A Discussion On Sound
Much of the demands have been put on us as reviewers to give proofs, often in the form of numbers and measurements, if what we are describing as “good sound” indeed is a real thing. How can we do that? Who can show us proof that the entire gamut of information captured by the human ear can be translated into numbers?
The reason that we never go entirely with measurements is that we, as listeners, know that machines are severely limited when it comes to capturing the entire gamut of sound. They may be good in dealing with numbers and voltages, but the physical world require a far richer set of parameters to describe. It’s like trying to measure the volume of the ocean with a ruler. The tools we have, at least for now, are far inadequate when it comes to capturing the full reality observed in the physical world.
If you take a look at other fields involving the human senses, you would see that the human sense is far superior than any of the currently available machinery when it comes to observing the physical world. In fact, if you really take a deep study in science, you will find that science in itself has difficulties in coming up with a solution for many of its questions. For instance, why does Quantum mechanics radically depart from the laws of classical mechanics? Or the classic question “Where does the force of gravity comes from”? We can observe the effects of gravity, but nobody has been able to explain the source of that force. Science simply is inadequate to make an complete account of everything people observe in nature.
I still think that measurements is needed for design purposes. But an attempt to synchronize every listening impression to a chart is a fools’ game. From an interview in the Ultimate Audio magazine, famed amplifier designer Nelson Pass:
It is nevertheless possible to have a product that measures well but doesn’t sound so good. It is still a mystery as to how this could be, but there it is.
I don’t deny that Placebo is a real phenomenon. But accusing us of being fooled by placebo when we are giving our impressions is an entirely different thing. And just because someone, not us, in a completely different listening environment, has been proven to be fooled by placebo doesn’t proof that we are suffering under the same psychological phenomenon when we are doing our reviews.
So my question for you is, show me some proof that a machine that can capture the whole gamut of sound that the human ear captures. I know for a fact that the latest and most advanced digital photography sensor in the world today only captures a small fraction of the rich color observed in nature by our eyes. Until the day that they can create a machine to equal the capacity of human senses, I would stick with the more superior instrument for audio observation.