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Audiophile cables, an interesting question. - Page 24

post #346 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by wakibaki View Post

The difficulty of obtaining useful results from listening tests is frequently exaggerated by those who for some reason or another, find the results disagreeable.

 

Sameold sameold...

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
 

So, x838nwy, you thought that running your own DBT would somehow clarify the matter? No chance, this is just the beginning… of your nightmare:devil_face:.

 

Joe makes some thoughtful points, which I think are particularly valid if you need to know how the said component is to perform in a range of circumstances (essential for a designer) and I largely agree. However, every single variable in such a test will conspire to confuse your poor overworked brain. So if you just need to know if A is different to B, I think you need to try remove all possible variables , including your circumstance and mood (e.g. time of day).

 

I think that fast-switching DBTs are unbeatable at removing Expectation Bias, and excellent at instantly spotting gross tonal/colouration differences that you typically get with headphones (frequency response that looks like a cross-section of the Himalayas) . But the same tests are unreliable IMO at spotting more subtle-but-significant differences that you get with relatively neutral components like DACs and cables (ruler flat frequency response, negligible THD etc). Not imposible, just unreliable because of the mind tricks that have been fruitlessly debated a million times.

 

What this means is that if you run your fast-switching-DBT and find no difference between components A and B, I simply won't accept that result until you repeat the DBT in a longer term test, of a style that I would deem to be fool proof.

 

The only thing that can be completely guaranteed with such a test is that the side that disagrees with your  end result will nit pick your method to death, and the side that agrees with your end result will quietly overlook the same flaws.

 

TheAttorney is giving you notice that he intends to obscure any result to the best of his ability, so better not to try. Your nightmare, at his hands, is about to start. The Internet, don't you love it?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Billings View Post

Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just, But four times he who gets his blow in fust.
 
w
post #347 of 1025
castleofargh i think you just posted nearly what i wanted to for most of your post.

I'm doing this largely to satisfy my own curiosity. Whatever answer i obtain will be my own and through my own ears. Happily i will share my findings with members by posting them here.

I understand that whichever direction my results indicate they will not manifest the final say on the subject. But i thank you for your suggestions.

Joe Skubinski raised some valid points, though. For example, I mean the listener should at least be aware that differences may be extremely subtle and that the listener should perhaps be familiar with the music.

Setting up a test that ticks all the boxes is very difficult to say the least, but i'll be mighty fun and very interesting.

As for now, i'm waiting for my Schiit to ship! If we're lucky, i may be doing this going between my pwd and LAu.

Funny how both of these have JPS power cords on them biggrin.gif but that's perhaps another story...
Edited by x838nwy - 4/13/14 at 8:35am
post #348 of 1025
It is also possible - and actually not all that unlikely - that the only conclusion we will be able to draw from the test is that it is easy to confuse the crap out of my brain.

Oh and for your information, there will be another person switching (or not switching) the source selector. I will set up an excel sheet so that a set of random numbers are generated. The numbers will be unknown to me, but my assistant will see it. He will switch if the number is even and not switch if the number is odd.

I will do the test at the same volume. I get what Joe is suggesting, but for the sake of brevity, I will try the tests at constant volume for now.

I will allow myself to go ocd with positioning of the headphones also.

When i have all the necessary gear to conduct this, i will let you guys know.

C
post #349 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post

Oh and for your information, there will be another person switching (or not switching) the source selector. I will set up an excel sheet so that a set of random numbers are generated. The numbers will be unknown to me, but my assistant will see it. He will switch if the number is even and not switch if the number is odd.

That would make it only single blind and subject to such biases as the Clever Hans Effect.

se
post #350 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

That would make it only single blind and subject to such biases as the Clever Hans Effect.

se

Not quite following you here. Any suggestions,Steve?
post #351 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post

Not quite following you here. Any suggestions,Steve?

Yes, my suggestion is that the test should be made double blind. See if you can find a used QSC ABX comparator (they stopped making them in 2004).

se
post #352 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by higbvuyb View Post
 

How do you know that these significant differences exist?

If they are so subtle why are they so significant?

Nothing clever. Just years of experience of working out when it is and isn't safe to trust my ears. The way the results have panned out has satisfied me that I haven't been unduly influenced by Expectation Bias. Of course, I can never be completely sure about that, but if I'm been double deluding myself, then I'm happy living with the consequences.  No method is fool proof. My main point here is that Expectation Bias is not the only mind trick in town, and fast switching DBTs actually introduce different mind tricks whilst successfully nailing the big one.

 

The reason why subtle can be significant is in the effect it can have on musical enjoyment and greater insight into the performance. The difference between a good sounding hifi system and "you-are-there" is objectively small. The clues that help you "see" a 3D image of a performer are pretty tiny I assume, as concepts like "Soundstage" and "space around each instrument" are not readily explained by typical frequency response and THD measurements. And if you try to objectively analyse what's behind those differences, you can easily tie yourself in knots. A carefully chosen cable can subtly add focus to the images, bringing each instrument out of the mix. It doesn't create the details, it just brings them out more. Getting a step closer to "you-are-there" can be a very satisfying experience - it might even occasionally be "night-and-day", but only once, as you soon get used to the new sound.

 

One example of what I mean: You've listened to a track hundreds of times with component A. The very first time you listen to new component B, you hear the slight "ting" of a triangle that you've never noticed before. You may think that B must therefore be better than A. But then you go back to A and you also here the ting now. So now you're a bit confused and you swap back and forth and then get really confused because sometimes A seems better than B, and sometimes A seems better than A, so you know there's no point in continuing. There could be at least 2 different explanations for this:

 

  1. B really is better than A, but because you've noticed the new sound, you'll keep noticing it with whatever component you subsequently listen to.
  2. There is no difference, it was just greater concentration on this particular test that caused you to notice a new sound.

 

Fast switching tests aren't much help in deciphering such examples because you (or at least I) can quickly get into a muddle. Fast switching tests encourage you to listen out for sounds, not follow the musical performance. Much better  to enjoy the music in a way that the sound differences come to you - no need to agonise swapping back and forth looking for tiny differences. You can do that blind too, but much less practical to achieve.

post #353 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

Yes, my suggestion is that the test should be made double blind. See if you can find a used QSC ABX comparator (they stopped making them in 2004).

se

This is where I have a bit of a problem. Any abx swutcher I can find are either not made anymore or I can't find an easy way to buy one. And they all look expensive.

As for the test, two different sets of cables will used. I may be listening to a or b as randomly determined. I will express whether I hear a difference between sessions. Noticed differences will be tabulated against switched/not switched. The goal is to find out if there is a difference as opposed to identifying A or B. If there IS a difference between the cables then everytime he changes cables should correlate with I hear a difference and so forth. Is this okay, you think?
post #354 of 1025
Quote:

Originally Posted by wakibaki View Post

TheAttorney is giving you notice that he intends to obscure any result to the best of his ability, so better not to try. Your nightmare, at his hands, is about to start. The Internet, don't you love it?

 

That's a bit mean.

I was actually thinking of a thread a while back when a pro-cable guy decided to have a go at his own blind testing. However, he wasn't an expert in this field and didn't do it to the level that enabled the results to be statistically valid. The Sound Scientists basically tore into him in a rather unpleasant manner. They could have have at least given some encouragement for even trying, but no prisoners were taken. I think he just gave up in the end.

 

It's why many have given up coming round here. I've also promised myself not to return, but very occasionally I just can't resist dipping in. But don't worry, it's rarely for very long :o)

post #355 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post

This is where I have a bit of a problem. Any abx swutcher I can find are either not made anymore or I can't find an easy way to buy one. And they all look expensive.

As for the test, two different sets of cables will used. I may be listening to a or b as randomly determined. I will express whether I hear a difference between sessions. Noticed differences will be tabulated against switched/not switched. The goal is to find out if there is a difference as opposed to identifying A or B. If there IS a difference between the cables then everytime he changes cables should correlate with I hear a difference and so forth. Is this okay, you think?

But again, you're talking about a single blind test.

se
post #356 of 1025

I'm only being mean to you in the nicest possible way.

 

w

post #357 of 1025
I would NEVER delude myself into thinking that I'm not subject to expectation bias. If I ever say that, feel free to ignore everything I have to say after that.

But to be honest, I really don't need really controlled tests. I work in broader strokes. When I compare two things, I want to hear significant differences and improvements, not ones I have to strain to hear. Direct A/B line level matched comparisons without blind controls tell me what I need to know. I'm not married to anything that doesn't make things significantly better.

If you labor under the delusion that you need to finnesse things that are extremely subtle, I'd argue that you're already suffering from expectation bias. Audiophools spend all their time worrying about gnat wings' differences and never address the elephant in the corner. Everything is relative and has to be put in context... how much of a difference/improvement it makes, whether or not the difference/improvement is noticeable to human ears, and whether all of the major problems are already addressed.

If I start off doing a clean A/B and I'm having a lot of trouble discerning differences, I usually just give up and say it's a waste of time. Differences in cables are a total waste of time. I can be pretty sure that if someone is worrying about cables, odds are they have huge problems in their system that they're not addressing because they flat out don't understand how sound works.
Edited by bigshot - 4/13/14 at 12:14pm
post #358 of 1025

Yeah, single blind is not necessarily a waste of time, but it does suffer from the Clever Hans effect.  Look for it on wikipedia. 

 

Foobar will do abx testing for you.  You need two audio digital files.  You could record the same piece of music over first one and then another set of cables.  Using the ADC in a soundcard or similar depending on what you have.  It would be a good first step.  Then you get two versions of each piece of music you record and Foobar will handle everything making it a double blind test. 

 

Of course we tried to save you all the trouble by explaining how you are chasing a ghost and cables don't sound different.  But if you have to show it to yourself this is one approach.

post #359 of 1025
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
 

Nothing clever. Just years of experience of working out when it is and isn't safe to trust my ears. The way the results have panned out has satisfied me that I haven't been unduly influenced by Expectation Bias. Of course, I can never be completely sure about that, but if I'm been double deluding myself, then I'm happy living with the consequences.  No method is fool proof. My main point here is that Expectation Bias is not the only mind trick in town, and fast switching DBTs actually introduce different mind tricks whilst successfully nailing the big one.

 

The reason why subtle can be significant is in the effect it can have on musical enjoyment and greater insight into the performance. The difference between a good sounding hifi system and "you-are-there" is objectively small. The clues that help you "see" a 3D image of a performer are pretty tiny I assume, as concepts like "Soundstage" and "space around each instrument" are not readily explained by typical frequency response and THD measurements. And if you try to objectively analyse what's behind those differences, you can easily tie yourself in knots. A carefully chosen cable can subtly add focus to the images, bringing each instrument out of the mix. It doesn't create the details, it just brings them out more. Getting a step closer to "you-are-there" can be a very satisfying experience - it might even occasionally be "night-and-day", but only once, as you soon get used to the new sound.

 

One example of what I mean: You've listened to a track hundreds of times with component A. The very first time you listen to new component B, you hear the slight "ting" of a triangle that you've never noticed before. You may think that B must therefore be better than A. But then you go back to A and you also here the ting now. So now you're a bit confused and you swap back and forth and then get really confused because sometimes A seems better than B, and sometimes A seems better than A, so you know there's no point in continuing. There could be at least 2 different explanations for this:

 

  1. B really is better than A, but because you've noticed the new sound, you'll keep noticing it with whatever component you subsequently listen to.
  2. There is no difference, it was just greater concentration on this particular test that caused you to notice a new sound.

 

Fast switching tests aren't much help in deciphering such examples because you (or at least I) can quickly get into a muddle. Fast switching tests encourage you to listen out for sounds, not follow the musical performance. Much better  to enjoy the music in a way that the sound differences come to you - no need to agonise swapping back and forth looking for tiny differences. You can do that blind too, but much less practical to achieve.


This is really just a rehash of the audiophile defense of how long term listening and subtle differences take time.  And are missed by rapid switching.  Sorry, rapid switching is most discriminating at finding perceptible differences.  If you can't perceive it you can't react to it.  Pretty straightforward.  Instead it is a host of other things that convince you of A over B (or the reverse) due to how human psychology works.  Sound stage, space around the instrument, 3D etc. etc. are all encoded in the signal to each channel.  That simply must be so.  As those signals can be so identical as there being nothing different to perceive those varying perceptions are usually due to other factors.  Any such subtle effects are in fact in the signal if they are real. 

post #360 of 1025
Perceptual testing has shown that direct A/B switching back and forth is the best way to determine subtle differences between two sounds. Spend more than a few seconds on any sample and your auditory memory completely forgets what you heard before and imagination steps in to fill the gap.

Feel free to use long sample times, but it will make your detection of subtle differences LESS accurate, not more accurate.
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