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Speakers are ALWAYS the weakest link

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shakey_snake    1

Oh, God. You've just been fed quite a bit of misinformation and unuseful attitudes. Let me see If I can clear things up here.

So you're saying stick with my Technics scdv290?
The receiver, perhaps if it suits your needs and has the power to drive whatever speakers you buy to a sufficient volume. If not, finding a cheap, second hand stereo receiver that handles all those sources shouldn't be a problem.

See, the weakest link in any audio reproduction chain is always the last one: the speakers. Purchase better speakers and your sound reproduction will be more accurate. Purchase crappier speakers and your sound reproduction will be worse.

This is not "highly subjective" as BangBang might suggest. Turning electrical impulses into mechanical sound waves is a WAY less precise of a process than any task a receiver has to perform.

Unless something is broken, or the amplifier is purposely adding distortion (as is the purpose of tube amplifiers, or EQing) then your choice in receiver isn't going to matter. They don't all "sound different" as goji has said. At matched volume levels, driving the same speakers, no human being is going to be able to tell a difference between two not-broken receivers. This is not "highly subjective", this is objectively testable using an ABX test.

This is because the distortion (or coloration) the speakers create in doing their very difficult job masks any minuscule differences a DAC or amplifier might make.

So, given that, your first choice for better sound should always be to get better speakers, and this is where I would invest my money if I were you.

------------------------

But, if your current receiver isn't doing it's job, and isn't allowing you to switch between all the devices you want, you'll probably find this a bigger inconvenience than having poor quality speakers. If this is the case and you really are set on getting a new receiver, then you have a lot of things to look at.

A typical A/V receiver is actually a combination of a number of components:

  • A Radio tuner
  • A preamplifier which is what allows you to switch between any number of input sources. This probably includes...
  • A Digital-Audio Converter This is what takes digital input ( S/PDIF, HDMI) coming from the sources and and converts it to an analog electrical current.
  • A Power Amplifier This is what turns a (typically) line level signal into one powerful enough to drive your speakers.

When it comes to putting together very expensive systems, these components are usually bought separately. However, in entry level units, the receiver preforms all those functions. Which is good, because it's cheaper that way, but you need to make sure that this all-in-one unit does a sufficient job at each task.

You need your receiver to preform certain functions, and receivers should be bought based on these needs, not imagined "sound quality" or name brandedness.

Edited by shakey_snake

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Pikey    29
See, the weakest link in any audio reproduction chain is always the last one: the speakers.

That is nonsense!

It doesn't matter how good or how powerful your speakers are ... if you put rubbish in, you will only ever get rubbish out!

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shakey_snake    1
If audio wasn't so subjective, the completely different sound between a Klipsch speaker and a JBL speaker wouldn't be so evident. Neither is a bad speaker, just different.
The distortion a certain speaker type adds to the audio can be objectively quantified, typically illustrated by a Frequency response graph.
Some people like warmer sound, some like a more high tone focused sound.

These are preferences. People certainly have different preferences based on any number of things. But it completely possible (and IMO desirable) to have your preferences based on objectively gathered data like ABC/HR test, rather than on sight.

That is nonsense!

It doesn't matter how good or how powerful your speakers are ... if you put rubbish in, you will only ever get rubbish out!

I imagine you'd be surprised to learn what you cannot ABX. Of course, I highly doubt you'd be willing to out your claims to the test in a proper, controlled, levels-matched test. :rolleyes: Edited by shakey_snake

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Canar    0
That is nonsense!

It doesn't matter how good or how powerful your speakers are ... if you put rubbish in, you will only ever get rubbish out!

Absolutely. But you see, you can measure to see just how rubbish an electronic system is.

Speakers affect the sound most. Digital to analog conversion affects the sound next-most. All the electrical steps between the DAC and the speakers impart quantifiably low levels of distortion, much lower than either the DAC or the speaker steps.

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Joel    27
I imagine you'd be surprised to learn what you cannot ABX. Of course, I highly doubt you'd be willing to out your claims to the test in a proper, controlled, levels-matched test. :rolleyes:

The speakers are not the weakest link in this chain. I have done the tests you speak of, without a gizmo to tell me what kind of distortion is being produced. I have sold high end audio and done A-B tests with all kinds of gear. There is no way on Earth that you can back up the claim that speakers are the only link that make a difference here, barring functionality of the audio source. No way. I could make your so-so speakers sound great, and make your fantabulous speakers sound like crap.

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Canar    0
The speakers are not the weakest link in this chain. I have done the tests you speak of, without a gizmo to tell me what kind of distortion is being produced. I have sold high end audio and done A-B tests with all kinds of gear. There is no way on Earth that you can back up the claim that speakers are the only link that make a difference here, barring functionality of the audio source. No way. I could make your so-so speakers sound great, and make your fantabulous speakers sound like crap.
You're not reading what I wrote.

A-B tests are not blind tests. A-B tests have little validity and are subject to heavy amounts of placebo.

All electronic systems designed to pass signals have quantifiable characteristics, such as signal-to-noise ratio, intermodulation distortion, and so on. Certain characteristics, such as frequency response, can be fixed through proper equalization. Other characteristics, such as signal-to-noise ratio, intermodulation and harmonic distortion, are impossible to fix, as they cause loss of signal in the distorted areas. Even cheap electronics stack up very well. I own an $80 motherboard that gets RMAA ratings of around 96dB of signal-to-noise ratio, and pretty decent response in the other categories as well.

Speakers, on the other hand, impart all kinds of coloring to the sound. That has to do with the physical problem of converting an electrical signal to an audio wave. There are many different approaches to constructing devices that perform that function. Each different approach has different characteristics, and the quality of the materials used and understanding of the engineers designing the speaker are also major factors.

I did not claim that speakers are the only link that makes a difference. I claimed that speakers are of primary importance.

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shakey_snake    1

A-B testing is not ABX testing, it is not double-blind and does nothing to control observer bias.

It is not at all what I'm talking about.

Please split your ignorance into another thread if you just want to argue with me and have nothing to say to help the OP. Although, I'll be honest, unless you decide to take my challenge it's going to be a pretty pointless conversation.

[edit]I'm pretty much in agreement with Canar's above point, BTW, you might try addressing that.

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Joel    27
A-B tests are not blind tests. A-B tests have little validity and are subject to heavy amounts of placebo.

Sigh.

So I didn't write ABX. Shoot me.

A-B testing is not ABX testing, it is not double-blind and does nothing to control observer bias.

It is not at all what I'm talking about.

No, you're talking about how a speaker is pretty much the largest area of error in a setup. I disagree. It's not a challenge at all. If you could appear in my house right now, I could make the same pair of speakers sound completely different. It's not a challenge, it's a proven fact. I'm not saying I'll be able to tell you which one you'd like, but I sure as hell can make it sound different using different equipment. I was doing this before you hit kindergarten, so your statement above, that is somehow law, that speakers make or break your system is just really really ignorant. So no, I will not "split my ignorance" into another thread while you sit here and blow smoke out of your ass and call it advice. Who died and made you the king of the woofer that you can say you've helped him by giving him patently FALSE information?

As regards ABX, see above.

Edited by Joel

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shakey_snake    1
So I didn't write ABX. Shoot me.
It's important that anyone reading this realizes there's a completely different methodology between A-B tests and ABX tests.
No, you're talking about how a speaker is pretty much the largest area of error in a setup. I disagree.If you could appear in my house right now, I could make the same pair of speakers sound completely different. It's not a challenge, it's a proven fact.
Sure, by purposely introducing coloring (i.e. distortion) with an EQ or "tone" controls or driving an amplifier louder than it is able to be driven or breaking something (your TOSlink cable in the HDMI thread), etc.

But in absence of purposely doing something like that, it's almost for sure not going to be ABX'able at matched levels.

I really don't care if your emotional response is to be offended. It doesn't make you any more right about this.

For someone who I routinely see criticize religion on a scientific level, I'm quite frankly surprised that you really have this much of a problem with the scientific method as applied to audio.

Edited by shakey_snake

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Joel    27
I really don't care if your emotional response is to be offended. It doesn't make you any more right about this.

For someone who I routinely see criticize religion on a scientific level, I'm quite frankly surprised that you really have this much of a problem with the scientific method as applied to audio.

I'm not offended. Don't confuse the issue. I'm astounded, however, that you actually believe that some instrument of measurement is what you'd rely on when purchasing a system. I'm even more astounded that you'd council others to do the same. People can (and do) build speakers all the time based on specs and scientific method, and they sound like crap. How did they go wrong, in your estimation? Also, how did sound component manufacturers conspire so deeply with these speaker manufacturers to accomplish a level of deception to fool us poor, lost souls who use our ears into believing that (for example) a Sony amp mated with a pair of Magneplanar's sounds like crap, but using a Class? or Bryston amp makes those same speakers shine?

Keep using your meters and stuff more cotton in your ears; these companies won't miss your business at all.(Y))

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shakey_snake    1
I'm astounded, however, that you actually believe that some instrument of measurement is what you'd rely on when purchasing a system.

...

Also, how did sound component manufacturers conspire so deeply with these speaker manufacturers to accomplish a level of deception to fool us poor, lost souls who use our ears into believing that (for example) a Sony amp mated with a pair of Magneplanar's sounds like crap, but using a Class? or Bryston amp makes those same speakers shine?

...

Keep using your meters

Did you read my link above in post #23? I'd like to know where exactly you've gathered that I'm suggesting that the OP use some sort of 'meter' or 'instrument' to test this disagreement about amplifiers? All ABX testing involves is ears.

The difference between what your do and ABX is that the ears are put in a methodological framework that is chosen to eliminatebias>.That's it.>

You do agree that things are, because they are reality and not solely because we say they are, do you not?

You do realize that very often people say or believe things are one way, when in fact they are wrong, correct?

So why would you have any problems with testing that allows us to eliminate this bias and discover actual, real sound quality?

Being older than me doesn't eliminate bias. Selling hi-fi equipment doesn't eliminate bias. Even if you want it to.

I'm sure you've been around the block enough to have heard ofAudio Critic> magazine. Perhaps you could react to this article.

Edited by shakey_snake

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Canar    0
I'm astounded, however, that you actually believe that some instrument of measurement is what you'd rely on when purchasing a system. I'm even more astounded that you'd council others to do the same.
Actually, there's no need, as most manufacturers list these numbers as selling points. Whether their listed figures agree with reality is another story. You seem to fail to understand precisely how these numbers affect the fidelity of the audio produced. Your aim seems to buy the best-sounding system. There are many kinds of pleasant-sounding distortions that can be added to a signal. However, adding this pleasant distortion is still adding distortion. Many people prefer the sound of vinyl records, by-and-large due to pleasant-sounding distortion caused by the mechanical process of reproducing the music.

If the aim of the audio set up is to reproduce the sound encoded on CD as accurately as possible (that's the definition of high-fidelity) then you need some way to determine whether a certain set up is accurate or not accurate. High-fidelity electronics are cheap. High-fidelity speakers are not.

This is the root of the subjectivist vs. objectivist debate. It is clear, Joel, from the perspective you have given, that you are a subjectivist. What that means is that you do not care about high-fidelity, you care about what you think sounds good. shakey_snake and I are both objectivists. What that means is that we care about reproducing the sounds on CD to within scientifically-measurable parameters.

To draw a car analogy, you want a car that's fun to drive and feels like it's going fast (or whatever other qualities you value). shakey_snake might prefer cars with high fuel efficiency, while I might prefer maximum acceleration. We can both scientifically analyze which car is best for us given our values. You cannot.

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Joel    27
I'd like to know where exactly you've gathered that I'm suggesting that the OP use some sort of 'meter' or 'instrument' to test this disagreement about amplifiers?

Post 26, frequency response graph. My ears don't come with one of those.

The entire debate started when you said the speakers affect the sound the most. I'll give you the presence or not of speakers would play a pretty large part, but to say that choosing between brand or models is the largest factor in shopping for sound equipment is completely false.

And the "information" in that article is, in a word, bullpoop. Of course, you may completely disregard me, that's your prerogative.

To the OP; test and listen yourself. It's the only way.

This is the root of the subjectivist vs. objectivist debate. It is clear, Joel, from the perspective you have given, that you are a subjectivist. What that means is that you do not care about high-fidelity, you care about what you think sounds good. shakey_snake and I are both objectivists. What that means is that we care about reproducing the sounds on CD to within scientifically-measurable parameters

Good luck with that. High fidelity is not, and never has been, about specs.

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shakey_snake    1
Post 26, frequency response graph. My ears don't come with one of those.
:rolleyes:

That was about comparing speaker coloration, not ABX testing for an imagined difference between receivers.

...but to say that choosing between brand or models is the largest factor in shopping for sound equipment is completely false.
What FREAKING thread have you been reading?:
You need your receiver to preform certain functions, and receivers should be bought based on these needs, not imagined "sound quality" or name brandedness.
Also, how did sound component manufacturers conspire so deeply with these speaker manufacturers to accomplish a level of deception to fool us poor, lost souls who use our ears into believing that (for example) a Sony amp mated with a pair of Magneplanar's sounds like crap, but using a Class? or Bryston amp makes those same speakers shine?

I'm sorry, but are you really this stupid? Or are you scheming to bait me so into over-reacting so you can use you mod powers to ban me because I'm annoying you so much? Because, seriously, wow Joel. :blush:: I'm embarrassed for you.

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Canar    0
Good luck with that. High fidelity is not, and never has been, about specs.
No, but it turns out that the specs reflect reality nicely. Systems with a focus on high-fidelity, that perform to within certain specifications, are directly comparable to other systems that perform within certain specifications. They sound the same within that tolerance. Everything else sounds coloured. "Colour", in this sense, means deviation from a reference high-fidelity playback system.

Why is there a market for studio monitor speakers? Because they give flat, uncoloured, high-fidelity audio reproduction. How do they do this? The exact sort of high-fidelity, scientific analysis and comparison that I'm describing here. High-fidelity audio reproduction means that you don't can't necessarily hear the difference between systems. It means that the systems outperform your ability to hear their flaws. Such a thing is indeed possible! Simple blind tests with MP3 show clearly that it's possible to have two very different signals that nonetheless sound identical to humans.

Reproducing sound accurately is a science. Period. You wouldn't choose accounting software that gives you account balances you like, you choose accounting software that gives you account balances that are precise and accurately reflect the underlying balance as accurately as possible. You do this through mathematics. Likewise with speakers.

You are missing the point. The specifications accurately reflect the characteristics of the audio reproduced by the speakers. They are not separate as you so fervently seem to believe. There is no mismatch between what the measurements say is reality and what is reality. There are some parameters that may not be measurable, but there are definitely many that are. In fact, you're completely free to dream up your own form of measurement to directly compare equipment and test the equipment according to your measurement! Oh the wonders of science!

Budget ?250.
Here's how I'd break it down. ?50 - receiver/amp. ?50 - subwoofer. ?30 each for 5 remaining speakers. ?10 cabling. ?15 flex/tax/whatever. That should provide a lovely balance. Now you know the cost of the components, go listen to some in that price range. You can find a brand that sounds good to you, compare measurements (note that a lot of the marketing numbers are pretty bogus), do whatever. I wouldn't really go below the ?30 figure for speakers, that's probably cheap. I'd be willing to take some of the funds for the receiver/amp and subwoofer and funnel that towards the proper speakers if necessary.

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Joel    27
What FREAKING thread have you been reading?:

The one that has post 23, where you said the receiver made no difference. Good one.

I'm sorry, but are you really this stupid? Or are you scheming to bait me so into over-reacting so you can use you mod powers to ban me because I'm annoying you so much? Because, seriously, wow Joel. :blush: I'm embarrassed for you.

You're embarrassed for me? I defy you to ask anyone in sound if the source components really don't matter at all as long as you've got your speakers chosen. They'll laugh you out of the store.

You came into this thread with the insufferable attitude that everyone else had already committed grave errors in their advice and that you were going to correct their egregious errors. Unfortunately, you've proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have no clue about this area of expertise. Please, move on before you embarrass yourself more than you already have.

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Canar    0

Your subjectivism is weak and unscientific, Joel. The core of your argument is pure circular logic. Your argument ends with this logical consequence: No one can say that any given system is any better than any other system.

I challenge you: prove that consequence wrong. You will require either objectivist measurements or will be committing logical fallacies.

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Joel    27
Your subjectivism is weak and unscientific, Joel. The core of your argument is pure circular logic. Your argument ends with this logical consequence: No one can say that any given system is any better than any other system.

I challenge you: prove that consequence wrong. You will require either objectivist measurements or will be committing logical fallacies.

I think you're arguing with something that hasn't happened. I've been saying all along it's subjective. What I'm arguing is the statement that speakers are the only element that matters when it comes to sound quality.

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Canar    0

But who are you to say what sounds good then if it's all subjective anyhow? On some level, you believe there is "sound quality", but you offer no suggestion of what your idea of sound quality is.

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Joel    27
But who are you to say what sounds good then if it's all subjective anyhow? On some level, you believe there is "sound quality", but you offer no suggestion of what your idea of sound quality is.

I'm not saying what sounds good, I'm saying it's ridiculous to say that only one component in the chain is the important one.

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shakey_snake    1
I'm saying it's ridiculous to say that only one component in the chain is the important one.
Why? Ignoring the fact (facts are objective) that I'm right, and going purely by the argument that audio is subjective, I can say whatever I want. Who are you to say my experiences are wrong? You offer no measure to compare opposite claims.
I defy you to ask anyone in sound if the source components really don't matter at all as long as you've got your speakers chosen.
Who 'in sound' am I supposed to ask these issues exactly? The multiple people I know and am friends with who are recording engineers that agree with me and my methodology? Sean Olive head of R&D at Harmon, who would agree with me and my methodology? The active developers of numerous audio codecs at hydrogenAudio.org who would agree with me and my methodology?

or do I ask...

They'll laugh you out of the store.
...the audio world's slimy salesmen, who's only goal is to get me to spend as much money as possible? If really you want to know how so many consumers are being deceived then you really don't need to look any farther.

Don't try to single me out, Joel. What you've tried to contributed to this thread is laughably foolish by quite a large number of persons' standard.

... but to say that choosing between brand or models is the largest factor in shopping for sound equipment is completely false.
What FREAKING thread have you been reading?:
The one that has post 23, where you said the receiver made no difference. Good one
This exchange makes no sense to me.

Either you (in order of likelihood): have left out something somewhere, went temporarily insane, or have consciously chosen to switch ideas mid-stream because you are trolling. Please reread what you've typed and let me know what's going on.

Edited by shakey_snake

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Canar    0
I'm not saying what sounds good, I'm saying it's ridiculous to say that only one component in the chain is the important one.
If it's not about what sounds good, in what way is that claim ridiculous?

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Joel    27
If it's not about what sounds good, in what way is that claim ridiculous?

I didn't say it wasn't about what sounds good, I said I'm not defining what good is. I'm saying it's incredibly stupid to make a post about how speakers are the only thing that matters to this good sound, and that everything else is secondary.

Is English anyone's first language?

Why? Ignoring the fact (facts are objective) that I'm right

Right there, that's you ending this. Because saying that your post that speakers are all that really matters is right means that you're completely delusional.

OP: go listen to and buy whatever makes you happy. shakey_snake would have you believe that speakers are the only thing that matters in that purchase, but I implore to seek real help with your purchase.

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shakey_snake    1
Right there, that's you ending this. Because saying that your post that speakers are all that really matters is right means that you're completely delusional.
All that's left is for you to Prove it. Verify your claims, scientifically. Via a process that includes a control.

See, to do so, you can't appeal how old you are. You can't appeal to whether you've sold something or not.

You are not the Pope of audio. Knowledge about audio products isn't some thing that is magically handed down via apostolic succession from one greasy salesperson to another.

Audio is a verifiable field of study. Do it. Verify.

Although, I'll be honest, unless you decide to take my challenge it's going to be a pretty pointless conversation.
Ta-da!

Notsobad: that process doesn't involve control, unless it's done double-blind and at matched levels. And a listening room doesn't reproduce his home environment. Sorry, but that's a terrible advice on how to buy audio products. You'd be swindled every time.

Edited by shakey_snake

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Fred Derf    217

This topic was split from:

http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=741616

Now this is an interesting debate in itself.

My observations:

1) shakey_shake got into trouble by using absolutes. Specifically the statement "See, the weakest link in any audio reproduction chain is always the last one: the speakers." I cannot imaging that my iPod shuffle with a 64kbps MP3 when connected to $2000 speakers would still have the speakers as the weakest link in the chain. Now that my be an exaggeration but such an absolute statement invites people to think of examples where the speakers are not actually the problem.

2) I prefer objective numbers to subjective ear tests. What sounds good at the store doesn't necessarily sound good at home. I personally shop by comparing specs like receiver distortion. The last time I went shopping a Panasonic had a 1% distortion rate while the Yamaha that I purchased had a 0.1% distortion rate (or something to that effect).

3) I have a pair of speakers that have a frequency response rate from 20hz to 22000khz (without bothering to pop the cover to verify). Now they may fail the golden ear tests but I put my faith in them and I've kept them over the years. Yes, the bass sounds awesome (double bass cones) but the things are huge. My mom never liked them and now my wife doesn't either.

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