Sunday, December 17, 2017 07:47

Getting help with audio gear reviews

I’ve known about ideafusion‘s CPAM and CPSS for years. CPAM (Creative Product Analysis Model) is the theoretical foundation for CPSS (Creative Product Semantic Scale).  They offer a method that is, as far as I have been able to determine, the most fully researched and evaluated and accepted approach to evaluating creative products. The academic and scientific underpinnings are rock-solid and CPSS is in daily use by individuals, businesses, and academics around the world.

I’ve tried it out in the past, but my recent review of Edifier’s Sound To Go ultra-portable loudspeaker for laptops (on theSoundscape.net) is my first published piece that uses the scale for informing my judgments and comments. I figure that I should let my readers know what it is, how it works, and how I will be using it.

The CPSS presents a list of 55 word pairs. As an example, here are the first five pairs:

original…….conventional

warmed-over…….trendsetting

important…….unimportant

useless…….useful

inessential…….essential

You’ll see that they’re not necessarily opposites, but they are different from each other. The rating person selects one of seven positions to indicate how closely a word in each pair is related to his or her perception of the item under analysis.

Once it the process is complete–it takes about ten minutes and is more enjoyable than it is a chore–the rater’s choices are run through a carefully designed and validated algorithm that determines scores for nine facets of creative products. These nine facets feed into ratings for Novelty, Resolution, and Style.

Two of the facets, Surprising and Original, create the Novelty dimension. Logical, Useful, Valuable, and Understandable contribute to the Resolution dimension. Organic, Well-Crafted, and Elegant produce the Style dimension.

I’ll be reporting the three main dimension scores in all my future gear reviews. The Sound To Go writeup is the first to use them.

I view Novelty is the least telling of the three. For my purposes as a technical reviewer of (mostly) audio gear, something that is surprising or original may catch my eye, but I’m much more interested in Resolution: how well the thing does the job it’s intended to do. The Style dimension, according to ideafusion is a tie-breaker or the frosting on the cake or some similar metaphor. It’s the coolness factor which, all other things being equal or close to it, is going to make something attractive to buy, own, and use.

In the case of Sound To Go, CPSS produced these ratings for the three main dimensions:

Novelty: 5.4

Resolution: 5.8

Style: 6.7

Here’s a depiction of the facet ratings that produced those dimensional figures.

And here are some quick observations on what those facets mean to me.

Surprising: The 5.4 rating suggests that I was mildly surprised by Sound To Go. The volume control button rather than knob was the main surprise. I also didn’t expect the frequency contouring that enhanced stereo imaging from such a compact package.

Original: Other laptop speaker accessories tend to use two boxes. I didn’t foresee a single unit being a likely contender. The 5.5 rating seems about right.

Logical: The score of 6.5 indicates that it’s easy to get it to work. Hookup and operation are, if not intuitive, comfortable to work with.

Useful: At 6.6, Sound To Go clearly impressed with its ability to do what it was designed to do: enhance the listening for laptop users. I found that it could serve other purposes as well and do them well.

Valuable: This is the least of this product’s facets at 4.2. I like Sound To Go. I can see its utility. I can appreciate its benefits. I’d enjoy having one around now and then, but a portable speaker for a laptop or MP3 player is something I can do without.

Understandable: The 6.0 score indicates that this is an easy to understand product. How could it not be?

Organic: Sound To Go scores a very high 6.6 here. It looks like what it is and communicates what it’s for.

Well-Crafted: This is Sound To Go’s highest score at 6.8. It’s really well made. It has a solid feel. I gives the impression that it will be long-lasting and dependable.

Elegant: The 6.6 here is another very high score. The sleek appearance and the design that will complement almost any laptop computer (the intended use) contribute. The neatly conceived and executed volume control button probably added a bit here.

 

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