I am a subjectivist to the extent that I find it absurd to argue that you should prefer measurements to your own ears. On the other hand, I find it equally absurd to believe that you should only trust your ears, as we perceive sound through our wallets and eyes as much as through our ears. (I won’t even mention unconscious biases) And I find certain claims made by the golden ears crowd even more absurd (or at the very least highly dubious.)
I have two questions:
- Are some ears so good that they can detect the most minute sound differences?
- Is more expensive always better? Does an über-expensive system deliver the sonic goods or is it rather a matter of self-indulgence and expression of socio-economic status?
Here are links to interesting tests on the merits of a Stradivarius (the most expensive violin by far) and some moderately priced modern violins. Mind, the modern instruments are not cheap. My belief is that there will be clear differences between cheap(ish) and expensive ware. But once you’ve reached a certain figure of £/$/€, the differences become non-existent except in the minds of the wealthy and golden-eared crowd.
For those who don’t feel like reading the articles, here’s a crisp summary. The violinists (highly trained) were unable to separate the aristocratic Stradivarius from the commoners. What’s more, most violinist preferred the sound of the modern instruments.
Isn’t there an important lesson to be learned for audio gear? What exactly is that lesson? I very much hope for a nuanced discussion.