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Audio gd Sparrow Blind Test  

post #1 of 502
Thread Starter 

After 7 months of dabbing in audio devices (DACs/AMPS) I was able to finally conduct a fully blind audio test.  I left the room for the changes to ensure I had no knowledge of the source that was selected.

 

Setup:

The two devices used were the Audio gd Sparrow Basic Optical and my intel DP35DP High definition audio onboard sound.  Two 320 kbps mp3 files were used on the test.  There was 8 runs conducts, and each time I was asked to identify the source.  Sennheiser HD580's were used.

 

Results:

 

D = Audio gd Sparrow

MB = Onboard Intel High Definition Audio

Template: Run #: (source) - (my guess)

 

Run 1: MB - MB

Run 2: MB - MB

Run 3: MB - D

Run 4: MB - D

Run 5: D  - MB

Run 6: D- D

Run 7: D - MB

Run 8: D - MB

 

5/8 of the tests I guess incorrectly.  To add onto this, I was not confident at all about my guesses.

 

Discussion:

 

This test sums up what I have been feeling since joining head-fi and listening to different types of audio gear.  I have critically listening to an ipod shuffle, Sound blaster extigy, Head Direct EF2, hot audio DAC Extasy, Intel high def audio onboard sound, and Audio gd Sparrow.  With all these devices, I was never able to distinguish any of them from one another - that is to say they all sounded devices these same to me.  I used multiple headphones during tests, but mostly the "hard to drive" HD580.

 

It is clear to me now that audio devices today have gotten so good.  Whether its a 40 dollar ipod, a 200 dollar external sound device, they all sound excellent.   Now I have not heard high end audio devices, and can not comment on them.  However, this test is in agreement with the audio skepticism I formed since hearing my first amp recommended form head-fi, in which it sounded the same as my original source.

 

I am not saying that external DACs and headphone amps are useless.  However, this "hobby" is one in which the term "diminishing returns" is as true as it gets. 

 

For me, my days of "hi-fi" are over, as "mid-fi" is as good as it gets for me.  Maybe not for everyone.

 

For newcomers, please don't believe you need to spend lots of money on DACs and amps to get good sound.  Most of the posts on this forums are highly opinionated, exaggerated, or just false.  Grab a pair of nice headphones (which do make a HUGE difference) and enjoy.

 

For everyone (especially people with their first set of gear), conduct blind tests- its easy to think you hear something, but a blind test is the only way to be objective.

 

I don't want people reading to see this as a threat to head-fi, like I am out to make it that everything is snake oil.. Im NOT .  These are only my humble opinions.

 

HAPPY LISTENING


Edited by Crazy*Carl - 6/4/10 at 9:07pm
post #2 of 502

I'll sub this thread just to see how long before it's deleted 

 

But you really didn't do much of a test here.

 

One of the things a good powerful amp will do is allow you to turn up the juice and get no clipping or other distortion products.  A sound card won't do that.  I listen loud.  If you listen at low levels, I can see how your tests may pan out like this.  The danger of real good gear is that it doesn't seem loud when it's God Awful loud.

 

Sometimes the only way I know I'm way too loud is to go out to the mailbox, and out on the street, it's too freakin' Loud!!

 

Same deal with Headphones.  IMO at least.

 

Difficult to drive loads just complicate this further.

 

But if you can't hear the difference, definitely don't pay for it!

post #3 of 502
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by les_garten View Post

I'll sub this thread just to see how long before it's deleted 

 

But you really didn't do much of a test here.

 

One of the things a good powerful amp will do is allow you to turn up the juice and get no clipping or other distortion products.  A sound card won't do that.  I listen loud.  If you listen at low levels, I can see how your tests may pan out like this.  The danger of real good gear is that it doesn't seem loud when it's God Awful loud.

 

Sometimes the only way I know I'm way too loud is to go out to the mailbox, and out on the street, it's too freakin' Loud!!

 

Same deal with Headphones.  IMO at least.

 

Difficult to drive loads just complicate this further.

 

But if you can't hear the difference, definitely don't pay for it!

 

If this thread gets deleted, that would be sad.  It would really tell you alot about head-fi.  I even tried to make it extremely clear that I was only hear to reveal what I heard. But due to the nature of me going against what this forum is about, I only expect to get hammered.

 

You do realize you will ruin your hearing if you listen that loud for years?

 

I never had had a problem with volume or clipping with HD580 with any source or music.

 

And say what you want about the test, its still true that I was basically unable to distinguish the two.  If you can't do that, then why pay alot of money for it?


Edited by Crazy*Carl - 6/4/10 at 9:15pm
post #4 of 502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy*Carl View Post

After 7 months of dabbing in audio devices (DACs/AMPS) I was able to finally conduct a fully blind audio test.  I left the room for the changes to ensure I had no knowledge of the source that was selected.

 

Setup:

The two devices used were the Audio gd Sparrow Basic Optical and my intel DP35DP High definition audio onboard sound.  Two 320 kbps mp3 files were used on the test.  There was 8 runs conducts, and each time I was asked to identify the source.  Sennheiser HD580's were used.

 


Just wondering, was any volume matching done? This is typically the hardest thing to do well in these sort of tests. As for 320kbps, i think you could better it. What songs were these? I'll be the first to admit that if the songs are poorly recorded, there isn't going to be much difference between DACs. If the 2 songs you were listening to are modern, compressed dynamic range music, i really wouldn't be surprised by the results :)

post #5 of 502
Thread Starter 

Roxette - The Look

The Lord of the Dance - Siamsa

 

Both are good recordings.

 

As for the 320 vs lossless, they sound the same to me.

post #6 of 502
The only real result here is that CrazyCarl can't here the difference between the two pieces of gear with two particular songs saved as lossy files. It is impotant to understand that this was a poor test because there were too many variables involved. As well, you can't make sweeping generalizations about everything under the sun when you have tested only a couple of things.



There seem to be quite a few people on Head-fi that believe that because a test involves a DBT that it automatically scientifically valid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything from the theory being tested through to the conclusions reached, including caveats and alternate, un-tested possible reasons for the results must be valid.

Now I do think it's good that CrazyCarl is interested in testing what improvement the gear he bought is making on his listening enjoyment, but he will be doing himself and everyone a disservice if he doesn't understand these things well.
post #7 of 502

first of all - DBT is a SUBJECTIVE, not an OBJECTIVE test

my guess is that Carl is simply physically unable to hear the difference.

 

it's not a bad thing (even contrary. if every piece of audio equipment sounds similar to him, he's a really happy man. i mean he's got natural immunity to audiophilia and he doesn't have a single reason to spend a fortune on audiogear)

 

BUT, considering this - the test he conducted was actually a hearing test, not an adio-gear test

 

so the results, imho, can only be applied to Carl himself, not the equipment he tested

post #8 of 502

To make this test more applicable, it needs to be applied to like 50 headfi members. Then we will see real trends. 

 

Personally I think the results are very realistic. I personally cannot distinguish midfi gear, particularly for amps and sources, much. I have to listen for the differences and I need to do it side by side. Otherwise I can't really tell. I can identify headphones easier but when we talk amp and source I cannot distuingish much at all.. 

 

This is why I'm quite happy using mp3s over FLACs, and can live without amps when it comes to easy to drive cans and IEMs.


Edited by Mochan - 6/5/10 at 2:34am
post #9 of 502


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kr0gg View Post

first of all - DBT is a SUBJECTIVE, not an OBJECTIVE test

my guess is that Carl is simply physically unable to hear the difference.

 

it's not a bad thing (even contrary. if every piece of audio equipment sounds similar to him, he's a really happy man. i mean he's got natural immunity to audiophilia and he doesn't have a single reason to spend a fortune on audiogear)

 

BUT, considering this - the test he conducted was actually a hearing test, not an adio-gear test

 

so the results, imho, can only be applied to Carl himself, not the equipment he tested


No, it's an objective test (with the objective to eliminate subjective bias as a variable) but it only tests the things it tests and nothing else. 

 

Speaking of tests, there's now a Chesky headphone test album, specially made for Head-fi.  I have noticed that some music is more or less good for discerning differences between components, and quite a bit of music I have benefits less from my expensive rig than I'd like, leading me to hunt for good remasters.

post #10 of 502

This entire hi-fi thing is pretty subjective. If you can't hear the difference, stop spending $$ on it cuz it's not adding any value for you. I don't think it is a bad thing. I heard a lot difference between my uDac and my T400 on board sound card (not sure what SC it is...doesn't matter). When my Sparrow arrives, I'll see if I can hear the difference between them.

 

I'd say the test itself is objective, but the result is subjective cuz some may be able to hear the difference and some may not. 

 

This is just my 2cent

post #11 of 502

I agree with you miyinan.  I know in my case I intended to do what I did (though I've gone further than I planned, though most of my gear can go straight into a speaker rig with just the addition of a power amp and speakers), but that doesn't at all mean someone should go that far, just get what gear gives them the enjoyment they seek. 

post #12 of 502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

There seem to be quite a few people on Head-fi that believe that because a test involves a DBT that it automatically scientifically valid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything from the theory being tested through to the conclusions reached, including caveats and alternate, un-tested possible reasons for the results must be valid.


I've argued this point for far too long in the Sound Science forum and some yet still don't see it.

post #13 of 502
Thread Starter 

I knew i was shootting myself in the foot when i used mp3.  But trust me, it would not have made any difference. 

 

You guys are funny. 

 

Ya audio is subjective.. but so many of you are delusional I think.  I am sorry I am raining in on this parade, but I am convinced of this.

post #14 of 502
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post




I've argued this point for far too long in the Sound Science forum and some yet still don't see it.


Tests can be poorly designed, I don't see how anyone would argue against that.

post #15 of 502
Quote:
Originally Posted by les_garten View Post




Tests can be poorly designed, I don't see how anyone would argue against that.


Maybe if they religiously believe in the DBT?

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