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Auditory Dementia

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Graham Slee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Auditory Dementia
    Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 1:43am
I have just been reading a "foo busting" debate on the WHF forum, and thought it a rather good read!

Here are some of my thoughts...

Early on in the discussion it is stated that product A may only sound better than product B because the listener has been told that product A is better.

Later on it is stated that our auditory memory is only 4 seconds, and this point is hammered home numerous times. We are told this is correct because science tells us...

So, if a scientist tells you that product A sounds better than product B, then product A IS better... because the listener has been told it is - which is wrong - but right because the person telling you is wearing a white lab coat and has a degree?

Provided a scientist or group of scientists say something is better, then it is better? And if a non-scientist says something is better then it is not necessarily better?

I found from reading the debate that there seemed to be the presence of NLP which I consider to be foo Wink

But, I just realised I'm off-topic before I've even got on-topic, so on with the topic...

Our auditory memory is only 4 seconds. Actually that describes our short term auditory memory. We also have a long term auditory memory, which is 10 seconds!

The above seems odd to me. What is being said is we have two memories and both can be used to remember exactly what we heard. Now, come on, why can we remember only for 4 seconds and only for 10 seconds? How about an intermediate auditory memory of 7 seconds?

Another contributor pointed out that we can tell the difference between a transistor radio and a valve amp. The valve amp will always sound better than the transistor radio, because the two things are relative.

However, a transistor radio is not an amplifier per se, and a valve amp isn't a radio!

Early in my career a duty I had was to record off-air programs. I had the choice of a Fidelity transistor radio or a valve radio receiver. The Fidelity transistor radio had a rear firing speaker which when placed on a desk about a foot from a wall, sounded really good. I prefered it to the valve radio receiver!

The contributor was therefore guilty of telling people that product A sounds better than product B?

But getting back on topic, our auditory memory is only 4 or 10 seconds, but after all these years (40 to be exact) I still remember the Fidelity radio sounded better (to me) than the valve radio receiver.

I phoned another member the other day and he instantly recognised my voice. The last time he had heard my voice was when he visited me about a year ago. Obviously he was lying! Wink

If we are to believe the science, then we will all hear things as if we never heard them before, provided 4, or 10, seconds have elapsed...

And as another member mentioned the other day, often science has to be rewritten when they realise the original "proof" was not proof after all!


Edited by Graham Slee - 28 Jan 2015 at 1:52am
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discrete badger View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote discrete badger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 7:59am
There was a discussion on this forum a few moons ago where another contributor effectively claimed I was deluded in thinking I could remember the sound of a recording for more than 4 seconds, quoting this same science.

I don't think I am deluded because the effect is reproducible at will, and even not at will (it just happens). I remember which parts of the recording I can hear through good equipment, and the parts I can't hear through bad equipment. If it's a delusion, it's a spectacularly good one.

Scientific understanding evolves all the time, and many people misapply it to circumstances which are different to the tests which suggested the original understanding.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 8:06am
Graham I agree with you and everyday experiences like recognising someone's voice or their footsteps undermine the "no long term auditory memory" hypothesis. As music lovers we recognise the sound of different singers' voices, different guitars and amplifiers. And how would we be able to tell the instruments apart in a orchestra if we couldn't remember what a violin or an oboe or a clarinet sounded like? There's a large body of work on how we recognise sounds from the initial moments, the formant.

How did the "scientists" get this far without spotting these flaws? Common sense is a lot rarer than its name suggests.

Edit: I agree with DB's points on new theories and evidence being good, but needing sound application of the theory

Edited by Fatmangolf - 28 Jan 2015 at 8:10am
Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo ULDE, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links, and a Majestic DAC.
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JamesD View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JamesD Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 8:57am
Let's face it, scientists are always having to modify theories because most of them are based 50% on measurable fact and 50% on what they think or believe. The speed of light in a vacuum is constant... oh, hold on, perhaps it isn't after all...

I know that our brains are clever enough to make up for certain deficiencies (to a point) which could make it difficult to judge the minutest of difference between two systems but all this four second/ten second stuff is questionable IMO.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote McHolmeM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 10:42am
I played a record last night and mentally compared what I heard with what the same record sounded like through the loan Reflex C which I had the use of over Christmas and which was returned a lot more than 10 seconds ago.

HFC in their latest issue might be telling me that the phono stage I currently use is very good but I know of another that sounds better IMO.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 1:47pm
At this point I'd like to veer off-topic for a while and look into cable direction...

And I do this at the risk of the "extremists" getting highly aggitated.

There is also a Rational Wiki page about Audio Woo, which reads as if it's someone's personal opinions, and I'm sure this will upset him too.

However, when studying maths (at Durham, by the way), we discussed domains, and how mathematical arguments may, or may not exist outside a particular domain.

I state this before introducing a subject known as HVDC - high voltage DC power transmission, because the know-all's will immediately dismiss it in their haughty way, as being in a totally different domain. Remember, I stated that we'd discussed how mathematical arguments may, or may not exist outside a particular domain - which shows a possibility of what I could crudely call "what's good for the goose is good for the gander".

Taking a look at page 19 here: http://www.pesicc.org/iccwebsite/subcommittees/subcom_c/Presentations/2009Spring/C-4-HVDCTransmissionCableSystems-Zaccone.pdf

The following can be read: "In fact, an Extruded Insulation (generally PE based) can be subjected to an uneven distribution of the charges, that can migrate inside the insulation due to the effect of the electrical field. It is therefore possible to have an accumulation of charges in localised areas inside the insulation (space charges) that, in particular during rapid polarity reversals, can give rise to localised high stress and bring to accelerated ageing of the insulation."

The Rational Wiki article simply says: "Some audiophiles believe that a cable will perform differently depending on which way it goes (e.g. which way the electrons move along the cable). Naturally, this is completely bogus, because cables are not made of diodes."

As an engineer with 40 years under my belt, I am not thick! I know that cables are "not made of diodes"!!! Most customers also know that - they are not thick either!

Returning to the HVDC piece we can see that there are other factors such as "space charges", which is nothing to do with the metal of the wire or its capacitive coupling to the return wire, or shield, depending on what cable we are referring to, or its inductive properties.

Now, I'm sure the next criticism would be that HVDC, even if this worked at lower voltages, is DC and not AC, but HVDC is AC converted to DC without smoothing (which would need lots of farads of high voltage capacitor - good luck!). Therefore it has a waveform, and it's also low frequency, which might be 50/60Hz, and those frequencies are audible frequencies.

But before I'm accused (as I have been), I will say I have never said categorically that cable directionality exists, simply because I have no proof!!! Can they get that through their thick skins?

I can only observe, and this is what I have observed...

The cable we buy has been insulation tested. This is similar in some respects to what is called "flash testing" (a thing we do on PSU1 power supplies as required by our CB safety certification). Insulation testing is an electrical strength test, where it is subject to a high voltage and often that voltage is DC, because if it were AC, it would require more power. Therefore the cable has been "used" at HVDC!

Every new reel of coax has a test pair of terminated interconnects made from the first few feet of cable from the reel.

I am then given it to find out if I can honestly tell any difference by reversing the cable.

On some ocassions it is a quick and easy task to identify a direction that "arranges the tempo's of a set piece in equal time order", and one that doesn't.

Here it may take more than 10 seconds to reverse the cables (so really I suppose we're not far off-topic).

On some occasions it is very hard to tell any difference at all.

Once that test is done, the cables are marked to show the direction of what in my opinion is the better of the two, based on the direction of that sample.

It has been noted that with an "aged" cable that there is no noticeable difference as to direction - in my opinion - and from the (good) feedback we get, customers tell us that the directionality has "faded".

I suppose it could still be argued that we're all making this up?

But going back to the "space charges" (the accumulation of charges in localised areas inside the insulation) due to HVDC, and the fact that the new cable was subjected to HVDC (the "hipot" test), then it could be argued that these accumulations of charges affect the rapid polarity reversals that an AC audio signal actually is?

Maybe it could - maybe not? I am not forcing this on anybody!!!

And as the cable directionality seems to fade with time, then these accumulations of charges in localised areas inside the insulation (due to HVDC???), could be dissipating?

Having dissipated, the cable no longer has any directionality.

Then, at that point, cable directionality ceases to exist, and because of that, it would be illegal to sell a cable as having directionality - AND SO WE DON'T!!!

But then it raises a possible proof for something else....

Cable Burn-In!

So perhaps it is time now to head for the hills, before the "extremists" get us with their torches and pitchforks?

The thing is, it's a thin line between science and woo/foo, and the sooner people start understanding real woo/foo from what has an element of truth, the better it will be for all!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote suede Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 3:58pm
It's been well over a month since last I listened to any vinyl; using my turntable, Reflex and Solo UL, and I can very clearly remember how these records sounded like and compare this to the same albums I'm now listening to in digital form through my new Bitzie. That the audio memory should only be a mere 4 seconds is obviously complete hogwash and any sane person ought to realise it. Otherwise what would be the point of HiFi? Noone would remember what reality sounded like anyway.
Proprius, Reflex M, Solo UL, Bitzie, CuSats & Spatia
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