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Musings: Are Measurements Everything Or Nothing?

Ok, I totally ripped this topic from Audio Science Review. Hopefully Amir doesn’t mind too much.

In some respects, it’s sad that this is even a question at all. Anyone that’s ever taken a shop class knows the importance of taking measurements. Even companies like Cardas and Audioquest believe in measurements. How else would they know how much fairy dust and secret sauce to endow their cables and other accessories with? 

Seriously though, even a moron has to admit that measurements have *some* value. The question is, how useful are they to the end user. That’s where things get a little tricky. Measurements have the most value when:

1. You have a complete data set

2. You know how to interpret what you’re seeing.

It’s funny, back in my days of regularly arguing on audio forums, people would occasionally come and brag about their latest toy. More often than not, these individuals would wave around an on-axis frequency response graph for a speaker, CEA2010 numbers for subwoofers, etc. without realizing how little those things meant on their own. By in large, these folks had neither a complete data set nor the means to interpret what they were looking at. Still, these people were convinced they had bought state of the art equipment at a bargain basement price, and wanted everyone to know it. Clearly, it was a good marketing strategy if nothing else. 

What’s a good consumer to do then? As with most things, a bit of research is required to make the best buying choices. Step one is educating yourself. Before you start whipping out graphs, know how to read a graph and interpret what it says. Learn about the metrics that matter versus the ones that don’t. Then hit sites like ASR and read the reviews! The amount of data out there now is truly amazing. 

If you’re not a “good” consumer, well… just try not to act like you know it all for starters. Seriously, it’s annoying. Second, if you’re not going to learn about the science of audio, don’t waste your time with the pseudoscience either. How do you tell the difference? No need to worry too much, just listen to the music / movies / whatever you brought with you to demo and have some fun. And yeah, those overpriced cables, fancy wooden discs, and so on…anyone that tries to sell you that crap isn’t on the up and up. Doesn’t mean they necessarily have poor taste in speakers though, so still keep listening!

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