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Serious ABX tests: Sony Discman vs High-end sources - Page 6

post #76 of 137
On the suject of Hi-Fi I've actually done blind testing with full sized vintage and modern CD / PCD verses DVD players plugged into an amp via line out, external DAC where possible and even via headphones We even chucked in an Ipod playing ALAC for good measure.

It's pretty much what you'd expect. Older PCD players like the Sony D-50 and Sony DZ-555 are certainly different than newer PCDPs like the Sony DE-J855.
The Sony D-50 has a very much fuller and warmer sound with slightly rolled off top end compared to the DZ555 which is a lot more detailed in the upper frequencies. This we put down to early 16 bit Sony chipset versus Dual 18 bit Burr Brown but the D-50 was surprising since no other 1st gen Sony I've heard sounds like this. It sounded more like a Philips.

Both sounded superior to the current machine in my opinion the reason which was suspected to be the antishock ram buffering and inferior op amps. Although the current machine was very deatailed and neutral sounding it just sounded a bit lifeless. Although it was certainly a match for the Ipod which the old ones easy bettered for similar reasons.

Compared to full sized players ranging from the vintage Philips CD104 to the Pioneer DVD 575 via a tweaked up 2nd gen Marantz CD75IISE, the PCDP's aquitted themselves surprisingly well. These again sounding fuller in the case of the Philips 1st gen, better top end in the case of the Marantz compared to the slightly anemic yet very neutral Pioneer. The best sound was between the full sized Marantz or Philips or possibly the Sony DZ-555 but that is widely regarded as the best PCDP ever so not really completely representative.

There wasn't a huge amount of difference and I can quite easily believe people would have a hard time telling them apart. The only one which really sounded a lot different was the early Sony PCDP but it was very enjoyable to listen to all the same.
post #77 of 137
All I will say is this...if I have to try to hear the differences between two sources then for me it's just not worth it. I don't listen to sources. I listen to music. If the music sounds better coming from one source than it does coming from the other, then that's all the justification I need, price be damned. But if the differences are so small that I have to sit there for hours to pick them out, then I'll still with the cheaper source.

My experience has been as follows...I got a more expensive, supposedly better source than what I had. I sat for hours trying to tell the difference between the sources. I couldn't. But I was so convinced that the more expensive source was supposed to be better that, over time, it started to sound better. But then I didn't touch either source for a few days. After I came back, once again they both sounded the same. The moral of this story is that the more expensive source started to suddenly sound better because I wanted it to sound better. You'd be surprised how easily you can convince yourself of something, regardless of whether it's actually true or not.

And as an EE, I resent the comment that was made earlier about EE's.
post #78 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jigglybootch View Post
My experience has been as follows...I got a more expensive, supposedly better source than what I had. I sat for hours trying to tell the difference between the sources. I couldn't. But I was so convinced that the more expensive source was supposed to be better that, over time, it started to sound better.
Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt.

Welcome to the wonderful world of cognitive dissonance, please drive carefully


Quote:
But then I didn't touch either source for a few days. After I came back, once again they both sounded the same. The moral of this story is that the more expensive source started to suddenly sound better because I wanted it to sound better.
Surely you are not suggesting that cheaper kit can actually sound as good as more expensive kit, shame on you

Can I assume also that you do not think you are deaf, have poor listening abilities or poor musical appreciation as well ?

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You'd be surprised how easily you can convince yourself of something, regardless of whether it's actually true or not.
Personally I wouldnt be that surprised, every week I am sure I am going to win the lottery and be able to retire young(ish).

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And as an EE, I resent the comment that was made earlier about EE's.
I'll hold your coat
post #79 of 137
I can tell you this...there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with my hearing abilites or my sonic conclusions!
post #80 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by hciman77 View Post
Surely you are not suggesting that cheaper kit can actually sound as good as more expensive kit, shame on you

Can I assume also that you do not think you are deaf, have poor listening abilities or poor musical appreciation as well ?
Well, to me, the cheaper source sounded just as good. The more expensive one started to sound better with time, but I can't claim with any reasonable certainty that it was due to anything more than me wanting it to sound better. Maybe the more expensive source was better. If it was, I didn't hear it, and not because I'm deaf or due to lack of appreciation for music. And I certainly wasn't about to sit around for weeks just trying to hear the differences.
post #81 of 137
There are two kinds of bargains in the world and each greatly contributes to buyer satisfaction. The first is the overperforming inexpensive item; the second is the highly performing expensive one. There is a placebo effect possible in each case.

The double blind test is ultimately the only one free from the placebo effect, but as some have pointed out, it is limited without extensive double blind testing, something almost no one does, or can afford.

I've done accidental double blind tests where I walked out of the room distracted, and came back to further listen and was forced to make judgments without remembering which component I was listening too. Those events can be revealing... and humbling.

Suffice it to say, minus reading a few negative comments, this is a very enjoyable topic, and after much time listening, I'm not yet sure we know all the answers. I listen to music first, but I admit I like comparing what the electronics are doing to help or detract.
post #82 of 137
The whole thing of blind testing is to me anathema as I find that some of the gear used to enable these blind tests add enough of thier own distortion to hide minor but real differences in source componants. Note though that the "better" sounding componants are not nessearilly the more accurate ones.

I've modified amps to have significantly improved sound across the board then hooked it up to one of these boards used for switching amps, speakers & sources. & it totaly erased the sonic improvements that were made to my amp making it indistinguishable from both stock amp or anyother amp that was hooked to that switchboard. But at home the differences were real & very noticable.

By the way I have a boosteroo & they are terrible. How anyone can't tell the difference between that & a truely highend setup is beyond me.
post #83 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post
The whole thing of blind testing is to me anathema as I find that some of the gear used to enable these blind tests add enough of thier own distortion to hide minor but real differences in source componants.
However many blind tests are done with either simple cable swaps or passive switch boxes which have an insiginificant effect on the signal path. The Masters and Clark tests used cable switching.


Quote:
I've modified amps to have significantly improved sound across the board then hooked it up to one of these boards used for switching amps, speakers & sources. & it totaly erased the sonic improvements that were made to my amp making it indistinguishable from both stock amp or anyother amp that was hooked to that switchboard. But at home the differences were real & very noticable.
The problem is how do you ascertain the before and after difference i.e are you doing this from memory ? and if so how long is the time difference between hearing the unmodded component and the modded one ? How do you ensure that the output levels are exactly the same before and after ? All these little things make it very hard to rigorously compare items. The beauty of blind testing is that human biases and expectations are removed from the equation.
post #84 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by boomana View Post
Choosing what is "better" isn't always a matter of money, but before I had decent speakers/headphones and amps, I don't think I could have distinguished the nuances of my sources.
A very good point, and one that I suspect probably explains a lot of what's going on with listeners who can't distinguish between a Sony DiscMan and a better player. One of them was an SACD player for cripes sake...that's one area where I'm CERTAIN that I could hear a difference.

I always look at stuff like this with a jaundiced eye. For one thing, folks who do these kind of studies typically do so with an eye towards the result they want to achieve anyway. One thing I'll wager is that they didn't take their representative sample of listeners from your local audiophile society chapter, or from a site like this one. I'm thinking that they probably took your typical average joes who like music...if even that. I also suspect that they're not necessarily using top flight components in the rest of the chain either.

My point is that it takes a lot of critical listening to develop the kind of "ear" that many of us have developed over the years. I have a feeling that explains why, even though these folks can "hear" a difference they "prefer" the DiscMan. Sorry, but the average budget CD player with it's more robust ANALOG stage and power supply will blow away a DiscMan, even if the two utilized the same DAC. I have a strong suspicion that most of these folks have developed their critical listening skills courtesy of a bad factory equipment car radio.

I'm perfectly content to believe that it's possible for a less expensive component to sound just as good as a more expensive one. There are economies of scale and marginal returns that impact all such things, but the most expensive component isn't always the most musical (though it can certainly be and in my experience often is). That said, I'm an experienced listener, and I certainly hear a difference between a home CD player and a DiscMan. To be told that's hokum by someone who, were it not for his fixation on audio, might be running into bible study meetings yammering about how God doesn't exist, well, I just don't care. I find zealots of all stripes to be annoying, as they have little or no respect for the opinions of others (whether informed or otherwise)....and as I stated earlier, one should take with a grain of salt the conclusions of those who enter into their "study" with an agenda and an end result in mind.
post #85 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by elrod-tom View Post
and as I stated earlier, one should take with a grain of salt the conclusions of those who enter into their "study" with an agenda and an end result in mind.
What basis do you have to claim that the studies posted at the top of this thread were entered into "with an agenda and an end result in mind," other than the fact that the study yielded results that you don't like?

Quote:
To be told that's hokum by someone who, were it not for his fixation on audio, might be running into bible study meetings yammering about how God doesn't exist, well, I just don't care. I find zealots of all stripes to be annoying, as they have little or no respect for the opinions of others (whether informed or otherwise)....
I find this comment to be extremely inappropriate, especially coming from a moderator. Shame on you.
post #86 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by Febs View Post
What basis do you have to claim that the studies posted at the top of this thread were entered into "with an agenda and an end result in mind," other than the fact that the study yielded results that you don't like?
If I'm understanding this right, the author of the study is put by the OP into the company of the author of "The Ten Biggest Lies in Audio"...that says as much as I need to hear about the agenda. It's not "Ten Things to Consider When Making Your Audio Purchases" or "Ten Ways to Get Good Sound for Less Money"...it's LIES. It's emotional, implies intent, and suggests that those who believe otherwise are either complicit in a scam or dupes. Do you suppose that most of these folks (e.g. the author of "The Ten Biggest Lies in Audio") would design a blind test seeking to prove that there ARE differences? I don't...

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Originally Posted by Febs View Post
I find this comment to be extremely inappropriate, especially coming from a moderator. Shame on you.
Sorry I offended your apparently delicate sensibilities.

I was simply making a point - I find folks like those who crusade for and about all sorts of things to be annoying. Folks like that often seek to find a group who believes differently, simply to go in and start an argument. It's one of the reasons that we don't typically permit DBT testing discussions on this site - they without exception come down to competing factions of zealots, one side (well...PROVE to me that you can REALLY hear a difference) verses another (you just can't HEAR the difference), with both sides thinking the other has been duped for believing as he does.

It has correlaries in other areas of life...hence the comment about an athiest trying to convert the bible study group. Similar to, oh, I don't know, an objectivist trying to convince a group of posters at a headphone audio site that the only reason they hear a difference is because they haven't compared the right way? I mean, why would such a person pick such an audience? Looking for a fight maybe??

It's obnoxious and gets tedious...
post #87 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by elrod-tom View Post

My point is that it takes a lot of critical listening to develop the kind of "ear" that many of us have developed over the years.
This is a factual statement from my experience. The more high end stuff I listen too, the more trained my hearing becomes able to distinguish from where I just came from. Where I just came is where I have previously thought was "WOW this is high end." Ear training makes a lot of difference in what I perceive. So based upon this experience why should I call my equipment that I have now, which is quite nice, the end of the road. I may never go beyond what I have now for reasons of cost since it would require a lot more money invested to best what I now have. But that being the case, would not make what I have now the equal to what I possibly could configure with enough money. And I would think after having been trained on that equipment I would then perceive what is wrong in what I now have.

As was said in a famous movie, "there is no end to doing right." Anyone want to guess which movie.
post #88 of 137
Quote:
I always look at stuff like this with a jaundiced eye. For one thing, folks who do these kind of studies typically do so with an eye towards the result they want to achieve anyway. One thing I'll wager is that they didn't take their representative sample of listeners from your local audiophile society chapter, or from a site like this one. I'm thinking that they probably took your typical average joes who like music...if even that. I also suspect that they're not necessarily using top flight components in the rest of the chain either.
The Matrix Hifi people say that they are audiophiles and experienced listeners, the kit they use in their tests is clearly listed and to the best of my knowledge is pretty high end. They have several pages outlining their other tests.
post #89 of 137

ABX results

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Originally Posted by hciman77 View Post
False.

I can point you to several positive ABX tests, see the links below there are some positive and some negative results. One thing to take away is that whether a difference is perceived or not is not closely correlated with price.

http://www.provide.net/~djcarlst/abx_pwr.htm
http://www.provide.net/~djcarlst/abx_cd.htm
http://www.provide.net/~djcarlst/abx_phca.htm

In general I have seen more negative than positive tests, but positive tests do most assuredly exist.
I would expect so; look at the equipment compared - 10 W tube amps vs. 400 W SS amps driving electrostatic loads? Unless you have a pretty careful measurenent protocol it would be nigh unto impossible to believe the 10W amp wasn't being driven into distortion.

Remember the statement is not that you can't detect differences, but rather that the differences that are detectable in ABX tests are measurable.
post #90 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by meat01 View Post
If it takes you a day, a week or a month to determine the difference between 2 sources, then the differences must be pretty damn small or you are over analyzing the music rather than enjoying it. If the difference is that small, then it is not worth an extra $1000+ to me. I realize it may be worth it to others though. Finding microscopic "nuances" in my sound system really doesn't interest me. I would rather just listen and enjoy the music rather than pick it apart.

I think it is funny that everyone is so quick to call this nonsense and disagree with it without actually ABXing. How can you ever know if you don't ABX?
Also disregarded is the format of such tests. No quick switching is required to use this methodology - the subject can listen to A and B as long as they want openly for as long as they want to familiarize themselves, and they can listen to the three differentation samples for as long as they desire before switching.

Good experimental design can eliminate "getting the result that the tester sets out to get." That's what research is all about, as long as it is done honestly.
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