can maintain a constant body temperature and it does it automatically whether you want it to or not or whether you believe it does it or not !!!

Let us say (hypothetically) that, culturally (meaning mode and practice of living) we live in houses which have 20 window openings at all times. Glass has not been invented but bricks and mortar have so we have houses with walls and a roof but no glass in the window openings. The room temperature is therefore 5 degrees C and our body has therefore to work hard to maintain a constant body temperature of 37 degrees C.

One day, by chance, you block off one of the window openings (because dust is being blown onto an area which you had just painted). The room temperature goes up to 6 degrees C and you say the words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable." You describe it as much more comfortable because your body is not having to work quite as hard to maintain a constant body temperature.

(Instantly, someone is now going to retort "AH, yes, but we would be able to 'MEASURE' that change in temperature with a thermometer."
But, in my story, thermometers had not been invented, so there was no way of 'measuring' any change in temperature only by how you (your body) FELT (sensed it)?)

Change the story slightly with another example. All 20 window openings were unblocked and the room temperature was 5 degrees C. You were experimenting with mixing different chemicals to see what reaction you could get and you mixed Chemical A with Chemical B. There was an instant reaction and the liquid became extremely hot. This caused the room temperature to increase to 6 degrees C. You say the words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable." You describe it as much more comfortable because your body is not having to work quite as hard to maintain a constant body temperature. As I have explained, the thermometer has not been invented but the telephone has !!! You telephone your friend and tell him what you have just done. He tries the same experiment and his body feels the same small change in temperature and he also says the words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable."

Your friend, now with the bit between his teeth, decides to experiment further. HE mixes different chemicals - Chemical C with Chemical D and also gets a reaction and his liquid becomes extremely hot. This causes the room temperature to increase to 6 degrees C. He says the words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable." He telephones you and tells you what he has just discovered and you try the same experiment with the same results and use the same sentence as he used to now describe what you FEEL.

Word begins to spread around via the telephone and people begin to try the things suggested for themselves. Now, because human beings are not identical, their reactions will not be identical. If human beings were identical then there would be about 10 different tastes in food we all liked - and that would be that !! There would be about 10 different tastes in liquid which we all liked - and that would be that !! There would be about 10 different smells which we all liked - and that would be that !! But human beings are not identical so they will have a range of different reactions to the experiments suggested.
Some may perceive the 1 degree change in temperature from blocking the window opening but may not perceive any change from mixing chemicals A and B !! Some may perceive the 1 degree change in temperature from mixing chemicals A and B but may not perceive the 1 degree change in temperature from mixing chemcials C and D and may not perceive the 1 degree change from blocking the window opening !! And, there will be any number of other variations in how different people react to the situations I have described.

The one common point which is important which I cannot emphasise enough - EVERYONE who does perceive the 1 degree change in temperature will use the same words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable." They will use the SAME words because the effect is the SAME - the body has detected the 1 degree change in temperature and is not having to work quite as hard to maintain a constant body temperature. It is the EFFECT which is the same, even though the methods used to get there are different !!

To continue.

Now to introduce a sheep farmer in Australia. There is a glut of sheep wool so the price of wool has dropped, so the farmer decides to hoard his wool until next year in the hope of getting a better price. The only place he can store this wool is in the loft of his house - which is where he puts it. So, quite inadvertently, quite by chance, he raises the temperature in his room from 5 degrees C to 6 degrees C. He says the sentence "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable." He telephones his friend and tells his friend what he has just done. His friend tries the same thing and experiences the same result and uses the same words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable."

The sheep farmer and his friend decide to telephone around their friends and tell them that if they too want to feel much more comfortable, then they too should put sheeps wool in their loft. The sheep farmer and his friend have success in marketing their sheep wool. They explain all this to people by using a truism - that that is what Nature does - that is why the sheep grows wool in the first place - to provide insulation for the sheep !! The sheep farmer and his friend have some success so a small (insulation) business is created.

The sheep farmer and his friend have an element of truth on their side - Nature DOES provide wool as an insulation for the sheep. The sheep farmer and his friend use the words which everyone uses after fitting their wool in the loft - "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable." as proof that THEY are right!!

So, when the sheep farmer and his friend hear what other people are claiming in other parts of the world that mixing Chemical A with Chemical B to create a hot liquid makes them "feel better and much more comfortable" they react by saying "Don't be silly. How can mixing Chemical A with Chemical B possibly have anything to do with insulation ? You must be imagining it all. You cannot be right. What you are doing does not fit the laws of Nature. Our wool treatment is based on the laws of Nature."

What no one is realising is that it is the SAME perception - the body is able to detect (sense) the 1 degree change in environmental temperature, enabling the body not to have to work quite as hard in maintaining a constant body temperature - therefore the SAME words are used to describe the SAME thing happening - even though it has been achieved by different methods.

Moving on somewhat - back to you but now further down the line. You have continued experimenting. You have blocked off one window opening and gained 1 degree C improvement. You have mixed Chemical A with chemical B and gained another 1 degree C improvement. You have mixed Chemical C with chemical D and gained another 1 degree C improvement. Now the room temperature has increased to 8 degrees C. You body is having to work even less hard to maintain a constant body temperature so the words you use have changed somewhat. You now use the words "Oh, it's amazing how much better I feel, how amazingly comfortable I feel than I used to." The words used are now slightly different and you can readily recognise who else has reached that particular stage by the words they now use.

But, the sheep farmer and his friend just cannot understand why you are saying the things you are saying, why you are claiming the improvements you are claiming, how you can possibly be feeling 'more comfortable'. You are not doing anything whatsoever they can recognise as 'insulating' - what you are doing is not following their understanding of the Laws of Nature !!!!!!!! So, obviously, they are not prepared to try the same experiments as you have - they consider them nonsensical.

Back to the people who have done nothing, who have tried none of the things which have been suggested and who are reacting to what you are describing.
When they say that they 'feel' perfectly comfortable so what could you possibly be talking about, they are actually correct. If their body only knows the room temperature of 5 degrees C and has never been exposed to another, different temperature, then of course they continue to 'feel' comfortable - as comfortable as they have always felt.
The body is sensitive enough to register very small changes - those changes do not have to be huge - the body does not have to be exposed to a sudden 10 degrees C change before it can register any change.

I will leave it at this point with the words used by KBK "It is the thought processes that surround the situation which needs to be modified or re-considered."

It is the thought processes I am trying to encourage in my articles on PFO. If you can find some basis in the story I have just given for continuing with this, Jan, then I will try to progress further.

Regards,
May Belt.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Now to introduce a sheep farmer in Australia. There is a glut of sheep wool so the price of wool has dropped, so the farmer decides to hoard his wool until next year in the hope of getting a better price. The only place he can store this wool is in all the corners and 90 degree angles of his listening room which houses the newly invented "hifi" - which is where he puts it. So, quite inadvertently, quite by chance, he listens and discovers the music sounds "different". He says the sentence "Oh that is better. I hear what is much more intangibly higher definition." He telephones his friend and tells his friend what he has just done. His friend tries the same thing and experiences the same result and uses the same words "Oh that is better. That is much more comfortable. Now I can hear my wife screaming she's going to leave me if I don't get all this wool out of the room"

The sheep farmer and his friend decide to telephone around their friends and tell them that if they too want much more intangibly higher definition and their wives threatening them, then they too should put sheeps wool in their room. The sheep farmer and his friend have success in marketing their wife removal device. They explain all this to people by using a truism - that that is what wife's hate - that is why the sheep grows wool in the first place - to provide devices which will cause your wife to leave you!! The sheep farmer and his friend have some success so a small (room treatment/wife removal) business is created.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Elk, no one disputes room treatments. What I intended, and I believe May and Frog meant the same, is no meaurements translate to a perception of sound by a human being. They are nothing more than measurements. Totally distinct from perception. Perception can make us aware of things not always measureable. Show me "soundstage" in any of the measurements. Soundstage doesn't exist until you perceive "soundstage" (which you learned from someone else, it's not your "soundstage" to perceive) and it doesn't change until you perceive an alteration accomplished by or faciltated by room treatments. Whether those treatments are traditional or not, it is your perception of the benefit which is important to this thread.

As in May's story, it is not the rise in temperature that is relevant, the temperature would rise with or without you in the room (as would the measured "change" with traditional room panels). It is only when you perceive the sense of warmth ("soundstage"), that you then say, "Oh, that's better." If you leave the room, the temperature measurement will remain the same. You will perceive something different becuase you are no longer in the room. Come back into the room and your perception will once again change.

It comes down to a tree falling in the forest and no one there.

That has been a consistent problem with this thread, the muddling of ideas that have nothing to do with one another. As far as I'm concerned this thread should have dealt with perception from the get go. It is due to the constant attempts to ridicule the Mpingo discs and other devices which have prevented this thread from addressing the issue of perception and who gets to shut down someone else's ability to hear something or learn something from experience. The constant attempts to drag this thread back to the first page of the discussion have kept this thread from going anywhere.

This thread really is not about how any device works or whether any device works better than another device. This thread is about how we perceive what is already in the room and whether any one individual has the right to short circuit another's curiousity.

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Re: Fraud or incompetence, either way the consumer loses


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I counted 28 references to me since my last post

You counted the references to you??????!!!!!

Why?

Did you include "Ethanistic", "Ethanism" and "Ethan Ubu Roi"?


Quote:
... and saw not one word about the actual issue at hand which is "acoustic treatment tweaks out there that include SMALL LITTLE things" as stated in the very first post of this thread

What part of "that is not the issue at hand" are you having trouble comprehending?

Thanks for taking up a big chunk of the page with those photos and graphs. They mean nothing to this thread!

If you would like to dicuss perception now, you are more than welcome to rejoin the discussion. But there's nothing to discuss that your charts and graphs can contribute to this discussion.

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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
BTW, I brought up Ethan's comments about cables to make a point about the importance of critical listening skills, not about the importance of wiring your system with good cables.

I declared cables and such to be AL GORE'S!!! early on in this thread because they are used by one side or the other - more likely one side - to "prove" the insanity of the other side's argument. They are meant to distract the conversation and serve as proof that if you do/don't believe in cables, hear a difference/improvement/nothing, own the same cable I do, yadayada, then how can you understand anything. They are introduced as Red Herrings which quickly devolve into AL GORE'S!!! by the very nature of the vehemence both sides display toward the very concept of cables or Al Gore. At least there's only one Al Gore while there are thousands of cables with which to further confuse the mix.


Quote:
Interesting interpretation, but I don't think that is what is generally meant by the audio term "critical listening". It derives from the term "critical thinking", which is not the same as "criticizing", or "finding fault". In audio, the difference between casual listening and critical listening, is that critical listening will invariably involve some form of analysis of what you are listening. Hence the reason it is used to judge differences during tests.

I'm not certain whether this has much to do with the thread or not. Something tells me it does. I may have been busy the day the Jesuits discussed "Critical Thinking" but I seem to remember it referring to "critiquing" the organization of ideas. Now, a critique can include good and bad - though we tend to emphasize the bad today - but none the less, comparing "Critical" or "Attentive" listening/thinking to the skills we use when listening to music seems a stretch. For example, under "Attentive Listening" in your link, I would say only A4 and B4 apply to listening to music. C seems totally irrelevant to the subject of music and under "Critical Listening" only the paranthetical comments from the subset "Critical Thinking" A2 and A4 have anything to do with listening to music.

I don't want to make too much of this but the article is appropriate to listening in a situation where questions can and will be exchanged.

My reason for avoiding "Critical Listening" is 1) the objective when it is applied to music and 2) the result when it is used with reproduced music. If I'm listening critically to critique some aspect of the performance/venue/composition, etc, that is one thing. That cannot tell me anything about the reproduction system and isn't the intent of such critical listening. If I apply "Critical Listening" to assess the quality of the system, what am I judging? Am I judging the end result which is the music or am I judging how the performance of the system changes? The former appeals to the "creative" side of my brain which is where music belongs. The latter appeals to my "logical" side which reduces the music to a side show. I have effectively shut down my creative side which enjoys the music in order to "Listen Critically" to the artifacts of the system. I didn't buy my system to judge its performance. I bought my system in order to enjoy music and the performance of the system facilitates that enjoyment. To remove my intent in owning a high quality system from my listening enjoyment is, I feel, like judging a sports car on how many cup holders it has in the trunk.

Isn't one of the problems with DBT's that they require the listener to shut down the part of their brain they would employ when actually "using" their system?


Quote:
I think most audiophiles, including me, find the opposite; that listening critically helps you find the "surprises, twists, turns and new bits of information within the music", because you are putting more attention on listening to the music, than under casual listening conditions.

Possibly we just disagree on the terms "casual" and "critical". Casual listening, to me, is performed from the other room.


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Think of how you advance. Can't advance when there are roadblocks and you won't go past them.

I find this very germane to the thread. How do we advance? Don't we all have our own set of roadblocks that we move from one location to the next. One of the articles in my "May Belt" file discusses Peter's intial instant of "perception". As a well versed engineer he had a "Come to Jesus" moment when he perceived something he had not, until that moment, realized as existing. Whether you agree or disagree or fall somewhere in the middle of his concepts how he took that step over his own roadblocks must have some significance to this thread. Like I said earlier in the thread, a Linn LP12 on a lightweight support shelf - what fool first had the courage to put that in print?


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So if you're not closing doors right and left, because you think you're clever enough to know already what's on the other side, you're further along the bunny trail than those who do.

You should just be observant of the bunny poop. It will lead you to water.


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It's a given that anyone (who isn't deaf) can listen to music, that requires no skill or knowledge.

I know someone will find humor in this but I've sold systems to deaf listeners We carried out the entire transactions on bits of paper.

But I was really discusssing the "advanced understanding of audio" anyone is required to possess before they can be qualified to hear what's in the room. If we portray this "heightened perception" as a higher knowledge, aren't we risking loosing anyone who doesn't care to work hard enough to acquire more knowledge? If so, how is more knowledge and higher perception made palatable to someone with an inquisitive mind? You know, someone who asks about unorthodox room treatments.


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Well I haven't taken a survey, so I won't say why or indeed whether most Americans listen to classical, visit art museums or go to the theatre. But I will say there could be and I think are, a number of factors involved here. Cost, exposure, education, interest, etc. etc.

We're straying off course here, I think. But both my degrees are in Theatre Arts and I would say most people have never been educated in the the various arts in school so they feel they "don't get" art. Why do the football programs at most universities get the sums of money they do in the US while the entire arts programs at the same school would be consumed in the cost of the cheerleaders' uniforms?

More importantly, why don't people want to use live music as a reference? I'd always ask and most of my clients seldom if ever attended live performances. Isn't this where perception of what is available in the room starts?


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What changes? The "changes" that are already in the room?

The changes brought about by the device you've introduced into the room. I believe we were talking about tests at this point.

Oh, I thought we were avoiding "tests" at this point. I thought we were discussing the perception of what is present and not worried about whether we can "test" for any changes. I was hoping to keep this about perception and not necessarily about measurements.


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Fair enough, but maybe he was a lunatic?

Could have been but he was at least a likeable lunatic - with a uniform. Still his perception is my point. True enough there may have been no bunny poop to see (he may have carried it with him and pulled it out of his pocket at an opportune moment) and he may have never found water. So what does that say about who you want to learn from? Is everyone who perceives something different than the "normal" folk someone who should be ignored? The Ethans of the world seem to think so.


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No, you can perceive things that you have no knowledge of beforehand.

How about an example?


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I'm something of an expert at that, if I may say so myself. You start out with an open mind. The more open and willing mind will have the most to learn, the less will have less. Then you follow the right path.

Hmm, Kemosabee, that sound simple. Before I go galloping off into bad guys' camp while you sit here safe and cozy ... which is right path?


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Me, I would say to them "You're not ready to hear the explanation". I'd be wasting my breath trying to explain it to them, because I already know by the way they framed the question, that they would have to make a radical change to their mindset and perhaps gain some understanding of the process before they could begin to understand why my explanation might be valid. Otherwise, long before they get to my explanation, they'd be hitting the brick wall in front of them, they made of their preconceived ideologies. And won't know how to get around it.

Isn't that what Ethan was doing? Dismissing someone who he felt "didn't get it"? What's the difference in what you're saying?


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Well, when you think you know it all, I guess there's no more to know. So that answers that question!

"Say goodnight, Gracie."

"Goodnight Gracie."

There's a lot still to know!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
Looking at perception.

I think I get what you're saying. I'm going to have to think on it a bit.

I will say, I bet you're a lot of fun at a dinner party!

Elk
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
That is the problem. When anyone challenges if a measurement or a graph diagram directly relates to what a person is ACTUALLY hearing, then people begin to ask "Are you actually saying that well designed acoustic treatment does not work or does not improve the sound?"

It should already be 'presumed'- in discussions between intelligent people - that no one is suggesting such a thing !!!


I think you are forgetting the context of my comment. Ethan makes acoustic treatment products and his measurements pertain to these products.

Specifically, I was addressing Mr. Frog's statement:


Quote:
Despite the posturing and the waterfall graphs, nowhere that I've seen has Ethan proven that the measured differences are significant to human listeners, and directly correlate with the audible claims for the products.


Ethan makes room treatment devices - very good ones - and can easily demonstrate the impact on sound reproduction. His graphs and measurements pertain to his products.

If Mr. Frog is claiming that the Ethan has failed to establish that Real Traps products work and indeed greatly improve the sound of a less than acoustically perfect room, Mr. Frog is incorrect.

Likewise, if Mr. Frog is asserting that readily measured multiple dB changes in frequency response are not significant to human listeners and do not directly correlate to audible improvements he is similarly incorrect. This is very basic, and well-established and can be read in any basic book on acoustics. Acoustics is a science, not speculation.

Finally, Ethan has posted some graphs of analysis of other products that claim to change the frequency response in a room - but in fact fail to do so. This application of basic acoustic measurement is also legitimate.

OTOH, Mr. Frog my be making an entirely different point - in which case I defer to him to clarify as he sees fit.

As a separate point, while I fully agree with the majority of Ethan's comments and respect his knowledge, I disagree with Ethan that everything acoustic is understood and can be measured. I think there is more going on yet that we do not yet fully understand. The basics are however very well understood and are fully measurable, as Ethan points out.

Elk
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
Elk, no one disputes room treatments. What I intended, and I believe May and Frog meant the same, is no meaurements translate to a perception of sound by a human being. They are nothing more than measurements. Totally distinct from perception.


I understand the distinction. You made the point a bit more clearly.

However, as this concept applies to our general understanding of acoustics it is a distinction without meaning. We do, in fact, know what makes a room sound better, can measure it, can model it as CAD and can build it. And - not coincidentally, but complete by design - the new space will work and will sound good. (We can continue to get better however - not everything is known.)


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Perception can make us aware of things not always measureable.


Absolutely. This initial perception is what makes us want to understand and investigate. Often we become very capable of measuring our perception, such as developing thermometers to measure our perception of temperature.


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Show me "soundstage" in any of the measurements.


Pro sound editing software provide various measurements of soundstage, stereophonic placement and even 3-D representations of where sound is in a soundfield. It's very cool and fun to play with.

We additionally understand how to place instruments either toward the front or toward the back. One does this by manipulating late reflections and frequency response of both the instrument's primary sound, and even more of the reverberation's sound. For example, we all have noticed that instruments that are further away sound darker and the reverb sounds darker as well (less high frequencies). By manipulating this information we can control depth of soundstage.

These tools can also be applied to existing recordings. Once can widen or narrow soundstage, make it all move forward, etc.


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Soundstage doesn't exist until you perceive "soundstage"


Only if you define "soundstage" to mean it must be experienced by a human to be a "soundstage". As indicated above, it can be measured and graphically illustrated.

I can make a solo alto voice sound the size of a normal person or sound as large as an elephant, and put her wherever you would like - forward, back, side to side - and in some systems even up and down.


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Whether those treatments are traditional or not, it is your perception of the benefit which is important to this thread.


My impression is that everyone understands this. The argument is whether this perception is based on actual physical phenomena or whether it is founded in perceptual bias wholly unrelated to physical reality.


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If you leave the room, the temperature measurement will remain the same. You will perceive something different becuase you are no longer in the room. Come back into the room and your perception will once again change.


Of course. And this perception is based on a physical reality that is easily measurable, verifiable, repeatable and easily understood.

The debate occurs when the observer claims that his perception is that the room is much warmer when he adds a small brass cone to the room, but the room is demonstrably still the same temperature. The debate becomes even more interesting when only some people perceive it as warmer, but the majority find that it feels the same.

And then there is the issue of whether the perceiver can perceive warmth when his eyes are closed and cannot see whether the cone is in the room.


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It comes down to a tree falling in the forest and no one there.


I don't think so. Even in the classic definitional example cited, no one disputes that the falling tree released acoustical energy into the air and that this could have been recorded, measured and understood. It undeniably exists. It is also undeniable that if a human was present this energy would have been heard as sound. Whether one chooses to call this "sound" is merely definitional.


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This thread is about how we perceive what is already in the room and whether any one individual has the right to short circuit another's curiousity.


Of course we should all try things out and learn from our own experiences.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Elk, why are you having a problem discussing perception? Acoustic treatments are only effective at the time someone listens to program material. Nothing in Ethan's graphs says improved "soundstage", "imaging" or "clarity" as described in his advertisement. If it does, please, point to it.

You could say Ethan is practising false advertising since he cannot prove such improvements will occur. Charts and graphs only provide data. Equipment doesn't care diddly about "soundstage", "imaging" and "clarity", equipment only makes squiggly lines on a piece of paper. Equipment doesn't know "improvement" from bunny poop. Only by observation and testimony can we infer any such things will result. Those testimonies are all the result of perceptions made by the listener and are not any different than the perception of improved soundstage, clarity and imaging made by any user of any unorthodox room treatment.

If a tree falls ...

Elk, what's the problem?

Buddha
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Can we make "Perception" a new thread?

There is a residual contention vibe that persists here.

"Perception" is a fascinating topic, and I bet we could have fun with less acrimony on a fresh thread.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...


Quote:
We do, in fact, know what makes a room sound better

How do we "know" what makes a room "sound better"? Until we hear a sound, how do we know whether it's "better"? And better than what?


Quote:

Quote:
Perception can make us aware of things not always measureable.

Absolutely. This initial perception is what makes us want to understand and investigate. Often we become very capable of measuring our perception, such as developing thermometers to measure our perception of temperature.

And if you say, "I feel like I have a temperature", and the thermometer indicates you do not, which is correct? What you "feel" or what the thermometer measures? You can accept the thermometer's information but does that make your feeling go away? If so, why not just sell thermometers that don't show a temperature?

However, your first point is valid. It is our perception and curiousity which will probably lead us to develop a measuring device that tracks as closely as possible what we experience. Unless someone shuts down the curiousity of the individual who wishes to create a measuring device to track what they feel. But the experience comes first. People had temperatures before thay had a thermometer to measure that temperature.

Sufficient numbers of observers must first report the experience. Sufficient numbers of listeners have reported "improvements' with the Shakti and other devices. Technicians have tracked the improvements wrought by the Shalti Stone on a motor. Where does that leave us? In need of a device to track what we know we hear and feel?

If we shut down the desire to experience the perception or to explore where the perception leads us, where are we going to end up? That is my complaint with Ethan's intial response. He attempted to stop all further exploration of the devices and what the listener could perceive by using them. Is it possible the questioner might have even found something else to explore after they experienced the Mpingo discs? They won't get the opportunity if they take Ethan's advice.


Quote:
Pro sound editing software provide various measurements of soundstage, stereophonic placement and even 3-D representations of where sound is in a soundfield.

You are confusing your perception of where a sound "occurs" within a soundfield with the two dimensional representation of a signal on a screen. You are not hearing the machine's representation, you are hearing the actual signal. You, or someone like you, told the equipment what to plot based upon what you, or someone like you, perceives as real. What if the two "measuring devices" were wrong? Which would you believe, the machine's graph or your ears? What if a reflecting surface makes the image sound to you in a different location than what the machine indicates. The information you fed the machine was correct but you didn't instruct the machine to recognize the reflective surface. You won't hear what the machine tells you is correct.


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Only if you define "soundstage" to mean it must be experienced by a human to be a "soundstage".

How else could I mean it? What is a "soundstage" to a machine? It's what you tell it is - a "soundstage" you could have labelled it a "melon" but didn't for the sake of consistency - but your human perception of "soundstage" had to come first - and last. If what you hear is not what the machine indicates, you'll throw out that machine and find one that tracks what you are hearing. So you control what you perceive from both the original signal and the machine. Your perception does not change, only the equipment you use to track your perception.


Quote:
I can make a solo alto voice sound the size of a normal person or sound as large as an elephant, and put her wherever you would like - forward, back, side to side - and in some systems even up and down.

It is only your perception of the "image" that varies. The machine simply follows the information you have fed it. It is your perception which guides the machine to "recognize" what you hear. By your logic no one could have heard a soundstage until a machine plotted it on a graph. That's probably not the case.


Quote:
My impression is that everyone understands this.

My perception of the events would lead me to believe we are now on page 35 of this thread and most people who have joined this thread do not understand what you believe is obvious. If you're correct, why weren't we discussing perception by page 4?


Quote:

Of course. And this perception is based on a physical reality that is easily measurable, verifiable, repeatable and easily understood.

Right! We experienced the perception of a different feeling. Then we developed instruments which could further explain what we felt. But don't all people experience cold and hot in different ways and to different degrees of sensitivity? If they go outside and they feel cold, they don't care what the thermometer says. How is that different from two individuals experiencing variations in "improved soundstaging" when they both employ the Mpingo discs? Or traditional room devices? You've read the ad for Real Traps. How much improvement did the Traps make in "clarity"? According to you and Ethan it's measurable.


Quote:
The debate occurs when the observer claims that his perception is that the room is much warmer when he adds a small brass cone to the room, but the room is demonstrably still the same temperature. The debate becomes even more interesting when only some people perceive it as warmer, but the majority find that it feels the same.

Why is there a "debate"? Are you calling one of those listeners a liar or a lunatic? One individual perceived the experience differently than the other. Do you not believe they perceived what they reported? Why would they lie unless they wanted to mislead you? Do you think Jason is trying to mislead you when he reports positive results from the Shakti device?


Quote:
Even in the classic definitional example cited, no one disputes that the falling tree released acoustical energy into the air and that this could have been recorded, measured and understood. It undeniably exists. It is also undeniable that if a human was present this energy would have been heard as sound. Whether one chooses to call this "sound" is merely definitional.

Elk!!!


Quote:
Of course we should all try things out and learn from our own experiences.

Then why didn't you suggest that to Ethan on page 2 of this thread? Why did this thread spend so much time asking about threads outside a window?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

I'm not sure the acrimony would go away with a new thread. There seems to be a fair amount of resentment and I don't know what on the forum as a whole; http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showf...part=1&vc=1

And I have to say most of it seems to be directed at me if I read that thread correctly. Or at least at anyone who cares to not go along with the forum's main topic which is all audiophiles are fools and nothing we believe is true.

Will a new thread change that or just change its location?

We can take a vote.

I vote stay here.

And I see no reason for anyone who has not already particpated in this thread to be allowed a vote.

If you'd prefer, we could ask Stephen to rename this thread "Perception".

linden518
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

I disagree and I think non-participants should be allowed their votes as well. We are the ones who are actually reading the posts with cooler heads, we have no dog in the fight. As an outsider who hasn't participated in this thread, I'd like to see you guys start a new thread as I feel this thread has seriously run its course. First of all, you can't expect people to follow the strings of arguments that have gone on for 35+ pages. Second of all, whenever I check the thread, someone is regurgitating some argument mentioned a few pages back, hence the constant "Why aren't you answering my question?" "I've already answered that question 2 years ago!" ad nauseum. A lot of the times I check this thread, it feels like the old news. That said, though, I do feel that the thread has taken a new turn, and that there's room for a new discussion... so start a fresh thread fellas.

May Belt
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

You raise a valid point. But, the one problem with changing the title of the discussion to Perception is that all the back discussion is left behind in another thread !!

If the title of the new thread is Perception then it will not be very long down that discussion path before someone comes in with "Where are your measurements to prove what you are saying." AND "But you are not taking into consideration the real acoustic air pressure waves." - so starting the whole (previous) saga again !!

Whereas, in any discussion on Perception, I think I can safely say that no one is ignoring real acoustic air pressure waves, real reflected sound waves, real reflected and delayed sound waves - just debating that those are not 100% of the whole story.

Regards,
May Belt.

linden518
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

I get your point, May. But all other threads, too, inevitably have overlap; it's not a concern unique to this thread only. Same details & discussions do come up which have been raised before. Besides, people who have been reading this thread will know what details are being mentioned, and the new ones - believe me - won't be slogging through the 35 pp of this stuff anyway to get the backstory, as it were. So I don't think there should be too much anxiety about what's being left out. Besides, from the way some of the participants have been going at it - a lot of times very passionately & intelligently - I'm sure they'll figure out different & innovative ways to reprise us of what's been discussed before. If "Perception" thread isn't quite it, why not start a different thread in conjunction? I'm sure most of us will be able to follow different strands. I appreciate your input here, btw.

Elk
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Jan, it appears that the real problem you have with this thread is that you do not get to control its content and direction. Fortunately, none of us can exert such control. A thread is a discussion.

Let's take a brief look at the initial development of the thread:

The OP asked this question: "why would any reasonable person, with even a tiny bit of acoustics awareness, entertain the idea that itty bitty things inside a room would help?"

Ethan was the first to respond, stating: "The small things you mentioned work entirely on placebo effect and the power of suggestion."

RabPaul responded: "All that matters is that can you hear a difference. If you think its all in your mind then do a double blind test and get a second opinion from your spouse, a friend or another audiophile. Must everything you hear need an explanation?"

Jan added, "The laws of physical science don't change at the whim of anyone. However, there are more than a few incidences which are not explained by those laws."

I attempted to define some theory and law so we had some common terminology: "As used by scientists, a theory is an established, thoroughly tested, comprehensive explanation. A theory is as strong and as certain as it gets; all known facts regarding the matter are consistent.

A physical or scientific law is a statement or formula founded in observation and empirical analysis. A scientific law describes an observable characteristic of the natural world which has been rigorously and repeatedly tested."

I then set forth what I found the issue to be: "Speaker cables [as an example] happily follow all known laws of physics. The issue remains whether - while operating within these laws - there are discernible differences."

All this in the first three pages.

We have discussed the OP's question from the beginning. Some rely on science, others on personal experience, etc. We all have a take on the issue. If yours is "perception" this is fine. However you ned to accept that there are other ways of "perceiving" the OP's question.

Your take seems to be that of Bishop Berkeley; Esse est percipi ("To be is to be perceived"). Berekely postulated that we cannot know if an object actually is; we can only possibly know if an object is perceived by our minds.

Berekely was the empiricist's empiricist. He argued that the mere act of thinking about what we perceive induces errors.

This is fine. Eighteenth century Western philosophy is a delightful study. I've been there. Yet, there are other approaches to the same questions. Thus, the variety of responses.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

I'm not trying to be combative, Elk, Just stating my position.

(I had originally placed this at the end of this post. I have now editted the response to put it above the remarks. I hope reading that sentence first gives you a better perception of what I intended - what you will find already within this space.)


Quote:
Jan, it appears that the real problem you have with this thread is that you do not get to control its content and direction.

That's the real problem with this thread? I think not, the "problem" with this thread is the desire of a few who wish to tell others what their problem is.


Quote:
We have discussed the OP's question from the beginning.

Three threads, BS on BM, tiny pieces of Ethan's foam and his frilly shirt. Those were discussion of the OP's question? You and I see different questions then.


Quote:
However you ned to accept that there are other ways of "perceiving" the OP's question.

My response to Ethan on page 2 was; "To tell someone they simply cannot be hearing what they know they are is somewhat arrogant. You are certainly free to not try them but it would seem foolish to suggest anyone who tries these tweaks is simply delusional."

The issue of the thread has been about who gets to decide what another person should hear or think. Has it not? That very few responses to my posts wanted to deal with that issue and preferred instead to ridicule the idea of something they did not understand, doesn't change the direction I tried to plot for this thread from the very beginning, a direction which you at times facilitated.

Elk, if you and Ethan wish to discuss the size of a room treatment, go ahead. I am done with that "argument". Perception is where I've tried to steer this thread from page 2. Those who wish to join the discussion of perception can do so and and those who don't are under no obligation to respond in any way to my posts. How does that make me want to control this thread? I do, however, believe two contrary issues evolving inside one thread is counterproductive and will only lead to another 35 pages of what we've alerady experienced.

If by thinking this thread needs a unifiying issue you feel that makes me desire "control" of this thread, then you go ahead and think that. If my realization that I cannot change the minds of those who will not even discuss the possibility of another person's perception varying from their own makes me a control freak, then that's where this thread sits.

I'm not out to prove discs or cables or panels "work". My only real issues have been 1) to discuss whether one person should be allowed to shut down the curiousity of another by relying strictly on their own limited perception of what is possible and 2) that measurements and measuring tools are not preceiving anything, only a human can perceive what is in the room. I've tried to discuss perception as an individual experience and a chart or graph as not being perception but rather a reflection of the human perception which programmed into the machine what to print out. Others have tried to define anything that doesn't agree with their opinion as some form of lunacy or - MY GOD! - wanting to control the disussion. Which do you believe is the more productive approach to this thread?

If your Bishop Berkeley reference was an attempt to discuss perception, perhaps I could find more meaning to the idea if it were kept outside of your reasons why this thread is in my control. Would you care to restate the case for Bishop Berkeley?

I'm not trying to be combative, Elk, Just stating my position.

May Belt
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Re: Charts and graphs were prepared for the sceptics ...

Jan, can I request a qualification of one of your statements please ? You said "As a well versed engineer Peter had a "Come to Jesus" moment."
Do you mean a "Come to Jesus" as in forming some sort of religious cult or as in experiencing a "Eureka" moment ?

Regards,
May Belt.

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