Speaker Reviews, do you prefer Objective or Subjective evaluations?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Manuel Delaflor, Apr 17, 2002.

  1. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    In my view, subjective evaluations are as good as the reviewer abilities to explain subtle things based on his (hopefully) larger experience with equipment compared to normal users. He needs to have a background on recent developments in technology, be aware of how different speakers work, know about subtle changues that make music sound colored, and, of course, have a lot of experience hearing diverse type of live music.

    I prefer numbers, objective data. Perhaps this is due to my formation, but I tend to feel that objective data should remain constant, if the measures are taken in the same conditions (contrary to subjective evaluations, when some reviewer will say that the highs were clear and acurate and another that they are harsh).

    I know that in practice serveral factors are more important than the ability of the speakers to "sound good", like the room or our particular hearing. Still, I prefer to see "-3dB point is at this frequency using a calibrated mic at this distance" than any "tight" or "boomy" bass description.

    Of course, none of these will be better than our own ears (at least from the point of view about if we will enjoy the sound or not), specially if we have experience with lots of speakers, have trained ourselfs in the subtleties of sound listening to live music and have read a significant amout of literature on the subject.

    Anyway, I would like to see the your answer to the topic question.
     
  2. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    I want to see both. Objective data is good, as it tells about the speakers abilities, but I don't know what 22hz @ -2db sounds like. It tells me what it can do, but that doesn't help me know what it really sounds like. That is where the subjective part comes in. The reviewer can give an overall feel of how all the numbers come together. Every speaker, even if it has very similar response numbers, will have its own sound characteristics, because it is the sum of all the parts that matters, not just 18hz @ -2db. You just have to know how to read subjective reviews. I never believe just one review. I try to find as many as I can and look for trends. If half the people say it sounds boomy but only one person thinks it is the greatest thing in the world with tight bass, I have an idea that it is on the boomy side. The other thing to do is find a reviewer that seems to have similar taste as you. This takes time, but eventually you will find reviewers who seem to always like the things you do, and some that hate them. I find that one reviewer that is like me and listen to them more.
    Reading reaviews can be an art. It is not as simple as "I liked it" Numbers are great, but it is how those numbers sound that make a difference.
     
  3. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Same here, both!!
    Over the years, between the late 60's to mid-80's, I've used the subjective Stereo Reviews by Julian Hirsch, (now retired from Stereo Review, name change to Sound&Vision) as a guide, he included and established some objective benchmarks w/the speakers frequency graphs. After reading his observations, you could somewhat correlate the peaks and valleys in the speaker graph vs. a specific frequency to see what was observed/heard in the speaker review.
    After the name change, Sound&Vision only performed subjective Speaker Test Reviews. It took about a year or so for Sound&Vision to finalize the speaker objective benchmark test under Tom Nousaine supervision and around '98, he started publishing the speakers objective benchmark with the reviewers subjective article. Tom Nousaine published his standard method in the September 2001 issue of Sound&Vision pg. 101-103.
    During the '80s, Dr. Floyd Toole's groundbreaking work on (subjective- and objective-based speaker design) lab-controlled listening test at Ottawa's National Research Council in the 1980s can be found today in the rapid dominance of such NRC-inspired Canadian speaker lines as Energy, Paradigm, and PSB.
    Dr. Toole joined Harman International's new state-of-the-art speaker laboratory in Northridge, California back in 1991, and he's since brought aboard many of his ex-NRC assistants such as Sean Olive and Allan Devantier. These imported Canadian's best loudspeaker minds were given the job to jump-start JBL.
    The Canadians NRC and now Harman's Listening Lab: by using not just measurements but also rigorously controlled listening tests with both audiophiles and civilian listeners, engineers can better correlate measured performance with subjective sound quality and push their designs in directions that listeners repeatedly prefer.
    JBL consumer N & S-Series speakers have garnered favorable, if not excellent reviews, because of Dr. Floyd Tooles influence and the specific use of Harman's International's state-of-the-art speaker laboratory in Northridge, their blind-testing room called the Multichannel Listening Lab (MLL).
    For a in-depth article on HK MLL, read this article OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY - By Scott Wilkinson for Electronic Musician, Jul 1, 2001.
    The article discusses the subjectivity of listener evaluations, why it can be a problem, variables of the listener experience, the MFG role in the final analysis, and why listeners are much more demanding in terms of sound quality when the clips are played in mono. As a result, it is possible to turn subjective evaluations into objective results as borne out by the positive reaction to JBL PRO LSR Studio Monitors & Consumer N- & S-Series, which have been reviewed, recognized (w/Awards) and accepted by the industry and public.
    Phil
     
  4. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    Phil,

    Really informative post. I want to have a Multichannel Listening Lab. It will definitely resolve such things as if cables or interconects make any change, and of course let us determine, in an objective way, which speakers are really more natural and accurate.
     
  5. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    I think that objective data is very useful in general,especially of electronics,however for speakers it's largely depends,where the speaker is.[most data is obtained in a echo free enviroment,I.E. not in a conventional room]

    Which brings us to the subjective evaluations.

    If I wan't to be able to "use" this review for any practical purpose,then the reviewer should be aware of his rooms accoustic modals, and it's possible relations to any speakers it my have on it.Without that the "review" will simply become just "novelty" or "anecdote" of a might interesting read,which should not be a base for any decision,of purchase or otherwise.

    I'm sad to say,that most reviews in the press and forums like this is, qualify to the latter one.
     
  6. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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