Measuring emotional connections to music

I had to post this under "News" because there isn't a "Music" category to choose from (yet) on this site.

Something that will change as we'll be having plenty of conversations about music here moving forward.

Is there a response curve to show how one connects to a piece of music?

Some people in this hobby seem to think that measurements tell the story of how a piece of equipment communicates with us, but as human beings are we really being fully served the entire sonic picture by a set of measurements, frequency-response charts and graphs or are we only getting a small part of the story?

As someone who has written hundreds of reviews based on listening sessions conducted in my home, in bricks-and-mortar shops, in manufacturers demo rooms, and in more hotel rooms at trade shows than I could possibly count, measurements never really meant a lot to me from a listening standpoint.

Measurements are helpful and they can be invaluable to people when it comes to certain things to look for when building a system from disparate components.

But, digging deeper into the numbers on an amp, or DAC, or set of headphones, what exactly are the measurements going to tell us?

Will they tell us if we will love the sound that the measured item is capable of producing?

Will those measurements communicate the passion of a cello solo the same way that hearing the component reproduce it would?

No, it would not.

Why? Because there is no substitute for hearing a component yourself and deciding for yourself if it is connecting you to the emotional tenor of the music.

It was this topic which caused a discussion between amplifier designer and manufacturer Vinnie Rossi and I about how people listen to music and how measurements factor into that process. And that perhaps there are some who were starting to focus so much on measurements that there was a loss of clarity about what is in service to what.

Is a speaker not in service to the reproduction of music to elicit an emotional response from the listener?

Or has music been relegated to nothing more than “software” in service to “hardware?”

While InnerFidelity is taking pains to assemble the best headphone measuring rig possible moving forward, I think it's important that visitors to this site know that measurements are one part of the story, not the whole story.

In my world, software is a program that runs on a computer, music is what I listen to through a sound system – regardless if the source is digital or not.

Your mileage may vary.

My genuine thanks go out to Mr. Rossi for spending his valuable time writing down and sharing his thoughts here:

Don’t think… Feel!

This brief scene from Enter the Dragon (1973) has a way of reminding me how we cannot adequately measure our emotional responses.

Pertaining to audio equipment, measurements on the bench using test tones can never completely define what we hear or how we will personally process and react to the music.

While they certainly have their usefulness during the design and test of a product, measurements can be like the “finger pointing away to the moon” as Bruce Lee explains to his student. If you only pay attention to the finger, “you will miss all that heavenly glory” (your emotional response to the music). Measuring is to think, listening is to feel.

Put another way, just as the dinner menu at a restaurant is useful in providing us with certain “specifications” about a meal we might consider ordering, it can never adequately convey how the food will taste to us.

So while the menu has some useful data, the data is clearly not the same as the emotional stimulus – the tasting of the food and our brain response.

No matter how well any audio component measures (e.g. a set of headphones, loudspeakers, preamplifier, amplifier, DAC, phono stage, and even the acoustics of the listening room), if one does not feel a deep connection to their music, then such measurements provide little relevant meaning. The same component could bring many years of pleasure to another listener because unlike calibrated test equipment, there is much variation in the way we hear and feel.

Fortunately our industry is abundant with what appears to be as many different types of components, listening rooms, and music as there are various shapes and sizes of ears doing the actual listening.

If we all agreed that the best measuring products were the best sounding ones, we would essentially all own the same thing and it would quickly become a boring hobby.

Designers deaf in both ears could still produce excellent measuring products, as there would be no need for them to listen to their designs.

Imagine attending an audio show where all of the listening rooms were DSP room corrected, contained the same type of speaker topology, the same type of electronics, etc. For many it is frustrating enough passing by rooms playing the same overused demo tracks. 

“What was that? An exhibition? We need emotional content. Try again.”

–Vinnie Rossi

MajesticSquirrel's picture

Zeos approves :^)

GNagus's picture

Those silly Z-Reviews? If you are, I' one who YouTube PMd you why you listen to the Micca MB42x upside down. And some other question, can't remember

zobel's picture in the eating, but, every pudding is made of ingredients, in defined amounts, and a recipe for combining them. The best puddings are made from finely tuned recipes. The science of measuring factors that we can quantify, will produce a pudding that has the most positive emotional connection with the eaters.

While it is true that emotions are not a quantity of the recipe, those emotions are quantifiable once the pudding is eaten, and are a direct result of not only of the recipe, but the tastes of the consumer, and how hungry, or how full and jaded he is.

While it is true that we can't measure everything that matters, and not everything we can measure matters, I applaud you for continuing to measure the things we can, and your seeking to provide meaningful data for those of us trying to put together a good pudding.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Emotional connection to music is IMO the reason most of us become headphone/gear fans. Most everyone connects to music but i think some connect moreso than others and do so in a deeply emotional way. One of my favorite things ever is when i hear a new song by a new artist that was off my radar and i immediately connect with it 110%.

Heres some random thoughts on emotional connections and gear:

1) Review Tracks: This was an interesting observation in an article tyll wrote about review tracks. If you really love and emotionally connect to a song, it can potentially affect your review. The reason is that you feel good because of the song and may rate the gear higher accordingly Of course, on the other hand, we WANT to review gear with tracks we like. There's no right or wrong method but I think its important to reflect upon the reason we are are listing to tunes for in these cases.

2) Differentiation: One of my favorite favorite things about finding new great gear is hearing songs that ive heard countless times in a new light. The gear has opened the soundstage and allowed me to enjoy...emotionally enjoy...songs that i know so well in a new and expanded way. Its the reason i love headphones, amps, dacs, and daps.

Peace .n. "If music be the food of love, play on" -shakespeare

3ToF's picture

I feel like the way Tyll reviewed was a lot less prone to moods and more objective.

gibtg's picture

Yes, please Tyll, come back!!!

crenca's picture

Makes me wonder how Mr. Rossi's products, which are in the end nothing but consumer electronics, are designed/built.

I have always liked Andrew Jones take. He admits that modern transducers, electronics, etc. are not bleeding edge stuff - it's all pretty well understood design/engineering phenomena. Measurements and simulation is how he starts out, and the "art" of golden ear listening comes in only at the end, for the final tweaks.

This reality is what high subjectivised Audiophiledom however does not like and works really really hard at deconstructing, because they believe their hopelessly subjectivisted emotion is the only business model that works.

The times are a changing however - in my experience the younger you are, the less you are interested in High End Emotivism. Rafe and Vincent might be old skool subjectivists to the point that they are never going to accept a balanced and useful mix of the subjective and objective that real High Fidelity rests on...

Rafe Arnott's picture

Measurements have their place, but there is no replacement for actual listening – regardless of how many biometric readings are taken during a session.

The times are changing and to be honest, most of the young people I speak with at shows are more concerned with how something sounds than how it measures.

"Makes me wonder how Mr. Rossi's products, which are in the end nothing but consumer electronics, are designed/built."

Perhaps this would be a good quote to turn on yourself, as in the end your words here are nothing but your own opinion.

risotto's picture

I agree that measurements have their place and don't tell the whole story. But, they do tell 90% of the story. From the FR graph, it is very easy to see the balance of bass, mid-range and treble. A boosted lower mid-range, it is going to be muddy. Treble peaks. Depending your age and hearing loss, either it is objectionable or not.

We, objectivists don't put much faith in subjective reviews for this precise reason.The age, hearing loss and preference of the reviewer is going to colour the evaluation. I personally don't like many of Tyll's recommended headphones. I look at the FR of such headphones and could find immediately the reason. Most of the time, it is sensitivity to certain treble peaks. So, a subjective evaluation doesn't offer me much. Also, it is not possible to audition a headphone in most places unless you buy them. But, if I can look at the FR, I can at least figure out whether I will like them or not.

Yes. The common man doesn't care about measurements because they are not from a technical background and won't know how to interpret them. Inner fidelity of the past was doing the excellent job of educating people about the science behind it and it was one of the reason it was held in high regard.

Long time listener's picture

"I agree that measurements have their place and don't tell the whole story. But, they do tell 90% of the story. From the FR graph, it is very easy to see the balance of bass, mid-range and treble."

Exactly. Thank you.

"We, objectivists don't put much faith in subjective reviews for this precise reason.The age, hearing loss and preference of the reviewer is going to colour the evaluation. I personally don't like many of Tyll's recommended headphones."

My feelings exactly.

"The common man doesn't care about measurements because they are not from a technical background and won't know how to interpret them. Inner fidelity of the past was doing the excellent job of educating people about the science behind it and it was one of the reason it was held in high regard."

Well said. Bravo

allhifi's picture

risotto: Your spec's -as you've exampled- on loudspeaker's is laughable. Technical merit is vital to any competent design, yet, if you "look" (observe) the 'frequency response' of a $500./pr. PSB or Paradigm loudspeaker and then to a KEF Reference-1 (or 3), not much distinguishes the comparison.

But then listen. Your 'so-called' relationship (bass/mid/treble) will be thrown to the gutter as the REF-1 will make lesser models sound muffled, ragged -broken (in comparison).


risotto's picture

Looking at the FR of KEF-1, it is almost ruler flat as it should be while PSB has large dip around 4kHz and a overall 1 dB dip from 3-8kHz. So, both the speakers are very different from each other.

I don't understand what is your point. Also, we don't know the THD figures for these two speakers.

If you prefer KEF-1, enjoy it.

crenca's picture

let's see if we can hit the reset button here. Not sure of the value of reducing everything to an 'opinion', other than as an expression of the inability to communicate. I think what I realize that perhaps you do not is that for the typical reader of Innerfidelity (and yes, we probably are still in mourning over the loss of Tyll and probably too sensitive), we don't need a push in the subjective direction. The typical reader here is someone who understands that music is at the end of the day emotional, subjective, all about that "connection" factor. At the same time theirs is the pursuit of fidelity in the "stuff" of its reproduction, and yes there is a real objective part in this - electrical engineering, known laws thereof, etc.

As Audiophiles in pursuit of high fidelity we already have the requisite emotive desire and understand its place. We also understand the objective side as well, as your readers here are very heavily skewed toward the geeky technical side of things.

In other words, we believe that we already have the balance - the both/and of measurements & listening/subjectivity, or at least are fully aware of its place.

So when we read an essay like this, we wonder what is behind it. You complain of an extreme (an over reliance and misunderstanding of measurements) but that is not found here in general, though of course such people/web sites exist. A more interesting and worthwhile discussion is how, and when measurements *correlate* with the subjective experience. That in fact happened to a real degree on Keith's Harman post on the 3rd of this month. I like my curve slightly less warm, but I am certainly objectively "explained" by the Harman curve - but then I know that FR is not everything either as there is resolution/clarity, which I believe is better correlated with a CSD measurement of distortion - but then only correlated so far so yes, there is no substitute to listening.

Again, it's both/and. If this was merely the point of your essay, then why did it not get through? I submit it is because it is the wrong emphasis for the readership here.

In any case I hope I am making some sense to you.

zobel's picture

I see the need to objectively evaluate as subjectively as possible. lol. For the long term positive emotional involvement, high fidelity is still the measuring stick that will prove it.

Tonmeister's picture

Yes, even science can measure the emotional impact of music, film and sound via bio sensors like heart rate, body temperature / blood flow, brain scans.. Here is an example of Dolby's work in this area.


zobel's picture

Isn't the work you do at Harman science? you formed a hypothesis; "Headphones should sound like the best speakers in the best listening space", then set up experiments to test, by the reports of a large sample of this pretty close?
1) Determine which frequency response from the speakers in that room was preferred while playing music, using a variety of music tracks, and then measure the speakers in that room with the same calibrated microphones that gave a flat response anechoically with those speakers.
2) Measure that frequency sweep with your headphone test rig, and establish a curve that represents ideal frequency response of those speakers in that room, again, as measured on the Headphone test rig.
3) Measure the response of a bunch of headphones on that test rig
4) Determine by averaging the listener's opinions, which headphones they prefer.
5) Look for correlation between preferred headphones and their measured response in comparison to the ideal room curve established above.
Is that a close summary?

Since you have done this experiment, and have made many trials of it, and have found statistically that the preference of averaged listeners is very close to the room curve model, and have presented all factors and details of the methodology so that anyone can test your results themselves, I think you could call your research science. Not only that, but I would also say that your research also indicates where in the realm of SPL/Freq., where the most positive emotional engagement happens for average listeners with that music.

Did Harman use some of this research in the AKG line of cans? I have the AKG K7XX and the AKG 553 Pro, both of which I find very well balanced in frequency response.

crenca's picture

Rafe and Vincent,

You got this all wrong, not because you are wrong, but because you get the lay of the Audiophile land wrong. Audiophiledom is does not suffer from a glut of radical objectivists who think measurements is all that is needed. Sure, these folks/web sites exist but they are far and few between and are mostly ignored. What we do have is a plethora of over subjectivised and emotional reviews, reviewers, and magazines/web zines who don't do the hard work of balancing measurements and subjective impressions in an overall and useful review. Instead, they fall back on a purely "impressionistic" take on EVERYTHING. For every one Amir (a radical objectivist) there are a dozen - make that 5 dozen Herb Reicherts (or at least Herb Reichert wannabe's).

Also, your straw man of 'if measurements were all there is, everything would sound the same and this hobby would be boring' is, frankly boring. It tells me that you either don't understand what measurements are for and there very real limits, or you don't want to do the hard work of measurements. Measurements are hard, emotion is easy because it is a given.

Measurements are honest and cut through our biases and our tendency to to gravitate to voodoo because voodoo is first and foremost attractive (it promises us something we want). "Emotional connection" is easy, but also quite manipulative. Everyone sells emotion.

Here's to hoping that this site will not become yet-another-emotional sales job. The last few posts have been promising, but this essay "has little relevant meaning" to a balanced and honest quest for High Fidelity...

Rafe Arnott's picture
The lay of the audiophile land... is open to interpretation and your opinion of it in this comment section is noted.

If it brings you solace, or you think truth alone lies in measurements than that is your prerogative.

Neither I, nor Mr. Rossi is here to change your minds about what it is you believe, but we are excited to create discussion about differing modalities when it comes to approaching the context of listening to music.

We do this even though it seems to disturb so many to have any challenge on the site to what used to be the status quo.

amadeogt's picture

"What we do have is a plethora of over subjectivised and emotional reviews."

Absolutely. I also agree 100% with your characterization of reviewer styles. I read them all, every day, and feel exactly the same way.

Of course I don't want to go back to the extreme, crude objectivism of the 70s (it turned out shallow, with a naive "all amps sound the same" claim based on strict THD).

But I think the audio press in general is way too reliant on subjective poetry these days. That makes it closer to something anyone can write in a forum, and it is not the way to go.

Anyway, that is just my opinion. ;-)

donunus's picture

I agree with this post

maelob's picture

Wow tough crowd here LOL. I dont understand why so much animosity, off course measurements are important, I dont think Rafe is saying they are not important. But there is a reason most of high end gear is "voiced" with real ears. I think Paul from PS audio has a good video on the subject. "Combining the art of engineering with the art of listening"

amadeogt's picture

Paul is a sensible person (I like his daily podcast) and makes a good argument for voicing.

The discussion here, I think, is about excesses. Too much objectivity x too much subjectivity. The audio press, for a number or reasons, has more of the latter.

gzost's picture

and this meant that it reproduced the recordings perfectly, then this would be the ideal. Hi-Fi is about that goal, nothing more, nothing less. I want to listen to recordings, not equipment.

My own experiences correspond with the Harman research: The closer to neutral the reproduction, the better the musical experience overall.

We may not be fully there yet with predicting speaker or headphone sound experience solely from measurements, but of course this is possible in principle - and we'll get there eventually. For now, it's the reviewers job to fill in the gaps, but measurements have to be front and center.

bogdanb's picture

Nice thoughts! I especially liked your article since I am not that guy listening to a membrane in the speaker or to a new cable and stuff.
However I found that I am more inclined to enjoy music with good headphones, all bought based on the reviews on innerfidelity (total amount spent approx 1000 euros, much more that I even intended). I don't need to look at the measurements, they don't mean that much to me.
For you Rafe, as a reviewer, the measurements should be for sure a reference in understanding the headphone you will be reviewing and something to keep in mind when using your analytical earn at work.

But maybe, there is something else to consider: the mastering, the guys producing the audio.
(Yes I feel in the enjoyment of the listening experience the difference between a good and a better headphone)

I came across a youtube channel, Audiotree, and man I was amazed! their live sessions sound so sweet, you can hear the guitar cord vibrating, no cofusion between the bass guitar and the drums. Listening to their recordings I had a concert payed just for me and I could feel everyone of the payers contributing.
A couple of time I then searched the web to buy the albums of the bands that played in their Live Sessions, and I was amazed in finding poorer recordings, lower grade mastered albums.
Just one example July Talk - all other recordings had really terrible bass, unarticulated, and drums and bass guitar indistinguishable, trebles blown out etc. And the live session on Audiotree was so transparent, clear and musical.

Are you willing/interested to do reviews of places that produce music and indicate to us where to have a listen? maybe from time to time a nicely produced album... etc

Maybe Audiotree is famous in the US, not here in Europe, it was by chance I stumbled upon it on youtube.

castleofargh's picture

music can generate emotions when you listen to it? I had no clue! thank you very much for this condescending article.
I'm not even going to tear it down in details, just trying to pit objective data against listening and emotion, as if it was some either/or choice. that alone is enough to see the strawman argument guiding the all post.

I'm saying this with all sincerity, and hope that it will matter to somebody with authority(but it will most likely be deleted instead, oh well I tried):

Rafe seems right at home on Audiostream, while he's a fish out of water when trying to interact here. he doesn't even seem to get what he's doing wrong, that how out of place he is. and it's not going to get better because there is no substitute to technical knowledge.

this place was no less than the number one reference for headphone measurements in the world(at least publicly available). to put in a guy who doesn't understand crap about measurements, and ask him to entertain us, who thought this was going to work?

this website was mostly interesting because the guy doing the measurements was the same giving his impressions. he was the bridge between objective and subjective over a specific device or event. and that made Tyll's articles different. that's why we all came here. an engineer with an opinion(and funky shirts).
with the new team it immediately looked like that wouldn't happen anymore and I was disappointed, thinking this would become a second Stereophile instead of being what it had always been. but so far it seems like I wasn't pessimistic enough in my expectations.
you're not doing Sterophile2, you're doing Audiostream2. a place I am unable to describe without insulting everybody on it, so I won't. but it's an understatement to say that it's not what I wish innerfidelity to become.

Rafe Arnott's picture

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

The only fish out of water here are those who think this site will continue to be Tyll V.2.

That's not happening, because there is no desire to replace Tyll, he is an individual human being and as such is irreplaceable. But he left.

What is happening is the continuation of headphone reviews and top-notch measurements to go with those reviews.

pwjazz's picture

What is happening is the continuation of headphone reviews and top-notch measurements to go with those reviews.

The ongoing discussion about what this site should be, where it's headed and so on is all just speculation. Rafe, I know you're in a bit of a tough spot because you're waiting to get some official review headphones, but I think the best way to put an end to the ongoing consternation about where the site is headed is to actually post a high quality (by your own definition) headphone review. It's approaching a month since you introduced yourself on the site and this whole time we've basically just been discussing process, which is bound to be contentious. If you have anything on hand that you can review (like maybe those Audeze LCD-XCs you posted about), I would encourage you to get some meat up on the site sooner rather than later. If it's a matter of finalizing the measurement and testing protocol, I don't think anyone would object to a preview type review and I for one would be understanding about the process evolving fairly rapidly throughout the initial course of reviews.

Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi pwjazz,

Thanks for the comment.

I and my contributors are constantly amazed at what people object to here, but to your point I am working on a short review piece for the LCD-XC, it was a brand-new pair and needed to be broken in, which it now is and I've been going back-and-forth with it on a few different sources for comparison.

I'll be posting something shortly on it.


pwjazz's picture

It'll be interesting to see what sources you tried. I just got my first tube headphone amp and have been fun trying to compare it to my solid state amp and my DAP.

Leffen's picture

Measurements are simply not good enough yet. They don't tell the whole story of how we react to a system. Emotionally/Chemically/Biologically (it's all the same thing). There are undiscovered parameters, etc etc. This shit simply isn't terribly well understood yet.

It's imperative to have a full-bodied subjective approach to listening. This is the whole fcking point. Even if we did have the entire process of a human listening to music "mapped out", you still have to listen to your own body and soul to make choices about what you want to buy.

I do want as accurate of a system as possible, so the music (or my own processing) can speak for itself. But as long as that's not possible, we get as close as we can to neutral, and then
we have to choose among the best we can afford for their particular biases. And we have to choose the biases we like.

Subjectivity is king. There are times when high measured distortion sounds clear as day. There are times when low distortion sounds terrible. There are parameters and interactions we don't yet understand.

Measurements only assist. It's basic knowledge. Arguing with this is juvenile.

Every microphone, speaker, etc, ultimately has to be judged by the ears as to whether it sounds natural or accurate. There is no substitute and never will be. And they will all have a character.

The more we fine-tune them to sound invisible, the better our perceptions get of their biases.

JMB's picture

Subjectivity is based on trained behavior, generating listening preferences. Why should I be interested in reading about sound preferences of a reviewer.
It's like food and wine reviews, maybe if someone states something is awful I might not try it but I am not reading magazines to know what wines I like. Looking at the "professional" ratings in a wine store I see no correlation with what I like. What is the reason to trust audio reviewers.
So why the audio publications are more than ever based on subjective reviews. I guess there is a lack of reviewers with sufficient technical knowledge to measure and understand what these measurements mean (Tyll, JA and Keith Howard are rare exceptions).
I am fully aware that because something is easy to measure that measurement is not necessarily significant for our auditory system. So there is a need to further develop measurement protocols which correlate with psychoacoustic requirements but that is what needs significant funding (independent of manufacturers).

Vinnie Rossi's picture

Thank you to everyone for reading and engaging with us on this somewhat controversial topic. Rafe and I were looking to share one of many points of view regarding audio measurements and how we believe they do not *entirely* tell us how we will feel when listening to music with a certain component under test.

I am fascinated with discussions such as this because there is much to learn from each other and I appreciate reading different perspectives, especially from those who are not taking it too seriously.

To be clear, I *do* believe measurements of audio equipment have their usefulness. They can be valuable at shedding light on certain attributes of a product and can also tell us how it will mate with another product. Where opinions seem to vary is on how complete of a picture do the measurements provide, and how well do they correlate to one enjoyment when listening to music with the measured product?

Here is a classic review example: In this month’s issue of Stereophile there are two particular power amplifier reviews that I found interesting. The first amplifier measured very well, but the reviewer’s listening impressions of it were less than entirely enthusiastic. The other measured quite poorly in comparison, but the reviewer who listened to it really seemed to connect with it. This sort of thing happens fairly often.

I look forward to more constructive conversation about this topic and hopefully many more to come!


crenca's picture

Exactly the sorts of discussions that have been usual around here for along time. The both/and of the two sided objective/subjective coin that is the pursuit of high fidelity.

The essay, for whatever reason, came across as a defense of an overly-subjective audiophiledom and methodology. Oh well, miscommunication is simply par for the course in this medium.

Much could be said about the correlation of measurements with the subjective evaluation. The fact that some equipment measures "pooly" but is still liked is not an indictment of measurements, and the fact that some equipment is disliked but still measures well is not an indictment of a subjective listening evaluation. It's both/and, not either/or.

Pokemonn's picture

I am feeling my Sony wireless headphone must be best headphone in the world due to my "new toy syndrom" lol.
Great article!

pete111's picture

I don't disagree with the whole thing, measurements don't tell everything, not only because subjectivity matters, a tonality we prefer for example but mainly because when it comes to acoustics and the understanding of how our hearing system works, the science hasn't figured it all out yet and it's a good thing, there is still room for improvement. It could be argued that the combination of our brain and ear picks up stuff that measurement rigs don't. In term of electronics it's a different story. Measurements tells you quite objectively if you have something else in the output that differs from what went in. It could be debated, and even objectively demonstrated that some distortions are better than others, that some pairings are nicer than others, but technically electronically you can tell everything about a signal by measuring it. It is of course theoretical, the fact that we CAN measure it doesn't mean that published measurements tells it all, just that it could. Acoustically it's an other story, for the simple reason that no transducers works like our ears. Now, that being said, high fidelity should still mean that, high fidelity, sure someone who really dig the sound of distortion could rig a guitar pedal to his stereo system and that could be a good system for him, but really why are we all into Hifi? Should it still be the goal, for designers to try to reproduce music in the most perfect way? If not what is it? You say: "Will those measurements communicate the passion of a cello solo the same way that hearing the component reproduce it would?" Well technically, in some ways, yes. Measurement tells you how close you are to the real thing, to the full experience of that performance instead of a poorly reproduced version of it. Now some people might like the added stuff, but it's not the spirit of hifi, if everything is equal and a matter of taste this hobby becomes meaningless.

KaiS's picture

The whole idea about hifi is very important for the development of high quality audio equipment.

But in all the discussions here I miss one of the most important points:
Before we can listen to music it needs to be recorded.

The recording process is not to capture the real thing but drawing a nice picture from what's there.
So recording is by no means anything like hifi.
It converts the real event of a musical performance into something artificial (in a double meaning), to be listened to under completely different circumstances than the original.

Therefore we have to admit some variance in these reproduction circumstances, even a certain amount of distortions and frequency response irregularities can help coming closer to something enjoyable.

Remark: I am an audio engineer and producer of all kinds of Rock, Pop, EDM, Jazz, Classical, World- and Film music, ... etc., so I really know what I'm talking about.

One example: I'm just listening to recordings from the above mentioned Audiotree (thank you bogdanb for the hint), rough live recordings of bands performances.
Even through I could have choosen between quiete some high-end 'phones and amps, I settled on my AKG K701 with bass port mod and Dekoni Hybrid Earpads, driven by an (selfbuild) OTL low NFB tube amp.

One could argue that this combination is far from hifi:
The tube amp adds some k2 distortion and it's medium output impedance gives room for frequencies response deviations in reaction to the headphones impedance response. The combination of the bass port mod and the Dekoni pads adds a good amount of bass. The K701 has a presence peak around 2kHz and a treble peak around 7kHz, and some softness in the HF range.

I would not have choosen the combination to listen to a Beethoven symphony, but for the Audiotree recordings it's just right and fun.

hockeyknul's picture

Registered today in support of the new guys, especially Rafe who deals with a load of undeserved and very unneccesary negativity. You hang in there and let that talk slip of your shoulders. Keep the fire burning!!

Rafe Arnott's picture

I truly appreciate the support hockeyknul, great to see some positivity.

Myself and the wonderful people who've agreed to contribute to this site look forward to delivering all the great reviews/stories/ideas/projects that we've been brainstorming and organizing.


roskodan's picture

There are 2 types of reviews: those one can learn from, and those one won't learn anything from.

The human physiology is the most advanced measuring and processing 'device' in the known universe. So, yeah, everything one feels can be measured, and is actually just that, measuring. Understanding what one is 'measuring' (feeling), interpreting that and braking it into something meaningful and useful is what one should strive for.

Al T.'s picture

More positivity definitely needed here. The old Innerfidelity is dead. Whether we like it or not. Tyll's gone. Whether we like it or not. So stop expecting that nothing has changed, and complain every time you suspect or re-realize that things have changed and Rafe is not Tyll. More subjectivity and less science is the new order. Like it or not. But you can't change change by not accepting change. Go find a better place if you don't like where you are.

I'm sure Rafe is great at what he is great at. So Rafe: Do what you're great at. And that's definitely not being Tyll. Not even close!

The complainers will be gone when they eventually accept that change has happened. I will stick around a little more. Change makes me curious.

NYDOLLS1973's picture

We all have different opinions but things change. Personally while I read IF from time to time, I felt it excessively dealt with measurements and Tyll's "sonic preferences" were not like mine (his rejection of Audioquest headphones which Herb Reichert loves and so do I.) He also didn't talk about the emotional connection to music which is why I got into this hobby in the first place. When a reviewer's taste levels are a closer match to the reader, that's always a plus. I understand that some don't like this new shift in IF's sensibilities but it happens and we go on. It's not anything to take as an existential smite. I enjoy Rafe's world view so far and it's more in line with other Stereophile site leaders. A strong POV. A strong connection to MUSIC.