Some audiophiles prefer to defer to machines and equipment to override humans cognitive senses. This never made sense to me. 121 months and a small redundancy paycheck later. I hope I am a bit qualified to say something about measuring equipment.
The more sensitive the measuring gear, the more noise it is susceptible to. Trying to identify what is noise, and what is data is part of the quality analysis, and that itself is part of something bigger called quality control. Reason for this is noise is subjective - there can be background noise, and also things like you are measuring some effect from something else (i.e. you are measuring something else you’re not expecting). These quality checks are part and parcel of splitting up what is data and what is noise!
The more important thing, as mentioned previously, measurements are doing physical measurements. Humans when we listen are doing this via cognition. The two systems are not even close to being the same. Saying measuring gear is more sensitive than humans is akin to asking a measuring machine how good tasting a dinner from the best restaurant is. There are some things in the world where you simply have to experience yourself - and remember nobody will ever share the same experiences from the same event. At best, machines can only tell us what is common, at worse data from measurements are completely useless.
If we claim that test instruments can measure aspects of sound that humans cannot even hear - the next step should be refining the QA and QC process to identify what is noise, and what is the data you want to measure. The claim that instruments can capture things beyond human audible perception does not imply machines are better!
Can humans perceive music that test instruments cannot measure? To support this second claim, I present to the readers Exhibit A.
I rarely become exasperated
But Sony Music Entertainment has decided to pay me a compliment. Of sorts.
It thinks that my rendition of this piece - whole 90 seconds of it - is Glenn Gould reincarnated !
And for this they BLOCKED my Bach WORLDWIDE.
~ Valentina Lisitsa
Notice how machines and measurements cannot tell the two performances apart (it sees it as identical) and yet humans can. Find the two music involved and do a ABX if you’re interested. Just do not try this with headphones, use proper speakers.
Some would dismiss this by saying the Sony algorithm is not measuring the right things. That is precisely why we should not must NEVER rely on machines to do the thinking for us. Again, I said this as I have spent 121 months of actual paid work in measuring and analysis.
Within 50 years (probably shorter), machines will start replacing all the jobs we are doing today via automation and AI.
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