Which Earphones Should You Listen To?

- Jun 23, 2020-

Regarding sound quality, there are two relatively typical (extreme) points of view: one party only listens to the sense theory, mainly audiophiles, some early product openers; one party only data theory, mainly academics and theoretical foundations that study acoustics related majors Professionals. Hearing school thinks that data is meaningless, and many things on hearing data can't be reflected at all. The data school believes that data can already reflect the sense of hearing, especially headphones, and almost a frequency response curve can reflect all. The sense of hearing is the emperor's new clothes and cheats. Hearing sense thinks that the data faction does not understand the beauty of music. He takes some very low music all day long and listens to himself. He only ignores the nature of music and the origin of listening to music-only forgetting the original intention. The data school believes that the sense of hearing is not the essence of science. The sense of hearing is very old and very low. It is not accurate at all. Everyone describes it differently. The person who listens to it listens to the misty clouds of Yunshan. Both sides have their own opinions, and they don't look up to each other. As an ordinary consumer, it is impossible to tell who is right and who should believe it. This problem may have troubled many people who want to buy headphones and speakers for a long time. Today, talk about my personal views.

Except for unscrupulous merchants who deliberately create chaos and take advantage of the opportunity to deceive consumers, in fact, there are three reasons for the dispute between the two parties:

First, the artistry of music playback equipment. Theoretically speaking, the replaying device only needs to replay the original signal 100%, and does not need artistry. From this perspective, as long as the objective data meets the requirements, the playback device is qualified. The problem is that so far, no electroacoustic playback device can truly reproduce the original signal with 100% accuracy, and there are various signal losses or distortions (distortion). If it is less than 100%, there will be trade-offs. If there are trade-offs, there will be balance considerations, and there will be sacrifices and preference. How to choose whether this is the subjective judgment of each enterprise's style and developers? Then it is necessary for us to figure out what kind of trade-offs will cause what kind of sound, and it is necessary to study how to let consumers hear their more satisfied products and sounds. Rather than force consumers to give up their subjective judgments and accept imperfections with their own set of imperfect theories.

Second, the intuitiveness of the user's understanding of the sound. Ordinary consumers do not understand curves, and as professionals, users should not be required to understand their esoteric professional names and difficult curves. It's like we listen to music. In order to choose a good song, do we have to understand the music notation, soundtrack arrangement skills, instrument playing techniques, singing skills, etc.? of course not. We just need to choose the music that we like, it's that simple! Why do we want consumers to understand our expertise? Instead of using our expertise to interpret data as subjective feelings they can understand? Instead of giving a bunch of curves for consumers to understand and saying that only this is accurate.

Third, should we respect consumer habits or "truth"? First of all, I never thought that this world has the only truth. Secondly, even if there is a truth recognized by professionals all over the world, it is not necessarily consumers who are willing to accept it. The most typical example is probably smoking. The mainstream views of doctors and academics all over the world believe that smoking is bad for health (a few people hold different opinions but very few), and even most smokers themselves know that smoking is bad for health. But so much tobacco is sold every year, and so many people still insist on smoking. The controversy about whether the data of the headset can reflect the full sound quality is much greater than smoking is not conducive to health, so who gives the courage and confidence to educate consumers to trust the data rather than the sense of hearing? Certainly not Liang Jingru.

Some people may think that I respect subjective listening and distrust test data. This is wrong. Real professionals do not distrust test results. It’s just that I’m not superstitious enough to just look at the data regardless of the degree of hearing. I remember that when I first started working, I was responsible for the development of high-fidelity speakers. For a period of time, the boss always couldn't understand his sense of hearing and failed to meet his requirements, which caused the slow progress of product development. I found a fan who claimed to be very good, and devalued the developers. The boss asked him to take a pair of speakers and tune them back. After a few months, he delivered the results confidently. The more the boss listened, the worse the frequency response curve on one side was. From now on I will never mention this awesome enthusiast. Therefore, it is really easy to hide the dragon or the tiger or hide the dirt and dirt in the place where only the sense of listening is pure. Because ordinary people can't figure out who is the dragon and the snake, who is the tiger and the cat, data and accurate measurements are needed to reduce some tricks. It is said that Ma Weidu once said: How many paintings in Chinese museums have been replaced by fakes. Not long ago, I also read a report that named a surnamed person from a museum in a certain place in China used his post to copy and sell the original package for sale. It was discovered after 10 years of continuous work. So many people visit the museum every year, there must be professionals in it? There must be researchers from related industries going to the museum every year, right? In 10 years, no one actually noticed that many of the paintings were lost. So art is really a bit of a joke, and even a real professional may not be able to distinguish between true and false. What's more, there are many people in it who are liar. Therefore, for ordinary people, there is no objective data. Once it is involved in art, it is easy to distinguish whether the increase is deceived.

But at the same time, I also think that we can't just look at the data without hearing.