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Nikola Tesla
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In Support of the Middle Ground

Mirroring our current political landscape, the audio world appears to have largely retreated to two philosophical strongholds in polar opposition to one another. In one, we find those who refer to themselves as objectivists, while the other is populated by those known as subjectivists. Proponents of each dogma tend to denigrate and dismiss the principles of the other, claiming theirs to be the only true path to audio enlightenment and bliss. No good arises out of the incessant sniping and bickering between the two camps, least of all for the audio hobby in general, and I submit to you that, as with most diametrically opposed perspectives, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

By definition, audio objectivists are concerned with technical measurements, charts, and, graphs. Objectivists, by and large, consider the “science” of analyzing audio reproduction superior to emotional assessments submitted by subjectivist riffraff. Their mantra is, Fidelity, fidelity, fidelity!” And who would argue against a need for the measureable performance of any piece of audio gear being competitive with those of its counterparts?

Nevertheless, any devotion to clinical analysis must be tempered by a practical appreciation of what is audibly significant. For example, no one is going to hear the noise difference between one amplifier posting a signal-to-noise measurement of 90 dB and another producing a 110 dB S/N ratio when heard in a room with 40 dB SPL or more of background noise (essentially all non-anechoic listening environments). And who can present a cogent argument that there is an audible difference between an amp producing 0.05% of THD and one with 0.005% when both are played through a pair of speakers producing more than 0.5% distortion (virtually every loudspeaker in the world)?

Furthermore, playing a strictly numbers game can border on the impossible, because one must consider all of the numbers, not just the usual suspects. There are a myriad of performance parameters to measure and compare, and not all will be represented among the test data provided in any review. Mark Twain once offered a comment to the effect that statistics are often the worst kind of lies, and audio reviewers are not above cherry-picking their test results to present a more or less flattering product picture based on their own personal prejudices.

In the opposite corner of the ring are the subjectivists, who tend to minimize, if not completely dismiss, the importance of bench testing and objective test data in favor of an impressionistic approach to the hobby. Since their avenue of audio evaluation is primarily emotional and subjective, it is rife with pitfalls courtesy of various psychogenic factors and an endless procession of shrewd marketeers, not to mention outright charlatans hawking a plethora of bogus goods. This is not to say that subjective evaluation is entirely without merit, but the fact remains that one person’s “shrill” system is another’s “detailed” system.

That is the nature of subjectivity. And, while trained listeners may be capable of detecting musical nuances that an untrained ear cannot, their preferences and conclusions are still subjective. Terms such as boomy, warm, thin, sharp, crisp, and so forth might be explained by an accentuation in one portion of the audio band or another, or may have more to do with the listening environment or the reviewer’s emotional state than with the equipment. These perceived qualities will also vary with the source material employed, for which there is no objective benchmark. As such, they might best be taken with a grain of salt.

In the strictest sense, audio reproduction isn’t a science any more than the production of recorded musical content is. To be sure, there are countless technical and technological aspects to both, but healthy doses of art and personal preference are applied at both ends of the music chain. It is precisely this marriage of art and technology that makes this hobby so absorbing and suggests that we may be best served by pursuing a course somewhere between the two extreme approaches.

Most importantly, let’s never lose sight of the fact that this is a hobby, and hobbies should be enjoyable. If you are continually scrutinizing and analyzing your system’s fidelity each time you listen, instead of enjoying the experience, or are perpetually chasing the next best thing based on either bench testing results or glowing reviews, you are most certainly missing the point.

geoffkait
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I don’t think I’ve seen quite

I don’t think I’ve seen quite so many Strawman arguments in one post. And by Strawman argument I mean logical fallacy. Furthermore if there weren’t two sides, subjectivity and objectivity, we would have no audio forums left, which actually isn’t saying much since all the audio forums that used to thrive and be very active with many participants are now dead sites with virtually no activity. Examples, you ask? How about this one, and Audio Asylum, once the darlings of audiophiles. Audiogon isn’t far behind. I’m from the future where there are no audio forums, I only come back here for the jokes.

Nikola Tesla
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geoffkait wrote:
geoffkait wrote:

I don’t think I’ve seen quite so many Strawman arguments in one post. And by Strawman argument I mean logical fallacy. Furthermore if there weren’t two sides, subjectivity and objectivity, we would have no audio forums left, which actually isn’t saying much since all the audio forums that used to thrive and be very active with many participants are now dead sites with virtually no activity. Examples, you ask? How about this one, and Audio Asylum, once the darlings of audiophiles. Audiogon isn’t far behind. I’m from the future where there are no audio forums, I only come back here for the jokes.

The Straw Man argument appears to be yours.

geoffkait
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Nikola Tesla wrote,

Nikola Tesla wrote,

In the opposite corner of the ring are the subjectivists, who tend to minimize, if not completely dismiss, the importance of bench testing and objective test data in favor of an impressionistic approach to the hobby. Since their avenue of audio evaluation is primarily emotional and subjective, it is rife with pitfalls courtesy of various psychogenic factors and an endless procession of shrewd marketeers, not to mention outright charlatans hawking a plethora of bogus goods. This is not to say that subjective evaluation is entirely without merit, but the fact remains that one person’s “shrill” system is another’s “detailed” system.

He also wrote,

In the strictest sense, audio reproduction isn’t a science any more than the production of recorded musical content is. To be sure, there are countless technical and technological aspects to both, but healthy doses of art and personal preference are applied at both ends of the music chain. It is precisely this marriage of art and technology that makes this hobby so absorbing and suggests that we may be best served by pursuing a course somewhere between the two extreme approaches.

>>>>>Perfect examples of strawman arguments. I.e., logical fallacies. Thanks. :-)

Nikola Tesla
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The Straw Man argument is

The Straw Man argument is always offered as a retort, not a proposition. Any rational individual is welcome to compare a definition of the Straw Man argument to each of our posts and decide for him- or herself which of our posts fits it. Example below:

"A straw man (sometimes written as strawman) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one.[1] One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man.

The typical straw man argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition through the covert replacement of it with a different proposition (i.e., "stand up a straw man") and the subsequent refutation of that false argument ("knock down a straw man") instead of the opponent's proposition. Straw man arguments have been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly regarding highly charged emotional subjects."

I will not be trolled into a debate with an individual who hawks magic crystals, quantum temple bells, teleportation tweaks, and CD re-animator light guns to the gullible out of a condo in Falls Church. The website below is your website, is it not?

    http://www.machinadynamica.com/
geoffkait
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Dude, I will not be lured

Dude, I will not be lured into some ridiculous debate with some closed minded wannabe who has the chutzpah to use Nikola Tesla as his moniker. If you want to have a discussion about Tesla I’d be more than happy to oblige, what do you know about his theory of the numbers 3, 6 and 9? Or if you really want to get technical what’s your opinion whether or not cables and fuses are “directional” sound wise even when they’re in an AC circuit. Would Nikola Tesla approve of your opinion?

Nikola Tesla
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Seek help.

Seek help.

geoffkait
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I expected nothing more.

I expected nothing more. Sometimes it’s good to have low expectations. Maybe you should consider changing your moniker to Albert Einstein.

geoffkait
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For those interested in such

For those interested in such matters the reason cables and fuses are “directional” in all types of circuits including AC circuits, thank you Nikola Tesla, is because the current only travels toward the speaker on one wire at a time, so if you have thoughtfully pre-positioned BOTH wires with directionality in mind whenever current travels toward the speaker on EITHER wire it will be traveling in the “preferred direction” which turns out to be - incidentally - the direction with the lower voltage drop compared to the opposite direction. You can forget about the current traveling back toward the amplifier, it doesn’t affect the sound, only current traveling toward the speaker affects the sound.

Nikola Tesla
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Please stop hijacking my

Please stop hijacking my thread. Start your own if you want to discuss that topic.

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