Audio Myth or Fact?

I was just sitting and watching this video tutorial by Dave rat(http://www.daverat.com/) evaluating some audio myth about headphones sounding better after being “burnt in”. At the end of the video he found no measurable difference between before and after results. This led me to think about the various “myths” I’ve heard such as mics sounding better after being dropped (heard it from a SAE classmate in singapore..sorry mont!:P) , gold-plated connectors are better than tin or nickel, NS-10m Speakers sound better than anything else on earth (this myth is making some Vietnamese people really rich..:P). I could go on for days with the ones i’ve heard and if you wanna hear some more just goto gearslutz..:).

And i think this is not just a problem in audio, but rather in every field of media. The internet while being a wonderful resource has just helped in raising more myths than squashing them, since every tom(sorry tom!) out there with a computer writes his own stuff which is read by some gullible person and then we hear these myths around. While I’m not out to take on each of these myths individually, i think SOS(http://www.soundonsound.com/) and many more credible sources are doing a way better job at it, i just wanted to share my approach to tackling a situation when i hear something that seems like a myth. Get your Mythbusters hats on!

The three most important things i consider for audio myths to be considered authentic are the following

1. A myth has to be logical

If it doesn’t make sense how will it work? if it doesn’t have a logic behind it chances are most probably it is a myth. Though this is just one aspect of understanding a myth it is an important one. If the logic behind a myth seems a little shaky it probably because someone made it up or didn’t research it right. However if it is logical doesn’t prove much unless the other two considerations are fulfilled.

2. A myth has to be measurable

The great thing about being in this century is that with the present technology quantities in audio that could only be heard can now be measured.Using oscilloscopes, high-resolution RTA’s, Voltmeters etc many audio quantities can be measured. So if there is indeed a

audio measurement oscillator

measurable quantity that proves the myth, it can be accepted. However measurements only show relative differences which cannot be necessarily described as improvements. I have faced this scenario often when many of my engineer friends look at some hi-fi audio gear frequency response curves and then compare it to professional gear. Both curves may look the same(Photoshop!), but may not really sound the same.

3. A myth has to be audible

If 24/192 makes so much of a difference than 24/96, it should be audible to more people than just Rupert Neve!(that brings me to another myth http://www.jhamptone.com/tag/geoff-emerick/). In the audio world its all about hearing it, if u can’t hear it its probably not making all that amount of difference. Right now there are about a dozen companies that sell a copy of the Rupert Neve 1073 mic preamp with supposedly the “same” sound for half the price. Do they both sound the same? i haven’t heard either but i hope they don’t..

I hope I came across a little bit clearly on these three aspects that are needed to evaluate such audio myths though they aren’t restricted to audio mythbusting but can be used in any field. Also I would like to emphasize that audio engineers should be very selective about believing their information resources. Hope this was informative. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or hear from your colleagues!

Thanks for reading. Big shout out to Lazarus (http://clickamillions.com/), do go to his website he has some amazing photography tutorials there especially the ones on HDR photography.

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