The never-ending audio subjectivist vs. objectivist debate has flared up again recently, this time apparently triggered by a critical measurement-based review of a popular DIY/audiophile headphone amplifier. The subsequent brouhaha saw the reviewer/engineer ultimately being banned from the amplifier designer's forum, but not before much effort by some on the forum questioning his "credentials" - rather than his measurements.
Ironically, unlike on most DIY sites, the designer of the reviewed product actually publishes tested specs for the designs on his site. In this case, however, it didn't help that the tested product apparently didn't even perform up to some of its published specifications.
Now it's understandable that the designer and builders of this product might become defensive in such a situation - especially when, as the reviewer himself admits, his criticism could have been presented more diplomatically. But, in the end, in a real engineering/design forum, the engineering points he raised would have been the main issue and focus of attention.
Instead, the reviewer's credibility was questioned. And it was even implied at one point that contributors to the DIY community - such as the designer(s) of the headphone amplifier - shouldn't be criticized, even if they publish erroneous/misleading specifications.
The reaction to all of this has even prompted the original engineer/reviewer to weigh in on the subjective vs. objective debate. And the comments to his post have been encouraging, indicating a desire at least among some in the DIY/audiophile community for more objective audio product reviews.
As a longtime audio DIYer I can sympathize with audio enthusiasts who don't wish to have their fun spoiled by the likes of such objectivist methods as hardcore engineering measurements and double blind testing (DBT). But audio subjectivists should realize that ignoring the objectivist "reality" side of audio means never being able to determine an objective "better" or "best" and forever drifting from one product to another in search of the "holy grail."
Me, I'd rather spend my time enjoying listening to music.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Email me at email@example.com.
Putting an audiophile "tweak" to the test
The six basic audio tests in video tutorials
Audio cable break-in, analog vs. digital nonsense
Audio Myths Workshop video