Historically, the measurement and quality assessment of audio systems has provided much controversy. The process of determining the factors which constitute good audio reproduction, and which system performance parameters can provide measurements that reflect this, has been a difficult process that has evolved over many years. The advent of digital audio systems, with a new set of possible error mechanisms has refuelled this debate. This paper aims to explore some of the historical issues that have arisen from this evolution and provide a view of some lessons to be learnt from it. Examples drawn from personal experiences are presented to illustrate these issues and provide evidence to support an open-minded and balanced approach to the problem. In particular, the benefits of properly conducted comparative listening tests are presented. A general philosophy is presented that utilises the salient points from the many, often divided attitudes that exist in this field, in order to arrive at a working practice which can provide benefits to sound quality research.
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