Doing experiments - reporting results - influencing other people
We have at Harbeth the advantage of inheriting the BBC legacy in loudspeaker design, thanks to our founder. The BBC were generous in publishing their research papers covering audio, including blue-sky thinking about microphones, loudspeakers and all between. Objectivism of the BBC-type is now out of fashion amongst consumers. Ironically, the familiar corporations that make consumer electronic goods (Sony, Samsung, Intel, Nokia etc.) are all ruthlessly science-based empires, because science and the scientific method is the key to competitive advantage.
I encourage HUG members to conceive and construct practical experiments to test-out audio theories that they may have. Visitors interested in pragmatism do look to us to provide rational comments in a sea of subjectivism and confusion. But I caution about drawing half-baked or in erroneous conclusions. We owe it to ourselves to make an effort to marshal the facts and present them in a way all of our visitors can understand. There is absolutely no shame in reaching an inconclusive result but to bend the result to fit our preconceptions is not acceptable.
Great experimenters conceived experiments anticipating the results leaving the mundane matters of actually performing the experiments to their junior assistants. The results confirm the hypothesis or they don't. Either way, the result is a step forward in understanding. But the key is to conceive the test to generate well differentiated, black or white results, not maybe/maybe not shades of grey. That needs very careful planning and construction of tests.
So, here in the Harbeth User Group, a manufacturer's forum run by Harbeth UK and with a remit to improve the understanding of audio, if you are going to use this forum to explain a test that you've undertaken, you need to state ....
- The objective of the test
- why you elected to perform the test the way you did
- what variables you eliminated, what variable you didn't or couldn't
- what you anticipated would occur and what actually occurred
- ... how you explain any differences between what you expected and what actually happened
If you have an idea you'd like to test out for yourself - great, you're now a scientist! You're welcome here! - but you don't know where to start, tell us here and we'll see if we can guide you. If your experiment is properly constructed, it should be possible for any member anywhere on earth to repeat it and arrive at similar results. And if it isn't, then the HUG is not the correct vehicle to write about it because it's not adding to long-term knowledge about audio. And it won't pass Moderation.
Everything I know about audio I discovered for myself. The primary requirement is curiosity and an awareness of the potential for self-delusion. I was lucky to have the BBC influence to guide me. We consider that audio science is of importance and lasting value to society for the benefit of this and future generations of music lovers. Help us to promote reason and intellect.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK