Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 07, 2016, 04:48:40 AM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Last post Author Topic: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind  (Read 11323 times)

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,408
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Slashdot reports a study which shows that even elite  musicians can't tell the difference between what-are-believed-to-be legendary hyper-expensive instruments and modern instruments:

http://news.sciencem...olins-modern-fiddles

This study can join the long list of studies showing that wine experts can't tell the difference between a $5,000 bottle of wine and a $5 bottle of wine.

When it comes to appreciating these hyper expensive items -- the perceived quality is all in your head.  If you think you are experiencing something super expensive, you tend to experience it as being significantly better.

Break out of the cycle -- find alternative way to perceive quality other than money!

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,605
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2014, 06:50:31 PM »
seems like we might be hardwired to make those sort of decisions :-[

Dan Ariely on YouTube


Sure throws a spanner in the works of any value judgements you might be trying to make ;D ;D ;D

There's also a book - Predictably Irrational.  Note that I'm not affiliated with either the author or the publisher in anyway

TaoPhoenix

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2011
  • **
  • Posts: 4,550
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2014, 08:44:17 PM »
Slashdot reports a study which shows that even elite  musicians can't tell the difference between what-are-believed-to-be legendary hyper-expensive instruments and modern instruments:

http://news.sciencem...olins-modern-fiddles

...

When it comes to appreciating these hyper expensive items -- the perceived quality is all in your head.  If you think you are experiencing something super expensive, you tend to experience it as being significantly better.

Break out of the cycle -- find alternative way to perceive quality other than money!

Hmm, I think the thread title here might be a little ...heh ... "tinged" with just a dash of snark. I think the general consensus is that "properly made modern violins are getting very very good". It's one of those where you have to be really sure exactly what questions are being asked. Rather than reinvent it all, I'll give you a blog by one of the members and the Slashdot thread.

http://www.violinist.../laurie/20121/13039/
http://entertainment...-and-a-modern-violin


Edvard

  • Coding Snacks Author
  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,888
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2014, 12:34:06 AM »
I came from a working-class family who weren't poor, but there were many things we did without.  My father would fix up old things rather than pay for new, even if the time spent was more valuable.  I didn't have a brand-name pair of shoes until I had moved out on my own.  Every dollar spent was weighed against how long the purchased item would last.  I believe this instilled me with a strange sense of worth, in which I do believe in paying for quality, but only to a definite, red-line point.  The line in the sand becomes deep and wide when you cross over from "quality" to "luxury" and I will not cross it.  $3000 audio cables?  I'll use coat-hanger wire first.  More than $1000 dollars for a trusted name-brand electric guitar?  I bought a "budget" model of the same brand in pieces at a local Goodwill for $3.99, it cost me less than $30 to upgrade the hardware and now I've got an instrument I would have drooled over when I was a teenager.  However, things like this are obvious, and the law of diminishing returns becomes more evident the more salesmen it takes to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash.  I don't like salesmen.  They make me itch.

That said, there have been times where I paid for quality, most recently when I bought my wife a Vita-Mix.  She was having health problems, and needed a good blender to make raw vegetable juices with.  I took their advertised health claims with a grain of salt and focused on the 2hp motor, the legendary durability, and the 7-year warranty.  THAT is what I paid for, but we got more in return.  We would have worn out 3 or more consumer-level blenders by now, and the results would have been mediocre in comparison.  This is a tangible, demonstratable fact, not a 'perception of value'.  
...Which is why I almost blew my stack when my son bought the most expensive tires available for his beater truck and said 'yes' to the extra 15 bucks for '(something)-izing' which is supposed to make the tires last longer and grip better.
Yep, sure.  You betcha.  :huh:

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,714
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2014, 02:33:08 AM »
That said, there have been times where I paid for quality, most recently when I bought my wife a Vita-Mix.  She was having health problems, and needed a good blender to make raw vegetable juices with.  I took their advertised health claims with a grain of salt and focused on the 2hp motor, the legendary durability, and the 7-year warranty.  THAT is what I paid for, but we got more in return.  We would have worn out 3 or more consumer-level blenders by now, and the results would have been mediocre in comparison.  This is a tangible, demonstratable fact, not a 'perception of value'.  
...Which is why I almost blew my stack when my son bought the most expensive tires available for his beater truck and said 'yes' to the extra 15 bucks for '(something)-izing' which is supposed to make the tires last longer and grip better.
Yep, sure.  You betcha.  :huh:

I got a Blend-tec blender a few years ago and experienced similar results. It was awesome.

The tire thing is called striping or siping or something like that. They cut slices into the tires which allows them to flex a bit and adds more surface area so they can get better traction. Or at least that's what I understood of how it was explained to me. I'm not sure I've ever heard them claim it makes the tires last longer (and I'm not sure how slicing a tire up would increase its durability).

This seems like it would fit well in this thread:

When news first broke of Neil Young's plans to serve up high-resolution listening to audiophiles last year, we wondered how he'd get folks to splurge for a $400 player and re-buy their existing libraries. Sure, six to 30 times the resolution of MP3s looks great on paper, but will we really be able to hear the difference? The rock icon says yes, and it's because there's nothing that's currently available that even comes close to Pono. Young says that existing audio formats are unable to adequately present a full range of tones, so he "decided to create an ecosystem that provided exactly what the artist created."

[ . . . ]

He's super clear about one detail: PonoMusic isn't offering a new file format or standard. What the repository will serve up is FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files that range from CD-quality 1,411 kbps (44.1 kHz/16 bit) up to 9,216 kbps (192 kHz/24-bit), depending on what's available from that album's master recordings. This means that listeners will have access to the highest-resolution version of an album that exists and the player needed to do them justice.

I'm a skeptic, that's for sure. Especially because it seems to contradict itself. In one sentence it says "existing audio formats are unable to adequately present a full range of tones" and shortly later it says "PonoMusic isn't offering a new file format or standard. What the repository will serve up is FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files."

I'm pretty sure that FLAC is an existing audio format. :huh:


40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2014, 07:29:51 AM »
"existing audio formats are unable to adequately present a full range of tones"

The human ear isn't capable of discriminating between (or actually hearing) many of them either. ;)

While I applaud any attempt to improve the art and technology of music recording and playback, I think Neil might be suffering from some of the inevitable hearing loss 99% of humanity will start to experience at his age, and is now hoping against hope to find away to get around it.

They've done side-by-side studies of various MP3 configurations using a broad range of (i.e. "sound pro," "audio enthusiast," "civilian") test listeners. The studies seem to show that most can't reliably differentiate much between anything.

Most could differentiate between a "good" (i.e. properly EQ-ed and mastered) recording and a bad one. But that's where the art of recording comes in. The technology itself isn't the issue so much as how it's used. How like so many other things in life, right?

One interesting aside. The FLAC format did seem to be slightly preferred by a very small number of listeners who said it sounded more "natural." So there might be some psycho-acoustical thing going down with FLAC that hasn't been clearly identified. One which some people might be hearing.*

Still, recorded music is all about serving the masses. So a factor that 1/10th of 1/10th of 1% of the listeners might hear isn't going to be something the music industry is going to devote many resources getting to the bottom of.

------------------------------------
Semi off-topic half-rant:

The full-time prima donna hipster audiophile invariably insists on "vinyl." Which is funny... because the sound of vinyl recordings isn't remotely close to "natural" or "live" if you look at the dynamic map or frequency spectrum. And most recordings destined for disk were heavily compressed during mastering to accommodate the physics of the disk cutting equipment.

And the entire style of sound mastering techniques has changed radically since the era of LPs. Digital has a larger dynamic range which has led to the trend of recording everything as loud as possible. And also using extreme amounts of EQ on most tracks. These things weren't possible with LP recordings. And they have a huge impact on the sound you hear.

There's also the fact that many people who are now mastering music (often their own) simply don't have the expertise (or taste) of the old guard producers and recording engineers of yore. Those guys (unfortunately no ladies back then) were artists who knew hundreds of ways to drag the absolute best out of equipment that would seem positively primitive by today's standards.

Today, it's different. This is the era of the "common man" and the "artist-producer-songwriter" in music. Any idiot that composes rambling blank verse, and owns a guitar, is now a "singer-songwriter" - although most very modestly tend to refer to themselves (and prefer to have others call them) "artists."

These same singer-songwriters have an unfortunate tendency to also want to master their own music so they can add "artist-producer" to their ever growing (many also write, paint, and choreograph too!) list of merit badges. We live in the Age of The Amateur.

And it shows...  :-\

How things seem to work today


So far from being "better" sounding (in an absolute sense) vinyl records merely sound different from CDs. Different technologies + a different mastering style + different personnel = very different sounding music.

People who grew up with LPs (like me) tend to prefer LPs. People brought up on CDs tend to prefer the sound characteristics of that technology.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2014, 09:04:05 AM by 40hz »

TaoPhoenix

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2011
  • **
  • Posts: 4,550
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2014, 08:39:23 AM »
...
My father would fix up old things rather than pay for new, even if the time spent was more valuable.  I didn't have a brand-name pair of shoes until I had moved out on my own.  Every dollar spent was weighed against how long the purchased item would last.  I believe this instilled me with a strange sense of worth, in which I do believe in paying for quality, but only to a definite, red-line point.  The line in the sand becomes deep and wide when you cross over from "quality" to "luxury" and I will not cross it. 
...
However, things like this are obvious, and the law of diminishing returns becomes more evident the more salesmen it takes to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash.  I don't like salesmen.  They make me itch.

That said, there have been times where I paid for quality
...
I ... focused on the 2hp motor, the legendary durability, and the 7-year warranty.  THAT is what I paid for, but we got more in return.  We would have worn out 3 or more consumer-level blenders by now, and the results would have been mediocre in comparison.  This is a tangible, demonstrable fact, not a 'perception of value'. 

I'm fortunate enough that things like a $40 mistake won't sink me. So I needed a new pair of shoes this winter, and one of the street vendors sold what I knew full well were knockoff shoes *right next door to where I was working* this winter. I had no delusions - I just wanted February's Snow problem to go away and become August's problem! I believe sometimes you truly are stuck a bit having to settle for a mix of both short term cheap but crappy vs those times you go for long term quality. In that other thread, without being sizzled by sales, I *did* spend on quality for my project comp and my first 24" monitor (that finally hit end-of-life this year.)

However, I "chose poorly" and they are already coming apart! So even in the world of "crappy" sometimes there's differences between Grade F and Grade D!
:o

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2014, 09:10:35 AM »
A friend who's father ran a farm said "big stuff" purchased for a farm is bought with one of two criteria in mind: (a) costly but built to last - or - (b) inexpensive but easy and cheap to fix.

I found that to be a good guide when making a major purchase decision. 8)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2014, 09:16:10 AM by 40hz »

xtabber

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 574
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2014, 04:15:45 PM »
Slashdot reports a study which shows that even elite  musicians can't tell the difference between what-are-believed-to-be legendary hyper-expensive instruments and modern instruments:
That's nonsense. 

The only thing this study shows is that a certain sample of violinists liked some modern instruments better than some older ones.  It doesn't mean they can't tell the difference, or that new instruments are better or the same as old ones, or vice versa. Nor does it mean that every study along these lines would show the same thing.

Before jumping to conclusions, it should be noted that the person responsible for the experiment, and the publicity surrounding it, happens to be a violin maker who stands to profit from the notion that his instruments may be just as good as any made by Stradivarius or Guarneri del Gesu.

TaoPhoenix

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2011
  • **
  • Posts: 4,550
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014, 06:02:21 PM »
Slashdot reports a study which shows that even elite  musicians can't tell the difference between what-are-believed-to-be legendary hyper-expensive instruments and modern instruments:
That's nonsense.  

The only thing this study shows is that a certain sample of violinists liked some modern instruments better than some older ones.  It doesn't mean they can't tell the difference, or that new instruments are better or the same as old ones, or vice versa. Nor does it mean that every study along these lines would show the same thing.

Before jumping to conclusions, it should be noted that the person responsible for the experiment, and the publicity surrounding it, happens to be a violin maker who stands to profit from the notion that his instruments may be just as good as any made by Stradivarius or Guarneri del Gesu.


Well, I agree this study is quite limited and the flaws were pointed out in the review article. The key sentence in the whole thing is "when it came to telling old violins from new, the soloists did no better than if they had simply guessed".

So everyone agrees they could tell "#1 is not the same as #5", they just had trouble telling which of #1 and #5 was the old one and which was the new one. It's a very limited result and exactly the kind that gets mis-handled in the media! I would have done the headline as "they thought the new ones were just as good as the old ones and once in a while even better." (The other key item in the blog above was that there were suspicions that one of the Statavarius ones was not in absolute champion level tip top shape and for whatever reasons a lot of the musicians didn't like it.)


Edvard

  • Coding Snacks Author
  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,888
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2014, 11:16:42 PM »
A friend who's father ran a farm said "big stuff" purchased for a farm is bought with one of two criteria in mind: (a) costly but built to last - or - (b) inexpensive but easy and cheap to fix.

I found that to be a good guide when making a major purchase decision. 8)

Amen.  :Thmbsup:

katykaty

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 221
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2014, 11:58:45 AM »
Legend has it that someone once asked Bernard Edwards of Chic what strings he used for his bass.

He turned to Nile Rodgers and asked "What kind of strings come on a MusicMan bass?"

If you're a genius, you'll make anything sound great :)

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2014, 06:21:18 PM »
Legend has it that someone once asked Bernard Edwards of Chic what strings he used for his bass.

He turned to Nile Rodgers and asked "What kind of strings come on a MusicMan bass?"

If you're a genius, you'll make anything sound great :)

FWIW they're Ernie Ball "Slinkys" medium light gauge, with a .45 on top and a .100 on the bottom. (In case anybody cares. ;) )

They're very nice strings - and far from the most expensive set out there. The same goes for the Music Man Stingray bass. :-*  Superb and surprisingly affordable.

And when it comes to bass, 90% of it is in your hands rather than your "plank" anyway - as I was taught so many years ago - and Scott Devine demonstrates and teaches below:




Joe Hone

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2014, 12:32:50 AM »
I get more satisfaction lurking in forums and reading the debate between vintage/modern, high end/low end, etc. than just about any subject. Except for the comments on retractionwatch.com, which is high entertainment indeed.

I work in audio production, spend many hours each week producing voice for radio along with the usual tracking and mixing music. I also got to do the music thing for a few years and for a bonafide will just say that I'm relatively unknown, but the Grand Old Opry is on my resume. So I'll just speak from my own experience of thousands of hours critically playing music, buying studio and playback gear, listening to audio, etc.

From my own experience doing shoot-outs where nobody except a controller who is not the person in charge of switching the gear on and off (unmarked switching is used so there is no bias from any participant) knows which piece is which, studio engineers and audiophiles tend to agree on the best sounding 2 or 3 units, but often those units are not the most expensive gear but fall in the more mid-priced range. And often hyped gear (meaning popular sentiment has it being "the best one can buy") performs more poorly than others. In contrast, in shoot-outs where the gear is known, most engineers and audiophiles swear the gear they brought to the event sounds best, which often is the hyped gear or the gear that is the current flavor of the month on blogs and in forums. I have been in both situations, and yes, I do swear my own gear sounds better! But because of the double blind testing experience, I recognize that my own bias will blind my ears when given the chance. One interesting fact is that audio ("audiophile") manufacturers tend to shy away from participating in these tests, but studio gear manufacturers like to set them up. Take from that what you will.

The testing done on the violins mentioned in the original post was great fun to read given that some of the most highly rated violin soloists in the world participated, and I read a blog of one who had spent several hours playing on a Stradivarius before the event and was certain he would be able to tell it from the others. After 4 hours of intensive playing all instruments, he chose a modern violin as the Stradivarius. That seems about right from my experience in shoot-outs, and from hanging around the instrument making industry. I spoke with one of the more respected luthiers alive at the NAMM show a while back and he told me we are in the golden age of guitar making given a lot of convergent factors. I don't know any reason why that wouldn't be true for violins as well.

As for mp3, I don't claim to have golden ears, but I have experienced noticeable audio degradation when I listen in the studio to audio in mp3 where I produced it and know what it should sound like. Not only highs and lows sounding less full or rich, but transients and digital artifacts present where there were none before. In fact, I thought one mix was fatally defective given the artifacts accompanying voice and cymbals, not realizing that I was accidentally listening to mp3 mixes and not the final full resolution mix.

In sum, I'm not surprised by the conclusions of the violin shoot-out at all. And I'm amused by the discussion on audio forums that "science cannot replicate sound" and other such theories from the true believers who refuse to participate in double blind testing.

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,099
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2014, 10:38:04 AM »
When I lived in the Netherlands most electronics stores had a listening room where you could hear the audio equipment you had an interest in play with different speakers as well. And my budget allowed for a Sony 5.1 amp and Wharfedale speakers in 1996. Somehow, I like an amp best when it plays 'Twist in my sobriety' from T. Tikaram well.

And I used it with gusto till 2005 when I went to Paraguay. After my father passed away a few years back I wanted to ship that equipment over to Paraguay. However, I learned that all my stuff I had stored there for shipment was sold by either my brother or my father. Crap happens.

But here in Paraguay there are hardly any stores that do have listening rooms. There isn't even a lot of choice in brands and each brand only carries a very limited set of models.

With katschaka (or how else you write it) and raggeaton music over here it only needs to be loud and have a big bass speaker. After listening 30 minutes to that crap (the first is way worse than the latter) I need to listen to rock/metal for a month just to get my sanity back. To my mind that music is the reason why beer is sold in liter bottles down here.
[/rant]

Anyway, my point is that I always have bought my audio equipment only after actually hearing it play my favorite kind of music. I didn't even care to buy the showroom model if that sounded  better than the one in the box.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2014, 11:19:42 AM »
Anyway, my point is that I always have bought my audio equipment only after actually hearing it play my favorite kind of music.

LOL! :Thmbsup:

I always run Do You (Feel Like We Do) from the Frampton Comes Alive! album; Baroqu and Blue from the original Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio album; about 10-15 minutes of Loreena McKennitt's Nights from the Alhambra album; and Peter Gabriel's performance of Sledgehammer and Shaking the Tree from his Secret World Live album before I'll commit serious money to any audio playback equipment.

If those sound good, anything else I usually listen to will too. (I have a distinct bias for live performances plus good vocal, piano, flute, and string bass reproduction in case nobody noticed. ;D)

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2014, 02:53:29 PM »
I spoke with one of the more respected luthiers alive at the NAMM show a while back and he told me we are in the golden age of guitar making given a lot of convergent factors. I don't know any reason why that wouldn't be true for violins as well.

There have been several solid scientific studies starting back in the 50s that attempted to analyze why a Stradivarius violin sounded so good. (FWIW I much prefer the darker sound of a Ceruti violin to the sweeter quality of the Stradivarius.) Those studies and experiments led to some interesting outcomes.

To my mind, the most profound was the ground-breaking work of luthier Carleen Hutchins that resulted in a modern family of violins usually referred to as the Violin Octet.. More on Carleen and the Hutchins Consort can be found here and here.

Which just goes to show that, when it comes to violins, the arguments that "old is better" and "there's nothing new to be had" are simply not true. 8)

xtabber

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 574
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2014, 05:47:02 PM »
There have been several solid scientific studies starting back in the 50s that attempted to analyze why a Stradivarius violin sounded so good. (FWIW I much prefer the darker sound of a Ceruti violin to the sweeter quality of the Stradivarius.) Those studies and experiments led to some interesting outcomes.

To my mind, the most profound was the ground-breaking work of luthier Carleen Hutchins that resulted in a modern family of violins usually referred to as the Violin Octet.. More on Carleen and the Hutchins Consort can be found here and here.

Which just goes to show that, when it comes to violins, the arguments that "old is better" and "there's nothing new to be had" are simply not true. 8)

A close relative is a respected violin maker and restorer, and also teaches violin making.  He has always told me that, except for cheap mass produced violins (and violas, cellos and basses), each instrument is different. Quality does not depend on the age of the instrument, but rather on the skill of the maker and, for older instruments, of the craftsmen who worked on them over the years.

He also explains that violin makers adapt the instruments they work on to the tastes of the musicians who own them, which leads instruments to change over time.  He likes to say that very little in any 300 year old instrument actually remains from the original builder. But old violins that are still in use tend to be among the best, because those were the only ones worth the high cost of maintenance and repair over many decades.

The value of older violins built by Stradivari and other well known makers has more to do with their rarity and the desires of collectors than anything else.  Good modern violins cost less because they are not collectors items, but they are not cheap either. Young musicians often have to take out large loans or mortgages to acquire an instrument good enough to qualify them to play in a major orchestra or chamber group.

Fred Nerd

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 278
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2014, 07:24:34 AM »

I'm a wannabe audiophile. And I think a lot of it is a kind of OCD; we want it to be perfect, and if we believe it IS perfect, then we can relax and enjoy it more.
I'm suspicious of 'premium' sound systems enhancing the bass to give an extra depth which makes the speakers sound better on first listen but is actually not an accurate reproduction. One reason why I hate trying to judge speakers straight up. It might sound better now, but is it genuine?

I've heard that CDs are purposely flattened so they don't clip on low to medium speakers so it sounds better on average speakers.
People who work in professional studios tell me that the final mix sounds a lot better before it's turned into CD format but I haven't gotten to confirm this.

Also I listen to the start of Alison Krauss's New Favourite to quickly judge a new sound system on how it holds bass. That song is much harder on speakers than dance music.

crabby3

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • Posts: 1,002
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2014, 10:31:33 AM »
Break out of the cycle -- find alternative way to perceive quality other than money!

I believe it is up to the individual.  Once I learned that quality and higher price don't always go hand-in-hand I started saving a lot of money.   ;)

My train of thought is usually:  Price > Functionality > Usability > Quality.  But it can also be:  Functionality > Usability > Quality > Price.
My cash is always part of the equation because if money is the root of all evil I'm surely not going to Hell.   ;D

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,285
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2014, 05:46:15 PM »
I enjoyed the Dan Ariely video.  Good humor while making his points.  Some of the "deals" used as examples reminded me of the old bit "would you like to buy 3 for a quarter?"  When the potential customer says no then, "how about 2 for a dollar?"

Joe Hone

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2014, 08:42:46 AM »
I'm a wannabe audiophile. And I think a lot of it is a kind of OCD; we want it to be perfect, and if we believe it IS perfect, then we can relax and enjoy it more.
I'm suspicious of 'premium' sound systems enhancing the bass to give an extra depth which makes the speakers sound better on first listen but is actually not an accurate reproduction. One reason why I hate trying to judge speakers straight up. It might sound better now, but is it genuine?

I've heard that CDs are purposely flattened so they don't clip on low to medium speakers so it sounds better on average speakers.
People who work in professional studios tell me that the final mix sounds a lot better before it's turned into CD format but I haven't gotten to confirm this.

Also I listen to the start of Alison Krauss's New Favourite to quickly judge a new sound system on how it holds bass. That song is much harder on speakers than dance music.

You touch on a lot of things I enjoy thinking about. Audiophiles in my experience tend to listen at music, music lovers listen to music. A music lover can get lost listening to the most crackly, fuzzy sounding 78 (old time vinyl for anyone who doesn't recognize that) if the performance is good, whereas many audiophiles will run from the sound. In addition, I've always wondered at audiophile mentality where someone spends tens of thousands of dollars on gear to reproduce music when it was originally recorded on a mixing board utilizing $.29 cent patch connector wires from Radio Shack! An attorney friend of mine who paid $40,000 for a pair of speakers in the early 1990s keeps one of those wires on his desk to remind himself of how his hobby cost him more than it probably should have. And he still owns the speakers which are taller than he is and are kept in a tuned listening room.

It is true that mastering engineers master to the medium - something mastered for radio will sound different than something mastered for mp3 players, and something mastered for CD will sound different yet. But most of us save audio files in digital format. Some use FLAC, I prefer wav as do all of the engineers I work with. There is a reason programs like ExactAudioCopy use wav as the default copying format.

It is also true that what we hear in the studio doesn't sound the same as the finished product, but there are many reasons for that. In our studio we prefer to record to tape then transfer to the computer for editing. There is huge debate over whether analog is better than digital, and I work in both, but I can affirm that after listening to music for 4-5 hours, something that was tracked digitally exhausts me whereas something tracked to tape doesn't fatigue me at all. I also get to listen to first generation sound, meaning it has only passed through recording devices on the way in, and playback devices on the way out, one time. No audiophile has ever heard anything sound as good through their ridiculously expensive systems. But you can only do so much with first generation sound - as soon as you add a second/third/fourth instrument or voice you have to start creating space to hear it, which requires adding eq, delay, panning, reverb, whatever it takes. That first generation sound fast becomes a squashed, artificial sound when individual instruments/voices are lifted from the mix and listened to solo.

There really is no right answer to all of this, except that if you like it it is right for you. I'm a music lover so I don't get caught up in how it sounds as much as I do the quality of the performance when I'm listening privately, but I do my best to make it sound exactly as you want it to sound because I'm delivering a service.


Edvard

  • Coding Snacks Author
  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,888
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2014, 06:57:41 PM »
If an audiophile truly wants "as it was intended in the studio" sound, all they need to do is cruise eBay for some Yamaha NS-10s which were the most common studio near-field monitors for years.  That is, the speakers the engineers and producers listened to when doing recording, mixing and mastering.
http://gizmodo.com/5...youve-never-heard-of
http://www.soundonso...icles/yamahans10.htm
Sadly, they are discontinued now.

Funny story I happened upon while perusing AudioKarma:  
Apparently, a forum member (we'll call him 'Guy') was out at a live performance with a friend (let's name him 'Friend'), and it was an intimate enough venue that the vocalist/guitarist duo performing did not need nor use any amplification.  Friend remarked about halfway through the show that the vocals had "too much sibilance" and the guitar "lacked power in the low-mids", and how much better it would sound recorded and played back on his home system.  Guy tried to reason with Friend that 'live' was the standard; all hi-fi system's one purpose is to re-create the 'live' experience as closely as possible.  Friend simply gave Guy a blank stare, and nothing more was said.  
:huh:
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 07:08:26 PM by Edvard »

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2014, 07:52:00 PM »
Guy tried to reason with Friend that 'live' was the standard; all hi-fi system's one purpose is to re-create the 'live' experience as closely as possible.

I think it all depends on the music. But I'm definitely more the "music lover" than audiophile type. (With thanks to JH for that brilliant earlier clarification about what separates the two.)

In my world, if it's a recording of a live performance, then as close to "live" as possible should be the goal.

But a studio album is a fixed work of art. Like a painting. For those recordings, whatever was closest to the artist's intent should be the goal. Especially when you consider some very valid musical works can't be effectively done live - or in the case of Zappa's Black Page - can't reliably be done at all.

superboyac

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,070
  • Is your software in my list?
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2014, 08:07:42 PM »
I'm a wannabe audiophile. And I think a lot of it is a kind of OCD; we want it to be perfect, and if we believe it IS perfect, then we can relax and enjoy it more.
I'm suspicious of 'premium' sound systems enhancing the bass to give an extra depth which makes the speakers sound better on first listen but is actually not an accurate reproduction. One reason why I hate trying to judge speakers straight up. It might sound better now, but is it genuine?

I've heard that CDs are purposely flattened so they don't clip on low to medium speakers so it sounds better on average speakers.
People who work in professional studios tell me that the final mix sounds a lot better before it's turned into CD format but I haven't gotten to confirm this.

Also I listen to the start of Alison Krauss's New Favourite to quickly judge a new sound system on how it holds bass. That song is much harder on speakers than dance music.

You touch on a lot of things I enjoy thinking about. Audiophiles in my experience tend to listen at music, music lovers listen to music. A music lover can get lost listening to the most crackly, fuzzy sounding 78 (old time vinyl for anyone who doesn't recognize that) if the performance is good, whereas many audiophiles will run from the sound. In addition, I've always wondered at audiophile mentality where someone spends tens of thousands of dollars on gear to reproduce music when it was originally recorded on a mixing board utilizing $.29 cent patch connector wires from Radio Shack! An attorney friend of mine who paid $40,000 for a pair of speakers in the early 1990s keeps one of those wires on his desk to remind himself of how his hobby cost him more than it probably should have. And he still owns the speakers which are taller than he is and are kept in a tuned listening room.

It is true that mastering engineers master to the medium - something mastered for radio will sound different than something mastered for mp3 players, and something mastered for CD will sound different yet. But most of us save audio files in digital format. Some use FLAC, I prefer wav as do all of the engineers I work with. There is a reason programs like ExactAudioCopy use wav as the default copying format.

It is also true that what we hear in the studio doesn't sound the same as the finished product, but there are many reasons for that. In our studio we prefer to record to tape then transfer to the computer for editing. There is huge debate over whether analog is better than digital, and I work in both, but I can affirm that after listening to music for 4-5 hours, something that was tracked digitally exhausts me whereas something tracked to tape doesn't fatigue me at all. I also get to listen to first generation sound, meaning it has only passed through recording devices on the way in, and playback devices on the way out, one time. No audiophile has ever heard anything sound as good through their ridiculously expensive systems. But you can only do so much with first generation sound - as soon as you add a second/third/fourth instrument or voice you have to start creating space to hear it, which requires adding eq, delay, panning, reverb, whatever it takes. That first generation sound fast becomes a squashed, artificial sound when individual instruments/voices are lifted from the mix and listened to solo.

There really is no right answer to all of this, except that if you like it it is right for you. I'm a music lover so I don't get caught up in how it sounds as much as I do the quality of the performance when I'm listening privately, but I do my best to make it sound exactly as you want it to sound because I'm delivering a service.


I thoroughly enjoyed this post!  more more!  :beerchug:
why do you prefer listening to wav over flac?  i don't get that.  unless you mean to work with, then i get it.