About this site
The goal of this website is to provide some additional knowledge for those who are interested in audio technology, technology of sound reproduction and guitar amp modeling. Without all kinds of snobbery and hocus-pocus, with a special emphasis on the objective approach.
Why is there so much snake oil (fraud, hoax) in audio?
The first and main answer is money or more precisely easy money. The second is that the snake-oil audio market can take advantage of the imperfection of the auditory memory and people's gullibility. People just deceive themselves: since the human auditory memory is unreliable, listeners may hear differences where there is no difference - this is the placebo effect with confirmation bias. The third answer is that snake-oil audio companies do not have to be responsible for what they sell so they can sell almost anything at any price as long as it is not harmful to the human health.
The placebo effect and confirmation bias is a real curse of audio tests. The human mind is hardwired to compare images (and we are constantly learning and practicing this throughout our lives), but not musical passages. One possible way out is using blind tests. The other is the better understanding of the ear anatomy and the mechanism of hearing.
Sound quality can be measured!
Sound quality can be measured: factors that influence the sound quality of audio devices are well known for audio engineers and experts. This applies to any part of the audio gear: amplifiers, audio players (analog and digital, hardware and software), speaker cables, loudspeakers or headphones. Seeking for the perfect tone or perfect system is completely hopeless, but seeking a system with no audible error is a practical goal.
Digital audio players and amplifiers have reached the limits of human hearing long ago. That's a real problem for an industry where the basic philosophy is the 'new is always better than the old' - which was true before 2010. Of course, there is still a lot of progress, e.g. portable audio players are getting smaller, cheaper, have longer battery life and larger memory, but these have no effect on sound quality.
About the author
I'm a music lover, independent audio researcher and software developer. Beside I'am a hardwired sceptic which means that the default position is always 'I don't know' and not a convenient magical pseudo-explanation.
Here is a short list about my main areas of interest from the past ten years:
Loudspeakers, acoustics and psychoacoustics:
- Loudspeaker directivity.
- Audibility of phase distortion in multi-way loudspeakers. (To be more precise, I would say inaudibility, so time alignment is not an issue...)
- Connection between loudspeaker measurements, loudspeakers parameters and sound quality.
- Room acoustics, speaker-room interaction, audibility of reflections.
- Headphone measurements, headphone equalization.
- Audiophile myths, fallacies...
Guitar amplifers, electronics:
- Complete circuit analysis of Fender, Vox, Marshall tube guitar amplifiers (from guitar input to speaker).
- Circuit analysis of solid state guitar amps (Peavey TransTube amplifiers, Laney TFX/LV amplifiers, Marshall AVTs..).
- Circuit analysis of distortion pedals (Fuzz pedals, treble boosters, Boss stomp boxes, Tech21 pedals...).
- Solid state emulation of tube amps and tube distortion.
- Nonlinear system modeling. Digital emulation of tube guitar amps.
- Guitar speakers, cabinets, miking. Analog and digital speaker/cabinet simulation.
- Perceptual encoding (MP2, MP3, AAC). Here is a collection of my unreleased software tools for MPEG-1 audio compression (MP2, MP3).