This article explores the question why we measure audio component performance. We take you on a tour of the various A/V components we review, and how our measurements can and cannot be correlated audibly. After Audioholics covers a product and its readers weigh in with their opinions in our forums, you can rest assured the product performance is pretty well covered. You'll know what to expect should you plan on buying it for your own usage. Nobody has all of the answers but collectively we can at least approach an educated assessment to help other Audioholics reach their goal of sonic nirvana while weeding out the average from exceptional performing audio equipment.
Discuss "Why We Measure Audio Equipment Performance" here. Read the article.
Last edited by gene; 01-31-2012 at 11:02 PM.
Very well written.
You measure because it gives Audioholics street cred. with the hardcore AV people. If it ain't got charts, graphs, numbers they ain't gonna read.
You measure because if all Audioholics did was to gave glowing reviews and a few stars then you'll be equal to about 90% of the other AV "review" site out there.
Lastly: You measure because what's the point of having an electrical engineering degree and you can't show off your skills..
Last edited by kevon27; 02-01-2012 at 08:37 AM.
I was an avid audiophile until I had kids, in the early digital age. Sine then, I've bought audio components largely by comparing reviews rather than paying attention to specs. This article sparked my interest almost as much by what wasn't said:
Since you didn't mention it, I assume you rarely find preamps rarely introduce audible noise or distortion. Is this true? What about volume controls? It seems like it would be desirable to integrate volume control directly into the DAC chip since reducing the volume digitally removes information from the signal and reducing the volume after the DAC introduces some non-linearity. Is this how it works today?
I'm surprised you say so little about DACs. Is that because, "Bandwidth, SNR, drive level vs. distortion, etc. can call be easily quantified"? Do these specs identify most audible differences among DACs? What about downmixing, e.g., Is the DTS-HD downmixing algorithm part of the spec and if not, are the differences measurable/quantifiable?
Again, since you didn't mention it, I again assume retrieving data from an optical-disc is essentially error-free. Is this true?
AH needs to review Onkyo gear
System: Marantz SR6003
---> Crown XLS 2000 ---> Philharmonic Model 2
---> Tapco Juice J2500 --> DIY Maelstrom X
Victory goes... TO THOSE WITH COURAGE!!!
As for source devices, if the disc is read it usually transfers digital correctly or we would see a BER issue. Some devices do negatively affect sound quality when down converting a high res bitstream to PCM. As long as the player can pass a bitstream then the bulk of the sound quality depends on the AV receiver or processor.
Pursuing the truth in audio & video...
Thanks for the quick response. I realized upon reading your response that what would be nice would be a description of each segment of the signal path, what types of degradation can occur in that segment, how you measure that degradation and what you can't measure.
You did this well with in the cable, subwoofer and loudspeaker sections. The separate poweramp measurement article fills in the details for amps.
Further up the signal chain there's less explanation. For instance, in your response, you say, "Some devices do negatively affect sound quality when down converting a high res bitstream to PCM." I immediately want to know: Can you/Do you measure this? What does the reduction sound like? But it sounds like your experience is that there's rarely significant degradation until the sound gets converted to analog.
It appears Audioholics doesn't review standalone DACs. But I think most of the audible differences among digital source components are due to differences in the DACs. Aren't there measurements that reflect these differences?
A good article, since it made me think about what I didn't know.
The bitstream to PCM conversion I don't see too often on recent products.
You can see how we measure Blu-ray player digital and analog audio quality here:
Oppo BDP-83SE / BDP-83 Blu-ray Analog Audio Measurement Supplemental — Reviews and News from Audioholics
Oppo BDP-93 & BDP-95 Universal Blu-ray Player Measurements Report — Reviews and News from Audioholics
Pursuing the truth in audio & video...