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Tweaks and the better half

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I few years back I recabled my speaker system (interconnects and speaker cables), I went from low to moderate to what I consider hi end cables. When the wife got home she asked what I had done to the system as it sounded different, I asked if it was worst or better, she said better.

About a year and a half ago I upgraded my cartridge, again when the wife heard the system she commented that it now sounded different, I asked if she thought it was worst or better, her answer was just different. After several months of listening she stated that the music does now sound better.

In both cases she did not know that I had purchased anything, as my cables are mostly hidden she would not have noticed them, and even if she did, would probably not have noticed anything different. Also with the cartridge she did not know that it had been upgraded.

How many out there have had this type of experience or similar?
post #2 of 16
So you recabled your speakers, which means that there's a high chance that you moved at least one of your speakers in the process of handling them - people can distinguish between very small movements in speaker placement, so it's not that surprising that someone heard a difference. Furthermore, you didn't mention anything about level matching, so unless you took those precautions, that's a factor as well. Also see: Clever Hans.

If anything this is a good example of how easy it is to confound variables in an uncontrolled environment.
post #3 of 16
Last spring I chanced my speakercables to thin silver ones I had on loan; 3 friends that regularly visit commented that the speakers sounded tinny/sharp/lacking warmth, none of the knew about the cables nor did they notice them, they just heart something was chanced for the worse.
Oh, and I was able to attach the cables without moving my speakers, seriously.
post #4 of 16
Then to add to royalcrown's comment, when you asked her how the system sounded was she in the same position every time (sitting, standing up, etc?) at the same spot in the room?. Did you change anything from the room (coach, you added something more?) Having some materials can cause absorption of sound waves hence changing the sound.

It is quite easy to make a vague conclusion out of an uncontrolled experience.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by dura View Post
Last spring I chanced my speakercables to thin silver ones I had on loan; 3 friends that regularly visit commented that the speakers sounded tinny/sharp/lacking warmth, none of the knew about the cables nor did they notice them, they just heart something was chanced for the worse.
Oh, and I was able to attach the cables without moving my speakers, seriously.
How thin are we talking here? If you have an inadequate gauge speaker cable, of course you're going to run into problems - this is measurable and repeatable, and when most skeptics say "all properly designed cables sound the same" part of that is making sure you have the proper gauge. Also, if the difference in gauge was large enough between the old and new speaker cables, there's a very high chance that the levels were not matched between the old and new cables.

The thing is that all sorts of stuff probably other than you changing the cables that could just as easily affected the sound as much, if not more, than cables. Let's not forget that even temperature differences can affect the perception of sound - there are so many variables that are constantly changing that it's impossible to pin one variable down as a causal factor. Was the background noise constant between the two times your friends were over? If one of them heard a difference, the others might have been pressured to agree that a change had occurred even if none actually did to avoid being labeled as tin-eared. Were your friends in exactly the same spot between visits? If they weren't, the difference in sound due to placement is likely larger than any cable change could possibly accomplish. That's why blind testing is needed: it eliminates a lot of these confounding variables.
post #6 of 16
883dave, I believe in cables but your experience isn't conclusive because there's too many possible other explanations. How often has she asked if the sound changed when you didn't change anything? Maybe she keeps track of your credit card spending and knows exactly what you are buying? Maybe she knows you so well she can read your body language to know when you have a new toy, when you think it is better than old toys, and when you think it is just a sideways upgrade. Okay that last one is a little out there but still your experience is far from a true double blind test.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
So you recabled your speakers, which means that there's a high chance that you moved at least one of your speakers in the process of handling them - people can distinguish between very small movements in speaker placement, so it's not that surprising that someone heard a difference. Furthermore, you didn't mention anything about level matching, so unless you took those precautions, that's a factor as well. Also see: Clever Hans.

If anything this is a good example of how easy it is to confound variables in an uncontrolled environment.
First my speakers weight 170 lbs each, they have four spikes through carpet on cement, it took two people to get them into place, no they were not moved.
Level matching? "When my wife got home" I was listening to the stereo before she was home, I usually listen with my eyes closed and quite often she is able to be beside me before I actually know she is there. Also I do not always listen to the same volume. How would she know or even be influenced by level matching? Do you at all times, every time, listen to your stereo at the exact same volume?

Quite often I will be listening to music when she comes home, why did she not pick out changes before when there weren't any? It seems like a very big coincidence that the days that something in the system was changed, both the cables and the cartridge, she noted differences, not on the other days when the volume may have been higher or lower.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullseye View Post
Then to add to royalcrown's comment, when you asked her how the system sounded was she in the same position every time (sitting, standing up, etc?) at the same spot in the room?. Did you change anything from the room (coach, you added something more?) Having some materials can cause absorption of sound waves hence changing the sound.

It is quite easy to make a vague conclusion out of an uncontrolled experience.
Read what I wrote again. "When the wife got home she asked what I had done to the system as it sounded different" her comments were unsolicited, I then asked if it sounded worst or better

She will come into my listening room down the stairs and stand beside my chair, she is not and audiophile, so she is not anal about where she sits or stands, generally beside to the right, sometimes behind to the right or left, probably never in the same spot.

Here is a picture of my listening room, all treatments are permanent, there is a single chair, always in the same spot




This is the experience that I noted. It seems to me some people are able to detect differences in a system.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
883dave, I believe in cables but your experience isn't conclusive because there's too many possible other explanations. How often has she asked if the sound changed when you didn't change anything? Maybe she keeps track of your credit card spending and knows exactly what you are buying? Maybe she knows you so well she can read your body language to know when you have a new toy, when you think it is better than old toys, and when you think it is just a sideways upgrade. Okay that last one is a little out there but still your experience is far from a true double blind test.
She has stated on the two times something has been changed in the system without her knowledge. All other upgrades of tweaks she had prior knowledge too.
I use Interact on my company for all my higher ticket purchases, so only me and my accountant know the true cost
She did not come into the room and listen to music, she came down the stairs and asked what I had done because it sounded different? Your quess as to her being able to read my body language is as good as mine.

I would also like to point out that so far everyone has attacted the cables, why was she able to discern the difference when the cartridge was upgraded?

This is not a DBT, never was meant to be a DBT, it is an experience that my wife was able to not differences in my system without, any input from me
post #9 of 16
I want your listening room .

Three possibilities:

1. You're lying!
2. She somehow got the hint that you upgraded, but it's too much of a hassle and maybe impossible to figure out how whether it was from her informant in your company, supernatural, or reading body language.
3. She really did hear a difference enough to comment to you on it and she really never asked you if there was a difference when there wasn't before.

What would it mean if #3? Means you should let us come to your house and do listening tests . No jk hehe. It would be interesting if you would try to repeat this with your wife as the guinea pig by buying more and more to your already nice setup. And maybe it says something about how well one can tell an audio system has changed by either being in a different room or being worried about her spouse spending time on money on something other than herself? idle speculation but that's all we can do, I do recommend people try to listen to cable differences with the headphones from a distance though, to me sound quality changes are more instantly apparent when it is not so close to the ears.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
I want your listening room .

Three possibilities:

1. You're lying!
2. She somehow got the hint that you upgraded, but it's too much of a hassle and maybe impossible to figure out how whether it was from her informant in your company, supernatural, or reading body language.
3. She really did hear a difference enough to comment to you on it and she really never asked you if there was a difference when there wasn't before.

What would it mean if #3? Means you should let us come to your house and do listening tests . No jk hehe. It would be interesting if you would try to repeat this with your wife as the guinea pig by buying more and more to your already nice setup. And maybe it says something about how well one can tell an audio system has changed by either being in a different room or being worried about her spouse spending time on money on something other than herself? idle speculation but that's all we can do, I do recommend people try to listen to cable differences with the headphones from a distance though, to me sound quality changes are more instantly apparent when it is not so close to the ears.

This actually happened.

I don't know that I let on about the upgrades as after so noticed, I did have to admit the cost, and off to the jewellery store we went.

I subscribe to the third.

There was one other piece that I upgraded without her knowledge, a Hovland MG2 to Graham IC70, this she did not hear anything.

When I upgraded the CD player, she was in on the full purchase, and stated that she heard a slight difference, and commented on if it was worth it.

I think it shows that we all hear and remember different.
post #11 of 16
How significant is swapping between your aftermarket cables and stock cables? Easy for you to differentiate?

Before this thread degenerates into anti vs pro cabler, can I derail it and ask if you could try removing all your power conditioning items and seeing if there is a significant difference in how well you can hear cable differences?
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
Maybe she knows you so well she can read your body language to know when you have a new toy, when you think it is better than old toys, and when you think it is just a sideways upgrade. Okay that last one is a little out there but still your experience is far from a true double blind test.
Hey, if a mere horse is able to read body language convincingly enough to fool researchers for years, I wouldn't discount a human being able to.

Clever Hans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Quote:
Originally Posted by 883dave View Post
First my speakers weight 170 lbs each, they have four spikes through carpet on cement, it took two people to get them into place, no they were not moved.
Level matching? "When my wife got home" I was listening to the stereo before she was home, I usually listen with my eyes closed and quite often she is able to be beside me before I actually know she is there. Also I do not always listen to the same volume. How would she know or even be influenced by level matching? Do you at all times, every time, listen to your stereo at the exact same volume?
I don't at all times listen to my stereo at the exact same volume, but I always make sure to match output levels when making an equipment change. It's well-established that volume changes can result in perceived sound quality differences.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcrown View Post
I don't at all times listen to my stereo at the exact same volume, but I always make sure to match output levels when making an equipment change. It's well-established that volume changes can result in perceived sound quality differences.
Yes output levels make a difference when you are directly comparing, but what does it matter if the person comes in mid stream?

I do not always listen to music at the same volume, she has been in the house when I listen and also come home. If she comes home and I am listening at 82 rather than the 77 last time she came home or was in the house, why has she not noticed the perceived sound differences as new components before?

This was not a test, this was me listening to music after I had installed new cables and a new cartridge

If one time she heard the system I had it at a volume of 72.5 db, and the next it was at 78 db, and the time she noted the difference it was at 67 db would she be able to say that ah, the volume hasn't been matched therefore you must have installed a new component.

Would you be able to do this?
post #14 of 16
To make sure your wife is not suffering from clever hans syndrome, put a hidden CCTV in your audio room and play music while you are not there. Do this for however long it takes for her to go downstairs to inquire about differences in sound or whatever. Then have either a piece of paper where you usually sit or someplace she will notice it asking her if there is any difference in the sound. Another way is to have a taperecorder triggered when she is inside the room asking her if there is any difference in the sound. I don't think your wife is a secondary clever hans but you should do this for certainty's sake.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
How significant is swapping between your aftermarket cables and stock cables? Easy for you to differentiate?

Before this thread degenerates into anti vs pro cabler, can I derail it and ask if you could try removing all your power conditioning items and seeing if there is a significant difference in how well you can hear cable differences?
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
To make sure your wife is not suffering from clever hans syndrome, put a hidden CCTV in your audio room and play music while you are not there. Do this for however long it takes for her to go downstairs to inquire about differences in sound or whatever. Then have either a piece of paper where you usually sit or someplace she will notice it asking her if there is any difference in the sound. Another way is to have a taperecorder triggered when she is inside the room asking her if there is any difference in the sound. I don't think your wife is a secondary clever hans but you should do this for certainty's sake.
I did swap cables back to the originals once with a friend, it is a royal "PITA" all components are on multiple sets of cones so they shift, to my ears there was a noticable difference.

For power conditioning I use Isoclean 50IIA out of the wall, connected to it are the Phone pre-amp, turntable power supply and CD player ( I listen to 95% vinyl and 5% CD so generally the CD player is power off) the pre-amp and power amps are plugged into the wall (each on a seperate circuit).

When I upgraded from the Hovland to the Graham cable I listened with the phono in and out of the wall, it sounded slightly (note slighly being small) better through the Isoclean no matter which cable I used. So no the power conditioner did not make cables easier to distinguish.
I have never heard a cable that makes a night and day difference, I have heard a lot that didn't make a difference a few that sounded worst, a few that sounded better

As for the clever hans who knows what other people can do. To me listening to music is recreation, it is not a form of tests and trials. If I don't like what I hear i either accept it or change it. I do not live vicariously through other people for what sounds good to me
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