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Thread: Precise vs. accurate

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Venice, Italy

    Posts: 2,930
    I'm Neil.

    Default Precise vs. accurate

    Paul McGowan (PS Audio) writes:

    Thereís a difference between precise and accurate. Weather predictions are often precise in their reporting of facts but wrong in their final outcome. Or, take digital audio.

    Itís not hard for audio engineers to focus on the preciseógetting the right bits in the right place, but itís rare when everything else is taken into account so it can be accurate, like timing, or wave shape, or noise.

    Getting things accurate is far harder than precise. We are reminded of this fact every time we listen to reproduced musicóthe elements we have captured are perfect down to the smallest detail, yet it still doesnít sound live. Precise, but not accurate to the event.

    Itís intoxicating to believe when we get a few things right that the whole will somehow transcend the pieces, mimicking their precision.

    But itís a shortsighted view.

    HT to Skip Volkmann, Editor of HPís Developersí Portal for the idea of the post.

    For more of Paul's musings please click http://www.hifianswers.com/tag/ps-audio/

    Thank you. Neil
    Audiophile News & Music Review Ė an INDEPENDENT online audio magazine, focusing on 2-channel audio equipment and wonderful music!


  2. #2
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 1,845
    I'm Alex.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil McCauley View Post
    Paul McGowan (PS Audio) writes:

    There’s a difference between precise and accurate. Weather predictions are often precise in their reporting of facts but wrong in their final outcome. Or, take digital audio.

    It’s not hard for audio engineers to focus on the precise—getting the right bits in the right place, but it’s rare when everything else is taken into account so it can be accurate, like timing, or wave shape, or noise.

    Getting things accurate is far harder than precise. We are reminded of this fact every time we listen to reproduced music—the elements we have captured are perfect down to the smallest detail, yet it still doesn’t sound live. Precise, but not accurate to the event.

    It’s intoxicating to believe when we get a few things right that the whole will somehow transcend the pieces, mimicking their precision.

    But it’s a shortsighted view.

    HT to Skip Volkmann, Editor of HP’s Developers’ Portal for the idea of the post.

    For more of Paul's musings please click http://www.hifianswers.com/tag/ps-audio/

    Thank you. Neil
    Good point, I appreciate the explanation. Same can be said about the differences between efficient and effective. Digital playback can be viewed as a very efficient way to reproduce music recordings. Analog playback may not be as efficient, but somehow it seems more effective in communicating what was recorded in the venue/studio.

    Discuss...
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

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