Audio Science Review Review

Discussion in 'Audio Science' started by purr1n, Aug 30, 2020.

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  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    For music primary systems, my priorities are different. I have an analog front-end (TT) so I'm hesitate to run everything through an AD-DA. Main speakers also tend to be high-sensitivity with simple passive xovers / networks powered by SET amps. I prefer dynamics over FR accuracy. Mains output is split to a DCX2496 which acts as a sub or woofer processor. I find that the low frequencies don't suffer as much when put through cheap AD-DA.
     
  2. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    I'll be using this for my subs. For my speaker system any kind of notion of purism has long gone out of the window. Just plonk down a Pi2AES and daisy chain everything via AES.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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  4. Ruined

    Ruined HD700 ruined my ear holes

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    For music only I would agree with your approach and probably do something similar

    I just don't listen to music much on my big speakers anymore, unless its multichannel which favors the other approach
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    CASE 4: Moving the goalposts - special dispensation for "friends" of Audio Science Review

    Let's play a game, I've included two sets of measurements of headamps, A and B, and two sets of commentary Y and Z. Let's play match the commentary with the amp. I will leave things up for a little bit without giving away the answer.

    Note that Amp A measures quite a bit better than Amp B. Commentary Y seems acknowledges the weaknesses of the amp but pulls some punches, even putting a positive spin on objective weaknesses, and admitted that perhaps the distortion heard was placebo. Commentary Z is outright dismissive.


    AMP A
    86-89db SINAD
    90.1db SNR
    upload_2020-9-1_11-12-36.png
    upload_2020-9-1_11-16-49.png

    AMP B
    63-65db SINAD
    66db SNR
    upload_2020-9-1_11-13-27.png
    upload_2020-9-1_11-15-19.png


    COMMENTARY Y

    Listening Tests
    With both my Sennheiser HD650 and DROP + MRSPEAKERS ETHER CX headphones, the YYY amplifier was able to get scary loud even in low gain mode. There is ample power available to create a very high dynamic range. I don't have time to perform careful AB tests. In casual listening, the audible distortion was not obvious especially at low to reasonable levels. At much higher output power I thought the highs got grungy but this may be placebo.

    Conclusions
    The YYY Headphone Amplifier appears to build a tube amp without any of their weakness of tube aging, low power in low impedances, high heat and power consumption. On all of those, it wins. So if you are itching to have a tube-like amplifier, the YYY makes a much better substitute in my opinion. It won't replace my low distortion amplifiers so I can't give a person recommendation.
    COMMENTARY Z

    Listening Tests
    I plugged in my Sennheiser HD-650 headphones into ZZZ expecting the outcome to disagree with the measurements. That was not to be the case. Up to 12:00 o'clock on the volume control all was OK. But going much past that caused severe distortion in both low and high gain modes. The latter was not remotely sufficient for this headphone. The distortion was not subtle at all. It reminded of my first car which would accelerate a bit and then the engine would stall due to improper ignition timing.

    The situation did not improve at all with Hifiman HE-400i. Distortion was ready and present at any decently high level of playback.

    Conclusions
    I was so happy to have two of these amps as after seeing such disappointing measurements from a ---- audio company, I did a spot test on the second with the same performance. The ZZZ is a flawed design with multiple issues both objectively and subjectively. That it costs so much money simply adds insult to injury. The only way you can escape its very low limits of performance is to use very efficient headphones with it. In that case, you may be better off buying a $9 dongle instead of spending hundreds of dollars on this unit.

    The fact that there is not a single measurement or specifications of any kind (not even power output!), should have been a give away that this device will likely have performance performance. I wonder if it was measured at all. Even if not, how did listeners not notice the lack of power and quick onset of distortion? I searched and the only reviews I found were the fluff kind with soundstage this, and detail that, missing the major weaknesses in this product.

    ...

    Needless to say, I see no reason to recommend ZZZ headphone amplifier.​
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
  6. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    yeah! Obviously a bit biased, but I had my own weird experience with ASR. As many of you have stated, the PI2AES does a very good job of delivering clean digital audio. Not perfect, but credible. An early adopter of mine posted his results of listening tests (https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...gital-audio-shield-for-the-raspberry-pi.7136/) to a thread a started and was practically shouted off the forum. Most ASR members are polite, knowledgeable and open to discussion. but some are simply so married to the idea that if you can't measure it, it does not exist. The complexity of psycho-acoustics does not seem graspable, or at least not relevant. As a manufacturer I am not willing to tell anyone, and I mean anyone, what they hear. If you like what we make great. If not, that's great too. As long as you find your happy place!

    Michael
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    CASE 4 (continued): Moving the goalposts - special dispensation for "friends" of Audio Science Review

    Time's up. The better measuring amplifier, Amp A, was the Corda Jazz. This was the amp which was eviscerated in the commentary section.

    Perhaps not so random. ASR pretends to be objective, but there's all sorts of funny stuff going on there. Note that JohnYang1997 who has designed many of the more well known Topping products has thrown shade, sometimes in deniable ways, at various competitors such as Geshelli and Schiit. It's only recently that this account has been identified as a manufacturer, and even then on ASR, it's not specifically identified what manufacturer.

    The Project Polaris was designed by a long time member and post contributor at Audio Science Review. Hence he was treated with kid gloves. Take a look at the accolades from the ASR members - note that he is known on a first name basis there:

    Congratulations, Solderdude (who is, I assume, the "electrical mad scientist" mentioned below) on joining a few other designers/manufacturers who showed their ability to back up their comments here.

    Frans told us on another page from this forum that these amplifiers were tuned to aim for a specific sound and not for measurements, because this is what people ask for. I personally love how the PCB looks like and how the traces are routed, I like all Garage1217 projects and I think that every DIY-er should build few of these amps and, if they really want to, they can change sound flavor per their liking. Auditioning different flavor-sounding amplifiers and understanding the internal schematic and how things work inside is what science is about.

    The raises a number of concerns:
    1. For site dedicated to measurements and the objective, why was the written commentary reversed to favor the the amp that measured at least 20db worse in both SINAD and SNR? This seems rather irresponsible given that most readers will not have time to full grasp the measurements and go straight to the conclusions.
    2. Were the goalposts moved closer for a friend of ASR, but further out for someone (Meier Audio) who did not have a relationship with ASR? This seems contrary for a measurements and science based approach.
    3. Why did the Project Polaris get special dispensation for measuring with tube amp levels of distortion when other poorly measuring solid-state amps not receive this privilege?
    4. Why is gear from other manufacturers where they actually specifically state that such gear is tuned for a specific sound, not measurements, not given the kid gloves treatment?
    Content-Migration-and-Ever-Moving-Goalposts2.jpeg

    P.S. I don't have anything against Meier Audio or Solderdude. They've both designed amps which I've liked. I haven't seen the schematics, but it's probable the Polaris could be an amp I may really enjoy. I know a few members have recommended it in the past. Perhaps a loaner?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
  8. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    A is to Z and B is to Y?

    Gah, I swear on my pets I typed the above out before you hit send on your last post, @purr1n! The way you phrased it did hint that the obvious expectations would be subverted so it wasn't much a quiz, but yeah it's disingenuous that they'd go out of their way to advocate hyper-clean measurements but give a pass to solderdude when hybrid amps aren't nearly as clean.

    Mind I love the hell out of the Project Sunrise + Jays Audio LPS and hate that I sold mine, but I'd not have expected that the forum would give it a pass. At least here on SBAF people own up to when they give preferential treatment.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Actually, the Polaris is a solid-state, not a hybrid tube amp!

    Do any of us think any manufacturer not "friends" at ASR who designed a solid-state amp with 65db SINAD would not have been completely eviscerated there!

    I'd say not disingenuous, but disingenuous x2!
     
  10. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    ... My lack of familiarity with G1217 stuff beyond the Sunrise is showing, whoops. A SS amp with tube characteristics sounds like a lovely stand-in (I kinda just bought something like that to replace the Sunrise cuz I didn't want to mess with tubes for now) but yes, given their advocacy for cleanliness above all it does seem rather at odds.

    At least they acknowledge that "better measuring (using current standards and knowledge)" has no necessary correlation with "better sounding". Progress indeed.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    How do science and measurements work? When I get a blood test back, I get a plethora of measured values and brackets with each to indicate whether the values are in normal or acceptable ranges.

    ASR lines up values on a Excel bar graph, encouraging only certain (mostly Chinese manufacturers) to chase numbers far above audibly what can be correlated. Most damning however is that standards for what constitutes marginal, average, good, or excellent are not established in advance!

    Imagine a blood test result where each and every physician just made up whether they thought the values were good or not based on their mood, how friendly they were with you, how much money you had, how much you worried about your health, etc. Sure physicians sometimes need to make a judgement call when the numbers are in the grey-areas, but baselines are baselines and should be established. Establish criteria beforehand - not make shit up afterward!

    If anything, it's to prevent confirmation bias. It's pretty obvious to me that Amir hear's stuff that isn't there (and doesn't hear stuff that is there - but this is another debate).
     
  12. wadec22

    wadec22 Almost "Made"

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    some great call outs. i actually had commented here before about my frustration that a Topping designer had no manufacturer designation.

    i also like that you threw in the post script about nothing against certain products or people. I think that is just as important as these cases are made. there have been some posts in this thread damning the intelligence level of the users on that forum and that seems irrational. There are some VERY intelligent users there - solderdude being one of them. i think many of them enjoy the engineering aspect of some of the analysis and can see through a lot of the BS but also don't care to rock the boat.

    i posted here irritated by moving of goal posts over there when he threw tons of shade at the motu 624 and that review was awful in a number of ways. the inconsistent assessment is either irresponsible or unethical. I'd like to believe the former, but I am skeptical.

    some here probably know better than me, but certain manufacturers offer free product an more for positive reviews. scary for someone who owns a business and brings in and then sells equipment installed in other's homes. I'm not accusing him of anything, but it certainly makes you wonder.... consistency would remove that.
     
  13. dmckean44

    dmckean44 In a Sherwood S6040CP relationship

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    You should have started this thread off with Case 4 as it illustrates just how dumb the concept "objective reviews" on ASR really are.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    On that last part, there's a perception that ASR's MO is that of a "reverse" sponsorship or terrorism / protection racketeering. Audio product manufacturers ignore the fanatical mullah or mafia at your own peril!

    Saving the best for last. It's really just the tip of the iceberg, quite a lot of other concerns I see with the approach (e,g. using voltage levels for measurements that will explode Grados or 32-ohm Beyers, pushing HD650s to 115db SPL, inconsistent voltage levels thus making comparisons not apples-apples, subjectivity trumping objective measurements, lazy subjective observations not supported by measurements, personal biases per the MO, etc.)

    I do think it's possible to be objective. The keys are to remove as much personal feelings from it and leave room for unknown. And rather than applying a litmus test of thumbs up or thumbs after the results are known, perhaps criteria for bad, marginal, good, etc. be developed beforehand. This would be a truer scientific and objective way. As I mentioned before, do it like blood tests. Take all the bullshit like "I cranked it up and heard distortion" away, unless this through the result a double-blind level matched test.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
  15. scapeinator1

    scapeinator1 Once You Go Black You'll Never Go Back

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    To be honest, my perspective on topics like this have changed. I just can't muster up the energy to care about what shenanigans ASR or HF or the litany of stupid youtubers are up to. I bought random gear in my teen years based on their recommendations and it just wasn't good. The 100 dollar amps always didn't live up to the ridiculous hype that they shilled along with their affiliate links and the IEMs were novel but ultimately didn't hold my attention for more than 5 minutes because they weren't that great. I mean I get it. Consumerism, commissions off links, etc. But the gear wasn't actually particularly enjoyable.

    When I got a modi 2, mcth, and 6xx. I was like OH. Now I get it. And that bottom line. That feeling I had in that moment. Where I knew this was what I was looking for is why I like SBAF. This site generally speaking captures that kind of "this is it" feeling. And it shows. Recommendations here mean something and actually do carry through to the actual product experience.

    I know people who are still caught up in random hype cycles or sub 50 dollar Chi-fi IEM purgatory and I have stopped trying to convince them. Sometimes I have even had them listen to my setup, and they still don't change their perspective.

    And life has been different for me the past 2 years. Society is just filled with so many screaming matches and people with no common sense, and I'm just so numbed to it at this point. Trying to get someone to quit smoking after they landed in the hospital after a second stroke, or seeing so many people locked in patterns of self-destructive behavior. Foods everywhere packed to the brim with sugar to make them as addictive as possible, probably contributing to rampant diabetes/prediabetes.

    So when I see people convinced that their worship of "objective" measurements that they don't even adhere to in a consistent manner has led them to S-tier audio heaven. Dude I just can't anymore.
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I totally get you. At my core, I really just don't care. This is the reason why I've put this off for so long and have even struggled to get to case #4.

    I'm done with this now and will be off to talking about how the XL Brainwavz pads give the DT177X a "interesting" sound, which is a lot more fun to talk about.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
  17. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    @scapeinator1 In a conversation with our resident Deep Thoughts expert some time ago I touched on the topic of stoicism and believe I opined that it seemed far more necessary a trait now than in times past because of how we're all currently in far closer proximity to one another than at any point in the past, at least from a communications perspective, and the disparate lives and degrees of "brokenness" we all have at the cores of our respective beings make living in perfect harmony a pipe dream.

    Unfortunately I care way too much— I cry often in the middle of the night reliving both happy memories and sad; I cry when I disappoint people; I cry when people compliment me; I cry when I hear about people I don't know struggling or when I watch inane mainstream anime (I was bawling my eyes out like an infant just a few hours ago over the "true power lies in the bonds we forge" trope. Yes really). This often makes me question whether I'm on the right side of the therapy dynamic, but I suppose empathy is a great skill to have if not present to debilitating excess. Balance in all things is necessary, so while I need to shut the f**k up and stop being a whiny bitch others could maybe be convinced to care more, haha, just not to the point that they get consumed by it. I think calling out misrepresentations that cost unsuspecting, partially-informed people money should be done if at all able.

    Got a couple Brainwavz pads (suede and lambskin I think?) in 3 months and a week after ordering, will have suspect measurements and impressions of them up soon once I can convince the family they're safe to take out of isolation and disinfect.
     
  18. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    What an interesting thread. Subbed :)
     
  19. skem

    skem Friend

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  20. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    When I was a scientist, over 25 years ago, one of my advisors said, ‘The most wonderful thing about Science is that you don’t have to believe in it for Science to be demonstrably True.’

    If we actually understood how the perception of sound works, and could control for the variability of individual biology (e.g. ears, brains, and other squishy bits), and psycho-acoustics, and actually knowing which factors of gear performance to measure that have an impact on desirability for all, then maybe, maybe we could develop objective criteria for measuring gear that is repeatable, falsifiable, and most importantly, useful. Until then, measurements will be a guide along the path, but not the destination.

    Therefore a blend of objective and subjective criteria, based on what is most important to the individual, is probably the best we will get.

    Now this grey muzzle is going to go take his measurably broken hearing and enjoy his system (updated with 20% more Sinergy™).
     
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