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To the cable non-believers... - Page 3

post #31 of 149
I don't know anything about listening training, but I can imagine that meditation would be helpful in focusing.

Science is not always objective (there can be considerable interpretation in determining the results of experiments, etc. there certainly is interpretation in trials involving humans, etc.) nor is it static - there are advances in determining the right item to measure, the measurement technique,etc. Our scientific explanations of our world and how we perceive it has evolved over time and I suspect will continue to do so.

Similarly, our subjective responses are also imperfect. As are humans. Still, for many disciplines, it is the subjective that rules. While an audiologist does perform listening tests, it is our response to the tones that determine the audiogram. When we get a hearing aid, programmed scientifically per the audiogram, it still must often be tweaked to fit the actual hearing of each patient. Those tweaks are subjective - based both on the complaints/perceptions of the patient and on the type of modification that the audiologist will need to implement.

I have no problem with science seeking to explain similarities or differences, but I don't assume that a scientific approach always leads to the "right" answer - though it often does and, if not, can get us close - or provides the absolute accurate explanation for an event - though a systematic approach can bear much fruit in that area. For example, while scientific theory can lead to a hypothesis about a specific medical treatment - in real life, with real patients, the theory can fall apart. And so science evolves.

I also don't have a problem with listeners deciding that they hear what they hear, without looking for an explanation. In the end, the most relevant measuring device for what I hear and perceive is me. Whether I perceive the differences in an ABX trial and not in real life or vise versa - it is real life that will govern my opinions and behavior. Speaking metaphorically, if a treatment does not work for a patient in real life, the treatment does not work - regardless of the science.

Where I get cranky is when the discussion gets polarized where proponents of a given point of view are so clear that they are "right" while others are "wrong". Don't you think that if there is a "right" that the world would quickly adopt the view. The fact that there is legitimate controversy leads me to think that both sides have some merit and that the question is far from resolved. I just wish that we were less judgmental towards others who have a different opinion. Rant over and thank you.
post #32 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post
Off topic.

Erik -- Medieval philosophers understood that angels must have 0 mass. Why? Simnple logic: since every person who dies is replaced by an angel, and the angles live among us for eternity, we would soon run out of room, hence 0 mass. Thus an infinite number of angels can dance on the head of a pin, since the head of a pin has a measurable area -- they all knew that. This is not the queston they asked (although it is -- incorrectly -- what we all say today. It is a mis-translation of Latin).

But the point of a pin is someting different -- it has 0 area. It all comes together at the point -- hence 0 area. Now we have a tough question: how many entities of 0 mass can fit (or dance) in a place of 0 area.

We say "how many angels can dance ..." to dismiss arguments as silly and time wasting. But asking how many 0-mass things can fit in 0-area is neither silly nor time wasting. It is about infinity and infintesimals -- these philosophers were smart.

The answer leads to L'Hospital's rule on the ratio of limits, how to give meaning to 0/0, etc. A fundamental problem of calculus. And I do believe that L'Hospital preceeded Newton and the other inventors of calculus with his logic.
Very interesting! That brings back a few memories of business calc, but I never saw the connection with angels and pinpoints.

Currawong, science is not a monolithic belief system. It is a process of asking questions to make sure a theory squares with reality.

Many theories are proven wrong. When a theory is proven wrong, that is a success of science.

You learn from failures, as well. Because cables fail all scientific tests known, that leads to the theory that something unknown to science or perhaps supernatural is going on. Assuming, of course, that the difference is not imaginary.

Anyone who can pin down this mysterious force will likely get a Nobel Prize, worldwide recognition, and millions for consulting the cable industry. Further, if there was actual proof, then an entirely new market of consumers would open up. So there's fame, wealth and history riding on making this breakthrough. It is odd that there haven't been hundreds of top scientists devoted to this over the past 30 years. It is also odd that colleges and universities don't have research departments devoted to cables. If there is such a difference, then they would have industrial applications. There would be patents, awards, recognition, royalties, everything. But it isn't there. You'd also expect large corporations to put significant research into cables and nail down every patent they possibly can. That isn't happening, either.

Or maybe the cable industry doesn't follow in the footsteps of scientific discovery.

Maybe cables are the natural extension of traveling medicine shows and P.T. Barnum.
post #33 of 149
b0dhi: The same argument is used by people that sell homeopathic remedies. I know several people that truly have experienced pain relief from taking what amounts to a sugar pill. Their experience is real, and I would imagine highly convincing. However, that experience is not controlled, so we don't really know what's going on.

If subjective experiences were treated the way that you describe them, then that's fine. A listening experience is a complicated experience, and there's a constellation of factors that determine how your system will sound, from the temperature of the room to how stressful work was that day. Of course it would be silly to say that the experience didn't happen, or means nothing.

That being said, however, it's equally silly to assert with confidence that the experience is caused directly by something in the external world - whether that be a cable, an amplifier, or whatever - without compelling evidence that it is actually caused by said object. An experience has value as an experience, but it doesn't really have value without some sort of control to make sure that only one variable is changing. A sighted test throws all of these factors into a listening test, combines and mixes them thoroughly and confusingly, and this mix of factors is conveniently reduced down to being caused by one lone audio component.

I think the question I really have is: why does anyone trust sighted listening tests at all if they don't trust blind tests? As bad as blind tests are, at least they control for something. Unblind tests have all of the problems of blind tests, and they also have the problem of not controlling for any variable whatsoever.

Here's an analogy - it's not perfect but it illustrates the point well. Say you want to test how smart a student is. You hand him a college level calculus test, and see what he gets right. He does poorly, and you assume that he isn't intelligent. Perhaps the test was flawed - perhaps the student is a literary genius but has dyscalculia. So your test was flawed, as it was looking for the wrong thing. This might be the case with blind tests - they are not very good tests. However, is this test any worse than a college level calculus test where the student has the answers to the test? That's what a sighted test is doing - the only difference between a sighted test and an unsighted test is that the unsighted test gives the student all of the answers - of course it's easy to pick which cable is which when you can see them. I really can't see how it's logically consistent to deny the usefulness or validity of blind tests without criticizing sighted tests for the same thing, and then some.

Also, just as an aside, in response to:

"Throwing out one's senses without sufficient reason is supremely foolish, and I would say veers well into scientism."

I highly disagree, and it's not a matter of scientism, it's a matter of Cartesian epistemology, which is still (IMO, and according to most analytic philosophers I've worked with) sound. In fact, he makes a pretty compelling argument that most (if not all) knowledge that we think stems from sensory experience is in fact determined by the 'faculties of the mind' (i.e. using logic/rationality and not empirical data). See Descartes's wax argument.
post #34 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by endless402 View Post
wake me up when you find a way to measure soundstage, depth, instrument seperation, etc.

Three differences I have found when going through cables to keep in my speaker system. Very obvious between some brands.
post #35 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
I think the question I really have is: why does anyone trust sighted listening tests at all if they don't trust blind tests? As bad as blind tests are, at least they control for something. Unblind tests have all of the problems of blind tests, and they also have the problem of not controlling for any variable whatsoever.
Assuming by "blind tests" you're referring to some of the DBT's that are referenced in other threads, such tests do have problems that unblind tests do not, i.e., they have the problem of not mirroring the conditions under which people normally listen and discern differences. Thus, sighted tests are not perfect, and neither are blind tests. So different people will choose what they find to be most valid for them.

Now, it is possible to conduct a blind test that mirrors normal listening conditions? Probably (or at least to some extent), although it can be somewhat difficult and inconvenient. Should people do this to determine if there is an audible difference between components, as opposed to relying on a sighted test? That's a judgment each person has to make for themselves.

But let's not pretend that you can conduct a blind test in five minutes time with a minimum of inconvenience, and that there is universal agreement that the conditions under which blind tests are conducted are such that they are always better than sighted tests, such that nobody has an excuse for not conducting one.
post #36 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
Assuming by "blind tests" you're referring to some of the DBT's that are referenced in other threads, such tests do have problems that unblind tests do not, i.e., they have the problem of not mirroring the conditions under which people normally listen and discern differences. Thus, sighted tests are not perfect, and neither are blind tests. So different people will choose what they find to be most valid for them.

Now, it is possible to conduct a blind test that mirrors normal listening conditions? Probably (or at least to some extent), although it can be somewhat difficult and inconvenient. Should people do this to determine if there is an audible difference between components, as opposed to relying on a sighted test? That's a judgment each person has to make for themselves.

But let's not pretend that you can conduct a blind test in five minutes time with a minimum of inconvenience, and that there is universal agreement that the conditions under which blind tests are conducted are such that they are always better than sighted tests, such that nobody has an excuse for not conducting one.
Every study I've read that has investigated the issue has found that quick-switch listening makes listeners more sensitive. See: Golden Ears and Meter Readers: The Contest for Epistemic Authority in Audiophilia -- Perlman 34 (5): 783 -- Social Studies of Science, pg 800-801. There have been multiple tests to investigate how sensitive quick-switching is, and all of the results point to quick-switching increasing sensitivity over typical unsighted methodologies. If anything, this would imply that doing blind tests is a way to increase sensitivity to real changes while also eliminating bias.
post #37 of 149
Thread Starter 
Quote:
It could be - if you can prove that then be my guest. Until that time then I'd refrain from invoking audible differences caused by the invisible pink unicorn and settle with a real explanation.
ummm... I was trying to imply that I know very little about what goes in to making the conductor of a cable, but I guess that wasn't obvious enough.
To be clear, I do not believe cables are spiritual beings.

And I'm sorry, but I got kicked off the computer for a few months, so it'll probably be a while before I get to answer any other questions. Sorry.
post #38 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
Every study I've read that has investigated the issue has found that quick-switch listening makes listeners more sensitive. See: Golden Ears and Meter Readers: The Contest for Epistemic Authority in Audiophilia -- Perlman 34 (5): 783 -- Social Studies of Science, pg 800-801. There have been multiple tests to investigate how sensitive quick-switching is, and all of the results point to quick-switching increasing sensitivity over typical unsighted methodologies. If anything, this would imply that doing blind tests is a way to increase sensitivity to real changes while also eliminating bias.
It appears that I can't get access to the article you cited without paying for it, and I don't know what other "studies" you've read (do they involve music or test tones?), but I know from my own experience that quick-switching (and this is not the only issue relevant to the validity of blind tests) obscures differences for me in trying to discern differences in how music sounds through various components.

In any event, IMO, your comments underscore the flaw in your own argument, as you are essentially saying: "I don't understand why other people won't accept blind tests as being better than sighted tests when everything that I've read and found convincing says they are better."

Well, perhaps everything you've read is right and people are just misinformed (although I highly doubt this). On the other hand, perhaps other people don't agree with the propositions you've found in the studies you've read, or they don't agree with your statements regarding what you have found, or perhaps they don't agree certain specific propositions or findings are applicable to the issue at hand. To state it more simply, just because you believe that blind tests have everything that unblinded tests offer, plus more, doesn't mean that matter is that clear.

In short, I firmly believe that it's not as black and white as your previous post makes it appear, although I'm pretty certain you will continue to believe it is (your quick discounting of bOhdi's rather profound comments offering pretty good evidence to this effect).
post #39 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
It appears that I can't get access to the article you cited without paying for it, and I don't know what other "studies" you've read (do they involve music or test tones?), but I know from my own experience that quick-switching (and this is not the only issue relevant to the validity of blind tests) obscures differences for me in trying to discern differences in how music sounds through various components.
Interestingly enough, while searching the web for the study cited in the paper I linked, I found another study that was very interesting. It makes mention of the first study and does another, similar (though methodologically inferior) study and reaches the same results.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...X1TWlDM6w6lOCQ

However, your comment is what I'm trying to more fully understand. When you mention your experience, I'm assuming it's not blind. How then, did you know that the unblind listening section was more sensitive than ABX? You can't go by successful trials, because you know what A and what B is in both instances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
In any event, IMO, your comments underscore the flaw in your own argument, as you are essentially saying: "I don't understand why other people won't accept blind tests as being better than sighted tests when everything that I've read and found convincing says they are better."

Well, perhaps everything you've read is right and people are just misinformed (although I highly doubt this). On the other hand, perhaps other people don't agree with the propositions you've found in the studies you've read, or they don't agree with your statements regarding what you have found, or perhaps they don't agree certain specific propositions or findings are applicable to the issue at hand. To state it more simply, just because you believe that blind tests have everything that unblinded tests offer, plus more, doesn't mean that matter is that clear.
You're putting words in my mouth. I would be more than happy to review any empirical evidence that shows quick switching to be inferior - in fact, the purpose of my post is to generate discussion to more clearly designate what the evidence is for either claim. I posted that link not to say that it is definitive, but to question the assertion that quick-switching is in fact inferior. I provided counter-evidence to that claim. Where is the evidence for quick-switching being inferior to long-term listening tests? It's not that I just picked the studies that fit my agenda - it's that I haven't found any studies at all that show quick-switching to be inferior.

Raising objections to a testing methodology is fine and good, but those objections have to be substantiated by something, otherwise they're baseless assertions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
In short, I firmly believe that it's not as black and white as your previous post makes it appear, although I'm pretty certain you will continue to believe it is (your quick discounting of bOhdi's rather profound comments offering pretty good evidence to this effect).
Your belief is merited, but you're begging the question that my post asked: what are your reasons for believing it's not black and white? It probably isn't, but just stating it authoritatively without any evidence or reasons to back it up makes it a warrantless assertion.

Also, I don't know why every single post you make it seem as if I'm disregarding arguments - I read bodhi's post thoroughly, and responded to it in turn, noting what I agreed with and what I disagreed with. What about my post makes it a quick discounting? My response was actually longer than bodhi's post (just checked it on Word), and while response length isn't indicative of quality, it does make your accusation require more evidence than just saying so.
post #40 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
However, your comment is what I'm trying to more fully understand. When you mention your experience, I'm assuming it's not blind. How then, did you know that the unblind listening section was more sensitive than ABX? You can't go by successful trials, because you know what A and what B is in both instances.
I don't know what I can say, other than that I have conducted several quick-switching type tests, and while sometimes I felt that the quick switching helped me discern differences, on several other occasions, I felt that the quick switching resulted in what I would describe as a loss of sensitivity to the music I was listening to. On the other hand, I have had many experiences where after listening to my system with my music for a long time, a single change in my system has initially revealed itself in a change in sound, almost akin to you noticing a change in a person (such as age or the sound of their voice) when you haven't seen them in a while. It's an immediate recognition that something is wrong, or different. And I'm not really sure why it makes a difference that the experiences were sighted. Both types of experiences were sighted, but we're not comparing component A and component B, we're comparing one type of listening experience with a different type of listening experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
I would be more than happy to review any empirical evidence that shows quick switching to be inferior - in fact, the purpose of my post is to generate discussion to more clearly designate what the evidence is for either claim. I posted that link not to say that it is definitive, but to question the assertion that quick-switching is in fact inferior. I provided counter-evidence to that claim. Where is the evidence for quick-switching being inferior to long-term listening tests? It's not that I just picked the studies that fit my agenda - it's that I haven't found any studies at all that show quick-switching to be inferior.

Raising objections to a testing methodology is fine and good, but those objections have to be substantiated by something, otherwise they're baseless assertions.
Starting from the bottom up, they're not baseless assertions. They are based on my experience, and the experience of others who have also had similar experiences. Are they definitive? No, but neither is the test you reference (which, BTW, has some assumptions about people hearing better when they are alert which I take real issue with in this context).

You suggest that you wish to generate discussion and hear both sides. That's fine, and I think we're in the same place on that issue. But remember, we started down this path due to a pretty categorical statement to the effect that you couldn't understand why anybody would think blind tests (by which I assume you mean the reported DBT's) have some aspects that are inferior to sighted tests. That doesn't sound like someone who has an open mind on the issue. But maybe you stated it more categorically than you intended just to stimulate discussion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
[W]hat are your reasons for believing it's not black and white? It probably isn't, but just stating it authoritatively without any evidence or reasons to back it up makes it a warrantless assertion.
I don't agree that it is a warrantless assertion. The assertion is based on the fact that there is not incontrovertible evidence that quick switching is superior to certain types of long term listening for discerning differences in how music sounds when components are changed, and is based on my own experiences with quick vs. long term listening, as well as the reported experiences of others. Plus, the burden of proof that something is black and white is on the person claiming or acting as if it is black and white.
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
Also, I don't know why every single post you make it seem as if I'm disregarding arguments - I read bodhi's post thoroughly, and responded to it in turn, noting what I agreed with and what I disagreed with. What about my post makes it a quick discounting? My response was actually longer than bodhi's post (just checked it on Word), and while response length isn't indicative of quality, it does make your accusation require more evidence than just saying so.
Maybe I was unfair, but I got the impression that you didn't really appreciate the thrust of his statements. In particular, I find the third paragraph in response to b0hdi's post indicative. But if I was unfair, I take it back.
post #41 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
It appears that I can't get access to the article you cited without paying for it, and I don't know what other "studies" you've read (do they involve music or test tones?),
I think this link is a accessible version of the study.
https://cdnav.sslpowered.com/shared/...emic%20783.pdf
post #42 of 149
Find me a peer reviewed study that proves cables make a difference. Anecdotal evidence doesn't amount to much, especially when it's not a well controlled experiment. =\

Thus far, I'm pretty sure, evidence suggests otherwise.
post #43 of 149
My experience with cables is that if just stick to the technical details: ie. impedance, shielding, core conductor diameter, purity of conductor material, and if the copper cable is cast as a single crystal or not.

Just drop the marketing, get the cables that meet a certain set of technical specs and you are fine.

For digital cables especially, audio companies like to market special "digital" cables are nothing more than 75-ohm coaxial cables. A good RG-6 or RG-11 cable that you can get at a hardware store with quad shielding will transmit a SPDIF signal a good 100M or more with very little signal attenuation. Yet people peaple hundreds of bucks on a coaxial cable, unbelievable. You can find the specs of RG-6 and RG-11 cables at most factories that make cables, attenuation is at most -5db per 100M for RG-6 at 10MHZ frequencies. Keep in mind the higher that frequency the higher the attenuation, but a SPDIF at most is at 1-11MHZ or so.

Also audio interconnects any 4N-6N copper cable with good shielding will do the job LOL. Different cables make a subtle difference at best and you are better off just spending the money on better equipment LOL. Another thing, if you are using a vacuum tube amp, getting a larger diameter speaker cable or going smaller AWG will change the damping factor on your tube amp by quite alot, and allows it control your speakers alot better and you'll hear it in the low frequencies mostly. Tube amps typically have low dampening factors, and getting a thicker speaker cables will help increase it.
post #44 of 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by randomasdf View Post
Find me a peer reviewed study that proves cables make a difference. Anecdotal evidence doesn't amount to much, especially when it's not a well controlled experiment. =\

Thus far, I'm pretty sure, evidence suggests otherwise.
Most people here are convinced that cables make audible differences, and that any study that says otherwise must therefore be flawed. This belief necessitates that audio engineers, statisticians, researchers, and other people with doctorates are complete idiots because they can't detect differences in cables that are so obvious to the "believers." The whole concept of science, formulating/testing hypotheses, and evaluating "evidence" has no place among "believers," so you might want to save your breath.
post #45 of 149
I have no problem with people who claim to hear a difference. If you feel that a $1000/ft cable makes a noticeable difference over a $1/foot cable, then you just helped the economy by providing some small businessman a (profitable) job and you feel as though you are achieving better quality. Its a win-win situation.

However, I do have a problem when these people try to recommend the said $1000/foot cable without any quantitative reason. When a cable purchaser says that their cable is better due to some unmeasurable force, or spiritual influence, or the classic "it provides a smoother, more detailed sound, (even though the wave form is identical to everything but sophisticated scientific instruments)" I loose all respect for the person as a contributing member of the audio community. If you want to make a hardware recommendation try to base your recommendation on some sort of clear, repeatable evidence. After all, if the difference cannot be repeated, then your recommendation means nothing.

Until I see some sort of evidence suggesting a repeatable, noticeable difference under normal conditions by more than a single individual, I will be a "non-believer".
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