Originally Posted by NotJeffBuckley
I mean, this isn't a real discussion anymore. Dark matter and dark energy have been brought up as being somehow analogous or applicable to transmission of an electric signal at low frequencies. That is just playing around, isn't it? Black holes, wormholes, WHITE holes, eleven dimensions, strings and super strings, why is there something rather than nothing, why should there be nothing rather than something, and where in the universe has the best cup of coffee are all equally far-out but inapplicable things.
I agree that it is a futile act to try and explain the potentially unexplained with notions that aren't fully elaborated (for good reason!) on a forum. The words get 'too big' to have meaning (at least for me).
What isn't futile to note (as I've repeatedly stated) is that the double blind tests are still far from scientific, and the write-ups are certainly very seldom of scientific quality (and published in strong journals or conferences after double blind reviewing of the papers by their peer academics). Double blind A/B and ABX tests are only barely better than a market assessment review from a scientific perspective. There is essentially no control over a crap-load of variables that are clearly not independent, and are thus simplified to an extent that is well beyond the theoretical understanding of how the interplay between electronics and neural (as well as behavioral) psychology works. Furthermore, the sample sizes are considerably smaller than they need to be for the results to be statistically significant. That rules out the quantitative approach for the double blind tests as scientifically valid. From a qualitative perspective, the double blind tests do not focus on the 'why' questions anywhere close to enough. If an individual reviewer may sometimes believe A is X and sometimes B as X, does this mean that there is no difference between A and B, or does that mean that the reviewer needs more times to familiarize themselves with the sound signature of A and B, needs a different kind of music to do this reliably, needs a different start of the day to be at ease enough to tell the difference, or is all this just hokum? Those are examples of qualitative questions that are never answer in an elaborated way in the double blind tests. Ergo, the tests are not valid from a qualitative perspective either.
Basing an argument on a best guess - which is the closest we can come to argue that the double blind tests are - is still preferable to sticking a wet finger up to see where the wind comes from. That doesn't make this conclusively true, or even remotely 'true enough' to be called generalized. Thus, the die-hard 'no-difference' group is not basing their arguments on science. That is a myth. If I were to bet on which side holds up over time (and I'm a conservative poker player), I'd still put a sizable stack on their end but I most definitely wouldn't go all-in as there are too many outs for the double blind tests themselves to be flawed. I seriously question that all skeptics have read up on the tests they defend, and compared them with the demands in terms of rigor and relevance held by science. Thus, as much as there is a bandwagon effect on the 'audible-difference' group, there is also a bandwagon effect among the 'no-difference' group. Ironically, both bandwagon members of the two groups share one thing - they believe, rather than know.
This doesn't change that we have some pretty sophisticated electricity-related measurements that seem repeatable to the point where any differences that may be found are incredibly hard to repeat in a controlled fashion, and appear to have minimal effect on the outcome. What we don't have is a conclusive proof that measurements actually map to specific listening impressions. Faults in our extant understanding of electronics are not likely (but remain plausible as long as any new finding fits within the current theorems), but do we really have metrics that capture all potential listening experiences? If we don't, then we still have a fair bit to go in figuring out the relationship between electronics and perceived experiences. If we can't find metrics for everything (and to get philosophical on you - we couldn't without an agreed upon universal truth, which is highly debatable that it exists), well... maybe then we shouldn't trust quantitative approaches to tell us the full answer to questions like this? It may be that the exceptions rather than the norms have a more revealing story to tell.
Having stated the last sentence, it may look as if I am in the 'audible-difference' group. I'm honestly not set in my beliefs (and I recognize them as beliefs only) about cable, which is a large reason for me to test some cables for headphones (in accordance with the different - and potentially magic - hypotheses), i.e. so that I can test them myself to see if I actually find differences. For speaker cable (and other cables in my speaker set-up) I have been able to pick out the ones I use as my favorites in double blind (and unscientific, i.e. flawed) tests, but the differences haven't been groundbreaking and the tests may be affecting the results. However, I run a rather simple Canare speaker cable to my bi-wiring speakers rather than some of the fancy (and MUCH more expensive) stuff that we were given when I worked in the industry (many years ago), so I definitely don't fall for price = performance. I still have a boatload of fancy cables in a closet somewhere rather than use it. I may actually dig some of it out and try to make headphone cable out of it instead...
Finally, just as a reminder that re-cabling is far from only about potential sonic impact, I actually have three criteria that have nothing to do with sound quality when considering cables that in themselves make re-cabling fun to follow. One, they can look extraordinarily nice, and given that the cables are visible in living rooms, libraries, and other areas where we spend thousands - I certainly see this as highly valid in itself. Two, I like a sturdier cable rather than some of the flimsier ones that we see to avoid causing tears if I accidentally get snagged on a chair or something. Three, I much prefer a thicker cable as my small parrots don't bite on them while they have to be watched at all times when I have my IEMs with their thin cable out, but thicker typically means heavy and that's not ideal although a certain mass 'feels right'. Thus - I don't think any thread will change the beliefs of yey or nay sayers, as both are based belief to a certain degree.
Edited by Trasselkalle - 8/5/11 at 1:21am