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      04-28-2013, 05:56 PM   #23
AussieSimon
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I think the Stradivarius Trial highlights one of the dangers of science. Can you imagine the headlines; 'Scientist Proves that Stradivarius Violins are Superior to Modern Counterparts' ......not exactly compelling reading. The opposite however stands 300 years of expert opinion on its head by supposedly proving that there's actually nothing really special with these 300year old Cremona masterpieces and that its all hype. Now there's a headline....
There's countless examples of 300 years of expert opinion being proven wrong. It might have even been true back then; perhaps these master craftsmen made violins which shat all over other violins of the time.

I find it difficult to believe that violin makers of the past just lucked upon some perfect, unreproducable combination of wood grain, humidity and shape. And I find it even more difficult to believe that modern makers are unable to reproduce an equal or better product. The burden of proof is surely on those who believe a Stradivarius sounds better to prove it conclusively; until then it's just supposition.

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So you take a violin renowned for its ability to energise large reverberant spaces and make them 'sing' and test it in a small over damped room, with enough absorbent material to suck the life out of any frequency above 400hz (most violin fundamentals and all the harmonics). Its no wonder it did not distinguish itself; how could it when the room is removing the very thing that differentiates it....namely its reverberant qualities?
Or maybe violinists who are aware that they're playing a hideously expensive instrument try harder, and therefore play it better.

Nonetheless you pose an interesting hypothesis, someone should test it.
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      04-29-2013, 02:35 AM   #24
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You know what it takes?

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There's countless examples of 300 years of expert opinion being proven wrong. It might have even been true back then; perhaps these master craftsmen made violins which shat all over other violins of the time.
Of course....that's called knowledge and progress. On the other hand there are not too many examples of a product still being consider superior in performance by people whose opinions we value, 300 years down the line.

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I find it difficult to believe that violin makers of the past just lucked upon some perfect, unreproducable combination of wood grain, humidity and shape. And I find it even more difficult to believe that modern makers are unable to reproduce an equal or better product. The burden of proof is surely on those who believe a Stradivarius sounds better to prove it conclusively; until then it's just supposition.
I believe the listening trial we're discussing was just such an attempt. And would probably have succeeded, barring the obvious flaw in the test procedure. Of course had it worked you would probably not have read about it, as 'Scientists proves what we've known for 300 years' hardly makes compelling reading.

There are several examples of artisans pulling off tricks that remain a mystery to us today. The Pyramids and the Builders of Incan Peru are 2 that come immediately to mind.

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Or maybe violinists who are aware that they're playing a hideously expensive instrument try harder, and therefore play it better
There's no doubt that aspect plays a role...however the Strads are renowned for their power and clarity of tone, which enables them to energise large concert halls spectacularly well. The point is...if you take a virtuoso violinist at the pinnacle of his or her career, the music they make on a Strad is stunningly beautiful, with qualities they simply can't extract from lesser instruments. And I would have to believe that an audience of 5000 hushed and expectant concert goers would outweigh the price of a violin in terms of motivation to play well

Finally, let me say that this has been an enjoyable and interesting debate, your Dunning-Kruger jibe not withstanding. I respect your 'if you can't measure it, it ain't real' viewpoint, not least because it will save you a lot of money and protect you from the hi-fi shysters, of which there are many. On the other hand don't throw the baby out with the dishwater. There are many products out there that sound superior, for reasons we don't fully understand....vacuum tube's sonic superiority being one major one. And there are products that sound better for reasons we do understand and can measure but which are denied because they don't fit with the dogma.....wire being one such example. In that regard, this paper by Ben Duncan makes interesting reading.
http://www.russandrews.com/images/ar...ion16Feb09.pdf

Remember, there's an easy way to check the efficacy of a hi-fi tweak or product upgrade. After a period of acclimatization simply reverse it. And if you like the music the same or better, don't use or buy it.

Finally, and with respect, time and experience will ultimately teach you that not everyone that holds an alternative opinion to yours is an uneducated chump. Reject everyone with an alternate view and you'll never learn and grow.

Thanks for the tips on posting quotes in boxes. Most appreciated

Last edited by SteveC; 04-29-2013 at 06:31 AM.
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      04-29-2013, 04:56 AM   #25
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I used Lossless level 5 to achieve reasonable file size, whereas in WMA I selected Quality level 9.2 giving a lossless file with 1411 kpbs bit rate. For MP3 I used 320, 256 and 192kbps. Straight away, I can tell you that if you want anything even close to a good performance from the HK set-up, then lossless is the way to go. The difference is not subtle.
MP3 at the lower bit rates is, for me at least, absolutely unlistenable..... boring, compressed, unresolved, harsh, homogenized, irritating....horrible. In these days of cheap memory there's absolutely no reason to use low bitrate, compressed files.
What about DAB+ what bit-rate or equivalent does that use?

I've just checked my iTunes collection. Most of my stuff is at 256 with some at 320 and a few at 192.

Can you get anything approaching 1400 in iTunes?
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      04-29-2013, 05:51 AM   #26
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No. If you buy from iTunes its 256. You have to get elsewhere or import from CD to have anything higher. If you rip a CD, rip it as a WAV file as this is uncompressed format.
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      04-29-2013, 09:38 AM   #27
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There's no doubt that aspect plays a role...however the Strads are renowned for their power and clarity of tone, which enables them to energise large concert halls spectacularly well. The point is...if you take a virtuoso violinist at the pinnacle of his or her career, the music they make on a Strad is stunningly beautiful, with qualities they simply can't extract from lesser instruments
I know the occasional chamber orchestra performer (the old man runs a classical music record label) and they tend to be rather dismissive of old instruments. I might ask the specific question next time I get the chance, but I got the distinct impression that fancy instruments are known by musicians as little more than handy marketing gimmicks mostly used by "celebrity" performers.

The point is it might well be "what we've assumed for 300 years" but I wouldn't agree you could go so far as to say "what we've known for 300 years". This study is the first attempt at objective evidence, and I don't consider a lack of attempts to refute it as evidence to the contrary. We have an opening salvo, now the burden of proof rests on those who assume Strads have as yet undetermined magical powers.

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I respect your 'if you can't measure it, it ain't real' viewpoint
That's not my viewpoint. I would never say that.

What I said was: if you can't measure it, it's not worth paying for. Put another way: if a difference can't be reliably measured -- either with electronics, microphones, or double-blind tests -- it will almost certainly be too small to worry about. You might think it's much the same thing, but to me there's a world of difference between this and claiming "it ain't real".

Furthermore I would not say all purchasing decisions need to be made on a purely analytical basis. There's nothing at all wrong with buying a fancy pair of speakers because they look awesome, or a certain power amplifier because you love staring at the illuminated VU meters, or a Stradivarius because it's an object of beauty. As long as you're aware why you're choosing something, the reasons don't have to be rational.

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There are many products out there that sound superior, for reasons we don't fully understand....vacuum tube's sonic superiority being one major one.
Oh come on, that's an easy one. Vacuum tubes add harmonic distortion to the signal, and some forms of harmonic distortion are known to have a superficial level of appeal. We understand how it works, we understand why it works. This distortion is trivial to measure, and indeed trivial to emulate in software. As for whether it's superior, well, it's arguably no different to advocating the superiority of exaggerated treble frequencies. If you like your sound modified/coloured, that's a matter of personal taste.

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Finally, and with respect, time and experience will ultimately teach you that not everyone that holds an alternative opinion to yours is an uneducated chump. Reject everyone with an alternate view and you'll never learn and grow.
A nice sentiment, but alternative opinions can't change the laws of physics.

At least in the world of cars, enthusiasts understand that there are some things we can measure (0-100 times, horsepower, weight, steering response, etc) and some things in the eye of the beholder (aesthetics, ergonomics, comfort, etc). We can discuss things like weight distribution, differentials, plastics, turbo lag, value for money, torque curves and suspension setups. Yet car enthusiasts rarely muddy the water between objective engineering and experiential evidence.

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

To change the subject, some entertaining YouTube videos:





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      04-29-2013, 09:48 AM   #28
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No. If you buy from iTunes its 256.
And 256kbps AAC is completely "transparent". As far as human ears are concerned, for all intents and purposes it's a perfect copy with no appreciable differences to the CD.

In other words, relax! A song bought from iTunes (or Amazon, or Play Store) is worthy of being played on the finest equipment money can buy.
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      04-29-2013, 05:49 PM   #29
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And 256kbps AAC is completely "transparent". As far as human ears are concerned, for all intents and purposes it's a perfect copy with no appreciable differences to the CD.

In other words, relax! A song bought from iTunes (or Amazon, or Play Store) is worthy of being played on the finest equipment money can buy.
That's a relief. After someone mentioned driving their new M135i listening to LA Woman by The Doors the other day, I went out and bought the album. It wouldn't have been the same had I known it was going to be crap quality.

And how about DAB+, I assume that's good quality too?

I should add that this has been one of the most interesting threads on the forum. I know how much time you guys have put into your respective responses.
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      04-29-2013, 05:50 PM   #30
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This is real easy to check

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Originally Posted by AussieSimon View Post
And 256kbps AAC is completely "transparent". As far as human ears are concerned, for all intents and purposes it's a perfect copy with no appreciable differences to the CD.

In other words, relax! A song bought from iTunes (or Amazon, or Play Store) is worthy of being played on the finest equipment money can buy.
simply rip a few CD tracks in both 256Kbps and lossless 1411kbps, put them on a memory stick, select random track playback and listen. If you can't hear any difference then do as the man says and relax. If on the other hand you're like me and much prefer the sound of certain tracks over others you've got your answer. And you don't need an HK system for this. The BMW Business system in my X5 was more than resolving enough.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2399711,00.asp

Last edited by SteveC; 04-29-2013 at 06:03 PM.
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      04-29-2013, 07:54 PM   #31
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And how about DAB+, I assume that's good quality too?
It entirely depends on the broadcaster; DAB+ can be anywhere from fantastic to not much better than FM. The codec used is HE-AAC v2 which is quite modern and surprisingly performant at low bitrates.

In Australia, music channels (e.g. ABC Jazz) tend to be encoded at 80 kbps. Not CD quality by any stretch, but it's surprisingly good. It's certainly much, much better than FM. (80 kbps might not seem like a lot, but HE-AAC v2 is just about CD quality at rates as low as 128 kbps.)

Talk channels tend to be encoded at 64 kbps. Plenty enough for talk and even the occasional music interlude. However some channels can be as low as 48 kbps, and that includes Melbourne rebroadcasts of Gold 104.3 and Mix 101.1. Shows how much they can wring out of this codec though!

Last edited by AussieSimon; 04-29-2013 at 08:23 PM.
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      04-29-2013, 08:16 PM   #32
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simply rip a few CD tracks in both 256Kbps and lossless 1411kbps, put them on a memory stick, select random track playback and listen. If you can't hear any difference then do as the man says and relax. If on the other hand you're like me and much prefer the sound of certain tracks over others you've got your answer. And you don't need an HK system for this. The BMW Business system in my X5 was more than resolving enough.
If you can reliably tell the difference between a 256kbps AAC and a lossless encoding, that would make you the first person ever who is able to do so. It would mean that somehow you're capable of feats of hearing no other human has achieved. Man, it would suck to be you, being constantly paranoid about audio quality to the point where you're making up stories.

Run that test for real. Go on. You'll surprise yourself.

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That is a thoroughly awful, badly researched article, full of misleading statements, pointless debates and references to debunked audio woo. Most importantly of all, nobody should be using MP3 any more, at any bitrate.
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      07-01-2013, 10:13 AM   #33
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In terms of WMA and FLAC, I could hear no difference between the 2 formats.
Sorry to drag up an old thread but can you confirm whether you were able to play FLAC files on the iDrive directly from a mass storage device?

Could you also confirm whether you have standard or pro media?

Thanks!
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      02-04-2014, 09:31 AM   #34
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Ok,maybe a little late but had to react on this one,
Aussiesimon and SteveC you two guys should rent a room talk together and win a nobel price for those speeches! :-)
I also have a HK sound system and to my ears it sounds amazing.
I have been in cars with over 2500 watts of bass and tweeters from here to the ends of the earth.
The HK comes very close to quality of sound from aftermarket ice.
So no need for me anymore to put amplifiers,subwoofers and tweeters and the extra weight that comes with it in my car.
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      02-04-2014, 01:23 PM   #35
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I listened to HK on my test drive; it was rather tinny at low volumes but warmed up at higher levels. I never blast my music out and have never been a fan of HK stuff so went for BMW Advanced and am very happy with it - low volume sound reproduction is better IMO but I haven't tried full whack (and probably won't).

I've had several custom installs in cars with good results and often sound check bands (including my dad's - he an ex pro bass player!). Miles from being an "expert" but in the case of the little BMW, the mid option was more appealing. I'm not one to just automatically jump at the most expensive option.

I think the best results would be from Advanced with your own tweeters and crossover. Some might want to upgrade the Amp but 200(ish) watts is plenty for me.
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      02-04-2014, 05:49 PM   #36
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Has aftermarket ICE ever really been about useable fidelity or has it been more about soundoff's?

No matter what you use to listen to music in a car, if it's on the move then as a compromised acoustic environment, there is a limit to the quality of the sound that can be appreciated.
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      02-05-2014, 02:51 PM   #37
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I praise my HK so much! It was quite a risk to buy it without testing, but i took the plunge since I'm a little headphone audiophile and couldn't stand the standard speakers. HK sounds absolutely awesome and it's a steal for the price (I hope BMW don't read this and wind up the price!).

My default bass and treble settings is "0" (the middle) with optional adjusting to -1 with some albums (i.e. -1 bass Atoms For Peace's Amok). Bass and treble are up to one's taste, but I highly recommend to pull down what's too high instead of pump up what's too low.

The left/right and front/back balance is really important too. 3 steps to the right and 3 steps to back makes me feel in the middle. Test which settings sounds best to you by closing eyes before adjusting.
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