Hundreds of individual impressions as opposed to a 1.5-year old blog of an unidentified group of people…
I would rather read impressions of people who listen to different types
of music, have different players, or different audio equipment instead
of a site that uses special electroacoustic laboratory equipment to test
whether or not an audio setup will or should sound
good. Numbers, graphs, ABX-ing don’t always figure into good sound
quality as everyone has a personal preference.
What strikes me as odd and pejorative is the phrase “a 1.5-year old blog of an unidentified group of people”
headphoneinfo.com is not a blog.
An objective test is valid whether it was made 1.5 years ago ago or 1.5 minutes ago. On the other hand a purely subjective opinion is likely to vary a lot over time, for all kinds of weird and wonderful reasons, despite the assessed product remaining the same.
“unidentified group of people” - surely this most accurately describes anonymous posters on a forum? I don’t know if headphoneinfo.com is perfect but they have an ethics policy, a linked blog at which the journalist writes under his own name, and they describe in detail their testing method. This is accompanied by nice plain English explanantions.
There is no need to be a rocket scientist to understand those tests, they are accompanied by plain English descriptions of what they mean, comparisons with similar tested products and subjective assessment, an opinion, of how they sound is also offered.
Personally I want to get both objective and subjective assessments of products. When people describe an audio product as danceable, warm, harsh, bright or similar I sometimes think I understand what they mean and sometimes not, and anyway what are they comparing it to? It’s not very helpful, it has no specific meaning and is just as likely to have been a description or result of the author’s feelings on his/her personal life that day as anything else. And peer pressure is a powerful thing in a community. It’s quite hard to go against the flow. It’s probably even more difficult to go against advertising revenue. So measurement has its place. It’s especially good for identifying products which have little or no chance of performing well, and those products which come with a lot of bogus claims. It’s also extremely good for comparing products. But I also want to get subjective opinions. Is the cord tangly/too short/too long? Does the product seem poorly assembled? Does it make you look like you wear spangly jewellery or are pretending you’re in the secret service? Is it easy to maintain? Does it fit? Is it comfortable? The fit/comfort issue is totally subjective but if someone finds the same products fit well and are comfortable as I do then I’ll listen to what they have to say on stuff I didn’t try yet.
One of the most interesting things about good objective testing is that it doesn’t depend on price, opinion, mood, the weather, monies received, or peer pressure. Sometimes all it takes to blow received opinion out of the water is a single person to be objective. It’s very very hard for someone who just spent $100 or $150 on some earbuds to accept that they are outperformed by products that cost $30 or $50. Similarly it’s far too easy and satisfying to buy something really cheap and feel/assume/claim that it’s just as good as those expensive products. Encountering both types of opinions (and all varieties) is extremely problematic for someone who wants to get a reasonable assessment before making a purchase.
If enjoyment of an audio product is derived in great part in your purchasing decision being approved of by peers, or by having a product that is aspirational/cool/expensive/great value/<whatever> then that’s fine (we’re all like this to some degree), but that’s a different thing than saying product a sounds better than product b. When people claim expertise and ability to discriminate it’s very fair to ask “what are your credentials?”, and to insist that they describe how they came to their conclusion. If they can’t offer any credentials or describe a reasonable and repeatable method they use for assessment then in fact they have no more credibility than any random person and their opinion has no particular value.
Yesterday I read through a thread here on the subject of Fuze playing back at the wrong speed (issue long since resolved by firmware update). It was very interesting. Some people identified the problem and others doubted it existed. The people claiming there is a problem then came back with comments about how they are professional musicians or engineers and they know what they are talking about. People were sceptical and countered them with a bunch of opinion and anecdote. Of course this is dar intarwebs and anyone can say anything. But then the complainants did the needful. They came back with detailed and measured evidence and described how they had identified & measured the problem. Other people were able to replicate the results. Now they had real objective evidence that went way beyond saying “I claim to have perfect pitch and I think there is an issue”. The result was that Sansa engineers took it on board and got it fixed. The other result is that those people who had identified the problem and demonstrated it gained a whole lot of credibility. Of course they had perfect pitch before and they have perfect pitch now. That didn’t change. But now we can safely believe them So some demonstration of expertise and objectivity, a deserved reputation, adds a lot of add weight to someone’s expression of opinion. But opinion alone, or a reputation based on being the biggest/loudest/longest member of a board instead of anything factual, is entirely worthless.
Message Edited by Takla on 05-31-2010 02:28 PM