ASR could be nice as a hangout for engineers

Well said, I though exactly the same. ASR could be nice as a hangout for engineers trying to understand the big bad outside world, but they shouldn’t take over this forum. I sometimes wonder why it is called science review, because I never saw research papers being (peer)reviewed, they only measure equipment.

Isn’t it also a complaint against the marketing bable, that they use words for a technical issue that addresses more the emotions of the buyers?

That’s not what they’re doing, because something engineers designed and built themselves is no “big bad outside world”. That’s how shrewd manufacturers call it to sow doubt.

Those measuring techniques were researched and reviewed.


By "important"I meant “large” and “noisy”'. I was being critical.

What I was trying to say is that I find absurd to promote the idea that the whole audio industry, especially at the higher end of the scale, are doing things that are harmful to society. I don’t buy uber expensive audio gear and don’t believe that you need to spend tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of bucks to enjoy great sound, but I understand that some people with deep pockets may wish to buy very expensive gear and not all of it is necessarily snake oil or magical thinking. Some of it may be doing the same function as race cars and uber expensive cars. It’s for the few but very often this is where the industry is trying new technologies and pushing the limits, so part of it may be used in more mass market products at a later stage. I just bought a new small Volks Polo and the amount of technology in this entry level car is staggering. It’s also a pleasure to drive. I’m sure that most of the technology came from much more expensive cars and is now available to people like me, who don’t have deep pockets and only need a small car. Sure, it would be wrong and harmful if the company would say that I should pay more for a red car because it runs faster. But it’s also absurd to think that my small Polo, no matter how much I like it, is at the same level of an Audi or a Porsche, unless they would be making Polos disguised as Audis. Anyway, this is too long and I guess we all understand our points of view here, so no need spend our precious time with these circular arguments.

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I don’t think anybody is doing that. But some of the industry is, and it needs to be called out.

When it comes to audio quality, those limits are physiological and they have already been reached. There are other limits, but they don’t seem to be addressed by expensive gear.


Let us be logical. If sound is JUST about measurements, with clearly accepted methods and parameters (as established by ASR), then all audio gear would be exactly the same and sound alike (given the same acoustic conditions). You’d have one perfect DAC, one perfect power amp and so forth. By the way, such gear would be very cheap. Audio companies would only need to make copies of it, varying layout (as looks would be the only subjective dimension of it) according to the market. That’s how so many people go about audio now. They know what’s good, what’s right and “the truth”'. I’m sure that a lot of such folks (even ASR) are just trying to separate myth from fact (a good intention) but created a sort of religion that accepts no doubts or different approaches.

I agree with one perfect DAC, since it’s quite easy and cheap today to reconstruct the original analog signal from samples. The math has been established more than a century ago now, the technology is more than capable to approximate that math to below the limits of audibility, and the output levels are standardized. But you’re oversimplifying the analog chain. A power amp can deliver 10W into 4 ohm or 500W into 8 ohm, so it’s only fair to price those differently. Also, the speakers, which are the least accurate part of the chain, have different power ratings and employ different types of transducers. It doesn’t make sense to price those the same.

As for ASR, they’re just providing measurements and advice. I don’t think people are making a religion out of that, but if they do, it shouldn’t reflect badly on ASR.


I think you’re zeroing in on the truth of the matter. Excellent equipment is very cheap. The digital chain, in fact, has been completely commoditized and can be produced with very low costs.

Perhaps this is the issue people are having with the forum. There’s no (expensive) magic left!


I think here the discussion is much more decent.
II agree with you on this but to have incredible equipment one has to pay much much more. That is not for everyone.
I put a €30 switch between my router and streamer and my system sounds better. That is something a lot of poepje don’t accept, but I can’t help experiencing a change for the better. I don’t know if a €2000,- high end switch would satisfy me. I wouldn’t buy it since they have a Dlink or Netgear inside with a better psu and some magical filtering.i could put a better psu myself (which I did, that didn’t really improve much) and spend the €2000,- elsewhere. But I do accept that other people are very happy with that €2000,- switch (I know such a person).
So thanks to these crazy high-end audiophiles for pointing out the switch but no thanks for the Ansuz €2000,- switch.

A switch makes a perfectly zero difference in sound quality. It just relays data - any data - in a rather undeterministic fashion. It’s not religion or one of life’s mysteries.


This is where the discussion goes off the rails. There’s no significant improvement to be had, no matter how much money you spend. Better to spend that money on behavior modification counseling to address the pernicious need to pursue imperceptible and thus illusory “improvements”.


Which it of course is, as long as you measure enough.

But there is. Has been for years. Sure, once you add marketing and companies needing to sell new gear, there have been multiple iterations, but a “perfect” (in a sense of accurately reconstructing analog signal from digital data with errors well below anything that can be heard by anyone) DAC has existed for a long time. Amps, being analog, are a slightly different matter, but we’ve been as close to “straight wire with gain” as anyone can distinguish with an ear for quite some time, too.

Which it is, unless you are looking for some extreme power. One can pay for build quality, looks, brand name, cool story, but above some (very reasonable) price spending more will not produce any improvements to that “straight wire” performance. Now, if one wants to have some specific (i,e, inaccurate, but possibly pleasing) sound you can get that easily, too, but it is not correlated with price either.

If you know what the recorded signal was, and can compare it with the reproduced one (which is what ASR is doing), yes, you can know “the truth” or at least how close any particular piece of equipment gets to it.

But that’s exactly the kind of claim that can be tested, if you properly define “incredible.” If you mean that it reproduces recorded music as close as currently possible to the recording, then no, you can have that at a pretty low price. Going more expensive will most likely lead you farther away from it. On the other hand, if you mean that it adds sufficient degree of coloration to the sound that you happen to like, then yes, it might be that only some very high-priced product does it just the right way for you, and you need to pay for it (technically, it is most likely that you could also achieve the same effect in a more controlled and predictable manner by intentionally manipulating the signal either in the digital or analog domain, for far less money, but that’s another issue),

People do not accept it because there is no mechanism by which it could happen. But even more so, because no person claiming it had ever managed to tell the difference under a blind test. If you manage to tell them apart say 8 times out of 10 in a blind test, even ASR people will accept it, and somebody will find out why it might happen. But surprisingly (or not) nobody, least of all makers of such switches, ever demonstrated there being any difference…

That’s the difference between something like ASR and most other audio forums. ASR deals with what can be demonstrated. If you demonstrate, in a controlled experiment, that a switch, a data cable, or a magic rock make a difference, they will accept it. That’s the science part. On the other hand, no matter how many times you show that something does NOT make any difference, some other forums will never accept it because it is not a matter of fact, but a matter of belief. And nobody would want to admit that they might have wasted tens of thousands of dollars on useless junk.


Fact or believe, two different worlds. The audiophile that is on one end doesn’t bother the measurements, the engineer who is on the other end only looks at the numbers.
Manufacturers and designers of audio equipment usually do listen to the result and use measurements to get a better understanding of what is going on Not everyone is gifted with golden ears and is a really good engineer at the same time. Not the ASR guys nor the audiophiles. The ASR guy prefers a Topping/Bose over a tube/LS3 system, just because it has to sound better because it measures way better. The audiophile prefers the tube/BBC combo because he gets more emotional with it.Two different systems in two different worlds. The Controlfreak against the Emo. Most people are somewhere in the middle. I think when one gets older, one will become milder and sees useful things on both sides. Both sides need each other to get any further.

Going where?

To heaven in a SpaceX rocket?

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Most likely to Mars, where the thin atmosphere presents unique challenges to sound propagation.


So, perhaps not really an audiophile, more of an equipment freak. “I don’t care what it sounds like as long as it glows in the dark.”

Not sure where you get Controlfreak. High-fidelity freak, perhaps.


But only one of them claims that things that aren’t actually there not only are, but also are universal.

I’ll say even more. No one has those “golden ears,” least of all the famous audio equipment reviewers who, due to advanced age, haven’t heard anything above 10KHz since 20th century, but claim to hear subtle differences between different flavors of high resolution audio. One can claim lots of things, but in order to have any sort of reasonable discussion one also needs to be able to back them up. (Not so) surprisingly, the more of a “golden ear” one is, the more likely he (it is just about always a he) is to fail a blind test.

And that’s a problem with ASR vs Audiophiles discussions. One side (and it is not the ASR side) is not arguing in good faith. If you actually &read ASR you’d see that lots of people there like and enjoy tube equipment, speakers that have frequency response that looks like //////////// this and all kinds of other things that do not measure well at all. While there are some generic general preferences of an average “man from the street” (which do happen to be towards things that do measure better, flatter, and more transparent) they do not imply that any specific person will prefer this or that sound signature. If those signatures are different. But you need to show first that, absent the knowledge that Box A costs $500,000 and therefore must be much better than Box B that costs $500, you can actually tell them apart.

If one gets “more emotional” with a piece of equipment because it has tubes, or because he paid some astronomical sum for it, or because it matches his Chippendale furniture perfectly, this is all fine and well. ASR has no problem with it (well, some rabid cultists might but they exist everywhere; “officially” it is fine, and even Amir himself enjoys his open reel deck). Problem appears when the “emotional audiophile” starts claiming, with no evidence apart from “trust me, bro” that changing a fuse improved the sound, or something. For there to even be something worth discussing, rather than just boasting to other how much you’ve spent on your stereo, there has to be some objective (as in, observable by someone else other than our “emotional audiophile”) difference, let alone improvement, in sound. The objectivist side had demonstrated, in repeatable experiments, that some things do not make any difference. The subjectivist side either fails such demonstrations, or flat out refuses to perform them for some metaphysical reasons. But that just makes any sane discussion impossible. It’s like arguing solipsism – there is no way you can prove that you are not just a figment of my imagination. There have to be some common accepted truths first.


Towards better playback systems, more realistic and natural sound. I don’t think this is already the end of the whole music playback thing. We just don’t know what is going to come. We still need huge speakers in dedicated rooms.

The one who wants to have it all in control. The math and the numbers. If then it still isn ‘t right, the Controlfreak might get nervous. Which actually is a good thing. It happened to me a long time ago, with the then new Monster 400 interconnect that did sound different (to me) and I could not understand that, I didn’t trust my ears, but still changed the interconnect because I didn’t like the sound. It also took me very long to just accept that I just don’t get the whole picture having heard €200.000 systems with expensive cabling at friends houses that always outperform my own cheap stuff.