Paul Miller, founder of Miller Audio Research and lead consumer electronic measurement pornographer, asks what mysterious scientific measurements are missing that can better define sonic differences between audio electronics in the February Hi-Fi News. He cites the discovery of a method to measure jitter in the mid-nineties as the last new measurement technique. He also suggests that the more measurable a device’s performance the more it can be improved upon. Since jitter’s rise manufacturers of digital components have strived to reduce its ill effects.
So what’s left to measure that will better define a careful listener’s subjective impressions of a new wifi audio player, amp or loudspeakers? Synergy.
What if we figured out how to measure a whole audio system chain at once? How it might work (I have no idea if this follows any kind of scientific method, just my best guess):
- Establish baseline measurements for all individual components: Gather all the same measurements for your source, amplification and speakers as you would now with sine waves and pulses
- Use baseline high bit digital recordings that are viewed both as waveforms and spectrally
- Play both test tones and test songs through the whole system
- Use some really fancy math to compare the system measurements to those of the individual components and derive scores based on error values or 3D spectral comparisons
- Somehow present the results in layman’s terms
So go forth and measure system synergy. Remember, high end audio can only achieve new sonic heights if we set new unattainable goals.
By the way Mr. Miller mentions that everybody’s favorite new AV cable, HDMI, has terrible jitter performance. He doesn’t say how bad but I’m sure there’s a white paper with titillating charts and graphs available on his site or elsewhere.