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Thread: Audible Jitter/amirm vs Ethan Winer

  1. #81
    As to equipment today being competently designed, and jitter not being an issue, you can only say this if you have seen their measurements and not manufacturer's claims of jitter numbers.
    Or I could listen to them under my "normal" listening conditions.

    I'm no anti-measurement subjectivist. I believe measurement, particularly frequency response, can predict sonic character. But measurement can also differentiate the performance of components that are sonically identical, and I believe that jitter has been used (abused?) to great effect this way. Some manufacturers have continued to reduce measurable jitter well below what matters to human perception because they can, and because they can use those measurements to differentiate and promote their products relative to their competitors. There is nothing unethical about this unless they specifically claim that their products sound better as a result (some do), but there is no advantage to the user either. Unless one is willing to invest...sometimes thousands...in no more than a feeling of confidence, the best piece of gear is the one that delivers SOTA performance most efficiently, leaving money on the table to seek the best performance in another part of the system, or another endeavor altogether. MHO. YMMV.

    P

  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phelonious Ponk View Post
    Or I could listen to them under my "normal" listening conditions.
    How each one of you use the information in this thread to determine what you buy is obviously totally up to you. My points is then to make sure that point of view is not generalized to everyone without merit. In this case, I have not conceded to generic term "normal listening conditions" to be meaningful enough to everyone. I don't for example don't know what you call me doing if I am turning up the volume 30db to get to 0db actual playback level:



    Note that the above is an actual capture of real content.

    I like to encourage people to try to hear digital artifacts and make themselves familiar with what it sounds like. It is entirely possible that they are hearing it under "normal circumstances" and they were blaming it on other things. Most people have multiple digital chains they can create to hear differentiation. For example, try using Toslink optical and coax S/PDIF and switch between them and see if you can spot differences. You really owe it to yourself to run such a simple and low cost test to learn a bit about this space if you consider this a serious hobby for you.

    I'm no anti-measurement subjectivist. I believe measurement, particularly frequency response, can predict sonic character. But measurement can also differentiate the performance of components that are sonically identical, and I believe that jitter has been used (abused?) to great effect this way.
    Let me clarify that graphs like I posted go beyond jitter. They show the total performance of the system which includes linearities which can be just as important as jitter. Clarifying, there is no guarantee that a DAC resolves all the bits in a 16-bit value even if jitter is zero. It certainly can't resolve it if it is 24-bits. We have good measurements that show us this. The graphics that I post showed that in the case of that box, the DAC is indeed deficient. I put no positive value in a DAC not resolving what is given to it. There is no good distortion there or sonic character. And no way to defend a DAC which outputs things incorrectly.

    Now, if two boxes resolve beyond the sample resolution then by all means, use your ears to decide which one to buy.

    I think most people ignore the graphs like the one I posted because they don't know what they mean. They understand frequency response graphs which are pretty boring with digital products since they are pretty flat. So the attention is put on the wrong thing.

    Some manufacturers have continued to reduce measurable jitter well below what matters to human perception because they can, and because they can use those measurements to differentiate and promote their products relative to their competitors.
    Such effort is also indicative of good engineering and design know-how. Whether the panels on my car are aligned or not doesn't impact how it drives but it sure tells me of the level of quality that has gone into the car. I find no excuse in buying digital products that can't resolve the specs they claim they are able to resolve especially if we are talking about resolving the lowest fidelity format we have: CD.

    There is nothing unethical about this unless they specifically claim that their products sound better as a result (some do), but there is no advantage to the user either.
    Now you are speaking for everyone and I must object! I can assure you that you are not speaking on my behalf. How many other people fall in the category that you mention is impossible to tell and hence, we can't possibly say what you just said. People need to educate themselves by reading threads like this, then go and conduct a few experiments over a weekend. You all spend countless hours auditioning equipment. Why not spend some time learning to hear the artifacts here? Is becoming an educated listener a bad thing?

    You are going to tell me I am sure that you may not want to learn what jitter sounds like. That would be your choice but not my recommendation to audiophiles at large. How many would suggest that you should not try to learn the difference between speaker designs? If this is not your hobby then sure, you should not care. But if it is, and you are spending so much time posting here, use some of that time instead to run simple experiments.

    If at the end you don't hear the difference then great. But please, please, don't assume everyone is situated the same as you. Having tested hundreds of people in how well they can hear distortion, I can tell you that people differ. I may have to turn up the volume 30 db but someone else may not need to do that to hear the same thing. In the height of my listening training, I thought I could hear a fly move its wings a mile away . Then we had a listening test with one of our partner companies. A guy showed up who was one of their program managers. He heard a clip and kept complaining about it having high frequency distortion. We all looked at him as if he was crazy. We couldn't tell what he was talking about. Went back and checked the code and wouldn't you know it, he was right. We fixed it and he was happy. We were happy too because we hired him to be on our listening panel . I recall him being instrumental in helping improving our audio fidelity beyond that point.

    Unless one is willing to invest...sometimes thousands...in no more than a feeling of confidence, the best piece of gear is the one that delivers SOTA performance most efficiently, leaving money on the table to seek the best performance in another part of the system, or another endeavor altogether. MHO. YMMV.
    I am asking you to invest in your own time to learn, not money. Only when you are educated on the science and auditory effects, are you able to judge whether something is overpriced for what it is or not. Until then, it is all justification after the fact. I think I can't hear the artifacts so I am going to say there is no use in buying something better. We created this forum to do away with blind buying like that. .

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Party View Post
    I would like to see this discussion to evolve in the direction of detecting jitter while listening through loudspeakers. Amir stated he has only detected what he has identified as jitter while listening through cans.
    Believe it or not, I'll side with Amir here because listening through headphones is perfectly valid. Some people listen through phones because it's the only way they can play music loud enough to fully enjoy. But others listen to phones precisely because it lets them hear more detail.

    how come there has been no discussion in this debate about jitter, or a jitter equivalent, in vinyl playback, which in a best possible case has only about 12 bits of dynamic range?
    No sh.., er, no kidding

    (I can't believe the "s" word is censored here!)

    --Ethan

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
    Random jitter, like random noise, is not "distortion" from an engineering perspective, btw.
    I called it more like distortion because it's not steady like tape hiss. It comes and goes with the music. But I guess technically that makes random jitter more like tape modulation noise, which is noise that comes and goes with the signal on tape.

    --Ethan

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by amirm View Post
    I just did a quick web search on your name and jitter and the second Google link said this: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/10-01-06/
    ...

    I sleep in peace if I have gotten you to move from "never" to "normal circumstances."
    Not to be a jerk now, after the fact, but I might have been too generous in conceding that jitter could be audible if you crank the volume on soft passages. That could be true for dither, but jitter level depends on the signal volume level. So a very soft passage will have correspondingly soft jitter, yes? In that case, even cranking the volume will not raise the jitter to an audible level because it's still the same 80+ dB below the music. Unless I'm missing something about the relation between jitter level and signal level?

    --Ethan

  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    Believe it or not, I'll side with Amir here because listening through headphones is perfectly valid. Some people listen through phones because it's the only way they can play music loud enough to fully enjoy. But others listen to phones precisely because it lets them hear more detail.
    E, I do not discount in any way the validity of listening through headphones. To the contrary, I suspect listening through headphones will yield more reliable results. Instead, I question whether the results of the AB test Amir performed can be extrapolated to a real world situation of listening through loudspeakers. I'm strongly dubious that even a trained listener would pass an ABX test while listening through loudspeakers except in a worst case scenario. I am glad to see some recent discussion on the subject.

  7. #87
    Amir, your objections are noted, but I wasn't speaking for you and I didn't say that there aren't people out there who can hear things I do not hear. What I said is that reducing a distortion further when it is already below audibility (not my personal hearing threshold, audibility) accomplishes nothing. We can argue over what is audible, we can obviously disagree, but if a distortion is truly inaudible, I don't know what you can possibly be objecting to. Is it indicative of good engineering and know-how to further reduce that which is already inaudible? It shows ability, I suppose, but not good sense. If it is audible, on the other hand, it is worth addressing. And perhaps it is. Maybe even I can hear it. Tell me what to listen for. Given a good enough recording, I've been able to identify the brand and model of an acoustic guitar, I should be able to pick up on an obvious distortion.

    P

    PS - i have the ability to switch instantly between optical and coax. Tell me what to listen for and I'll give this a try.

  8. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    Not to be a jerk now, after the fact, but I might have been too generous in conceding that jitter could be audible if you crank the volume on soft passages. That could be true for dither, but jitter level depends on the signal volume level. So a very soft passage will have correspondingly soft jitter, yes? In that case, even cranking the volume will not raise the jitter to an audible level because it's still the same 80+ dB below the music. Unless I'm missing something about the relation between jitter level and signal level?

    --Ethan
    Let's review an observation you had before. Please confirm if you are still standing by these statements before I comment further:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    I've heard 14 bit audio and it sounds fine to me. At least for music recorded at sensible levels. I'd never use less than 16 bits for a live classical music recording, and that's the one place where using 24 bits makes sense. Even 12 bits is pretty good for pop music when the music is already normalized. But that's all beside the point.

    Okay, but that still doesn't mean it's ever audible! People often use the example of reverb tails that decay as an example of why 24-bit audio is "better" than 16 bits. I have tested this several times, and was never able to hear the "fizz" people describe as a reverb tail decays unless I cranked the volume much louder than normal during that decay.

  9. #89
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    And one more thing: please tell me if your views above in not hearing jitter in soft passages at any level would also apply to all artifacts in digital conversion combined.

  10. #90
    Quote Originally Posted by amirm View Post
    And one more thing: please tell me if your views above in not hearing jitter in soft passages at any level would also apply to all artifacts in digital conversion combined.
    Not my question but...are these other digital artifacts reduced by lowering jitter?

    P

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