Should we have a "standard" for subjective appraisal?

Discussion in 'Blind Testing and Psychoacoustics' started by pedalhead, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. pedalhead

    pedalhead Friend

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    First off, I hope this thread is in the correct place (the title of the forum is "Measurements (plus subjective impressions)", but I'm prepared to be booted elsewhere if not.

    @Tyll Hertsens recent blog post linked to an interesting document on perceptual characteristics of audio, essentially with the aim of making subjective impressions as objective as possible. To that end, the article proposes a subset of commonly used audio analysis terms be used, along with a glossary explaining them (pages 21 - 27). There's also a diagram with their definition of the audio frequency range (I've seen many of these before and few seem to agree), and also an interesting diagram showing the frequency ranges typically used by various instruments/voices (both page 28).

    Whilst the document has been drawn up by Delta's SenseLab (a company offering audio product testing services), it could I think have some value in the enthusiast arena, where for the most part subjectivity rules and one can only really get a handle on a product analysis when one is familiar with the particular reviewer/commentator's preferences etc. SBAF is far better in this respect than "other" places, but a standard set of terminologies with clear definitions at least could be beneficial.

    I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts, and do have a look at the document as it's quite a good read.
     
  2. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    I think this is overthinking the issue. A common language has been established a long time ago. When I got into audio I found most of the subjective impressions easy to understand and those that I didn't understand could be looked up quickly. An informal "audio glossary" has been around for a long time, as well as formal versions trying to explain words on stereophile and the forums.

    Graphs I think are also better at describing sound than they make them out, probably even more so for headphones since speakers depend a lot on off-axis and room effects. I know what a bump at 1.3kHz sounds like.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    An attempt at it a while ago: http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,2468.0.html

    Abandoned because it was no longer necessary over time. Also because we tend to be anti-scholarly and believe that transmission of knowledge is best via osmosis through the members and their direct personal experience of gear. Scholarly articles mean nothing without direct experience. Once experience is achieved, bridging of vocabulary can be achieved through communication, thereby rendering scholarly articles or glossaries unnecessary.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  4. pedalhead

    pedalhead Friend

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    Cheers for the feedback. I agree that learning by osmosis is beneficial, for newbies in particular I think it's also useful to have some terms of reference. At the moment, SBAF seems to have a good proportion of experienced members, but as the forum membership grows (which unless I'm mistaken seems to be progressing quickly), some level of consistency could be beneficial in order to avoid the poor signal:noise ratio on HF. Perhaps a topic to revisit down the line as the SBAF membership expands.
     
  5. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    For folks to understand the terminology that we use is just the first step. As was said before, most of the real understanding comes from personal relationships. You really need to go in the field with your buddies and experience new variables, and then talk about what you're hearing. While I tend to believe that the mechanism (ear and brain) behind which we process sound is always more similar than different, people will describe/emphasize/ignore/magnify different aspects of their experience based on their inclinations. Inclinations which do change with time.

    For example, if someone knows I've been hooked on the HD800X lately for its excellent resolution and plankton grabbing ability, he will understand why I think the Utopia might not be the greatest headphone ever if it does not reach that specific standard of reproduction. However if he also knows that I have renewed my membership in the Southern California Full-Range Driver Audio Club, he will also take that into account as a reference point when I evaluate the Utopia for speed, immediacy, image size, and purity of tone. It might even come down to small things like mood or what you ate for breakfast. If I know someone has had some of those nasty and salty Chinese donuts for breakfast, I might assume that they have undergone severe artery stiffening (and therefore reduced blood flow to the brain) which might result in them concluding that a Chifiman or similarly compressed, soft, and limpdick playnar is somehow "good" sounding.

    Point being a lot of hidden phrases, facial cues, idiosyncrasies, and other assorted "plankton" that us HUE-mans take into account when communicating. If we want to build a reliable language of audio description, and by extension, grow our site and the ideas therein, we should aim to bring more "Friends" into the fold and solidify that common culture. Like all other languages have to do.
     
  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    You can make a list of as many terms and phrases as you want for whatever reason, but I will ignore anything and anyone that doesn't have "limp dick" in the description arsenal.
     
  7. pedalhead

    pedalhead Friend

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    lol @Hands & @OJneg :)

    OJneg...what I think you're describing is the "gold class solution" as we'd call it at my workplace. This is the way we wish all forums worked, like a bunch of mates in a room with a crate of beer and a stack of gear...actually SBAF does seem to work this way, which is awesome. We're getting a bit beyond the "list of terms and phrases / limp dick" stuff here and more into the realms of the hypothetical, but I wonder if a forum with ten, twenty, fifty thousand active users can still operate this way without sacrificing the signal:noise ratio. I don't know if SBAF will get that big, nor whether it'd be a good thing if it did, but I think it's food for thought. It might not be easy to fit fifty thousand friends in that room, and who's paying for the beer?

    Anyway, it's not my intention to put a downer on anything. I'm finding SBAF an extremely valuable place to actually learn and discuss useful, reliable stuff. Quite a refreshing change after eleven years on HF.
     
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  8. Wfojas

    Wfojas Friend

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    I thought your spider charts were a really good way to convey different sound aspects of equipment, relative to others of its type.

     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It won't work with too many people. The intent was never to create a mega church and proselytize. It has always been as follows: "1) This is what we have to offer; 2) If it makes sense, hop on board; 3) But there's no guarantee that we will accept you". As Tyll so adeptly put it, a "group of like minded people". And as our detractors would say, "Groupthink", which is not entirely incorrect. I actually have no problem with that term because it's true in every group. The trick is maintaining internal harmony, but yet allowing enough disruption (new ideas, new blood) to prevent things from being stale. Of course this does not mean that all things are right. Certain things in audio are simply plain wrong.

    The superbestaudiofriends moniker, while being cheesy, should be taken seriously. I cannot say how refreshing it is to talk about audio with people who you are such good friends with that you can totally honest and be challenged about gear. I've been having a back and forth with Ravi about the Chord Mojo DAC, and our opinions quite differ. I rather like it. He hates it. He's been specific on why he hates it, and I don't doubt what he hears to the extent that I want to revisit it and understand where he is coming from. There's no self association with the product. No egos being hurt. We just want to figure it out. To me, this is the highest level of information transmission, and what everyone here should strive for.

    This is why there will probably never be a guide book of terminology. We want true seekers, friends with common interests, not disciples.
     
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  10. pedalhead

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    Nicely put. Tough to balance this ideal with an open door policy, but I sincerely hope it can work. It's down to all of us (even the "outsider" members like me) to help make it so.
     
  11. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Some have called us an audio "cult". The description might even be appropriate. We're more concerned with doing our thing. It's worth noting that all the major h8rz that we have accrued over the years still lurk or otherwise come here for content despite pronouncing us to be childish, biased, cultish, "PC", ignorant, too objective, too subjective, elitist, shills etc. It's because we continue to do our thing and produce interesting (if not always quality :p ) content.
     
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Oh yeah. I haven't heard that one in a while. Supposedly I'm the David Koresh of audio, and all you guys are lemmings, sheep, minions, sycophants, elephants, or whatever.
     

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