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  1. #1
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    Angry FUD, intellectual honesty, digital facts, and the TAS articles...

    I thought I'd branch a thread off the Peter Aczel topic and quote something ralphpnj said since I'm concerned about what seems IMO to be total intellectual dishonesty in the audiophile media and a recent assault into computer audio. I guess this is a "coming of age" for computer audio now that the "big league" and boutique manufacturers are wanting a piece of the action:

    Quote Originally Posted by ralphpnj View Post
    I agree but it's not that the audiophile community is still debating the same issues but rather with the introduction of and acceptance of computer based digital audio the high end cable market has only gotten much, much worse. As I pointed out in one of my prior posts in thread (post #9) the great cable scam (I refuse to call it a debate since there is no debate when one side is dead wrong) has now moved into the area of cables used for digital data transmission.

    Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken but isn't part of the idea behind using digital rather than analog as a recording and storage medium is that digital "solves" many of the problems inherent in analog. Problems like generational losses when copying, the negative of cables and a whole list of other things. Now we have almost all of the major high end manufacturers and their enablers in the high end press trying to impose the problems of analog audio systems onto digital audio systems. I for one am not buying it.

    A digital copy is an exact copy of the original if the checksums are equal. Any cable used to transmit digital data which meets the minimum specifications for that type of cable, whether it is an ethernet cable, HDMI cable, fiber optic cable, coax cable or USB cable, will transmit the data exactly the same as any other cable, regardless of price and material. There is simply no room for debate just has there is no for debate in the statement 2+2=4.

    Frankly I'm sick and tired of having to repeat and defend these simple truths. so now it's back to the music. At the moment I'm listening to the new 4 disc set called "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International" which features 73 tracks by different artists all covering Bob Dylan songs. Fantastic!
    This was my opinion and conclusion when arguing about the "Computer Music Audio Quality" series of articles by Charles Zeilig (PhD in what exactly?!) & Jay Clawson published recently in The Absolute Sound on the various audiophile forums including this one. Although I don't completely disagree with some of their assertions, there are also a number of conclusions I find questionable either through experience or my understanding of the matter. Some questionable findings from "Part Two" (Jan 2012 issue) wherein I learn:

    - Upsampling 176/24 --> 176/32 sounds better! (not sure what 32-bit DAC they're using)

    - Odd upsampling from 44/16 & 176/24 --> 192/24 sounds better! (hmm, maybe their DAC can't handle the family of 44kHz rates properly!)

    - Huge variation in sound from playback software - Audition 3.0.7283.0 ($200) scores a paltry 85 while iZotope RX Advanced ($1000) with fancy 192/32 upsampling leads to a subjective improvement to 145 - almost 2x as good!

    - If you're gonna downconvert from 176/24 --> 44/16 - you need iZotope again cuz it scores 150, lowly Audition can't convert worth a darn resulting in 85.

    - CD Ripping software makes a difference! Nero scores 60 while dbPowerAmp 140! Forget the fact they're bit-identical with EAC at 110!

    - Ripping read SPEED matters! Again they're bit identical! 1x with JRMC = 135, 16x = 115

    - Burning software matters! JRMC CD-R scores 130 vs. Nero sucking it at 70!

    - CD-R brands matter (don't know what transport they used) - Mitsui MAM-A Gold 130, TDK Sivers 85.

    - Burn speed matters - 4x JRMC scores 120, don't even think about burning at 16x - 75! Incidentally, the original WAV file only scores 100 played back on PS Audio PWT-PWD.

    The bottom line folks, as they say on page 50: "Although JRMC reported an accurate rip for all the speeds, and are bit-for-bit identical at all read speeds, we are still able to detect sonic differences in the resulting file. We know these results drive engineers crazy. We would love it if someone could come up with a definitive explanation that could provide input to software developers."

    There ya go... There is indeed a "ghost in the bit". A bit is not a bit, copies of files are just approximations, inexplicable differences exist, ergo, digital is like analog - you can experience potentially huge losses *everywhere* (herein lies the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt so they can sell you something). Since "they" experience it, it must be true right? All presented by this 'PhD' in fancy complicated charts with numbers (ooohhhh, aaaahhhh!). No need to talk about the possibility that they erred in their perception especially with the bit-perfect tests?

    To think that this is just ONE of the articles in the series in a print magazine of relatively large distribution (this is the only issue I bothered to buy for the "Best Gear of 2011"). I wonder if these articles can ever be retracted since presumably the authors have no financial interests (surely this cannot be the only criterion for adequacy to print). I really do hope many of the readership can see through this nonsense; at least inundate TAS with letters if not boycotting the purchase of such intellectually questionable print rags since ultimately "money talks" and as far as I can tell, that's all they care about (nothing wrong with capitalism, just don't defraud me!).

    BTW: I'm enjoying "Chimes of Freedom" as well :-)... Hopefully get through the 3 CD's this weekend.
    Last edited by Archimago; 2012-02-10 at 11:27.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archimago View Post
    TAS: "We know these results drive engineers crazy. We would love it if someone could come up with a definitive explanation that could provide input to software developers."
    I'm probably a broken record on this, but this is one of my pet peeves with the high end subjectivists.

    Apparently everything under the sun can cause audible changes except their own subconscious biases. They treat their own perception as if they were reading a number off a digital meter with an accuracy of 20 places to the right of the decimal.

    But if you bring the subject of bias up, they look at you as if you're talking about voodoo. They have mastered their biases and couldn't possibly be misled by such a base human frailty.

    Me? I love listening to music, but my perceptions are always somewhat different with every listening session. Some days, clarity and realism are near perfect. Sometimes it just sounds a bit off. However, I don't think my stereo is having a bad day. The odds are far more likely it's me.

    Always interesting around these parts.
    Last edited by mlsstl; 2012-02-10 at 12:15.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    In that whole series I find their finding that perfect digital copies of files sound different the most insane .
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  4. #4
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    Surely their agenda is so blatant that a 4 year old can see through it?
    Unless they can convince a sizeable portion of their readership of these untruths, they will cease to exist as a money making publication.

    What amazes me is that so many otherwise rational people can be persuaded by this stuff.

    One of the big problems facing the industry is that the problems that CAN be realistically fixed already have been... There's nowhere really left to go. I'm not saying that everything is perfect - far from it... But realistically anyone can walk into a hifi store, handover a reasonable but not excessive amount of money and walk out with a very nice system that is much better in every respect than a system you could have bought 20 years ago.

    if I can use a photography analogy, the next big thing there is to produce a true HDR camera... 16-bit (or even 32-bit) sensor with enormous dynamic range... Equal to the human eye.... We all know it WILL come one day. As far as I can see, there's no equivalent for audio? No game changers... Just incremental nibbling at the periphery of the problem...

    And this In turn in my view has lead to the proliferation of snake oil vendors... All promising the earth and delivering precisely nothing - because there is no REAL science behind any of them, merely sales spiel and an insecure/desperately unfulfilled consumer base.
    You want to see the signal path BEFORE it gets onto a CD/vinyl...it ain't what you'd call minimal...
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  5. #5
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    Hi Phil,
    I certainly appreciate the photography analogy since I'm heavily involved in that world as well.

    Upgrading to better audio gear for playback is like buying a better monitor to show off one's pictures in full resolution, better color depth, improved contrast... There are obviously good monitors and bad ones that cannot be properly calibrated or have deficient specs.

    When we take photos, we never hear photographers say that the same shot will somehow look different if the file is on an SD/CF/memory stick, or 8x CF is better than 32x. Likewise, nobody is concerned if I have a crappy slow USB1 card reader or super-duper USB3 reader... God forbid archiving your precious wedding/baby/family/vacation photos to CD!

    However, they believe that copying a WAV file off a CD drive 1x vs. 16x makes a difference when they KNOW it's an exact bit-perfect copy. Imagine the hilarity at a photo club if I announced that one should/must use only slow Lexar CF cards, USB1 cards readers, and a computer that is underclocked to 1GHz, otherwise the pictures cannot be transferred safely with "full resolution"! "I swear, even though the files are exactly the same, this one looks better my friends because it was saved with a Lexar card!"

    Yet, this is the kind of GITB (Ghost In The Bit) delusion being perpetuated in mainstream audio?

    I think it would be fascinating to survey how many 'audiophiles' believe this nonsense. I wonder if reputable manufacturers ever complain to the magazines (or better yet withdraw ads so as not to be associated with these psychotic articles)?
    Last edited by Archimago; 2012-02-10 at 14:25.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archimago View Post
    Hi Phil,
    I certainly appreciate the photography analogy since I'm heavily involved in that world as well.

    Upgrading to better audio gear for playback is like buying a better monitor to show off one's pictures in full resolution, better color depth, improved contrast... There are obviously good monitors and bad ones that cannot be properly calibrated or have deficient specs.

    When we take photos, we never hear photographers say that the same shot will somehow look different if the file is on an SD/CF/memory stick, or 8x CF is better than 32x. Likewise, nobody is concerned if I have a crappy slow USB1 card reader or super-duper USB3 reader... God forbid archiving your precious wedding/baby/family/vacation photos to CD!

    However, they believe that copying a WAV file off a CD drive 1x vs. 16x makes a difference when they KNOW it's an exact bit-perfect copy. Imagine the hilarity at a photo club if I announced that one should/must use only slow Lexar CF cards, USB1 cards readers, and a computer that is underclocked to 1GHz, otherwise the pictures cannot be transferred safely with "full resolution"! "I swear, even though the files are exactly the same, this one looks better my friends because it was taken with a Lexar card!"

    Yet, this is the kind of GITB (Ghost In The Bit) delusion being perpetuated in mainstream audio?

    I think it would be fascinating to survey how many 'audiophiles' believe this nonsense. I wonder if reputable manufacturers ever complain to the magazines (or better yet withdraw ads so as not to be associated with these psychotic articles)?
    Hmmm... As well as photography I am heavily into astronomy ... Another area where science/engineering is crucial... And the scientists In this area make the ones involved in audio look like chimps! (relatively speaking of course).

    Part of me finds this whole "projection of analogue problem domain onto digital" rather funny, but only in a slightly sad, ironic way.

    In a slightly more controversial vein, I've always felt strongly that unless one is a musician or has experience of recording/producing musical performance to a reasonable standard, one is not really in a position to realistically or meaningfully comment on the accuracy or effectiveness of music reproduction systems. I don't want this to sound pompous, but I'm sure it will. I really don't think that just listening to music at home or in the concert hall is anything like the same experience. Not even remotely close.

    ... And yet, who are the golden-ears that write the tablets of stone in print or in hardware?
    There are some exceptions like Christopher Breunig or Anthony Michaelson... Few and far between.
    You want to see the signal path BEFORE it gets onto a CD/vinyl...it ain't what you'd call minimal...
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  7. #7
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    mr phil...


    here are two of my earliest recordings, as an apprentice rec/balance engineer in germany.....the haydn..


    http://www.theresia-aranowski.de/hoerbeispiele.html


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  8. #8
    Senior Member ralphpnj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archimago View Post
    I thought I'd branch a thread off the Peter Aczel topic and quote something ralphpnj said since I'm concerned about what seems IMO to be total intellectual dishonesty in the audiophile media and a recent assault into computer audio......
    BTW: I'm enjoying "Chimes of Freedom" as well :-)... Hopefully get through the 3 CD's this weekend.
    First I'm honored that one of my many endless rants helped to inspire this thread. Second perhaps we should get going over in the music section on the best covers of Bob Dylan songs. The new "Chimes of Freedom" collection gets a high vote just on volume alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Leigh View Post
    Surely their agenda is so blatant that a 4 year old can see through it?
    Unless they can convince a sizeable portion of their readership of these untruths, they will cease to exist as a money making publication.....
    And this In turn in my view has lead to the proliferation of snake oil vendors... All promising the earth and delivering precisely nothing - because there is no REAL science behind any of them, merely sales spiel and an insecure/desperately unfulfilled consumer base.
    I'm beginning to think that it is the marketing departments of several manufactures behind all this nonsense. There two factors in play here. First there the shrinking CD player market as more and more people move to computer based audio front ends. And then there is the new, and as yet untapped, market of providing an interface between the computer/digital part and the stereo/analog part. Plus there is also the high end "certified" computer market, we just haven't gotten to that part yet.

    The new front end is quickly becoming some type of computer and in extreme cases even involves a $300 piece of plastic! I'm referring to the Touch of course. Just remember that little piece of plastic scares the hell out of the high end audio world so they need to tear it down. In addition they are building up some new myths help sell their $$$$$ version of the Touch.

    The Touch can handle up to 24 bit/96 kHz so therefore make 32bit/192kHz the new high end high resolution standard. The Touch doesn't output USB so make asynchronous USB the new high end digital connection standard.

    So the manufactures push these new standards and the high end magazines follow along like good little sheep. As their reward they get more advertising and special treatment from the manufacturers. The well heeled audiophile gets to all kinds of new toys to play with. Everyone wins!


    Quote Originally Posted by Archimago View Post
    Hi Phil,
    I certainly appreciate the photography analogy since I'm heavily involved in that world as well.

    Upgrading to better audio gear for playback is like buying a better monitor to show off one's pictures in full resolution, better color depth, improved contrast... There are obviously good monitors and bad ones that cannot be properly calibrated or have deficient specs.

    When we take photos, we never hear photographers say that the same shot will somehow look different if the file is on an SD/CF/memory stick, or 8x CF is better than 32x. Likewise, nobody is concerned if I have a crappy slow USB1 card reader or super-duper USB3 reader... God forbid archiving your precious wedding/baby/family/vacation photos to CD!

    However, they believe that copying a WAV file off a CD drive 1x vs. 16x makes a difference when they KNOW it's an exact bit-perfect copy. Imagine the hilarity at a photo club if I announced that one should/must use only slow Lexar CF cards, USB1 cards readers, and a computer that is underclocked to 1GHz, otherwise the pictures cannot be transferred safely with "full resolution"! "I swear, even though the files are exactly the same, this one looks better my friends because it was saved with a Lexar card!"

    Yet, this is the kind of GITB (Ghost In The Bit) delusion being perpetuated in mainstream audio?

    I think it would be fascinating to survey how many 'audiophiles' believe this nonsense. I wonder if reputable manufacturers ever complain to the magazines (or better yet withdraw ads so as not to be associated with these psychotic articles)?
    Excellent analogy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Leigh View Post
    Hmmm... As well as photography I am heavily into astronomy ... Another area where science/engineering is crucial... And the scientists In this area make the ones involved in audio look like chimps! (relatively speaking of course).

    Part of me finds this whole "projection of analogue problem domain onto digital" rather funny, but only in a slightly sad, ironic way.

    In a slightly more controversial vein, I've always felt strongly that unless one is a musician or has experience of recording/producing musical performance to a reasonable standard, one is not really in a position to realistically or meaningfully comment on the accuracy or effectiveness of music reproduction systems. I don't want this to sound pompous, but I'm sure it will. I really don't think that just listening to music at home or in the concert hall is anything like the same experience. Not even remotely close.

    ... And yet, who are the golden-ears that write the tablets of stone in print or in hardware?
    There are some exceptions like Christopher Breunig or Anthony Michaelson... Few and far between.
    I don't quite agree since I've heard it said by several musicians over the years that they sometimes wish that they could unlearn their musical training so that they could experience just the music without knowing all of the technical details behind it. In other words, hearing the repeated motif in a symphony as a melody instead of as a series of notes offset by one octave from the main motif. In any event your viewpoint is quite valid as well.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archimago View Post
    However, they believe that copying a WAV file off a CD drive 1x vs. 16x makes a difference when they KNOW it's an exact bit-perfect copy.
    wow that's a stretch, I remember in college ~1997 I was one of the 1st people with a cd burner, and I'd try to rip cd's slower, because there would be clicks if I went faster

    ...but... this was solved at least 12 years ago!
    Last edited by sckramer; 2012-02-10 at 16:29.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sckramer View Post
    wow that's a stretch, I remember in college ~1997 I was one of the 1st people with a cd burner, and I'd try to rip cd's slower, because there would be clicks if I went faster

    this was solved at least 10 years ago!
    Yup, I remember buying my first Philips CD-R writer in 1997 as well. Ripping back then sucked without verification software like EAC.

    Oh the anxiety every time I pressed the "OK" button to start writing something - hoping that I didn't blow another few bucks on a pretty coaster :-).

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